Rated 4.6 out of 5 by 167
Rated 4.0 out of 5.0 by jred Great automation, but some limitations regarding watering restrictions
There is quite a bit of science and intelligence that backs up the control of this irrigation controller. It's a lot more than just using a smart phone to set up your watering. So let me highlight a few strengths and weaknesses:
Pros: Easy setup for me, WiFi control from your smart phone or the web from your computer, and a lot of intelligence to vary your watering as needed to prevent wasting water.
Cons (mostly minor, but need to be mentioned): Wiring is a little challenging if you have multiple common sprinkler wires, outdoor installation requires an extra weather-proof box, this only operates on 2.4GHz WiFi (not 5GHz), it needs a decently strong WiFi signal to work (think 2 out of 3 WiFi bars on your phone), and its ability to vary watering doesn't fit as well as I'd like with the drought watering restrictions I have that limit me to watering on specific days of the week.
So read on if you want more details.
This is an 8-zone sprinkler controller that is configured via your smart device (an iPhone in my case) or a the web (from any computer with internet). (Note that they have a newer model with 16-zones, so check it out if you need more than 8 zones.) It is also worth highlighting that this controller is only configured via a smart device: there are basically no user controls on the device at all. So if your internet goes out, you won't be able to make any changes to your controller.
Lets talk about the installation. This controller comes in two pieces: a wall plate that you attach your sprinkler or other control wires to, and a face plate that snaps on the front that presumably contains all the "brains" of the device. This unit is NOT weather proof, so if you are installing it outside you have to purchase a separate box to put it in. The Rachio website points you to a specific box you can use on Amazon (currently about $60), or you can find a generic box to put it in for probably half that cost at your local Home Depot.
Attaching the sprinkler wires is simple, as you just push a button on each input to push back the spring-loaded contact, push the wire in, and release. However, there is only one hole for the common wire, which was a challenge in my case as i had several wire bundles from different physical locations requiring multiple common wires. I ended up having to use a wire nut outside the unit to consolidate them, and then run a single wire into it for the connection. (There isn't enough room inside for the wire nut.) I'll also note that there is no lock for the face plate, so if you are worried about theft, put this inside a locking box of some kind (but if you are putting it outside, you likely already had to purchase that box.)
Power is provided by a "wall wort." My Kill-A-Watt meter puts the power consumption at about 2 watts in standby mode (sprinklers not running) so the power consumption is pretty low.
Connecting it to my network was pretty easy. After installing the app on your phone, you tell it the details about your network (like your password), and then it uses a "blink up" procedure where you place your phone over a light sensor on the unit, and it transmits the data to the unit via flashes from your phone screen. This worked very smoothly for me. My only issue is that I have my WiFi network locked via MAC address, and the MAC is not on the unit anywhere. However, you can email Rachio with your serial number, and they will contact you back with your MAC. (They got back to me in under an hour, and this was outside normal business hours in the U.S.)
If you are looking to save water, you'll want to spend some time reading some of Rachio's online documents. I found these to be quite good (basically an FAQ, although they don't call it that.) Setup starts with naming your zones, defining what they water (plant type, soil type, sprinkler type, etc.), and setting basic run times. You also put in your zip code to find a local weather station to tell it what your weather is like (very likely from your nearest airport). All this was fairly straight forward.
What did surprise me a bit is how this controller adjusts to weather: it mostly varies the days it waters rather than how long, and that can be a challenge relative to watering restrictions. Let me add a few more details here:
1) As you'd expect, there is a rain-skip feature: if it has rained or is expected to rain by more than a programmed amount in the past or next day, it will skip the current watering event.
2) There is a feature called Smart Cycle (the "cycle and soak" technique) that will automatically break up your watering to make sure your water soaks in rather than running off. So if you want to run for 30 minutes, but it thinks the optimum run time for your sprinkler and soil type is 10 minutes, it will break your watering up into 3 cycles of 10 minutes.
3) There is a Seasonal Shift feature that varies how much water you get on a month-by-month basis. So if you have this feature on and program to water for 15 minutes in April, it may increase this to over 30 minutes in July. But this is a monthly change based on historical weather trends rather than on your actual current weather.
4) There is a Climate Skip feature that basically skips watering cycles (skips days if you water once per day) if it believes your soil hasn't dried out enough since your last watering to need watering again. So effectively this is the real-time adjustment feature to help you water correctly relative to your real, current weather.
While I suspect the above works very well if you have unrestricted watering, it does have some limitations relative to drought restrictions where I live. First off, I am restricted on when I can water (before 10am or after 7pm), and while I can set start times in this controller, I can't set an exclusion window. Second, I am not allowed to water if there has been measurable rainfall in the past 48 hours, and there is no way to program that (the rain skip only goes out 24 hours). Third, I am restricted on what days I can water, ranging from 1 day/week in the winter to 3 days/week in the summer. This Rachio controller does let me set what days to water, but it doesn't have a feature to vary the amount of water on a given day. So if I have a hot or cool spell, with my old non-smart controller I could dial in a "season adjust" feature to water more or less by percentage, but I've found no way to do this here. My choice is only to water or not, and if it's 3 days before I can water again, it may be I want to put more or less water on during this day to compensate for the weather. So while the Rachio may be designed to fit ideal watering requirements, it doesn't seem to fit well with the watering restrictions added by bureaucrats.
Two final things may be worth pointing out: 1) Because this is controlled via Rachio's technology on the web, they may very well come up with software updates to address my watering restrictions in the future. They have been updating their apps over time with more features, and I expect this will continue. 2) As with any smart device controlled via the web/cloud, you are dependent on the company behind it. If Rachio were to cease to exist, you likely couldn't use your controller anymore. I have no reason to expect Rachio to disappear, but it's always good to research the stability of the company behind the product you are purchasing if you are dependent on their service.
So in summary, I like this product a lot, but hope they will continue to advance their water intelligence to work better with the drought watering restrictions I have.
May 1, 2016
Rated 5.0 out of 5.0 by Jonathan Best controller I have ever owned
I have had this item for over a month now. The one that was originally shipped to me via Home Depot looked like it was a returned item evidenced by the transformer that was shipped with it was the wrong voltage. After calling Rachio they sent me a new transformer which did not work with the original unit. After emailing them they ended up sending me an entirely new unit. Rachio customer service is excellent. Email them and they will get back to you within 24 hours. They will work with you on the phone to solve the tech issues.
Okay, that was the bad which has nothing to do with the quality. The quality is great. I found the installation to be straight forward. Take your old wires and plug them in. As long as the common wire(s) go into the white slot it does not matter what order the other wires go in. You will know what is what after you connect to wifi and go through the setup.
The setup using the blink system worked well for me. Download the app then follow the instructions. When you are asked to do so place your phone screen side on the sensor on the left bottom corner. Hold it there for about 10 to 15 seconds unitl the wifi light turns solid. Follow the instructions on your phone. I have an HTC M8 and I will bet it will work with most phones. It actually looks better on a tablet.
Now you can set up and test your system. The first time I did it it took about 20 minutes to install. I am not new to installing controllers and this one is so easy it took longer to test and fine tune my sprinklers. There are a few videos you can watch if you need ideas. Just google Rachio and you will find many.
The only thing that I find wrong is the estimate of water used. The default for all zones in 1000 square feet. That should be adjusted based on square footage of the zone itself. I have a zone with several planter boxes and a raised garden. Total square footage is about 50 feet with drip irrigation. Obviously that should not be 1000 square feet. Remember to do that and your water usage should be a little better.
Also, when it rains, depending on where your weather station is located, the amount of rain may not shut off your sprinklers. The lowest detectable rainfall is 1/8 of an inch so it may water the next day if you don't set a rain delay for a day or two. I got two days of rain but it did not register enough rain so it will tell you in the history. Be mindful of that when doing your selection. There are many private weather stations but I would suggest you use the nearest airport or one that is truly a reliable station.
So, I give it high marks for its build quality and its usefulness. Now I don't have a bunch of dials and switches to mess with like my old Rainbird controller.
High marks for value. I got a $120 rebate from the water company. So the unit only cost $60. You should go online to see what you are eligible for. Rachio's website has the link, videos and FAQs that will be very helpful.
April 21, 2016
Rated 5.0 out of 5.0 by Duey Awesome timer with awesome customer service
It is great to be able to stand in your yard and turn on the desired zone needed to check a sprinkler head or water an area. It is also a lot of fun to turn on the sprinklers unexpectedly when your kids are on the grass. The controller is great but the customer service is awesome. I have never had such a quick response when I cannot find the answer on their website. Both times that I had questions, I received answers the next day. Detailed answers to solve my problem and the controller could do what I wanted, I just needed the instructions they sent me to do it, like new lawn setting. You will be pleased with this controller.
June 8, 2016
Rated 5.0 out of 5.0 by egibbys Best Purchase for my Landscaping
I already have a bunch of smart products, and so I wanted to simplify my sprinkler controller as well. Having a controller that is connected to the internet is awesome. I can get real time usage, weather delays, and never have to bother with the box in the garage anymore. In fact I actually have it hidden in a cupboard for a much cleaner look. (See picture) If you are considering getting one, definitely go for it. It makes using your sprinklers so much easier. Having a dynamic schedule that is easy to manipulate make things so much easier.
The web interface is very easy to use and so it makes it great that it literally can be controlled from anywhere. Connectivity with Rachio servers has never been a problem unlike some of my other smart devices. This has overall been a great purchase and the best part is I got an amazing deal on it.
December 28, 2015
Rated 1.0 out of 5.0 by SAC Good product. Bad Organization.
I actually like and own this product. What I dislike is the overall attitude of the company and its staff. Numerous people have asked for and expected a very simple and trivial enhancement to be able to NOT turn on the pump for certain zones. As a software developer with my own software company, and more that 30 years of experience with automation and industrial process controls, their weak excuses that the "Squeaky Wheel Gets the Grease" would indicate they have selective listening, and would much rather work on much more elaborate features with a high "Nifty" value rather than getting the basic feature set compete. This was such a basic request, it almost should have been treated as a oversight or even a bug. Maybe try Rain Machine instead.
June 6, 2016
Rated 5.0 out of 5.0 by Bob Just buy it!!!!
Its just work as you would think, no need to be a tech guy to install it very simple and everyone should have it.
June 7, 2016
Rated 5.0 out of 5.0 by wyoB83 Best potential for home automation ROI out there!
IRO is one of the greatest home automation products on the market to date! The setup out of the box is straight forward and very simple. The team @ Rachio has done an amazing job working with customers to aid in application and product functionality development. If you sign up to be on their email distribution list for updates, you will know what they are working on, expected release dates of new/improved functions, and honest feedback about their product. With the potential cost savings of this product with the Automatic Schedules algorithm (currently disabled in the app to allow for development fixes), and ease of use of the application, this product has the potential to pay for itself in one season!
May 31, 2014
Rated 5.0 out of 5.0 by Floridahomeowner Great Wifi Irrigation Controller
This wifi Irrigation controller is perfect for home owners who have a second home abroad. Now I'm in control of my Floridahome sprinkler-timer even when I'm back in Germany. With the free app I can check the status, the weather and can start my Irrigation whenever I want. The controller is installed in my garage so nobody can mess with my timer, like people did with the old one who was installed on an outside wall.
It was so easy to install -plug & play. It took only around 20 min.
December 30, 2014