The Rachio 3 though is quite similar to its previous version but there are some great noticeable differences. The plastic on the outside looks a bit cheap, yet when you mount it on a wall, it gives a sturdy look and feel. What’s new on the box is the LED bar that runs across the cover and indicates the zone that is currently being watered. The LED light that is always on and it looks very cool lighting up the garage or wherever you mount it.
The easy to remove magnetic cover reveals an 8 zone or 16 zone wiring terminal depending upon the model you choose. The terminal also features a couple of common connections, one rain sensor, and one flow sensor connection, a couple of 24VAC output connections, and a connecting jack for the power brick that is included.
This time around, though, the round button on the controller can be used to start and stop watering of specific zones manually. You can use it to water around 16 zones. For connectivity, it supports a dual-band Wi-Fi, both at 2.4 GHz & 5GHz. It can be controlled with the help of a mobile app (available both in the Google Play Store and Apple Store) and through a web app. The Rachio 3 is built to support the voice commands for Alexa and Google Assistant. It features an in-built IFTTT channel which enables you to create your applets to trigger other smart devices. It can connect and work seamlessly with many other smart home applications such as SmartThings, Nest and Wink.
When compared to its other counterparts, the Orbit Sprinkler does support Alexa and Google Assistant voice support but cannot integrate with other smart devices.
The app features a dashboard showing the week’s weather forecast. You can schedule your watering days on the app, skip a watering cycle by pressing the Skip button and restart it using the Run button. Swipe down, and at the bottom, you can see monthly usage information and gallon units of water used, among other things.
In the Box
- Rachio 3 Sprinkler Controller
- 6-ft Power Supply cord
- Mounting Hardware
- Quick Start Instruction Guide
- iOS 10.3+, Android 4.4+
- Mobile Application to be download from Playstore or App Store
- Compatible to Webb App and all major browsers
- Works seamlessly with Smart Home Apps such as Nest, Apple HomeKit, SmartThings and Wink
- Google Assistant, IFTTT, Nexia, Control4 and some others
Weight and Dimensions
- Weight: 1.05 lbs
- Dimensions : 9.1” x 5.5’ x 1.4”
- AC power adaptor included in the box must be used to connect the Rachio 3.
- DC not supported.
- Power Supply: Use External Transformer ( 6-ft Cord – 2.1 mm x 5.5 mm barrel plug.
- Transformer Input: 120 VAC – 60 Hz 300 mA
- Transformer Output: 24 VAC – 1000 mA
- Zone Output (24 VAC): Compatible with Solenoids of 24 VAC
- -4F to 140F
- Dual-Band wireless network signal availability. 2.4 GHz & 5 GHz.
- Rain Sensors: Wireless (NC – Normally Closed) Sensors & Wired Sensors
- Soil Sensors: Wireless (NC – Normally Closed) Sensors & Wired Sensors
- Flow Sensors (Wired)
- Wireless Flow Meters (arriving soon)
- Smart Terminals sense the active zones and sends signals in case of any issues with your sprinkler system.
- Fully Compatible with the master valve, indexing valve, or the pump relay.
- 2-Year Warranty (Limited)
In case of any outage or intermittent issues due to which the device might switch off or get disconnected, the last saved settings and schedules that are saved to Rachio Cloud show up on the device and the app unless an update is downloaded.
Optional Outdoor Boxes
Outdoor weatherproof enclosures are available at an additional cost. These sturdy enclosures allow hardwiring for perfect installation.
Setting Up the Rachio V3
Looking closer at the installation process, setting up the Rachio 3 with all that sprinkler wiring was pretty easy. You need to unplug old wiring. Figure out the zones. And plug-in the new wires. The Rachio 3 comes with simple press connectors making it extremely easy to connect as compared with the previous versions. Supporting both 14 and 22 gauge wiring this time around it looks much better. Just be careful to identify the zones correctly and do the routing properly. Once it’s all plugged in and wired up the setting up of the Rachio 3 is as easy as it gets.
Download the Rachio app. The Rachio V3 automatically senses your device if it is connected to your home Wi-Fi network, it starts taking an update, and after a few minutes, it is all ready to play. The best part is you don’t need a Wi-Fi password for the Rachio V3, once it connects to your phone, it automatically reads all of it through your phone. You need to key in the product serial number of the Rachio 3 so that it can talk to the Rachio servers. Once done, create an account and set up your zones, test all your zones, and it’s all done, which makes it an easy and quick set up experience.
What does it do? How does it Work?
Once set up the Rachio 3 performs with sublime perfection. Its smooth and easy interface makes this controller is one of the most advanced smart sprinkler controllers in the market. It automatically detects your zones one by one. It first activates your zone and then starts the sprinklers in a step by step manner.
At this stage, the Rachio 3 asks you about the Zone Details. What are you growing in the zone? What’s the soil type? What amount of sunlight hits the zone? What Sprinkler types you are using? And what is the degree of slope in that zone?
All of this detailed information is fed into the Rachio Database that helps it to determine the amount of water required for the zone. This is the best logical way to determine and plan on the water requirements. Rachio seems to apply one of the best algorithms to get the job done like a master. With Rachio, there is no wastage of water; since the perfect algorithms sprinkle just the right amount of water for the right amount of time. It seems like the Rachio algorithms are accurate and bang-on.
Advanced Plant-linked sensors
You don’t need to install a separate plant-linked sensor if you have the Rachio 3 installed. A plant-linked sensor in your soil will tell you when to water based on the current environmental conditions and the moisture content of the soil. It estimates the current moisture content of the soil and determines the need for water if any. Rachio 3 does the same thing with its algorithm at work at all times calculating everything automatically. You don’t have to keep your plants less irrigated or over-irrigated any more. The Rachio 3 does its work efficiently to water them when needed. So it knows that your plants don’t need water when it is raining outside.
Features a Weather Station that Stands Apart
The Rachio V3 Controller makes use of a Premium Weather Plus Intelligence Technology that gathers data from around 300,000 weather stations, radars, satellites and other sources that provide the best weather inputs for your area.
Alternatively, it also lets you select your weather station. That way, you get to select a weather station that is locally based, and that will provide you with accurate inputs of the weather and the environment in your area. Based on what data might be useful for your irrigation plans, you can select your weather station and view the data you need. For instance, you might find precipitation data of much help to schedule your watering.
Geeky and Statistical Application
So, if you are already buying a smart device like a sprinkler controller, you already might be of some level of technical expertise if not a pro. That’s because the kind of data and statistics that you are going to witness while using The Rachio V3 is quite unbelievable. It shows you the minutest of details in a flawless manner that may get too much too absorb all at once. It’s going to tell you in detail about how many gallons of water were used on a particular day and time and if it failed to water per se why did it happen. That level of detail is very impressive.
The graphical representation of the charts and all the statistics showing everything that you may need to water your plants make it the best app that comes with a smart irrigation system. Not only how much water is being used and when you can also see the soil moisture content data for each zone. From complex soil moisture content details to graphs showing the trends of the same, you can see it all in one place.
The app and the interface allow you to do everything you wish to do with your sprinkler system. You can also manually water your zones, start the sprinklers, stop them or change or skip a schedule, all of it is doable at the click of a button on your smartphone.
The best thing about this app is the fact that it is developer-friendly and has its API open. This allows the developers to plug it in with their things and create their dashboards in case of integrating with other complex irrigation systems. As such if you use multiple systems, you can seamlessly integrate the existing ones or yours with this one and create great possibilities for your farms.
Connectivity for the layman
Even if you are not that of a geek or a technical or a developer type of person, Rachio 3 is still the best smart sprinkler controller around. You can try out its smartness by going on to IFTTT and connecting your Rchio V3. Turn it on and then connect it to your other smart devices so that you can instruct it seamlessly wherever you are in the house. For instance, you can connect it with Alexa or Google Assistant and give it voice commands to do other things. You can tell Alexa to send you an email or log it into a spreadsheet whenever your Rachio 3 starts watering. There are endless ways of setting the indicators on when your Rachio out in the fields is doing something or not doing something. With the Super Smart Rachio 3, you can make anything possible.
Saving more than just money.
Oh Well, it does. First things first, the Water Companies will come over to certify your system. They will conduct a thorough inspection of your old sprinkler setup and examine the new one. They will survey your zones, look at your existing setup and then see your new one. Then there is some official paperwork that you have to mail them. You get some amazing rebates from water companies when choosing a smart sprinkler system like the Rachio 3. Not only that, your Rachio 3 will save your water and subsequent money on water bills throughout the year with accurate scheduled and reliable weather-based watering. The easy to use the app is a big win in terms of being on top of things.
The Rachio 3 is not only saving all the frustration and money on water bills for the homeowners, but it is also helping numerous communities conserve water on a much bigger scale. More than sixty per cent of all residential water is wasted outdoors, and the amazing Rachio 3 empowers the customers to strike a balance between conserving water and maintaining beautiful landscapes.
Some Things to Consider if you live outside of the US?
While Rachio 3 is strictly compliant with all laws of the land in the US. You might want to check on the limitations of the usage of the same if any. The Rachio 3 uses a 900 MHz band for communications, and while in the US it may be legal, it might not be the same in the country where you are at. The specific spectrum that the Rachio 3 communicates is not clear. The Rachio 3 comes with a receiver as well as a transmitter that allows it to establish the link and unless it transmits signals in the range of 915-928 MHz which is unlikely, it is deemed to be illegal in Australia.
That’s because in Australia, the spectrum 902-915 MHz is used by Vodafone on a license. And if they find your device in that spectrum, they might find you and fine substantial amounts. So Rachio 3 might be illegal to use in Australia and Europe.
So you better want to check the laws of your country and the prevailing bandwidths before deciding to get the Rachio V3
With so many pros and amazing features, the Rachio 3 is clearly a winner. It is not only going to save time, energy and money for you but it lends the much-needed peace of mind. Because you can rest assured about your sprinklers. Just set them up and forget them. It’s that easy. And to add to that you get to see all that it has been doing, the smallest of details with ease. Nothing gets better than that.
At $229.99, Rachio V3 may not be the cheapest, but it’s worth the price. Quick set up procedures and unique features such as the weather plus technology make it stand apart. It’s amazing features, and interoperability sets the benchmarks high for similar products in the market which fail to impress. Blend it with your smart home systems or connect it to Alexa for voice commands, it does it all in the blink of an eye. Go for it without an ounce of doubt if you have a taste for the best.