Getting the Rachio 3 Set up

We moved in November. I don’t recommend it, for one reason: Things are winterized, you don’t know what’s planted where, and you don’t know the condition of your sprinkler system. (Obviously, this last one only applies if you’re moving into a Single Family home).

As I’ve been smartifying the house, a smart sprinkler was a definite must. Even when we had a place down in Highlands Ranch, I hated my sprinklers running in the middle of a rainstorm. I still hate it and when I see a house where it’s happening I want to knock on their door.

I really wanted something HomeKit connected; one for the security, and two, for the convenience. The choices there are slim.

I like Rachio because their kit is attractive, and they’re a CO Company. I’ll support a CO company over another any chance I can.

Rachio S3 BoxI ordered the Series 3 sometime around the first of the year, and shipping was mid-April if memory serves. Well around mid-April I looked at my order and now shipping was mid-May. Not unexpected, shipping on new stuff slips. Still a bit annoying as I needed to get my sprinklers up and running. I had resigned myself to spending a few weeks with my (probably not horrible) original gear until the Rachio arrived, but was pleasantly surprised when I got an email letting me know orders were rolling out. There was still no firm date on mine, and I don’t know when the S3 started taking orders, so for all I knew I could be waiting until June. However there was a link to beg for earlier shipping, and I of course did :) And to my surprise a few days later a shiny new Rachio 3 arrived.

I spent some time running the existing gear through its zones so I knew what was what, taking copious notes on my iPad as I went. I’m sure my neighbors thought I was a weirdo, walking around iPad in hand like I’m judging water flow or something.

Rachio s3 labeled for installThen came install. FAR easier than I expected. I took note of the existing wires and used some handy paint pens to mark the wires and the corresponding zones on the Rachio 3. That helped a lot as the existing system had 12 zones, and there just aren’t that many colors of wire available.

Unlike my experiences with a Nest and two Ecobee thermostats, this was cake. Everything matched up to the same thing from one device to the next, no mystery wires or “What the hell” type things. 
Powered up Rachio 3

I was really impressed how easy setup was.

You’ll have to forgive the ugly mess under the unit, I was more interested in getting it up and running than appearances. I will likely go back and trim these wires to more cleanly fit.

That said, the Rachio 3 powered up, the app found the device right away and walked through testing and labeling each zone. Ten minutes later I was all set.

I’m looking forward to seeing how it works as far as watering. I suspect I’ll have some adjusting to do as the next few days unfold, but I love the idea that it knows where it is, and knows the forecast so plans around expected weather.


If I had one gripe, right this second, it’s that there isn’t an iPad app. I love that I can fire up the ecobee3 (which I LOVE) app on my iPad and do more than I can on the iPhone. It’s nice to have an app that knows the device it’s on and offers an experience that matches the real estate. The Rachio app isn’t an iPad friendly app even, so it just runs the iPhone app in 2X (which means I immediately uninstalled it.) Maybe Rachio should send their Dev team to 360|iDev :)

By John Wilker

I'm a science fiction writer and conference organizer. In 2017 I published my first book, 'Space Rogues', a fun Sci-Fi adventure with a fun cast of characters. I'm also the co-founder of 360|Conferences, a conference and event logistics consulting company.

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