Cost-effective automation for older pools


LifeTime Supporter
Jun 26, 2007
SF Bay Area

This is my first post on TFP, but like most of you, I've done a lot of lurking here and over on pool forum. I have been doing research on how to automate my pool without spending a fortune.

A little background:
We have had our vintage 1983 in-ground pool now for about one year. It is free-form with about 24,000 gallons with an attached 350 gallon spa. The pool is around 3.5 ft on the shallow end and 7 feet on the deep end. We have an original Lars natural gas heater that is only used to heat the spa. The previous owner replaced the filter about 7 years ago with a massive four-cartridge Hayward filter that we only have to clean about once per year. The pool and spa share a 2 hp Leslie/Hayward filter pump (probably oversized). There is a 3/4 HP booster pump for an older Polaris cleaner. There is also a solar system on a second floor roof. We have no water features yet. There is one light for the pool and one light for the spa.

The system seems to work fairly well (except for typical operating pressure of 26 psi without the solar system and low 30's psi with the solar system running :shock: ).

The only thing that I'm not happy with is when we are enjoying the spa, and I have to trudge over to the equipment pad and adjust the temperature or turn off the spa jets (very primitive in that air is merely introduced into the spa returns). So I've been looking at the various automation offerings out there. I have no interest in remote access via the internet, nor am I interested in calling up by phone to turn the spa on while I'm still driving home from work (spa heats up very fast). All I want to be able to do is go from pool mode to spa mode and back again, adjust the spa temperature, and turn off the spa jets periodically. Also controlling the pool and spa light would be good. Even better would be to melt the existing solar controller with Jandy 3-way valve/actuator into the new control scheme. And not least, I wanted a wireless remote that I could take from the spa to the house and back again.

Also, my existing sub-panel (Intermatic consisting of 2 mechanical timers) is in very bad shape and needs replacing anyway.

The minimum cost I have been looking at has been around $900 to $1200 to accomplish this task with one of the lower cost systems that still had remote. The systems that have made the short list were:

1. Jandy Aqualink PS4 along with the Jandy Aqualink PDA wireless (about $1050 including power sub panel)
2. Same as above except being PS6 (about $1250)
3. Pentair Intellitouch
4. Hayward Aqualogic PS-4 with 2 valve actuators and a floating wireless spa remote (about $1100)
5. Intermatic PE45343RC, which includes 5 circuits (3 timed, 2 on demand), and 2 valve actuators (about $1000)

Normally, I am not a fan of Leslie's Pool, but I checked their website anyway for pool controllers and found it astonishing bare of pool control. In fact, the only hit at Leslie's was this one. ... word=81320

Now the least expensive Hayward Aqualogic PS-4 that I had run across on the internet (at was $610, and here Leslie's had what appears to be the same thing for $510 (normally $600). The Aqualogic PS-4 doesn't come with any actuators or remote devices, at least according to the Hayward website and the various internet pool stores.

Here is where it gets interesting. When this rung up at Leslie's this afternoon, my receipt shows a ton of other catalog numbers that appear to be coming along with the PS-4
1. 2 valve actuators
2. wireless remotes

So it appears that I am going to have my old pool ready for automation for only $510 worth of parts. Actually, that is not quite true since my two spa/pool diverter valves are old 3-way Ortega Valves, and I had to for over another $110 total for two adapters so the valve actuators would work with the Ortega Valves. I intend to install this system myself.

The picture in the Leslie's link above shows the Aqualogic with the letters "HPC" in the upper right corner of the Aqualogic panel. I was fearful that this was an obsolete or old version of the Aqualogic that Leslie's was trying to peddle, so I called Hayward directly and they claimed that the "HPC" version that Leslie's sells is really a PS-4 that is just labeled special for Leslie's. In fact, Leslie's actually calls this a PS-4 in their link above.

The local Leslie's did not have this in stock. In fact, no Leslie's in the entire nation has this in stock, and the Hayward Aqualogic will be drop-shipped to me from Hayward. I should have the entire package by next week some time, so I won't truly know until then whether this apparent good deal actually turns out to be a good deal. I have no idea how long this sale on the Aqualogic PS-4 at Leslie's is supposed to last.

I hope this helps. Any comments on anything that I might have missed?