Help on Subpanel & Automation for a Solar System

Airbus

Member
Jun 1, 2019
15
Newtown Square, PA
I am installing a solar heating system and a new pump and want to modernize and clean up current equipment including a new subpanel without spending a ton of money but am uncertain as to what I should do.

I have a 30K gallon pool with a pressure side polaris cleaner but no other bells or whistles. It is unlikely that we are going to add anything else other than a light or landscaping lighting in the foreseeable future.

The equipment that I know that I will have will be:
Pentair Intelliflo VSF (011056)
Polaris PB4SQ Booster Pump for Polaris Cleaner
Solar Heating System

What I need are:
1) Solar Valve with Actuator + temperature sensors
2) Automation for solar, and a few other speed programs including the ability to automate cleaner (with protection that booster pump will not run without main pump active). Wireless access nice but not necessary.
3) New 240V Subpanel
4) Surge Protection

The options that I have found are:
1) Pentair Solartouch (which can communicate with the VSF). I am not certain what subpanel to get and whether the solartouch can work with the VSF to run a cleaning program with booster pump protection (VSF must be on). If I go this route does anyone know if I can set different programs to run timed on the VSF, have the booster pump linked to the VSF and have the solartouch just override when it is time to gain heat? Also, does anyone have a recommendation for a simple cheap outdoor subpanel then? What amperage would you recommend?
2) Pentair Easytouch PL4. This is a lot more expensive than the solartouch, and I would have to buy a separate valve, actuator, and sensors, but has the subpanel built in and has wireless option. I'm not sure if it will do what I am looking for and I also don't know how to select a valve/sensors.

Any recommendations/insights? Thank you for your review and help.
 

chiefwej

LifeTime Supporter
TFP Guide
Jun 12, 2011
3,489
Tucson
The Pentair SolarTouch is a bargain. For about $250 you get the solar valve, actuator, water and panel sensors as well as the control panel. Everything you need for solar except the panels and plumbing. It will control a Pentair Intelliflo VSP pump, but you will need to add the cable. Mine senses water and panel temps, and when heat is called for and avail at the panels, it opens the solar valve and changes the speed of my pump. When it’s done heating the pool it closes the valve and returns control to the pump’s onboard controller.
 

Airbus

Member
Jun 1, 2019
15
Newtown Square, PA
From what I have read, neither the Solartouch nor the VSF pump can control the schedule for a cleaner booster pump. Seems that the Solartouch will just shut it down while Solar is being turned on for protection from air but will not control its master schedule. So, it seems like I need a separate timer for the cleaner pump. In addition, I need a load box. Is it worth it to just get and Easytouch which should be able to schedule the cleaner, manage the solar, as well as have a load box built in? Is there something that I am missing or a simpler/cheaper solution?
 

Airbus

Member
Jun 1, 2019
15
Newtown Square, PA
I am definitely set on a Pentair pump but I’m open to other controller options. I just assumed that matching the pump with the same company’s controller made the most sense for enhanced communication/control.
 

guinness

Well-known member
May 3, 2019
303
California
Yes that's unfortunately true for variable speed pumps. I just mentioned the alternative in case you would consider a Hayward EcoStar pump.

Does the SunTouch not also control the booster pump? See manual below.

 
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Airbus

Member
Jun 1, 2019
15
Newtown Square, PA
From what I can tell, the Solartouch will shut off the booster pump for 5 minutes when the solar is activating to prevent air from the solar making its way into the cleaner pump. I do not believe it has a separate timer for the cleaner booster pump. Please someone school me if different than my understanding. FYI, the link you provided is for the suntouch, not the Solartouch. This is the Solartouch Manual

Since I need a new subpanel anyway, it might make more sense to get an Easytouch which will also provide a booster pump timer. It is SO much more expensive though.
 

guinness

Well-known member
May 3, 2019
303
California
If you look at manual I referenced for SunTouch you'll see AUX 2 (Cleaner) shown and setting a schedule for that relay is shown on page 41. If in any doubt give Pentair a call and get them to verify. @Pool Clown might have some further insight as he's discussed this controller previously.
 

guinness

Well-known member
May 3, 2019
303
California
Yeah programming seems really convoluted, but it's a set it and forget it deal. You can still use the SolarTouch but you'll need a separate timer as shown below.

solartouch.PNG

Also bear in mind that the SunTouch also has additional relays for controlling lighting that you previously mentioned. Let us know what you end up going with.

Also the thread Budget automation Hayward OnCommand vs. Pentair SunTouch might be of interest to you about the SunTouch controller and alternatives.
 
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