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Thread: Some observations on IntelliFlow VF pump

  1. #1
    Senior Member susa's Avatar
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    Some observations on IntelliFlow VF pump

    After couple months of running the IntelliFlow VF, am wondering about some capabilities and issues with the pump and in case anyone here has access to Pentair technical staff, would welcome any direct dialogue.

    It appears that no matter what size I tell my pool to be, the VF will not allow in Filter Mode any automatic adjustment below certain limits. The Flow Rate appears to be locked to 15 GPM, the RPM to around 1200-1250 and Watts around 135-145. This is with 1 Turnover and even when I "tell the Setup program" that my pool is only 5,000 gallons (tested with 2,000 - 20,000 values in the Menu System).

    The above is true even if I allow for a runtime of 24 hours and would appear to contradict the claim that the pump always adjusts based on Pool Size, Turnover Rate, Runtime Allowed.

    It certainly works the other way, meaning that if I setup the pool size as 20,000 - 25,000 gallons and still allow for almost 24 hours, the flow rate, RPM and Watts go up to compensate for the (claimed) pool size. Can't figure out why Pentair would have limited the downside limits.

    It is also true that I have full control (almost) over this when running in Manual Mode vs Filter Mode.

    In Manual Mode, I can set the Watts or RPM (but not Flow Rate, low limit locked to 15 GPM) and thus setup any speed I want. That is my current mode of choice, running 24 hours/day at about 845 RPM and below 90 Watts but I miss the automatic prime function of Filter Mode and the pump basket cover lid will ever so slowly over 2-3 days show that the level of water is going down. This requires me to select every 3rd day in Manual Mode the Flow Rate function, via the menu, select 20 GPM, which causes a short burst of Priming to kick in, the basket cover lid is totally filled with water and then I scroll down to 845 RPM and press Enter, the slow mode returns.

    My preference would really be to have a programming interface to the API of the control module, what are the chances Pentair would allow access to the machine code? I could easily rewrite the code assuming it's some combination of machine code (no matter what language) and first thing I would change would be to allow the system to automatically (really!) to adjust to the claimed Pool Size in Gallons and slow down the Flow Rate, RPM, Watts to match the 24 hour runtime.

    If Manual Mode had an ability to run Priming once every 24 hours, this would be a non-issue.
    If Filter Mode would have ability to truly adjust down to the allowed runtime and pool size, this would be a non-issue as Filter Mode will automatically switch to Priming Mode, as needed.

    Pentair Customer Support did not have a solution.

  2. #2
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    Re: Some observations on IntelliFlow VF pump

    I'm willing to bet that Ben at Pentair will be happy to help you sort it out. Here's a link to the support blog for pumps:

    http://innovationlab.pentairpool.com/pr ... vice-pumps


    Merry Christmas!

    Scott
    Owner of - PoolGuyNJ LLC
    Expert Pool and Spa Repairs, Renovations, and Augmentation. Helping people decide what is the right gear for meeting their needs. Expectations Set, Expectations Met, No Surprises.

  3. #3
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    Re: Some observations on IntelliFlow VF pump

    Quote Originally Posted by susa
    The Flow Rate appears to be locked to 15 GPM, the RPM to around 1200-1250 and Watts around 135-145. This is with 1 Turnover and even when I "tell the Setup program" that my pool is only 5,000 gallons (tested with 2,000 - 20,000 values in the Menu System).
    :
    In Manual Mode, I can set the Watts or RPM (but not Flow Rate, low limit locked to 15 GPM) and thus setup any speed I want.
    The pump does not allow a flowrate-controlled flow lower than 15 GPM, either by direct programming or via the Filter parameter adjustments. I don't know why there is this limit. As you have seen, you can set lower rates by manually setting a lower RPM, but you have seen side effects by doing this. That's all I know.

    However, in practice, there isn't much reason to go that low in flow rate except when driving a pool cleaner on a dedicated line. Though the pump energy usage is lower at a lower flow rate, it takes longer to get to one turnover and the net result is that the time for one turnover times the watts for a given flowrate is about the same from 15 GPM to 26 GPM, at least in my pool (the upper limit will vary by pool). That is, you don't really save on total energy costs by going to a very low flow rate. Yes, the lower flow rate allows for longer pump run times, but 15 GPM would allow 24 hour runtimes for a pool of 21,600 gallons. So for a smaller pool, one can't run in filter mode for one turnover for 24 hours, but one can run for less but split up the time into multiple pieces over 24 hours to still get very decent circulation.
    16,000 gallon outdoor in-ground 16'x32' plaster pool; Pentair Intelliflo VF pump; Pentair IntelliTouch i9+3s control system; Jandy CL-340 square foot cartridge filter
    12 Fafco solar panels; Purex Triton PowerMax 250 natural gas heater (200,000 BTU/hr output); automatic electric pool safety cover; 4-wheel pressure-side "The Pool Cleaner"

  4. #4
    Senior Member susa's Avatar
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    Re: Some observations on IntelliFlow VF pump

    > I don't know why there is this limit.

    Yup. Makes no sense to me either, must be a black belt industrial engineer sort of thing "....nobody will NEED that requirement, so it's not part of the design...what goofball would want to run an IntelliFlow VF on a 5,000 gallon pool and allow Flow Rate to adapt to a 24 Hour program, I tell you, NOBODY would EVER do that...." (imagined reparte around the round table when the SME Engineer documented the requirements)

    > You don't really save on total energy costs by going to a very low flow rate.

    Imagine that. Imagine also that not everything we do, individually and collectively are decisions based on purely economic terms. Sometimes we simply WANT to be able to setup a runtime that is ON all the time, in my case, 24 hours a day. I really could care less about it's economic impact to my wallet. This is a friendly observation, only highlighting the choice I have and wish to exercise on the programming.

    > one can run for less but split up the time into multiple pieces over 24 hours

    My main point is that I want to be able to run 24 hours, for at least the first 3-6 months of my new pool and I do not wish to setup multiple runtimes to start-stop the pump. I also want to have the pump adapt automatically to this allowed timewindow. Alas, currently the only way I can achieve this is in Manual Mode and it forces me to intercept the program every 3rd day as the water level slowly gets lower under the clear basket lid and am afraid the pump will not know when the level of water becomes potentially too low, having an impact on other systems, for example the pH sensor may actually be dry and no longer be accurate.

    Au contraire, running in Filter Mode would enable the automatic Priming, as needed by the system but produces an unacceptable Flow Rate for my current environment. There is a considerable noise abatement in running at 845 RPM @90 Watts vs 1250 RPM @140 Watts and sleeping next to the wall where the pump is running.

    If Pentair has a solution to this, perhaps a newer control program that can be loaded, I would welcome an opportunity to test this out. I would even volunteer to write the software royalty free for them.

  5. #5
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    Re: Some observations on IntelliFlow VF pump

    Maybe your expectations are exceeding the limits of the device.
    14,000 gallon IG, Vinyl. Hayward 3/4 hp superpump, Penatair IC40 SWCG, Pentair automation, Hayward sand filter, Aqua Comfort heat pump, Hayward 400k Lo-Nox LP heater.

  6. #6
    Senior Member 4JawChuck's Avatar
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    Re: Some observations on IntelliFlow VF pump

    Just buy a regular pump and a RS485 capable frequency drive for it, then you can do what you want and have bus mastering capabilites out of the box. You bought a consumer product, they are limited to protecting the equipment and aim for low cost to the end consumer.

    Not sure what else you could expect?

    http://www.baldor.com/products/ac_controls.asp
    55 Kilolitre in-ground 18'X36' vinyl lined kidney shape, 1HP pump, Jacuzzi 250lb sand filter, RayPak Delta T 200K BTU natural gas heater. New PoolWerks "Blue Diffusion" liner on May 26th-2011
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    Re: Some observations on IntelliFlow VF pump

    Buying a regular pump means not getting a very efficient DC permanent magnet motor so won't gain very much of a saving I belive.
    It would seem that the biggest savings are to be had on high flow rate large motor setups so it drops below the cut off for pentair designers. I wonder if that is because the pump/impeller ratio means it isn't efficient at low flow rates.
    How much noisier is it Susa?

    I will ask the questions you have asked to BlueEco when they open up after the Christmas break as I witnessed their pump at very low RPM recently but I didn't note the figures. As the BlueEco will have a variable pitch impeller on the new models it should be more efficient throughout the whole range, together with the 8 pole rotor will make it quieter and smoother at low RPM's together with more torque. If noise is an issue, the BlueEco can also be permanently run underwater as It's control box is remote meaning the pump can be permanently positioned below the frost line so no draining down. Some Koi breeders use these pumps as they put out such little resonance noise into the water it doesn't upset the fish.

  8. #8
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    Re: Some observations on IntelliFlow VF pump

    Quote Originally Posted by teapot
    so won't gain very much of a saving I belive.
    .
    I think he has said several tmes he doesnt care about the money, savings, etc.
    14,000 gallon IG, Vinyl. Hayward 3/4 hp superpump, Penatair IC40 SWCG, Pentair automation, Hayward sand filter, Aqua Comfort heat pump, Hayward 400k Lo-Nox LP heater.

  9. #9
    Senior Member susa's Avatar
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    Re: Some observations on IntelliFlow VF pump

    > aim for low cost to the end consumer.

    Curious to know, what is the local price in ca for an IntelliFlow VF ?
    None of my Canadian associates would, eh, call this a "low cost" pump

    The solution may actually be quite simple. The control system runs a program and any program can be adapted/modified/recompiled. Am quite certain that Pentair has a way to upgrade the software which would make the Flow Rate limit totally dynamic and completely adapting to the true calculation of Pool Size in Gallons/Turnover rate per day/Runtime.

    A normal program to me is to be able to run for 12 hours / day, perhaps broken into two separate programs, first one from 06:00 to 12:00, the second from 18:00 to 23:59.

    In Filter Mode, with a Setup value in Pool Gallons (a lie, I do admit!) of 8,000 and a Turnover rate per day value 1, the Flow Rate does *not* adapt with the allowed runtime.

    Based on everything I read and all the interviews I had with pool professionals, this *should not* have been a problem for Pentair engineering team.

  10. #10
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    Re: Some observations on IntelliFlow VF pump

    Quote Originally Posted by bk406
    Quote Originally Posted by teapot
    so won't gain very much of a saving I belive.
    .
    I think he has said several tmes he doesnt care about the money, savings, etc.
    Just the once I belive, "I really could care less about it's economic impact to my wallet".

    So apart from the observation that this is outside the operating perameters it really doesn't matter?

  11. #11
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    Re: Some observations on IntelliFlow VF pump

    I'm sorry susa, but I can't see why you would ask a 3hp pump with 2 inch fittings to pump less than 15 gals a min. I also can't see where pumping, say 8 gals a min, would allow your skimmer to work very well. Maybe all the snow we have has frozen my brain, but I just don't see why you would ask that pump to pump 24 hours a day at such a low gpm setting.

    The only quick answer I would have for why the pump won't go below 15 gpm is the heat the motor would produce at such a low output.
    Hotrod30

    20 X 40 foot vinyl Borates and Salt Pool
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  12. #12
    Senior Member susa's Avatar
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    Re: Some observations on IntelliFlow VF pump

    > the heat the motor would produce at such a low output

    not sure if YOU also run an IntelliFlow VF but in case you do not, are you aware that the pump has it's own *dedicated* cooling fan, built right onto the motor housing end?

    I tested prior to purchase, running at ambient temperatures exceeding 42 C (107.6 F) and the motor remained cool to the touch at variable speeds, EVEN at SUPER slow speed settings.

    Your point is akin to me asking, why would you want to drive your car at less than the speed limit? It is your personal choice and I believe I made a cogent argument with my previous posting where I gave an example of a "normal program" which included a 12 hour runtime and two separate start/stop times. In Filter Mode, the pump adapts just fine to the upside performance but forces me to take over in Manual Mode any lowside operating conditions due to not intelligently adapting the software.

    Please note also that I have been running in Manual Mode where you can set it to run at any speed you want, any RPM you want and the pump runs just fine. This is my current locked in mode and I am in the process of installing a Current Control Relay system that will monitor the amps/watts and switch on other parts of my system depending on the powercurve in use by the IntelliFlow VF. Cost of my automation system will be under $100.

    Let me state this fundamental item in another way.

    You can run IntelliFlow VF at 1 GPM or 5 GPM or (insert integer) GPM and anything in-between.

    You just can not use the adaptive software to control this in Filter Mode.

  13. #13
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    Re: Some observations on IntelliFlow VF pump

    It may just be that the way that they measure/calculate flow rate either doesn't work at very low flow rates or they didn't bother to program the RPM/energy tables for very low flow rates. This would explain why they can have you set any RPM you want, but are unable to handle a flow rate below a certain limit.

    I believe the IntelliFlo VF is around $1200-$1300 plus installation. It's come down in price compared to when I bought mine in 2007.
    16,000 gallon outdoor in-ground 16'x32' plaster pool; Pentair Intelliflo VF pump; Pentair IntelliTouch i9+3s control system; Jandy CL-340 square foot cartridge filter
    12 Fafco solar panels; Purex Triton PowerMax 250 natural gas heater (200,000 BTU/hr output); automatic electric pool safety cover; 4-wheel pressure-side "The Pool Cleaner"

  14. #14
    Senior Member susa's Avatar
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    Re: Some observations on IntelliFlow VF pump

    > I believe the IntelliFlo VF is around $1200-$1300 plus installation.

    yup, I paid just $1000 for mine, with a full 3 year warranty

    am curious what our canadian friends pay

  15. #15
    Senior Member 4JawChuck's Avatar
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    Re: Some observations on IntelliFlow VF pump

    $1000 won't even buy you a name brand VFD, most consumers wouldn't spend this kind of money on automation...unless they want absolute control of course! HINT! HINT!

    http://www.joliettech.com/abb_acs-80...0v_ratings.htm
    55 Kilolitre in-ground 18'X36' vinyl lined kidney shape, 1HP pump, Jacuzzi 250lb sand filter, RayPak Delta T 200K BTU natural gas heater. New PoolWerks "Blue Diffusion" liner on May 26th-2011
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  16. #16
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    Re: Some observations on IntelliFlow VF pump

    Quote Originally Posted by susa
    >

    not sure if YOU also run an IntelliFlow VF but in case you do not, are you aware that the pump has it's own *dedicated* cooling fan, built right onto the motor housing end?

    Golly, its own cooling fan. Who'd of thunk.

    You know, I think that explains why, in the spring, the snakes wrap themselfs aroung the pump instead of the empty beer cans.

    I'm going to get my boots on, shovel the snow away from the pool shed door and look to see which end of the pump has the *dedicated* cooling fan.
    Hotrod30

    20 X 40 foot vinyl Borates and Salt Pool
    Rolachem Chlorine Feeder
    Hayward 27 inch sand filter with 80 lbs of pea gravel
    Jacuzzi Splash Pak SP55 DE filter in parallel
    Pentair VF3050 pump

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    Re: Some observations on IntelliFlow VF pump

    Quote Originally Posted by susa
    In Filter Mode, with a Setup value in Pool Gallons (a lie, I do admit!) of 8,000 and a Turnover rate per day value 1, the Flow Rate does *not* adapt with the allowed runtime.
    1. As stated, the minimum [i]flow[i] is 15gpm. The exact reason isn't known to me, but it's probably because the rpm/power tables don't go below that for whatever reason.

    2. at 15gpm (min flow), 8,000 gallons would complete in 8.89 hours. After that time, the pump enters power save mode and waits until the next filter cycle. It is adapting, but only to it's limits.

    3. if you have set 15k gallons, the pump can't run 24 hours per day since it would finish early. The minimum gallons you can use would be 21,600 to obtain a 24 hour run cycle. Give or take a few gallons of course.

    4. Pentair will not release it's code, there is no doubt in my mind. However you could study the rs485 command sets included in the ilink control box from Pentair. This provides an interface to Pentair's control systems and maybe you can program something.

  18. #18
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    Re: Some observations on IntelliFlow VF pump

    Quote Originally Posted by susa
    > I am in the process of installing a Current Control Relay system that will monitor the amps/watts and switch on other parts of my system depending on the powercurve in use by the IntelliFlow VF. Cost of my automation system will be under $100.
    Susa is that a Fanox PS11-R relay?
    http://www.fanox.com/index.php?optio...=94&Itemid=168

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