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Thread: To automate my pool or not?

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    Cool To automate my pool or not?

    Hi guys,

    I'm currently remodeling my pool and have a pretty lengthy thread you can find here: http://www.troublefreepool.com/threa...l-back-to-life. I decided to start a new thread because I'm at a crossroad with my pool equipment and I need to decide by this time next week.

    My goals are to have a very low maintenance system and low electric costs (even though my rates are $0.11 already so I can't complain). My pool is 15x25 IG pool with two individual returns, one skimmer and one vacuum line (suction side). No spa, no in-floor cleaning system, no booster pump, etc. The only extra element I plan to add is a small waterfall/waterfeature.

    I only recently entertained the idea of an automation system. I initially wanted just a simple timer and that's it but when I noticed the upgrade for the EasyTouch panel (with IC40 salt cell and transformer included) was just a $300 upgrade it seemed like a no brainer. Of course, after researching it's not as cheap as it appears. To really automate you need valve actuators, ScreenLogic 2, etc. which can add up but is really nice to have.

    If I stick the with EasyTouch I would likely get the Intelliflo VS 3HP pump. If I don't I think I would go for the Superflo VS or Max-Flo VS on a timer.

    Do you guys think it's worth the investment to automate? Is it better to just automate the chemicals instead of the valves? Do the actuators fail often? Would love to hear the experience others have and advice on what you would do if you were me.

    Here's what I would like to control/automate from the EasyTouch 4 panel and iPhone if I go that route:

    - Pump On/Off (I'm assuming SWCG would be on/off as well)
    - Pump RPMs
    - Pool lights
    - Valve for waterfeature (3-port Jandy)
    - Valve for suction-side vacuum (3-port Jandy)
    - Valve for bypass/waste (3-port Jandy, not critical to automate)
    Currently remodeling a 1950's 15x25 14,000+ gallon IG concrete block pool myself. Old galvanized pipes, delaminating plaster, lily pad skimmer, no waterline tile, equipment pad too close to pool, etc. Follow my thread as I chronicle the remodel process.

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    JasonLion's Avatar
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    Re: To automate my pool or not?

    Your pool sounds fairly simple, so I don't see any value in anything fancier than a timer.

    Given your electrical rates, there is no point in getting an IntelliFlo if your goal is to save money. A simple two speed pump will be more reliable and have a lower lifetime total cost (purchase+electricity).

    Either a SWG or a bleach pump will simplify maintenance a little, but you still need to be at the pool to check the skimmer and test the water fairly regularly.
    19K gal, vinyl, 1/2 HP WhisperFlo pump, 200 sqft cartridge filter, AutoPilot Digital SWG, Dolphin Dynamic cleaning robot
    Creator of PoolMath and Pool Calculator. Other handy links: Support this site, TF Test Kits, Pool School

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    Richard320's Avatar
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    Re: To automate my pool or not?

    Perhaps it's my background as an auto mechanic, but I say simpler is better. There's less to break.

    There are always threads here about actuators failing and spas emptying and heaters not firing off and on and on and on. I can regulate where my water is drawn, where it returns, and how hot I want it in a matter of seconds. Changing pump time is as simple as loosening the setcrews on the trippers and moving them around the clock face. True, I can't access my pool controls with my phone and have the spa heated up and waiting, but I can live with that. All told, I probably spend less time in a year moving things around than the automation people spend just trying to get the thing to turn on once outside the normal programming.
    16K freeform gunite with spa; Pentair 4000 DE filter; Century Whisperflow 1 HP; Pentair Minimax heater.
    Troublefree does not mean Maintenancefree. It's like brushing your teeth: You can spend a couple minutes a day and pennies a week or go to the dentist once a year and spend several thousand dollars.
    A pool is like a pet - you have to feed it every day, even the days you don't want to play with it!

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    Re: To automate my pool or not?

    Thanks for the quick reply Jason and Richard!

    I'm definitely on the same page with you guys that simple is better. No question!

    I do like the fact that the 2-speed pumps don't have the issues VS pumps have with lightning strikes.

    Looking at the price difference I have to wonder if the additional money is worth it to have the EasyTouch system instead of the timer.


    2-Speed Timer Option
    Intermatic T10604R 2-Speed Timer - $187
    Pentair IC Transformer - $285
    Penteir IC40 - $540
    Total $1012


    EasyTouch Control System Option
    EasyTouch 4 (IC Transformer and IC40 Included) - $1110
    2-Speed Relay - $95
    Total $1205

    So I suppose the question is, is it worth upgrading the system to an EasyTouch for $193? Even if I decide never to use any actuators? It sounds like it's worth it to me but I would like to hear your thoughts.
    Currently remodeling a 1950's 15x25 14,000+ gallon IG concrete block pool myself. Old galvanized pipes, delaminating plaster, lily pad skimmer, no waterline tile, equipment pad too close to pool, etc. Follow my thread as I chronicle the remodel process.

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    JasonLion's Avatar
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    Re: To automate my pool or not?

    What would you do with the EasyTouch? I don't see it adding any value unless you have something you want it to do.

    Also, I don't recommend the IC40 unless you are getting an automation system. Other brands offer much more flexible UI than what the IC40 can do without an automation system for similar, or better, prices. For example, without automation you can only adjust the percentage in steps of 20%, while everyone else in that price range allows adjustment by 1% steps.
    19K gal, vinyl, 1/2 HP WhisperFlo pump, 200 sqft cartridge filter, AutoPilot Digital SWG, Dolphin Dynamic cleaning robot
    Creator of PoolMath and Pool Calculator. Other handy links: Support this site, TF Test Kits, Pool School

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    Mod Squad jblizzle's Avatar
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    Re: To automate my pool or not?

    If you add solar, then I would think it is worth it just for that ... automatically switching speeds and turning on the solar when required.
    Jason, TFP Moderator
    18k IG pebblesheen pool, Hayward ProLogic P4 w/ T-15 SWG, Pentair 1HP 2-speed Superflo, Hayward 6020 DE filter
    500 sqft Heliocol solar panels, ThePoolCleaner, TF-100 test kit w/ SpeedStir
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    Re: To automate my pool or not?

    I could control the LED lights (NextStep Savi or IntelliBrite) for the moment. Otherwise, there really isn't much more use unless I add an actuator for the waterfeature.

    I was considering getting the IntellipH whether or not I get the EasyTouch, that would allow me to control the chlorine level more precisely on the IC40. The reason I was considering the IntellipH is because a lot of people say the use of acid goes up significantly when using a salt cell. IntelliChem seems to be way too expensive to do the same thing (perhaps I'm underestimating the IntelliChem).

    Assuming I get the EasyTouch. What are your thoughts on getting the Superflo VS or Max-Flo VS and connecting it to the EasyTouch? I know you can't control the speeds but would it work by simply connecting it to the EasyTouch as if it were a single speed pump and programming the schedule on the pump itself? That way when the EasyTouch triggers the pump to turn on, the pump would run its program until the EasyTouch shuts it off.

    I haven't researched solar but really wouldn't want a huge grid on my roof or back yard. Maybe there is something I haven't seen so I'm not totally against it.


    Quote Originally Posted by JasonLion View Post
    What would you do with the EasyTouch? I don't see it adding any value unless you have something you want it to do.

    Also, I don't recommend the IC40 unless you are getting an automation system. Other brands offer much more flexible UI than what the IC40 can do without an automation system for similar, or better, prices. For example, without automation you can only adjust the percentage in steps of 20%, while everyone else in that price range allows adjustment by 1% steps.
    Currently remodeling a 1950's 15x25 14,000+ gallon IG concrete block pool myself. Old galvanized pipes, delaminating plaster, lily pad skimmer, no waterline tile, equipment pad too close to pool, etc. Follow my thread as I chronicle the remodel process.

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    Mod Squad jblizzle's Avatar
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    Re: To automate my pool or not?

    That is the only way those small vs pumps would work with automation.
    Jason, TFP Moderator
    18k IG pebblesheen pool, Hayward ProLogic P4 w/ T-15 SWG, Pentair 1HP 2-speed Superflo, Hayward 6020 DE filter
    500 sqft Heliocol solar panels, ThePoolCleaner, TF-100 test kit w/ SpeedStir
    Pool School + Test Kit + PoolMath = A TROUBLE FREE POOL
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    Re: To automate my pool or not?

    Well I'm a newbie so you should probably take the seasoned veterans answers over mine but for 193 bucks I'd do the automation just for the wow factor. To Richard's point in things like car's I'm all for simplistic but hey, if the pool automation breaks I can always throw an intermatic timer in the mix. That's an easy fix. I say go for it.
    18 x 36 Vinyl Inground, Coverstar Cover, 2 speed Pentair Pump, Hayward 425 Sq Ft Cartridge Filter, Hayward Heat Pump, Prologic PS8, T-15 Salt Cell, 2 Colorlogic LED lights, TF-100 Test Kit

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    Re: To automate my pool or not?

    I have automation and it's great. I also have a water feature, led lights and solar heat. As Jason said what would you use it for? It's great for things that are somewhat complicated like solar or led lights. My 9 year old can operate them, but she would also probably be more patient toggling thru the led colors than I would be. But it's overkill for a waterfall.
    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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    JasonLion's Avatar
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    Re: To automate my pool or not?

    I would not bother with an IntelliPH unless you have high TA fill water. The PH increases many people experience are mostly because they don't make the appropriate adjustments to their water chemistry when adding a SWG. There are some pools that still have constant PH increases even after levels are adjusted, nearly all of those have high TA fill water or extreme water features (infinite edge pools for example).

    I have a SWG and haven't needed to add any acid to my pool in three or four years.
    19K gal, vinyl, 1/2 HP WhisperFlo pump, 200 sqft cartridge filter, AutoPilot Digital SWG, Dolphin Dynamic cleaning robot
    Creator of PoolMath and Pool Calculator. Other handy links: Support this site, TF Test Kits, Pool School

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    Re: To automate my pool or not?

    Quote Originally Posted by JasonLion View Post
    I would not bother with an IntelliPH unless you have high TA fill water. The PH increases many people experience are mostly because they don't make the appropriate adjustments to their water chemistry when adding a SWG. There are some pools that still have constant PH increases even after levels are adjusted, nearly all of those have high TA fill water or extreme water features (infinite edge pools for example).

    I have a SWG and haven't needed to add any acid to my pool in three or four years.
    Many thanks guys. Your input has been VERY helpful.

    That's some great info Jason! What I'll do when it comes time to fill the pool is refer back to the forum. If I could reduce or eliminate the need for acid it would be fantastic. I have a neighbor who adds 1-4 cups a week, he claims "Mother Nature" is to blame (rain, sun, etc.) He was the reason I was considering the IntellipH, but what I'll do now is follow your advice and not bother with it. If in a few months I see that acid does need to be added frequently I'll consider adding the IntellipH.

    Regarding the automation, I definitely agree with you guys that the EasyTouch is overkill. I just couldn't pass it up for the price! I love new tech and I "treated" myself to the EasyTouch for an extra $200+. At the same time I wish I would have kept it simple and gone with a timer. Does that make sense? Yes, I know I'm crazy.

    I do plan on adding an actuator or two in the future. The LED lights will also be connected to the system. I have to research solar but that would be great to add. Any advice on solar?
    Currently remodeling a 1950's 15x25 14,000+ gallon IG concrete block pool myself. Old galvanized pipes, delaminating plaster, lily pad skimmer, no waterline tile, equipment pad too close to pool, etc. Follow my thread as I chronicle the remodel process.

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