# Smart Cycle and Soak wastes time

According to documentation cycle and soak waters a zone for part of the required time, then waits to let water soak in, and then waters again etc. In the sample image below it is suggested that a second zone on the same schedule might be watering while the first zone is in the “soak” portion.

However, what I observe in my situation is different. I have four zones on a single schedule, smart cycle and soak. They all have equal run times of 20 minutes. What I see happening is this:

• Zone 1, water 10 min
• Zone 2, water 10 min
• Zone 3, water 10 min
• Zone 4, water 10 min
• Zone 4, soaking for 11 min
• Zone 1, water 10 min
• Zone 2, water 10 min
• Zone 3, water 10 min
• Zone 4, water 10 min
The “explicit” soaking of zone 4 is unnecessary because it will not again be activated for 30 minutes if we would have gone straight back to zone 1.

In the approach taken, zone 1 will already have soaked for 30 minutes after zone 4 finishes. Likewise zone 2 will have soaked for 20 minutes (and an additional 10 once zone 1 has ran for the second time etc.), and so on. If watering times had been larger, there might have been two or more of such “wasted” soaking times. While 10 minutes does not seem much, if there are many separate schedules they all end up waiting for a schedule that “wastes time”, and they each might waste their own time.

Suggest this be fixed.

Love the analysis @dolfs , but I’m guessing the published Example Smart Cycle Schedule is a simplified illustration of a more complex issue - being sure to get all the watering done without waste or extra calculations once underway. What if, in your scenario, zone 1, 2 or 3 fails a flow check during the first run and is shut down (for its first run and therefore its second too)?

I can’t tell you how Smart Cycle is programmed, but it clearly does zones in order and won’t proceed to the next zone if that next zone still has soak time to count down. You have cleverly sussed out that it may also wait for ALL soak times to decay away if the next zone is the head of the list. For your optimization, it would have to be able to skip a “soaking” zone and run another later zone out-of-order.

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I agree that there might be a mismatch between documentation and intent or execution. Yet, what I point out is simply a wait that is not necessary, regardless of documentation. The intent is to soak before the next (partial) watering. That has been accomplished after zone 4 waters the first time. Therefore the wait is simply not necessary.

Contrary to what you say, I clearly see the next zone start watering, while the previous one is still in “soak” mode.That makes sense.

However, it occurred to me that, based on zone design, sprinklers in one zone might overlap area with those in another zone. If that is the case, perhaps soaking time should be extended. Currently. however, Rachio does not know about such overlap. It will/should either assume no overlap (in which case my example stands), or yes overlap. In the latter case, assuming zones 1-4 are overlapping, the delay at the end makes sense to guarantee enough soaking.

But any design is unlikely to overlap 4 zones! May be 2 (in my case for sure).

When a wait for soaking is not necessary, it is not done. The system will only delay the re-starting of a zone if it has not soaked long enough. This is what the Smart Cycle diagram indicates, so it is correct.

I have confirmed this with my full Flex Daily Schedule last run August 24:

Zone 4, Water 10 min
Zone 5, Water 14 min
Zone 3, Water 26 min
Zone 2, Water 39 min
Zone 1, Water 35 min
Zone 4, Water 10 min
Zone 5, Water 14 min
Zone 3, Water 25 min
Zone 2, Water 39 min
Zone 1, Water 35 min

In each case, Rachio has watered half the total amount required, then IMMEDIATELY watered the next zone, no delay.

On another day, only Zone 4 was required to water, so:

Zone 4, Water 8 min
Zone 4, Soaked 30 min
Zone 4, Water 8 min
Zone 4, Soaked 30 min
Zone 4, Water 8 min

For some reason, this time Zone 4 got 24 min of water, whereas previously it was 20, but regardless, during soaking, if another zone can be watered, it will be.

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My biggest complaint is that only a single schedule is executed at a time. And then reporting is done by schedule instead of zone. I should not need to open the app and dig into the details to know with zone ran during a schedule. It should be very simple to add all the zones that need to run from multiple schedules together since they are all treated individually and that would allow reporting to call out zones or schedules depending how the user has the system configured.

Hope this isn’t really going to be a problem for you.

Enabled Schedules (on a single controller) can’t operate reliably (or at all) if they are configured to overlap in time.

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Isn’t run/soak cycles based on slope of the area being watered in an effort to stop waste runoff?

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Haven’t looked at mine in a long, long time - but something funky is going on! Flex Daily schedule.

Last time I ran, zones 1,4, and 7 ran.

I double checked the durations and zone 1 is supposed to go for 31 minutes, zone 4 for 24 minutes and zone 7 for 41 minutes. But this is what ACTUALLY happened!!!

1 5:30am started 5:40am ended 10m
4 5:39am started 5:51am ended 12m (I assume the time overlap is just rounding)
7 5:51am started 6:04am ended 13m
7 6:04am SOAKING 6:12am END SOAK
1 6:12am started 6:22am ended 10m
4 6:22am started 6:34am ended 12m
7 6:34am started 6:47am ended 13m

The total watering times are not what they are supposed to be!!!

Zone 1 - should be 31 minutes, only watered for 20 minutes
Zone 4 - should be 24 minutes, actually watered for 24 minutes
Zone 7 - should be 41 minutes, only watered for 26 minutes

Something is hugely amiss!!! Guess I need to contact support and let them know this is happening.

You didn’t specify what kind of schedule you’re running, but if it’s a fixed schedule and you last checked the expected durations BEFORE the latest seasonal shift was delivered a couple days ago, that might explain the changes. (Which, incidentally, the shift did by shortening my water-restrictions emergency override schedule. Oops. I forgot Seasonal Shift is a schedule-specific setting, and I should have turned it off.)

If you’re running a flex schedule, a milder forecast might have influenced the pre-run calculation to water fewer minutes.

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I don’t know what your normal times are, but I’d check out the calculated water amount for zones for that day, and see if they agree with what Rachio has recorded. And how does that compare to your “normal” times and water amount?

No, a flex schedule always keeps the same watering time, only changes how often it waters, or at least that’s what it used to do and I haven’t seen anything where they have changed that.

This schedule is a Flex Daily schedule and it should never get seasonal shift.

I have a spreadsheet where I keep all my changes, exactly what I changed, and calculate out the durations. It all matches what Rachio says the duration on those zones should be. I haven’t made any changes to the settings on any of these zones since June of 2022. The one change I have made is to lower the coefficients a bit as I wanted to save a little water and see if the lawn would still do OK. And that change is supposed to be only be how often it waters since it is a Flex Daily schedule.

I can’t agree. Duration in flex daily is calculated before every run as needed, if possible. It may have to allow for rainfall that has already fallen or a high probability forecast of rain, the status of zone depletion, changes of zone settings, etc. You can adjust flex daily watering duration values by zone or for total time as you wish. Personally, I believe the duration values in a flex daily schedule are what Rachio uses if it can’t “phone home” at the time it’s preparing a run. I can’t prove that, but my versions of those never change, unless I change them (as you’ve noticed yourself). In Fixed Schedules, the seasonal shift can/does make changes to them (as you also may have seen).

I can’t wait for some rain.

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In my experience, watering duration stays the same with Flex Daily, and only frequency changes, unless you make a change to the zone settings.

Was the most recent run in September? My schedules just underwent a seasonal adjustment on Sept. 1. July is my 100% month; September is about 75%. The Fixed Schedule will show you explicitly, but I believe the Flex Daily adjusts each run (I’m not certain; we went from no drought last summer to severe drought this summer, so I’ve been on Fixed or off).

You could confirm this by setting up a schedule with just 1 zone and seeing how long it soaks. Is it 30min or is it 44min?

I respectfully disagree with this. Here is the support page that documents that the duration in a Flex Daily schedule does not change, just when it waters changes. Item 5 on the list. Flex Daily Schedules FAQ

There is one exception to this that I will document in a separate response.

And I agree that you REALLY need some rain in Texas and some relief from the heat. My daughter lives in the Austin area, and my last visit with her last month was miserable! Over 100 every. single. day.!!!

I finally figured the problem out!!! And it’s working as designed!! (although I still don’t understand why the one zone was not adjusted).

I remembered last night that there is one exception to the duration not changing in a Flex Daily Schedule. I have my Flex Daily set up for every day except Thursday when my lawn gets mowed. I can’t find it in the forum now, but I remember we talked about this once before — if Flex Daily needs to water and is going to be on a day that is excluded from your schedule, it may make some duration changes for the day before that day. Maybe somebody with better search skills than me can find the thread. So I looked and Aug 23 (the date of this odd duration behavior) was a Wednesday – sure enough, the day before it can’t water. So that explains it.

I had already sent a note to support, so I will see if they can point me to some documentation that I can post to the forum.

Feel much better now that I understand what happened!!!

I ran into this many years ago with Flex daily when I was omitting weekends (days I mowed) from the schedule.

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We might have even talked about it back then! The older I get the rustier the drawers in the file cabinet in my brain get! Just happy I remembered it and mystery solved.