Run Multiple Zones At Once

Well, my irrigation system can run multiple zones at once without issue, so I personally have no issue if the system ran more than one zone at a time, but many on wells or pumps cannot run more than one, so it is imperative that the system does not allow it.

Rachio is an irrigation controller and doesn’t tout itself as anything other than that. To me it just seems a bit silly to complain that it doesn’t have a feature to control something it wasn’t designed to control.

You are certainly entitled to your opinion, but I don’t quite understand why you are voicing it against my request. I do appreciate that you have provided me with a potential alternate approach (thanks)… but with additional cost.

What I have suggested is a potential additinal revenue stream for your same hardware. Your competition provides an option to run lights with the same controller which runs sprinklers. If you identify these lines which can be run simultaneously as for lighting functionality (as your competition does) it would be clear to your irrigation users.

@azbob, no the Rachio 3 will not support this due to electrical limitations. Out of curiosity, why do you want to run two zones at once?

@calif_ken thanks for the suggestion. Lighting is an interesting use for the controller. We don’t have any plans to support this in the near future.

I want to run multiple zones simultaneously because I have 15 zones, drip irrigation in AZ, for trees and plants. Because each zone runs between 1-4 hours, there are times when two zones may have to run concurrently. Additionally, I check the zones weekly by turning one on at a time. If I do this when two zones are already running automatically, there would be 3 zones running concurrently. My old Irritrol controller handled this with no problem. I had to buy 2 of your controllers to get around your limitation and jump through hoops to set the schedules. It is a pain and it makes my life more difficult. I have been asking you to fix this for 2 years with no result.

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I understand your desire and need for this; however, this is a residential controller. Step up to high end commercial smart controllers and you can do this. But the cost is at least $2,000. Examples include WeatherTrak or Rainmaster Eagle Plus.

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My previous residential controller did this. My understanding is that a number of residential controllers do it. It is not uncommon.

@azbob, thanks for the additional comments. Do the two controllers you currently setup handle all of your zones? Assuming you have enough pressure to water multiple zones at once, a work around might be to double up your zones (assuming you don’t have a master valve or use the WaterHammer feature). This would allow you to schedule your entire system on one controller and sell the extra controller. Alternatively, you could run both controllers at once to help shorten your overall watering duration.

If neither of these solutions work for you, let’s help you find a controller that will better meet your needs. In full transparency, we don’t plan to support this feature in the near future as commercial grade hardware will need to be developed.

If you have 2 zones with the same watering needs, they can both be wired to the same terminal on the controller, and both will receive identical watering schedules.

The think that determines if there will be enough current in the wire going to valves to open and close more than one valve at a time is determined by the length of the wire, and the wire size (diameter). If you find the wire size you currently have is causing too much voltage drop to activate both valves simultensously, you can run another wire in parallel to the existing wires to carry more current to the valve, OR, you can replace the existing wire to the valves with a larger guage wire.

You should have a pressure regulator on your irrigation system, so the pressure hitting the valves is around 70 psi. These valves are not designed for high pressures, and without a pressure regulator, you may experience difficulty in getting the valves to open OR experience early failure of the valves.

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My two rachio controllers (one each of the generation 1 and 2) handle all of my 14 drip irrigation zones in Arizona, spread out over 1 acre of property. These are broken out into 6 watering groups. These 6 groups have the following number of zones: Pots -1; Courtyard plants -1; Cyprus trees -1; Citrus trees and Patio plants - 2; Plants - 4; Trees - 6. I am on city water with a pressure regulator set to 60 pounds max. and have enough water pressure to run 3 zones concurrently. That is what my previous Irritrol Total Control controller did quite well. I do not have a master valve or use the WaterHammer feature. Even if I were to double up my zones, there are times that the different groups would need to water concurrently. After discovering the limitation of your controller by happenstance (and troubleshooting with your tech support over a month’s time), I had to buy a second Rachio controller, calculate how to split out the zones between them and create convoluted watering schedules. This allows me to run two zones (groups) concurrently. Throughout the year, the frequency of watering changes, while the length of each watering remains constant. I check 1/4 of the irrigation system weekly, in round robin fashion, so the entire system is checked monthly. This requires turning zones on manually. The Rachio app on my phone makes this much easier. But, it also means I have to be careful when I check. I cannot check zones that are on a controller that is currently running according to a scheduled period.

My ask is to change your software so it allows two (or more) zones to run at the same time. It is as simple as that. I don’t understand why are you saying “commercial grade hardware” will need to be developed?

he says that because the controller will have to output a good bit of current. in the most maximum setup, it would have to output enough current for a master vale, the zone and 2 sensor ports. thats a good bit of current right there. now throw one N number of additional zones…its a lot

Check the manufacturer catalog for valve pressure ranges. Figuring pressure loss through the meter, backflow and pipe, 70 psi is fine for gear drive rotors. I like using Hunter PGV valves and installing a Hunter AccuSync on the valve. Hunter’s Pro Spray PRS 30 provide reliable pressure regulation at the head. Rain Bird 1800 PRS heads provide unreliable pressure regulation.

@plainsane - also don’t forget if the user has the water hammer reduction feature turned on the unit will have all the valves from the first set of zones running when it starts the second set of zones. That is why Rachio says they can support three solenoids at one time - master valve, first solenoid getting ready to be turned off and second solenoid that was just turned on for the next zone.

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Can you double up the wiring for 2 zones in the Rachio Controller? Would that open both valves when the station(s) kicks on ?

@DavidGPope - Rachio states that they can power three solenoids at one time with their power supply. Yes, there are users who have doubled up solenoids on one zone and Rachio powers both of them. But do count - master valve or pump start relay if in the system as it will be active along with the prior zone if the reduce water hammer option is selected.

One just needs to make sure the water supply can provide enough pressure/volume for both zones to operate.


Awesome. Thanks DLane! I won’t be doing it because we don’t have enough water pressure to push open all the sprinkler heads.


Changing the transformer to one with more watts, yet keeping it at 24 volts, will allow more solenoids to run at the same time. The issue is the software that prevents overlapping zone schedules. Some clients have adequate pump and supply to allow simultaneous operation. The variable speed flow pumps are great for multi valve installations.

Hello, I too could really use the ability to run multiple zones at the same time. I have a well that puts out quite a bit of water volume/pressure and need to run multiple zones at the same time (different watering lengths) so the demand keeps the pump from cycling excessively. Excessive cycling causes premature pump failure. I have done this in the past by combining 2 valves on the same zone but invariably one area gets watered too much or too little. Another great benefit to not wiring 2 valves to one zone is during sprinkler maintenance I can walk around the yard and turn only one zone on at a time with the phone app while I work on sprinklers and not have it saturate the part of the lawn watered by the other valve. This is much preferred to turning on/off individual areas manually at the valve (a lot of walking back and forth and getting wet…)

I’ve been reading the company is concerned about too many valves being energized a time. An easy fix for this would be logic in the software that only allows for any combination of 3 valves to be operating at a time (1 zone + master + pump or 2 zones + master or 3 zones only / etc). The software knows if the configuration includes a master valve or pump relay so keeping track of total circuits energized would be easy.

Any help would be greatly appreciated!

I agree this is definitely a feature that clients want. Please add the ability to run overlapping schedules even if it is an additional setting you have to check and confirm that you have purchased a larger power supply. Would be very helpful.

I wholeheartedly agree. I have been asking for this feature for 2 years. I still do not understand why it has not been implemented.