First time pool owner: In-floor vs. robot


Bronze Supporter
Jun 1, 2016
Gilbert, AZ
I love my IFCS system...but for 20 years was just “satisfied” with it....until I added automation a few years ago.

I don’t need debris removal...mostly small things get in my pool including dirt, pollen, small leaves, etc. I would never get another pool...but if I did, initial cost of an IFCS would be the biggest roadblock in a decision to include it. Here are some factors to consider:

1) IFCS’s work best with full suction from main drain when popups are running to filter debris/material. This is a high RPM/high cost period...minimize this time to save money.

2) As others have said, you want the ability to bypass the IFCS (returning water via wall returns, full suction from skimmers) to do low RPM/low cost skimming MOST of the time. Skimming the debris from the surface before it sinks is the most efficient way to keep your pool clean with an IFCS.

(3) Implementing (1) & (2) made me realize how “unsatisfied” I could have been with my IFCS for 20 years...but it requires automation and a VSP.

Some other recommendations if considering an IFCS:

(4) DO get a debris capable drain (channel drain or equivalent)

(5) DO get a leaf basket installed if you think you will have substantial debris...pump basket is too small...however I don’t think I would ever expect an IFCS to clear “loads of leaves/debris”...but I have no experience with that so take it with a grain of salt.

(6) DO have separate suction lines to pump from main drain/skimmers to implement (1) & (2) above

(7) I think Venturi skimmers are a gimmick but they can be turned off (if needed, as long as the traditional suction line is also hooked up) so no harm. But, DO make sure you have traditional wall returns...traditional wall returns allow “directioning” so that an effective pool swirl can be formed for more efficient skimming, and allows (2) to be implemented.

(8) Although some have had success with IFCS’s in large pools, I wouldn’t recommend it. IFCS’s rely on turnover rate to filter debris...the larger the pool, the longer you must run the system (at relatively high cost) to clear the debris.
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Gold Supporter
May 27, 2019
Houston, TX
If I had my pool to build over again.

1. Variable Speed pump
2. Salt Water Pool
3. Robot Cleaner
4. Automation system capable of controlling everything
5. Concrete coping not natural stone
6. Not let myself be talked into stupid things (Pool Frog, Ozone generator)
7. Standard light fixtures, but install LED bulbs
8. Go big, go deep. This is the reason you have a pool
9. Evap Chiller for summer and solar heat panels for winter

Focus on how it will be used (laps, kids, lounging, parties, display of wealth, etc.)