Upgrade from exterior Hunter? Confused about AC power situation


#1

A few months ago I had a drip system installed, on a Hunter ‘hockey puck’, controller. The controller is hardwired and powered via pigtails that come from the main water valve. It is 100% outside and there is no outlet nearby.

I bought the Generation 2 8-zone controller from Amazon, plus the exterior mounting box. However, after doing some reading I’m confused whether I can even use this controller given my power situation.

Is this possible in a clean and easy manner? If so, my HOA won’t allow me to attach a controller to the stucco exterior. Is there a recommended post/spike or other mounting idea that I can attach the exterior box to in a secure manner?


#2

I just found the Hunter manual and I have the “node” model which appears to be battery operated. So it appears I’m without a close by AC source…


#3

@Water89 - and the solenoids that the Node powers are DC not 24V AC like the Rachio powers. Incompatible.


#4

My system is very simple. Single valve, single zone. Would replacing the solenoid(s) be a simple process?


#5

@Water89 - with apologies to @franz, @emil and @mckynzee (even though I have the nice Rachio symbol in my avatar I’m just an end user and not associated with Rachio) aren’t you driving a tack with a sledgehammer?

Under the customer is always right mantra, here are the things that I would check before trying to replace the valve/solenoid.

  1. Stucco walls normally have metal lathe behind them. This may act as a Faraday cage (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Faraday_cage) and prevent the WiFi signal from reaching the location where the Rachio unit would be installed. I would check to make sure the WiFi signal is strong enough where the Rachio unit will be placed.

  2. There is still the problem of getting AC power to the Rachio unit. How close is an outside plug to location where the Rachio unit would be installed? There will either have to be a long 24 VAC line from the transformer spliced into the existing Rachio plug and hoping that the current loss isn’t too much along with burying that line, or an 120 AC outlet placed near by.

  3. Replacing the solenoid is fairly easy (I believe as I’ve never had to change one). I don’t know if the solenoid for this valve is a different size than the 24 VAC sprinkler solenoids.


#6
  1. Very good point about WiFi and the outside location. I took my iPhone 7 to the spot where the Rachio would go, and WiFi was dropping. Held steady on the inside of the wall…so stucco seems to be causing problems.

  2. The nearest 120v outlet is about 10-12 feet away. Unfortunately I wasn’t thinking ahead when I had my landscaping installed, and could have easily had a 120v outlet installed nearer. But oh well…

  3. Thanks.

Given all of these issues, I’m now thinking of returning the Rachio. Solving the problems would be costly, and my setup is a simple one zone for around the patio area. So the benefits and control of Rachio is overkill for the high install/mod costs needed in my case.

Oh well…I do like gadgets a lot.


#7

Sorry I’m late to the party, but here are a couple of things to consider:

A) Are you paying for your water, or does HOA take care of it for you? If you are not directly paying you will not see as much benefit as other Rachio owners.

B) While your old controller was designed to be installed next to the valve, Rachio can be installed further away or even inside. You only need two thin, low voltage wires running from your rachio to your zone solenoid. Perhaps it will be best if you install your controller inside (where wifi signal is steady, someplace close to your power outlet) and drill a small hole for the zone wire to get out through your stucco, make sure you drill away from the power outlet, at least an inch lower than the bottom of the nearby power outlet (to greatly reduce a chance that you will drill into anything important). Small hole can be easily sealed for weather proofing and repaired if you ever need to remove your system.

So, don’t worry about long zone wires (they are designed to operate much further than what you need), install Rachio where it is convenient (or possible with HOA) and use / run / bury two zone wires needed for your solenoid.

Should you choose to stick with Rachio, this Hunter AC valve (link) looks to be a compatible replacement to the DC solenoid you are using. Should be pretty forward / easy replacement.


#8

A) I pay for water. But my monthly bill is less then my single line cell phone, so it’s not much money.
B) That is a good point. My HOA does have problems with people drilling holes or attaching ANYTHING to the stucco. They have this long paperwork process, legal document, etc. You couldn’t make it any harder, IMHO. My garge is very close to my wifi AP, so signal should not be an issue. Plus easy power.

But you do have a good point…running zone wires to the exterior garage wall might work…I’ll have to give it some thought and consider HOA implications.


#9

HOA are unlikely to ever find a thin wire coming out near the ground, unless they are specifically looking for it.

If you are going to install your Rachio within your garage, you could run it out through the side / bottom gap that garage door would have naturally. This would require the wire to pass through a more visible area, but it is being small, visibility may not be an issue.


#10

I took a look at the garage solution, and that does seem more viable. Two free outlets on the rear wall, where the Rachio would go. Only thing needed would be a small hole near the ground for the wire. And given that location, I would agree the chances of HOA finding it are slim to none (on back of house).

I’ll give my landscaper a call and see what he thinks about the install costs. New solenoid, run zone wires, drill hole, mount Rachio.


#11

The solenoid is like $9.

It’s probably worth the money to do the work, flex daily is the bang diddily bomb, you usually won’t know your battery is dead until your plants are, and the irrigation telemetry in you pocket feels way cool to the touch.


#12

FWIW @Water89, I did a bit of research, and can’t find any “smart” controllers that work with DC solenoids, so unfortunately it seems like if you want to go the smart controller route you will ultimately have to make the change. Let us know what your landscaper says!

McKynzee :rachio:


#13

You may not need new zone wires as both 24VAC and DC solenoids require two wires. So you should be able to utilize your existing solenoid wiring.