Automation

Apr 12, 2018
6
0
Tampa FL
#1
Hi everyone,

I am just starting to look into adding some automation to the pool, especially to make it easy for the wife to operate the pool.

I want to go with an intellitouch, since I know that there are drivers for it for Control4, so I can integrate the pool into my home automation.

I have the following config right now:
- 3 way valve spa/pool intake
- on pool side after that separate valves for main drain/skimmer/cleaner after that
- 3 way valve for spa/pool return.
- on pool side after that separate valves for pool return/waterfall feature
- solar valves (one to turn on/off and one to isolate)
- two valves to bypass gas heater
- control for solar (pentair solartouch)
- control for aquarite salt chlorinator control
- low voltage light in spa (some pentair)
- low voltage light in pool

I am somewhat concerned that I need an extension kit for this setup, but i cant completely understand how i would wire that all anyway, so I wanted to see, if someone can answer my questions.

- can i control a 3 way valve for intake and return or would I use that as the spa valve(s) to move it to spa setting when I want to run that (but how would I run both)?
- the waterfall would be one of the feature
- would I control the solar just from the intellitouch (some aux relay) and sell the solartouch on ebay?
- since I have the aquarite, can I hook this into the panel or would I need a panel with the intellichlor transformator?
- how would I fit in the two valves that isolate the heater? I'd like to open those and start the heater if I select a custom "quick heat spa" or something
- base on what I can see, I need a screenlogic as soon as I want any wireless control over the system, even if it's just a wireless remote. is this correct? I'd need it probably anyway to be able to control it via control4, but wanted to make sure that I'm understanding it correctly
- I only need a load center when I don't have a subpanel at the pad, right?
- do I need pentair actuators ir can I go with others? pentair seems to be expensive (in general, the actuators are not cheap, if you would possibly need 8 or 9)

Thanks already for your efforts!
 
Last edited:

setsailsoon

LifeTime Supporter
Oct 25, 2015
552
0
Stuart/FL
#3
Hi everyone,

I am just starting to look into adding some automation to the pool, especially to make it easy for the wife to operate the pool.

I want to go with an intellitouch, since I know that there are drivers for it for Control4, so I can integrate the pool into my home automation.

I have the following config right now:
- 3 way valve spa/pool intake
- on pool side after that separate valves for main drain/skimmer/cleaner after that
- 3 way valve for spa/pool return.
- on pool side after that separate valves for pool return/waterfall feature
- solar valves (one to turn on/off and one to isolate)
- two valves to bypass gas heater
- control for solar (pentair solartouch)
- control for aquarite salt chlorinator control
- low voltage light in spa (some pentair)
- low voltage light in pool

I am somewhat concerned that I need an extension kit for this setup, but i cant completely understand how i would wire that all anyway, so I wanted to see, if someone can answer my questions.

- can i control a 3 way valve for intake and return or would I use that as the spa valve(s) to move it to spa setting when I want to run that (but how would I run both)?
- the waterfall would be one of the feature
- would I control the solar just from the intellitouch (some aux relay) and sell the solartouch on ebay?
- since I have the aquarite, can I hook this into the panel or would I need a panel with the intellichlor transformator?
- how would I fit in the two valves that isolate the heater? I'd like to open those and start the heater if I select a custom "quick heat spa" or something
- base on what I can see, I need a screenlogic as soon as I want any wireless control over the system, even if it's just a wireless remote. is this correct? I'd need it probably anyway to be able to control it via control4, but wanted to make sure that I'm understanding it correctly
- I only need a load center when I don't have a subpanel at the pad, right?
- do I need pentair actuators ir can I go with others? pentair seems to be expensive (in general, the actuators are not cheap, if you would possibly need 8 or 9)

Thanks already for your efforts!
PZ,

I have a Jandy iAqualink system I installed my self so it's very doable but requires working with 220v wiring. If you're not comfortable and experienced with this get some help. Here's my answers that should not be system brand specific:
  • You can control a standard pool with 4 actuators. This will switch between spillover mode, spa only modes, pool mode and your gas heater.
  • I used extra relay slots for my LED lights and the booster pump for my spa bubbler
  • I use a suction cleaner so I don't need another relay for the cleaner
  • In general, you'll need a relay for each additional function
  • With the system you describe I don't think you'll need that many actuators. 6 or 7 should do depending on how much flexibility you want with the water features.
  • Not sure what your question is for the load center. I believe code requires a sub-panel for this installation in most cases. I bought the large panel with space for 8 relay. My rs-12 controller can also support an add-on control for 4 more relays (way overkill!)
  • You can control solar heat with the automation system or leave it stand-alone. I chose the latter and use a separate control for that mounted next to my main control box.
  • Actuators are expensive and at least on my Jandy system they are interchangeable. I have several different brands. Generally they all work fine, the main difference is in the internal mechanism for aligning the valve at each stop point. Most require you remove the cover to do this so it's more difficult to do. There is one brand (I think it's Hayward) that allows you do adjust from the outside. It's the most expensive and after my playing around with two brands that don't, I'll switch them all to this brand as they fail. 4 years in and none have failed yet.
  • I can't stand the fact we have to become dependent on the manufacturer to operate their server reliably. Up 'till 2 weeks ago this didn't matter. But two weeks ago iAqualink had server "maintenance" issues. It has been down a total of 3 days or so... really infuriating! I chose not to install a separate wall panel inside so I need to traipse over to the pool control box and control in manual. If this only happens once every 4 years I'll stay with my current configuration. I did provide wires to a covered junction box inside the house to add a wall controller if it every was needed. I would do this if you don't already have a wall mounted controller.

I hope this helps.

Chris
 
Apr 12, 2018
6
0
Tampa FL
#4
Thanks Chris!

I've done an addition and did all the wiring as well as upgrade of service panel myself, so I dont mind playing with electricity. the occasional shock keeps my heart in check lol.

You are saying that I can run the normal pool with 4 actuators, but in my cases it would mean i would have to redo plumbing or wouldn't be able to get some of the additional options, so yes, as you said, more actuators, but have to see how many.

From what i have read, there is no way to run two actuators off the same relay, is that correct? or would i have to do something like relay to "splitter with booster" or something to get enough power in to make it work?

For instance, the switch from solar to gas heating would mean that I need to operate two valves at the gas heater, which would either take up 2 relays or something else?

But overall, it seems like i am on the right path and just have to figure out what i want to control how and then go for it lol

Peter
 

setsailsoon

LifeTime Supporter
Oct 25, 2015
552
0
Stuart/FL
#5
Thanks Chris!

I've done an addition and did all the wiring as well as upgrade of service panel myself, so I dont mind playing with electricity. the occasional shock keeps my heart in check lol.

You are saying that I can run the normal pool with 4 actuators, but in my cases it would mean i would have to redo plumbing or wouldn't be able to get some of the additional options, so yes, as you said, more actuators, but have to see how many.

From what i have read, there is no way to run two actuators off the same relay, is that correct? or would i have to do something like relay to "splitter with booster" or something to get enough power in to make it work?

For instance, the switch from solar to gas heating would mean that I need to operate two valves at the gas heater, which would either take up 2 relays or something else?

But overall, it seems like i am on the right path and just have to figure out what i want to control how and then go for it lol

Peter
Peter,


  • I didn't need to split actuators but I believe I looked into this and there's sufficient power if needed. You should have plenty of connections for valves that this isn't needed on the size system you will be installing. Note actuators do not need a relay, they plug in to the control board)
  • In my case there was a specific set of connectors for a gas heater and a solar heater. I'd bet all have this. You can look at your manual (download it from the manufacturer's sight).
  • I used the Hayward Goldline Solar Controller that came with the installation. It's completely independent other than it's powered from the same panel and it works great this way. I rarely change this as it diverts water to the solar heater when there is temp benefit to do this and it bypasses when it gets too cold (rain shower or evening). It also bypasses in summer when the pool gets too hot.
  • Also if you want a 2-speed pump there is a special relay for that. It takes up more room than the standard relay so you have to consider this in planning your box size.

I agree, looks like you're on the right track... just figure out what you want to control and my recommendation is to make sure you have capacity for a few extra relays plus valves. You never know what you'll want to do later on and it is very expensive to buy a larger capacity system in the future. I hope the panel diagram below is helpful. Relays in my system only turn on 120 or 220 power. All the valves actuators plug in directly to the board.

I hope this helps.

Chris


Jandy automation panel diagram.jpg
 

Dirk

TFP Guide
Gold Supporter
Nov 13, 2017
4,375
0
Central California
#6
I have solar and NG heaters. Not counting what you need for pool/spa, you only need one three way valve with an actuator and one check valve to make the heaters play nice. It's a very simple plumbing set up, which I suppose you can complicate for your own needs, but you don't have to.

The solar is taken in and out of the circuit with the three way and check valve. The NG heater is just always inline (and after the solar). The NG isn't bypassed out of the system. The "solar water" just runs through it. This allows both to be online at the same time, so that given a certain set of conditions, the two heaters can supplement each other. I don't know if they can be on at the same time, I've never tried that, but my interface indicates that the controller can determine the best source of heat for your thermostat setting, and deliver that on demand. Example: it's a warmish day and you want your SPA at 100°. If the solar panels can deliver that, the controller will switch to solar. If not, it'll fire up the NG heater. And will continue to do so as sun and weather conditions fluctuate.

And I can't imagine why you would control your solar with a stand alone panel if you have an Intellitouch. The Intellitouch unit along with ScreenLogic is flat out the better way to control your heating system(s), they are both specifically designed to do so, and you can do some cool things with both the solar and NG heaters from within the ScreenLogic interface. Like what I just described, or custom scheduling, monitoring while away, checking temps, firing up heat just before you get home, turning off solar all together, on the fly, if you determine there's no need for it that day, etc. ScreenLogic even provides graphs of when either heater was running during the day, week, month. I use that feature all the time.

I'm sure there are many ways to make this all work, but this is how my system was done and it's great!
 

setsailsoon

LifeTime Supporter
Oct 25, 2015
552
0
Stuart/FL
#7
Dirk,

Looks like my NG heater is the same as yours, "always on".

PS, even though I've had a couple of recent server outages with my iAqualink, I love automation!

Chris
 

Dan-H

LifeTime Supporter
May 29, 2011
118
0
No. CA
#8
I'm not sure I entirely understand how many valves and actuators you have or need or will need, but here is what I run on my easytouch 8

I have an easytouch 8 and it runs the following actuators:
1/2 Pool/Spa three way valves.
3 PoolCleaner Valve
4 Water Feature Valve
5 Solar Valve
ET8 also runs a pool light, a spa light and the spa blower.

The actuators used are a mix. Two 1999 vintage Jandy actuators, some 2013 pentair, and two Intermatic that replaced pentair actuators that failed.

There was one additional relay added, but I don't recall the details. I can open it up and look if needed.

I do not have a heater bypass vavle, but I think that could be done with one valve / one actuator.

I haven't kept current on the intellitouch, but the ET8 was the right size for my needs, and a bit less money.

edit: and it has the Pentair SWG, and one relay position is open for expansion.


Hope this info helps.
 
Apr 12, 2018
6
0
Tampa FL
#9
Thanks everyone.

you are right, I dont need to really isolate the heater, just figured, I can, so I would. but not always is "because I can" the right answer.

So, basically, I would still have to figure out, if I can control the aquarite cell with the swg stuff in the intellitouch. then I probably would replace the solar touch and aquarite controllers with the intellitouch and sell both on ebay.

i guess, when i look at it, it comes down to having
- 3 way for pool/spa intake
- 3 way for pool/spa return
- water feature
- solar
- skimmer
- cleaner

so, question here would be - would I have the skimmer on a separate actuator or would that just always be open? since I'd want to be able to isolate the spa, I'd think I would have to have it controlled separately.

and with the cleaner- I dont know what I am going to do for pool cleaning, but probably want to control that also separetely.

now to the lights, they are low voltage spa lights, I'd assume the same for the pools but never had to look yet (just moved into the house recently). I am assuming that I can control those from there as well - anything special or do they just "plug in"

thank you

guys
 
Apr 12, 2018
6
0
Tampa FL
#10
was just looking at the intellitouch diagrams and it seems that it only has 2 additional actuator connectors (valve a and b). so, its intake and return and solar and water feature. do I need the expansion module for the remaining two?

just wondering, because I have the aux relays, but those would be to turn on a pump or something else like that, no.
 

Dirk

TFP Guide
Gold Supporter
Nov 13, 2017
4,375
0
Central California
#11
No spa here, and no Intellitouch, sorry, can't help with those. My skimmer and vacuum port plumb back to one three-way on the pad, then that connects to the pump. That three-way balances the flow through the vacuum and the skimmer. But I couldn't get good performance out of either when they were both sharing the pump, so I added an actuator that toggles 100% flow through the skimmer for filter mode, and then 100% flow through the vacuum port for cleaner mode. If that's how you plumb your pool, then I think you then branch the spa off of the pool side of that arrangement with another three-way/actuator, but like I said, that's beyond my know-how.

You don't actually have to plan for, add and control the actuator for the cleaner until you determine you'll need that functionality, though. If you use a Robot cleaner, those can be run completely independent of your pool filter and automation systems. But I also thought I read here that it's possible to wire the Robot's transformer to automation so you can turn it on and off that way (but I don't have any direct experience with that myself, so not sure that's a real thing, but rather something for you to look into if you're considering a Robot).

One reason to consider isolating the heater, is that some of them impact the flow of the entire circuit quite a bit just by being there, on or off. Someone here estimated by 30% for my setup. So being able to bypass that, just as you would a solar system, might be a positive thing.

My Pentair LED light connects to my ET, and the ET knows how to "turn it on and off a bunch of times" to get to that light's various colors and scenes. That's all built-in to my ET and ScreenLogic.

Sorry, mostly just gave you more questions than answers... but now's the time to ask 'em...
 
Apr 12, 2018
6
0
Tampa FL
#12
I guess the flow rate impact might be a consideration. That's definitely a consideration with the solar for me, so should be for the heater I guess.

Not sure what the impact is. if I would get an expansion kit for the intellitouch (if I'd need one for the cleaner vs skimmer separately), I'd also have enough actuator controls for the heater.

The issue with all the pool plumbing is basically that it's all there already, so unless I want to replumb some of the system, I am trying to deal with what I have. But it could make sense to add a 3 way valve and ve able to switch between skimmer and cleaner and then leave the two valves in there (turn on/off each separately) off the automation.

One thing that I might have to change anyway is that the swg is after solar, but before gas heater. and technically, you shouldn't have any equipment after the chlorinator anymore, since it could destroy your equipment (have I heard at least).

might also want to replace a couple of 90 degree bends with 45 and some other routing si that on getting a better flow or rather less restrictions
 

Dirk

TFP Guide
Gold Supporter
Nov 13, 2017
4,375
0
Central California
#13

setsailsoon

LifeTime Supporter
Oct 25, 2015
552
0
Stuart/FL
#14
Thanks everyone.

you are right, I dont need to really isolate the heater, just figured, I can, so I would. but not always is "because I can" the right answer.

So, basically, I would still have to figure out, if I can control the aquarite cell with the swg stuff in the intellitouch. then I probably would replace the solar touch and aquarite controllers with the intellitouch and sell both on ebay.

i guess, when i look at it, it comes down to having
- 3 way for pool/spa intake
- 3 way for pool/spa return
- water feature
- solar
- skimmer
- cleaner

so, question here would be - would I have the skimmer on a separate actuator or would that just always be open? since I'd want to be able to isolate the spa, I'd think I would have to have it controlled separately.

and with the cleaner- I dont know what I am going to do for pool cleaning, but probably want to control that also separetely.

now to the lights, they are low voltage spa lights, I'd assume the same for the pools but never had to look yet (just moved into the house recently). I am assuming that I can control those from there as well - anything special or do they just "plug in"

thank you

guys
Peter,

You switch between pool and spa mode with 3-way valves. On the pool suction side I have a separate set of manual valves that control the split between skimmer/suction and the bottom.

For my cleaner I use a suction cleaner and I set the manual suction valves so there is sufficient to just let the cleaner climb about half way up the wall. So the cleaner is on anytime the pump runs and is not in spa mode. Spa mode automatically switches all the suction and discharge to the spa.

My lights are connected to a small box below the main box that has a transformer inside. I switch power to the transformer to turn them on and off. My controller allows me to select color. Using Jandy lights and Jandy automation helped here. The color changes occur by switching the power on and off in a certain sequence. The pool control does this automatically.

I hope this helps.

Chris
 

Dirk

TFP Guide
Gold Supporter
Nov 13, 2017
4,375
0
Central California
#15
For my cleaner I use a suction cleaner and I set the manual suction valves so there is sufficient to just let the cleaner climb about half way up the wall. So the cleaner is on anytime the pump runs and is not in spa mode. Spa mode automatically switches all the suction and discharge to the spa.
I wasn't going to broach this yet, but might as well. There is a potential danger to swimmers when there is a suction port in your pool, and even more so when it is active (entrapment and worse). According to national safety codes, which might apply in your area, there is supposed to be a flap over the port that engages automatically whenever the hose isn't present. And if you have humans in a pool with a suction vac, that hose can get knocked out of its port quite easily. As long as the flap is working (an "if") then all's well. Kinda. It's very easy for an inquisitive set of little hands to hold the flap and remove the hose. And that's a much scarier "if." The risk is somewhat mitigated if the suction is split between port and skimmer, as setsailsoon is doing. With my "all or nothing" setup, the risk is much higher. The other part of the code states the port must be valved and the valve shall be off when not cleaning. Technically, setsailsoon is constantly cleaning, so he's not violating the code with his setup per se, but, IMO, he's on the edge of the spirit of the code, which I interpret as, don't have the suction port active when not necessary.

So for my system, and peace of mind, I "actuated" the port's valve so that it shuts the suction down to zero when I'm not vacuuming, and I schedule vacuuming for 4:30am when none of my kids would ever be in the pool. That plus the safety flap, are three layers of protection for my family.

So when you set up your system, or reconfigure it, it's not just flow and energy efficiency to keep in mind, but safety, too...
 

setsailsoon

LifeTime Supporter
Oct 25, 2015
552
0
Stuart/FL
#16
I wasn't going to broach this yet, but might as well. There is a potential danger to swimmers when there is a suction port in your pool, and even more so when it is active (entrapment and worse). According to national safety codes, which might apply in your area, there is supposed to be a flap over the port that engages automatically whenever the hose isn't present. And if you have humans in a pool with a suction vac, that hose can get knocked out of its port quite easily. As long as the flap is working (an "if") then all's well. Kinda. It's very easy for an inquisitive set of little hands to hold the flap and remove the hose. And that's a much scarier "if." The risk is somewhat mitigated if the suction is split between port and skimmer, as setsailsoon is doing. With my "all or nothing" setup, the risk is much higher. The other part of the code states the port must be valved and the valve shall be off when not cleaning. Technically, setsailsoon is constantly cleaning, so he's not violating the code with his setup per se, but, IMO, he's on the edge of the spirit of the code, which I interpret as, don't have the suction port active when not necessary.

So for my system, and peace of mind, I "actuated" the port's valve so that it shuts the suction down to zero when I'm not vacuuming, and I schedule vacuuming for 4:30am when none of my kids would ever be in the pool. That plus the safety flap, are three layers of protection for my family.

So when you set up your system, or reconfigure it, it's not just flow and energy efficiency to keep in mind, but safety, too...
Dirk,

I don't think this is a can of worms at all. Pool safety is critical especially if kids are involved and I appreciate you raising this topic. I agree there is a risk if small hands somehow open the flap or it fails. In my case the suction flap spring is very strong, I can barely open it myself as it has a catch in addition to the spring that makes it almost impossible to open. But if "little fingers" found a way the risk is there. I would contend there is much more other risk for letting kids play unattended which would have to happen if they get to do this. That said, your solution to add an independent level of protection is significantly better. We're retired and never have kids in the pool unless we're in also watching them carefully, parents may not really be able to do this 100% of the time. I eliminate the hose issue by coiling it up on the pavers before we swim and I remove the hose plus close the flap; in our size pool I really need to do this even to have room when it's just the wife and me.

Thanks for your commitment to safety... I applaud it!

Chris
 

Dirk

TFP Guide
Gold Supporter
Nov 13, 2017
4,375
0
Central California
#17
Sounds like you have a good solution for the safety of your suction port. Removing the hose and making sure the flap is closed is ideal. It would be pretty tough for a kid to get that flap open, agree. I think the danger is running the port while kids are in the pool. As I described, holding the flap open, and pulling the hose out is not that difficult at all, though someone (a kid) would have to know to do that. And there's the rub, all it takes is for them to catch you doing it once, then it's in their little pea brain.

My suction port's valve is closed when anyone is in the pool. But anyone could turn it on with the flick of a switch or a push of a button. So my system is not fail-safe. I think what I have to do this season, is set the actuated three-way valve to somewhere less than 100% for cleaner, so some suction is always being shared between vacuum and skimmer. That way, if all my other safety layers failed, all at once, and someone was to get caught in or sucked to the suction port, the suction would be relieved through the skimmer. This is in essence how two drains are safer than one. Not so much that the suction is divided in half, but that the suction "has somewhere else to go" should one drain get blocked (like by a person). I think the same principle applies if suction to the cleaner port is shared, even by less than 50/50, with some other intake (and I only have one other, the skimmer).

I've stated this many times here, in different ways, the safest pool is one with zero suction ports. You have to have one, obviously, so that one under the skimmer basket is the second safest pool. You ratchet down the "safeness" with every other port you add... You ratchet it back up with layers of protections, as best you can...
 
Apr 12, 2018
6
0
Tampa FL
#18
This thread took an interesting turn and I'm glad about it. Pool safety is definitely not talked about often enough. And I'm always glad to learn something about it.

Overall, it seems to confirm to me that I wasn't completely wrong with my thought process, I just need to fine tune it and see what I can do to make it less expensive and how far I want to go with the automation vs cost effectiveness.

but I'll definitely remember to program cleaner off when pool on
 

Dirk

TFP Guide
Gold Supporter
Nov 13, 2017
4,375
0
Central California
#19
Well, more like a curve than a turn! I was pointing out, in a very round-about way, that automation and valves and actuators can be used to make a pool both more dangerous or more safe. And that you might want to plan your automation strategy, and wish list, accordingly. Full circle! I had a pool guy automate my cleaner, as I described. I didn't realize until later that he plumbed in this somewhat obscure danger, complete with a handy button! He should have known better, but lickity split he assembled common components into a little, hidden bomb. So it's always good to talk through this stuff, just as you are doing...