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Thread: Autopilot Digital Issues / Replacement?

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    Join Date
    Jul 2007
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    South Florida
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    Autopilot Digital Issues / Replacement?

    So, I've had an Autopilot Digital w/ Sc48 cell for around 8 years and I've been mostly happy with it. But one of the things that I've seemingly always had problems with is the tri-sensor. The salt reading especially seems like it is NEVER accurate. Now it is off completely. So I have some questions...

    1. The salt will either read zero (0) or something like 25000 - yes, one extreme or the other. Does this sounds like a sensor issue or controller?
    2. Are other units salt sensors just as bad or is the tri-sensor the achilles heel of the Autopilot?

    I'm at the point where I feel like starting over but don't know whether to leverage existing investment in Autopilot or try something else.

    3. Are the 'new' tri-sensors (hard wired) any better than the old ones? Is the different just the hardwire (I never had any trouble with the connector)
    4. Is there a finite lifespan of the valve in the manifold? If I were to replace all other components, could I leave the plumbed in valve in place and get many more years out of it, or does that need to be replaced as well? Seems like that piece isn't really critical?
    5. Are there any significant differences in the firmware/controller in the new units vs 5-7 years ago?
    6. Is there any way to test a tri-sensor outside of the Autopilot to verify salt and temp sensor?

    I think my current cell still has some decent life in it so I'm thinking I could just maybe change the main unit (controller/PS) and maybe the tri-sensor but for that cost I could just try a whole new system like CompuPool, Aquarite or Intellichlor? Would I be losing anything 'downgrading' to one of those units? The Add Salt amount never worked so that is a worthless feature to me, the auto temp compensation i think is also a bit 'gimmicky' or not really too important and the manifold (especially if it needs to be replaced) may not be all that important.

    7. Are other manufactures cells the same size? Will one fit in the Autopilot manifold or would I have to totally replumb?

    Ideas on the problem - tri-sensor/controller? Opinions? Thanks!
    Roughly 15x30 IG Gunite/Diamondbrite, 14,000 gallon
    Heliocol Solar 7(4x10) panels w/Aqua Solar controller, Intelliflo 4x160 pump, Hayward C1200 filter, Autopilot DIG-220 w/SC48 SWG, The Pool Cleaner sweep

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    JoshU's Avatar
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    May 2007
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    Re: Autopilot Digital Issues / Replacement?

    2. Are other units salt sensors just as bad or is the tri-sensor the achilles heel of the Autopilot?
    Actually the vast majority of salt pool systems on the market don't use a true salt probe to test the salt level. Instead they calculate their salt level within the cell which a very inaccurate way to measure salt.

    4. Is there a finite lifespan of the valve in the manifold? If I were to replace all other components, could I leave the plumbed in valve in place and get many more years out of it, or does that need to be replaced as well? Seems like that piece isn't really critical?
    It's hard to say how long it will last without first seeing it. Does it look like it is in good shape? It's mainly PVC pipe and fittings. If you see any cracks, splits, etc. then it would be time for a change without question.

    7. Are other manufactures cells the same size? Will one fit in the Autopilot manifold or would I have to totally replumb?
    No, you would need to replumb. The manifold is an exclusive design to AutoPilot. Because they own a patent on the design no other manufacturers use a factory made manifold.

    I think my current cell still has some decent life in it so I'm thinking I could just maybe change the main unit (controller/PS) and maybe the tri-sensor but for that cost I could just try a whole new system like CompuPool, Aquarite or Intellichlor? Would I be losing anything 'downgrading' to one of those units?
    I sell AutoPilot systems along with Hayward Aquarite systems. I've also sold a handful of Pentair systems as special requests when a customer was replacing an existing IntelliChlor. I've test CompuPool systems. CompuPool is a very much so an entry level product and priced/manufactured as such. Pentiar's IntelliChlor system doesn't offer the advanced and modern features of other units in the same price range (for example there is no digital display screen). The Aquarite from Hayward is a nice system but in my opinion not up to par with the Pool Pilot Digital. One of the main reasons AutoPilot stands out is that it uses a tri-sensor which makes for much more accurate operation, especially down the road as things age.
    Josh Ulfers - josh@saltpoolguys.com - 888-725-8766
    SaltPoolGuys.com - AutoPilot Pool Pilot Systems, Parts & Cells - AquaCal Heat Pumps

  3. Back To Top    #3

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    Jul 2007
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    South Florida
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    Re: Autopilot Digital Issues / Replacement?

    Josh - thanks for the quick reply.

    You may be right about #2, but thats not been my experience. I've had at least 2 different tri-sensors. On one the flow switch was bent and one of the salt probes twisted. The other looked fine on visual inspection but the salt reading was never really accurate and as of now completely gone. It's just my limited experience but I can't imagine others being a whole lot less accurate and I can't afford to drop $150 a pop on new sensors just to get a good reading.

    On #4 I was referring to the actual check valve/spring, not the pvc. The pvc and fittings are fine. The clear part in the center is now opaque and I can't see the spring but that shouldn't matter.

    On #7 I assumed that but figured I'd ask.

    I guess I'm not 'convinced' about all the 'modern' features of the AP. And the sun absolutely destroys the cover and displays. If I get a new one I need to find a way to cover it. AutoPilot Systems should probably put the display and buttons under a swing up panel or something. And like I said, the tri-sensor is the part thats killing me so hard for me to agree w/ the more accurate operation and longer lasting.

    Poolsean/others: Any ideas on what part is causing salt reading to be off like that and the other questions??? Thanks....
    Roughly 15x30 IG Gunite/Diamondbrite, 14,000 gallon
    Heliocol Solar 7(4x10) panels w/Aqua Solar controller, Intelliflo 4x160 pump, Hayward C1200 filter, Autopilot DIG-220 w/SC48 SWG, The Pool Cleaner sweep

  4. Back To Top    #4

    Join Date
    Apr 2007
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    Ft Lauderdale, Florida
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    1,455

    Re: Autopilot Digital Issues / Replacement?

    Most likely the connection between the power supply and the tri-sensor assembly. The new style tri-sensor should resolve that.
    Sean Assam - Sean@teamhorner.com
    National Accounts and Commercial Products Manager
    AquaCal Heat Pumps www.aquacal.com
    AutoPilot Salt Chlorine Generators www.autopilot.com

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