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Smart irrigation system that supports 36 zones

SteveSteve Seattle, WAAdministrator
edited July 2014 in General Smart Irrigation

I've got a pretty big yard, and am running 36 sprinkler zones (ok, actually... I've got one currently turned off, so I'm only using 35 at the moment). But still, I have a lot of watering to do.

I've been checking out smart irrigation controllers, and really like the looks of RainMachine (http://rainmachine.com/), but it supports only 12 zones. They suggested I just connect three of them, but the units can't "talk" to each other. That's a deal killer for me, because it will tax my reservoir and well pump too much if more than one zone runs at the same time. If it's hot weather and the 1st controller runs the watering so that zone 12 ends later than normal, the 2nd controller won't know about it and start up zone 13 when zone 12 (or maybe even zone 11) is still running.

I also like the looks of Eve (http://www.eveirrigation.com/), but it doesn't support enough zones, either.

Does anyone know of any smart irrigation systems that are expandable to 35 zones?

Irrigation Caddy looks interesting, but it's not actually "smart" - it won't adjust watering times based on weather. I want mobile app control (maintaining 36 zones is much easier when you don't have to keep running back to the garage to manually start the next zone test). And I also want weather-based watering time changes (and I really like how RainMachine lets you set different vegetation types).

Finally, integration with SmartThings would be a big plus, but that's not a deal killer for me. I want an irrigation controller that's smart and tries to save me water and money based on weather, just like my Ecobee thermostat tries to save me energy and money based on weather.

Any suggestions?


  • Patrick3302Patrick3302 Montreal, Quebec (Canada)Member

    Hi Steve,

    I've been looking into this for some time and haven't found anything that seems to be supported in Canada. They use the NOAA data for forecasting and was told that it won't work in Canada, too bad because I really like the rainmachine. As far as what you are looking for, maybe the Bluespray (http://www.bluespray.net/) could support 36 zones, I know they support upto 24. Good luck and thanks for this great website.


  • SteveSteve Seattle, WAAdministrator

    BlueSpray looks interesting, @Patrick3302... but the reviews on Amazon are terrible. I'm going to test out a 12-zone RainMachine unit.

  • pvr4mepvr4me Member

    I don't have any experience with them, but have you looked at OpenSprinkler?


    Each board controls 8 stations, and each station can be individually programmed. By linking zone expansion boards, the controller can support up to 48 stations (can be increased further in software).


  • SteveSteve Seattle, WAAdministrator

    Ooh... that does look interesting! $149 for the base unit, and then $100 more dollars to expand to 40 zones.

    I might have to check them out.

  • Just want to point out that Eve does support more than 8 zones by buying more than one controller. So in your case, you'd have to buy 4, but hey, that's the cost of infinite expandability, right?

  • SteveSteve Seattle, WAAdministrator

    dantheman said:
    Just want to point out that Eve does support more than 8 zones by buying more than one controller. So in your case, you'd have to buy 4, but hey, that's the cost of infinite expandability, right?

    I ended up buying three Rain Machine units. Installed one on my 12-zone lower system to test, and loved it. Installing the other two on the 24-zone upper system today. So that start times never overlap, I'll allow them both to under-water based on weather, but will only allow the third one to over-water -- which is fine, since the lower system zones are the ones most susceptible to drying out.

    The convenience of being able to test/troubleshoot a 36 zone system with my iPhone inside a zip-lock baggie is SO nice. :)

    I'll keep working on the Rain Machine guys to update their software so that multiple units are "aware" of each other and act accordingly.

  • How well does the Rainmachine work at predicting and using the correct amount of water?
    I have a Toro TIS-612 which uses Weathertrak for data. Not wifi connected but works really well, never have to touch it all year long.

  • SteveSteve Seattle, WAAdministrator

    Too early to tell how well it's doing, but it sure LOOKS like it's doing something! :)

  • pvr4mepvr4me Member

    Why did you choose Rain Machine? Was OpenSprinkler lacking something?

  • SteveSteve Seattle, WAAdministrator

    I think it boiled down to the RainMachine's interface looking and "feeling" more finished and professional, as well as the NOAA weather-adjustment functions.

  • liqianghualiqianghua Murray, UTMember

    I bought a 8 zone Rachio IRO over the summer and enjoyed it. I'm only on 0.2 acres and have two zones free to use for the garden once we put one in.

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