Valve box flow meter install feedback

Is the Stucco in the direct path between the controller and the meter? What is your garage door made of? Wireless signals can take multiple paths between components and it would depend on the path(s) available and the RF attenuation that is caused by each path. I would do the pairing test in the underground instructions with your garage door closed before digging anything and see what signal level you have at that point. If it shows up excellent when the meter is in the shipping box and paired with the controller while sitting on the ground at the location you will dig, I would say you have a good chance of it working. The maximum distance in the underground installation instructions is 75 ft (down from 300 ft in the above ground instructions) and you are less than half that distance. Thus if there is an alternate path that is wood or a window that is less than 75 ft going that path, then you have a good chance of it working. (for those of you RF gurus out there, yes I’m simplifying things for this case and not talking about multipath and such real-world RF concerns, among others.) The only real confirmation is to put it in the ground under the box. Hope this helps.


I received the flow meter yesterday. I haven’t installed it yet because the system is a 1” poly and installation instructions for this seem to be up in the air. Nevertheless I paired it with my controller and put meter in the valve box and my signal strength is excellent. So I think I’m good.

I could probably install in my poly system the same as the pvc or transition from poly to pvc before and after the flow meter, but I would like to follow what Rachio says. The fact that they have not supplied an official installation for this makes me wonder if they are having problems with an underground Poly installation.

I’ve seen one document on it but it doesn’t seem to be available any more. Another document that said it is coming.

Hey @mkj!

Don’t fret, underground poly instructions coming so stay tuned :slight_smile: Whatever you do, wait for the poly instructions!! DM me your email so I can make sure we get those out to you as soon as they’re ready to go!

-Lo :rachio:


Im in the process of install except I’m 1" PVC and just did like you did I placed flow meter in back flow valve box to with cover on to get a signal reading. Say 7 excellent. Im leaving in in there for a while to see if signal fluctuates before actual install.

@Bytored - my flow meter is about 10 - 12" underground and I’m at a +5. Been installed for a week, so far no issues.


2 posts were merged into an existing topic: Flow meter distance and range suggestions

Just wanted to share my success in extending the range of my flow meter. My meter only connected intermittently, and when it did, only hit -8 at best. I tried the Pringle’s can, but didn’t see any difference in signal. Taking @cofam’s suggestion about wire length, I cut a 13” piece of insulated copper wire and taped one end across the red line in the earlier pic with the rest of it sticking straight up. With that one little change, now I’m constantly connected with a signal strength in the -5 to -3 range. Thanks everyone on this board for the great suggestions!


I just caught onto this thread so I’m late to the game and from here it looks like you’re all fixed up, which is great! Congratulations on finding a decent workaround @johnny2678. A “good” signal will be adequate going forward so as far as signal strength you should be A-OK.

Also congrats on the cantenna (as they are actually called, or ‘Directional Waveguide Antenna’) suggestion and implementation; they can be a bit fussy, but also amazing. Max recorded range for a cantenna a few years ago was > 2-miles. Cool!

One thing no one seemed to address is the setup of your bury and ground plane(s).

It looks like you have quartz beneath the pipe, etc. RF transmissions are not actually spherical or directional in the real world, they’re more “weird-al”. (Perfectly good word, just made it up myself!). They will use available “ground plane”; they become warped by all sorts of stuff in all sorts of ways; and they end up poochy and pointy all over the place.

Assuming your white rocks are not pure quartz but included (have impurities in them) like trace amounts of miscellaneous metals and other minerals, they would scatter the wave vs. being transparent to the earth ground plane. If that’s the case, even a very slight interruption of the “clear sky”, like the plastic lid, would tend to compromise the signal. Of course, a metal lid would “contain” the signal and it would go from excellent to -0-.

So another potential easy fix, besides the cantenna—should you or anyone else ever decide to try it—would be creating a good ground plane. A flat sheet of metal foil under the entire assemblage, as nearly end-to-end and side-to-side as you could and still remain unwrinkled would do it. The antenna would benefit from that: ___|___. It’s best centered for semispherical (omnidirectional) transmission, but you want directional so off-set would be better. So, if your Rachio is << that << way, you would want it more like <<_______|__. The cantenna does most of this work itself though. (Metal bottom, enclosed metallic reflective cylindrical surface, blah, blah, blah.)

Anyway, for someone who doesn’t have a cantenna handy, a foil floor might also do the trick.


Wow, this is great feedback @7Natives! I’ll think about pulling the stones out and putting a ground plane in.

Quick update on the flow meter install w/ cantenna… it’s still running strong with no dropouts almost one year later.

Even more amazing is the valve box I installed is at a low point in the yard, so every time it rains the box fills up, completely engulfing the flow meter. I’ll lose connectivity until the water drains away, but then it comes back up just fine. FULL DISCLAIMER: I’m sure the Rachio folks don’t warrant the flow meter under these conditions, but still really solid engineering by the Rachio team :wink:

Yeah, definitely not the intent there. I’m surprised it hasn’t got water damage yet. :wink:

You might be on borrowed time :slight_smile:


Gotta agree with @franz here. A “good” signal will work forever. I think I’d spend my time, energy, and money putting in an inverted U or a sloping lift to pick that baby up out of the water.

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Nice @chadjhughes! Any pics?

Hey there, I’m planning on rigging up your “can-tenna” method today to try and extend my flow meter. Getting intermittent dropouts and tried the straight wire across the PCB method with nominal success. Just wanted to get details on wire length and coil size…also what gauge wire you used?

Much appreciated!


There’s some pics of mine a few posts back in this thread. I wrapped about 12 inches of 18 gauge wire around a broomstick to make a coil and sat that inside the pringles can. No clue if all that was necessary but it’s still working.

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Fwiw I was also having flow-meter drop-outs, though my signal strength was “good” at -6 db (I think - didn’t save a screenshot). After reading this discussion I tried the following: the antenna is 3 1/8" across the top, taped on w/ metallic tape (essentially pro-series duct tape) followed by a 90 degree bend and a 6 1/4" whip. Now my signal strength is 0 db!

I got the lengths from this site:


quick question about setting up a ground plane @7Natives

What material should the ground plane be made out of? More specifically, if I were to look at Home Depot, what should I buy? Was thinking about a flat piece of flashing from the HVAC isle and cutting it down. Would that work?

Yes. Generally any cheap metallic surface will do. Smooth is better, but not required. They can be shaped for directional beam forming, that’s why cantennas made from Pringles cans work. Aluminum or stainless is recommended to avoid rust. Some HAMS have been known to use aluminum foil right out of the box–just smooth it out and shape it.

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Excellent! Will test with aluminum foil as the HVAC flashing at Home Depot was $10 :wink:

I too used this method of boosting my signal and it worked great. See my picture!
You have to look closely to see it because it runs parallel to the PVC pipe. Thanks for all your help.


AWESOME!!! :sunglasses: