Automation for pool

rendx

Member
Aug 5, 2018
7
Toronto, Canada
Hi All!

First time pool owner and pool is being built right now, so I'm pretty excited! I've been thinking about automation for the pool. There's no spa or water features (pool is 30x16 with L shaped entry stairs with 2 swim jets). The PB is installing the following equipment into a cabana:

Pump: Pentair SuperFlo VS
Heater: Raypak 336K BTU
Lights: 2 x Globrite 12V LED
SWG: AquaRite
Badu Swim Jets x 2

PB said that automation is good if you have a pool/spa but not really necessary for a pool only. I'm having second thoughts and wondering what automation can do to help make my life easier (trying to maximize time to enjoy and reduce the maintenance!). The PB currently offers the Hayward Omnilogic, Pentair Intellitouch, Intelli Connect and Easy Touch System. I've read about all of these, but not sure if some are overkill if I don't have that much equipment to control and looking for some advice. I can only think of adding garden lights as it is right now. Cost-wise, price including installation in increasing order is the Easy Touch 4 (extra for Quick Touch II), Intelli Connect, Easy Touch 8 (extra for Wireless control panel), Omnilogic, then Intellitouch. The more I've been looking at it, the more I was thinking about the Easy Touch 4 with the ScreenLogic upgrade due to cost and ability to control with your smartphone, but am open to everyone's experience and expertise!

Thanks!
 

Jimrahbe

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Jul 7, 2014
19,493
Bedford, TX
r,

Welcome to TFP... a great place to find the answers to all of your "Lone Ranger Questions"... :shark:

Or maybe that was Tonto.. :p

Sad news for you... The equipment in your list will not play together with most automation systems. The SuperFlo VS does not have a RS-485 serial port so cannot easily be controlled by even Pentair's automation. The Easytouch can't control the AquaRite SWCG. The EasyTouch can only control Intelliflo style pumps.

I am really pro automation, but in a simple pool like yours and mine, it is much more for fun that it is a necessity...

If you decide to go with an Automation system, then you need to make sure that the Automation system, any VS pump and any SWCG are all the same brand. And as proven by the SuperFlo VS, sometimes even that is not enough... Any heater will work and any light will work

Below is something that I have posted before about the EasyTouch automation system.....

1. Automation will help you with pool maintenance, but it will not replace the need for you to test your water, understand what you are looking at, and then making sure your water is balanced. (Another reason you need the accuracy of the TF100 test kit.)

2. The main downside to automation is cost. So before going too far down this path, you might ask your PB what it's going to cost. That said, the best time to install automation is when the pool is being built, because all the connections to the system can be made without having to figure out how you are to get power across 50' of new deck. Also, the additional cost, when compared to the cost of the pool, will be miniscule.

3. Automation systems work best when the same brand is used because then the pieces can "talk" to together. So, in your case I would recommend the EasyTouch 4 (or 8) that has a built in power supply for the SWG and generally comes with the SWG and two valves. ScreenLogic2 is an absolute requirement if you want to be able to control things from your PC or Phone.

Here is a list of what I think the advantages are:

1. Appearance. Instead of having a bunch of different boxes hanging on your wall you have one, professional looking enclosure.

2. Circuit Breaker Panel. The bottom half of the enclosure is a circuit-breaker panel where the breakers for your pool equipment (Pumps, Heater, etc.) are located. This panel is also an excellent place to add surge protector, which is an absolute must if you have the Intelliflo pump. Even if you do not get the automation, make sure your PB includes a surge protector for the pump.

3. SWG Control. Without automation, your SWG will have to have a timer, synced to the pump timer so that it does not run when the pump is off. This function is built into the EasyTouch.

4. Spa mode and SWG output. Normally all the water flows through the SWG, so when in the Spa mode, the EasyTouch reduces the amount of chlorine the SWG produces, so that the Spa users are not subjected to high levels of chlorine.

5. Pool Lighting. The EasyTouch allows you to control your pool lighting from your PC and/or from a schedule. This is another reason to add the EasyTouch now. Once your pool light is wired to switches inside your house, it might be very difficult to get the wiring to any automation system.

6. Control of Spill-over and bubblers. Right now I'm sure you are thinking I want that spillover running 24-hours a day because it is so beautiful.. Well, after a few weeks of having your pH go through the roof, you'll appreciate the ability to only turn it on, when you want it on. The same with the bubblers. With the Easytouch, you can program them to run on a schedule for a few minutes a day to keep the everything properly chlorinated or when you want to "show off" to your guests..

7. Relay Control. The EasyTouch 4 has four (really three) relays that can be used to control other things, such as, Booster pumps, Spa blowers, landscape lights, etc…. The EasyTouch 8 has eight (really 7) relays.

8. Built in Valve controls. The EasyTouch has the ability to control 4 valves. Two work for switching between the Pool and Spa modes, while two others can be programmed to do whatever you might want, like bubbler control. I would note that a lot of bubblers are controlled by manual valves that cannot be automated. You need to be sure to tell your PB that you want Jandy style valves for your bubbler control.

9. Heater Control. The EasyTouch can control your heater.. So, you can be inside and tell your PC what temperature you want the Spa to be and it will tell you when it is ready.

10. Solar System. The EasyTouch has a built-in solar controller.. It does however use one of the valve outputs to run…

11. ScreenLogic. ScreenLogic allows you to program the EasyTouch with various schedules. It lets you see most all of the inputs and output to the EasyTouch and lets you decide what you want on/off and in the case of your SWG, lets you adjust the % of output on the fly.

12. IntelliFlo Variable Speed pump... The EasyTouch can be programmed to adjust your pump’s speed. So when running just the pool, it can run slow, but when running your waterfall, it will automatically increase the speed to make your waterfall or other water features look exactly how you want them to look.

.....

Thanks for posting and let me know if you have any questions..

Jim R.
 

Scowman

Active member
Dec 11, 2016
26
cypress tx
Hi All!

First time pool owner and pool is being built right now, so I'm pretty excited! I've been thinking about automation for the pool. There's no spa or water features (pool is 30x16 with L shaped entry stairs with 2 swim jets). The PB is installing the following equipment into a cabana:

Pump: Pentair SuperFlo VS
Heater: Raypak 336K BTU
Lights: 2 x Globrite 12V LED
SWG: AquaRite
Badu Swim Jets x 2

PB said that automation is good if you have a pool/spa but not really necessary for a pool only. I'm having second thoughts and wondering what automation can do to help make my life easier (trying to maximize time to enjoy and reduce the maintenance!). The PB currently offers the Hayward Omnilogic, Pentair Intellitouch, Intelli Connect and Easy Touch System. I've read about all of these, but not sure if some are overkill if I don't have that much equipment to control and looking for some advice. I can only think of adding garden lights as it is right now. Cost-wise, price including installation in increasing order is the Easy Touch 4 (extra for Quick Touch II), Intelli Connect, Easy Touch 8 (extra for Wireless control panel), Omnilogic, then Intellitouch. The more I've been looking at it, the more I was thinking about the Easy Touch 4 with the ScreenLogic upgrade due to cost and ability to control with your smartphone, but am open to everyone's experience and expertise!

Thanks!
I just put a ScreenLogic interface on my EasyTouch. It interfaces with any smartphone which means I can control and program my pool from anywhere.

The biggest help is my pool filler. I don't have one of those float fillers so filling the pool while I'm away is a hassle. I had to get the neighbor to do it. I hooked a sprinkler valve directly to the EasyTouch board and now have on demand, and programmable pool fill controlled from anywhere, any time.

The other thing I like is I don't need to go out to turn my pump on. I don't need to be in range of some transceiver. I just need an internet connection on my phone (or my wife's phone, etc). I can also program the finer points of the EasyTouch from my computer. Things like thermostat calibration, custom naming valves, pump and cleaner schedules. The time also updates to my smartphone.

I also have a pump light that I can turn on from my phone. Makes going out to the pump at night a little less scary.

Pretty hard to beat all that for the cost.

One other thing. I have three 2.0hp swim jets and they too slow for freestyle swimming. About the only thing I don't out swim is the breast stroke or just kicking. Just sayin...
 

chiefwej

LifeTime Supporter
TFP Guide
Jun 12, 2011
3,518
Tucson
As a rule, pool automation systems are way too expensive for what they give you. They use out-of-date technology and because each manufacturer uses a proprietary system, they severely restrict your choice of equipment.

Just by using some basic off the shelf smart switches, that are currently available, I can now turn on or off my: spa pump, heater, pool light, spa light, barbecue lights, and/or patio lights. I can use voice commands with Alexa or remote control via my iPhone. Total cost - under $200.
 

notime2work

Silver Supporter
Jun 23, 2018
22
Tulsa OK
As a rule, pool automation systems are way too expensive for what they give you. They use out-of-date technology and because each manufacturer uses a proprietary system, they severely restrict your choice of equipment.

Just by using some basic off the shelf smart switches, that are currently available, I can now turn on or off my: spa pump, heater, pool light, spa light, barbecue lights, and/or patio lights. I can use voice commands with Alexa or remote control via my iPhone. Total cost - under $200.
We are discussing the automation with our PB and he thinks I'm crazy for wanting the system. Can you elaborate some more on this low cost solution you have with basic off the shelf smart switches, etc, and can it be done by someone like me that's not an electronics whiz?
 

rendx

Member
Aug 5, 2018
7
Toronto, Canada
Thanks for all the replies everyone! I didn't know that automation systems for pools were so kludgy.

@Jim, thanks for all of the information. I guess if I go the route of automation, I've got to re-visit all of the equipment. Problem is, mixing and matching is great for getting the best of what you want, and being stuck with one vendor doesn't sound like so much fun.

@Scowman, your pool filler idea sounds like a great idea. The swim jets are for the kids to mess around with. They're young and will eventually out-swim it, but I'm sure they'll have a blast.

@chiefwej, what smart switches did you use to do this? I don't know much about pool automation, but my home is automated with a SmartThings hub, Z-wave devices, as well as WIFI devices. If only it were as easy as extending my home automation to my pool, that'd be great!
 

Scowman

Active member
Dec 11, 2016
26
cypress tx
Here is a post listing the equipment I used and detailing the process of adding Alexa control.

Alexa pool control on a shoestring budget

If I was starting from scratch I might go that way. I started with an EasyTouch VER1 control board installed and a busted wireless unit. I went to the ScreenLogic as an alternative to upgrading the wireless to VER2 and buying a new unit.

I won't run an Alexa in my house. edit by Jim R.
Can everything be put on a timer and a schedule? Do you have egg timer capabilities? It would be cool if there was one software interface that could run all the smart switches and provide scheduling and egg timer capabilities but was not proprietary. That is the value add of the ScreenLogic system.

- - - Updated - - -

@Scowman, your pool filler idea sounds like a great idea. The swim jets are for the kids to mess around with. They're young and will eventually out-swim it, but I'm sure they'll have a blast.
My kids love the swim jets. They don't swim against them, but they do find all sorts of ways to play with them.
 

jsbaker

Member
Jun 10, 2018
8
Houston
+1 for the Easytouch. I researched the EasyTouch, Jandy system and the Prologic and Omnilogic.

We recently purchased a house with a 16 year old pool and all original equipment located in a storage shed in the corner of our yard. I replaced the 2HP 1 speed very loud pump with an intelliflo and installed an Easytouch 4 with the IC40 chlorine generator and screen logic 2 and installed a motion sensing led shoplight in the shed. Did all the install myself and have to say I would do it again if I had to. Once I got the pump and IC40 schedules worked out it's pretty much hands off. My pump turns on by itself at 12am at a low speed and runs at high speed two different times during the day for one hour each for skimming then goes back to low and shuts off at 8PM. Since we have screenlogic on our phones and ipads the only time we go to the equipment now is to check the filter pressure and see if the pump pot needs to be cleaned out. We can also control our waterfall pump, booster pump which is no longer used but hooked up just in case and pool light without ever going to the shed. All in I probably spent $3000 for the pump, easytouch w/ IC40 and all associated breakers and supplies.

Also if you haven't looked into them yet consider getting a Dolphin or Maytronics robotic cleaner. I found a 2 year old Nautilus Plus for $200 on craigslist and am amazed by the performance every time I run it which is two or three times a week.
 

jimmythegreek

TFP Expert
Bronze Supporter
In The Industry
Aug 10, 2017
2,942
Morris Cnty NJ
you could ditch the intelliflo and get a hayward VS like ecostar or similar and ditch the aquarite and get an aquaplus that comes with a T15 cell and you would have the automation you need for same money than the pump and SWG you have listed. I have this setup and it works great very easy to have it do what you want
 

chiefwej

LifeTime Supporter
TFP Guide
Jun 12, 2011
3,518
Tucson
FYI...Alexa is not required for the automation @ChiefWej posted. True control is achieved through phone and/or PC apps.
True, if you read through the process, the last step was to link the iPhone app with Alexa. If you just omit that step you still have control via the iPhone app. In the case of the equipment I used it is the “Smart Life” app, which even gives you their own voice control option on the phone, (although I would find it easier to just push the button).
 

rendx

Member
Aug 5, 2018
7
Toronto, Canada
Thanks for the replies everyone. Definitely informative.

@chiefwej thanks for the link. Will take a look at what you've put together.

@jimmythegreek I'll take a look at that. I'd have to talk to my PB about modifying all that equipment, and with about 2-3 weeks left of the build, not sure if I can get that all in. This PB likes the combination for reliability and this is the default equipment package. My question really is if the EasyTouch will work with my pool equipment (even if not ideal). From what I'm hearing, it's better to have all the same branded equipment?

@jsbaker that's the reason why I want the automation. To keep the amount of time spent working on the pool a minimum and maximize pool enjoyment time. I have a dedicated cleaner line being put in but now am wondering if I should just get one of those robotic ones you just put in the pool instead of one that is connected via pipe.
 
Last edited:

chiefwej

LifeTime Supporter
TFP Guide
Jun 12, 2011
3,518
Tucson
Robots do a much better job of cleaning and cost less to operate. They can even clean your pool while the pump is turned off. My pool has never been as clean (or as easy to clean). I have previously had a Polaris with a booster pump, an in-floor cleaning system, and a suction side pool cleaner, and none of them come even close to the Dolphin robot, I now have.
 

ajw22

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Jul 21, 2013
20,466
Northern NJ
I have a dedicated cleaner line being put in but now am wondering if I should just get one of those robotic ones you just put in the pool instead of one that is connected via pipe.
Even if you want to give the robot a try have the dedicated cleaner line installed and caped off to give you the option of going to a pressure cleaner. The cost for the additional PVC line is minimal.

Similarly, have a GFCI electrical outlet installed near the pool to plug in a robot cleaner. And figure out where you will store the robot when not in use.

Browse through the Pool Cleaners and sample the problems people deal with their robots.
 

Scowman

Active member
Dec 11, 2016
26
cypress tx
My question really is if the EasyTouch will work with my pool equipment (even if not ideal). From what I'm hearing, it's better to have all the same branded equipment?
The Easytouch control box is really just a fancy relay box. You should be able to hook any single speed pool motor up to it including the cleaner. Two speed motors I'm not so sure but seems to me there should be a fairly easy hack.

Any lights of the correct voltage should hook to the relays. I'm not sure about the fancy light systems but with the correct voltage you should be ok.

In addition to relays, the EasyTouch has day-of-week scheduling and egg timers that come in real handy.

You may need to use the Pentair pool/spa auto valves but, again, you could probably hack another brand in there.

Other than than those items and the ScreenLogic/wired or wireless remotes, I don't see any other Pentair parts requirements.
 

Jimrahbe

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Jul 7, 2014
19,493
Bedford, TX
The Easytouch control box is really just a fancy relay box. You should be able to hook any single speed pool motor up to it including the cleaner. Two speed motors I'm not so sure but seems to me there should be a fairly easy hack.

Any lights of the correct voltage should hook to the relays. I'm not sure about the fancy light systems but with the correct voltage you should be ok.

In addition to relays, the EasyTouch has day-of-week scheduling and egg timers that come in real handy.

You may need to use the Pentair pool/spa auto valves but, again, you could probably hack another brand in there.

Other than than those items and the ScreenLogic/wired or wireless remotes, I don't see any other Pentair parts requirements.

The EasyTouch can only control IntelliFlo style VS pumps. People that only have single speed pumps don't normally need an automation system... The ET can control two speed pumps using a special 2-speed relay or single speed pumps with the standard high voltage relays.

The ET can only control the IntelliChlor SWCGS such as the IC40.

Almost all valve actuators are the same and will work with any automation system.

The heater does not matter, the filter does not matter,

ScreenLogic only works with the EasyTouch or IntelliTouch automation systems.

Thanks,

Jim R.
 

Scowman

Active member
Dec 11, 2016
26
cypress tx
Not sure what all that means. The EasyTouch has (I think) 6 or 7 aux relays. Single speed pumps are just electric motors. They hook to relays of any kind unless they are two speeds. They run on 110 or 220v AC service.

But like I said any two speed pump should be able to be hacked for any two speed pump controller. It's just electricity and electrons are all the same. There are different voltages but that can be accounted for,

So again, not sure what you are saying can't be done by EasTouch outside of the Pentair line.

My point again about Easyouch is that it is a fancy relay board with add on features like scheduling, egg timing, and remote control via wireless or SceenLogic. You should be able to hook any base hardware to it and be fine with minimal (if any) mods.
 

bmoreswim

Mod Squad
Gold Supporter
Platinum Supporter
LifeTime Supporter
Jul 16, 2012
6,515
Central MD
I'll give a high level answer to your inquiry. I have a more simple pool than you. Rectangle with a SWCG and that's it. However, I like having automation for the following reasons.
  1. I have a basic automation system with a remote, so I can't use my phone which would be better, but...
  2. Changing timers on pump is super easy from inside.
  3. Changing setting for SWCG is super easy from inside.
  4. Changing timing of various lights on relays by the pool is super easy from inside.
  5. My pool is not close the house so being able to do things from inside is super nice.
  6. If I ever get a heater it will make controlling that from inside super easy.
  7. I could set the pool lights on a timer but I don't. I just turn them on manually. But the system will turn them off in X number of hours which is super nice.
  8. I can swith the pump from low to high or off from inside which is super nice.
  9. The panel area looks better than if we didn't have automation which is nice (not super nice I suppose).