Is this normal? Day 1 observations of a Gen2 unit using flexible daily


#1

Hello,

After installing my Gen2 unit yesterday (replaced a Hunter Pro-C) I ended up creating a flexible daily schedule. There is also a Hunter Mini-Clik connected and activated on the Gen2 Rachio that came from the Pro-C.

I’m using the following weather station ~3 miles from our home, KTAN: http://w1.weather.gov/data/obhistory/KTAN.html

When I configured the flex daily schedule last night it showed this morning it would water all 7 zones, on average for 27m per zone or about 3h4m total run time and watering would start at 5:00 AM.

I was woken up by torrential rain at about 4:30 AM, thirty minutes before the scheduled watering. I thought to myself “Perfect… this is where Rachio should shine and adjust things.” I went back to bed and was woken up again at about 5:30 AM by the still falling rain. I popped open the Rachio app to see if anything happened and found the following timeline;

  • 5 AM, watering started
  • Zone 1 watered for 15 minutes
  • 5:11 AM rain sensor tripped
  • 5:11 AM remaining schedule stopped

Being a newb I’m still trying to figure out what to expect. I have to assume since the system was just installed it has to think the soil is at 0% or some other non-100% moisture value. From looking at today’s moisture graphs it would appear precipitation data from before the device start-date is not taken into account. No data from KTAN is shown before May 1st in the Rachio app.

I think I was expecting to see a couple things. First, smart cycle is on within the schedule. How long might the controller allow a zone to go before it cycles to another one? These zones are all set to 0% slope and sandy loam. The 15m zone 1 saw before the rain sensor killed the schedule is 41% of the expected total run time per zone.

I think I also expected to see a climate skip, but perhaps there wasn’t enough historically observed precipitation to trigger one or I don’t yet understand how one would be issued in daily flex. I’m ok with the rain sensor shutting things down. I’d rather allow the rain to fall and then let the system learn how much we got and go from there. From the KTAN link above there was 0.15" of rain between 3:52 AM and 4:52 AM (hourly period ending 8 minutes before scheduled watering start time), and 0.16" in the last two hours. For some reason I thought 0.125" in the previous 24 hours was the trigger for a climate skip.

I’m not upset or mad, just trying to understand what you may see in a new system as it starts to learn and adjust and how the various inputs can affect the outcome. :slight_smile: As of now the schedule shows it will not be watering until May 13th for some zones and the 14th for zones configured as some shade.

Sorry for rambling. I just like playing with our new toy.


Where to begin? Flex Daily or Flex Monthly?
#2

I have had mine installed for a month so still learning a lot but love to watch the flex schedule in action so I check moisture content in each zone regularly. Let me suggest you look at the moisture detail on each zone. If it shows above 0% then the controller is waiting until it drops to 0 for it to water again. The water dates are estimates and will be adjusted after each day the actual detail is recorded. Once a zone reaches 0% it will start to water at the prescribed time.

Others with more experience might have a better detail, but this is how I have observed mine working.


#3

Thanks, I suspect this poor thing will have me poking around in its details for quite a while learning how it works. All of the zones are currently 111% moisture level due to the 0.62" of forecasted precipitation today.


#4

Here’s what may have happened — around 4am (an hour before your schedules begin) Rachio went to check on things for the day – it may have seen rain in the forecast, but because you were just starting for the first time, your moisture level was probably at 0% and with the predicted rain PLUS the amount of water your plants were predicted to use that day, you would still have been at 0% so it needed to water.

And then you got rain! Maybe more than predicted, or at least enough to trip your rain sensor. So that was a good thing.

Depending on your nozzle, soil type and slope, smart cycles maximum run times can range from 4 to 240 minutes! Most seem to be in the 10-20 minutes ranges though – there’s a good write-up on this at http://support.rachio.com/article/283-smart-cycle-overview

You’re not going to see climate skip in flex daily – it works with a “checkbook balance” approach, only watering when it needs.

I love Flex Daily – hope you do too!!!


#5

I can accept that as most probable, though it does bring up another question. :slight_smile:

When standing up a new system does it not look at recent weather reported by the weather station and try to account for a better moisture % than zero to start? Mine seems to show moisture data back to May 1st, the day I installed it, even though the chosen weather station certainly publishes data before yesterday. I’m no greens keeper so I can’t tell you how saturated my lawn was when installing the unit, but the available weather history must make a semi-educated guess possible given that’s how the unit functions once in normal runstate. FWIW I hadn’t been watering with my old controller yet this season so the yard was only getting what mother nature provided.

Thanks, I’ll give it a read and see if there are any further tweaks I should make to the zones. :slight_smile:

I appreciate the insight.


#6

I love these threads. That is all.

:cheers:


#7

Not that I am aware of (on trying to find starting point). I think to best ensure that you have a good starting point go through a full water cycle. See the FAQ on Daily Flex Schedule and it says to expect a large initial water. IF you were absolutely certain your landscape was saturated, you might try the “Fill” function which sets each zone to 100%. Otherwise just letting it get the good baseline I think is the best approach. I have enjoyed learning and tweaking mine. I created a second schedule for my flower beds and got my own weather station. Been very interesting and fun. Enjoy and sit back and watch what a smart controller can do.


#8

The irony in this is that it can often mean it is doing nothing at all. :slight_smile: At the moment my flex daily schedule isn’t planning to water anything until the 12th, but I see it’s already changed its mind a few times which is cool to watch.


#9

I agree this would be a cool feature addition- but everyone was spot on with what went wrong here! Flex assumes you are at 0% as a safety precaution. We would rather overwater that first time and get a baseline than risk allowing your lawn to dry out. As for smart cycle- someone mentioned nozzles, which is part of the equation for sure, but it also looks at slope and soil. The sandier your soil, the less we have to cycle/soak. The flatter your zone, the less we have to cycle/soak. So in your scenario, it may just have been that you don’t really need to soak that often!!

I’m going to take a little leap here and say it may be worth disabling your rain sensor if you are going to use flex. While this may seem counterintuitive, rain sensors take different amounts of time to dry out, and no offense to the rain sensor, but IMO flex is way smarter than the sensor. Totally fine if you would like to keep it, but just an idea! Would love to hear other’s opinions.


#10

I really like having my rain sensor with flex daily – since my PWS is 2 miles away, my rain sensor is the best at knowing actually what is going on at my house, and I like that it activates and keeps the system from running. And yes, they all dry out differently, but normally that can be adjusted. When I’ve had tons and tons of rain and things get super-saturated, the rain sensor has kept the system from watering when flex actually thought it was dry enough to water – 112% seems too low now for the saturation point – but @franz says this is changing in V3 so I will be patient. But even with that change, I’ll keep my rain sensor.


#11

Yea, flex daily is John wick of the irrigation world.


#12

Linn, on this topic, what soil type do you have?


#13

I suppose, but the baseline is then only what Rachio knows what itself has done and what the weather was like on day 1 and going forward.

A similar scenario would be if I handed you a mason jar full of 86 M&Ms. You then put 45 more M&Ms into the jar, then later in the day give a coworker 14 M&Ms. It is then declared there are 31 M&Ms in the jar when in reality there are 117 M&Ms in the jar as the baseline is skewed by +86.

Maybe this is where my head is dense on the topic at hand and an over-watered yard does not pose any danger to the turf.

Regardless… I tossed this out there as a possible way to get a better baseline if anyone is bored. :slight_smile: I admit it’s probably full of holes and not accounting for nearly enough.


#14

I have silty clay.


#15

All I want now is M&Ms :wink:

:cheers:


#16

This is pretty much how I feel as my closest NOAA station is 3.3 miles away. I’d rather stop the system and let it re-adjust later if need be. I also would like to avoid looking like “that guy” in the neighborhood with sprayers going even if it’s crazy rain outside. :laughing:


#17

I’m laughing a bit because we had an incredibly similar debate in the office maybe a week ago. I agree we could improve that “starting line”, because right now it’s a pretty rough guess. The only thing I would add is that soil does ultimately cap out at a saturation, and anything above whatever that level is will be pretty much wasted (runs off, quickly evaporates, etc). So in your scenario, envision that the mason jar caps out at 100 M&Ms. So fourteen of them are in the jar, the other 31 spill out, and then you are only starting out off by 31 M&Ms. So a little less off, but still off. Love this conversation though, nothing makes me happier than talking about how the smart schedule can get smarter.

Ok, now I’m hungry, off to find some M&Ms


#18

Hah nice! I see a “Guess how many M&Ms are in this jar and win a Rachio G3” in the future… :smiley: