Update? More than 16 zones?

You may want to see about getting a refund on the flow meter. They clearly state that multiple controllers can’t be linked to one flow meter (see the text I pasted from the FAQ) a few messages up. Disappointing.

Is there anyway to be informed when making two units logically one is implemented?
I need 20 zones but don’t think I will update my current system until this is resolved.



Hello Rachio community! Just got my Series 3 but wanted to reiterate the importance of this product line supporting more than 16 channels. I have 21 channels from the builder so I have to keep 5 on the old controller or buy a second 8 channel Rachio and finagle the schedules in either case so they don’t over lap for the small group. This is a ridiculous situation in my book. It’s not that hard despite what has been said above to make two controllers (or more) work in a master/slave configuration. I realize this product has some unique scheduling features, but it appears you just don’t want to deal with anyone who has more than 16 channels. Otherwise you would make it easy to at least carve out days/times where another non-smart (or even a smart) controller could be configured to operate without a conflict. Really, you should have already developed the linkage between two controllers at a minimum. [If someone at Rachio wants to provide an honest technical explanation for what is keeping you from doing this I’m open to listen. I’m confident I’m technical enough to understand the details.]

What do your 21 zones look like? Is there a chance that you could in fact double up some of these zones?

Three of them are drip watering and I’m not sure that would be compatible with the Rotor or spray heads in terms of watering times. There is also the question of water pressure which I have not tested.
I didn’t see as part of setup that there is a way to tell the smart system when two different types of heads are on one zone. Another complication to parallel (dual) connections.

@kseawright - there may be very valid reasons or complexity that we may not be aware of as to why Rachio hasn’t (yet) enabled the combining of multiple physical controllers into one virtual controller or created an expansion chassis or more zones.

A possible solution is to spread the 21 zones across two controllers - (e.g. 13 and 8 or 16 and 5), then set one controller with allowable water days of Monday, Wednesday and Friday and the other controller with allowable water days of Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday. That way there shouldn’t be an overlap in the schedules. In this setup one would also need to install an isolator if the commons or master valve are shared:

Perhaps the best workaround possible for this situation is possible thanks to the new schedule feature of the Rachio controllers.
It is now possible to set the schedule to end by or start from a certain time. This, in turn, allows someone to set end time on one controller and start time on another to roughly the same time (perhaps a minute separation would not hurt). Such setting would prevent overlap while minimizing the ON time.
In case, after all of the zones are setup, at least one zone remains unused on one of the controllers, it is also possible to share a master valve without resorting to a complicated relay workaround. What ever controller ends up having an available zone should be setup to control the master valve. The dead zone should than be scheduled to run during the times a second controller would operate thus engaging a master valve.
And while, as far as I know, more than one controller can’t be added to the same account, it should be possible to create a second account for a second controller and than share access with the primary account.


Does this mean you need 4 isolators if you have both a common master valve and common common connections between two controllers?
Even more reason why there needs to be a supported solution for more than 16 channels. I may decide to send my v3 back and stick with the old Rain Bird controller…

I always thought those isolators were an overkill. Rachio power supplies are isolated from line voltage so sharing just one wire (such as commons) will not cause an issue. Theoretically it is possible to share more than one wire (such as common and master valve) without an isolator, but you would need to first make sure that power supplies are plugged in with a same polarity relative to Line and Neutral (basically don’t plug-in one supply with a wire hanging down and the other with the wire sticking up…) a good test prior to sharing a second wire would be to get a multimeter and measure ac voltage between 24 VAC + and - terminals. You should not see any voltage greater than 1 volt AC, if you do try flipping one of the power supplies.
That being said I would recommend not sharing the master valve line and simply using a ghost zone (of one is available) to drive a master valve for the second controller (see my previous post).

@kseawright - only two isolators are necessary as they isolate two connections. One for the common and one for the master valve. Another way of doing this is to use a single pole double throw relay to power the master valve and another single pole double throw relay to switch out the common. This would still be an issue with virtually merging two physical controllers into one virtual one.

Can the Rachio folks chime in with an official position on this feature? We’re building a house on a large lot and it’s looking like this will require 39 (!) zones. Dealing with the 23 zones in our existing house is kind of a pain already, but dealing with 39 is going to be too complicated.

If Rachio is committed to fixing this, that’s great, and I’ll just plan on waiting for them. If they aren’t going to fix it (the reason doesn’t matter to me - it’s their company and they decide what features they want to implement), then let us know so we can go a different route.

The opensprinkler folks (https://opensprinkler.com/ ) have an inexpensive hardware system that expands up to 56 zones, and can run standalone or cloud connected, and has a decent mobile app that is getting better really quickly, so that’s a pretty decent alternative.

All I want is know if they are going to implement this and in what timeframe. Is that too much to ask? :slight_smile:



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


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.


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


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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.

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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!



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.