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Thread: Autopilot SC48 low volts problem

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    Autopilot SC48 low volts problem

    I purchased an Autopilot Pool Pilot Digital in 2004 and have been very pleased over the past years. This year, when I opened my pool, (April) I noted some error messages on the control unit. (Check/Clean Cell and Check Cell Low Amps). I flushed the cell with a hose and the messages went away until the next day.

    A few hours later, the error messages reappeared -- both "clean cell" and "low amps". I ran the self test and noted that the reading was 0 volts and 3.6 amps. I ran the self test several times and got readings of anywhere between 0 and 14 volts and between 1 and 5 amps. (My unit is hooked up to 110 volts and has been working fine for several years. As far as I know it is wired correctly for 110V.)

    I bought a new cell, (but not a new cord) and when I installed the cell, there were still error messages. The next morning, the error messages were gone and the self test showed 27 volts and 5.6 amps. Testing the water showed that chlorine was being produced. I slept well that night, only to find the next day that the error light was blinking and the messages to check cell (Clean and low amps) were there.

    I powered down the unit and cleaned the cell thoroughly with water (no acid), I cleaned the screen in the line (some pine needle fragments) and backwashed my DE filter. When I powered the Autopilot back up I noted that the error messages were still there and that now the clock would not keep the setting. Even though I set the time, when I exited the menu, it displayed 12:00.

    I called Autopilot and they suggested I send the unit in for service (I am not in a local service area -- Western Maryland).

    They called me yesterday to tell me that: 1) My unit tested ok, and 2) I had the old software and it could be upgraded (for a reasonable price).

    I have the following questions:

    1. Is it possible that there is an intermittent fault in the control unit that did not appear during the test?
    2. Is it possible that the cord is the problem? (I did not replace it when I got the new cell.) Would a bad cord show these signs?
    3. Any other advice as to how to resolve this problem?

    As you can imagine, I spoke with Autopilot on more than one occasion. The first person I spoke to suggested that I get the software upgrade (new circuit board?) and that everything else was fine. The second person told me that they can try a longer test and see if any error shows up. My concern is what I should do if the testing does not find any problems.

    Thanks in advance for any help or ideas!

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    JasonLion's Avatar
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    Re: Autopilot SC48 low volts problem

    1) Certainly possible, but not extremely likely.
    2) Yes, if the resistance of the cord has gone up it could have the symptoms you describe. Not the first place to look, but possible.

    I would get the software upgrade if the price isn't too bad. There have been some improvements over the years and many of them (not all) are in the software.

    At first it just sounded like a worn out cell, but after that it just doesn't make much sense.
    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: Autopilot SC48 low volts problem

    Thank for your help. I am expecting a call from them in a few days. They have offered me a very reasonable price for the new software, and I will get a new cord as well.

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    Re: Autopilot SC48 low volts problem

    Let me add another question, I was changing the pool light (which is on the same circuit as the Autopilot) and when I changed the bulb, it worked for a few seconds, then the circuit breaker tripped. Now when I put any load on the circuit, the breaker trips. Is it possible that a faulty breaker could cause the symptoms I described above?

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    JasonLion's Avatar
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    Re: Autopilot SC48 low volts problem

    I would assume that the circuit breaker has nothing to do with the SWG problem. Circuit breakers fail now and then, or you might have gotten some water into the light causing a short, but I can't think of a way it could have caused problems with the SWG.
    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: Autopilot SC48 low volts problem

    Thanks again. I will just wait to hear from Autopilot.

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    Join Date
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    Re: Autopilot SC48 low volts problem

    Which model cell do you have? Did you verify that the wiring on the power circuit board has been modified to receive 110 volts? As well as changing out the main power fuse?
    The Digital unit should be wired in conjunction with your pump circuit, not your light circuit breaker. If your light GFI is continually tripping, it may cause problems with the Digital unit too. If you test the voltage into the Digital, how may volts do you read?

    Place the Digital in BOOST and let it run for a few minutes before doing the TEST. This allows the cell to ramp up power before testing.

    What does the unit show when you press PUMP? It should read EXTERNAL TIMER, rather than remote runs pump.

    A bad cell cord would give you 29 volts and low amps. In this case, you're getting low volts.
    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: Autopilot SC48 low volts problem

    I have a Pool Pilot Digital. It was installed by a local Pool Service Company (Backyard Creations in Frederick Md.) and was "modified" for 110V. They wired it to a standard 110V plug, which I plug into an outlet near my pump and filter. It has worked well for a few years, so I assume it is wired correctly. That outlet is on the same breaker as the pool light, and I have not had the light on until recently (it has been to cold). I have not changed the main power fuse. (The unit is at Autopilot for service now, and no one mentioned that.) The unit is not wired to to the pump at all. I usually leave the pump on 24/7.
    I have not tested the voltage into the unit, as I know just enough about electricity to hurt myself. I am having an electrician come to my home to check the light circuit, so I can have him do that.
    When I put the unit in Boost mode, it still read low volts, but I did not wait any time to run the Test.
    I have never pressed pump, because the unit is not connected to the pump.
    As I am writing this, I just got a call from Robert at Autopilot telling me that they tested my unit for 36 hours, and all was well. He suggested that I have the control board replaced (the display is dim), but feels the unit is working up to spec.
    I have successfully run the unit at power level one for the past 5 years. (I maintain the stabilizer levels). Robert told me that at power level one the normal voltage should read 18V -- but I was getting much lower.
    I will probably get the new control board, and maybe a new cord, and hopefully that will solve my problem.
    I just feel that something was wrong, and now I am told that the unit is fine. I am trying to understand what else could cause these symptoms (cord?, circuit breaker?, bad cell? -- which I replaced)

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    Re: Autopilot SC48 low volts problem

    Hi, I still don't see what size cell you have, and I know my eyesite may be failing with age....

    The volts will be different, depending on the model cell you have.

    Going back to your OP, the time not holding may be as a result of the back up battery running down. This is the flat button battery on the display circuit board. As you're planning on upgrading it, there will be a new battery too. However, it should keep proper time when it is energized, but lose the time when it is powered off.
    Sean Assam - Sean@teamhorner.com
    National Accounts and Commercial Products Manager
    AquaCal Heat Pumps www.aquacal.com
    AutoPilot Salt Chlorine Generators www.autopilot.com

  10. Back To Top    #10

    Re: Autopilot SC48 low volts problem

    Sorry for the delay in responding.
    I have an SC 48 cell (title of topic). I had an electrician check the breaker (no problem) but the unit is wired to 110V and plugs into a switched outlet which is attached to a fence near the pump and filter (as is the pool light). The problem with the light was a wet switch - fixed with WD 40. He also sprayed WD 40 on the switched outlet where the Autopilot will plug in when I get it back.

    I opted to get the new control board and also a new cord, and it should be arriving today. I will post a follow up when I have it all set up and running.

  11. Back To Top    #11

    Re: Autopilot SC48 low volts problem

    Last Words

    My unit was returned with a new cord last week. Set it up, turned it on, and all was well. I stopped adding chlorine tablets to the skimmer the same day, and my chlorine levels are staying stable at 4 ppm. No more error messages.

    Looking back, probably, the problem was a cell in need of replacement. When I replaced the cell, and ran tests, I got a low voltage reading shortly after restarting the unit. It seems that by waiting a good 30 to 40 minutes, the low volts on the test would disappear. I say this because there was a brief time when I turned the newly upgraded unit off and then back on (there was a small water leak at the manifold, I turned the pump off and the Pool Pilot also when I tightened the coupling) that the red light flashed and the test reported 0 volts, but that disappeared after 30 minutes, and has not recurred.

    I suppose that the problem may have been in the cell cord, as that was replaced also, but the experts here don't think the cord could cause the symptoms I saw.

    By the way, to answer Poolsean, when I press PUMP the display reads EXTERNAL TIMER.

    I very much appreciate all the helpful suggestions!

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