Irritrol RainDial Programming Tutorial

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Here is a good tutorial on Irritrol RainDial Programming and Schedules.  It discusses how to program the Irritrol RainDial RD600, RD900, RD1200 series of controllers, provides links, videos, templates and guidelines.   There’s also a link to the programming guide and a great sheet to fill in when deciding what your program should be.

Irritrol RainDial Programming Guidelines for success: RD600, RD900, RD1200

  • Basic terminology:   Depending on your model, the timer can control 6, 9 or 12 “stations/valves.”   There are three “schedules“, A, B and C. Schedules define of the days, run times for each valve and up to three times you want that schedule to start running on a given day.
  • Many times people mistake the AM for PM; the difference is very subtle on the display.  This is my only real complaint about the Irritrol RD controllers.  Double check that the current time and the programmed times are correct.
  • The 2nd start time should never start before the first run is finished.   Add up the times assigned to each valve station.)   Never let start time plus the total run time be finish after the have a 2nd start time occur before all the valves from the first start time can finish.
  • Avoid allowing times to cross midnight (into the next day).
  • When using multiple schedules, make sure they will never overlap their schedules at all.   e.g., if you have schedule A as a “skip-day” schedule running every other day AND you have schedule B running on Wednesdays, they will eventually both run on Wednesday.  Thus, make sure schedule B can run and complete before schedule A runs.   (e.g.., set one for mornings and the other for evenings. )
  • RECOMMENDATION: Fill out the template shown below before you start – it makes things very easy.
  • Convention note:  The terms station, valve and zone are considered the same. Each valve has a number associated with it (e.g., 1-6 for an RD600, 1-9 for an RD900.

Important things to understand about the RD600 and other Rain Dial series timers:

  • Understand the basics of Irritrol RainDial Programming and Schedules:
    • The timer is specifically designed to avoid having more than one valve on at a time.  This prevents the transformer from being overloaded so even if you do manage to program it for multiple valves to be on simultaneously, you shouldn’t do that. (Some people do run multiple valves at a time, but it’s not recommended).
    • It always turns on valves for the programmed duration in the numerical sequence (1, then 2, then 3…)  If 2 doesn’t have any time set for it, then it will be skipped.
    • Schedules A,B, and C are always followed, regardless of what the schedule the switch is pointing to.    I.e., if you set the switch on A, it will still run schedule B and C if they are programmed to run.
    • If you don’t want schedule A to run, you must set all the days in schedule A to off, or run-times to 0 minutes, or all start times to off.
    • Each  schedule works with valve run times and then you give it the time to start the schedule.
    • When the schedule starts, it goes to the first valve with time to run and waits.  when that run-time has finished, it goes to the next valve and runs it for the time assigned.   Thus, only one valve runs at a time.
    • Help with skip days: You tell the timer what the skip day interval is.  e.g., to water every 3 days, set skip days to 3.  You also have to tell it what to consider today to be.  e.g., If today is the first of 3 days, then today is set to 1.  The following will help make it clear what to do:
      • The timer will run the schedule when the “today” day number matches the value you set as skip-days.
        Example: You want to water every 3 days and have today set to 1, and skip days=3. “Today” which is currently “1” will increment every day, so tomorrow it will be 2, and so on. When “today” shows “3” the water will come on.

Irritrol RainDial PROGRAMMING GUIDES, Templates

For help programming the RainDial RD600-1200 series sprinkler/irrigation controllers, see the following Irritrol RainDial programming guide and then review the manuals above.

Here’s a PDF of the Irritrol Rain Dial programming template. guide, and example template.

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138 thoughts on “Irritrol RainDial Programming Tutorial

  1. Hi there,
    I have RD-900. Program is starting at the set time but, stops when changes from one channel to another. This stopping pattern is not always the same. For example it stops at channel 3 once and it might stop at channel 6 after reset the program.
    Please help me how to get this sorted.

    • Hi Dhanushka,
      That sounds like the timer is failing, I would recommend sending it in for repair. I have repair instructions on my website here.


    • Hi Kevin,

      I’d suggest reading through my programming page; it explains a lot of key concepts, and then watch the video on that page too. It’s very well done.


  2. Morning,
    We have an RD 900 and are trying to blow the water lines out. What are the steps that we need to take or is there a phone number we could call for help.

    • Hi Don, I don’t know much about the line blowing steps but you can simply slide the timer switch to the off position to keep the timer from turning any of the valves on during the winter. Sorry I don’t know more but I live in Phoenix and we don’t have to do that.

      Brian , the irritrol RainDialDoctor

    • Hi Valerie,
      Do you have the bottom center switch in the middle (set programs) position? Tell me more about how you’re trying to change it and I can help more.
      aka the rain Dial Doc for Irritrol sprinkler timers.

  3. How can I run my drip for 8 hours? I need a deep slow soak but can’t figure out how to run more than 59 minutes.

    • Hi Sharon,
      The first way I can think of doing it is to use schedule A for 5.9 hours and schedule B for up to another 5.9 hours. Just make sure you leave at least a little gap between when one schedule finishes and the other one starts, to avoid any overlap.

      Does that help?
      Brian – aka the RainDial Doctor for Irritrol RD600, rd900 adn rd1200 timers.

  4. can you set up the RD900-INT to start in a different sequence? example; instead of it starting on zone 1 the to 2 and so on like 1 thru 6 can it be programmed to start on zone/station 6 and go backwards like 6 thru 1 or any other sequences (6,4,2, 5, 3, 1..ect ect).

    -Thanks so much. Chris.

    **FYI** My yard has 6 zones and 2 valves(ha if there’s a 3rd i haven’t found it) and was installed by previous owner and i have no contact to find out anything so I’m just learning as a go)

    • Hi Chris,

      The only way I can think of to change the order of which valves come on is to change the wiring. e.g., if you want valve 3 to water before valve 2, switch wires 2 and 3. Otherwise there’s no way to change it, the timer always follows the numerical sequence.

      I hope that helps,

  5. I have an RD 600-R, and have 3 zones. I only want to water 1 zone, so I set the other 2 zones to zero minutes, and set the days of the week so they were all scheduled off. But when the zone I want to come on all the zones go through there cycle.

    • Hi Bruce,

      When this happens, it’s almost always due to something getting programmed in an unintended manner. I’d suggest first doing a factory reset sequence following the instructions on the DIY Troubleshooting page – see the link on resetting the timers.

      Always go back and review what you’ve setup after you’re done programming; sometimes that catches problems. Also recall that the three schedules all have to be cleared. Sometimes schedule B is causing the problem when schedule A was thought to be the culprit. See the programming tips page for lots of good information.

      Brian – the Irritrol Rain Dial Irrigation Timer “doc” for RD600 rd900 rd1200 timers.

      Let me know if that helps.

  6. How does one workaround the single-station limitation with Rain Dial kit? I do not think it is as simple as wiring multiple zones together (power issues?). Very often i want to water two zones for 2hrs say but am restricted to doing them in sequence. In effect, my pumps and valves must then operate for 4hrs in total which is not acceptable.


    • Hi Pops,

      I’m not familiar with the model you mentioned. If you want to email me a model number I may be able to help more. With that said the limitation is usually due to the transformer’s capability. The systems are usually designed to support one valve at a time, although I’ve done two with my systems quite often. It’s probably a try it and see, but be willing to accept that you may need to buy another transformer if it doesn’t work out.
      If you have a meter, you could measure the current with one valve on and then see what your transformer is rated for. If it’ll support twice the current of one valve then you’re probably OK.

      There is some risk that the timer itself isn’t designed to support two, so that could be a problem.

      Bottom line: it’ll probably work, just weigh the risk and give it a try. If you want a more definitive answer I’d need to know more about the model, your transformer, solenoids, etc…


  7. Hi,
    my display on my RD-900 is flashing continuously and does not run the programs. I can reset the time and start it up again, but it goes back to flashing as soon as the program starts and quits the program.
    Thanks for your help,

    • Hi Lesley,
      That sounds like a problem we typically see, I am confident we can repair it. I will send you a separate email with the repair instructions.

      Thanks for commenting,
      Meghan – RainDial Doctor in Training

  8. Hello,
    I have an RD-900 and when I try to set it to water a particular station it always starts with the first station and won’t water the station I want it to.
    Any ideas??
    Thank you,

    • Hi Steve,
      It sounds like there could possibly be a programming error or that the set programs switch is going bad. I would look at the programming information on my website to make sure that everything is set correctly. The link for that is here. If you think that something is wrong with the set programs switch, go ahead and send it in and we can repair it.

      Thanks for the inquiry,

      Meghan – RainDial Doctor in Training

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