Sep 062013

With 3 programs, 4 start times available per program, and advanced watering cycles, it’s easy to see why programming a Rain Bird ESP timer can be a daunting process.

I’ve been getting many questions lately about the use of the program selector switch on the Rain Bird ESP timer. There is a common misunderstanding that if you leave the selector/slide switch on a certain program, that it becomes the only program the timer will water.

Rain Bird ESP TimerTo explain, it doesn’t matter where the program selector switch is positioned, the timer will water all programs in which there is information/programming entered.

If you click on the image on the left for a larger view, notice that the selector switch is positioned on program A. I also have information on programs B & C that will water even though the selector is positioned on program A.

Let’s look at an example:

  1. I move the program selector/slide switch to program A.
  2. I input station run time for valves 1-4 on program A with a start time of  6 AM, and I set the water days to the custom cycle to water on Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday.
  3. If I move the dial back to Auto the timer will water all of the information I just entered on program A.
  4. I move the selector/slide switch to program B.
  5. I input station run times for valves 5 & 6 with a start time of 2 PM, and I set the waters days to cyclic to water every other day.
  6. If I leave the selector/slide switch on program B and return the dial to Auto, not only will the timer water every thing I entered on program B, the timer will also water everything I entered on program A.

After reading through the manual again on the ESP timer I agree that Rain Bird doesn’t do a good job of explaining what the switch does after you input programming onto the different programs on the timer. I would suggest they add the line of text I have above or something similar to help users better understand the programming process.

I’ll remind you one more time here, no matter where the selector/slide is positioned, whenever you move the dial to the Auto position, the timer will try and water all the information you have input in the various programs.


  7 Responses to “Understanding the ESP timer’s program selector switch”

  1. I have a rain bird ESP me timer witch does not use a switch it has a push button for the programs and it has six start times a day with a A, B, C and D program with the ability to have 22 zones if you buy three six zone expansion blocks the timer comes out of the box with 4 zones.

  2. I have the Rain Bird ESP Modular Controller It is currently set to water 4 stations in the morning and 4 stations in the afternoon. I want to quit watering in the afternoon and can’t figure out how to do this. I was not the one who set it up to do this and even though I have read through your info and watched the video I am still at a loss at how to do this. Thank you in advance for any help you can give me.

    • It sounds like you have an additional start time programmed in. Turn the dial to Set Watering Start Times -> Press Manual Start to see the start times on the program. You only want time on the 1ST Start Time, so use the Up and Down arrows to turn the other start times on the program OFF. Each program has 4 start times available so you’ll need to check the start times on the other programs also.

  3. Hi Kerry,

    I have Rain Bird ESP the same as the one mentioned above. And I want to set the watering time four times a day, for example:
    – 7:00 – 3 minutes.
    – 11:00 – 3 minutes,
    – 15:00 – 3 minutes
    – 19:00 minutes

    How can I do that please?


    • Each program on the timer has four watering start times. Push the program selector to program A. Turn the dial to “Set Watering Start Times”. The first start time will display. Use the Up & Down arrows to adjust the start time to 7:00. Press Manual Advance. Start time #2 will display. Use the Up & Down arrows to adjust time to 11:00. Repeat process for start times 3 & 4. Note: Remember that you need to add 3 minutes to the station or stations that you want to water at these start times.

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