Upgrading from mechanical sprinkler system


I have an older timer and can’t just swap out t

he wires. Any guidance/suggestions?

@joe9487cool The timer looks like a mess, but the basics are the same. You should have one power wire going to each valve and one neutral wire.

@joe9487cool, @Pinnaclescapes is right. The wiring legend is in the bottom picture and I think the associated wiring bundle. The colors are the ones from the controller, not necessarily the field wire colors:

White goes to Rachio C
White with orange (if connected) goes to Rachio M terminal
Brown goes to Rachio 1
Red goes to Rachio 2
Orange goes to Rachio 3
Yellow goes to Rachio 4

Check for an in-line rain sensor in the common wire as that can play havoc with you.

I’d suggest making a quick run on the old controller to make sure everything works and then labeling the wires.

Welcome to the community and be sure to ask any other questions.

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@DLane, thanks for the info and specifics. I’m at the same point…removing a 6-year-old RainBird controller and replacing it with the Rachio 3. I have a rain sensor, 13 zones for 76 heads/soakers/drippers, and a booster pump relay. My Step 1 was to have the entire system turned on for Spring by the irrigation company that installed the system, replacing broken heads, repositioning some for ground and landscape changes, and verifying the rain sensor works.

My Step 2 has begun: labelling each and every wire with what it is connected to today. I’m using stick-on labels that are used to label envelopes. They come in large sheets, are easy to write on, and easily wrapped around a wire to stick to itself. They’re large and can be quickly read by those of us with less-than-perfect vision. Does look a little messy, but after installation they can be removed if you wish (I don’t…they’re valuable in working on the system).

After that I’ll work on whatever Steps 3 through whatever may be.

@SalisburySam - two other comments:

  1. Take pictures of the current wiring in the event a label falls off or is mis-labeled.

  2. You can configure the Rachio early while disconnected from the wiring. I’d do this so that the Rachio is ready to roll when you are. I’ve seen that iOS devices are more bullet proof than Android devices (YMMV), but I have seen a recent issue with iOS 13.4 and maybe iPhone 11 Pro not working on the initial setup.

I’d also recommend starting with Fixed schedules instead of Flex and then migrate a couple to Flex schedules to get them dialed in and progress from there.

Have fun and welcome to the community.

Great tips, and I didn’t know #2. Sounds much easier to do with the device not installed. Thanks also for the kind welcome.