Transition from Rainbird SST1200O to Rachio 16ZULW

Hello, I recently purchased a Rachio 1st Gen 16ZULW, and I will be replacing a Rainbird SST1200O. The Rainbird came with a “weather sensor”, which adjusted watering based on measured temperature, precipitation and a historical (pre-programmed) weather database. I’ve used the Rainbird controller for a couple of years now and have found the optimal settings for each station through trial and error. The Rainbird setting for each station is simply the necessary weekly schedule based on the average warmest period of the year. The Rainbird controller would then adjust watering by percentage (higher and lower watering times based on this baseline value), based on the measured weather. I was hoping I could directly translate these settings (i.e. baseline weekly watering schedule) to the new Rachio controller, with watering time adjustments based on actual & forecast weather, but it appears to be more complicated.

My question: How can I use my Rainbird controller settings to setup my Rachio controller? I know how much water each zone needs during the warmest part of the year, so I’ve tried to setup my zones in Rachio to achieve a “Flexible Daily” schedule with a “Duration” equal to what was used in the Rainbird. To accomplish this, I’ve tried different combinations of “crop” and “sprinkler heads”. However, I don’t know what “100% Duration” means for the Rachio (i.e. is that the weekly amount, or per-watering amount; warmest part of the year?).

Is there a better way to setup the Rachio by using the information from my Rainbird without starting over with trial & error?


Great questions.

If you are using our Flexible daily scheduling, the approach we take is much more sophisticated. We track moisture levels on a daily basis, only watering when your zone is depleted, or empty.

With flex daily schedules the watering duration, or watering amount never changes, just watering frequency. By filling up your zone bucket and waiting to water until its fully depleted, this promotes root growth, reduces watering frequency and results in a healthier, more drought tolerant landscape. We allow changing duration by percentages from 50% to 150% of the duration we derive from crop type, nozzle type, etc. I wouldn’t focus on the percent, just that the watering minutes are generally what you want.

I would start with close to the same duration you have used in the past just as a baseline and see how flex daily behaves. You can easily see how it will water by just looking at each zone’s soil moisture graphs (available when zones are in a flex schedule). If the system is watering too frequently, or too infrequently, we can help you dial that in. There are some great community members that love to help as well. After things are running smoothly, you can always adjust down the minutes and see how your lawn reacts. I know this is a lot to get used to, but the end results will be worth it :wink:

This is a good, short article on the general concepts of flex schedules.

This has an overview of all the flex scheduling resources.

If you are looking for something a bit more predictable, flexible monthly schedules adjust frequency each month, tracking historical weather data.

Welcome to the community!