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.
  • Never allow 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:
    • 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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114 thoughts on “Irritrol RainDial Programming Tutorial

    • Hi Dennis,

      Just keep the + button pressed until you go through the first 12 hours, then it’ll switch from am to pm or pm to am. On the older Gray units, the little leg on the A is difficult to see sometimes.

      Brian – aka the RD600 series RainDialDoctor

  1. I have an RD 1200 manufactured in 2003 and stations 1 thru 5 do not come on but stations 6 thru 11 do. I have disconnected everything and then reconnected and replaced the battery, but the problem is still with me. Do you have any suggestions how to fix my problem. We did have a power failure that lasted 6 hours last Sunday ( July 23, 2017 ).

    • Hi Fred,

      I’d suggest swapping station wire 6 with 1 and see if the valve that was connected to 1 works. That’ll tell you if it’s a valve problem. If the valve works, then send both the back terminal board and the LCD/Dial module in for repair and I’ll get it all working for you… If the valve still doesn’t work, then checkout the troubleshooting tips page to isolate it further. Let me know if you have any questions. A new 12 station unit can approach $200; the repair is solid, guaranteed and costs $65. If after I see it and repair doesn’t seem to be a good idea, I’ve got some other replacement options that may work well. Most of the time it’s repairable so it makes sense to go that route first.

      I hope that helps – Brian – aka – the Irritrol Rain Dial Doctor for RD-1200 series controllers.

  2. When setting the system to water every other day (Skip Day 2), I noticed that when turning the dial to weekdays, some days the system showed “—” and on others it showed “OFF”. Is the “OFF” indicator left over from my previous Day of the Week setting (Mon OFF, Tue OFF, Wed ON, etc.) and to work correctly in the Skip Day mode all days should show “—“?

    • Hi Bill,

      That’s a good question; Some of the older models may have behaved that way. I’ll have to check when I get home tonight. If I don’t get a chance, I’d say give it a try and see what you get. Post back here and let us know how it worked. If it doesn’t work, I’d try a full reset (see DIY page for details) and try again. What model (e.g., 600-R…) and what is the date listed under the battery so I can try and match versions.


  3. The display on my Rain Dial 660 shows an A:XX where XX is minutes. I don’t know what this program is as I didn’t put it in for that amount of time or to go on at that time of day.

    What is A:?

    • Hi John,

      The A: represents Schedule A is running, the XX is the number of minutes it’s scheduled to run for. Take a look at the programming tutorial information on my site – there’s lots of great information and even a video to watch.

      Let me know if that helps.

      Brian – aka – the rainDialDoctor RD600, RD900, RD1200

  4. Hi, I have the RD900 & love the system. I would like to be able to manually run the whole system from start to finish at one time. Instead of having to go back 5 minutes later & manually set the next station 8 times. Is this possible. It’s very windy where I live & sometimes I will shut the system off so it doesn’t get my car wet, then run it later.

    • You can get closer to what you want by just pressing the semi-auto button. That’ll immediately start whatever schedule the switch currently selects and water all the valves associated wit h that schedule. At worst, you’d have to do semi-auto for A, and B, and C, but it’s likely that most situations only require you to run one of those, making it a 1 button activity instead of 8 as you were doing.

      Let me know if that helps.
      Brian – the rainDialDoctor – donations are always welcome

  5. An Irritrol R900-R came with the house I bought. I HATE it. It is overly complicated and quirky. The only way to keep it from watering some parts of the yard three times a day every day and other parts not at all is to turn the thing completely off. I spent a weekend reading the manual, trying to track when and where it comes on, guessing which program it is supposed to be on and trying unsuccessfully to program it to anything that makes sense. It wastes tens of thousands of gallons of water in an arid climate. I am having it taken out.

    • Hi Janice, Although I did’t design it, nor do I work for Irritrol, I do have a few thoughts about your comment based on my experience as a home owner and user of several controller brands. Before replacing it, make sure you try out the other brands. I think it’s much easier to use, see, and understand than say an Orbit or other brand, and am confident you will have the same issues with them.

      It sounds like you’re simply placing your whole yard (all the valves) on one schedule. To do what you want, put the valves in one part of the yard on schedule A and the other part of the yard on schedule B. If you follow the tips and recommendations on my programming page and fill out the template by looking at the example, it should all make sense. I also provide a good video link on how to program it. Forget the manuals, just filling out the template and watch the video. The template and template example will make all the difference.

      Good luck,
      Brian – aka – the rainDialDoctor

  6. Hi.
    How can I have each valve run at a different time? My yard does not have enough pressure to run three valves at the same time. I would like valve one to go on at 2am. Valve to to go on at 210am. And valve 3 to go on at 220am. And so on and so forth until each valve is used.

    • Hi Van,

      You can not actually turn on more than one valve at a time. The always run one after the other in sequence. I think a quick read through the general guidance on the programming instructions and tutorial page will help. You could use program A for one valve and B for another, but most people would just use program A for both valves; one will run, followed by the other after the first one finishes.

      If you have other questions after looking through the programming tutorial, let me know.
      Brian – aka – the rainDialDoctor RD600, RD900, RD1200

  7. I would like to reset the whole system. We have an Irritrol R-600 and I would like to start over, but it won’t let me reset. Thank you for your help.

    • The instructions on the DIY troubleshooting page should help. after reset, it will have program A preset to a default schedule, so you have to set the run times and valve times to off if you don’t want the defaults.

      Brian – aka the Irritrol Rain Dial Doctor.

  8. I have an Irritrol TC-6EX-R. Two stations both to come on twice a day via Program A and B following each other. Will come on the first time but not the second. Also, I cannot manually get each station to come on.

    • Hi Maggie,
      Most problems like that are because the programs overlap. I try to use different days to avoid issues. Note that the program duration is the start time THROUGH the last valve that runs. So if valves 123 are all 20 minutes in schedule A starting at 1pm, Schedule A runs for 60 minutes, till 2pm. I’d set the 2nd program to start much after 2pm, say 2:15 or 2:23 to avoid any overlap if you extend one of the run times.

      Brian – aka the Irritrol RainDial Doctor

      • I have Program A with a start time of 6:30 am and 7:30 pm. I have Program B with a start time of 6:50 am only. Both programs come on in the morning. Program A does not come on at 7:30 pm in the evening.

        • That’s strange. At 7:30pm, does the timer indicate any of the valves “should be” on. If nnot tried already, remove power and battery for a few minutes and replace them so that the controller gets a good reset. then reprogram. Make sure you “AM/PM” is correct on the evening one and make sure there’s not another start time for A, B or C running in the evening even though you don’t expect there to be.

  9. Brian
    I have RD900-INT, I have a display of FUS when I’m on the #2 station. I have switched it to the #5 position and still come up with the FUS display.
    Is there something going on with the valve connections or the valve itself that I need to get into. Is it a simple fix.
    Thanks John L.

    • I couldn’t tell from the message, but if you moved it and still get the original number showing up instead of the new number, it just needs to be repaired. Look at the “How to get it repaired” info; I’m happy to help if you’re willing to give me the business. (send both the controller and back connector board)

      If the problem moved to the new valve number (every where you put that valve, it shows that number with the fuse error), then you have a bad solenoid on the valve, try replacing it and your problem should go away.

  10. Please help!

    My timer has stopped working appropriately. I have each valve stationed for a certain times. Valve one runs at the amount of time set. Valves two to four are set at either 15 minutes or 20 minutes each. Yet each of them only water for 4-5 minutes. Anyone else have the problem? Any solutions? Thanks!

    • Hi Derek,
      I’d follow the reset instructions on the DIY Troubleshooting page and start fresh. That will set the default schedule A to be 7am, 10min every valve, every day; so you’ll have to unprogram or reprogram it. Give that a try. If that doesn’t work, you can send it in for repair. If it’s not a good candidate for repair, I have some upgrade units for sale, but I always like to try the repair first.

      Thanks for posting,

  11. hi, I have an Irritrol RD-900-R

    When I try to turn On valves manually the first 6 channels work correctly but when I try to set manual time to channel 7, 8 or 9 the display shows – – – instead of OFF or minutes.

    Thank you

    • Hi Patrice, Thanks for posting. That’s odd. It seems like you don’t actually have an RD-900, but an RD600, or at least the inside of the timer is an RD600.
      1) Is it a “new” timer?
      2) did it used to work?
      Tell me a little more.

      • It’s not new. the controller was already there. I am trying to restart an already existing system that 6 water circuits (1 to 6). I added 3 new water circuits (7 to 9). The label on the controller shows RD 900. I dont know if thoses 3 last channels (7 to9) ever worked. Thank you

        • Hi Patrice,

          I went down to my shop and played with one a little. I can’t come up with any scenario to replicate what you have except for thinking that you have a RD600-R with the label of an RD900-R. I don’t know how that would happen, or who would do that. If you want to open it, we can look to be sure. If you’d like to purchase one, let me know, I can help. I might have a coupon code you can use as well.


    • I forgot to mention I have a RD900R, and I can not set the days to run.I can set it to OFF r “—“.
      I can set all parameters, like run time,
      It has a fresh 9v battery.

      • Hi Tony,
        Good question. This happens when you have the timer in “skip days” mode. to change it, set the dial to skip days and change it till it says “off”. Then the rainDial timer will work on the days of the week like you expect it to. Make sure to have the switch in the “set programs” position.

        Let me know if that helps,

      • Hi Tony,
        It looks like you asked this question twice. I replied to this in your previous (duplicated) post, look for the answer there. Let me know if that helps.

    • Hi Lynn,

      It’s a 2Amp “slow blow” barrel fuse. The voltage is only needs to handle 24V, but their official marked rating is 250V.
      I have them for sale on my website; look under the store option and then parts.


  12. I have a 9 valve Hardie Rainbird. Semi-auto and manual do not work. But everything else seems to work fine. When a cycle is scheduled to run, it starts right on time. Do you think it’s a switch problem. I have not tried replacing battery or unplugging. Noticed also that the rapid time setting feature stopped working. I can change the time by repeatedly pressing the + or – buttons, but not by just holding down the button like I used to.

    • Hi Anthony, thanks for posting.
      It could be a switch problem, sometimes you can tell by setting the switch on set programs and then sliding it to run and seeing if the time stays the same. Either way, it’s probably time to have it repaired. I’ll drop you an email with details.


  13. I am having trouble with getting my watering times adjusted right. I have A scheduled for 7 days a week. How do I know if each station is scheduled to water? If th little circle is around it doesn’t that mean it will water on that day?

    • Hi Amber,
      Thanks for the question. I’m not sure what you mean by the “circle around it.” It seems like you have a different model then I’m expecting. Can you tell me the model number? It’s usually on the face of the module in the lower left corner. It should look like one of the modules on the top of the page.

      If it’s one of these modules, you can tell which station will be watering by setting the dial on each station when the set-programs position is set on the bottom center switch. This will make the lcd display show the number of minutes it will be on for. There is a good video about how to program the irritrol RD-600 series controllers in this page that should help. If you’ve watched that and still have questions, let me know.


  14. The Rain dial will not show AM at all. I am aware that the display is hard to see and am aware of the difference. Help please


    • Hi Sue,

      Interesting question – thanks. You’d have to send it in so I could look at it and try to fix it. You can figure it out by noting the following info for a Gray RD-xxx model. Let me know if you have the Irritrol RD-xxx-R, it will be different).

      Knowing what the controller starts up as will let you keep track of it yourself so you can program it without seeing the AM/PM indicator.

      For RD-xxx series (gray label controllers)
      When you remove the battery and power everything is reset. The put in the battery and plug in the ribbon cable.
      1) Clock will start at 12:00PM.
      2) default time start time for schedule A will be 7:00AM.
      3) Other start times say Off. If you press the + key it will go to 12:00AM

      By knowing how it starts, you should be able to program the controller by keeping track in your head as you change the times. (If you started at 12:00am hit + enough, you’ll get to 12:00 pm next).
      If you’d like it repaired, just send it in. You can reply here or use the contact us page.


  15. I wish to run all valves 3X’s per day for 15 minutes with a 30 minute delay between valves to allow for my well to recharge. How do I do this?

    • Hi Beverley, thanks for the question. The controller has a well-recovery feature that will automatically add a delay after a valved is used. Search for “well” or “recovery” in the user manual. You can get the manual on this website.

      If you’re not that familiar with the programming, I’d suggest looking at the video in the programming tutorial menu. I didn’t do it, but its well done. I don’t know that it’ll show you the well recovery option, but after you’ve watched it, it should help you understand the other options.

      Here are the basic steps:
      The Well Recovery Delay feature enables an adjustable delay
      period, ranging from 1 second to 2 hours, to be entered between
      consecutive stations during a watering cycle to compensate for
      well/cistern recovery time or slow-closing valves.
      1. Place the Function switch in the Set Programs position.
      2. Place the Program switch to select A, B or C.
      3. Turn the Dial to the Skip Days/Special Functions position.
      4. Press the Manual On button 4 times (from the initial Skip Days
      screen) to display W:00 (no delay).
      5. Use the + and – buttons to set the desired time: 0–59 seconds,
      1–59 minutes or 1.0–2.0 hours.
      Note: Hold the button down to scroll. The display will continuously
      scroll from seconds to minutes to hours (:00 = no delay).
      6. Turn the Dial to the Current Time position.
      7. Place the Function switch in the Run position

      I hope that helps, if you have more questions, reply here.


  16. I have the irritrol 600-EXT-R and the valves will work manually but they will not work when they are auto programmed to come on at a certain time. I have switched the solenoids around with the same results. Is the transformer or timer bad?

    • Hi Albert,

      Thanks for the question. If any valves ever turns on, the transformer must be good. That leaves just the controller and/or back connector board, wiring, or valve in question.
      Usually the problem you describe is a programming problem. I’d review the video on the programming related page of my website if you haven’t done so already. After that, follow the directions to reset the controller – see the DIY Troubleshooting page for instructions. If you still don’t have any success, it’s likely a controller problem. I’ll send you a separate email on repair information.
      I hope that helps, let me know.

  17. I have an RD900EXT, and have it for 10 or so years. Just recently it stopped working. Well, not exactly. I can hear it clicking through each valve, but they don’t turn on, I’ve changed the battery. No dice. The valves work normally on manual.

    Do I need a new controller, or can this one be fixed?

    thanks, greg

    • Hi Greg,

      Thanks for the question.
      The clicking is a classic symptom; it’s absolutely fixable; probably the most common repair of an Irritrol RD600 I do. I’ll drop you an email with repair details.


      • Hi Greg, I hopeyou see this. The email you included in the post bounces back. If you do get this, just go to the contact-us menu to send me an email.

  18. When I hit Auto Program (to have the sprinklers cycle through manually) the time blinks and the program doesn’t run. I got it to run once like that but tried it again and time just blinks.

    • Hi Craig, thanks for the question. That’s a classic symptom of the timer circuitry failing, there isn’t much you can do. If you put in a fresh battery, it may buy you some time, but it’s days are numbered. If you’d like to have it repaired, please keep me in mind. Fill out the contact form and I’ll send you all the details.


  19. I have a RD-1200. I can’t change the time of day. It’s flashing 8:46 p.m. and 0F9. I changed the 9 volt battery and I can program all the other functions. Just the current time of day won’t change. It’s off about 6 hours. I’ve already took out the battery and unplugged the AC power and waited a minute and restarted. Still the wrong time and 0F9. What’s up???

    • Hi Pat, Thanks for the question.
      OF# indicates the number of days you’re telling the timer to not water and ignore the schedule. It’s typically considered a “rain delay” feature that you can use to tell t he timer that it rained, so don’t bother watering for a while.

      You can find more info about it in the user manual on my manuals page. From your description, I suspect that the bottom center slide switch is not getting into the correct “set programs” position. I’d try moving it left and right a few times and then put it carefully in the middle, then you should be able to set the time. It that doesn’t work, the switch could be failing. If you send it in, I can repair it.

      Let me know if that helps

  20. The program wont let me program the days I want .It wont go to off and on, It will only turn to off. Whats the problem. Have done everything right????

    • Hi Keve, Thanks for the question. I’ll need a little more detail on what it’s doing to help. What do you have the dial set to, is the bottom switch position set to “set program”
      I’d try adjusting the bottom center switch to make sure it’s in the middle position, it’s possible that the switch has failed, or just needs to be wiggled a little. Otherwise, send me some more details and I’ll try to help more.
      Brian – aka The Irritrol RainDial Doctor.

    • Thanks for the inquiry, Regarding your question about the Fr.

      1) Fr is for friday, you probably have the dial set on “today” and you use this setting to change the “today” value to today’s day of the week. Note that I also have the user manuals on this website – you can look at them too.

      Let me know if that answers you question.

  21. My RD 600 won’t allow me to set the “Today” to the correct day. I’ve unplugged the unit and replaced the 9v. The other functions appear to work fine. Sincerely Jim Randall.

    • That’s rather strange behavior. My guess is that the switch was not quite in the set-program position and that’s why you couldn’t change Su to something else. By setting skip-days, you are able to tell it what the current day is. Since that worked, we know that the +button and dial settings are all working.

      I’d try turning off skip days and go back to “today” and try again. Make sure the lower slide switch is carefully centered.

      Let me know if you have any other information you learn and I can try to help more.

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