Complete pool chemical automation mfg's

4JawChuck

Well-known member
Jun 13, 2010
223
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
Hi Everyone,

I recently purchased a home with a pool and have been reading with interest on the maintenance of water quality with the BBB method, I work in the pharmaceutical/medical sector and maintain pure water systems as well as the monitoring equipment. You can bet I am maintaining my pool using the "common sense" BBB method.

As you can imagine much of the processes I deal with everyday are completely automated requiring only periodic calibration of sensors and injection equipment to maintain functionality and accuracy. The best part is I have access to equipment that is used or "written off" and have free rein to dispose of these items at my own discretion. I am considering utilizing this free resource to construct a completely automated chlorine, acid, CYA, TDS and Base monitor/chemical injection system complete with alarms and sensors to let me know when things go awry.

The heart of this theoretical system would entail a Thornton controller and associated sensors feeding an Allen Bradley microprocessor with a custom program that would completely automate the peristalic injection of chemicals and measurement of water quality with a remote display and alarm close to the pool...likely in my sunroom.

Due to the cost of these expensive pharmaceutical quality measuring instruments and PLC controllers+injection equipment it is unlikely the average consumer would be able to afford such a system, it just so happens that I get this stuff for free when equipment is decommisioned or scrapped. Just for reference the total cost for just the controller and PLC controller and associated sensors would be over $15 000, then a custom PLC program would have to be created to do the treating. Since I maintain this equipment for a living, the creation of a custom system would be a fun project for me. If I didn't have to do anything to the pool other than keep jugs full and PM the pumps plus yearly calibrations etc. I would be very happy. Who knows maybe there is a high end in the pool maintenance spectrum and it might become a sideline job mfg a custom system if there is a demand.

Having these flush mounted in the wall would be cool (these are the exact controller and PLC display I have at my disposal;



At this point I want to do this just for me, so my questions are;

-Are there complete automation solutions available in the marketplace that perform this kind of water quality maintenance besides large industrial pools or city water treatment plants for a reasonable cost? I would consider under $5K reasonable, there would be no point in recreating the wheel in my eyes...I would just buy a complete off the shelf system instead of wasting my time. There is nothing in my area available that comes close to what I am describing, my pool product supplier went blank when I asked these questions.

-Has anyone on the forum created a pharmaceutical grade monitoring system that does all injection and monitoring remotely with off the shelf parts? Details of your system and how it does monitoring would be great, I have read some posts with DIY constructed systems but most seem to rely of periodic manual testing to maintain the system within parameters.

-Part of my job is maintaining 0.2 micron filtration systems and most of these systems utilize large filters fed by pure water distilate, as you can imagine they don't do much but prevent a catastrophe in case of system malfunction and are usually in perfect condition when they are changed out. This is of course leaves me with a steady supply of fine filtration filters in nearly new shape going straight to the trash bin, it would be nice to use them to get rid of the existing sand filter and deliver "clean" water using a system of 30um/10um/5um/1um/0.2um filter stages. This would of course reduce the TDS next to zero depending on usage and weather effects and pump run time, are there any deleterious effects to cleaning the water too much? Can chlorine levels be reduced to below minimums when the water is that clean and recirc'ed constantly? Not much in the literature on ultra fine filtration of pool waters and its effect.

Thanks in advance.
 

4JawChuck

Well-known member
Jun 13, 2010
223
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
Thanks Geekgranny, the pool is always open for refreshments and you would be welcome to visit! I live a bit North from you, we consider warm weather anything above 70C so you might want to bring some wool bathing trunks LOL! Considering I have been saving used good condition parts for the last three years I don't have an assortment of spares to select from...but they do come up from time to time as equipment gets replaced. Stainless steel and sanitary fittings I have coming out the yin yang however, so much that I end up sending most to the recycler because I have no room for a scrap yard in my garage.

Just did some reading in the other forums and realized I may have posted this in the wrong forum, please move at your discretion mods. Seems like most automated systems rely on a SWG schedule due to the simplicity of sensing etc. I am not interested in these systems simply because I want to create an automated BBB system using commonly available chemicals.
 

Cookie Monster

New member
Jun 4, 2009
4
Take a look at:

CHEMTROL®
A Division of Santa Barbara Control Systems

http://www.sbcontrol.com/

They start about 5k and you can spend
all the way up to painful.

You can even get it to backwash your filter.

I have the 2k version and use SWG vs a Bleach pump,
but the relays offer NO or NC so you can do just about
any configuration you choose.

I have been very happy with the product and the support,
although dialing in ORP is still proving difficult.

Good Luck
Brian
 

JasonLion

TFP Expert
Platinum Supporter
LifeTime Supporter
May 7, 2007
37,880
Silver Spring, MD
PH automation is readily available. For everything else there are problems getting suitable sensors. ORP sensors aren't too difficult to get, but they have only a lose relationship with the FC level. True FC sensors are available, but they start around $2000 for the sensor alone.

For the rest, TA, CH, CYA, sensors are simply not available at anything like reasonable prices. There isn't usually much point in automating these levels anyway because they don't change very quickly.
 

Aquaman95

Well-known member
Feb 20, 2008
249
There are many systems commercially available for well under 5k. They typically control pH and ORP, possibly pool flow, filter pressure, temp, etc. FC is also becoming more common but the good sensors are expensive as Jason said. CH and TA can be done with ion specific electrodes but not reliably and I'm not aware of an electrode for CYA. Conductivity can be measure to approximate TDS but it's not really needed and turbidity can be measured using a nephelometer...again not really needed and expensive.

Check out Chemtrol, CAT/Hayward, Stranco/Siemens, Aquasol, and Acu-trol/Pentair for those that have a long history in the industry.
 

4JawChuck

Well-known member
Jun 13, 2010
223
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
Thanks folks,

Did some research on the Chemtrol website and found they have an inexpensive PPM sensor which in combination with a ORP sensor should do me for the FC and CC measurements using an extrapolation algorithim.

Heres the link if your interested;
http://www.sbcontrol.com/ppmsensors.htm

Looks like CYA is a no-go as mentioned, guess as long as I don't program in automated draining and refill that would be OK. Not like those levels change that drastically, have to check with the mfg of the 0.2um filters to see if they are compatible with CYA anyway.
 

jslenney

In The Industry
Jul 17, 2010
1
The easiest way to take care of your pool is to just put a chlorine generator on it and then just check your pH every now and then. I make chlorine generators for spas which won't help you but I do have a Goldline chlorine generator on my pool and it has been so easy for 6 years with a pool surounded by Oak trees.

Not sure what the BBB method is but adding chemical automation to a residential pool it out of the price range with all the mentioned companies. I sold one of them, Acu-Trol to Pentair in 2006 and as Acu-Trol grew, the price of the units went up, and none of them are off the shelf. I am developing a residential controller to continue on the work done at Acu-Trol and if you would like to discuss further please let me know. I have our beta unit on my pool and spa and soon the data from it will be on-line. So far we are having trouble with the free chlorine sensor if there is CYA but the ORP sensors are working well with the chlorine generators. The target cost is under $1000 for a basic pH/ORP/Temperature with WIFI.
 

SteveH

Member
Apr 13, 2010
20
wow, thats some pretty expensive kit. Looks very interesting though and gives me lots of idea's. The management of something as strait forward as pool water sure does come at a high cost. Is there such a thing as an open pool controller idea? It seems the typical cost of a pleb grade pool management system starts around 5k plus and comes with dandy over complicated graphics and handheld style PDA's!.

Steve
 

JasonLion

TFP Expert
Platinum Supporter
LifeTime Supporter
May 7, 2007
37,880
Silver Spring, MD
The swimming pool automation market is almost entirely for systems sold to large commercial pools where the primary criteria is long term reliability, which costs money. There are some much more affordable systems sold for use with aquariums, but they are not designed to be installed outdoors and aren't really a great fit for swimming pool automation.
 

SteveH

Member
Apr 13, 2010
20
Im at the stage in my rebuild to put a controller onto the pool. Something to take care of pump times, solar vac, water feature filter etc, but they all seem very expensive. The aquarium controllers dont handle the jandy valves. Jandy have some great gear, but as you say, it seems to be for pool a lot larger than mine and comes with another hand held control device - i like the idea of wireless control, but not that complicated or expensive. With all the common PLC and FPGA boards, I was hoping someone had designed their own that I could download.
 

4JawChuck

Well-known member
Jun 13, 2010
223
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
jslenney said:
The easiest way to take care of your pool is to just put a chlorine generator on it and then just check your pH every now and then. I make chlorine generators for spas which won't help you but I do have a Goldline chlorine generator on my pool and it has been so easy for 6 years with a pool surounded by Oak trees.

Not sure what the BBB method is but adding chemical automation to a residential pool it out of the price range with all the mentioned companies. I sold one of them, Acu-Trol to Pentair in 2006 and as Acu-Trol grew, the price of the units went up, and none of them are off the shelf. I am developing a residential controller to continue on the work done at Acu-Trol and if you would like to discuss further please let me know. I have our beta unit on my pool and spa and soon the data from it will be on-line. So far we are having trouble with the free chlorine sensor if there is CYA but the ORP sensors are working well with the chlorine generators. The target cost is under $1000 for a basic pH/ORP/Temperature with WIFI.
I've also found the sensors aren't compatible with the CYA from contacts I have within the industry, the idea seems like a no-go with current sensor technology unless you were willing to do research on using spectral analysis to determine chem levels (talk about expensive!)...not to mention writing the software and algorithms to make sense of what is happening and come up with various "doomsday" scenarios which might upset the math. I can see why SWG is so attractive, simple easy maintenance that makes constant monitoring a moot point since it treats the water as its flowing through the plumbing.

I may still use my controller to perform simple PH monitoring and hook it up to the PC just to try different sensors and use it to control chlorine, PH-up, PH down, Alk-up, Alk-down, injections. I'm still interested in the project just a little more realistic on my expectations of what it can control with a CYA stabilized pool.
 

Aquaman95

Well-known member
Feb 20, 2008
249
dschlic1 said:
this link shows a chlorine probe for under $600. I do not know if it is affected by CYA.

That's an ion selective electrode that requires reagent use in addition to the sensing/reference electrode. It is not well suited for pool use, particularly automated pool use.

There are plenty of chlorine cells/electrodes that CYA doesn't interfere with but none are inexpensive, low maintenance, or well suited for residential pool automation. Commercial pool use is even quite questionable in my experience.
 

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