Run Multiple Zones At Once

Hi McKynzee,

Thanks for the quick reply.

My 30 year old sprinkler system has a very large backyard zone. I now have a garden bed at the start of that zone. The original valve is roughly 70 feet away in the front yard.

This past weekend I added a new valve just after the garden bed on an easily accessed pipe. I wired this to a new zone on my Rachio controller installed last summer.

My intent was to work this second valve in concert with the original valve so the garden could be watered more often than the entire zone. This would save a lot of water.

In my desired future state:

  1. Water garden only -> original zone powered on, new zone left off
  2. Water entire zone including garden -> original valve powered on and new valve powered on simultaneously.

Does that better explain my failed plan? Might there be dev underway that could meet that need or perhaps a workaround?


Hey @DTWinters-

Thank you for that, I understand now! What are the other three zones that you have (not including the backyard or the new garden bed?)

McKynzee :rachio:

1 Like

There are four other zones; one additional backyard zone covering the lawn and another three in the front yard.

All the control valves are in the front yard and not convenient to splitting off an entirely new zone. :confused:

@DTWinters, I’m thinking there is a way that you could use two zones and a normally open double pole single throw relay (24VAC NO DPST) to accomplish this. One zone would trigger just the Garden zone and the other zone would trigger the relay which would connect both the Garden and the remainder of the backyard zone. This way the Garden only zone wouldn’t trigger the remainder of the backyard as the relay would block the current coming from the Garden zone and not let it energize the backyard zone. I’ll the the more electrical savy folks comment. The other side of the relay coil would be connected to the common on the Rachio. I don’t know if the relay coil and the two solenoids would overload the Rachio as the Rachio can drive multiple circuits at once as master pump circuit would be one and the active zone would be two (you’re not using the master pump circuit are you?).

@DTWinters, if I’m understanding correctly, you effectively want to make the shrub/garden valve into a master valve for the subdivided half, which would have a slave valve?

We might be able to make something work using a Doubler provided you ran a multi-strand wire with at least 2 wires from the valve box with the “master” valve to the “slave” valve as noted above.

1 Like

@DLane, Thanks for your ideating. In answer to your question, I am not currently using the master pump circuit.

@emil, Thanks to you also for your ideating. That Doubler device appears very useful even as I still can’t get my arms around how it actually works. I do think your explanation of master and slave does explain my use case.

Restating the desired use case differently, I am looking to add a second inline valve that when closed would limit watering to just the first section of an existing zone. That first zone is a garden bed that would be watered more frequently than the remaining larger section.

Your combined ideating has sparked a new idea on my part:

What if the first zone powers only the first valve and I double lug the second valve and a pigtailed first valve lead to a second zone on the Rachio controller?

In theory, when the first zone is powered on only the first valve would open and water would be limited to the first garden bed. When the second zone is powered on both valves would open providing water to the garden bed and all the other heads of the entire zone.

Is this possible or would the power flow back from the pigtailed first valve lead back to the Rachio lugged second valve lead causing the second valve to always be open when either zone is powered on?

I do have extra conductors available on the wire going to the new valve if that could help.

Thanks in advance for your continued assistance. I feel like we are close to solving this puzzle.

1 Like

@DTWinters, I believe the current would flow from the first valve down the pigtail to the second valve, so the second valve would be on all the time. That was actually my first idea and I had the post all typed up and then I realized the current would flow back through the jumper/pigtail connection and always power the second valve. I’ll try to draw up a schematic for you, it was late the other night. Is your controller inside or outside in a weather proof box (just trying to figure out where I can put the relay)?

1 Like

@DLane The controller is inside my garage.

Thanks in advance for your schematic and assistance.

DTWinters, Here’s my shot at the schematic. Zone 6 is the Garden. Zone 7 is both the Garden and the Backyard. Don’t forget to enable the master valve option under Advanced Settings (I believe) in the application as I split the power load between zone 7 (the relay coil) and the master valve would be firing both sprinkler solenoids. One might be able to source the power for all three from the zone 7 connection, but I’d hate to overload that circuitry.

Along with a relay like this ( I haven’t verified that the Rachio can drive this relay coil, but something like this.

And the standard disclaimer - “your mileage may vary”.

1 Like

@DLane Wow!!! Thanks so much for drawing this schematic and sourcing the relay.

Can anyone from Rachio or familiar enough with their controller confirm whether zone 7 could power the relay and two valves or should I leverage the master valve power per @DLane’s suggestion?

There’s nothing like a strong community to overcome a product limitation! :slight_smile:

1 Like

@DTWinters, makes sense, we’re on the same page.

How many extra wires do you have available?

Love the idea! However, there might be an easier solution. If you have two extra wires, you can run one from the first zone and another from the second zone, then connect both wires to one terminal on the controller. The controller is capable of running two zones at once, allowing water to the garden + larger section.

1 Like

@DLane Does your newly proposed approach require two separate wires being run to the original (and first in line) valve? Unfortunately, I don’t have an extra wire available to that first valve even as I have 5 conductor wire going to the newly installed second in line valve.

Thanks for the continued efforts and enjoy your weekend when you get to it.

1 Like

@DTWinters, Nope. One wire runs to each solenoid. You’ll have a connection there at the controller for that zone that will have three wires - Wire one will come from port 6 on the Rachio, wire two will come from the NO DPST relay and wire three will be the wire running to the solenoid down the 5 conductor wire.

@Emil, I don’t think connecting two wires together will work. A) it sounds like there isn’t a spare wire and B) when the Garden only zone triggers (AKA Zone 6 above) I believe the current will travel back up the second wire on the first valve/solenoid back toward the Rachio and then back out the wire it is doubled with (AKA Zone 7 in the example) connected to for the backyard zone - which would cause the backyard zone to run when either Zone 6 or Zone 7 is triggered. If I understood the comment correctly. That is why the NO DPST relay is in-line to prevent the backyard valve/soleniod from activating when Zone 6 is triggered.

@DLane, @emil Ooops. I meant to pose my last reply question to Emil. DLane, thanks for raising the same concern.

To solve this once and for all I will spend 15 minutes this weekend trying Emil’s approach with a pigtail. I hope that approach works and saves some money. Otherwise, I will order the suggested relay.

I will report back.

Much appreciated.


@emil @DLane I have confirmed that the pigtail approach doesn’t work as both valves are opened when either zone is powered on.

It’s time for me to order the relay described.

More to come.

@DTWinters, you can probably find a normally open double pole single throw relay that uses a 24 V AC coil (NO DPST 24VAC) relay in town from a supply store and not have to order it and wait. I just wanted to provide an example. No guarantees on the example provided - I was looking for a good picture.

@DLane I’m a patient guy and the supply houses here in Austin tend to have limited hours, be located far north or south, and have high prices.

I found this unit on eBay at only $8 with 3 day shipping. It appears to by a winner. :slight_smile:

Wouldn’t it be nice if the Rachio just allowed multiple zones to be powered at once. Hopefully, they get around to that before long.

DTWinters, I think the eBay option has DC (Direct Current) coil and I believe Rachio puts out AC (Alternating Current). You’ll want a relay that uses AC for the relay coil.

1 Like

@DLane Thanks for the catch. Ebay suggested this model and I hadn’t caught that particular. Fortunately, I hadn’t pulled the trigger, yet.

SUCCESS!!! A hearty thank you to @DLane for his schematic and sourcing the required relay.

A backyard zone now has an extra valve inline so that I can sprinkle just my garden or the garden and the much larger area beyond. @DLane and @Emil stepped up and through their guidance I got around the current inability for the Rachio controller to power 2 different zones at the same time.

I bought this 24VAC relay from Zoro for $15.25 all in and it arrived 2 days later.

@Dlane, let me know when you are in Austin and I will buy you a beer, or better yet I’ll make you a salad with vegetables from the garden.

Thanks for all the help!

P.S. My hardest part was realizing that the Master Valve setting is enabled through the web interface and not the mobile app. :slight_smile: