Rachio 16 Zone and Rainbird E-12

Greetings everyone. New Rachio user hear.

I just purchased a new Rachio 16 zone system to replace my current system which is a RainBird E-12 in which I have it setup for 12 zones. I will use only 12 zones of the 16 in the Rachio

I have several questions:

  1. I am assuming that there is no compatibility issues and that I should be able to swap between the two units, right ?
  2. How complex is it to swap it out ? I am no handyman by any standards, but was comfortable in swapping my thermostats for Nest ones, I am adept at repairing or assembling and repairing computers but very tentative with electrical connections in house.
  3. If anyone has performed a similar swap, any recommendations or gotchas to watch out for ? Or should I just pay a professional to carry out the swap ?



I am in the same boat as you, maybe less. I swapped a friend’s out one night after having too many drinks, and still was able to get the project done :wink: Be SURE to take pictures before removing the old controller. If there are issues, these are invaluable for support@rachio.com

I know a lot of our customers have replaced their own controllers without issue. It’s usually about a 30-60 minute process.

If you have any issues, support@rachio.com is amazing at helping people get their controllers installed. We’ve only had 3 casualties to-date. :beers:

@troutmask - Rest assured, Rachio support here and by phone, as well as the IRO community at large has your back!

Absolutely take detailed pictures of your current controller and wiring. Put some type of tags on your wires identifying what they are connected to (zone1, zone2, master valve, rain sensors, etc.) before you disconnect anything!

To prevent you from getting a jolt, make sure everything is unplugged first. Follow the easily marked wiring for the IRO and align your wires to the markings in the IRO. If you still don’t feel safe, put on a pair of gloves! :smile:

I’m all about low voltage, i do all of my own home automation and computing. I also am not comfortable around electricity. The IRO is easy!

Good luck!


@troutmask As new customer myself with a 16 station I made the move and had no problems its quite simple and fun to set up. The staff at Rachio is great to work with.

Good Luck!


Thanks for your replies and reassurances… I feel a little less tentative now and will attempt to swap in a few days. In the meantime I took a picture of the current wiring. Anything stand out to anyone in particular ?


@troutmask, BIG thank you for taking a BEFORE photo! :smile:

As @SteinyD recommends, labeling your wires and turning off the power before moving wires is highly recommended.

Also, remember to visit our support site if you haven’t already. We have some quick videos on install, and blinkup.

Hope this helps.

Best, Emil


Thanks for all the advice. Today, I gathered some strength and resolve and with the help of my wife, proceeded to dismantle the Rainbird E12 unit, label the wires and then start with the Iro installation. I have attached some before (Rainbird E-12) and after (Iro 16 zone) pictures below. I believe I am 90% complete with the physical installation.

I have some questions … after which I I should be 100% complete with the physical installation.

  1. In the Iro manual, it states that only one wire is to be attached per slot. In the Rainbird unit (see picture), the two white wires were twisted together and installed as a pair into the COM port. For the Iro do I (a) do the same despite what the manual says ? or (b) separate the wires and install them in the left and right [C}OM ports ? If so, how do I know which white wire goes in which side or it doesnt matter ?

  2. I have an Irritrol rain sensor. For that, its connectivity to the Rainbird was such that two red wires (which I have now labeled as L and R connected to the 24VAC L & R ports. The White and Brown wires connected to the left and right sensor ports respectively. How do these 4 (or less) wires get connected to the Iro ?


@troutmask I’ve forwarded this to support@rachio.com. They should contact you today and help out with any wiring questions.


@troutmask, you can do either (merge the two commons into one white terminal, or separate them). The common is shared between both the left and right terminal strips, so either side works. However, since you have a rain sensor, I’d recommend we merge them together and insert into the left white common terminal.

Please reference this support article for a wiring diagram on how to setup the Irritrol rain sensor on your Iro.

Hope this helps! Let us know if you have any other questions we can help with. Keep us posted on the install :smile:

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Thanks for your replies. I ended up calling support and got a reasonably prompt call back from Ashley.

Based on her advice, I did combine the two COM wires (which BTW when twisted together are hard to get into the COM slot). Had to make a trip to Home Depot to get a wire of similar gauge so as to extend the pair.

For the rain sensor, she also advised to combine the RED (anyone of the two) with the white wire and put that in R1. The brown wire in R2 and the remaining RED wire in COM. In doing that had a lot of trouble getting the thinner gauge wires in as they bent. Had to twist them with a thicker gauge one to get them in the slots.

Thereafter, I powered up the Iro and was happy to see lights. I could not get the outer cover to flush with the base unit (see picture below). The data/power connector on top appears to be connected as the Iro is functioning. I tried to apply reasonable pressure for it to be flush but gave up after a certain point for fear of applying too much pressure. This part I am not too happy with.

I downloaded the app which seems to be decent. I was skeptical of the blinking programming option… but got it in the first go!

During the programming for the 12 zones, initially there is a per zone test with a countdown timer. The way the app operates, i felt it did not give enough time for the sprinklers to come on. I thought I had some misconfiguration since none of the sprinklers came on. As I walked over to the couple of the last 2 zones did I realize that I had to wait longer.

Thereafter I rechecked the wiring and manually verified the zones.

Have now setup my bi weekly program in place. Somewhere in the description of the product there was a reference to integration with Nest units. Is that an upcoming capability ? I did not see anything this version of the app pertaining to that.

Thanks for all the replies :smile:

@troutmask, is the front panel still holding up on the one side? I’m curious if there’s a wire catch in the way that’s blocking the Iro from making a secure connection? Assuming your wiring is still as photoed on the 14th, I think we need to tuck the wires outside of the recessed triangular space (lower right and left corners) into the recessed space and/or into the holes leading into the wall mount.

Good question. This integration can be accessed via the webapp. For more information, please reference this support article on how the Iro works with Nest.

Hope this helps.

Best, Emil