Intellicenter help

jorge18

Well-known member
May 2, 2018
161
Miami, Fl
Good morning ladies and gentlemen,

So I'm a complete newbie when it comes to pools. I have basic knowledge of how it works (pretty similar to my 180g reef tank). I'm building a new pool and would like some help figuring out how to get it to my liking. Here are the plans for the equipment pad:



I have the Intellicenter with what it came with. I believe it comes with two intellivalves.

Here are the things I'd like to accomplish via my phone/siri/alexa:

  1. Obviously change the mode from pool to spa
  2. Turn the heater on/off
  3. Turn on both of the bubblers at the same time
  4. Turn the spa returns on without the blower while pool is on so spillway/waterfall is active (I believe I would need to turn off the spa drain as well)
I think that's it. My question is, do I have everything I need already with what came with the Intellicenter or do I need to add some more Intellivalves (and if so, where)?

Thanks!
 

setsailsoon

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LifeTime Supporter
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Oct 25, 2015
2,548
Stuart/FL
jorge,

You've picked out some nice equipment! The best answer I can give you is yes, probably. Devil's in the details. What model are you planning to install? There are two lines in the Intellicenter power distribution centers. If you get a model that has "IC" in the number it has the transformer and control capability so you don't need a separate swg controller. Inyour signature you show "Owner Builder". We see a lot of people that do this with great success. When you go this route one aspect to consider is warranty. Do you qualify as a licensed installer or would this be DIY? The major equipment manufacturers reduce warranty for DIY. Pentair is one of the most reasonable in this area and they definitely make the best automation (Intellicenter) systems and VS pump. Most electronics they fail early so even if you only get a couple of months this is fine for me. But that's not the case for swg cells. Too many of them fail a year or two out for me to take that risk on an expensive cell replacement. You can get around this by having a licensed contractor help with the swg part or buy 3rd party.

On the model selection, the major difference in the Intellicenter model kits is the number of auxiliary relays you can control. I went with the I8PS which gives me more room for future expansion. I could have done just the I5PS and had sufficient capability. My rationale was the cost difference was only a couple hundred $ on a $2K system. But a real nice feature of Intellicenter is it's modular design so addition of future capability is less costly with the Intellicenter line.

Good luck with your build and I hope we get a lot of updates. Also, my recommendations are base on my experience which includes only one installation of Intellicenter. But we have several real experts that will be great support for you in the automation arena and other aspects of your build. These include @Jimrahbe, @MyAZPool, @ajw22 . Hopefully they will chime in on your questions here.

Chris
 
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Jimrahbe

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
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Jul 7, 2014
16,926
Bedford, TX
Here are the things I'd like to accomplish via my phone/siri/alexa:
  1. Obviously change the mode from pool to spa
  2. Turn the heater on/off
  3. Turn on both of the bubblers at the same time
  4. Turn the spa returns on without the blower while pool is on so spillway/waterfall is active (I believe I would need to turn off the spa drain as well)

Jorge,

1. The two valves you list as "actuator" are the ones that change between the pool mode and spa mode.. The valve in front of the pump is your Intake valve and the one after the SWCG is the Return valve. The IntelliValves for these two valves are connected to the Intake and Return connections on the board inside the IntelliCenter. This should leave you with two more actuator connections.. Valve A and B.

2. Normally, turning on a heater requires no valve movement, I see you have a heater by-pass, but assume it would only be used when you want to take the heater out of the plumbing. This would be a manual valve operation only.

3. You will need an actuator to turn on your bubblers (fountains). I don't like your current design as it only allow you to have bubblers OR pool returns, if you use the current actuator. I would want to have the pool returns and bubblers to both be on at the same time. And just have an actuator to turn the bubblers on/off. How do you envision your pool working??

4. Do you envision your spillover running all the time? Not something we recommend. The IntelliCenter has a "spillover" mode, that uses Intake and Return valves to suck water from the pool and return it to the spa.. This obviously causes the spa to spillover into the pool. We recommend running this mode once or twice a day, for 30 minutes or so, in order to keep your spa chlorinated. You can also use the mode when you want to show off for your friends. If you do this, you do not need the "Make up" valve or the check valve that you currently have in the plumbing. It can't hurt to leave it in, if you want, as you can just shut it off.

This leaves you with an unused valve driver...

I am surprised that you only have one skimmer.. Is your pool going to be in a screen-room??

Thanks,

Jim R.
 
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jorge18

Well-known member
May 2, 2018
161
Miami, Fl
jorge,

You've picked out some nice equipment! The best answer I can give you is yes, probably. Devil's in the details. What model are you planning to install? There are two lines in the Intellicenter power distribution centers. If you get a model that has "IC" in the number it has the transformer and control capability so you don't need a separate swg controller. Inyour signature you show "Owner Builder". We see a lot of people that do this with great success. When you go this route one aspect to consider is warranty. Do you qualify as a licensed installer or would this be DIY? The major equipment manufacturers reduce warranty for DIY. Pentair is one of the most reasonable in this area and they definitely make the best automation (Intellicenter) systems and VS pump. Most electronics they fail early so even if you only get a couple of months this is fine for me. But that's not the case for swg cells. Too many of them fail a year or two out for me to take that risk on an expensive cell replacement. You can get around this by having a licensed contractor help with the swg part or buy 3rd party.

On the model selection, the major difference in the Intellicenter model kits is the number of auxiliary relays you can control. I went with the I8PS which gives me more room for future expansion. I could have done just the I5PS and had sufficient capability. My rationale was the cost difference was only a couple hundred $ on a $2K system. But a real nice feature of Intellicenter is it's modular design so addition of future capability is less costly with the Intellicenter line.

Good luck with your build and I hope we get a lot of updates. Also, my recommendations are base on my experience which includes only one installation of Intellicenter. But we have several real experts that will be great support for you in the automation arena and other aspects of your build. These include @Jimrahbe, @MyAZPool, @ajw22 . Hopefully they will chime in on your questions here.

Chris
Thank you! I also went with the i8PS.
 

jorge18

Well-known member
May 2, 2018
161
Miami, Fl

Jorge,

1. The two valves you list as "actuator" are the ones that change between the pool mode and spa mode.. The valve in front of the pump is your Intake valve and the one after the SWCG is the Return valve. The IntelliValves for these two valves are connected to the Intake and Return connections on the board inside the IntelliCenter. This should leave you with two more actuator connections.. Valve A and B.

Got it

2. Normally, turning on a heater requires no valve movement, I see you have a heater by-pass, but assume it would only be used when you want to take the heater out of the plumbing. This would be a manual valve operation only.

So water would be constantly going through the heater even if it isn't on? Can this cause any issues?

3. You will need an actuator to turn on your bubblers (fountains). I don't like your current design as it only allow you to have bubblers OR pool returns, if you use the current actuator. I would want to have the pool returns and bubblers to both be on at the same time. And just have an actuator to turn the bubblers on/off. How do you envision your pool working??

I do agree with you. I would like to be able to control the bubblers separately from the pool returns. How can I accomplish this? Would I need another intellivalve between the currently placed actuator and the bubblers?

4. Do you envision your spillover running all the time? Not something we recommend. The IntelliCenter has a "spillover" mode, that uses Intake and Return valves to suck water from the pool and return it to the spa.. This obviously causes the spa to spillover into the pool. We recommend running this mode once or twice a day, for 30 minutes or so, in order to keep your spa chlorinated. You can also use the mode when you want to show off for your friends. If you do this, you do not need the "Make up" valve or the check valve that you currently have in the plumbing. It can't hurt to leave it in, if you want, as you can just shut it off.

No, I don't plan on running it all the time. Like you said, i'll likely just turn this on when we're outside with company or having a drink by ourselves.

This leaves you with an unused valve driver...

I am surprised that you only have one skimmer.. Is your pool going to be in a screen-room??

No screen room, but we don't have many trees around the area that would drop leaves and such on it.

Thanks,

Jim R.
My responses/extra questions in red.

Thanks again!
 

jorge18

Well-known member
May 2, 2018
161
Miami, Fl
jorge,

You've picked out some nice equipment! The best answer I can give you is yes, probably. Devil's in the details. What model are you planning to install? There are two lines in the Intellicenter power distribution centers. If you get a model that has "IC" in the number it has the transformer and control capability so you don't need a separate swg controller. Inyour signature you show "Owner Builder". We see a lot of people that do this with great success. When you go this route one aspect to consider is warranty. Do you qualify as a licensed installer or would this be DIY? The major equipment manufacturers reduce warranty for DIY. Pentair is one of the most reasonable in this area and they definitely make the best automation (Intellicenter) systems and VS pump. Most electronics they fail early so even if you only get a couple of months this is fine for me. But that's not the case for swg cells. Too many of them fail a year or two out for me to take that risk on an expensive cell replacement. You can get around this by having a licensed contractor help with the swg part or buy 3rd party.

On the model selection, the major difference in the Intellicenter model kits is the number of auxiliary relays you can control. I went with the I8PS which gives me more room for future expansion. I could have done just the I5PS and had sufficient capability. My rationale was the cost difference was only a couple hundred $ on a $2K system. But a real nice feature of Intellicenter is it's modular design so addition of future capability is less costly with the Intellicenter line.

Good luck with your build and I hope we get a lot of updates. Also, my recommendations are base on my experience which includes only one installation of Intellicenter. But we have several real experts that will be great support for you in the automation arena and other aspects of your build. These include @Jimrahbe, @MyAZPool, @ajw22 . Hopefully they will chime in on your questions here.

Chris
The plumber that is installing the equipment is actually a licensed pool builder as well, so I believe I should be covered under the full warranty.
 
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MyAZPool

Gold Supporter
Jul 3, 2018
1,201
Arizona
Jorge,
I'm not a big fan of 2-way valves but that's just me. My take is there are situations with 2-way valves where pumps and other equipment can be damaged and you would not want that.

I have taken the liberty of illustrating how I might plumb the pad if it were mine (sorry if my drawing is not as clean as yours ;)) . Notice in this drawing that there is no possibility of dead-heading the pump, etc. I believe that I have shown, that no matter what position any of the suction or return valves are in, there will always be a suction and return path for the water to flow.

2020-04-05_9-42-49.jpgAgree that an IntelliCenter i5PS would be fine but like setsailsoon explained, I also would personally opt for the i8PS for future expansion due to the very little cost difference. I also agree with Jimrahbe regarding his comments on Spa Spillover. In addition, I also echo his thoughts regarding looking into two possible opposing skimmers. I wish I had another skimmer on the other end of my pool. I believe it would cut down on the use of my manual skimmer net. :p

I have illustrated a maximum of 8 IntelliValve actuators but that could be cut down to 6 if you made the fountain and waste line 3-way valves manual instead. You could always automate those 3-way valves later if you so desire. In the attached illustration, I believe that all of your desired automation concerns can be met through the use of the IntelliCenter feature called Feature Groups (macros).

Either way, more than 4 IntelliValve actuators will require the use of the Pentair IntelliCenter Valve Expansion Module which you can read more about here.
Quick Ref & Information Guide - IntelliCenter Valve Expansion Module




I'm personally a fan of heater by-pass valves as you have shown in your illustration.
I was able to reduce the amount of 90's and tees somewhat, which is always good if possible.

I'm also a fan of the IntellipH Acid Dispensing System. I would recommend installing at the time of your build, but if that is not your desire, then maybe opt for the next best thing and at least plump in the Acid Injection Tap (as shown) and just cap it for the time being using a 1/2" threaded nipple and 1/2" threaded cap. That way, you can very easily add the IntellipH later.

You could eliminate the 2" cleaner line as well and opt for a Robot instead. Nothing wrong with some suction-side cleaners (I am partial to the Hayward Aquanaut 400) but there are other good ones out there as well. But I will tell you that when my suction-side cleaner finally dies (which seems to be never), I too will join the ranks of the mostly very happy Maytronics Robot crowd. Much more energy efficient and better cleaning capability.

These are just some of my initial thoughts. If I think of any others, I will post later. Since you have chosen to install the IntelliCenter, please take a look at this IntelliCenter Quick Reference and Information Guide thread. You may find a useful tip or two there to help you as you finalize plans for your new build.
Take care and please stay safe.
r.
 
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Jimrahbe

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Jorge,

Opinion from the "simple" side of this issue... :mrgreen:

How crazy do you want to go? A cheap car and a very expensive car, will both get you from point A to B.. r. has presented you with the very expensive version that has all the bells and whistles, but does it make sense for the main stream user???

I see no reason to have an automated valve to control something that you might move once a year.. Manual valves are great for adjusting flow to match the flow between inputs and outputs.. Once set, these valves will most likely never be moved again.

I can't see any reason the automate the skimmer vs. main drain input for the average user.. This is normally set once and then rarely moved so a manual valve will work just fine.

An automated valve to waste is a "waste".. :mrgreen: At least it is if you have an overflow port in your pool. I have not needed to dump water from my pool in the past five or six years.. A manual valve works just fine here.

An automated valve in the heater by-pass makes some sense, but again is not "needed".. In general, if you used a manual valve, then in the winter you could have the water going through the heater and in the summer it would by-pass the heater.

Anyway, I like simple, maybe because I am simple.. A good example is that I have some lights in my bedroom that have an Alexa connection. I can tell Alexa to turn them on or off or to dim them.. I used it for a week, and find it was just about as quick to just push the button. :)

You will just have to look at what you really want your pool to do, and design your plumbing to accomplish that task.

Thanks,

Jim R.
 
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MyAZPool

Gold Supporter
Jul 3, 2018
1,201
Arizona
Whoa, that's a whole lotta Intellivalves (and money lol).

Are all those necessary for what I want to accomplish?
jorge18
lol... Necessary? Absolutely not.
It all depends on what you want to automate. I only point out what I personally would do here. And that's why I dig TFP so much. You get to pick and choose from the various tips and recommendations that you receive here in order to fit your specific needs and the budget you allot for your build.

Based on my illustration, if I were to reduce the amount of IntelliValves, I would lose them in this order.
1. Waste line 3-way.​
2. The two fountains 3-way.​
3. The Skimmer/Main Drain 3-way.​
4. The Pool Return/Fountain 3-way.​

If you were to lose all 4 of the above actuators, that would still leave you with 4 actuators. Then you would not require the Valve Expansion Module (for the PS models, any actuators over 4 require the expansion card).

The cost savings of doing what I point out above would be approximately $833.00.
If you were to lose the four IntelliValves and the Expansion Module, the upside, is that you can always add them later without having to re plumb or do anything major down the road.
Just make sure you give yourself enough room between the 3-way valves so you can mount the IntelliValves in the correct orientation later (something that I am keenly aware of from experience). ;)

Jim's opinion makes really good sense for the average user and I agree with him wholeheartedly with regards to his last statement. It is all based on what you want to accomplish with that automation.

As Jim has probably realized about me by now, If I were able, I would try to automate just about everything in the home, mostly because of the "coolness" factor and because I just plain like it. :p

We keep our Alexa's in the home a bit more busy. For example, when I say “Alexa, ask/tell MyPool to turn On "RELAX” (This CIRCUIT GROUP command will activate the Spa Circuit. It will also rotate the “INTAKE” and “RETURN” valve actuators to their “2nd programmed” (Spa) position), if they are in the “Home” (Pool) position).
This same command will then rotate the Heater Bypass Valve allowing water to pass through the Spa Heater and will also activate the heater. Or if your command is OFF, then it will put all of the above back into normal pool mode.

The only thing I need to do before getting in the 104 degree spa is to say, “Alexa, ask/tell MyPool to turn On the Jet Pump” (This command is for activation of my Spa Jet Pump).

Sorry for being a bit of a geek but Jim is right. I have attempted to provide you with the ultimate automation solution for your particular setup. Now, you get to "adjust fire" from there to suit your specific needs and requirements and that is the key.

I'm looking forward to seeing your completed pad and please feel free to ping me if you have any questions regarding something that you might find a bit "wonky" about the IntelliCenter that I might be able to assist you with.

Stay safe....
r.
 

Jimrahbe

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Jul 7, 2014
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We keep our Alexa's in the home a bit more busy. For example, when I say “Alexa, ask/tell MyPool to turn On "RELAX” (This CIRCUIT GROUP command will activate the Spa Circuit. It will also rotate the “INTAKE” and “RETURN” valve actuators to their “2nd programmed” (Spa) position), if they are in the “Home” (Pool) position).
This same command will then rotate the Heater Bypass Valve allowing water to pass through the Spa Heater and will also activate the heater. Or if your command is OFF, then it will put all of the above back into normal pool mode.
r,

One of the things that I really like about the IntelliCenter is the "Circuit Group" function. It is missing from the EasyTouch and is just one more reason for any new pool builders to go with the IntelliCenter over the EasyTouch.

Thanks for your input,

Jim R.
 

MyAZPool

Gold Supporter
Jul 3, 2018
1,201
Arizona
r,

One of the things that I really like about the IntelliCenter is the "Circuit Group" function. It is missing from the EasyTouch and is just one more reason for any new pool builders to go with the IntelliCenter over the EasyTouch.

Thanks for your input,

Jim R.
Jim,
Agreed regarding the Circuit Group function. It really is a bit of a game changer to be able to group several (or many) Feature and Auxiliary circuits into one command. I believe that the IntelliTouch has the same functionality which I think is called "Featured macros" or "macro Circuits". Not really sure if it has the same maximum of 16 macros, that the IntelliCenter has though but still can be very useful.
Anyway, I digress. :)
Thanks Jim and stay safe there.
r.
 

jorge18

Well-known member
May 2, 2018
161
Miami, Fl
Thank you both for all your insight!

I have three questions for you all:

  1. Can water flow through the heater at all times even though it's not on? Would that cause any long term harm to it? I live in Miami, so I'll likely only use the heater 3-4 months of the year.
  2. After studying the way the engineer drew up the plans, I think if I made the circled three way valve an intellivalve, I would be able to accomplish what I want to accomplish. Thoughts?
    • The main things I want to accomplish -
      • Remotely turn on/off the heater
      • Remotely turn on/off the spillover (turn off spa drain, turn on spa jets)
      • Remotely turn on/off bubblers
  3. What's the point of the second check valve in the system? The one before the spa jets.
 

Jimrahbe

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Jul 7, 2014
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Jorge,

My guess is that 75% of all heaters do not have a by-pass and have constant water flowing through them. Leaving your by-pass as a manual valve will work just fine and not cause any harm to your heater. The by-pass is mainly there so that if you need to do maintenance on your heater, it will not shut your whole pool down.. You can also use it to by-pass the heater in the summer if you want.

The bottom check valve is for the spa make up line and includes the manual valve right above it.. The whole make up line is not required when you have automation. It can't hurt to leave it in as you can simple shut off the manual valve to take it out of the flow.

If you automate the valve in the red circle, it will allow you to turn your bubblers on and off, but at the same time it will shut off your pool returns, I would set the valve so that it never shuts off the pool returns.. So when the bubblers are on, the pool returns still get 25% flow, and when the bubblers are off, the pool returns would get 100% flow.

Obviously, the Intake and Return valve must be automated.

Thanks,

Jim R.
 

setsailsoon

Gold Supporter
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Oct 25, 2015
2,548
Stuart/FL
J,

Jim's got all your questions answered and that's the exactly the way I control my pool... no surprise as he advised me when I replaced my automation with Intellicenter. Only thing I have to add is about my operation. I'm just a little north of you in Stuart. We have the same operation of the heater as you describe except with our solar heater we only run a small amount for 2-3 months. We have no bypass on the heater at all and haven't missed it at all. If I ever need to pull the heater for an extended period I'd just make up a spool piece or install the bypass at that time. Also, we love our Intellicenter. It's loaded with current features and the modular design will make upgrading to new technology as it emerges a snap!

Good luck with your pool!

Chris
 

jorge18

Well-known member
May 2, 2018
161
Miami, Fl
If you automate the valve in the red circle, it will allow you to turn your bubblers on and off, but at the same time it will shut off your pool returns, I would set the valve so that it never shuts off the pool returns.. So when the bubblers are on, the pool returns still get 25% flow, and when the bubblers are off, the pool returns would get 100% flow.
If It's a three way valve, wouldn't I be able to turn on the bubblers and the pool returns at the same time?
 

Jimrahbe

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Jul 7, 2014
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Bedford, TX
Jorge,

Your diagrams are perfect... :goodjob:

I am not certain if you understand the normal operation of a 3-way valve.. :scratch: Normally the valve moves from one stop to the other stop. It will be all on or all off... If you use the valve in its default mode, it will mean your bubblers will be on OR your pool returns will be on.. Not both.

In your case, you will need to adjust the valve stops, so that the water going to the pool returns never shuts off. I would set the stops so that when the bubblers are off, all the water goes to the pool returns, and when you turn the bubblers on, only 75% of the water goes to the bubblers and the other 25% of the water still goes to the pool returns.

With the older actuators, you had to mechanically make this adjustment inside the actuator itself. With the new IntelliValve, you make this adjustment electrically from the outside of the IntelliValve. I have never done this so talk with myazpool if you have any questions...

Thanks,

Jim R.
 

jorge18

Well-known member
May 2, 2018
161
Miami, Fl
Thank you for your patience with me, Jim.

I'm either not understanding what you're trying to say, or I'm completely lost :LOL:

I'm going to be using Jandy never lube valves (not sure if it makes any difference) I went out to my garage to mess with it to see how it works precisely. It has a setting in which all 3 ports are open, which is what I would use to turn on the bubblers and the pool return at the same time and/or turn off the bubblers when they're not in use.

Bubblers and pool return on:


Bubblers off and pool return on:
 

Jimrahbe

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Jorge,

You can certainly try that and see how it works.. My guess is that unless you are running your pump at a pretty good clip that your bubblers will not even break the surface of the water.. Water will follow the path of least resistance.. It will be much easier for the water to go though a 2.5" pipe and back into the pool, than it will for the water to go through 1.5" pipe and out the bubblers..

But.. as always, I could be wrong, as I have been about 100 times, just today alone.. :mrgreen:

From a plumbing point of view it does not matter, as the valve gets installed the same way.. It is only what the actuator does that matters. You can try it your way and see how well it works.. If it works great, you can send me a :poke:letting me know.. If it does not work, it will be a simple thing to adjust the actuator..

Thanks,

Jim R.