Trying to understand why Rachio says I cannot install my flow meter

Picture of my set up:

I had planned to put the flow meter between the red shut off valve and the zone valves. Support is saying this set up is “incompatible” with the flow meter, but I am doing it all myself so I can make whatever changes I need to make. But I can’t get a clear answer from them on what I need to change and why.

The valves each have their own backflow preventor, so I assumed I can put the flow meter between the red shut off valve and the zone valves. I understand there isn’t currently enough space but I can move the zone valves.

I think what support is saying is that I need to have a backflow preventor between the flow meter and the water spigot (which I can certainly do) but I don’t understand why I need it if the zone valves each have their own backflow preventor.

Thanks for any help you can offer!

@gmahoney - please embed the picture in the post instead of on Google. Getting a 404 error when trying to view the picture.

@gmahoney - thanks for posting the picture. Caveat, I don’t work with Rachio, I’m not a plumber and I don’t know the plumbing code where you reside.

The Rachio Wireless Flow Meter has not been certified for use with potable (drinking) water. The flow meter is made from ABS plastic which is fine for potable water. Others have postulated that Rachio didn’t want to spend the $$$ to get the device certified for use with potable water when it would never/rarely be installed in a situation where it would come in contact with potable water.

What is the distance from the 90 degree elbow after the red cutoff valve and the PVC cross? I would install the flow meter 6" after the 90 degree elbow. If there is not 14" between the elbow and cross, then the three zone lines would need to be cut and extended toward the top of the picture to create enough room for the flow meter between the elbow and cross.

As a FYI, don’t install an anti-siphon valve in as a master valve to serve as a backflow preventer as there shouldn’t be another valve downstream from an anti-siphon valve. Are the current anti-siphon valves located higher than every head in the system (and there may be a minimum vertical distance they are supposed to be installed above the highest head)? If not, the anti-siphon valves may not be functioning as intended. I think the irrigation pro’s would say a check valve or backflow preventer should be installed to prevent any cross contamination from the irrigation water to the drinking water.


I’ll confirm what @DLane said. The Rachio is made out of the same material as a number of products within a potable water system, so there is nothing in it that is going to cause you any harm. It comes down to Rachio paying IAPMO for the NSF or UPC approval to make it “safe”. But, since Rachio opted to not pay the hefty fees (which I don’t blame them for not doing), they have to label it as such.

Also, if you go the backflow route before the flow meter, you can’t keep the current valves you have in place. You can’t have a backflow device behind a backflow device as they may not function properly.

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Thanks very much for the help! I do need to cut the existing line to give space for the flow meter.

I was trying to understand why the Flow Meter needed to be protected from the water supply because it didn’t seem like it was going to be a source of contamination. The approval thing makes a lot of sense.

Thanks again for all the help!