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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267 thoughts on “Irritrol RainDial Programming Tutorial

  1. Hello

    I have an RD 900. Never had any issues but suddenly one side of station one won’t run which is strange because the other half runs. Any advice. Thank you in advance.

    • Hi Anu,

      If you have one station that had several heads and only half of them now have water, that’s strange. If you had two stations and one isn’t working, that’s more likely. Are you sure it’s 1/2 a station, or is it a whole station that isn’t working?

  2. This is a new comment. I have the schedule A set to run tonight thursday. stations 1-3 for 7 minutes and station 4 for 10 minutes. When I turn the switch to “run programs” and then switch the dial to look at the station run times, they all say “off.” is this normal?

    • Hi Holly,

      Yes, that’s normal. You’d only see run-times when in set-programs. Otherwise they’re ‘off’ unless you add time manually and press the manual on button.


  3. Hi
    I got 900 r when I turn on water supply line it’s auto matically turn on my 1station , I put in manual mode try to change the statio to 2nd my 1st and 2nd stations both running, if I skip it to 3rd my 1st and 3rd stations running ( that means always running 1st station ) how to reset the machine pls guide mi to rectify the problem.
    Thank u

    • HI Rajesh,

      I believe I sent you an email with additional details; if you didn’t get it, let me know.


  4. Hi there,
    We use an Irritrol RD-600-R sprinkler timer, and it doesn’t seem to be getting any power all of a sudden. The fuse is intact and flipping its breaker off then back on didn’t do anything for it. What would you recommend we try next? Replacing the transformer?

    • Hi Mackenzie,
      Try following the steps to test the transformer – see the DIY troubleshooting page for details; let me know what you find out.


  5. My rain dial continues to shoe SEn as if it senses rain. There is no rain and I’d like to reset it and can’t.
    Any suggestions as to how to reset?

    • Hi Jill,

      If there is a switch on the back terminal board, make sure it’s set to bypass. Besides that, since you’ve already done the resets, I’d suggest sending it in for repair. All the repair instructions can be found in the main menu above.


  6. Hi, I’m working with a RD-900 I’m having an issue with setting the correct day, the day just displays “5A”, these are the steps I’ve taken, first I set the switch to “set programs” then I move the dial to “Today” and then press the “+” and then “-” sign but it still displays “5A”. I’ve change the dial to “Current Time” and I’m able to change the time just fine with “+” and “-” but the “Today” display is just set to “5A”. Is there a special setting I’m missing or something, thank you for the help.

    • Hi Zenia,

      the 5A is “SA” for saturday.
      As for why you cannot change it, that is strange. I would suggest you follow the factory reset instructions on the DIY Troubleshooting page and reprogram it.

      that should get it going again. Let me know.

  7. Can you run a total control with two zones when you have ballZ to the wall flow and not enough time to run them at night going subsequently for a multi diamond park?
    I’ve heard you can sink up program A with D, is this true and if so is that all TC controllers?
    The manual is very vague and I need to set up a timer tomorrow and erase the gobbly gook from someone else’s programming.
    This is for a very large city park and would appreciate a speedy answer..

    • Hi Lance,

      I had a little trouble interpreting your post, here’s my best answer.
      If you have the water pressure, the timer should be able to drive a couple solenoids at a time. If you’re also driving a pump solenoid, then that’s three, and that’s starting to push it a bit, but you would probably be fine (off the record, no promises, but I’d do it)

      I don’t know about synch’ing A with D, I’m not sure what you’re wanting to sync. the programs run independently, but you could set the schedule up so they behave like they’re related to each other. Let me know more about what you want to do and I can try to help.


      • Sorry if I may have not have been clear, we have only a certain amount of time to water at night. That being 3 baseball fields and a municipal park and we can’t run them during the day.
        23 large zones at half an hour, plus a hydrostatic system in the park for 3+ hours, does this timer have capability of running two programs at once(I was told that you could run a A and a D program together)?
        Yes I could double up the solenoids, but that is hard to gauge the water distribution pairing them up.
        I guess we’ll try it and see what happens ????

        • Hi Lance,

          According to the Total Control user manual, you can set all the programs to run simultaneously if you want (Different than the RainDial models). There’s a limit on what the transformer can output as described below:
          Caution: A maximum load of 12 VA (0.5 amps) may be connected
          to each station. A maximum load (including master valve) of
          30 VA (1.25 amps) may be programmed to operate simultaneously.
          Exceeding these limits can damage the controller.

          That seems to be the only limitation.
          Does that help?

  8. My controller shows time at the 12:00 position and when I turn knob to the left it has “date”. The only videos I’m seeing shows “today”. When I turn knob to date it gives me option to change the year but not the day of the week. How do I set day of week?

    • Hi Mike,

      I believe you have a RainDial Plus, not a RainDial. There’s no ‘date’ position on the rainDial version.
      In your case, I think your day of the week gets set when you enter the proper date. e.g., if you tell it the date, it’ll calculate the day automatically.

      You can also look at the RainDialPlus user manual on my site.

      I hope that helps, if it does, please leave us a High $5.

  9. Hi there, my timer is programmed properly. All schedules are off except for a and it starts the the correct time and runs for the correct about of time however the timer runs every day, even the days I have set to off. How can I fix this?

    • This is usually due to a programming issue. I’d suggest looking at the DIY Troubleshooting page under the Programming Instructions and read through that section carefully. 
      If you’re comfortable programming it, follow the factory_reset instructions to clear everything out.  That should get things going again.  If it’s helpful, please leave us a donation.  If you have other questions, please let me know. 


    • Hi Joe,

      It should change from AM to PM after you cycle through 12 hours. If that doesn’t happen, it could be a problem with the display that I can repair for you. I’d repair that and refurbish everything else too. I you’re interested, drop me an email at

      Thanks Joe,

  10. I have an RD-600-R model; several years old and had been working fine. Turned off while on vacation; have returned and having difficulty re-setting. Setting Time works fine. But when I turn the Valve Runner knob to “Today”, what shows up is a number, rather than the abbreviation for day of week. How do I fix this? And what does the number mean?

    • Hi Richard,

      You have skip days enabled; so it’s telling what the day count is out of the number of days to skip. Checkout the troublshooting guide for some more information on it, and also the manual. if it’s helpful, please leave us a donation, we’d greatly appreciate it.


    • Hi Larry,

      You can tell by setting the dial on the ‘today’ setting. It will give you a number. in your case it’ll be 1,2,3 or 4. It’s a day count. when the count reaches 4, the schedule will run. Look at the DIY page under skip days for a good description.

      If it’s helpful, please leave us a high $5 🙂

  11. Ive just bought this property and not a shed errected and they cut through 5 irrigation pipes i need to shut down at least 3 banks ,how do i do this.

    • Hi Troy,

      You can just disconnect the wires going to those valves; that would be a good start. Eventually, you should probably take out the valve and cap the pipe feeding it, just to prevent any problems if the valve you are not using decides to start leaking.

      I hope that helps,

  12. 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,

  13. 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

  14. 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?


  15. 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


  16. 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?


  17. 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.


  18. 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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