Alexa pool control on a shoestring budget

chiefwej

LifeTime Supporter
TFP Guide
Jun 12, 2011
3,395
Tucson
Just so everyone understands, the system I’m using requires no additional equipment, no special smart hubs. You just change some light switches then link them with Alexa. It’s really that simple. It’s really cheap and easy.
 

Poolzzz

Well-known member
Aug 14, 2017
373
Vancouver, BC
Ya, I do something similar using WeMo hubless outlets and switches. Works with Alexa and Google also.

I chose the WeMo because they work with IFTTT for more advanced programming/control and also integrate with CAO Gadgets wireless sensor tags which I use for temperature monitoring and solar panel automation.

For simple remote control they are pretty easy but the programming part gets a little geeky if you want to do something sophisticated.

Overall they work pretty well although I wouldn't used them for mission critical work without independent failsafes.
 

chiefwej

LifeTime Supporter
TFP Guide
Jun 12, 2011
3,395
Tucson
I looked up the WeMo devices. I’m glad I didn’t need any of those features. They seem to cost about three times a much as the ones I used. My goal was just voice (Alexa) and remote (iPhone) control, and as inexpensive as I could make it. I have no need for programming or any advanced features.
I believe in keeping it as simple as possible. It’s the same reason I don’t have an automation system. (see post #6)
 

JoyfulNoise

TFP Expert
Platinum Supporter
May 23, 2015
15,890
Tucson, AZ
Switching resistive 120V loads is no big deal and I’m sure your switches can handle that. However, switching large inductive loads can be problematic on mechanical switches and relays due to the large amounts of stored energy in the magnetic field around the motor windings. This will manifest as arcing at the switch when the load is disconnected.

I’m curious - do any of your 240V switches have any kind of fly-back circuitry in them to safely dissipate the inductive energy in the pump windings?
 

chiefwej

LifeTime Supporter
TFP Guide
Jun 12, 2011
3,395
Tucson
Matt,
Here is a link to the 220v DPST switch I’m using. I don’t know much about the specs, but so far it’s been working fine. I’m using it to switch a 2hp, single speedHayward Super Pump, that powers my spa. The thing seemed cheap at $59 when I bought it. Now it’s down to $43!! Should I be concerned that it’s too cheap?

WiOn 50054 Outdoor Wi-Fi Smart Box, Wireless Time Switch - - Amazon.com
 

JoyfulNoise

TFP Expert
Platinum Supporter
May 23, 2015
15,890
Tucson, AZ
Matt,
Here is a link to the 220v DPST switch I’m using. I don’t know much about the specs, but so far it’s been working fine. I’m using it to switch a 2hp, single speedHayward Super Pump, that powers my spa. The thing seemed cheap at $59 when I bought it. Now it’s down to $43!! Should I be concerned that it’s too cheap?

WiOn 50054 Outdoor Wi-Fi Smart Box, Wireless Time Switch - - Amazon.com
There are two specs to look at - FLA (Full Load Amperage) and LRA (Locked Rotor Amperage). The FLA is the current a motor draws when it is under full rotational load, sort of like an operating amperage. The LRA is a worst-case-scenario amperage and it’s actually measured by locking the motor shaft so it can’t rotate and measuring the current draw of the wiring in the motor. The specs on that switch only list 120V with a 1HP motor (16amp FLA & 60amp LRA). You’d have to check the specs on your pool pump to see if they match and pull out the paperwork on the WiON unit to see if there are specs for running a 220V motor. A 220V motor draws roughly half the current (FLA) of a 120V motor BUT the LRA may not be half. I suspect the internal SSR (solid state relay) that controls the switching is designed with a fly-back circuitry (diode and dissipating resistance) to avoid any arcing.

Time will tell I suppose ....
 

madtv126

Gold Supporter
Jul 30, 2018
90
Fort Mill, SC
My biggest concern and possible cause of issues is local control. A lot of these switches require a cloud system and have no local control so if you lose internet connection it won't trigger the switch to turn off. The hubless method typically uses this cloud based control.

I like the idea and its implementation is pretty amazing.

I tried x-10 years ago but not for a pool. I now use a wink hub and caseta switches and a few zwave compatible remote switches but nothing related the pool yet.
 

chiefwej

LifeTime Supporter
TFP Guide
Jun 12, 2011
3,395
Tucson
My biggest concern and possible cause of issues is local control. A lot of these switches require a cloud system and have no local control so if you lose internet connection it won't trigger the switch to turn off. The hubless method typically uses this cloud based control.

I like the idea and its implementation is pretty amazing.

I tried x-10 years ago but not for a pool. I now use a wink hub and caseta switches and a few zwave compatible remote switches but nothing related the pool yet.
If the internet is down or your WiFi is out, the switches won’t work. But, I’m not using them for any critical applications, so I would just walk over there and operate the switch manually, just like I did before I added the smart switches.

I would not recommend using any type of smart switch for main pump, or any kind of critical functions. They are way too many things that can cause them to not operate as programmed, and no feedback to tell you that the switch has not been activated.
 

Poolzzz

Well-known member
Aug 14, 2017
373
Vancouver, BC
My biggest concern and possible cause of issues is local control. A lot of these switches require a cloud system and have no local control so if you lose internet connection it won't trigger the switch to turn off. The hubless method typically uses this cloud based control.
My WEMO hubless switches work fine without Internet. My sister says her WiOn switches do to.

Maybe you are confusing it with cloud based hub systems or Alexa control which does require the Internet.
 

Dirk

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Nov 12, 2017
4,426
Central California
My WEMO hubless switches work fine without Internet. My sister says her WiOn switches do to.

Maybe you are confusing it with cloud based hub systems or Alexa control which does require the Internet.
Thanks for clearing that up. An HA system that goes down with the internet would be a no go for me (for most anybody, I expect). Losing remote access control (which is fundamentally what Alexa is) would be expected, and would be true of any system. I've been monitoring this excellent thread because I have my eye on replacing my HA system, so I can finally rid myself of this Insteon junk. Sorry, but it is. I'm sure it works for some, but I've had it (and its even more useless cousin X-10) in four houses now and I've never had a reliable system. Sick of it. A $50-$75 light switch should not only work perfectly, every time, but last forever (IMO), at least a year/dollar. My mom's 1950s house has original light switches in it. They were probably 20¢ back then, if that!!

[Yes, I don't care if that's not a fair comparison. I'm bitter!!]
 

chiefwej

LifeTime Supporter
TFP Guide
Jun 12, 2011
3,395
Tucson
The WiFi switches should work without the internet, for local control. However, my understanding is any programmed schedule is stored on the cloud, and that requires internet to function. That is the reason there is concern about using this type of switch for any critical programmed operations.

Turning pumps, lights or other devices on/off - fine.
Programming any critical operations - not so much.

The worst that could possibly happen, (the way I’m using the smart switches) is I have to walk over there and manually turn the switch on or off. I’m not using any of the programmable features, so I’m not worried about them failing to operate.
 

Dirk

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Nov 12, 2017
4,426
Central California
Are there no wifi switches that can talk to software running on a computer on the LAN? That's how Insteon works. I use Indigo for the Mac. I'm all about schedules (even just for lights). Cloud-based is a non-starter for me.
 

jonpcar

Bronze Supporter
Jun 1, 2016
423
Gilbert, AZ
The programmed schedules on my WEMO devices work fine without the Internet.
I think a concern is the WiFi dependency. Do your WEMO devices work if you turn off your wireless router? If they do then it seems that they keep their own schedule inside the switch. A follow up...if you turn off your router and then unplug your wemo devices, can you plug them back in and they still keep the schedule without turning on your router...in other words do the wemo devices keep the schedule inside of the switch in some type of non-volatile memory?
 

Poolzzz

Well-known member
Aug 14, 2017
373
Vancouver, BC
a concern is the WiFi dependency.
I think that's minor compared to requiring the Internet and 3rd party servers. Routers are very good these days.

In a years use I've found them pretty robust. But remember even with perfect WiFi and downloaded schedules they aren't intended for mission critical applications.