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Thread: New pool - to automate or not?

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    New pool - to automate or not?

    We are in the thick of our pool build right now (gunite is in, still wrangling with finish - likely going with Wet Edge, most likely a Luna Quartz line - it's killing me, we could actually get Satin Matrix for I think the same price, but my wife just does not like the texture and look of it).

    Wondering if any sort of automation system is worth it for us. Our builder says she wouldn't bother, we don't have many complicated features, no spa, just a few bubblers, although we do have a heater. I'm thinking it would be wonderful to be able to control the heater remotely (i.e. via smartphone), that way we could turn it on or off when we're not around (we travel quite a bit). Also like the idea of controlling the light via an automated system (although I suppose that could be done with a simple timer).

    Would be most appreciative for any thoughts or opinions on our situation. Thanks much in advance! (And if I left out any pertinent details, please ask.)

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    pinguy's Avatar
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    Re: New pool - to automate or not?

    People here have reported mixed results with automated systems. (AutoPilot's Total Control System Review)

    In hindsight, I would have added an acid injector if I knew how much MA a new plaster pool required.
    Helpful Links: Pool Chemistry 101 - Recommended Levels - Recommended Chemicals - FC/CYA Chart - SLAM Instructions - Pool Math
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    Re: New pool - to automate or not?

    Some love their automation systems. I personally have never had nor felt the need for one. My neighbor who has automation doesn't seem to even know what any of the valves do or how the pool works. I've always felt that automation adds a level of complexity and is just more to go wrong. I have a pool with a spa, solar heating, a gas heater, infloor cleaning system, a salt water chlorine generator, and a fountain in the spa. Most of my daily operations are programmed into my variable speed pump. It just increases and decreases the speed and flow for different operations. A simple timer controls the SWG. I do have one valve that has an acutuator that is controlled by the solar control, but that's the limit of my automation. When heat is called for and available at the solar collector the controller opens the valve and ramps up the pump speed.

    Since I've never had one, I'll refrain from making any suggestions re automation systems, but I do recommend you include a variable speed or at the very least a two speed pump in your equipment plans.
    chiefwej
    Tucson, AZ
    16x36 rectangular (19k) Pebble Tec play pool/spa, Pentair Intelliflo VS 011018, Super II 2hp (spa), Aqua Rite T-15 SWG, Pro Grid 60 DE, Hayward H400 & Heliocol Solar heating, A&A infloor system, fill water w/high CH and TA, 50 ppm borates,TF-100 test kit

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    Re: New pool - to automate or not?

    Generally if you have automation you like it and think it was worth the money. A LOT. I would not say there are mixed results. There can be some problems but then we attract problems. Note that even the chief above who downplays automation has a very sophisticated pump that is controlled in part by his solar controller. He likes it.

    My wife and children sit by the pool and use the remote to control the waterfall and lights. I can schedule the filtering and the solar heat.

    No values get turned no specific order must be followed, just follow the prompts on the remote. Additionally they make LED lights much easier to use.

    Generally if you have it you like it.
    22k gallon IG pebblefina, Jandy 1.5 HP VS, Jandy CV Cartridge filter, Fafco solar panels, Polaris 360 supply side cleaner, waterfall

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    Mod Squad Jimrahbe's Avatar
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    Re: New pool - to automate or not?

    Here is my take.

    I doubt you can find many people that have automation that would give it up. Do you "need" it, nope.. But, now is the time to get it. The cost to add automation, when rolled into the $60, $70, or $80K pool is a minor amount compared to the pool itself. Get it now and you can thank me later...

    Jim R.
    Finished in 2015 - 17K Gal, IG, 20' x 25' Almost Rectangular Pool, Pebble finish, three rockport water falls. Pentair Equipment: EasyTouch 4, IC40 SWG, 3 HP VS Pump, CCP520 Cartridge Filter.
    TF100 with SpeedStir and SampleSizer, ColorQ Pro 7, Dolphin Premier Robot Cleaner, added Screen Logic 2, added small 3 person Calder Spa.

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    Jaimslaw's Avatar
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    Re: New pool - to automate or not?

    There is a lot one could surmise from the above post, i.e., that those who have automation could never imagine wanting to go back to manual operation. Arguably, those who don't have automation may not appreciate its benefit - and that if they moved over to automation, would most likely end up feeling like most of us who do enjoy automation ,(ie could not imagine going back to controlling things manually).

    Automation would seem to boil down to a cost-benefit analysis...if you don't have a lot of things to be done by automation, the cost would outweigh the benefits as automation can get pricey. The greater number of pool features you have, the more automation is likely to be worth the cost.

    One other relevant factor would be the distance between pool and equipment pad. Getting out of a hot spa on a cold night and walking a ways in the dark over to the pool pad to switch valves and related settings (eg lights) was a real drag for me. Operating spa temp and jet settings while in the spa, playing with light settings, etc. made the spa experience that much more enjoyable.

    As you might have guessed, I fall into the group that could never imagine going back to a manual method. Not unlike my never being able to imagine going back to manually adding acid and chlorine.
    Pool: 13k gal. in-ground; Stonescape Mini Pebble - Tropics Blue; Connected Spa - dual spill-over; Aqua Rite T-15 SWCG; AquaLogic PS-4 Automation; Sta-Rite DE Filter; Sta-Rite Max-e-Therm 400k BTU pool heater; Intellifo 2-VST Pump; Stenner 45mp2(25psi/10gpd) acid injection; Bulbwizard color LED pool lights; Poolvergnuegen 2 wheel side suction cleaner; FAFCO rooftop solar. TF-100 w/ speed stir.

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    Re: New pool - to automate or not?

    Thanks all for the input. It does sound like it's definitely more of a benefit if you have a spa (which we sadly just did not have room for), but I am definitely intrigued by the idea of being able to control things remotely and automate them. We do not have a ton of features, which weighs against needing it (of course, you don't ever "need" it), but like someone said, it's likely a minor cost when you factor it into the grand scheme of things. So I'm having our pool builder give me some options, as well as the full equipment list, which I will post and appreciate any feedback on. Thanks again!

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    JayBauman's Avatar
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    Re: New pool - to automate or not?

    My previous pool did not have automation, and I got along just fine. When we built our current pool, the PB added automation to the quote. However, since it was such a small piece of the overall price tag, removing it would not have changed the financial footprint of the pool. Is it awesome? Yes. Is it necessary? Of course not. But let me tell you....when a thunderstorm rolls in, it's really nice to be able to turn on the filter, skimmer, and chlorinator from inside the house rather than having to go out and brave the elements to turn on the pool equipment!
    23' x 37' IG 18.5k gallon SWG w/ raised spa, Build Thread -->Here
    Wet Edge® Pearl Matrix®, Hayward® SwimClear™ 525 ft², Hayward® Goldline Controls® PS-8
    4x Hayward® TriStar™ pumps, Paramount PCC2000® ICS, TF-100 w/Speedstir

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    Re: New pool - to automate or not?

    Finally got some info from the PB. She says Pentair rep suggests either EasyTouch 4 or 8. Seems the EasyTouch should be more than sufficient for us, given our simple setup.

    Has not quoted exact price, but said it's $2500-3500 installed, depending on which we one we choose. Is also suggesting the ScreenLogic option, which if I understand correctly is what is needed to control remotely via a phone, which I definitely want.

    To be honest, that's a bit more than I was expecting, especially for the EasyTouch system. Does that seem reasonable, in line with normal prices for that sort of system?

    To be more honest, we're not 100% in love with our PB (no major issues, just little things), so my wife suggested we skip the automation through them now and add it later. Is that feasible? My understanding is that it really should all be done at once? Also, I'm not sure how much it even costs, but seems like we'd be throwing some money away, as we'd pay for the dual clock timer, which we then wouldn't need once automated.

    As always, most helpful advice I've gotten has come from you folks, so any thoughts are most appreciated. Thanks!

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    Re: New pool - to automate or not?

    Some of us also simply like having more gadgets, no matter what they are used for

    I like having automation myself, I'm just too OCD on what runs when, what conditions should trigger it, what time periods to avoid due to electric billing, etc. If anything I'm unhappy with the 1980's level of functionality in most of them and I can't program things even more, even when all the logic needed is there but no options to utilize it beyond their own pre-selected list of options
    Scott
    15,000 Gallons vinyl in-ground screen enclosed, Hayward Eco-star SP3400VSP, Hayward Aqua Logic PL-Plus, Hayward T-15 Salt Cell, Hayward S244T Sand Filter, Polaris 380 with booster pump, Hayward heat pump HP50HA. K-2006 kit.

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    Jaimslaw's Avatar
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    Re: New pool - to automate or not?

    When I bought my house, the pool was not automated....valves for the various features were the jandy manuel valves. When we went to full automation, I was told it wasn't a hugh price difference than had the pool been automated when built. All the valves were simply converted to jandy controlled valves, which automated controllers fit right onto the existing jandy manuel valves, so there was not a lot of replumbng involved. Even installing the SWG was not a big deal, replumbing wise.

    I might have been lucky in that the electrical feeds were all in place, meaning that The original configuration had a small panel with the timer and pool light switches in it. Replacing that panel with the far larger new automation panel wasn't a big deal for the pool contractor.

    But frankly, what a drag to not have it all set up like you want from the get go.

    While others here will have a better take on the cost, my recent research in changing out my 10 year old Aqualogic Ps-4 system for the Easy touch had me closing in on a $2500 figure, with labor, spa side remotes, etc. $3500 seems high, unless that includes a Salt water generator and a lot of other bells and whistles which can add up quickly.

    If you know what system you want, you can call around to others PBs for a fairly reliable, non binding phone quote just to get some piece of mind. I would strongly encourage that rather than relying on someone you may not have full confidence in.

    Again, try to do everything you can to get that automation installed now vs later. It will, IMO, increase the WOW factor of your new pool considerably, (especially if your a gadget person, like me).
    Pool: 13k gal. in-ground; Stonescape Mini Pebble - Tropics Blue; Connected Spa - dual spill-over; Aqua Rite T-15 SWCG; AquaLogic PS-4 Automation; Sta-Rite DE Filter; Sta-Rite Max-e-Therm 400k BTU pool heater; Intellifo 2-VST Pump; Stenner 45mp2(25psi/10gpd) acid injection; Bulbwizard color LED pool lights; Poolvergnuegen 2 wheel side suction cleaner; FAFCO rooftop solar. TF-100 w/ speed stir.

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    Mod Squad Jimrahbe's Avatar
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    Re: New pool - to automate or not?

    sbollag,

    If you are at all "handy" you can install an EasyTouch after the pool is built, but whether it is worth the savings depends on a number of things...

    1. Pool Light(s).. One of the nice features of an automated system is controlling the pool lights. When they install a pool without automation they will put in a light switch somewhere.. Depending on where the switch is located, it might be impossible to easily rewire it to the EasyTouch. If the pool comes with the EasyTouch, the light(s) should be wired to the it. I'd double check with the PB..

    2. Landscape lightning.. You can control landscape lighting from an EasyTouch, but if the equipment pad is surrounded by deck or concrete, it might be pretty hard to get the wiring from the pad to the lights, unless the PB is asked to install some extra empty conduit.

    3. Most pads are wired with a 20 amp service and a timer of some sort. You might not want your EasyTouch in the same location as the timer, but again, depending on the layout, you might not have much choice.

    4. Not sure if you plan to have a SWG, but if so, it will require you to cut the plumbing to install. Easy to do if you have the room, which may or may not be there if the PB is not installing it.

    5. Programming.. Much Easier with Screen Logic, but can be confusing for anyone with common sense and logic trying to do it themselves.

    6. Warranty, I don't see this as a big issue, but buying from the PB gives you a factory warranty and someone to call if it doesn't work.

    I suspect an EasyTouch 4 with SWG would run about $1,100 to $1,200 off the internet. I also suspect that is what the PB price of $2,500 would get you.

    Just some things to think about if you decide to go with a user installed system.

    Jim R.
    Finished in 2015 - 17K Gal, IG, 20' x 25' Almost Rectangular Pool, Pebble finish, three rockport water falls. Pentair Equipment: EasyTouch 4, IC40 SWG, 3 HP VS Pump, CCP520 Cartridge Filter.
    TF100 with SpeedStir and SampleSizer, ColorQ Pro 7, Dolphin Premier Robot Cleaner, added Screen Logic 2, added small 3 person Calder Spa.

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    Re: New pool - to automate or not?

    Thanks for the replies. Sorry I was not clear - I am not at all handy ☺ So no chance I'll be installing it myself.

    We are not doing a SWG (have always had chlorine pools and have never had any issues), so sounds to me like even $2,500 is quite pricey - more than twice as much as equipment cost? And $3500 sounds crazy - wouldn't the only difference be the price between the 4 vs 8? How much could that be?

    This is a bit of a quandary - seems we really should do it now as everything is getting installed, but not sure how I would get another PB to do it? I guess the suggestion was just to inquire for a price comparison?

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    Mod Squad Jimrahbe's Avatar
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    Re: New pool - to automate or not?

    If you are not going to be installing it yourself, then I suspect it would cost more to install it later, rather then now. That said, my guess is that 80 or 90 percent of pools do not have automation and they work just fine.

    It's easy for me to spend your money. Don't let me talk you into something that you don't really need..

    Good luck with your new pool, automation or not..

    Jim R.
    Finished in 2015 - 17K Gal, IG, 20' x 25' Almost Rectangular Pool, Pebble finish, three rockport water falls. Pentair Equipment: EasyTouch 4, IC40 SWG, 3 HP VS Pump, CCP520 Cartridge Filter.
    TF100 with SpeedStir and SampleSizer, ColorQ Pro 7, Dolphin Premier Robot Cleaner, added Screen Logic 2, added small 3 person Calder Spa.

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    Re: New pool - to automate or not?

    Ha, I hear you ☺ I mean, I do love the idea of automation, especially as we travel quite a bit, was just hoping to keep it more in the $1-2k range.

    Anyway, thanks for all the helpful information - a lot to chew on, but we'll figure it out.

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    Re: New pool - to automate or not?

    We've automation for the chemistry, with automatic systems for chlorine and for acid. That works great and we wouldn't want to be without them. But everything else is manual, we've not fitted remote controls or similar. It means that we can be away for a while without worrying about adding chemicals or making tests. We don't have an automatic filter though, so if we'd be gone for very long it wouldn't work. On the other hand, with the cover on, how much dirt will get in there, especially as the pool is indoors ?
    Indoor pool appr. 27'x13'x5', rectangular, concrete pool with epoxi coating, Sand filter with 1.5 hp pump, Electric heater + heat pump, Automatic system for chlorine and acid
    2 lights, 300 W each

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