I installed the new Rachio 3 system a couple weeks ago, and used the smart settings to set the schedule. I am in Fort Worth, and we may only water two days per week, and I have that set correctly. I went ahead and used the ‘smart’ cycle, and I noticed that the soak is happening toward the end of the process. I have 9 zones, and Zone 8 runs last. It runs for 8 minutes then soaks for 30, then runs for another 8 minutes and ends. Only Zone 8 has this soaking element to the schedule. I reviewed the history since installing on July 12, and only zone 8 has this soaking process happening. Zone 8 is just 5 sprinklers that spray on the right side of the house.
My grass is still green in this heat, so I guess we’re doing okay, but I just don’t get how the smart cycle works, while it only soaks the one zone. Anyone have any more insight into how this feature works?
It has been my experience that Smart Soak occurs mostly on zones that apply a lot of water at once (sounds like your zone with only 5 sprinkler heads might do that), so time is taken to let it soak in. I /think/ it might occur more on zones with higher slopes, to prevent runoff, but haven’t confirmed it. Only a couple of my zones will ever soak, as the others apply water too slowly to worry about.
The slope factor makes sense… It’s the only zone I noted with a slight slope. I live in a newer neighborhood where each home was built up on a mound. The front and back are less noticeable, but the sides are sloped. I’ll have to update the other side to see if that changes the smart factor.
Probably more info than you want, but there is a nice table that shows the different max runtimes for soak cycle. It’s a little buried in this support article: https://support.rachio.com/hc/en-us/articles/115010379767-Smart-Cycle-and-manual-cycle-and-soak-features
Go to FAQ and then "How long can a zone’s watering duration continue before it needs to get cycle soaked? "
Good information, Linn. Who’d a thunk-it that all that good information would be buried down there?
We are currently on restrictions in San Antonio and can water only once weekly. During restriction, I have Rachio 3 on a fixed schedule with smart cycle and seasonal adjustments. Currently it cycles through the zones 4 times each on every watering cycle instead of a single longer time only for each zone. This prevents runoff completely. Runoff can be a problem here with our clay soil, and we are subject to fines from the water police if we allow our systems to do that. I’d suggest looking in \your Rachio history to see if your system is running through the zones with multiple short cycles. ()It’s in the “more” menu). I don’t think it includes a “soak” entry for a zone if others are running.
The other strange thing is that the soaking zones are done last (I have two which soak). I would expect the soaking zones to start first, so it could water that zone and move onto another zone before, and then it could come back to the zone once the soak time has expired. This extends the cycle time, as the soak time is indeed dead time. Multiple soaking zones do get interleaved, so Rachio has addressed that aspect.
Mine appear to always water in numeric order. If that’s the case, you could change your zones which soak to lower numbers, and those not soaking, last.