Been using the Rachio for about a month now since moving over from my old Hunter PRO-C controller. Much to my surprise, I’ve found that in some important ways the Rachio is actually less convenient than the basic Hunter was.
Background info: we’re allowed to water on 2 specific days each week here, so I have my schedule created as “Specific Days”. The way I used the Hunter controller was that I had each zone’s runtime set to where each zone would put out 0.5 inches of water during a full run of all zones. The in/hr varies widely by zone, so the runtime of all the zones differ greatly. Given that I was running all zones twice a week, if I wanted 1 inch of water in a given week I would set the Hunter’s “Seasonal Adjustment” to 100%. Could easily adjust up and down from there depending on the month, and also set temporary increases/decreases before each of your waterings. It is much harder to make temporary adjustments on the Rachio because you can’t control the hidden seasonal adjustment (at least as far as I can see?) and if you change runtimes in your schedule, it doesn’t remember your baselines - you can’t go back to them unless you wrote them down somewhere…other than maybe deleting and re-creating your schedule? But here’s my biggest complaint:
With the Hunter, if I ever wanted to do a manual watering, perhaps because a watering got wrongly skipped due to rain sensor, all I did was set the Seasonal Adjustment % to reflect however many inches I wanted to put out manually (for example 50% would be 0.25 inches) then hit “Manual - All Stations”, and I was done.
With the Rachio, if I ever want to do a manual watering (which is actually more common now since the forecasting the Rachio uses can turn out wrong), then I’ve got to open two windows of the Rachio app, copy the appropriate runtimes for each zone off my schedule and fill them in into the manual run interface. This comes up more often than you might think. Let’s say I put down fertilizer and now I want to put 0.5 inches across the entire lawn (unscheduled). A real pain in the ass compared to the Hunter (but at least I can do it from my computer, not the garage).
A lot of this could be fixed by a very simple change to the manual run interface: let the user toggle from minutes to inches, and then specify inches for each zone instead of minutes for each zone. (Obviously, the software can easily convert inches to minutes since it knows the in/hr for each zone.) In combination with the “Set all zones to” bit at the top, now I would very easily be able to set all zones to 0.25 inches or whatever value I want, and appropriate minute numbers would be automatically used for each zone.
Another convenience feature would be some button to automatically fill in all the zone runtimes from your last scheduled run, or something along those lines. (This may not apply for some modes, but makes sense for “Specific Days”.) Would let you easily do a manual run to replace a wrongly-skipped watering.
Also, this is something the Hunter didn’t have either, but would be really nice on the Rachio. Need a way to specify what day/time you want a given manual watering to happen at. Right now as far as I can tell you either have to be physically awake and start it at the time you want it to run, or set up some temporary schedule to do it, which you’ll have to remember to delete later.
One more thing, it seems there is no way to “Smart Cycle” within a manual run? Pretty unfortunate given that (as mentioned just above) there is also no way to create a “one-off” schedule entry.