Run Multiple Zones At Once




Additional details: My zones are: A) Pots B) Non-native plants C) lower-water use plants D) Trees. The zones have the following number of valves: A) 1 B) 1 C) 6 D) 6. I keep the watering duration constant. The durations for each valve within a zone are A) 1.5 hrs B, C and D) 4 hrs. This means that zones C and D run for 24 hours. These are all drip irrigation. A plant emitter provides 1 gallon of water per hour. A tree emitter provides 2 gallons of water per hour. Depending on the size of the plant or tree, it may have one or multiple emitters. I listed the winter frequency in the post above. I have worked out schedules for Winter, Summer, and Summer over 108 degrees. For the latter, I run zone “A” twice daily (2 AM and 2 PM), “B” every 2 days, “C” every 3 days and “D” every 7 days. When there is a collision in the schedule of two zones, the second one waits until the first finishes. This means in the summer, for instance, when “A” collides with “C”, every 3rd day the pots do not get watered at all. The only solution I see will be to change the composition of the zones, e.g. reduce the valve duration in zone “C” and add the pots to that zone. It would simplify things greatly if your software allowed 2 valves to operate concurrently.


Also, the software it geared for grass sprinklers. Will you be adding features specific to drip irrigation?


I have no issues with my drip, what are you looking for


The drip irrigation features are mainly for water usage reporting. If we could tell the system how many drip emitters are on a zone of each type (1/2 gal/hr, 1 gal/hr, 2 gal/hr), the usage reporting would be more accurate.


Franz - I just bought a second Iro controller (Generation 2) to run in parallel with my first. This will allow 2 zones to run concurrently. Do you have any information on the proper installation/wiring?


@emil, do we have any documentation about proper installation or wiring with 2 controllers running parallel?


I also need to create overlapping schedules for specific zones. My problem is, that I have one separate sprinkler, that does not consume enough water to leave the pump running all the time (pressure controlled). Wiring up this sprinkler to another zone also does not work, because they have a much longer runtime.
Any ideas or is the only approach the second controller? I don’t want to spent money for a second rachio just for one sprinkler, meanwhile this should be manageable trough a single rachio.

I also need to create overlapping schedules for specific zones

I also would like to see this feature in near future as I’d like to shorten total watering time by running multiple zones at once while I still want to have a flexibility to water a single zone when necessary.


We would also like to see the multiple zone feature for us it is not an option, it is a hard requirement that prevents use of the Rachio product. We have 40 zones on a 33 acre property, with a combination of lawn, drip for landscaping, drip for olive trees, drip for vineyards and some decorative water features. We have plenty of pressure to run multiple zones at once. There are not enough hours in the day to run all of our zones serially, and it is really not a good thing if turning on a water feature for 8 hours blocks all other watering during that time (or the water feature gets shut off when a sprinkler comes on).

While we are certainly an outlier, I think the normal use case for running multiple drip lines in parallel makes sense for many users of a 16 zone product. I love many of the product features, but can’t use it to replace our home-brew, relay based system unless we can get at least 2 zones to operate in parallel (and for us no more than 4).


Can anyone from Rachio provide an indication if support for running multiple zones concurrently is on the roadmap?


Can’t you just hook the up to the same wire?


Hooking up to the same wires could work, but is not ideal. In the end, this is a philosophical debate, not a technical one. As long as the electrical capacity to hold solenoids open (~300ma per solenoid) is available, the software should not restrict the operator from running multiple zones in parallel. Unfortunately many “dumb” controllers implement this as a feature. A smart controller like Rachio should be able to provide a slick enough UI to make this both easy to setup and obvious to monitor.

This installation is all drip for olives, grapes and landscape plants with different microclimates on terrain ranging from steep to flat and exposure ranging from full sun to partial shade. What we are looking for is the ability to run 2-4 zones concurrently (limited by water pressure) with independently set durations. There are not enough hours in a day to run the zones serially (At an average of 4 hours of drip per zone, 16 zones = 64 hours of run time, resulting in a continuously running pump and 2 dry days between waterings for a given zone). There are other low pressure water features on the property (water slide, fountains) that would ideally be run from the same controller but cannot be since their operation would block watering cycles. The property is located over 100 miles from my home and does not always have someone on site to perform even the simplest manual operations, so all control must be remote.

Our existing system is a homebrew implementation using an Insteon based home controller (Universal Devices ISY-994) to control 32 zones using 4 EZIO8T relays from Smartenit. It works great - when it works. The problem is that 3 of the EZIO8T devices have now suffered hardware failures, forcing me to evaluate options. I would strongly prefer a system that is purpose built for managing drip irrigation to a custom solution that only I can operate. Commercially available solutions such as the Hunter AC-1200 are over $1200 and are geared for ON-SITE, not remote operations and don’t offer the great integrations that Rachio does.

So - back to the question - Is there any hope of Rachio offering the ability to run multiple zones in parallel by next spring?


At the moment, this is not on our roadmap.


Sorry to learn that. With 5k views it seems like this is a topic that has huge interest in your community.

Is there any reason sprinkler manufacturers in general, and Rachio specifically, don’t allow zones to run simultaneously? It seems like this is just a legacy holdover from dumb controllers.


What would it take to get this on the roadmap? Seems like there is a bunch of interest. I realize I’ve already purchased my device so adding new features may not appear to make money at first but it could help sell more.


Just don’t draw more than 1.5 amp.


This is feature found in central control or advanced two-wire systems. To be able to run more than one zone with any controller you must have correct mainline size, gallons per minute capacity known and pressure at the critical head. Golf courses with four or six inch pipe will commonly run multiple zones. There again it comes down to the pipe size and general hydraulics.


@robertokc you are correct about having enough pressure to run sprinklers, but for drip systems this is much less of an issue.


System water pressure and system capacity are two separate things. You must have a minimum of 15 psi at the drip emitter or no water will come out. System capacity in gallobs per ninute is contingent on two things: water meter size and its maximum flow; and size of the mainline pipe. Look at PVC or poly pipe friction loss charts. Pure physics dictate how much water can be carried through the mainline. I don’t think it is possible to run more than one zone at a time.