I was about to purchase the Rachio 3 (16 zone)

[18-Oct-2021] Over the last week or so I’ve been researching water controllers and decided on the Rachio 3 16 zone unit. As part of my research, I joined this forum and now it’s come to a screeching halt.

My problem is that I’m in Australia and I’ve read several threads related to the radio frequency issue and there was another thread where apparently our BoM site is not used for weather stats. Not sure if here in Melbourne there are other weather stations that would be used, but I didn’t delve into that side of it any further because of the RF issue. Yes, there is a thread related to DIY cut/snip/solder the RF but now it is all too hard, and I’ll have to pass.

I note that the RF issue has been around for at least two years, that no firmware updates are forthcoming (option to turn off RF).

If my above claims or assertions are false, or something is on the horizon that would satisfy international customers, I’d be happy to be corrected.

Forget the RF issue. After switching from and old school controller to this, using their settings it dumped almost 30% more water on my lawns and somehow managed to kill them by under watering. I wish I had gotten on this forum before I made the purchase.

I have set the stupid thing to basically be a dumb controller again and even at that it is more difficult to program than the 20 year old one I had before.

Surely you can’t be serious that it is more difficult to control, in what you say in dumb control, than a 20 yr old analog, clocks and dials, type controller. Are you sure you haven’t added a bit of mayonnaise?

It is not more difficult but time spent changing the programming was about the same and at this point I really gain nothing from this controller other than I can sit on my couch and run it. I met with the water management department and they are no longer going to give rebates for this device. It just doesn’t work for the desert southwest reliably.

I’d argue against this…there are a number of users here in Arizona alone that can confirm some pretty substantial savings. @ECOBEARD is one that has a VERY detailed history of savings since switching to Rachio.

My bet is like many rebates, there is an end to them. You can’t get a tax rebate on a Tesla anymore…the money set aside ran out.

I’m just not a fan. I purchased a smart watering system in 2003 for my previous residence that worked so much better. It had a little humidity/rain and temp sensor so you had really local weather (here your neighbor can get a half inch of rain and you get 0). It had this lovely “nudge” feature that if you saw your plants struggling you could nudge the duration or frequency until everything stayed looking healthy.

I do like the convenience of the quick run so you don’t need to run back and forth from the controller when fixing sprinkler heads (the only problem being sometimes your hands get wet while working on the sprinkler system and won’t work on the touch screen of your phone all the while the 20 foot fountain of water is spraying out of that broken sprinkler and your neighbor is getting pissed that his freshly washed car has 3 drops of water that hit it).

I looked at ecobeards post, that dude was way overwatering before he got the rachio. In the 2020 year he was quoting there were only 15 days that it rained that year so he didn’t save 35K gallons of water via the rain skip. He was just doing a really poor job of managing his watering.

For me, I am just back to managing it manually. The flex daily and monthly leave me with dead lawns and struggling plants. I think rachio doesn’t have a good setting for a place that has had a record number of days over 115 degrees for the past 2 years.

Have you seen @ECOBEARD yard? Not everyone is going to see the same savings, and I agree, some people do a better job pre-Rachio, but that doesn’t make things less impressive or real as a water savings tool.

I looked and don’t see where you ever posted anything looking for help on setting things up, but I’m sorry you threw in the towel. I’m right here with record temps and my lawn did phenomenal this year, and the last 5+ years I’ve had my Rachio. I’m not going to lie and say that the first year or so wasn’t tough. I inherited my yard with sprinklers running every day for 30 minutes, and my drip running 2-3 times a week for 1-1.5 hours at a time. My root structure was so shallow that many of my large trees had developed root growth ABOVE ground. I had to spend some time re-training my yard on the CORRECT way to water. Now, my drip runs 1-2 times a week even in the heat of the Arizona summer, and my grass usually fires 2-3 times a week. Winter months, grass stays similar (rye overseed) and drip will fall back to once every 10-14 days at most.

That is NOT my experience.

I live in Phoenix and I I’m saving water and my yard looks great.

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Are you using the flex settings?

When I was running the flex settings it was watering like every 8 days about. The bermuda was really stressed and my clay soil was dried and cracked by day 7, it looked like picts from Death Valley.

I have the winter rye in now and am going to give it a go again, we’ll see what the lawn looks like with these coming 90 degree days.

Yes, I used flex daily during the summer for my Bermuda. I set the crop coefficient to 80%. Next summer I plan to try gradually reducing the crop coefficient.

There are others here that have more experience and knowledge of desert settings than me that can probably help you.

I think you just didn’t have your settings correct. I always grew up thinking Arizona was loaded with clay, specifically caliche clay, which isn’t the case. Not sure where you are in the Valley, but times out of 10, it is clay loam, loam, or even sandy loam.

Then it is a matter of dialing in your nozzle inches per hour. IMHO, if you get those two things dialed in, the rest is simply small tweaks to really dial in the savings.

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@rosskell Have you even got one spare zone on your controller ? If so, you should set it up to mirror one of your static zones, with Flex Daily, and start looking at the Moisture Journals and understand as to where the differences are.

In reality, there are very few settings which need to be looked at. I believe that Available Water, Allowed Depletion and possibly Efficency should all be left at defaults. There’s no reason not to get your area correct. Set the root depth correctly.

It really then all comes down to the Nozzle Inches/hr and then the Crop Coefficient. The system needs to be able to work out how much water you put on the lawn. It will then work out how much evaporated each day, while also taking account how much water the grass will actually need.

So what have you got for the Nozzle inches/hr and then Crop Coefficient ?

I have a commercial sized installation in Spain a large 16 zone installation), and it worked great over the Summer - but only proper calculations were made for the size of each zone, and I measured the water usage for 5 mins watering at the meter.

I don’t think that there has been a single person in your situation where the results they got were unexplainable.

Thanks to everyone here for their comments and help.

I’ve been given a Wyze controller to test out. My hopes are I won’t need a degree in agriculture to get the proper amount of water on my lawn.

I was hoping for the controller to be smart (not the guy having to set it up).

The Wyze controller is very basic. The only “smart” part of it is weather skips. It only has the ability to set fixed schedules with a weather intelligence factor, but nothing even remotely close to the Rachio Flex scheduling. If you are good with that, you can easily run fixed schedules with weather intelligence with Rachio.

With the annual subscription plan, you can open up some sort of “automated” watering, although I’ve read that it has less than stellar results.

At the end of the day, if you want a true “smart” controller to automatically manage watering based on weather, seasonal changes, etc., you have to pump it full of accurate information in order to set the system correctly.

I agree it needs info but I think I should be able to plugin the breed of grass (at least for lawns), give it a soil type and inches/hour and it should know the crop coefficient and root depth… for that grass. I should be able to scan the dang bar code on the seed bag so it even knows the specific manufacturer data.

Is there an easy way to see the actual watering changes based on the advanced options when you make changes? When your lawn is dying and you make some changes I would like to see how much more or less it will water based on those changes, not have to wait a week or 2 to see if the lawn greens up.

So you remind me of myself when I picked up a guitar - I wanted to be able to play anything instantaneously, without ever practicing or making any effort.

If you are not prepared to spend time, then buy a Rainbird or whatever, and just water in a fixed schedule and use loads of water.

Why not post your settings for one zone as I previously suggested. You might just realize that the Rachio system is the best after all - provided you have an interest in saving money or water.