Update? More than 16 zones?

Hey friends :slight_smile:

At this time we don’t have any plans to offer more than 16 zones as a software or hardware feature, but we fully support the unique ways that our users have suggested to make this work in the meantime!

:cheers: Lo

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That’s really disappointing. :confused: It seems like such a natural thing for a smart controller to be aware of another controller at the same property and virtually link them for scheduling purposes.

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Thank you for the clarity! I wish it was different, but at least this helps people make choices. Best of luck to you!

Mike

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They will be left in the dust. More than 16 zones either linked or physical will surely be a feature buyers will look for.

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Yes, not sure why they are making such a hard stance. I mean they go out of there way to show you how to use an isolator, all we need now is the software to make sure zones don’t overlaps between multiple controllers. Astonishing position.

Is there any manufacturer on the market which allows such aggregation of controllers into one “virtual” controller? I’m curious if there is a patent on this approach.

@gbdesai @Gene @jsore

To be very transparent, this is an extremely difficult thing to do in software. Our scheduling algorithms are complex enough, let alone distributed across multiple controllers. We also plan on doing some more sophisticated weather intelligence features across schedules that would make this even more difficult. There would have to be significant domain/database changes, significant server changes, significant client changes across iOS/Android/Web. Along the way user testing, feature testing, etc…and we aren’t building other revenue generating features if we were to focus on this. My estimate for this project is the entire team for 3-4 months, working on nothing else.

When you measure software development costs to the actual number of people that have more than one controller (and that would even use this feature as it’s intended) I’m fairly confident it would take quite some time to recoup those costs, if ever. Can our team build this? Definitely, we have one of the best software teams I’ve worked with. Does it make business sense? Not at this time. I applaud any irrigation company solving the physical --> logical controller problem and wish them the best of luck. We are working on some other amazing hardware and software challenges for next year, stay tuned!

:cheers:

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2 posts were split to a new topic: 3 controllers, 3 flow meters!

Thanks for the clarity. After waiting more than 3 years I will be moving to the Hunter Hydrawise product that now offers up to 54 zones. I have appreciated the open discussion from management and will miss the Rachio community. Running 2 rachio controllers has had limited functionality that no longer serves its purpose. I will finally be able to add flow meter support along with wiring short detection.

Thanks for the clarification. We have been waiting for quite a while thinking that a software solution was in the works. This gives us a clear answer so we can adjust our expectations and frustration.

I wonder if there might be some reporting and maybe some better ways to do quick changes and see the overall results -including potential clashes. By the way your latest revision has helped move between zones and schedules quickly.

Overall, I stand by my statement that McKynzee referenced above. I have 3 - Rachio 16 zone controllers and while it’s frustrating to manage them separately it is much better than my old dumb clocks.

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Hi Franz, we had to face a very similar problem on a security solution. Customers wanted it, we built it, and we could not keep state on two boxes synched fast enough. Needless to say, nobody used that feature. However, since customer pressure was high, we eventually solved it - an entirely different way. We divided the box into control and data planes. We could extent the data plane over multiple chassis, but the merged data plane would only be controlled by one box. That worked amazingly well.

In your application, you could make the second controller a simple port expander to the first, but the intelligence would run on the first, only now with 16 (8+8), 24, or 32 zones. You could run something as simple as SSL/SSH link between the two boxes. One box would become a passive zombie and obey zone calls from the first box. The software already knows how to deal with 16 zones. It cannot be that much more difficult to add 8 or 16 more. You would have to develop a simple control interface between the two. Of course, a HW solution for gen 4 and some serial interconnect which automatically puts the secondary box in receiver mode, is also feasible.

The question for Rachio would be can you guys grow faster in the do-it-yourself small homeowner market by adding more features and beating the Hunters and Rain Birds, or do you go into commercial, become a supplier to contractors in which case zone expansion is a must. Of course, there is much more to it, like understanding the value chain or creating some form of managed service model. In any case, I would not underestimate the need of more zones, like us folks in TX which sky high water bills, relatively large properties, and hence many (often micro) zones.

I am happy to chat, if you want to brainstorm. Have been a product manager/designer/architect for many years.

— Stefan

Do we have any update from the Product Management side from Rachio on the > 16 zones issue?

@sbrunner - if @Franz said he didn’t think it made sense for Rachio to go above 16 zones or tie together multiple controllers to act as one, I don’t think it is going to happen.

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Add me to the list who would like to link multiple controllers or even just a controller with 24 zones. I purchased one Rachio a few years back at the recommendation of our landscaping company. They installed it for my home which has 18 zones. They combined 1 zone with another, and then put a separate “dumb” controller on the final zone which was added in later years. They just installed a second controller so I would have control over everything, but they were not aware of the limitation on having multiple controllers. I am now in the same boat as many others. I live in a neighborhood with around 25 homes, with almost all of those having just as many zones or more than me. I am the only one with a Rachio controller, but I bet more would be customers if this zone limit was addressed.

I understand looking at your existing customer base to determine how to allocate R&D, but it might be erroneous to do so as you might not be taking into account potential new customer base if you add this feature, especially at a higher cost than existing units. A similar scenario to compare could if Amazon had said 10 years ago that they weren’t gong to put any resources into its third-party sellers platform because it made up such a small percentage of its overall revenue (now it makes up around half), or if Amazon or Microsoft decided 10 years ago not to invest in cloud resources because it is such a small percentage of overall revenue. That would have been a lot of lost revenue potential for each company. Those examples are extremely different scales, and I’m sure there are much better examples others could come up with. Hopefully my point is clear.

I really like the product, the general ease of use, but really could use a 24 zone controller, or at least the ability to integrate my two existing controllers. (I posted this on another forum, but thought it appropriate here as well)

I expanded my yard and went from 10 zones to 20 zones. I would have liked to stay with Rachio, but not if my two controllers cannot work together. For any others in a similar situation, I advise taking a look at the Netro sprinkler controller. Multiple controllers can be controlled together.

@dblagent007, can you link to any info on Netro’s support for multiple controllers? I’m curious as to how it differs to what Rachio is capable of. When you say “controllers can be controlled together”, Rachio does it without an issue. Your account can control unlimited controllers, either yours or those shared with you.

There are few advanced features for multiple controller support that is missing at this time, control is not one of them. Some of the things that would make a multiple controller support a success would be:

  1. Allow sensors to be shared by the controllers, such as flow meter connected to one would report usage when a secondary controller is active. Rain sensor is another example of this.
  2. Remove activation of the master valve, allow a secondary controller activate a master valve even if it is only connected to a primary controller without a need for an isolation hardware.
  3. Schedule combination. Avoid run-time collisions for controllers identified to share same water source.

Others may include to the above list, but that is what I can name of top of my head.

Cheers,
Gene

@Gene, it is explained here. The answer to the question of what to do if you have more than 12 zones is:

The Netro app is capable of managing multiple controllers. You can link two controllers together. You will need to have at least two “common” wires so that each controller gets one. If there is only one “common” wire, it needs to be connected to both controllers by using a wire splitter.

I’m not talking about how many controllers can be on my account. I’m referring to running more than 16 zones in a unified manner, which is the topic of this thread. For example, if I have 24 zones, I need two Rachio controllers, but they do not sync with each other in any way. The Netro allows me to sync the controllers so they operate like one controller with 24 zones.

Seems like Rachio is no different in that respect, Here is the support article outlining multiple controller use:

In the link you’ve shared, Answer to question: “How do I add the second device to my account?” states that “there will be a dropdown menu on the home page where you can navigate between the two controllers”.

To me Netro is not doing anything more than what Rachio allows you to do already.

@Gene, you’re right. This article led me astray. I emailed them for clarification and it turns out they cannot be used to control more than 16 zones in a unified manner.

@dblagent007 thank you for sharing your research.