Spruce or Rachio?

That’s funny cause I have the Rachio and after trying for a number of weeks to use their flexible daily schedule I had to abandon it. It was burning my lawn up here in Charleston SC. I tweaked the settings so that I could get it to water pretty much how I wanted but the flex schedule would very often skip a water because it predicted rain that never came. In the heat of summer here when it’s 96 or 115+ with heat index and a 40% chance of rain every day the flex program would skip day after day when it never rained. After nearly 5 days of skips my established and deep rooted St. Aug starts to shrivel up and die. That was 6 weeks ago when I finally stopped the flex schedule and have been using a manual schedule and my lawn has still not fully recovered.

After that happened I started looking for a reasonably priced way to have wireless soil moisture sensors in each zone. Sadly I couldn’t find any that would work the way I want. I also wanted something that would accurately measure the rainfall at my house not at my zip code since it often rains 1-3 miles away from my house but I’m dry as a bone. I’m seriously considering the Bloomsky for that since it works with IFTTT and could trigger Rachio events like a delay.

Overall I really like the Rachio, especially since it lets me adjust it for the next morning while I lay in bed before sleep :slight_smile:


Check the details of the schedule. Usually 3 hours are split into 15 mins on / 30 mins off periods to allow the ground to soak and avoid unnecessary runoffs. Thus your effective watering will last only an hour out of 3.

It’s now almost Spring of 2017 and I will for certain be adding a intelligent controller for my irrigation system. Still can’t decide on Racho or Spruce. I love the Spruce because I could just hook it right in to my SmartThings system (which ultimately is what I want). However if Rachio had ST integration, I have a strong feeling I would go with it.

Recent update today regarding Rachio. I love mine even without the integration. Set it and forget it.

I got Spruce last year and configuring it was not very efficient and it was buggy. I’ve had access to several beta codes including the current web-app beta so they don’t rely on ST as much. It’s still very buggy, I think Rachio does a much better job and looks like they just got ST integration too. I have soil sensors with Spruce but I question how well they really work, they always seem to report over 40% even on the driest/hottest days. So not having those with Rachio doesn’t seem like a big loss.

Having now purchased the Rachio and used it, I have to say I am a huge fan. +1 for Rachio.

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Also trying to decide between the two and having the same internal debate as everyone else. I like the idea of soil sensors, but if it’s true that they don’t really do much and disconnect frequently, then I’m not sure it’s worth the effort. Went to the spruce website today and was greeted with “coming soon - spruce with wifi”. So it sounds like the dependence on ST is going away. But at the same time, I can’t order one. And it’s spring. And I want something now before the watering season starts. So - Rachio it is!

I also have the Gen 2 Rachio and am very happy with it. As others have said it’s easy to install and set up. The different mode options can be a little confusing at first but once once you figure it all out it’s great. The integration with ST works well which is also nice. Lastly, I integrated my netatmo data with my Rachio so it gets very accurate data to decide when and how much to water. Love it!

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No issues with the sensors disconnecting here. Have two one on my front yard and one in my back garden, this is my furthest device from my hub or any repeater and never drops off. The sensors seem to work fine and my Spruce paid for itself in the first season. My water usage dropped drastically and my lawn and garden looked great.

The new Wi-Fi is supposed to be web based and still work with ST.

I do love the ST integration. If the Wife leaves early for work and when she opens the door the sprinklers shut off long enough for her to leave then turn back on.

I have Spruce controller and 4 sensors in my yard. I initially had issues with sensors disconnecting or not pairing, but eventually figured it was due to wifi interference. Once I changed router wifi channel, everything is working great.

Sensors work very well, they definitely show the moisture increasing to about 40% after watering or heavy rain. Then in the summer they do show the moisture level dropping all the way to 20% ( that’s my threshold for watering).

I have 4 zones and the great thing about sensors is they they allow the controller to water each zone differently, automatically determining when each zone needs watering. This would be impossible to do without sensors. For example, one of my zones is the slope in my backyard. I now see with the sensor that the slope dries up very quickly and needs watering way more often than flat shady areas of the yard.

I never had issues with the controller. It does take rain forecast into account, so it skips if rain is forecasted. I think with the sensors it is the best combination: if rain is forecasted, it won’t water and if sensors show moisture is still ok, it won’t water too.

I mow my lawn myself with push mower and never had any problems when I hit the sensor with the wheels.

In short, if you have several zones with different microclimates, I think sensors can’t be beat.

Here is my .02 (from last year, have not looked at any updates from Spruce)

I have both, I first had Spruce, set it up and it seemed to work well until the sensors started to disconnect. When they are disconnected they show at the level they disconnected at, so if it was at 30% and 20% was my trigger…it would not water until I reset the sensor even if moisture was truly 10%…

I then got the Rachio, app is awesome compared to running Spruce in ST. Easy to use and setup, now that it is ST connected I can do some more stuff, but have not yet.

I do still use the soil sensors…why not I have them :slight_smile: . I now just have them setup to alert if moisture drops so I can look at the Rachio and adjust settings as needed.

Hope this helps and any questions let me know.

What are everyones thoughts on the % improved efficiency over using spoil sensors (ie. Spruce) vs just weather (ie. Rachio). IFTTT has a $30 off coupon right now for Rachio (using promocode IF%T%T%T$30) which makes it a few hundred dollars cheaper (if you add in a couple of soil moisture sensors). I wonder if you would ever get a return on that investment on Spruce…

Spruce just announced a new version…think it now has wireless. Any idea if it is still supported w/ Smartthings?

Yup same system just adds WiFi, so doesn’t have to tie into ST and a web front end(which works with V1). It still will work with ST just lik V1 does. The web front end is nice and getting better.

I was one of the first Spruce adopters and even got an early system. This is my second full season with it and it paid for itself in before the end of the 1st. Great seeing not watering because of moisture levels. My lawn never looked as good as last year.

I turned my system on 2 weeks ago and it has’t watered yet. Between rain and the soil moisture level, it hasn’t needed to. Also being able to set my garden and lawn moistures separately is great.

Lastly they have mentioned a stand alone app.

I use Rain machine, and recently they updated and it is much easier now. I was thinking about switching, but the update was easy. To command Alexa, just add skill to IFTTT. “Alexa, trigger the sprinklers”

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All great news! Thanks!

I decided to go with the Rachio… I can’t see using soil moisture sensors justifying the $200/$300 price difference…

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Let us know how it works out,. Would be nice to see a comparison of water usage next year when you can compare the savings across years.

I saw 50%+ less usage switching from a dumb controller to Spruce. 45,000g 2015 down to 22,000g 2016 and I added a garden to the system in 2016.

Oh and here is how the log looks:
Spruce Controller Front Yard initialized. Zone 1 moisture at 42%, skipping watering. 2017-04-26 05:30
Spruce Controller Front Yard initialized. Skipping watering due to rain for zone(s) 1.2017-04-24 05:30
Spruce Controller Front Yard initialized. Skipping watering due to rain for zone(s) 1.2017-04-22 05:30
Spruce Controller Front Yard initialized. Skipping watering due to rain for zone(s) 1.2017-04-20 05:30

Stay far away from Spruce. Really.

I have been trying to use the Spruce for 18 months now. I am fairly competent yet it has been really hard to just set up a simple schedule and have it run reliably. (what exactly should I know about ‘max gallons per minute’?-not a typo. required question to set up Spruce schedules). I constantly get error messages and it inevitably fails during vacations. Worse than useless. Note also that their vaunted ‘moisture sensors’ died right after the warranty expired and they tried to upsell me to their new version (I guess those would have lasted 14 months instead of 13?).

Tech support is great in that they are responsive. Unfortunately they simply cannot get a bad product to work well. Their software interface initially was incomprehensible and unreliable. After more than a year, it is now simply bad though still unreliable via their kludgy web app. Without an easy to understand and use software side, their controller is nothing but a cute flat box on the wall.

Am now painfully spending the $200 to switch to Rachio. Their reviews and interface seem to be much better. Note: I was an enthusiastic adopter of ST and chose Spruce because of that integration, but since it really is not smart and the ST integration is confusing and primitive at best, Spruce is the worst of both worlds. The Rachio gen 2 irrigation controller has Alexa integration and since I already control all my smarthome GE lights via Alexa anyway, it seems I am destined to interface with all my devices through there. I definitely smell the end of the smarthub’s efforts at controlling the home. Zigbee protocol will prob be only thing left, with all devices thus enabled and controlled via Alexa. (note: I have no affiliation with any of the companies above)

Wow my experience is the opposite. Was easy to set up, sensors have been great(both 2 years old now) and it just plain works. This is my 2nd full watering season with the system and all I had to do was turn it back on through the app.

Max gallons a minute is explained in their FAQ. It was easy to figure out on my system as I just used the sprinkler heads data.

I like the new web interface, it works well and is easy to use. It does still need work, but nice to get more data and setup then I could in Smart Things.

Funny how 2 people can have such opposite experiences with a product. Sorry to hear all the issues you have had.