Valve box flow meter install feedback


I too would hate to see you drill through the cinder block until it is the last thing. I might de-install the Rachio and then plug it in with an extension cord and with @brad on the line walk towards the flow meter to determine distance.

Two other things to consider:

  1. An empty valve box next to and in a straight line toward the Rachio. Air is less resistive to radio signals that dirt.

  2. Get 4 90 degree elbows along with the PVC-Lock release tool (assuming you don’t have it) and put the flow meter just under the valve cover top. In other words raise it up 8 or 9 inches. Just like the other pipe in the picture. Swap out their layout.


Some progress to report:

I found a 3rd signal strength state reported in the app - Good!:

How did I achieve this??

I placed the wire coil inside a pringles can and tilted it towards the controller as best I could. :laughing: Props to you @DLane!

@Brad - I ran a calibration at 1:29 PM ET and it completed without any dropouts. Could you check and see that the SNR you see on your end matches what I’m seeing?

Still chuckling, but happy to hear any critique on my technique. I’ll probably head later with some electrical tape and scissors to rig up something a little more durable.

Is there a minimum length of pipe required after the Flow Meter?

Great progress @johnny2678! Looks like the Pringles guy is smiling too.



This might be my favorite post ever, science!

I’m wondering if we need to include a Pringles can in our next build out.


@johnny2678 - I take it you doubted my recommendation??


Just make sure that when you announce a Pringles / Rachio strategic partnership, @DLane and I get invited to the happy hour.



Wow, I’m super impressed by this thread!! You guys rock :iro:

A few notes in no particular order:

There should be no situation where you get low flow measurements from poor signal strength. All our transmissions are error checked, so we will either get a correct measurement or nothing at all. There was something else going on with @johnny2678’s readings but we were working on signal strength first.

@johnny2678 your SNR is now at -6, so definitely better. One thing I was reminded yesterday is the SNR is averaged over the last hour or so of messages. That makes it a lot harder to run the real time testing we work trying, so I’m looking for a way to us do some better testing next time. I’d really like to determine whether the pringles can made the difference or if your controller happened to switch frequencies and maybe that made an impact.

As I discussed with @johnny2678 over the weekend, range to a buried install is very challenging to assess. With no obstructions we’ve seen 300 ft into a valve box. However, depending on hills and obstructions, range may be more like 75 ft in a worst case. Also, we are maxed out on power… y’all are correct it is a pretty low power level to save battery life. Our radio chip had two RF outputs, and we went with the one without an extra amplification stage. It was a tough call, but it saves a bunch of battery life for not losing that much output power. Unfortunately, there’s no repeater for our system, just another trade off we had to make. We kept the system very simple and pushed range as far as we possible could in a star network. FYI, the controller has quite a bit higher power than the flow meter since it’s wall powered.

SNR and RSSI are not exposed in the app at this time.

@corfam Yes, you’re right on with where the antenna is located. If you’re curious, this is the chip antenna we use:

I think I covered most everything, but let me know if there are other questions I do my best to answer :wink: Looking forward to some more sleuthing.


@johnny2678 Just noticed one little problem in your install. These are the “lightly salted” Pringles. I think BBQ or Ranch would have been a better choice.



Thanks @brad for the feedback.

Would love to get that # a little higher. Any updates on channel selection?

Happy to do some more testing at anytime! Just let me know.



Et tu Brute?


@DLane mentioned a potential problem with Stucco (Faraday cage). I was planning to install the controller about 30 feet from the underground flow meter. It will be inside my garage which is behind stucco. Is this going to be a problem for me?


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.

split this topic #38

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.

Extending Range Of Wireless Flow Meter

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: