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

  1. 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 the days, run times for each valve and up to three times you want that schedule to start running on a given day. We will define a cycle as what the valves do when a schedule starts; e.g., run station 1 for 10minutes (the run time), then station 2 for 15 minutes, then 3, etc.  The cycle always turns on the valves in order starting with #1.
  2. Note to turn off a start time, you select the time to ‘Off’ by clicking the + button until the time reaches 12:00 and press one more time.   That will remove the start time.
  3. 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.
  4. MOST IMPORTANT THING TO UNDERSTAND: The 2nd start time should never start before the first cycle finishes.  The length of a cycle is the sum of all the programmed run times.   E.g.,
    1. If your start time is 7:30AM and 6 valves are programmed to each run 1-hour, then the 2nd start time must be set later than 1:31PM so the cycles do not overlap.  It’s common for People to run one cycle in the morning and one in the evening.
    2. Here’s the calculation:
      1. 7:30AM start time +
      2. (1 hour for each valve) x (6 valves) = 6 hours of run time
      3. Finish time is = 1:30PM.
        The 2nd start time must be set after the first one finishes, which would be at 1:31PM or later.
    3. The RULE: the ‘next’ start time must be set after the previous start time plus the total of the run times of all the valves.
    4. If you break this rule, the timer may repeat the cycle again, after the first cycle finishes.
  5. Avoid allowing times to cross midnight (into the next day).
  6. 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. )
  7. RECOMMENDATION: Fill out the template shown below before you start – it makes things very easy.
  8. 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.
    •  The ABC switch does not choose which schedule to run; it’s only used to program the schedules.  Schedule AB&C always run, regardless of the program switch setting. Thus, if you do not want A to run, then you must “un-program it
    • If you don’t want a schedule to run, you must set either all the days in that schedule to off, the run-times to 0 minutes (off) or all start times to off. by putting the switch on A and setting all the start times to off.  (Note that the ‘Off’ setting can be found by clicking the + button one click after 12:00.)
    • When the schedule starts, it goes to the first valve with time-to-run and turns it on and waits.  When that run-time duration 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:  This page gives you a good description of the skip days feature…

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.

Here’s a PDF of just the blank template.

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239 thoughts on “Irritrol RainDial Programming Tutorial

  1. Hi Dennis,
    I have a RD600, the first stage ( A) is fluctuating current so the solenoid is tunning on and off. Switched stations and eliminated a wire failure or connection problem. Is this a common fault for this unit?
    I would like to have it repaired so if this a problem that can be repaired please send me your info.

    • Hi Gary,

      I’ll send you an email to the address you provided when you commented. You can also see the repair information by selecting ‘how to get it repaired’ from the menu above.

      Thanks for posting,

  2. Nothing comes on. Irritrol 1200, 21 years old. I have 24 incoming volts. Where do I put my probes to check the common wire? I have been told that I can use the right incoming wire to check the operation of the master valve and all stations. I don’t trust this information. Please advise.

    • Hi Bob,

      I have some information about testing the transformer on our website. The following information will test that the common wire and master valve wire are connected properly and that the valves are good. Go to the DIY Troubleshooting Page, scroll down to item “AI” under the “How do I…” section. On that page, scroll down and do Check #3. Does that help?

      Brian – The Irritrol RainDial Doctor

  3. Hi Brian, I have a rd-600 and your recommendation to switch the panel switch to bypass worked great thank you. Now the power to the controller seems to go in and out. I tighten the screws to the wires but that didn’t work. Any obvious things I can try or do I need a new box. Many thanks!

    • Hi Peter, it sounds like you’ve done a good job troubleshooting so far. At this point I would suggest sending it in for repair. I’ll send you a separate email with details but everything you really need to know is in the menu above.

      I’m glad to say it was helpful,

    • Hi Rick,

      What model is listed in the lower left corner of the timer, near the Semi-Auto button?


  4. Hello Brian
    I have brand new 1200 r ,the first six stations work and program fine when I go to 7 through 12 I get 3 bars in the display ,looks like 6 station model but says 1200 r ,any Ideas


  5. Hello Brian
    I have brand new 1200 r ,the first six stations work and program fine when I go to 7 through 12 I get 3 bars in the display ,looks like 6 station model but says 1200 r ,any Ideas


    • Hi John,
      That usually means you have a 6 station timer. Did you recently purchase it or something?


  6. RD 1200 has been un plugged for the winter. Replaced battery and did a factory reset. Did not take. I have done a reset before and it has worked. I get an 0F4 in the current time setting. As i recall one step was to hold the manual button in at some point. Any thoughts would be helpful.

    • Hi Dennis,

      Take a look at the DIY Troubleshooting page – look for the line item titled something like what to do when the display says OFn. It’ll guide you through everything.


  7. Hi, I have the RD-600-R. None of the zones come on when I try to run manual even though the screen display indicates they are running. The scheduled run also does not run. What troubleshooting steps do I try next?

    • Hi Angie,

      I’d try doing a factory reset. Also let me know if you still see a display, even when the 9V battery is removed.
      You can reach me by email quite easily, so respond here, then email me at
      We’ll get it figured out, no worries.

      Thanks for posting,

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