New AZ User: Adapting from the Irritrol world

Hi all,

Installed Rachio 16 v2 yesterday. The process was straightforward and relatively easy!
Replaced an Irritrol that have been using for a number of years.

My questions are regarding schedule programming.

  1. Irritrol was limited to 4 programs (A,B,C,D). It seems the Rachio can schedule an unlimited number of programs, is this correct? This seems like it would enable better granularity of matching my 9 zones (out of 16) to the right water requirements.

  2. I am used to having to figure out a schedule of zones and programs (schedules) that would not overlap in time so as to reduce watering pressure. Each new schedule now defaults to 5am. Do I leave it at 5, and expect it to figure out when to water, or do I do the same calculations and change the start times for each schedule?

  3. Is there any comprehensive view of the complete schedule that would make #2 easier to avoid conflicts?

For the initial setup I pretty much mirrored what the Irritrol was programmed for (fixed days) with the exception of 2 zones for lawn, and 1 for roses (flexible daily). Other zones include:

3 for general landscape trees and desert shrubs
2 zones for pots
1 for an Olive hedge

Everything is on emitter with the exception of the lawn which uses the VAN heads mentioned elsewhere.
Need to do the rain cup test for the lawn, and figure out the mapping from gph to in/hour for the emitters next.

Great product! My initial impression could not be better.

Suggestion for Rachio - I imagine many new customers are coming from traditional controllers like Irritrol. Would be helpful to have an FAQ on how the programming approach differs from those other systems. I, for one, am very glad to be freed from that old model!

I set up most of my zones to start around that 5am time, but stagger them by about 10 minutes. I have drip cycles that run long, so on days that trees and/or shrub zones kick in I want to be sure my pots and grass go first. So, I set up my pots for 4:50am, grass for 5am, shrubs for 5:10am and trees start at 5:20am.

Are you saying you have separate zones for trees & shrubs ? Hopefully that’s the case. You might consider running fixed on your roses if they need to be watered every day. If you run into needing to water them more than once per day in very hot, dry days, then Flex definitely won’t be able to do that.

If you care to dig into Flex daily and haven’t seen this post yet, it might be a starting point to consider.

To address your drip, check out this link. It’s very applicable to you since you’re in AZ.

Welcome to the board. There are a whole bunch of very helpful AZ users on here.


So just offsetting times by 10 minutes just specifies the sequence of schedules to run?
For example, say you have schedule A for trees for 1 hour, and schedule B for shrubs for 2 hours.

If you schedule the start time for A to be 5am and B to be 5:10 AM, will in fact B not start until A finishes?

Regarding roses, yes the schedule is fixed days.

Also, for flexible daily schedules, I thought I read that this type was not recommended for emitters, did I miss something with this?

Thanks for the links and the help with the emitter calculator!

@dant - There are two reasons to stagger the zones like @azdavidr suggested. First, is to establish the order as Rachio, as of the current v2 software, will only run one zone at a time. Rachio will start one schedule, running each zone in the schedule, with soak cycling if applicable, and when that schedule is finished start the next schedule. The other reason is less obvious and has to do with flexible schedules and weather intelligence. Currently, again as of the current v2 software (I say this as V3 software should be out before the start of the next irrigation season here in North America), when Rachio is going to skip the flex schedule it puts the entire controller on a pause for about 5 minutes. This will cause any other schedule that is scheduled to start at that time to be skipped - even if weather intelligence is turned off for that zone like drips under the eaves that would never get any precipitation.

Welcome to the community.

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Correct, as @Dlane points out. The times are the earliest they will run. In your specific example, if both zones run on the same day, your trees will run from 5-6am, and your shrubs would then run from 6-8am.

I’m not sure where you saw that. If you did I would venture to say it was a minority opinion. What is definitely true is that it takes a bigger investment of your time to set it up. I’ve had my trees and shrubs on drip for about 1.5 years, so I’m going through my second AZ summer now. Without touching anything I go from watering shrubs from every 4-5 days in the peak of summer, to once a month this last January (thanks in part to rain, but also due to cooler temps).

The drip emitter calculator points you to a ‘Water Use It Wisely’ site, which gives you very specific targets for how deeply and how often to water. Once you take your 1st shot at setting it up compare what your Fixed schedule is planning against those recommendations. The ‘Water Use It Wisely’ recommendations work, and they lead to deeper, less frequent watering. If your vegetation isn’t used to that yet you might have to make incremental adjustments until you get to the cycles they recommend.


Thanks @azdavidr and @DLane. Lots to learn here.
Very helpful to learn how this controller is different than legacy controllers.

This might have been a mis-interpretation. You want to make sure that you don’t mix emitters in with other heads/nozzles in the SAME flex daily schedule because Smart Cycle wouldn’t take effect. Just keep the emitter zones in their own flex daily schedule and they work just fine.