Installing a new sprinkler system controller

I replaced our flaky sprinkler system controller this weekend. All by myself.

The unit I chose was the Rachio 3 Smart Sprinkler Controller. They offer 4, 8, and 16-zone versions. My system has 9 zones because of course it does. The good news was that Costco sells a version with 12 zones for the same price as the standard 8-zone model. Yay me!

I’m not a handy person, so it was with some trepidation that I even started this project. I was careful to remember to take lots of before” photos to use as a reference.

Wiring in the old controllerWiring in the old controller

Removing the old housing was a little tricky because it was nailed to the backing board rather than screwed.

The old controller, not-so-carefully removedThe old controller, not-so-carefully removed

Three screws later and the new controller was in place. I used the reference photos to connect the wiring and it was time to test everything.

New controller wiringNew controller wiring

The Rachio app walked me through getting everything set up. Of course nothing worked. I had missed one common wire. Once that was in place, the system was working. The next step was to go through each zone and indicate grass type, soil type, amount of sun, grade, etc. This took me about thirty minutes, after which a default schedule was created for me, using the information for each zone.

The Rachio appThe Rachio app

It’s pretty cool. The app knows my local weather conditions, and skips runs based on wind, temperature, and rainfall. My wife has access so she can start and stop things any time, right from her phone. I was excited to add it to HomeKit until I read that they’d recently abandoned HomeKit support. Well, crap. That would have been nice.

The first run ran as scheduled this morning. I received a text letting me know it was about to start. The run is timed to start so that it ends before sunrise”. The next run has been automatically postponed until next Wednesday, as it’s supposed to rain tomorrow and Monday. Pretty cool.

Once in a while, I get a DiY project right. Feels good when that happens.

The new Rachio 3 controller, installedThe new Rachio 3 controller, installed