Valve Monitoring

I just found yesterday morning about the availability of a new feature Valve Monitoring. I knew Rachio 3 can alert for over current situation to protect itself and this is an extension of that. I decided to get it and thought I would post my experience with it. More information can be viewed at Valve Monitoring or in the smart phone apps only.

It is a premium feature, meaning that there is a one-time cost per controller, $30. This seems to me to be a little high, but maybe not as I think about it. I figure it can save a bunch of money, for example, on dead grass should a wire accidentally get cut, break, or loosened or a solenoid go bad on me. In other words, this helps tremendously diagnose the issue without pulling out a multimeter, disconnecting wires, etc. and I would get immediate notification before the grass even starts to think about dying.

The first thing that happened was an update to the controller firmware through the app. No changes to anything else in my system (uses my existing valves). Within the app, I enabled the zones and took a “base reading” on each which took about 15 seconds each with the water coming out the sprinkler heads for less than 10 seconds (4 minutes for 16 zones, 4 of which are not connected yet). That is all and it was done.

The range of my valves are 167-177 mA (most were 174), a Pump Start Relay (or PSR which is a water feature on a zone) 229mA, and four not connected yet 18 mA (open line). Everything was in the good or expected range.

In the advanced settings, I can set my low current threshold (25% default), high current threshold (25%), valve type (generic), and number of valves (1). The thresholds are used for the email notifications if enabled (true) for zone valve monitoring within account settings. The valve type is for a future possible feature to automatically try to calibrate valves automatically based on the brand. I have changed this to Hunter on most of them and do wish that it asks me what most of them are so I can just change the few that are not. It has a good list of valve types and if something is not listed, it would be generic. I kind of wish it had Antelco, Other, and maybe where I can list a PSR.

I do not have a master valve/pump at this time, so I do not know if it monitors that as well. I will have to see what it does over time. I do not see a place to view a graph over time, which seems like it would be nice for an overall trend. I am not sure if a valve will go bad over time or if it suddenly dies. I also have not seen it in the API, so would guess that it is not available at this time.

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It seems useful to me but $30 per controller is a bit high imho for what is essentially a very basic form of insurance.
I have 2 controllers so it would be $60 for my home, its getting a touch expensive.

If it was $30 for one or $45 for two i would jump on it. If the $30 included extended device warranty i would definately jump on it. Heck if they charged me $20/year but i get a new rachio if the old one breaks + i get this new feature i think i would pay this per device (and if the rachio works for 4 years they just got more money from me than they collected when i bought the device).

my few cents. I’m still considering it…

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I’ve bitten the bullet and paid the fee. The only real problem I’ve ever had with my system is issues with the valves failing. I think the AUD $49 price is a bit steep, but it’s only a one-off fee so there’s that.

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Love the Rachio controller and I too am conflicted. Because the units have a max of 16 stations I run two controllers to cover the 26 stations we have. It’s just about 8k sqft for landscaping and the landscaper put lots of stations in which is unfortunate. Since Rachio can’t run both controllers as one unit I have to work around this and schedule the watering accordingly which is a hassle. It would be nice if they could combine both controllers and make it so that you can have one schedule that spans both controllers but I understand if the software was not built for that functionality and/or it is too costly to reprogram the software.

Since we have two controller I have to pay full price twice ($30x2=$60) for this valve monitoring feature which seems like a software update. It’s kind of like apple charging you for a find my iphone feature which was just in the ios and delivered with regular updates. A more current iphone feature is the calling for help if you are in an accident and charging you separately for that feature which they don’t.

I know Rachio is not going to get rich on this new feature charge and probably it is just a chance to get back some of the money they spent on the development of it but it seems like we have not gotten any big updates to the software since I first got the unit a few years ago except allowing for more integration with other devices Rachio sells.

It would be nice if people with two controllers at the same address can get some sort of discount on this feature if Rachio has to even charge for this software feature.

My .02

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I also purchased the Valve Monitoring App before I read that each controller needs a separate App… or another $30! Since I have two controllers, that can not be combined at the same address, I now have one controller with the Valve Monitoring on three valves and the remaining valves on the 12 station controller with no Monitoring App, as I am not sure I want to spend another $30. I wish this information was included on the ad sent on the internet. With this exception, I have been very happy with my Rachio Controllers!

I actually don’t mind the $30/controller charge. Rachio’s model does not charge a monthly fee for their service and software updates in general, so they are dependent on selling new hardware. One-time $30 charges now and then for major feature upgrades prevents them from going to a monthly/annual service charge. Now, if they would just use some of that $$ to resume development on the web interface… but that is another thread…

It does not provide readings for the master valve.

It’s a worthless $30, and a purchase I regret. First real disappointment from Rachio.

Just wanted to remark, you can have two solenoids tied into a single zone, which would make that zone open both. That’d be a minimum of 10 “shared” zones, which would leave 6 standalone zones on a 16-zone controller.

By doubling I’d expect to see a drop in water pressure/flow to adjust for. In terms of this particular feature, I’d expect a doubling of baseline current draw. It would then only be able to tell you about deviations from that baseline for the pair of valves tied to that zone.

Any chance valve monitoring will be able to tell if a valve is stuck open or won’t open when it should?

Valve monitoring can notify of low out high current. This means you should get notification if the valve does not open all depending on the cause. A stick open valve seems harder to detect without some flow meter

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Thanks for the information. I did purchase jt and it found a high voltage. Recalibrated and it went back to normal.

Worth the $30 to help support the Rachio team

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For those that might not know, Shared Access was added to the Hose Timer earlier this month, I believe.

Announced today: API support for Smart Hose timer? - Smart Home & API - Rachio Community

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Yet…

Roadside Assistance and Emergency SOS via satellite are included for free for two years with the activation of any iPhone 15 model. Connection and response times vary based on location, site conditions, and other factors.

Claim was that Apple doesn’t have continuing charges for services initiated by their products (vs. Rachio charges for certain QA services for valves, etc.) Well, of course they do, and I provided illustration of two of the most recent new (and useful) services to be charged to Apple customers.