DIY Pentair pool automation article

dradam

LifeTime Supporter
Mar 10, 2013
211
Maryland
Pool Size
19000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-60
I recently wrote an article on my experience installing a Pentair automation system on my own. I hope the article will be of help to others considering the same project.

Jason has posted the article here: http://www.troublefreepool.com/downloads/DIYautomationInstall.pdf
Please contact me if you have any questions or corrections.

It was a great DIY project.

Thanks and good luck
 

Europino

Member
Nov 26, 2013
10
Philippines
dradam said:
I recently wrote an article on my experience installing a Pentair automation system on my own. I hope the article will be of help to others considering the same project.

I am new here and found your interesting article. For a quite different reason I was looking for a similar solution as you described.

My reason is that I have an Ecosmarte sanitizing system, but after 1+ year I got algae again and again and many insects in the water every day. Having read this week several posts on this forum, I am convinced that my system is not doing what they pretend. In addition I am starting to do some landscaping around the pool and want to add a small pool for the little children. So enough reasons to change the system and add some more automation.

I was already convinced that I should go for a salt/chlor generator and I want to have it automated as much as possible, as I am sick of all the measuring I did and the problems I had/have with measuring the pH and other color based measuring, I really don't see the difference in color e.g. between pH 7.2-7.8.

As I have a Pentair IntelliFlo pump and very happy with it since the beginning, and knowing that Pentair has many solution for measuring, dosing and integration/automation, I decided already that my solution would be Pentair.

However, the website of Pentair is not very well supporting you if you want a guide for finding your personal solution, but it has at least all the product information you need to do it yourself. I was reading the differences between the EasyTouch and IntelliTouch, the IntelliPH and IntelliChem, etc. Here comes in your article. I know now which components I need and I only have to read the product specs for my detailed design and implementation.

My design/solution is 99% the same as yours, so thanks a lot. I am a DIY man like yourself, plumbing, electric, electronic, computer, communication, etc. I designed and built my own house and swimming pool.

Given the prices of the components and availability here in the Philippines, I am planning to start with the EasyTouch/IntelliChlor and will do the IntelliChem later.

Still a few questions.
Q1: Is there a temperature sensor in one of the components and can you read out the value on your screenlogic?
Q2: Is the EasyTouch brain fully controlling the VF pump, can you program and read the pump parameters via your screenlogic?
Q3: Is there somehow an alarm function with e.g. email if a certain parameter is out of range?

I am sure that when I start the detailed design & implementation there will be some more questions, it would be helpful if you are willing to answer them.

Thanks a lot again.
 

dradam

LifeTime Supporter
Mar 10, 2013
211
Maryland
Pool Size
19000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-60
HI, I'm glad you enjoyed the article
Yes, the easytouch has a temp sensor that clamps into your plumbing.You can read pool temp and air temp on screen logic. there is an air temp sensor too. you can use the easy touch to turn your heater on and off from the screen logic interface.

yes, easy touch takes over the VF pump and disables its internal programing. You can set rum tine, GPM and see rpm from the screen logic. you can program run times for the pump through screen logic.

yes, you can set up to get an e-mail alert when your parameters are out of range. you can also monitor your system on smart phones or tablets.

Starting with intellichlor is simpler. you will have to keep an eye on your Ph. Intellichem is fun, but finicky. BBB is cheapest but most hands on.

Will try to help if I can.

Best wishes.
 

dradam

LifeTime Supporter
Mar 10, 2013
211
Maryland
Pool Size
19000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-60
Pentair automation one year later.

Just a follow up here after a second season with my full automation.

First season was rough because of the lightning strike, but this season was pretty much perfect.
I only added chemicals manually at start up in April-bleach,muriatic acid, borax and salt. Shocked with bleach once this season after my daughter had 50 friends in the pool at once during a party.
Mid july orp reading did not make sense but this was fixed easily with a toothbrush cleaning of the probe.

some comments-

ph readings have been stable and reliable.
orp seems more variable and finnicky and reading IMO seems to lag a bit behind actual FC level. I ran between 1- 3 ppm
ran with cya at about 35-- seemed best to me.
ran pumps mainly at 15 gpm 250 watts all season. Occasionally I had to increase flow manually if swcg read low flow. That was usually my backwash signal.
Backwash bar in screenlogic never correlated for me.
No problems with wifi connection to house-- no lightning problems this year but had to replace my heater.


for Pentair:

Find a better way to monitor FC.
add usb or wifi ability to upgrade firmware .
How do you calibrate the backwash bar ?

This was my best season yet. Lowest energy consumption, minimal chemical usage-- only bought cya, salt from a dealer-- BBB from local stores. No algea
 

dradam

LifeTime Supporter
Mar 10, 2013
211
Maryland
Pool Size
19000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-60
Pentair automation third year:

First season lightning strike messed up the system
second season probes were punky mid season but got better with a simple cleaning

Today is September 29, 2015 and I opened my pool mid April. So about a six month season here in the Northeast. I usually close it when the water is cooler in late october.

Best season yet.....
No repairs-- just set up and went.

Added salt on opening, added borax ( just a box) and a touch of cya ( I like it very low as it seems to affect orp readings) . Replaced acid pump head as recommended yearly.
All intellichem readings were consistent with testing kit and test strips.

No problems or major variations this year-- added clorox once or twice with a heavy bather load only.

Some thoughts about stability of the system this year:

I keep my pump on 24/7 at 15 GPM. It works out to about a daily turnover. Energy consumption is very low at this level and I think constant circulation helps the intellichem be more accurate. I turn on my polaris through screenlogic when needed-- usually before guests.

I think the probe readings are temperature sensitive-- I kept the pool heat at 86-- easy to do as it was a warm summer.( I call that Daddy Temperature)

I am very careful with my probes in winter and store them in a ph/orp solution I have purchased off amazon.

I keep a low level of borates ( almost undetectable on test strips) in the water ( 20 mule team borax) I like the way it makes the water feel, but I also think it has helped to stabilize my PH beyond the TA. It also counters some of the ph rise if I add cya.

I keep low level <40 OF CYA cya in the pool-- my pool is covered mainly so the intellichlor keeps up well. Too much cya messes with orp readings. I feel as though a small amount is almost like a chlorine buffer- so if my orp drops on a sunny day and the intellichlor can't keep up some free chlorine may be released by the cya.

I made the acid concentration a bit stronger this year 1 gal muriatic + 2 gallons water. This corrects ph changes more quickly. when ph drops the system is set to add 15 oz with a 1 hour mixing time. My set point is 7.4. I may increase the concentration to 1:2 next year to make a full tank go farther. I may adjust the volume too.

My orp is set at 640 and FC has run about 3-5 all summer. Of course you will have to set orp for your own pool as it may be different.

I upgraded the Screenlogic software in the beginning of the season. It has given me no trouble at all this year and a few bugs were definitely fixed by pentair. I connect to easy touch wirelessly.


Summary: I love this thing. I like understanding how it works and I have had minimal pool maintenance this season. Chemical costs Salt, borax, clorox,cya less than $100. ( cheapest chlorox I found at costco). new pump head about 30$

I am not kidding myself a pool is still expensive. I installed a new raypac heater ( CU nickel and zinc anode just is case) last year and I replaced the autocover canvas. The Items should last about 8-10 years.

Pump, intelliflow, is in its third year-- if it makes it to year 8 it will more than pay for itself in energy savings.

Salt cell seems to be going strong. People say they last about 3 years. I hope I get a season or two more at least. At the suggestion of others I oversized the SWCG cell to IC40 for my 20K pool. The idea being that the oversized Ic will raise FC/ orp more quickly. If my cell dies I will go to the even bigger IC60 next time. On a couple of days the IC 40 had trouble keeping up. I clean the cell wit dilute MA at the end of each season until any scaling is gone.

If anyone finds this I hope it is helpful. feel free to contact me for any questions and I hope you liked the installation article link above.


Addendum: at the end of a season as I let the water cool down intellichem does not read accurately, but at that point in the season it does not matter to me as I am just about to close anyway.

Wish list for Pentair:

Make it easier to upgrade firmware on easy touch and intellichem:
Add more functionality to mobile app.
Make it possible to remove sections of screen logic we do not need.
 

dradam

LifeTime Supporter
Mar 10, 2013
211
Maryland
Pool Size
19000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-60
Year 4 follow up.

Still loving my automation system. We re-plastered the pool in the spring ( not DIY ). Wet Edge Luna quartz. Intellichem was great for this as the new plaster has required an amazing amount of acid demand as it continues to cure.
One glitch this year--- could not maintain FC with my SWCG. Even with all lights nominal it was not making chlorine. Pentair replaced it under warranty and all is good.

Future wish list:
I wish pentair would add more functionality to its mobile app.
I wish the PH and orp history could be viewed on the app.
I wish it were easier to upgrade the firmware on the Easytouch and Intellichem. Please add a usb port on future motherboards. I can update the intellichem, but the cost of programmer for the easytouch doesn't make it worthwhile.
I wish the Intellichem had an FC probe rather than ORP.
 

repairman

Gold Supporter
Nov 2, 2016
170
Lompoc, CA (central coast)
dradam,

Did pentair replace your intellichlor on warranty in the 3rd year even though you installed your system yourself? And thank you for your article as I am considering a diy install as well.
 

dradam

LifeTime Supporter
Mar 10, 2013
211
Maryland
Pool Size
19000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-60
Five Year Follow up:

Thanks for your questions above. Pentair replaced my intellichlor last year as a courtesy. It was out of warranty, but they said they had seen some units with a similar problem and their replacement has been working fine. It was odd, the defective unit lit up correctly, good flow and good salt level and even lit the correct lights as though it were making chlorine-- it just wasn't.

I attached the transformer for the easy touch to its own breaker not so much that I could keep it on selectively, but more so to turn it off selectively and still leave other things on. What you attach to which breakers is somewhat a matter of choice. I chose based on many of the things I read in this forum. Most importantly the chlorinator can not be on if the motor is not running. Thank you for reading my article.


Year Five:

Pulled out the equiptment on April 4, 2017. Hooked everything up and was running inside a day and swimming two days later @ 90 degrees. No issues, no problems with the equiptment. The new chlorinor is working fine. The fresh plaster still seems to have a bit of an acid demand. I had to add muriatic over the winter and again at opening to bring down the PH. Intellichem is managing that now with the muriatic dispenser. I discovered what a strap wrench is and highly recommend one for tightening unions.

I have been able to update intellichem firmware through a nice article on TFP. There is newer firmware for the easy touch, but it requires an expensive microprogrammer I did not want to buy. (anybody have a loaner?)

This has been my earliest open and will hopefully be my easiest season. I will post if anything goes haywire this year or if anyone has questions. Good swimming !
 

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dradam

LifeTime Supporter
Mar 10, 2013
211
Maryland
Pool Size
19000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-60
The leads to the service disconnect and the easy touch come off a 50 amp breaker in my home. When the pool pad was initially installed the electricians ran a 10 guage to the pool sub panel- it should have beeen at least 8, but I can not change it now. I have had no problems with the old or new system and I am certain I draw far less current now.
 

dradam

LifeTime Supporter
Mar 10, 2013
211
Maryland
Pool Size
19000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-60
Six year follow up.

Just opened the pool for the season. Pulled out the pumps, set up the probes--- all seems good so far. Chlorinator is working and probes seem to be reading correctly. Upgraded Pentairs Screenlogic software and my brick. Only issue with the automation was the Pentair pool water temperature sensor. It was not reading correctly so I replaced it ($25), The old sensor was cracked open in the pipe where it lived. I suspect that water got into a small crack and then it split when frozen in the winter.

The LCD screen on my Raypak heater is malfunctioning. The heater is working correctly, but the display is bad. (a know issue ) a replacement is on the way-- Just need to replace the screen module (about $40) not the whole motherboard.

Hoping to get to year 8 with no expensive repairs. By year 8 the cost of my intelliflow pump should have been offset by my energy savings. Good luck and good trouble free swimming to all.
 

dradam

LifeTime Supporter
Mar 10, 2013
211
Maryland
Pool Size
19000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-60
Seven year folow up:

Opened the pool and was swimming in 48 hours. Filled the pool to the skimmers with endless hot water from the On demand tankless water heater we installed two years ago when the tanks in my old ones died.( yes, I had it plummed to the pool filler line) I wonder whether that gas use costs more or less than the gas the pool heater might have used? At any rate temp was 88 degrees in 2 days.


98828

Added some salt about 4 bags( $7/bag off season wallmart) 2 muriatic ($7/gallon ) 1 box borax ($6.50 safeway) and 1 liquid chlorine HTH - 1 mid-winter too ( $3/gallon when on sale at my Ace- I stock up) to get started. My Ace now sells seven way test strips $11/50 strips which I think is a good deal. I like the seven way strips. Leslies was far more expensive and I suspect Ace comes from the same factory--only the label looks different. Was replastered two years ago, but still the PH wants to climb. Minimal cleaning-- I put away a very clean pool.

Only issue this year is poor readings from the orp probe. I noticed it at the end of last season, but was so close to closing it was not worth troubleshooting. The probe is six years old and I'm told they usually don't last that long. Another one is on the way ($ 114 Sunplay). If its not the probe it could be the cable or the Intellichem board, but so far the probe is the prime suspect. The intellichem self test reads it as good. When I disconnect it and reconnect it it gradually goes back to its current incorrect reading.

Ph probe, about 4 years old, still seems very accurate and correlates well.

I replaced the gasket on the top of my filter diverter ($ 35 Amazon). It was failing after 14 years. I got rid of the proprietary Pentair unions to the pump last season and replaced them with standard PVC fittings and unions ( about $30). The Pentair flanges cracked. With the standard fittings I can replace a part at a moments notice.

For the past year or so I have been concentrating the Muriatic acid more. Two gallons to a filled dispensing tub. It has worked better for me especially after the ph rise with the new plaster.

At Year eight the additional cost of the VF pump (compared to a one speed pump) should have paid for itself in energy savings-- so one more season to go.................. I don't suspect the energy savings will really ever cover the entire cost of the automation system.

There are newer versions of the easy touch firmware, but I never ponied up to buy a PE programmer-- If any one has a work around let me know.

Intellichem firmware 1.060 is up to date-- That I can update via USB and laptop-- TFP has an article on how to do it.

The screenlogic interface was updated over the winter-- I updated to it and updated my brick as well just in case.

The Screenlogic app has been updated as well and gives much more info and control from my phone----Thank you Pentair!!


A few members have reached out to me for the DIY pool article I wrote in year one. Apparently the link is not working. I have attached the article below for those it may help.

If I can be of help to any DIY automation enthusiasts please let me know.

Good swimming to all.
 

Attachments

  • Di y pool automation.pdf
    2.1 MB · Views: 80

dradam

LifeTime Supporter
Mar 10, 2013
211
Maryland
Pool Size
19000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-60
Replaced my ORP probe and readings all good. Interestingly the old probe was working and triggering the intellichlor, but trhe reading was in the very high normal range (760). New probe reads 640's. I wonder if that is a common pattern of failure. When the numbers start to creep up for the same fc may indicate time for a new probe. Happy the first probe got me six years. Hopefully the next one will do as well. Each year I have stored my probes in ph/orp storage solution purchased off Amazon.
 

dradam

LifeTime Supporter
Mar 10, 2013
211
Maryland
Pool Size
19000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-60
April 2020 eight year automation follow up.

Got open very early this year-- was not working because of covid restrictions. Hope you are all safe and healthy.

I replumbed some of my PVC and got rid of the bypass loop I really didn't need when I did the diy Automation initially. There are 1.5 Inch choke points in the flow system but now as much of the PVC is 2inch as possible. Interestingly my wattage at 15gpm has decreased by about 20 watts on average with this-- maybe someone who knows fluid dynamics can tell me why.

Ph/orp probes working nicely-- was swimming 48 hours after opening.

Year 8 is important because it is the projected year when the intelliflow VS will pay for itself in energy savings. Pump is working nicely--although I have a gasket and bearing kit standing by.

All good other than salt and cya and one gallon of liquid chlorine very minor upkeep this year My SWCG is down to the 20% light hope it lasts the season ... will keep you posted.

Happy swimming.
 

dradam

LifeTime Supporter
Mar 10, 2013
211
Maryland
Pool Size
19000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-60
End of september 2020

Don't know it any one is stll reading this 8 year old thread. Getting ready to close up for the season. My automation DIY system now in its eighth season.

Status :
Vf pump still working flawlessly-- it runs 24/7 during a six month season. I have a seal kit standing by but have not had to use it yet. I still can't get the filter status information to transmit to my screen logic after all these years but I know by increased RPM when the filter pressure goes up.

My IC 40 died this year but had a really good run-- I did replace the flow switch last year. Purchaced an IC60. I am very happy with the larger SWCG. Raises orp much faster. In fact sometimes overshooths the orp probe so I dialed down the orp set point to get my target. With shorter run times I hope to get a lot more life out of it. Transformer for the IC is in my easy touch. I noticed a bit of an electrical burning smell in the easytouch after I installed the IC 60-- but everything in the easytouch checks out ok. I wonder if the current draw form the IC60 heats the transformer a bit more.-- will be watching that.

No Issues with probes this year in fact did not even clean them.

Was unable to control my intellichem from the faceplate switch panel mid season-- I assumed it was a motherboard problem but a replacement motherboard had the same issue-- turned out to be the face plate ribbon connector- easy swap once I finally got the part-- but now I have an extra motherboard I didn't need. Intellichem worked with my initial settings despite having no face plate I just had to manage the ph manually for a few weeks because I was unable to reset the acid tank level.

On a hardware note--
Re-did my pvc plumbing to streamline it-- got rid of a bypass loop I never really needed in the first place and moved my polaris booster feed after the intellichlor -- no issues
Had to buy a new multiport valve for the TA 50

Had a company diagnose and repair a small leak around a return- That was pricey

Still Loving this system--
In this crazy era of covid the pool was a godsend this summer
Trouble free doesn't mean maintainece free, but after a few small repairs the only thing I had to add to the pool this season was acid in the tank.

Best wishes stay safe and healthy see you in the spring.
 

crackers8199

Well-known member
Jun 5, 2014
150
Lake Elsinore, CA
End of september 2020

Don't know it any one is stll reading this 8 year old thread. Getting ready to close up for the season. My automation DIY system now in its eighth season.

Status :
Vf pump still working flawlessly-- it runs 24/7 during a six month season. I have a seal kit standing by but have not had to use it yet. I still can't get the filter status information to transmit to my screen logic after all these years but I know by increased RPM when the filter pressure goes up.

My IC 40 died this year but had a really good run-- I did replace the flow switch last year. Purchaced an IC60. I am very happy with the larger SWCG. Raises orp much faster. In fact sometimes overshooths the orp probe so I dialed down the orp set point to get my target. With shorter run times I hope to get a lot more life out of it. Transformer for the IC is in my easy touch. I noticed a bit of an electrical burning smell in the easytouch after I installed the IC 60-- but everything in the easytouch checks out ok. I wonder if the current draw form the IC60 heats the transformer a bit more.-- will be watching that.

No Issues with probes this year in fact did not even clean them.

Was unable to control my intellichem from the faceplate switch panel mid season-- I assumed it was a motherboard problem but a replacement motherboard had the same issue-- turned out to be the face plate ribbon connector- easy swap once I finally got the part-- but now I have an extra motherboard I didn't need. Intellichem worked with my initial settings despite having no face plate I just had to manage the ph manually for a few weeks because I was unable to reset the acid tank level.

On a hardware note--
Re-did my pvc plumbing to streamline it-- got rid of a bypass loop I never really needed in the first place and moved my polaris booster feed after the intellichlor -- no issues
Had to buy a new multiport valve for the TA 50

Had a company diagnose and repair a small leak around a return- That was pricey

Still Loving this system--
In this crazy era of covid the pool was a godsend this summer
Trouble free doesn't mean maintainece free, but after a few small repairs the only thing I had to add to the pool this season was acid in the tank.

Best wishes stay safe and healthy see you in the spring.

just found this post because i'm thinking about trying this myself, but the pdf seems to be gone now. do you still have a copy of it?
 

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