Successfully Integrated Rachio to Real Time Energy Monitoring Capability


#1

Yesterday I integrated my Rachio to my residence’s existing real time energy monitoring capability.

This is just FYI to those who have a similar interest.

My 1st page of real time energy monitoring capability is at http://www.welserver.com/WEL0043/ . This page is used by many to learn fundamentals of geothermal heating & cooling, and solar PV.

Since there isn’t room on the first page for water usage illustration, it’s on page 2: http://www.welserver.com/WEL0343/ . The 5th, 6th and 7th charts are dedicated to water usage.

These charts cover:
water usage by month for the past 13 months ( http://www.welserver.com/perl/plot/WEL0343/Sprinkler2.png - accurate data for last 13 months except for recent period where I was transitioning from old to new irrigation controllers),
water usage by day for the past 13 months ( http://www.welserver.com/perl/plot/WEL0343/Sprinkler1.png - accurate data for past 2 months),
and water usage by hour for the past 15 hours ( http://www.welserver.com/perl/plot/WEL0343/Sprinkler3.png - accurate data).

The objective here is to do a qualitative (not quantitative because each year has a different weather pattern) evaluation of how good the Rachio technology is versus my previous generation controller (use attached to the controller weather data - rain, solar insolation, temperature, and historical weather pattern loaded database - to influence how long a run cycle is).

This is probably a couple year study for a variety of reasons.

As I said in another posting, my home is on the Dallas - Ft. Worth ‘Tour of Homes’ for energy, conservation, and techniques. I’ll be incorporating this study into my teachings.

Best regards,

Bill


#2

@a0128958 This is great stuff, please let us know if you have any questions on fine tuning your schedules, choosing a personal weather station, etc. The better the inputs to the system, the more optimal watering :wink:

:cheers:


#3

Thx. I’m not knowledgeable enough yet on Rachio to even have questions.

A couple of things come to mind:

  1. I removed a municipality approved for incentive controller (Irritrol) in favor of my new Rachio. I wonder what it is that prevents the Rachio from being approved.

  2. It seems obvious that putting in a soil moisture meter for each zone could easily eliminate all of the otherwise data input for each zone (soil type, head type, etc.). What is it about soil moisture sensors that make them either ‘not ready for prime time yet,’ and/or something Rachio does not accommodate at this time?

Thx.

Best regards,

Bill


#4

@a0128958 We just haven’t found a cloud to cloud moisture sensor that makes sense from a cost /functionality perspective. When one does come out we would like to integrate.


#5

What about moisture sensors that hard wire to controllers? Do they not fit your product strategy because:

  1. Prone to reliability problems?
  2. Adds complexity to the Iro installation process?
  3. Not accurate enough yet?
  4. Adds considerable effort to the installation?
  5. Adds considerable complexity to the internal logic of the system?
  6. Something else?

The reason I ask is as I look at the list of approved municipality controllers, most of them are models that use moisture sensors.

Thanks.

Bill


#6

As a consumer, I like the idea of moisture sensors for each zone. But having to wire them into an existing system would make it impractical even if cost were not an issue.


#7

@a0128958, which Irritrol model were you using previously? I’d be interested to know the results after a month of two of use. Perhaps you could give us an update?

Just curious, when is this tour? If the tour has a website, I’d love to learn more about it.

Who is your water district/utility? We can check into rebate requirements in your area.

Good question. As @franz mentioned, cost is a major hurdle for most sensors, especially if needed for every zone. Most SMS controllers, use one sensor for the entire system. Please see this link for more information on the difference between ET and SMS controllers.

Per the 6 reasons you outlined, #1, 2, & 4 would be the top 3 reasons I think wired moisture/soil sensors are difficult to use. The Iro does integrate with the Toro Soil Sensor, which operates like a rain sensor (wiring installation with the Iro found here). I don’t believe this is what you’re looking for however, as it doesn’t report back any data – only interrupts the common wire.

@msdowdie, did you mean to say …having to wire them into an existing system…?

Just curious, how much would you be willing to spend on moisture sensors for your lawn?


#8

My model was Irritrol Climate Logic Wireless Sensing System, a municipality approved controller.

After installing it properly, the experiment was, can use of a ‘smart’ sprinkler controller lower water use. The answer was a resounding yes, and was based on the quantitative data shown here: http://www.welserver.com/perl/plot/WEL0343/Sprinkler2.png . What you can’t see is the previous year’s baseline - what you do see is a substantial reduction, more than enough to account for year to year climate change.

As I said earlier, I have intergrated my Iro into the monitoring system I have to resume posting the water sprinkler usage data to the charts.

The ‘official’ list of approved controllers is at:
http://www.ci.frisco.tx.us/departments/publicworks/water/programRebates/smartControllerProgram/Pages/QualifyingControllers.aspx .

Here’s the info on last year’s tour: http://www.dfwsolartour.org/ . My site is described at: http://www.dfwsolartour.org/locations/neukranz/index.html .

I’d probably look elsewhere, or do with the approximations that Iro makes, if cost of a moisture sensor, wired, is more than $50. I’m not interested in wireless sensors either. I’ve done too much field trials work for WiFi thermostat manufacturing companies to be willing to put up with the difficulties. I don’t believe you can get reliability without them being wired.

Best regards,

Bill


#9

Yes, sorry for the typo – corrected it. I’d be willing to consider up to $50 per zone for accurate, reliable, and trouble-free wireless moisture sensors. I’d think that no matter how good the weather data or how well system settings are dialed in for flex schedules, direct observation of soil moisture would always be better.


#10

@a0128958, thanks for providing this list. I know that we have been talking to Frisco and I believe we’re close to getting on their list. One of the last replies I’ve seen from them noted “…We are very aware of the Rachio controller and the fact that it is now on the EPA WaterSense list, however, as I have explained to Rachio, our list of certified controllers comes from the SWAT approved list of controllers. We also have the ability to test controllers on our own and if deemed to meet the criteria for water conservation, we can add a controller to the list ourselves…You can, however, purchase the controller and if the Iro is added to the list in the future, you can apply for the rebate at that time…”

We are currently working with SWAT and hope to review the results of Frisco’s independent tests with them in the near future.

Are you concerned with the wireless mositure sensors loosing connectivity and/or reporting bad data?

@msdowdie, soil moisture sensors do provide a great closed loop system to make decisions from. If an affordable option emerges, it would be easy for us to integrate with them provided they have an API.


#11

connectivity.

Look at the problems Nest and Ecobee have with tstats in the home maintaining WiFi connectivity. As you’re probably aware (intensely aware), maintaining WiFi connectivity with your controller is no easy task (especially out in garage).

WiFi to outside? Tough challenge IMO. I’d like to see you focus on wired moisture sensors. Maybe develop them to use 1-wire technology to make the wiring easy, and make it so that you only need 3 physical terminals to add to the Iro’s base which then accommodate an unlimited (within reason) number of 1-wire technology moisture sensors.

Best regards,

Bill


#12

The list, as of 5/28/16 is here http://www.friscotexas.gov/355/5883/Qualifying-Controllers and Rachio is on the list.