Much confusion on how Rachio calculates watering times for different schedules

A little history… I bought the Rachio in April and went with the flex monthly schedule, using all the recommended settings for my soil time and amount of sun. Was amazed at how much water it was saving me, and then I noticed my lawn started to die. Since then, I’ve been trying to figure out how Rachio comes up with numbers seemingly out of no where.

I’m in central Florida with St Augustine grass. It regularly is very hot and humid. I’m allowed to water 2 days a week. General rule for this type of environment is 1 - 1.5" of water per week. Prior to Rachio, I watered twice a week, 30-40 minutes per zone.

  • On Flex monthly, water time was 30-40 minutes per zone, depending on the amount of sun (sunny areas got more water). But it only watered once a week.
  • On flex daily, water time was 10-20 minutes per zone, twice a week. Strangely, the areas with lots of shade was watering more than the areas with lots of sun.
  • On fixed schedule, recommended water time was 30-40 minutes per zone, twice a week.

How does this make any sense? How could the 3 types of schedules come up with vastly differing amounts of water? I didn’t override any of the recommended water times.

Having read through this forum a bit, I realize now that flex daily doesn’t work well if you can only water 2 days a week, but how was I supposed to know that if I didn’t pore through user posts? Why didn’t the app tell me this? And it still doesn’t explain the backwards watering on flex daily, or the flex monthly being half of fixed.

I’m going to leave it on fixed for now, but I really don’t understand this thing. It was supposed to be smarter than me when knowing when and how much to water my lawn, but it really seems like it’s just doing random things.

I think this is something that should be noted in the setup notes in the app, or at least online documentation. This comes up a ton now that there are more and more areas with heavy watering restrictions. Maybe @franz or @dane can look into adding a message in the app?

I appreciate sharing your experience hre @anonymous97. A warning on schedule restrictions is something that we are looking at. There definitely opportunities for more tutorials in-app.

I cannot explain much about your situation without looking at your zone settings and schedule. I can tell you that the further you reduce watering days on a Fixed schedule, the longer the schedule will run. If you reduce the schedule to 1 day a week down from two, the durations should increase. If you reduce it to once every two weeks, the duration will increase even more.

Flex Daily and Flex Monthly should not be chosen for heavy watering restrictions. At least four days of watering is needed in order for these schedules to water optimally. Watering durations and frequency will not properly calculate with less days.

You are right, this should be clearer in the app. Water as needed schedules were not intended for watering restrictions. If you can only water 1 or 2 days a week those zones should be on a Fixed schedule (with the exception of trees, shrubs and other drought tolerant plants). You have the benefit of Rain Skip, Freeze Skip, and Saturation Skip to skip either day if the conditions are met. A Flex schedules needs more flexibility to make determinations on when and how much to water.

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Yes, just setup my controller. Setup for 3 days per week on flex monthly but Rachio only scheduled it to run one day a week.

I switched it to fixed after reading this.

It would be great if this was plainly expressed in the setup instructions.