Fed up with liquid chlorine and bad automation -- Looking for advice

physicsrob

Member
Jan 10, 2015
24
Livermore, CA
Hi All,

So I'm fed up with my pool. It's too much maintenance compared to the time I have available to maintain it (_very_ busy life, unfortunately). I have no trouble spending 30 minutes on maintenance once a week, but there's basically no realistic situation where I don't neglect the pool for 5 day days in a row repeatedly. My chemistry works out mostly thanks to my peristaltic pump (attached to a 15 gallon stenner tank), but I slip up all the time, and frequently battle what I think is yellow algae (but maybe I'm misidentifying) due to letting the chlorine run out every once and again. I'm ready for a fresh start.

Current Frustrations:
1. Liquid Chlorine. The local suppliers of refillable liquid chlorine keep closing. The nearest one is now 15 minutes away. It's just not working out. I even called the closest manufacturer and talked to their sales people to try to find a better source. One gallon containers plus a 30 minute round trip is just not compatible with my life. Big box home store liquid chlorine is what I've been using lately, but that gets old fast (always filling up my recycling container with empty bottles). After four years of playing this game, I think I'm ready to call it quits.

2. Automation. I have an iAqualink2. I don't use controls other than my computer/phone, and that's the way I like it. But to be honest, iAqualink is pretty awful. It's incredibly slow and unreliable, not to mention it lacks various levels of customization that I very much would like to utilize (for instance, the flexibility for controlling the solar heat is inadequate).

Current Equipment:
-15k gunite pool with attached spa
- iAqualink controller
- Heliocol Solar
- Hayward Cartidge filter
- Hayward H250 Pump
- Stenner peristaltic pump on AUX circuit
- Intelliflow VF pump

I'm happy to invest up to $4000 at this time in making the pool work better for me. The other key piece of information is that although I'm horrible at fitting in time for maintenance, I'm good at scheduling DIY projects. I'd consider myself on the top-end of the DIY spectrum (not a pro by any means, but there's very little I haven't done in terms of home renovation or electrical projects).

Some options:
1. Maybe I should just hire a pool guy again? Maybe self maintenance is just not in the cards for me at this phase in my life?
2. Go to pucks. I think it's a bad idea, and it's antithetical to TFP.
3. Install a SWG and convert my peristaltic pump to acid. To be honest I've _never_ been good at keeping my ph balanced. I normally just dump a gallon of acid in whenever the ph gets high, which I check maybe once a month. (I know, I'm bad...)
4. Convert to pentair. Would I be happier with an EasyTouch/ScreenLogic setup? Surely it's less awful than iAqualink.

My current leading plan is to switch to EasyTouch/ScreenLogic2, get an IC40 SWG, _probably_ get a new intelliph for the automation and better container rather than reuse my stenner. I'm considering getting an intellichem as well just for the ph (since I'm so awful!), and disable the use of the ORP. I think it goes without saying that I don't plan on replacing any other equipment unless it's strictly necessary, so I'd certainly like to reuse my valves, pump, plumbing, heater, filter, etc...

I would love any and all advice. To be honest "renovating" the control system sounds like a lot of fun. Despite being bad at continual maintenance, a project like this sounds great.
 

MyAZPool

Gold Supporter
Jul 3, 2018
1,422
Arizona
Hi All,

So I'm fed up with my pool. It's too much maintenance compared to the time I have available to maintain it (_very_ busy life, unfortunately). I have no trouble spending 30 minutes on maintenance once a week, but there's basically no realistic situation where I don't neglect the pool for 5 day days in a row repeatedly. My chemistry works out mostly thanks to my peristaltic pump (attached to a 15 gallon stenner tank), but I slip up all the time, and frequently battle what I think is yellow algae (but maybe I'm misidentifying) due to letting the chlorine run out every once and again. I'm ready for a fresh start.

Current Frustrations:
1. Liquid Chlorine. The local suppliers of refillable liquid chlorine keep closing. The nearest one is now 15 minutes away. It's just not working out. I even called the closest manufacturer and talked to their sales people to try to find a better source. One gallon containers plus a 30 minute round trip is just not compatible with my life. Big box home store liquid chlorine is what I've been using lately, but that gets old fast (always filling up my recycling container with empty bottles). After four years of playing this game, I think I'm ready to call it quits.

2. Automation. I have an iAqualink2. I don't use controls other than my computer/phone, and that's the way I like it. But to be honest, iAqualink is pretty awful. It's incredibly slow and unreliable, not to mention it lacks various levels of customization that I very much would like to utilize (for instance, the flexibility for controlling the solar heat is inadequate).

Current Equipment:
-15k gunite pool with attached spa
- iAqualink controller
- Heliocol Solar
- Hayward Cartidge filter
- Hayward H250 Pump
- Stenner peristaltic pump on AUX circuit
- Intelliflow VF pump

I'm happy to invest up to $4000 at this time in making the pool work better for me. The other key piece of information is that although I'm horrible at fitting in time for maintenance, I'm good at scheduling DIY projects. I'd consider myself on the top-end of the DIY spectrum (not a pro by any means, but there's very little I haven't done in terms of home renovation or electrical projects).

Some options:
1. Maybe I should just hire a pool guy again? Maybe self maintenance is just not in the cards for me at this phase in my life?
2. Go to pucks. I think it's a bad idea, and it's antithetical to TFP.
3. Install a SWG and convert my peristaltic pump to acid. To be honest I've _never_ been good at keeping my ph balanced. I normally just dump a gallon of acid in whenever the ph gets high, which I check maybe once a month. (I know, I'm bad...)
4. Convert to pentair. Would I be happier with an EasyTouch/ScreenLogic setup? Surely it's less awful than iAqualink.

My current leading plan is to switch to EasyTouch/ScreenLogic2, get an IC40 SWG, _probably_ get a new intelliph for the automation and better container rather than reuse my stenner. I'm considering getting an intellichem as well just for the ph (since I'm so awful!), and disable the use of the ORP. I think it goes without saying that I don't plan on replacing any other equipment unless it's strictly necessary, so I'd certainly like to reuse my valves, pump, plumbing, heater, filter, etc...

I would love any and all advice. To be honest "renovating" the control system sounds like a lot of fun. Despite being bad at continual maintenance, a project like this sounds great.
physicsrob
Just some of my own personal thoughts regarding your current situation.

1. For the price of an EasyTouch/ScreenLogic, you can purchase a Pentair IntelliCenter. There are some advantages to the IntelliCenter over the EasyTouch/ScreenLogic. One of the biggest is the ability to setup macros easily.

2. Either system will play "nice" with your IntelliFlo.

3. Although you are considering using the IntelliChem for just the pH side. Be aware that the IntelliChem will not allow you to set your pH above 7.6. If your pool pH likes to live more acidic, then that's fine. My pool seems to balance out better at 7.7-7.8, so I did not like the IntelliChem for that reason and others. Maybe take a hard look at least at the IntellipH. You only need to routinely and manually check your pH (which you should always do, no matter what automation devices you employ), and adjust the acid dosing percentage on the ipH accordingly and of course, check your tank periodically to ensure that it doesn't run dry.

4. I'm pretty sure that you will be much happier with an IntelliChlor versus using liquid chlorine!

5. Your Hayward gas heater should not need to be replaced if it is operating normally.

6. You'll always be able to maintain your pool at a much higher level than a typical "pool guy", so long as you follow the simple and proven pool care methods recommended here.

7. Just say NO to pucks!!!

Thanks...
r.
 
Last edited:

setsailsoon

Gold Supporter
LifeTime Supporter
TFP Guide
Oct 25, 2015
3,155
Stuart/FL
Rob,

Tough situation you have. I want to start by saying I don't think TFP methods were originally designed to work with only 30 min once per week. However, when I look at my situation I think I've achieved what you want. Here's what I've done:
  • TFP basic Pool School Chemistry
  • Salt system
  • Automation (Currently Intellicenter, previously iAqualink RS)
  • Borate buffer (makes pH more stable - only add acid once per week)
  • Pentair Warrior SE robot
  • 9.5 4x12 solar panels
  • 2 speed pump converted to Variable speed motor using digital inputs
Pool pump runs 10 am to sunset pm daily. Spillover runs about 3 hrs per day around noon. Chlorinator runs 8.5 hours at 40% power per day. LED lights start at sunset and run to 10 pm. I swim almost every day so I check chemicals every other day when I'm in the pool... it's pretty easy that way. But my numbers never vary on FC far enough that I need to change anything. FC runs 5-8, CC runs 0 most of the time. Every now and then goes up to .5 but it always goes back down. The only thing I do regularly is add about 30 oz MA once per week. A couple times per year I top off CYA and salt. The robot cleans daily 10 am to noon. I think Intellicenter does have better control capability. For example, it has much better capability to calibrate temperature sensors as well as adjust solar control to optimize the lag in your system for open/closing the bypass valve. It's a new system though and they're still working out a few bugs that don't matter much to most pool owners. The ability to change schedules remotely is not functional right now but appears will be fixed in next release of the firmware.

I hope this helps.

Chris
 
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aussieta

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
i run salt chlorinator and probably only spend 40 minutes per week during swim season
most of that is cleaning the robot filter
5 minutes twice per week emptying hair net
10 minutes testing once per week
20 minutes installing and removing pool robot once per week
 

setsailsoon

Gold Supporter
LifeTime Supporter
TFP Guide
Oct 25, 2015
3,155
Stuart/FL
Can I ask what made you switch to intellicenter? Did you install it yourself? I'm guessing my current Jandy valves are compatible, but I'm curious if I have to swap them out. It's interesting that the intellicenter comes with two valves...
Rob,

Sure, I should have explained that. I took a direct lightning strike about a year ago that did a lot of damage including the WiFi circuitry for my iAqualink antenna. Worked great until this but when I searched for parts I found they were much harder to find online. Jandy has changed their policy for online sales and DIY so they now cut warranty to zero unless purchased and installed by authorized service rep. The only new antenna available that I could find online required an upgraded chip for the RS board they would supply for free but I'd have to have installed by my Jandy dealer. I'm an avid DIYer so I took the rather big decision to switch. Evaluated all my automation options and Intellicenter won easily. All manufacturers of automation severely limit DIY installation but they don't limit online sales. For automation that was OK for me since electronics rarely fail after a few days.

The Intellicenter kit I bought came with their newest valve actuators but I didn't have to use them. Existing valve actuators and connectors are one of the few universal items in automation systems. My existing Jandy, Hayward, and Intermatic actuators plugged right in to the Intellicenter board. No problem. The new Pentair actuators have a big advantage that has not been implemented in their software yet so I just left the old actuators in place. The new feature is the ability to control valve position remotely. Existing systems can only control one position for open and one for closed. Any change to the open/closed position has to be done manually at the valve. Also, Jandy valves and valve parts are the only exception in their catalog warranty verbiage to the new policy. I can still buy online and install myself with full warranty.

I hope this helps.

Chris
 
Last edited:
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physicsrob

Member
Jan 10, 2015
24
Livermore, CA
Thanks for everyone's feedback. I really appreciate it!

I think I'm going to go with the intellicenter, intelliph, and IC40.

I'd also love feedback on the IC40 for my 15k pool. I do get a lot of organic matter in the pool (windy exposed location), so my chlorine demand is probably a little bit higher than the average 15k pool. Does an IC40 seem appropriately oversized, or will I be happier going all the way to an IC60?

Also, regarding the intelliph: My primary motivation for switching to intelliph rather than using my stenner on an aux circuit is that I don't want the schedule getting mixed up and accidentally dosing acid when the pump is off or dosing the acid when it's in spa mode. My understanding is intelliph takes care of those safety precautions. The other reason is that my tank isn't in adequate condition for acid (I have kids that might get near it.. hopefully not but you never know), switching to an intelliph is only very slightly more expensive than getting a new tank. Any thoughts on if my reasoning makes sense?

I really appreciate everyone's feedback thus far, and thanks in advance for any more feedback!
 

Katodude

Silver Supporter
Aug 22, 2017
943
West Palm Beach/Florida
So first great choice. Second there is no such thing as too big for SWG. IC40 is perfectly fine, but if the incremental cost of the IC60 is not too much I would go for it. You can always dial down a SWG.

Also sticking inside the family for automation pieces is always a good idea.

@MyAZPool can tell you more about the Intelliph and its integration with IntelliCenter.
 

setsailsoon

Gold Supporter
LifeTime Supporter
TFP Guide
Oct 25, 2015
3,155
Stuart/FL
Thanks for everyone's feedback. I really appreciate it!

I think I'm going to go with the intellicenter, intelliph, and IC40.

I'd also love feedback on the IC40 for my 15k pool. I do get a lot of organic matter in the pool (windy exposed location), so my chlorine demand is probably a little bit higher than the average 15k pool. Does an IC40 seem appropriately oversized, or will I be happier going all the way to an IC60?

Also, regarding the intelliph: My primary motivation for switching to intelliph rather than using my stenner on an aux circuit is that I don't want the schedule getting mixed up and accidentally dosing acid when the pump is off or dosing the acid when it's in spa mode. My understanding is intelliph takes care of those safety precautions. The other reason is that my tank isn't in adequate condition for acid (I have kids that might get near it.. hopefully not but you never know), switching to an intelliph is only very slightly more expensive than getting a new tank. Any thoughts on if my reasoning makes sense?

I really appreciate everyone's feedback thus far, and thanks in advance for any more feedback!
Great choices. Just do make sure you do whatever is needed to ensure you get full warranty on the IC40. Not many fail early but if it does it's $$$ unless you have a warranty that will be honored.

The rest of your rationale makes a lot of sense to me. I am curious about the robot. Many leave them in the water full time and get 5-10 years service. I think it's the only way you'll get full benefit of TFP methods until your schedule changes.

Good luck with your pool project and please do keep us informed.

Chris