Need 24/7 water schedule for emergency fire protection

Hi, we live in Santa Rosa & almost lost our home due to the Santa Rosa fire you might have heard about. We had to evacuate for almost a week & our wifi was off line.

We have two requests:

  1. We need blue tooth access <—— really impt as things went down in the fire & we couldn’t get rachio to work

  2. We really really need 24/7 watering esp those of us in fire zones. <<<——SUPER IMPORTANT IMMEDIATE REQUEST. The most we could get was 2x a day, which frankly, wasn’t good enough. We almost lost our home!

Please help us Rachio! Next spring will be here in months, we need an override for 24/7 watering that we can do by phone, internet, bluetooth, etc.

I’m pretty scared about next year, and while I love Rachio, I will have to go with another company if this doesn’t get fixed asap - we don’t want to lose our home.


in terms of Bluetooth, you could use the physical buttons on the controller to turn on the stations? If you are close enough for BT, you likely are close enough to touch the unit too?

does that not help?

We physically had to come back and use the rachio box to make it work. And, that was just for 2x a day, when we needed 24/7 coverage of our home.

If I were you, I would rather open the solenoid of sprinkler Valve directly in case of power outage

Hi @Ruthlilycat-

I am glad to hear you stayed safe during the fire, what a terrifying experience!

I will make sure to log your requests for our team, it almost feels like an “emergency setting” would best serve your needs.

I did want to touch on point two- you should be able to create 8 schedules on a Gen 1 controller and 16 on a Gen 2 schedule on any given day. Can you give me more detail on the 2x a day limit you ran into?

Thank you again for sharing your experience.

McKynzee :rachio:

Hi Mackenzie! TY for getting back to me!

Love the idea of an EMERGENCY SETTING, definitely. Even though it would have meant 5+ days of water 24/7 that would have been fine. The people that lost their home said there were fireballs the size of baseballs coming from the fire, I think leaving the sprinkler system on would have been a great idea. Also when we went through some of the Sonoma County highways where we saw a lot of devastation in the vineyards I had the feeling that some farmers also left their sprinklers on, bc right next to each other - one farm burnt completely, the other green and beautiful.

I asked my husband what happened, here’s what he said

“We weren’t able to connect to the internet because the internet was down & we had to use the manual controls on the controller”

The people at Rachio guided him to just 2x of watering per day, and we are 2nd Gen. We were not able to go further than that on the manual settings & this was through their customer service rep.

EDIT: I think you meant 16 zones & 8 zones, not 16 schedules!

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@Ruthlilycat - As there was no internet service this is what Rachio Technical support folks had your husband do ->

One of those schedules is fifteen minutes per zone twice a day.

I think what @mckynzee is referring to is the number of different schedules that can be created and stored on the Gen 2. If there was a cycle continuously schedule created one would still need the internet to be up to kick it off. After the schedule was started the Rachio unit should keep running it even if internet connectivity was lost, until power to the Rachio (and thus the sprinklers) is lost. The advantage of a cycle every zone for X minutes schedule configured in the application is that unused zones could be skipped e.g. zone 1, 2, 3, 4 and then back to 1 again (using my installation as an example).

If internet connectivity is lost before the schedule is started, then there would need to be an additional schedule stored in the controller for use like mentioned in the article linked. However, I don’t know if there could be enough smarts in the schedule to only run zones that are actually hooked up. Therefore, it could run zones 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8 - even though in my installation only zones 1, 2, 3 and 4 are hooked up). If this is the case, then one would need to spread the zones actually in use across the controller so the “dead” time is interwoven with the other schedule instead of all at one time - as in 1, x, 3, x, 5, x, 7, x (for my four zones - move 2 to 5 and 4 to 7). A bonus feature would be it the duration could be set for each zone - otherwise, I’d say default to 1 minute per zone (open to other suggestions).

As @eunchan pointed out, this emergency setting would only work while there is power to the Rachio and thus the sprinkler valves and an additional item water pressure in system feeding the sprinkler system. While opening the bleed valve at the solenoid would help in the situation where power is lost, I don’t know if there would be enough usable water pressure will all the zones in the system open at once to provide enough coverage and wetting action. Then of course there is the potential for so many homeowners setting their sprinkler systems to run continuously that the water pressure needed to fight the fires would be diminished for the firefighters (solving one problem, creates another).

While an interesting request, the ground sprinklers, while protecting grass and shrubs from catching on fire, I don’t think would have prevented fireballs from landing in and catching larger trees or the roof on fire.

Glad y’all made it through and an interesting use case.

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I am glad that you made it through the fire. It can be stressful and scary at the same time.

@DLane made a good point about not having enough pressure. This is truth at its scariest stage.

In the majority of cases where there is a fire in a mountainous neighborhood, 99% of the pressure is sucked out of the lines by the fire fighters.

People have asked me to install a perimeter irrigation system so they could use it in case of a fire. I have refused to take their money knowing it would be scandalous. I cannot operate that way.

On the other hand, a portable generator and a pool pump is the better way to go but is only limited to the 20 to 30k gallons in the pool.

No mater what Rachio does to enable the operation in the event of a power outage, there is no guarantee that one will have the water or available electricity to operate their own irrigation valves.