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stuck in water surplus



  • Official comment
    RainMachine Nicholas

    There are 2 cases where RainMachine might not water optimally:

    1. Too much precipitation reported by NOAA:

          Fixed by: a. Reduce the RAIN Sensitivity for your area

                        b. Enable an additional Weather Service to balance reports (like MET.NO) 


    2. Soil/Field Capacity bigger than actually is. This might make RainMachine skip 1 or 2 days more of irrigation on a big precipitation event

        Fixed by: a. Reducing Field Capacity by a percentage

                       b. Using another type of soil that better reflects your garden soil. When you change soil types the Field Capacity automatically updates so it's easier to see if the new capacity is lower or higher.

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    RainMachine Nicholas

    Using Web UI you can check each zone / program available water by clicking on the button next to Field Capacity in zone properties window. I guess you have a bigger Field Capacity set than your actual field capacity ?

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    This is odd as this has never been a problem.

    Its set to 0% (1.06 Inches)

    I just put it down to -20%

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    I will open a ticket for help.


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    Rolando Soto

    Hi Fernando,

    I was looking at your account and I saw a few things that may be causing problems.

    1-It says you have clay for soil on all your zones. This affects your Field Capacity. This is the amount of soil moisture or water content held in the soil after excess water has drained away. Clay is very compact and it takes a long time for water to seep through, this makes the RainMachine water less often so water doesn't pool on the top.

    2-You have Freeze Protect enabled. When the temperature reaches 41 degrees F, the RainMachine will automatically (to protect your roots) not water for 24 hours. if the ground is wet and the water freezes, it would damage the roots of your all vegetation. 

    3-Forecast Correction is enabled. Forecast correction is a great feature that allows the RainMachine to calculate between actual rainfall and forecast rainfall. This works even if you don't activate/configured a weather service with observed data. It will just correct the forecast that should get better as the day progresses. But we recommend that there's a weather services that reports actual fallen rain in your area for accuracy.  

    4-Moderate Slope for all zones. 

    I would recommend the following changes and with your permission i can do most of them for you (except soil type and slope but i can walk you through the process of picking the right options for your needs)

    1- change the soil type. Here's an article to help you decide which type of soil you have. 

    2-Lower the temperature from 41 degrees Fahrenheit to 32 degrees.

    3- Enable WUnderground and add the closest weather station. 

    4- If the slope is not considerable, i would switch this option to no slope. Unless you feel like its steep enough to need it. 

    If these changes don't change anything and you still have the same issues or new ones please don't hesitate to contact us as soon as possible. 

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    I am having the exact same issue. I just realized the past few weeks it has been stuck in a water surplus and hasn't been watering. I have never had a problem in the past two years of using the rainmachine. I think there is an issue with your latest software.

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    Gregory Feiner (Edited )


    Were they able to resolve your water surplus issue?

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    ffuentes (Edited )


    I would say yes? To be honest I am not sure. We are back at really hot days but the sprinkler are turning on. What I did notice is that is watering less....

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    I have this issue sometimes.  Right now I have 3 programs.  2 are overwatering (106% & 132%) due to a current heat wave.  However the 3rd program is telling me there's a water surplus and won't water.  Ideas? 

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    I found that my NOAA weather service is pulling bad data IE: 32F in May in Texas! Never LOL.

    And I think I seem to believe this is the issue of my system stuck in water surplus!


    In Spring Texas May was as hot as any other May in Texas.

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    Tech support had me make a copy of the program and then delete the original.  That fixed it for my issue.  I left NOAA as a weather source.

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    John Wolf

    I am having the same problem. We had a moderate amount of rain in my area since I installed my device on June 8. Since then, it has only watered ONCE (early morning June 9) and has given me a "Water Surplus" message every day since. We have had no rain in past 4 days and I am still getting Water Surplus. Could someone please advise on the best thing to do such as changing my soil type and or field capacity. ANY suggested changes would help to at least have this thing come on.

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    RainMachine Nicholas

    Reducing Field Capacity would reduce how much water your soil can hold after a rain and of course it will start irrigating again sooner after a rain.

    But I would also look at evapo-transpiration (ET) values, maybe there isn't actually a big daily ET and it's fine to leave it like that. 

    Also, if you go to web interface on login to your RainMachine and then change the end of the URL from /web-ui/ to /web-ui-beta/ you will find an option to

    manage the Water Surplus. You can manage it if you click on a zone > click Show on Soil Water Surplus and then you will see the level of water surplus for each program that that zone belongs to. 

    Below the graph you have 2 buttons (SET TO OPTIMAL - sets to 0 water surplus and SET TO MAXIMUM which sets water surplus to Field Capacity (100%).

    Should look like this, remember this is only on beta web ui (web-ui-beta on URL):


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    Very nice option! Thanks!

    Hope to see this soon in production!

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    John Wolf (Edited )

    Most zones are set to clay loam soil, flat slope, cool seasonal grass, rotor type heads, and full sun. All of my zones had Field Capacity = 0%, so I set them all the way down to -50%. I also set the weather sensitivity to 50%, where it was 80%.

    My ET shows it's right at the summer average of 0.23 inch. 

    I guess we'll see if that has any effect, though we did get a thunderstorm this morning that dropped 0.70 inch of rain

    My last resort will be to mess with the Soil Water Surplus in the beta.

    To be perfectly honest, this seems WAY more complicated than it should be. Not to mention I am an technologist by trade and the RainMachine is the last bit of my house that I automated. So this isn't all that foreign for me but my 20-year-old Orbit controller and rain sensor aren't looking so bad anymore.

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    John Wolf (Edited )

    After setting my field capacity to -50% (negative 50%) on all zones, my backyard program finally watered yesterday and the front yard finally watered today per schedule. But Full Sun zones watered for only 5-6 minutes each, Partial Sun zones didn't water at all. Conditions include temps in the mid-80's this whole week plus only 3/4" rain on Tue morning, no chance of rain again until Tue. The feed from NOAA has been absolutely accurate for my location. 

    This just isn't making sense to me when the program's suggested watering time indicates 35 to 40 minutes per zone (alternating days for front and back yards) for an "average summer day". That's pretty much what I was watering with my old Orbit controller. Having lived here for 15 years, I know ~30 min per zone (every other day) is what's required to keep the grass healthy in 84-94 degrees. 95+ degrees needs 40 mins per zone. The 5-6 min actual watering time is in no way adequate. The grass was starting to brown and I was forced to water all zones manually for another 20 mins per zone this morning.

    I really want to take advantage of the intelligence the program is supposed to offer. Especially being able to adjust for forecasted rain. With my old Orbit I would have to turn off the system manually when any appreciable rain was in the forecast, or manually up the water time for 95+ degrees. Thus, I don't to turn down the watering sensitivity any more than it already is (50%) for the fear of losing that input.

    Can anyone suggest a soil type other than the Clay Loam that I am currently using for each zone that will increase the actual watering time? 


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    RainMachine Nicholas

    Changing soil type does not exactly change watering time, just how much water can hold. Most of the gardens use Loam soil some Sandy Loam some Clay  Loam. If you set Field Capacity to 50% from Clay Loam and you think it's better you have more or less transformed Clay Loam setting in Sandy Loam which indeed is uses for grass.

    With reduced field capacity a big rain will deplete fast from your soil. Your old Orbit didn't account for water there is still in soil after a rain.

    If NOAA is accurate for your location it would mean that also the computed evapo-transpiration and water in soil is correct. The only thing that could influence is having a grass/vegetation that actually consumes more water like for example: Cool Season Grass (vs Warm Season Grass). If you change vegetation type it will influence watering duration.

    So what I would do:

    1. Set soil to Sandy Loam (this is actually a -50% Clay Loam Field Capacity)

    2. Check vegetation type. Maybe set to a vegetation type that has a bigger "consumption" coefficient. You can try Flowers for 100% crop coefficient. 

    3. Check wind sensitivity ? Default is set to 50%. Is your location maybe getting more wind (larger zones without obstacles around). If wind sensitivity is increased the evaporation of water in soil is greatly increased.



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    John Wolf (Edited )

    OK, thanks. This is very useful. I set all zones to Sandy Loam with a 0% Field Capacity. I left vegetation type as Cool Grass for now. Wind isn't much of an issue, so I left the that set at 50%. 

    Something I couldn't find in the Knowledge Base is what do the daily percentages for each Program mean as displayed on the Dashboard? Is that a forecasted percentage of the total suggested watering time for each program which will be run a given day? For example, if it shows 50% on a given day, does that mean the Program will run for 30 mins if the total Suggested Watering time for the program is 60 minutes?

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