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Thread: Problems with AutoPilot SC36

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    Problems with AutoPilot SC36

    Our pool was installed about 3.5 years ago with Autopilot Digital and SC36. Ran fine for a couple year but the last 6 or 8 months I've been having error messages on the autopilot - either Check/Clean Cell or Low Amps Cell. I thought this might have had to do with cold weather because we had a cold winter. All the voltage readings etc seemed fine. After several attempts to clean the cell, with warmer weather and error still persisting, I figured it must just be time to replace the cell.

    I purchased a replacement from Compu Pool for the SC36. Had one issue with install - I couldn't tell or remember which way to attach the cable to cell itself. It can fit properly either way so I'm not sure if in doing the wrong way I may be reversing polarity? There is clearly a red and black cable at the power supply/controller end of the cable

    Regardless - the error persisted. This time Check/Clean Cell for the brand new cell. Testing it and the voltage reads only 14 V and 4amps... well below what it should be and no idea why (nothing has changed except new cell). The Check System light and warning now have seemingly stopped but the voltage still reads the same 14v. (it's only been installed for a couple hours.

    Salt is at 3900 ppm, water temps is 87 (live in Southwest FL). I'm not sure if it matters but while our swg wasn't working I've been adding chlorine.

    any help or things to test/try would be greatly appreciated.
    5061 Gallons
    Cartridge Filter
    AG Intex 16' x 48" Ultra Frame
    1,500gph (5,678 L/hr.) filter

  2. Back To Top    #2

    Join Date
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    Ft Lauderdale, Florida
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    Re: Problems with AutoPilot SC36

    If you purchased one of the "generic cells", all bets are off. We do not endorse this cell, nor have we tested it to see it's performance, or care to.

    With the volts at 14V, what is it showing for amperage? You normally get the check/clean cell or low amp display due to amperage.
    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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    Re: Problems with AutoPilot SC36

    as I noted above - 4 amps... actually last I checked it was 4.5.
    5061 Gallons
    Cartridge Filter
    AG Intex 16' x 48" Ultra Frame
    1,500gph (5,678 L/hr.) filter

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    JasonLion's Avatar
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    Re: Problems with AutoPilot SC36

    The cable can go on either way, red/black doesn't matter.

    Check cell errors can sometimes be bad connections on the cable to the cell. Are the contacts clean and firmly connected?
    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

  5. Back To Top    #5

    Re: Problems with AutoPilot SC36

    There are two cables and I'm not entirely sure what they do. what I'd guess are the power cables to the cell are firmly connected and yes I cleaned with alcohol before connecting my new cell. I can double check to see if there is any corrosion I need to scrape off but I think they're ok. Not sure if there are any other problems with the cable.

    The second cable that has an adapter and multiple pins seems a little loose as it plugs into the AutoPilot contoller unit but I think it's always been that way. The cable portion of the connector seems fine, it seems the portion on the controller itself seems loose or a lot more wiggly then I'd expect it to be. Not sure if that would impact readings or operation or how it would have become loose in the first place.

    Question: Is it normal to have to repalce a cell every 2 to 3 years? I strongly question the economic argument of salt systems based on my experience, but hoping I can get this resolved. Otherwise I'll just convert to chlorine and be done with the head aches.
    5061 Gallons
    Cartridge Filter
    AG Intex 16' x 48" Ultra Frame
    1,500gph (5,678 L/hr.) filter

  6. Back To Top    #6
    Guest

    Re: Problems with AutoPilot SC36

    Salt cells are typically rated for 10,000 hours. If you run your pump a lot it is feasible that you could be replacing the cell every 2-3 years.

  7. Back To Top    #7
    JasonLion's Avatar
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    Re: Problems with AutoPilot SC36

    Three to five years is more common, but two years is possible if you run the pump a long time and have the percentage set high. Take a look at the cell plates in the old cell. Are they all the same length or are some of them shorter/worn looking? If they are all the same length then the cell is probably alright and the problem has always been elsewhere.
    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

  8. Back To Top    #8

    Re: Problems with AutoPilot SC36

    Check/Clean Cell error was back on this morning after start up but I'll check again after it's been running a while.
    AutoPilot test mode still says 13-14V
    Got out my multi-meter - voltage out of the unit and out of the cell end of the cable read 28 (that's good!)

    What component reads the voltage and information for the test? It looks like there is a separate cable connected to the top of the U. Is there some type of reader that is not part of the cell? Perhaps this is just dirty or faulty? I'll get the chlorine checked today. Tried a self test but they ALWAYS read high for me rendering them useless even when the pool store tells me there's no chlorine. Is there a type of testing product that you'd recommend for salt pools?
    5061 Gallons
    Cartridge Filter
    AG Intex 16' x 48" Ultra Frame
    1,500gph (5,678 L/hr.) filter

  9. Back To Top    #9

    Re: Problems with AutoPilot SC36

    yes.. looking at the schematic looks like there is something called the tri-sensor. Any recommendations on how to clean this.

    Also read the other post about software upgrades??
    5061 Gallons
    Cartridge Filter
    AG Intex 16' x 48" Ultra Frame
    1,500gph (5,678 L/hr.) filter

  10. Back To Top    #10
    JasonLion's Avatar
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    May 2007
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    Re: Problems with AutoPilot SC36

    You don't normally need to clean the tri-sensor (the tri-sensor is connected to the second cable and located at the top of the manifold). If you have been getting calcium scaling on the cell, it might be worth inspecting the tri-sensor to see if there is any calcium scaling on the salt sensor, but that is relatively unlikely. In any case, problems with the tri-sensor wouldn't cause the symptoms you describe.

    If your unit is several years old, it is possible to get a software upgrade (which actually requires a minor hardware upgrade). There are many small improvements in the new software, but nothing dramatic. It isn't usually worth the trouble unless you are having the unit serviced for some other reason.

    28 volts is higher than you ideally want to see with an SC-36, suggestive of cell wear, low salt level, cold water, or scaling of the cell plates.
    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

  11. Back To Top    #11

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    Re: Problems with AutoPilot SC36

    What Cell Power setting are you running on?
    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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