Install New Rachio 3 12 zone from Costco

I just purchased the Rachio 3 12 Zone at Costco for my new home. I have never had an irrigation system before but this one is already set up but antiquated. I currently have 3 zones. Likely I will change this in the future. For now, I want to replace my antiquated timer. I have attached a picture of the timer and am looking for some assistance on switching over to the Rachio 3. If I am in the wrong location or if someone could direct me to a better place to ask for assistance please let me know.


I looked at your pictures and also verified with a manual
It looks to me like you are using an “indexed” valve. I am not sure of the voltage output to this valve. Can you send pictures of the valve as well please? If you can read the brand, model, voltage on the valve, maybe send that too. Are you hoping / planning on keeping the indexed valve or moving to new valves?

Thomas, thank you. I want to be clear I am very particular and good and home projects and don’t know much about irrigation systems. I am trying to learn as much as I can so I appreciate your question. I have looked at the system and have taken the pictures below. I am learning about the different types of valves and honestly hadn’t thought about whether or not to change them. I guess my first question is do I need to change and if before I put in new controller and if so what do you recommend. I have done a lot of in-home plumbing that has gone well. Is this something I can change myself? Thanks in advance for your thoughts. Hope these help.



Until after I joined this community, I do not think I have ever seen or heard of an indexed valve. The thing that I noticed is that the old clock controller seemed to be one wanting to drive a pump. Well, it looks like that is the case. Causing the “valve” to change zones involves turning off the pump for a short period of time and then back on. The good news is that if you changed the valves, you would not have to run wire very far (as long as the new controller is outside in a waterproof enclosure). In this case, you would use more modern 24 VAC valves and then for the pump, a pump start relay that has the 24 VAC on one end and the other end enough power for the pump.

I really like Rachio, the more modern valves, etc. I am set up with a pump start relay, but for a water feature. I personally would recommend it all, but it is really up to you. It would take a bit of work to convert the system, but it is doable. You might need some help from electrician or something too.

Here’s an explanation of how zoned irrigation with an indexed valve works. It might help you understand how the clock system works so you can see how it would be replaced.

I used this technique for two years — I ordered the indexed valve mentioned in the article from Germany. But eventually I gave up and had a regular system installed with a Rachio. It was too difficult to get the indexing to work correctly as expected, and I’d end up watering zone 3 with zone 2’s schedule or similar mishaps.

The good news is you don’t have to start from scratch as I did because you already have the in-ground piping. You just need to install the Rachio, remove your indexed valve, put a solenoid valve in for each zone, and drive them from the Rachio.

There’s also an article on how to drive an indexed valve from a Rachio here, but again, based on my experience with indexed valves, I believe you’re better off replacing it with a direct valve for each zone.

1 Like

@Lynn25 - you have two options:

For both options a pump start relay (Orbit or similar from Home Depot or Lowe’s) will be needed to turn on the pump and an external enclosure will be needed for the Rachio (unless it is being installed inside and the field wires run through the wall to the current location).

  1. The Rachio M and C terminals will make the connection to the pump start relay. Create your three zones in the Rachio app using a Fixed type schedule and specifying a pump start relay is attached and a recovery delay between zones. There won’t be any connections to the zones in the Rachio. It will turn on the pump for each zone. The Flex Daily type schedule is incompatible with this setup.

  2. Replace the indexing valve with a 3 valve gang (Orbit makes one). This time the zones on the Rachio will be attached to the solenoids in the valve gang along with a wire to a C(ommon) terminal. Again the M terminal will be connected to the pump start relay along with a wire to the C(terminal). With this setup one can use the Flex Daily type schedule if desired or run a specified zone.

There are numerous posts with before and after pictures where users have replaced an indexing valve and Intermatic timer with individual valves and Rachio.

Edit → here is one of the posts documenting a Intermatic to Rachio w/ individual valves conversion → Installation: Figuring Out the Wires?