Automation DYI or Not

Dman77720

Well-known member
Jan 22, 2020
60
Henderson, NV
I am having a pool solar system installed in early March and I have been pondering adding some automation to my system. I am pretty handy and curious if this is something that can be undertaken by myself this spring or if I should try and find someone to do it. The reason I am leaning doing it myself is everyone I have contacted as been pretty unresponsive or flakey. My guess there is not much profit in adding automation or my money is not good enough for them. lol
 

Rocket J Squirrel

Silver Supporter
Bronze Supporter
Jun 7, 2018
1,047
Alamo, CA
Pool Size
36000
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I would not have a solar system without automation, otherwise I'd be out there turning it on and off manually all the time, plus changing pump speed as required by my particular setup.

If you have no spa or other water features which require controlling valves, you can go with a minimal solar automation system like the Pentair SolarTouch rather than a full-blown automation like the IntelliCenter or EasyTouch. The SolarTouch should be pretty easy to DIY install.

The good news is the SolarTouch will talk to your IntelliPro. It should be able to increase the pump speed when solar engages.
 
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cmc0619

Gold Supporter
May 2, 2018
163
Cherry Hill, NJ
I am having a pool solar system installed in early March and I have been pondering adding some automation to my system. I am pretty handy and curious if this is something that can be undertaken by myself this spring or if I should try and find someone to do it. The reason I am leaning doing it myself is everyone I have contacted as been pretty unresponsive or flakey. My guess there is not much profit in adding automation or my money is not good enough for them. lol
I automated my whole pool control system from scratch so I'm all about DIY. It was a lot cheaper than buying an Intellicenter and has all the same features. But the SolarTouch mentioned above at $300 is not that expensive. If you're including your time it might be cheapest to go that route.
 

Dman77720

Well-known member
Jan 22, 2020
60
Henderson, NV
I automated my whole pool control system from scratch so I'm all about DIY. It was a lot cheaper than buying an Intellicenter and has all the same features. But the SolarTouch mentioned above at $300 is not that expensive. If you're including your time it might be cheapest to go that route.


I would be interested to know how you setup your system. The pool solar is going to have the solar touch but I would like to have some automation besides that however I was given a $3000 price tag and I am wondering if I can do that myself for less. My pool has no spa it would be pretty simple.
 

cmc0619

Gold Supporter
May 2, 2018
163
Cherry Hill, NJ
There's a link in my sig. I have a price breakdown somewhere in that thread. think my v1 came to $600 and v3 came to $700. There's a price to be paid for pretty! If you're going to do the whole thing well then it gets a little more attractive vs the full blown automation systems.
 
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Dman77720

Well-known member
Jan 22, 2020
60
Henderson, NV
After using your signature to help me find other posts that took on similar projects, I think I am going to give this a try. I am a totally noob to this, but it seems doable. Hopefully you and others won't mind helping me as I work through the knowledge building process.

This is what I have in mind:

Schedule and control Pentair VSP
Turn on and off my lights
ICHLOR 30- adjust SWG run %
Solar Controller Pentair Solar touch (not installed yet)

Less important, but if I could turn on my waterfall which would be one valve without having to walk through my rock that would be a big positive

So my first question as I map out what components I will need is if my loadcenter which is practically brand new, (pool built in 2020), can I focus on building rasberryPI and pulling power from my existing load center to run it? I am thinking I need to lay out how this will look before I start thinking of anything else.
 

cmc0619

Gold Supporter
May 2, 2018
163
Cherry Hill, NJ
After using your signature to help me find other posts that took on similar projects, I think I am going to give this a try. I am a totally noob to this, but it seems doable. Hopefully you and others won't mind helping me as I work through the knowledge building process.

This is what I have in mind:

Schedule and control Pentair VSP
Turn on and off my lights
ICHLOR 30- adjust SWG run %
Solar Controller Pentair Solar touch (not installed yet)

Less important, but if I could turn on my waterfall which would be one valve without having to walk through my rock that would be a big positive

So my first question as I map out what components I will need is if my loadcenter which is practically brand new, (pool built in 2020), can I focus on building rasberryPI and pulling power from my existing load center to run it? I am thinking I need to lay out how this will look before I start thinking of anything else.

Happy to help! I'd never done a project like this and was also a total noob. I do have a computer/tech/nerd background but it's certainly not necessary if you're DIY minded. The one caveat I see is the Solartouch system is standalone. I see problems if you try to control the pump from both the solar touch AND nodejs-poolcontroller. You'll probably have to choose one or the other there.

@Katodude and @MyAZPool both have an existing load center setup. They built a separate low voltage box and then just run the high voltage stuff to a relay in the low voltage box. So I guess it's not technically a low voltage box anymore but the high voltage intrusion is minimal. Just into a relay and back out to the main load center where it goes off to the equipment. The pictures of their setups are here and here. It's a good way to do it, I just made a whole new setup because my existing sub-panel was old and busted.

You're basically looking at a box, an rPi, a RS-485 adapter for your rPi, a relay hat for your rPi, 5V DC PS for rPi power and some terminal blocks to hook it all up.

Depending on what you have and what you want to do, optionally the following as well:
Valve Actuators and a 24V AC power supply for any valve automation you want to do (Solar/Waterfall)
Depending on what type of lights you have (low voltage/high voltage), potentially some high voltage relays to turn them on and off. If they're low voltage you can just switch them from the rPi relay hat
ADC hat and temp sensors to read pool temperature for your solar system if you choose to integrate it

You'll notice a few of us use the DIN rail equipment but that's not required. Just makes life easier (IMO).