Three years and still no Gallons per Hour?

@plainsane, I think you are ignoring the basic point that I and others have been trying to make. and that is that in the calculation that Rachio uses, the surface area factor is completely superfluous for a single point emitter system. Volume UNDERGROUND is not the same a surface area, as you point out later.

I think that you have unintentionally highlighted the ridiculousness of the Rachio expecting it’s customers to be experts in both botany and mathematics. While you may be trying to water an oak tree with a drip system (not terribly efficient, I think) most of us are watering single shrubs or small bushes, flowering annuals and that sort. Why would I put a drip ring on a yarrow or a rock rose? A single pressure compensating emitter should do just fine. I do appreciate your example but it really underscores how completely lacking in support for single point emitter systems Rachio’s software is. An inch/hour calculation would not change the situation.

Your last point hit mine on the head - Why spend $250 on Rachio’s broken promises and deaf ears when you could get a much less expensive system with actual support that works better and does what we want? I would hope that SOMEONE at Rachio is listening but I’m not holding my breath.

And just for the record, two of the gentlemen I talked to had doctorates - one in Horticultural Engineering - so I do trust what they say when it comes to plants and numbers. And I actually do like Pepsi much better than Coke. : )

can i ask a question? what value would you put in for gallons per hour?

I understand ppl think in gallons per hour. The only point I’m trying to make is that is half the picture. If you are planning a for trip, who cares if you car gets 20 miles to the gallon. That tells half the story, you also need to know how many gallons you have left. Thus 3 dimensional volume.

But I’ll ask you, what value would you put in the gallons per hour setting for one of your zones.

@plainsane I have 1GPH heads for my shrubs and 2GPH heads for my trees. I have three 2 GPH heads per tree and would therefore set 6 GPH for trees. Shrubs are all single point with 1-GPH heads so that would be my entry.

The Water It Wisely site recommendation is 8 gallons for my shrubs and 30 for my trees. I their have 8 hr watering times for my shrubs and 5 hours for my trees, respectively. My shrubs water about every 5 days now. They had been going 1 day longer but were showing signs of distress on that final day so I notched up the crop coefficient.

When you tell me what I’m doing wrong adding heads to 30+ sights in 112F weather isn’t on the table. :wink:

I have been reading this thread with great interest. There have been a lot of good points made by everyone.

I had not read the Water It Wisely document as I originally thought it just pertained to the desert environment. After reading it, it is one of the best write ups I have seen for using drip emitters. And it turns out that I had kind of stumbled on the settings they recommend. Just by watching my annuals/perennials, I had discovered that I need to run my system about an hour a day during the really hot nasty days for them to look healthy. When it hasn’t run, I had a couple of new plantings reach the permanent wilt point. (IMHO, Rachio should point to this link in their support doc as it is such a good article to help us regular homeowners figure things out AND clarify that it is good info no matter where you live to get you going).

I also don’t want to use a fixed schedule, because I just strongly feel that using flex daily makes more sense, allowing the system to not have to water every day once the weather conditions get a little cooler.

Having done computer programming at one time in my career, I don’t see why the custom nozzle portion of the Rachio code couldn’t be front ended with a little code that lets you either choose GPH or inches/hour. It’s a relatively simple math equation that would make things simpler for users. The back end of the code could remain the same,

@Linn, agreed, this is a great resource and we’ll add it to the support doc for drip emitters.

While this feature request is still in our backlog, we have a new support tool (compliments of @lucasc) to help with calculating precip rate using GPH. To use, visit the link above, then follow these steps: Select US/Imperial units > Select Turf or Drip > Select Meter Measurement if Turf > Skim the meter instructions overview, select Continue > in the available fields, enter the following: GPH = Gallons Measured, 60 = Minutes Tested, and Square Footage of Zone = Area (you should see the screen below) if you’re entering GPH for drip emitters, use the value “1” for area

Let me know if this tool helps. We can refine it if there’s any confusion.

Best, Emil

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@emil It’s great to see that you guys are moving forward on these types of calculators to get people going! I have a couple of questions.

1 - I don’t see the Area when I get to the same screen that you show. What might I be doing differently ?

2 - Would you mind commenting on this post as related to the 1ft x 1ft area assumption ? Had I done that for my case I would have ended up with a PR much higher than necessary to get the recommended deep desert watering that is common here, and recommended by our local resources. It seems that the 1ft x 1ft assumption is good for heterogeneous systems with emitter grids and/or rings, but I don’t see the same application for single point shrubs, etc.

Thanks again, this work is great to see !!!

Hi @azdavidr,

I really appreciate your feedback. With drip lines - area is set to 1 for the calculation because drip lines have a higher pressure than your typical rotor/fixed spray head and do not cover much ground. Hence why this goes straight to a meter measurement test.

If there is a better way that you, @emil, and I can get together, I am happy to get make the changes needed.

@lucasc I see, the turf option has the area but drip doesn’t. That makes sense! As a side note, the drip calculation when choosing US measurements puts out PR in cm/in. I’m not sure that’s what you intend?

@Linn, the wizard and the custom nozzle articles are now linked together. See this article now

@azdavidr Good catch! It’s fixed now :cheers:

I’m not saying you are doing anything wrong. I’m just going through the thought expirement.

So if you had the gph box you would enter?

I’m assuming you would make multiple entries for a single zone and the software does its intergalactic business and computes a mythical number (you didn’t provide enough info) of 60 gallons an hour.

Are saying that you would want to configure flex to apply 120 gallons of water this a 2 hour run time?

Here is my exact process from Water Use It Wisely. The steps below correspond to the same steps in the website.

Step 1: I picked the following average canopy sizes for my larger shrubs and trees, and found the appropriate gallon recommendation

Step 2: Take note of my GPH per shrub and tree as directed by the site. In my case it was one, 1 GPH emitter per shrub, and three 2 GPH emitters per tree. Here’s what they state for step 2.

Step 3a: Use the information from steps #1 & #2 for the entries in the calculator they have in this step. Hit ‘Calculate’, and see the recommended run time.

Step 3b: Hit ‘Next’. They list a table for Phoenix that suggests watering frequency and root depth. I used these to approximate a root depth. Since I had decent values in place for AWC, and with Rachio’s magic, I automatically got the intervals they suggest. Check!

Step 4: I went into the Rachio settings for nozzles, and adjusted the PR down until I got to the suggested 8 hr times for shrubs, and 4.5 hours for trees.


Coudn’t Step 4 be easily spit out by a Rachio calculator once it has the information from step 3 so I didn’t have to make the empirical adjustment to PR? As you well noted, there are comments in the Water it Wisely site about moving the heads out to the canopy circumference and adding heads as the vegetation grows. In my case I haven’t had to add heads beyond the three per tree. Perhaps I got lucky because of the development stage of my vegetation. Our yards also tend to be reasonably dense in terms of the trees/shrubs, so I also think there’s some amount of H2O stealing from one plant to another for those that have longer roots. Don’t tell my neighbor, but I’m pretty sure my large Ficus is drinking up his water too. It’s not ideal, but if Rachio had this type of calculator built into their site I think it would get people a lot closer to a decent starting point, and would minimize the frustration highlighted by this thread. A single-point-emitter Rachio setup calculator like this could (and probably should) have a bunch of disclaimers on it that state the recommended uniformity and placement of emitters. That way people would know that this is an approximation, and the further they deviate from the assumptions the worse their estimate will be.


Glad you posted that–I was just about to. You did a great job with the pics and your explanation!
One final step I took was to use a soil probe to confirm watering depth.

I’ve been thinking about this “gallon per hour” thread and like you, I found the flex daily for the lawn easier than the drip system. Besides, St. Augustine grass is tough and very forgiving, but the drip on the veggies took a lot of “tweaking” to set up so the tomatoes didn’t split and the cucumbers didn’t fry in the blazing afternoon sun.

Funny comment about the ficus. :smile:
My neighbor’s Indian Fig sent huge roots under the fence to my lawn. Now that thing is getting close to 10 ft. tall and the pads on it are over a foot wide.


One thing I’ll note with regards to single point emitters vs. drip rings, The choice isn’t related to laziness or lack of knowledge I believe. I’ve gone to several seminars put on by landscape experts in the valley that seem pretty knowledgeable. They mentioned drip lines but always focused on single point emitters. I believe this is because most of this is pushing for desert adapted landscapes. So you don’t necessarily need a drip ring since for most desert adapted trees you don’t need to water more than 50% of the root ball for the tree to grow.per their recommendations. So a drip ring may be overkill and also a bit of a hassle since you do have to keep moving the emitters out to the drip line as the tree grows.


Which even further complicates a solution. Here in the south we do a ring then apply the emitters where you want them.

We need a GPM based upon meter readings to have an actual minute usage for each zone. This should have been done first because it is way easier and user friendly than a complicated dripper/area calculation.

We need it soon!

@Commuterfisher, are you referring to a GPM field in the app? If so, I’d recommend adding some comments to this product suggestion in how you’d like to see it work.

If you’re just looking for a calculator, the steps listed in a post above can be used to calculate the precip rate using your meter (see meter instructions within the interactive questionnaire for more detail).

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@lucasc For your online calculator that determines precipitation rate of drip emitters, would the 1 sq ft assumption increase with the number of emitters in the zone? I have about 15 drip emitters and they put out in total 50 in/hr from your calculator (my system is a bit over-pressured) ! Should the assumption be 1 sq ft per emitter? So my square footage would be 15 sq ft to bring the precipitation rate down to 3.3 in/hr?

@redwagon If you use the 1 sq. ft. assumption, do a sanity check on your run times once you use the associated PR. I found the watering duration to be vastly lower than what it should be using the 1 sq. ft. assumption for single point emitters. I know the 1 sq. ft. assumptions work for some. Maybe it’s due to desert watering requirements, but I would check your watering times against what you expect them to be. My PR for my 2 GPH drips (3 per tree) is 0.4 in/hr to get the deep watering we require. At 3.3 in/hr my run times would be 8 times shorter than the local (Arizona) recommendation for my trees.

Thank you @azdavidr, just wanted to highlight the error in the online calculator that is assuming 100% of the water in a drip zone is being applied to only 1 sq ft of area. Most drip zones have multiple emitters. Reading through this thread, I understand the arguments for/against 1 sq ft usage, but that area should at least be per emitter in the calculator.