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Thread: Intex SWG with IGP review

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    Intex SWG with IGP review

    Intex Krystal Clear Saltwater System CS8110 Model 54601EG
    From Walmart, Amazon & elsewhere…

    Before deciding on this unit, I read everything I could find on TFP and elsewhere on SWGs. The vast majority of SWGs range in price from over $500 on the low end to well over $1000. The only exception was Intex. I fully expected to see reviews of how this unit was a piece of junk or a “toy” unit, but was surprised to see that many people gave it high reviews. As I have an IGP, I also wondered and found out that others have also installed it in an IGP. I was encouraged, and my research lead me to conclude that a swg is basically a device in which salt water flows through a chamber of titanium coated plates energized by DC voltage converting the salt to chlorine. Salt water, titianium plates, DC voltage – not exactly rocket science, well how it works may be close to rocket science, but the components that comprises the system are pretty straight forward really. All of this piqued my interest enough that I decided to go for it, although from my reading, I had a notion that I may face issues with the plumbing, and the timer circuitry, and I also still had uncertainties about whether the unit’s chlorine production would be sufficient for my pool. Well, it all turned out great, and I am writing this to maybe be a resource for someone else out there who may have a similar interest in installing a SWG, and want to do so at an incredible value price.

    I ordered my unit from Walmart online, and after receiving the unit, and examining it and the accessories that it came with, I spent several weeks mulling over design alternatives and finally arrived at an incredibly simple plan. The issue at hand was to figure out the best way to adapt the unit, which has non-standard threaded connections at its two main ports, to my IGP system that uses standard schedule 40 1-½” PVC plumbing. Here is what I did. (Pictures attached)
    I purchased two each 1-½” 90deg PVC elbows and three each 1-½” clamp down rubber couplers with corrugated metal sheathing (~ $5 ea @ Home Depot)
    I then modified two of the accessory pieces that came with the Intex swg. The first piece is the approximately 3 foot long flexible connector hose. I cut off the flange and removed the threaded collar from one end of the hose leaving that end with a 1-½” inside diameter stub. I also cut the “Adapter A with threaded collar” piece to retain only the 1-½” id portion of the adapter. (I cut off the section of the adapter that is intended be used to fit inside a 1 ½” or a 1 ¼” hose.)
    Lastly, I cut an “L” shaped section out of the PVC return line after the multi-port valve and spliced the Intex unit in its place using the rubber couplers. Although the OD of the Intex pieces are slightly smaller than the OD of the PVC pipe, the corrugated sheathed couplers does an excellent job of making a solid watertight seal. Also, if I ever need to remove the Intex from the system, I could simply splice the PVC “L” piece back in using the same couplers. (I initially bought the rubber only couplers – which also did the job - but after noticing that they bulged a bit from the relatively low pressure in the return line, and having a vision of it on some distant future day bursting, I opted to return them and purchase the metal sheathed one instead, and am happy that I did so…)

    On the recommendation of experts here at TFP, I disconnected the wires to the copper ionizer bar. Others have expressed concern of the difficulty of doing so. Nothing to it. Unscrew the big plastic nut by hand and pull the plug. Done. This leaves the block of copper in the chamber but it is now completely un-energized.

    GFI – Another post expressed concern about the need to plug the unit into a GFI outlet for safety. Not necessary. The unit comes with a heavy duty, long, approx. 20’ cord with a GFI built into the cord near the plug end. Just plug it into a 110 outlet.

    Timer – Apparently the older non-copper model completely lost its programming any time it was turned off or lost power, and so would not produce any chlorine at all until it was manually reset. The current unit’s timer circuitry is still extremely rudimentary at best, but it at least remembers the run time (duration, not time of day) setting. There is no clock setting. You cannot set it to run at specific times of the day. Instead to set it, you must wait for the time of the day you want it to run, and then at that time, turn it on and set it to run for a specific number of hours, between 1 and 12 hours in full hour increments. So in my case, to set it to run from 7am to 10 am, I had to, at 7am, set it to run for 3 hours. Once set, it will repeat its run time every 24 hours. As our power is relatively reliable, I am currently okay with it how it is. But the reality is, is that by adding an external timer you can set the unit to run on any schedule, for any duration – even up to 24 hours per day if you want. How? Simply set the unit to any run time that is equal to or greater than your desired run time – up to 12 hours. Then set the external timer, which you will plug the Intex into, for the time of day and duration you want it to run (up to 12 hours). So to cover all contingencies, you could first just set the Intex to its maximum run time of 12 hours, then set the external timer to the schedule you want it to run. If you need it to run for more than 12 hours per day, then you would have to set it to have two run cycles per day. The first for 12 hours, then off briefly then back on again. Every time the external timer switches power on, the SWG will start and run for its set run time or until the external timer shuts it off, whichever comes first.

    Bottom line – with “professional” SWGs you can set the strength of the chlorine generation as well as the runtime schedule. With this unit, you cannot set the strength – think of it as only having only one setting – 100% - but you can fully control the run time, which effectively gives you the overall chlorine production control you need.

    Quantity of chlorine generated – the manual states that this unit generates 12 grams of chlorine per hour and I understand that the older non-copper model manual says it produced 24 grams per hour. This was another of my initial concerns. I pieced together information from various posts and guestimated that I would need a runtime of six hours per day to maintain my FC level. But as it turns out, my current practical-experience-based estimation is that the Intex unit produces at least the equivalent of 8 oz of 8.25% bleach per hour. I base this estimation on the fact that prior to installing the Intex swg, I used to add on average 24 oz of bleach per day to the pool to maintain an 8ppm FC level. Now, I run the SWG for 3 hours and have an overall pump run time of 6 hours per day to maintain a FC level of 4ppm and keep the pool clear, and algae free. The unit’s chlorine production may actually be higher that this as the pool’s CYA level when I used bleach was at 50ppm. Now, the current CYA level is at 30ppm. The reason for the lower CYA is that in the course of converting to salt water, I inadvertently over-salted the pool and ended up draining and refilling a significant amount of water to achieve 3000 ppm of salt. I know that TFP recommends a much higher CYA for sw pools, but as the pool’s appearance and chemical balance over the two plus months that I have been using the swg have been doing just great, I am going to continue with the current CYA level as is unless I see start to see signs of problems.

    My current balances
    FC 4
    CC 0
    Ph 7.6
    TA 70
    CH 250
    CYA 30
    Salt 3000
    Borate 50

    Overall – I am extremely pleased that I added the Intex swg unit to my pool.
    Ray
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    16k gal, L-Shaped, IG, plaster, Pentair Triton II TR-60 Sand Filter, A.O. Smith Century Centurion 1HP Single speed motor, TF-100 test kit, Intex CS8110 SWG

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    happyheathen's Avatar
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    Re: Intex SWG with IGP review

    Thanks for the report!

    I am getting tired of trying to cram empty plastic jugs into the smallish rubbish container I use.
    No, I'm NOT upgrading my garbage bill to satisfy the hole in the ground.

    I am curious: All of the other SWG's have replacement cells available*. Does Intex offer replacement cells, or do you just buy a stack of the generators and throw them out when they stop working?

    General Q: Why does the cell require replacement? does something erode or does the titanium just get covered in crude and become ineffective?


    * why buy the unit if all it does is put 24 vdc across terminals at selected times? A 24 vdc power source is not rare nor expensive; neither are timers.
    Dave
    Sacramento
    1980's 15,000 Gal IG Plaster; 1 1/2 hp Hayward Northstar; Hayward Swimclear C3025 Cartridge Filter (325 sq ft, nom.); Pentair Legend; Polaris PB4-60; Equipment 40' from pool. p.s.: it's an aye-aye.

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    Re: Intex SWG with IGP review

    Hey Happy,

    Throwing away the empty jugs is a "lightweight" problem compared to hauling the full ones from the store... (but it is still a better alternative to dealing with pucks and an ever-increasing CYA, etc...) IMHO. But, as a recent convert to SWG, I say that NOTHING beats the convenience of a SWG.

    Regarding your questions:
    The manual shows Spare Part No. 11374 for the TITANIUM ELECTRODE. I don't remember where, but for some reason I think I saw that it was priced at about $85. When my unit starts to c**p out, which it inevitably will - hopefully no less than 2 to 3 years from now - I will at that time figure out if it is worth it to pay for a replacement cell or a brand replacement new unit. Heck, even if this unit were to last only one year, and I were to replace the whole unit every year, it will still be an incredible value compared to the other SWGs out there.
    Also, btw, according to the manual the unit has a 2 year warranty / 1 year for the Titanium electrode.

    Don’t know the science behind it, but yeah, I imagine that the titanium coating eventually wears or erodes to the point that it can no longer electrically convert salt to chlorine… But no, I don’t think you could just built your own SWG from scratch as those titanium plates are a key component.
    16k gal, L-Shaped, IG, plaster, Pentair Triton II TR-60 Sand Filter, A.O. Smith Century Centurion 1HP Single speed motor, TF-100 test kit, Intex CS8110 SWG

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    happyheathen's Avatar
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    Re: Intex SWG with IGP review

    Thanks!

    My thought was: If the cell contains the critical parts (the electrodes) - then it would appear that any source of 24 vdc across the cell's terminals would do the same as the controller - Kind of like buying a new lawnmower (control unit and cell) because you need the sparkplug (cell).

    If I get a cell (conveniently equipped with the plumbing unions) and plumb it into my return line, wouldn't putting 24vdc across the terminals do exactly what the controller does?

    Someone with an adjustable model could spend half an hour determining how the generation level is adjusted (voltage, time, maybe amperage?).

    No. I'm not young enough to play with it.

    I did find (Hayward's?) entry into the low-end market ($500, $199 replacement cell).

    It actually had verbiages aimed at builders "Here's a guaranteed money maker! Build customer loyalty!
    The interesting line: "The replacement cell is priced to compete with annual chlorine costs".


    A pretty blatent admission that these pricing on these things is NOT based on costs of production - just what they think the market will bear.
    Also of interest: the cheap one looks NOTHING like the "real" units - you don't get to join the $1000 club for $500.

    Kind of like Beechcraft introducing the model 36 - it is the same as the V-tail 33, but at a lower price point. And it was NOT called "Bonanza" - until the tails started falling off the V-tail and the 33 had to be retired. NOW the 36 is a "Bonanza".
    "We'll give you something you poor people can afford, but it isn't going to look like the real one".
    Dave
    Sacramento
    1980's 15,000 Gal IG Plaster; 1 1/2 hp Hayward Northstar; Hayward Swimclear C3025 Cartridge Filter (325 sq ft, nom.); Pentair Legend; Polaris PB4-60; Equipment 40' from pool. p.s.: it's an aye-aye.

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    Re: Intex SWG with IGP review

    Replacement plates are $47 on intexcorp.com. same place I bought mine this year. Mine lasted 2 years

    http://www.intexcorp.com/11374.html
    Intex UltraFrame 14'x48in - 3,900 gallons. Intex 1600 GPH combo Sand Filter/SWG Hard Plumbed w/Hayward skimmer, suction & return. Borates.
    And... 15k gallon kidney shaped gunite 1975 vintage. Hayward DE3620 filter + Hayward 750 pump.
    TF100 Test Kit | Pool School | Pool Math

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    happyheathen's Avatar
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    Re: Intex SWG with IGP review

    Thanks - so it is the plates which need replacement, not the something else in the cell.
    Dave
    Sacramento
    1980's 15,000 Gal IG Plaster; 1 1/2 hp Hayward Northstar; Hayward Swimclear C3025 Cartridge Filter (325 sq ft, nom.); Pentair Legend; Polaris PB4-60; Equipment 40' from pool. p.s.: it's an aye-aye.

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    Re: Intex SWG with IGP review

    Thanks for this nice review. I have a question about the timer. If I understand correctly, you're saying you can set the number of hours a day it should generate, and the start time of day it should generate. And you further suggest a strategy of plugging it into an external timer - and yes, my pump is currently plugged into an external timer, so I guess I could plug in a power splitter to allow both my devices on the external timer.

    So I assume that if for some reason my external timer doesn't have the pump running at the SWG programmed start time, it won't generate - is that right? Or if it's say, 5 minutes late in getting the pump started, does that mean it's missed it's window and no generating for me until the next day?

    Also, I've read in other threads here that some think it's more efficient on the skimmer to split the pumping time into two parts of the day, which is what I'm currently doing (morning and evening). I assume that if I continue this two-shift strategy, that I can't have generating happening in the morning and evening, right? I guess I should pick one of those two times to do the generating, and which ever shift it's not generating, the pump will run, but there won't be any chlorine created.

    If I'm understanding all this right, I guess I'll have to experiment to see how many hours I need to generate. If it turns out that I need more than 50% of my current pumping time to generate chlorine, I'll have to split my two shifts unevenly, and have the longer of the two shifts be the one where it generates.

    I'm expecting though to not need a huge amount of hours, because this SWG is rated to handle pools twice as big as mine.
    18 foot diameter, 52" tall above ground Cornelius pool, with vinyl liner, and resin wall caps.
    Roughly 7600 gallons
    Blue Wave "Sandman" Sand filter/pump, model NE6150. Pump is 1 HP
    Intex SWG, model # 54601E

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    Re: Intex SWG with IGP review

    Quote Originally Posted by Zindar View Post
    Thanks for this nice review. I have a question about the timer. If I understand correctly, you're saying you can set the number of hours a day it should generate, and the start time of day it should generate. And you further suggest a strategy of plugging it into an external timer - and yes, my pump is currently plugged into an external timer, so I guess I could plug in a power splitter to allow both my devices on the external timer. This is the best route as it eliminates the need to think about all of the scenarios you bring up below. However, I'll still answer them.

    So I assume that if for some reason my external timer doesn't have the pump running at the SWG programmed start time, it won't generate - is that right? Or if it's say, 5 minutes late in getting the pump started, does that mean it's missed it's window and no generating for me until the next day? I don't know for sure how it works with the stand alone Intex SWG but I can't imagine it is any different than my combo unit. For my unit, when the 'low flow' error (or low salt or high salt for that matter) goes off then it quits generating. It doesn't continually check for improved conditions, so if your pump comes on late and there is sufficient flow then the error will not clear. It has to turn off then on.

    Also, I've read in other threads here that some think it's more efficient on the skimmer to split the pumping time into two parts of the day, which is what I'm currently doing (morning and evening). I assume that if I continue this two-shift strategy, that I can't have generating happening in the morning and evening, right? I guess I should pick one of those two times to do the generating, and which ever shift it's not generating, the pump will run, but there won't be any chlorine created. More than once cycle per day is better. I found that if I had one 4 hour session then more floating debris became waterlogged and sank to the bottom compared to when I had 2 2-hour sessions. I have since expanded to 3 sessions per day. (See my signature) Having both units plugged into the timer will eliminate having to pick a cycle to run the SWG. If you break up your filtering into more than one session then any single session may not be long enough to generate the proper maintenance dose of chlorine you need. It all depends on your pool's load. Not everyone will have the same result as you.

    If I'm understanding all this right, I guess I'll have to experiment to see how many hours I need to generate. If it turns out that I need more than 50% of my current pumping time to generate chlorine, I'll have to split my two shifts unevenly, and have the longer of the two shifts be the one where it generates.

    I'm expecting though to not need a huge amount of hours, because this SWG is rated to handle pools twice as big as mine. It's possible, like I said above, it all depends on the load on your pool. Mine often puts in a tad too much chlorine so i'm 1-2 ppm over my target for my CYA but well below shock level. I figure that if I knock an hour off the morning run I will be on target. No big deal for me either way.

    In the end, why make it a bigger ordeal than it needs to be when linking them together is pretty much just a $2 outdoor rated splitter? Worse case, if you end up with way too much chlorine for the amount of filtering you desire then ditch the $2 part and start testing the scenarios you mentioned.
    Edit: This 4 character edit minimum is a pain.
    Intex UltraFrame 14'x48in - 3,900 gallons. Intex 1600 GPH combo Sand Filter/SWG Hard Plumbed w/Hayward skimmer, suction & return. Borates.
    And... 15k gallon kidney shaped gunite 1975 vintage. Hayward DE3620 filter + Hayward 750 pump.
    TF100 Test Kit | Pool School | Pool Math

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    Re: Intex SWG with IGP review

    Thank you; the only part of your response I'm confused about it "Having both units plugged into the timer will eliminate having to pick a cycle to run the SWG."

    Don't I still have to pick a cycle? I infer from the review that the SWG programming has a specific single set time of day to being the chlorinating. So for example, say I need 2 hours of chlorinating per day, and I happen to pick 7:30 am for the time to do that chlorinating. (I assume that "7:30 am" must be somehow entered into the SWG user interface, and also the 2 hour duration entered into that same interface - effectively, I've just picked the morning shift for the chlorinating.) Suppose further that I have the external timer set for two shifts: 7:00 am for 2 hours, and 6: pm for 2 hours.

    Then when 7:30 am rolls around, the SWG will detect that the pump is on and running, and chlorinating begins. 90 minutes later, the external timer shuts off, aborting the SWG 30 minutes ahead of schedule. At 6: pm the external timer switches on again, but the 2 hour duration has elapsed (or has it? Only 90 minutes of generating has occurred... I'm not sure what would happen... I guess either the window is gone and no chlorinating until the next day, or maybe it's smart enough to finish off 30 minutes worth of generating).
    18 foot diameter, 52" tall above ground Cornelius pool, with vinyl liner, and resin wall caps.
    Roughly 7600 gallons
    Blue Wave "Sandman" Sand filter/pump, model NE6150. Pump is 1 HP
    Intex SWG, model # 54601E

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    Re: Intex SWG with IGP review

    No, the Intex SWG does not have a start time that you can set. All you can do is tell it how many hours to run once it is switched on. Then it will come on every day at that same time.

    However, if you have it plugged into an external timer, it will run for how ever many hours you have programmed it for, each time the timer turns it on.
    25000 gallon free-form gunite
    Jandy Stealth pump/CL340 cartridge filter
    Pentair IC40 SWG
    Pentair MasterTemp 250HD heater
    Jandy AquaLink RS automation

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    Re: Intex SWG with IGP review

    Quote Originally Posted by jeffchap View Post
    No, the Intex SWG does not have a start time that you can set. All you can do is tell it how many hours to run once it is switched on. Then it will come on every day at that same time.

    However, if you have it plugged into an external timer, it will run for how ever many hours you have programmed it for, each time the timer turns it on.
    Wow, then this makes it even more convenient. I did realize that you can't explicitly plug in the start time, but I inferred from the original poster that it effectively creates a time of day start time by whatever time it was when you powered on the SWG.

    So here was the source of my confusion: once that start time is set, then if you turn it off, then turn it back on for the evening shift, I just assumed it would remember the original start time and not generate during the evening. But in hindsight, I guess that was a silly assumption on my part. If the actual setting of the start time is de facto whenever you powered it on, then it's going to get reset whenever you turn it off and back on again.

    So, this simplifies things. There is no need for me to have unevenly split shifts. So for example:

    Suppose I'd like to have the following parameters:

    1) run the pump 4 hours a day
    2) Generate chlorine for 3 hours a day
    3) Split my pumping into 2 shifts.

    I could simply set my external timer to two 2-hour shifts, and the generating duration to 1.5 hours. Then it'll make chlorine during the first 1.5 hours of each shift, and do a circulate only for the last half hour of each shift. I like this.
    18 foot diameter, 52" tall above ground Cornelius pool, with vinyl liner, and resin wall caps.
    Roughly 7600 gallons
    Blue Wave "Sandman" Sand filter/pump, model NE6150. Pump is 1 HP
    Intex SWG, model # 54601E

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    Re: Intex SWG with IGP review

    That's exactly how it works, except you can only set the timer in whole hour increments.
    25000 gallon free-form gunite
    Jandy Stealth pump/CL340 cartridge filter
    Pentair IC40 SWG
    Pentair MasterTemp 250HD heater
    Jandy AquaLink RS automation

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    Re: Intex SWG with IGP review

    Oh then if I do 2 shifts per day, that limits me to chlorinating in multiples of 2 hours per day. I hope that doesn't wind up too restricting for me. Actually, now that I think of it, it's possible to do any odd amount.

    Example: I want 2.75 hours of generating.

    Set the duration to 2 hours and have 2 shifts: one for 3 hours and 15 minutes, and one for 45 minutes. The result is 4 hours of pumping, and 2.75 hours if generating.
    18 foot diameter, 52" tall above ground Cornelius pool, with vinyl liner, and resin wall caps.
    Roughly 7600 gallons
    Blue Wave "Sandman" Sand filter/pump, model NE6150. Pump is 1 HP
    Intex SWG, model # 54601E

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    Re: Intex SWG with IGP review

    Or if I want my shifts more evenly split, I could do this:
    Set the generating duration to one hour, and split the pumping into 2 two hour shifts, but put in a 15 minute pause in the middle of one of those shifts:

    1:15, pause for 0:15, then pump for 0:45

    Second shift is a continuous 2:00
    18 foot diameter, 52" tall above ground Cornelius pool, with vinyl liner, and resin wall caps.
    Roughly 7600 gallons
    Blue Wave "Sandman" Sand filter/pump, model NE6150. Pump is 1 HP
    Intex SWG, model # 54601E

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