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Thread: Full chemical Automation

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    Full chemical Automation

    So. . .

    I have found 2 more installers in my area that I never knew existed and they both do commercial and residential concrete installs. I guess I didn't realize cause they are more commercial focused I'm thinking. I also found a liner guy just to compare to see if things in the liner world are that much cheaper.

    The reason for the post is cause all 3 of these installers are recommending full automation if I go salt. One concrete guy who I got a good feel for said he only uses pentair cause of their support. The other 2 are Hayward guys. None recommended Zodiac. All 3 made it sound really easy and much more efficient. I get it that they want to upsell cause automation has a ton of profit. I know this cause I do home automation for the past 15 years. We get product cheap and it's all time and labor.

    Will it really make my care of the pool easier and will it take alot of the guess work out of keeping chemicals in check to keep the plaster looking good and last longer in the years to come.

    THe liner guy actually does concrete commercial pools but only does liner pools for residential cause he said on the home side liner just makes for sence for upkeep. He also said with more and more people going salt that liners are just easier for home owners to care for.

    I would love some incite.

    Being in automation I love the idea for the cool factor and it's what I do, but I also don't want to introduce a chain of problem solving that i will be chaseing down.

    the original company Iwas going to use didn't even go there. I think cause they are a national company that slams and bam and gone so they don't want calls back for service. . . this was also my second guessing portion of the pool and why I started looking for more installers.

    jim

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    Re: Full chemical Automation

    I suspect your idea of full automation and the pool builder's idea of full automation are two different things. Most pool automation systems are for ease of use and have little to do with keeping chemicals within any parameters.

    I suggest you ask the PB exactly what you can expect the automation system to do for you.

    You did not supply enough information about your new pool for anyone to decide if any automation would be worthwhile. In general, automation is handy when you have features that you want to turn on or off automatically rather than manually, such as:

    1. Switching between pool and spa operation
    2. Waterfall operation
    3. Bubbler operation
    4. In-floor or water-powered cleaners
    5. Pool light operation

    Most automation systems do control the salt system (SWG), but generally only to the point that they power it and tell it how long to run, they do not normally monitor the output and make corrections to the chlorine level. Basically an open loop system with no feedback. There are some systems that do provide feedback, but they are much more expensive, and somewhat error prone.

    Tell us more about your new pool and I'm sure you get some better answers.

    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: Full chemical Automation

    Expanding on what Jim said if chemical automation is important to you don't get too hung up on the idea of a system that will self adjust based on some sort of probe. Most people with a SWG system find that the time and production percentage adjustments are all that is needed to make dealing with chlorine levels a simple matter. Once you learn how the pool reacts it is not uncommon to only have to test once or twice a week and even then not need to make adjustments. The only other thing as far as chemical balance that some add is pH control using an acid injection system. Again once you learn how the pool reacts, a pump with a constant injection rate and a timer is all you need. If you think you want to do an acid injection system I would wait a year or so to see if you need it for two reasons 1.) if you go with a plaster pool you acid demand is going to be high and hard to predict for 6 to 12 months while the plaster cures and 2.) if you go liner you may find that the demand is low enough that manually adding once a week or even less is all that is needed.
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    Re: Full chemical Automation

    Thanks guys. I have to still do my signature.

    So I do want to go plaster vs liner.

    I'm looking at a concrete pool that is free form 32x17 with a plaster that is not the base one but also not the pebble finish. It is a smooth finish inbetween each. The name escapes me right now but it's in my build. coping will be pavers cause of my north location and the winters vs natural stone which will flake over the years. We want to go salt. We want to go DE or cart. We are doing gas heater.

    I have never owned a pool. I don't know a thing about chemicals yet so I'm kinda scared. I do love to learn though and master what I learn.

    I guess my working was wrong. All pool builders want me to go full chemical control. Not only salt but also ph control.
    They said it will take out the guess work and keep things very stable

    They pretty much just all include at a cost of course automation for monitoring and control of the salt and acid then. Along with he other parts of automation that go with it. Pump speed control, lights, heater.

    My thing is I want automation cause I'm a geek and ya what I do. But I don't know or understand if automatic control of my acid is really needed. I figured just salt cause it would be automatic control based on how I set it based on my readings.

    I'm looking at at least 3 grand it sounds like for adding the acid control and another 2 for automation at that point.

    I will gladly spend it if it will keep my pool in better check but if not I can't see how it is worth it.

    I can live with dropping 2 grand or so on automation of the heater, variable pump, and lights and salt cause I do want that. I just don't know if going full tilt for chemical control is worth it.

    Thanks so much,
    Jim

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    Re: Full chemical Automation

    Because the probes need calibration and eventually replacement I was convinced (mostly by reading this forum) to go with a dosing pump connected to a timer. There is much less chance of the system malfunctioning and dumping a bunch of acid in the pool by accident with a timer than with a probe that may get out of calibration. Many on this forum use DIY systems commonly called Stenner systems or Stenner builds if you do a search for that you will find a bunch of results. IntellipH is timer based, so similar in function to a Stenner build. If you went with the builder that uses Pentair that is likely what you would end up with.

    If you go with a salt system (SWG) you want a system that can handle a pool twice the size you plan to build or larger. There really is no such thing as too small, the larger the cell the less time you will have to run it to produce the chlorine you need and therefor the longer the cell will last. Plus you will save some money not having to run the pump all the time.
    12,300 Gallon, IG PebbleFina, 3 ft sheer, 2 Jandy nicheless LED lights, Jandy Pro 1.5HP VS pump (A.O. Smith Motor), PB4-60 Booster pump, Polaris 280, Jandy cv340 cartridge filter, Zodiac Z4 control panel W/iAquaLink, Stenner pumps for chlorine & MA connected to WiOn WiFi switches, TF-100. You can support TFP with AmazonSmile just click the link!

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    Re: Full chemical Automation

    Ok great info. So pentair system is like the stenmer builds I see here. Zodiac and Hayward is different. I swear the pentair guy mentioned probes. I'm trying to research all this but there are so many choices on the sites of these companies.

    They don't lay it out nice and neat. I'm going to read more on the stenner builds.

    I'm worried about the probes doing exactly what you said but each guy said oh there are alarms for that. That didn't make sense to me cause if it was dumping like mad and it knows enough to set alarm off then why dump it then. Lol. Unless there is a probe which acts as a cop to know if the ph is changing too much and shuts the show down?

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    Re: Full chemical Automation

    Take a look at THIS thread couple of comments on some of the systems towards the bottom
    12,300 Gallon, IG PebbleFina, 3 ft sheer, 2 Jandy nicheless LED lights, Jandy Pro 1.5HP VS pump (A.O. Smith Motor), PB4-60 Booster pump, Polaris 280, Jandy cv340 cartridge filter, Zodiac Z4 control panel W/iAquaLink, Stenner pumps for chlorine & MA connected to WiOn WiFi switches, TF-100. You can support TFP with AmazonSmile just click the link!

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    Re: Full chemical Automation

    Quote Originally Posted by jimim View Post
    ... I'm worried about the probes doing exactly what you said but each guy said oh there are alarms for that. That didn't make sense to me cause if it was dumping like mad and it knows enough to set alarm off then why dump it then. Lol. ...
    you think / know too much In reality what was said above is true- reliable low maintenance probes are myth, PBs are taking advantage of you having no experience with the pools: it doesn't require that much extra efforts and you want to test your water regularly anyway as ambient temperature for example affects things significantly. So I'd skip on all chem automation and do it 'manually', it's not that big of a deal and the knowledge what is going on with your water is priceless.

    SWG is the most useful option out of all chem automation offering. Salt doesn't need to be adjusted regularly as it is not spent producing chlorine. Don't believe PBs if they say otherwise and read about chemistry involved around here if you like. BTW, Wikipedia article on the subject is wrong . In fact SWGs are most chemically self- contained systems of all- requiring just water in theory. In reality those systems require some pH adjustments and small salt additions due to natural water loss (back washing, splash out, draining but not evaporation). The rest of non- chemical options are convenience and 'cool factor' which is purely your call.
    44k plaster pool, Pentair 011018 pump, DE6020 filter, LED lights, K2006 test kit

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    Re: Full chemical Automation

    thanks guys. i have to start reading more about all the testing and how things are affected. what are the main pool school articles i need to read just so i don't confuse myself more?

    my original thought was just salt generator. so the salt generator is set and you forget about it unless your levels go off? the salt generator doesn't have it's own probe and adjust itself as needed? or are their ones with probes even for those? but again prob best to avoid them?

    i read about the timer bases PH injector last night. it injects acid every hour on the hour. i find this weird. i thought the whole reason to go salt was so i wasn't adding chemicals all the time but now if i add this small amounts of acid are added ever single hour? so technically i have to monitor closer now cause it's pumping stuff in every single hour so if i go away fora week or so then i might really screw myself with a timer based solution?

    so friggin confusing. i'm i understands this correct?

    my wife even said last night then why we doing salt if you are still adding stuff all the time? thought salt was to help decrease the chemicals going in?

    jim

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    Re: Full chemical Automation

    Here's a good one Pool School - ABCs of Pool Water Chemistry

    It's said often around here, pools are like pets. There are no set it and forget it pools. With a SWG pool, instead of messing with several bottles of bleach a week you add a little acid. Other maintenance includes brushing the entire pool once a week, removing debris that blows in, adjusting water levels after extended rain or no rain, backwashing the filter as needed. Then there's closing and opening each fall/spring (unless you live in CA/AZ/TX)

    Even if you had an automated acid injection you would still need to check it manually often to make sure it's dosing properly, and you'd need to refill it from time to time.
    32K gallon Plaster - 1hp Hayward 2 speed Super Pump - Hayward S200 Sand Filter - TF100XL
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    Re: Full chemical Automation

    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Bruce View Post
    Here's a good one Pool School - ABCs of Pool Water Chemistry

    It's said often around here, pools are like pets. There are no set it and forget it pools. With a SWG pool, instead of messing with several bottles of bleach a week you add a little acid. Other maintenance includes brushing the entire pool once a week, removing debris that blows in, adjusting water levels after extended rain or no rain, backwashing the filter as needed. Then there's closing and opening each fall/spring (unless you live in CA/AZ/TX)

    Even if you had an automated acid injection you would still need to check it manually often to make sure it's dosing properly, and you'd need to refill it from time to time.
    thanks for the link.

    i totally knew i had work to do to maintain, but i didn't realize that without a salt generator I would be dumping that much chemical a week into a pool. I never see my neighbors adjusting thier water at all really. maybe i just never notice either.

    ok so with salt though way less chemicals though.

    i deff come from the school that taking care of it yourself is best but i was figuring if i can have something do some of the work IN ORDER TO MORE SAFELY CONTROL THE LEVELS TO PROTECT THE PLASTER VS MYSELF (and i say that in caps not to yell but only to show this is what i thought and this would be the MAIN reason i would spend the money. but if i could just as safely are for my plaster then I would totally do everything manually.

    So do the salt generators adjust themselves then via probe or is it adjusted with me taking the levels and changing as needed?

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    Re: Full chemical Automation

    SWG adjusts by time and percentage produced. Not having dealt with a system it can sound overwhelming leading to visions of being pool side every day trying to get things just right but once you learn your pool that is just not the case. It is often said on this forum its a pool not a science experiment. The ranges for ideal levels are large enough that maintaining balance is not hard. Yes you need to test regularly, every day to start with but once you gain a comfort level you can drop to 2-3 times a week, and the occasional week or 2 vacation should not pose any great risk.

    Many if not most find that once the plaster is cured pH control is simple and does not need automation I see posts ranging from I add MA once a week to I add a few times a season, every pool is different. I did an injection system because I like gadgets and for now I am in a space where I would have to add a few times a week so I have my system setup to add a few ounces every day instead of every 2 or 3 days but the effect is the same one larger dose every few days or a few ounces a day or fractions of an ounce over hours does not matter as long as you stay between 7.4 and 7.8.

    When you get your pool Chlorine levels are going to be your main concern by far. Algae is slow growing if the FC level goes low for a day the chances of a problem is slight unless you levels are going low regularly. If you over shoot your FC it's no big deal just turn the cell down a little at a time till you get in range you can even swim with the level high as long as it is not past SLAM and you would have to way over shoot to get to that level.

    pH is important for plaster health and eye comfort but if you get it to low for a day or 2 or your pool is not going to dissolve before your very eyes, if you get it to high it will not get scale over night. You will spend a few minutes to make a gradual adjustment till its with in range.

    Bottom line, I sometimes forget that while I love teaching this stuff I have in the short time I have had the pool become sort of pool geek and perhaps get a bit too nuanced about it all. I don't want you to think you need to spend 20 hours a week and a degree in chemistry to own a pool. The site is called TFP for a reason don't get to wrapped up thinking you have to maintain a level down to a tenth of a ppm or the pool will explode. That is unless you love this stuff and what to stick around and become one of us, "one of us" "one of us" "one of us" oh sorry I drifted off there for a second.
    12,300 Gallon, IG PebbleFina, 3 ft sheer, 2 Jandy nicheless LED lights, Jandy Pro 1.5HP VS pump (A.O. Smith Motor), PB4-60 Booster pump, Polaris 280, Jandy cv340 cartridge filter, Zodiac Z4 control panel W/iAquaLink, Stenner pumps for chlorine & MA connected to WiOn WiFi switches, TF-100. You can support TFP with AmazonSmile just click the link!

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    Re: Full chemical Automation

    Quote Originally Posted by jimim View Post
    ...
    i deff come from the school that taking care of it yourself is best but i was figuring if i can have something do some of the work IN ORDER TO MORE SAFELY CONTROL THE LEVELS TO PROTECT THE PLASTER VS MYSELF (and i say that in caps not to yell but only to show this is what i thought and this would be the MAIN reason i would spend the money. but if i could just as safely are for my plaster then I would totally do everything manually.

    So do the salt generators adjust themselves then via probe or is it adjusted with me taking the levels and changing as needed?
    There's no reliable probe to provide data for control system. You need to test water manually with chem automation or without so might as well save some money / maintenance headache. In my filed there's KISS principle: Keep It Simple Stupid and I found it has much wider application I think you're still in the dream world created by sellers of those systems where manual pool maintenance is a challenge attainable only by pool service techs and the only solution is chem automation. The truth is the opposite- it's not much of a challenge neither a burden, takes 5 minutes of my time every other day and I'm 'lugging those bleach bottles' during those 5 minutes, actually 1 at the most. I only test pH and FC during those 5 minutes. The rest doesn't change fast enough to bother and I check them monthly or even once every 2 months- it's that slow. If I had an SWG those 5 minutes every other day would shrink to 3 minutes weekly and I wouldn't have to buy chlorine bottles every 2 weeks. While SWG provides biggest return for the money I'm still on the fence to buy one as every component would require additional maintenance at the end and becomes additional point of failure. Just to be clear- SWG won't save you money, it's mostly for convenience and helps to keep only your FC level not any other parameter. You adjust SWG output 'manually' and even then due to changing conditions you'll be adjusting FC / SWG output probably monthly.

    Your neighbors not ever doing anything to their pool either have pool service doing it for them or using tablets and in the course of few years might join this forum with seemingly 'unsolvable' problem of algae growth / metal stains. Or they might have luxury to replace water in the pool every couple months.
    44k plaster pool, Pentair 011018 pump, DE6020 filter, LED lights, K2006 test kit

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    Re: Full chemical Automation

    Quote Originally Posted by max2k View Post
    There's no reliable probe to provide data for control system. You need to test water manually with chem automation or without so might as well save some money / maintenance headache. In my filed there's KISS principle: Keep It Simple Stupid and I found it has much wider application I think you're still in the dream world created by sellers of those systems where manual pool maintenance is a challenge attainable only by pool service techs and the only solution is chem automation. The truth is the opposite- it's not much of a challenge neither a burden, takes 5 minutes of my time every other day and I'm 'lugging those bleach bottles' during those 5 minutes, actually 1 at the most. I only test pH and FC during those 5 minutes. The rest doesn't change fast enough to bother and I check them monthly or even once every 2 months- it's that slow. If I had an SWG those 5 minutes every other day would shrink to 3 minutes weekly and I wouldn't have to buy chlorine bottles every 2 weeks. While SWG provides biggest return for the money I'm still on the fence to buy one as every component would require additional maintenance at the end and becomes additional point of failure. Just to be clear- SWG won't save you money, it's mostly for convenience and helps to keep only your FC level not any other parameter. You adjust SWG output 'manually' and even then due to changing conditions you'll be adjusting FC / SWG output probably monthly.

    Your neighbors not ever doing anything to their pool either have pool service doing it for them or using tablets and in the course of few years might join this forum with seemingly 'unsolvable' problem of algae growth / metal stains. Or they might have luxury to replace water in the pool every couple months.
    my neighbors deff don't have pool services. lol they are all pretty cheap. i see it as more they prop don't care as much as others. lol

    i'm going to start reading the link about the chemistry. i appreciate all the help so far from everyone. I really do.

    jim

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    Re: Full chemical Automation

    Quote Originally Posted by jimim View Post
    my neighbors deff don't have pool services. lol they are all pretty cheap. i see it as more they prop don't care as much as others. lol

    i'm going to start reading the link about the chemistry. i appreciate all the help so far from everyone. I really do.

    jim
    not caring at all gets you swamp pretty quickly. OTOH they might use some metal based 'system' which eventually leads to staining which they might not care about.
    44k plaster pool, Pentair 011018 pump, DE6020 filter, LED lights, K2006 test kit

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    Re: Full chemical Automation

    I'll echo some of these comments....no such thing as a maintenance free pool but the level of maintenance is pretty minor once the thing is built and up and running. After 1 yr, I would say my routine tasks are:

    Brushing: once/week, ~15 minutes
    Skimming: when required, ~5-10 minutes (depends on you and your pool)
    Dump skimmer baskets and empty vac bag: once/week, <5 minutes
    pH/chlorine check: every couple of days, depending on if you have an issue, ~5 minutes, + ~5 minutes to add chemicals if required
    Full chemistry check: once/week, ~10 minutes, + 5-10 minutes to add chemicals if required.
    Filter cleaning: 3-4 times/yr, ~90 minutes

    So if everything is operating normally, I would say I spend about 2 hours a week maintaining the pool, 1 hour (total) through the week to check FC/pH, and 1 hour on weekends to do the more thorough chemistry and general upkeep cleaning.
    Graeme // 15k gal 29x15 geometric IG w/750 gal spa, Wet Edge Northshore Tahoe, travertine coping and decking, Clean & Clear Plus 420 sq ft cartridge filter, Intelliflo VS pump, 1hp water feature pump, Easytouch 8 w/wireless handheld, Racer pool cleaner, 400,000 BTU Max-E-Therm heater, Stenner 45MPHP10 w/15 gal tank, Intellibrite 5G LED lighting, bubblers, pencil jets, TF-100 w/SpeedStir, Borates & Salt. Finished and filled June 2015!

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