I have a Rachio 3 and a private well with relatively low production. I have enough water to run my zones as long as I am very careful with the schedule, but there have been several times when I have run the well dry. Not only does it take the well hours to recover, but it stirs up sediment.
I would love to find a well level sensor that would act as a “trigger” to tell the Rachio to not turn on - in other words, if the water level is below a certain distance from the well head, don’t run the irrigation system. I found an ultrasonic sensor that can show me the water level (https://enoscientific.com/ww660/) but even with their remote display unit, it can’t act as this kind of trigger.
Does anyone know of something that could do what I’ve described? I’m an IT guy so I would be willing to put some technology effort into this. I found this similar question, but there were no responses.
I do not have a well, so not going to be much help other than thoughts on how I might try (I am a software type with some hardware experience). Are you saying that they have no API or other interface to allow it to act as a trigger? If it did have a wired or other interface, I wonder if it can be wired up to work kind of the opposite of a rain sensor (when water level drops, act like it was raining). If it had an API and could use something like IFTTT, then maybe use the Rachio API to trigger a “rain_delay” or “pause_zone_run”.
Looking further, I see that the remote display unit has a USB / RS232 interface. With that, I would write an application to read the data and decide from there, making use of one of the Rachio commands mentioned above.
Other options might exist, I did not look further.
We have a well and similar concerns. We did two things but either one by itself would have been sufficient. First, we installed a 3000 gallon reservoir tank that fills from the well in 20 minute per hour intervals. The capacity of the tank is much greater than the irrigation demand. More to your point, I also set the Rachio to allow a substantial time interval between zones so there is no chance of draining the tank or taxing the well pump. I could also break up the zones into different schedules to get more time separation. Together, there are many combinations that solved our dry hole issues.
Do you know how much water level there is between the bottom and top of the water level when static? You mentioned silt. Is your pump set at the bottom of the bore? If so, can it be raised about three feet from the bottom to avoid stirring up silt. I am assuming you have casing to the bottom.
If you have a well controller at the surface, does it have a port to add a water level sensor that is suspended above the pump inlet but below the static water surface? If yes, I would add one to turn the pump off before the well is sucking air.
If you did the above can you add an electronic pressure sensor that IFTTT can use as an I put to pause or stop a Rachio run.
Do you have a pressure tank in your well or can you add one that can be connected to your sprinkler system and rigged to “talk” to the controller?
The water level (bottom to top) varies on the supply situation, it’s not a static number. The well is currently 380 feet deep and the well head is positioned about 20 feet above the bottom. That tells me there is a lot of silt since it’s getting it stirred up when the well goes dry. The water level ranges from 50 to 80 feet below the well head depending on how dry the region is. I am going to have it drilled about 300 feet deeper in the hope of tapping additional sources - worst case, I don’t get more supply but at least I have more available water in the column to draw from. The well supply is currently at 1.6 gpm, so it takes a long time to build up that column when it runs down.
and 3. There is no controller at the top of the well, just the cap. I have looked at the ultrasonic sensor and remote display unit from Eno Scientific - they will give me a visual reading of the water depth. I could probably build some type of trigger using the serial port on their remote sensor unit and a Raspberry Pi but I was trying to see if there was a ‘stock’ solution available first.
I do have a 35 gallon pressure tank in the basement and I’m talking with my well company to see if there is some kind of sensor that can detect either low flow and/or the pump drawing more than the normal amount of current.
Additionally, I am going to install an Everydrop 1104-EX flow meter which should give me more info on my usage and let me set up some triggers.
Not too much experience here personally in this arena, except for a 5k gallon residential rain harvest reservoir system I helped install several years ago, but I would look into a float switch, wired to the rain sensor port, as the previous people mentioned above, but another thing to consider is to hook up a flow meter as well (if you’re running 3rd gen Rachio), & that will tell your how many gallons you’ve used (or not used, indicating when the well is dry), & also if there’s no water available to pump out to the valves. You don’t need to get the Rachio flow meter, as they’ve been discontinued, but they do work (most of the time), or you can get another brand (listed on Rachio’s webpage, under compatible flow meters).
I could be wrong, but it seems like wiring the water level to the rain sensor could have the wrong effect. If it take a while to “fill” the well, Rachio would think that it got enough rain that it would do a rain skip thereby not watering at all. It would seem like a pause would have the best effect.