My foray from an EasyTouch8 to IntelliCenter

tclayton10

Gold Supporter
Jun 17, 2019
43
Cypress, TX
Pool Size
18000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-40
So I've been following the IntelliCenter upgrade and advanced automation threads started by @MyAZPool (Ron), and have been waiting for the right moment to upgrade my Pentair ET8 system that was installed during the original pool build in 2006. My goal is primarily to take advantage of some of the new and expanded features, especially the remote access, but also because I love a challenge and the satisfaction that comes from these kinds of projects. Here's the current equipment that I'm working with on this project:
  • EasyTouch 8 automation (This is considered a "legacy" system to Pentair with regards to the IntelliCenter upgrade path)
  • ET8 indoor control panel
  • IntelliFlo VS main pump (Just replaced after the Texas freeze)
  • IntelliChlor IC40 SCG
  • IntellipH pH controller
  • WhisperFlo 1 1/2 hp waterfall pump
  • Pentair 3/4 hp booster pump (currently not used since I have a Dolphin 30i robotic cleaner)
  • MasterTemp heater
  • Pool Tone LED lights (2 in the pool, 1 in the spa; replaced legacy SAM and SAL lights)
When I first started looking at the upgrade, the upgrade kits weren't available, so I was considering going the ala carte route that Ron went. But it became quickly evident that was going to be cost prohibitive (at least then), so I decided to wait until the upgrade kits were released and priced. Those prices finally came out last year, and the legacy ET8 to i10PS upgrade kit was about $900. The kit I wanted includes the i10PS bezel/control panel with personality kit, a new system transformer and circuit breaker bracket, and a wireless transmitter kit. That was definitely in my price range, so then it just became a matter of waiting to see stock arrive.

About two months ago, I ran into a snag as I was reading the online version of the upgrade kit's manual. There is a huge note in the manual with a photo that indicates the upgrade is not compatible with systems that have the SCG circuit breaker mounted to a small tab on the Load Center chassis LV compartment instead of on the bracket with the 3A and 5A circuit breakers.

1622059750884.png

I did some research, contacted Pentair, and was told that if I was comfortable with cutting that little tab off of the chassis, that the legacy upgrade kit would work. I was sold! But alas, NOBODY had the upgrade in stock. So the waiting began. Then about two weeks ago I was able to find it online (although not at PolyTec pools, which has become my favorite supplier BY FAR), and placed the order. It came in last week, so I started diving into the specifics of how the upgrade would proceed, and that's when the next snag hit.

The legacy upgrade kit does NOT include the bracket-mounted SCG 12A circuit breaker that would replace the 10A chassis-mounted breaker. That was easy enough to find for less than $10 including shipping as opposed to the $50+ if it comes in a Pentair bag (even though it doesn't have Pentair marked anywhere on it).
1622059882875.png
As I started thinking about "what else" might make Pentair say this upgrade kit isn't compatible with my version of the ET8, I went back and tried to find exactly what was different between the legacy and newer ET systems. What I found is that at some point after my system was installed in 2006, Pentair changed the Load Center from a two-bar, side-by-side breaker orientation to a fully vertical, one-bar orientation. That then led to the revelation that the way the SCG circuit board is mounted also changed. My system has that board mounted on the floor of the LV compartment, and the newer systems use an upgraded board that is mounted on the rear wall of the LV compartment just to the left of the circuit breaker bracket. While the recent rain here in Houston has kept me from verifying visually, my gut tells me that the new control panel would probably interfere with the floor mounted SCG circuit board, so that's why they just call it incompatible. Oh, and there's a new SCG transformer to boot as well.

Since I had already dropped $900 on the upgrade kit and ordered the SCG circuit breaker, I decided to see if I could upgrade the SCG circuit board and transformer to the newer units which in theory would make the upgrade compatible. A quick call to Pentair tech support verified that the old and new SCG transformers have the same rating and voltage taps, so no need to replace the transformer. The SCG cable between the bottom of the LV raceway and the SGC circuit board did not change, so I was good there. So that left just the SCG circuit board to replace. While the old board may work, from looking at the two boards online I don't think the old style board would be easy to mount on the back wall of the LV compartment. So another $235 part ordered, and I think I'm good to go, even if I have to drill into the chassis wall to mount the new board (I doubt the holes are there). BTW, I did consider just ordering a new Load Center, but that's out of stock everywhere as well. And I think I'd still need the SCG circuit board anyway.

IF we get some dry weather this weekend, and IF the circuit breaker and circuit board are delivered, then I'm going to try to do this upgrade this weekend. I'll also be bringing the panel up to code with the Siemens GFCI breakers for the main and waterfall pumps, and once I get the new panel configured and fully operational, I'll be installing a Raspberry Pi with a 7" touchscreen to take even further control of my system. Plus, the RPi and touchscreen will replace the existing ET8 indoor control panel since (1) I want a quick way for people in my house other than me to operate the pool, (2) NOBODY has the Pentair IntelliCenter panels in stock, and (3) the RPi solution, including the wall mount kit, is more than $250 less expensive!

I'll post a follow up as I make progress or hit any additional snags, and will post a final configuration parts lists and upgrade instructions once I'm successful in case anyone else has similar plans down the road.

Tracy
 
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Jimrahbe

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Jul 7, 2014
22,228
Bedford, TX
Tracy,

Thanks for the write up...

I really, really "want" to upgrade from my EasyTouch with ScreenLogic, but I can't think of anything I need to do, that my EasyTouch won't do.. I guess what I am saying is that I don't "need" the new IntelliCenter, I just want the new IntelliCenter.

So.. give me a reason to "need" it, so I can justify the costs.. :mrgreen:

There is no doubt in my mind that if I were building a new pool today, it would have the IntelliCenter. I know it is better and have more features, but unfortunately, I don't see anything that I can't do without.. :(

Thanks,

Jim R.
 

tclayton10

Gold Supporter
Jun 17, 2019
43
Cypress, TX
Pool Size
18000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-40
Tracy,

Thanks for the write up...

I really, really "want" to upgrade from my EasyTouch with ScreenLogic, but I can't think of anything I need to do, that my EasyTouch won't do.. I guess what I am saying is that I don't "need" the new IntelliCenter, I just want the new IntelliCenter.

So.. give me a reason to "need" it, so I can justify the costs.. :mrgreen:

There is no doubt in my mind that if I were building a new pool today, it would have the IntelliCenter. I know it is better and have more features, but unfortunately, I don't see anything that I can't do without.. :(

Thanks,

Jim R.
I was in the same boat Jim, I didn't NEED the upgrade, but I WANTED the upgrade. In my specific case, seeing what @MyAZPool has done with his advanced automation was what really sold me on the project. Having something that I can step into right now that gives me remote capabilities at a reasonable price but also allows me to expand to more advanced monitoring and control as my budget and time allow was the trigger point. I'd likely need to drop another $1000+ to get anywhere near what Ron has done, but I see now how I could do the advanced automation and control in steps that would make it more palatable to the pocketbook. And I do think that even though I'll never abandon the TFP method, having a monitoring system that is closely calibrated with the manual measurements will be helpful, especially if more accurate dosing systems become available.

I anticipate that as I get comfortable with the system that I'll likely split my pool and spa lights onto separate circuits, and will probably do the same with my landscape lights. I also want to install an IntelliValve so I can control my spray jets without having to go to the valve to do so. Adding the Raspberry Pi to the mix will let me dabble in some programming that I love to do, but haven't had a need to do in a long time.

It does look like the last two parts I need will be delivered by tomorrow, so if the weather holds, I hope to have a good update to report by Monday!

Tracy
 

tclayton10

Gold Supporter
Jun 17, 2019
43
Cypress, TX
Pool Size
18000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-40
I am happy to report that the first phase of this project was a success! I was able to install the upgrade in the existing legacy Load Center and then get the new system configured and running with no real hiccups. I'll tackle the Raspberry Pi-based indoor control panel today. With that said, this is not a true plug and play installation of the kit, as in addition to the upgrade kit, you will also need the 12A SCG circuit breaker AND the new-style SCG surge (circuit) board. Then the LV compartment must be modified to install the SCG board and to remove the old SCG breaker bracket so the OCP panel can close. The upgrade, including a trip to Lowe's to get a tap set (explained below) took about 4 1/2 hours.

To reiterate from my initial post above, I have a legacy Load Center that has two columns of breakers instead of a single column that is in the new LC enclosures. The mounting locations of the SCG circuit breaker and the SCG surge board inside my version of the legacy Load Center are why Pentair notes in their documentation that the upgrade kit is not compatible. However, if you have a reasonable amount of mechanical hardware knowledge, this is not a hard upgrade to install. Here is the process I used as well as the parts and tools you'll need to complete the upgrade.

Parts List (prices are street prices that I paid)
  • IntelliCenter i10PS Upgrade Kit (p/n 522049; $899; other legacy kits may be available)
  • IntelliChlor Load Center SCG Surge Board (p/n 521218; $235)
  • Carling 12A SCG Circuit Breaker (CTB-B-B12; $2.15)
    • There is NO REASON to pay $50 for the Pentair breaker. This is the EXACT breaker that Pentair uses and they don't even put their name on it!
Tools
  • Flathead screwdriver or nut driver (for load center screws)
  • Small "tweaker" screwdriver (for sensor and other terminal block screws)
  • Nut driver
  • Drill and drill bits
  • Wall mounting hardware (for Wireless Antenna Kit IF the included hardware is not appropriate for your wall; I needed Tapcons)
  • 8-32 and 10-32 tap and drill sets (used to drill and tap the holes for the new SCG surge board location and to tap the new Circuit Breaker and System Transformer bracket)
    • I'm sure you could use self-tapping screws, but I wanted to use the exact hardware that came in the kit
  • Cutoff saw or similar (to remove the SCG circuit breaker tab from the LC LV chassis)
  • Labels and markers (for marking sensor, relay, and other cables; I used masking tape)
  • Notepad (to document what each aux position was controlling)
  • Sledgehammer (just seeing if you're paying attention!)
Before You Start
  • READ the Pentair documentation. All of it is online, so you can get started on this while you're waiting for your parts to arrive
  • UNDERSTAND your Load Center components and how they are wired. This is especially true of the System Transformer wiring since it is being replaced
    • WARNING: The Load Center contains wiring and components that carry lethal voltages when the system is energized. If you are not competent AND comfortable working with such components, STOP and hire a licensed professional who is
  • DECIDE if you are going to use a wired Indoor Control Panel (this could be the $500+ Pentair panel or a $250-$300 Raspberry Pi-based panel)
    • You'll want to run wiring during the upgrade if you plan to install a wired panel
    • If you have an existing wired ICP, it will need to be replaced, but can be delayed to a later date if desired
  • READ the documentation again
Let's Get Started!
  • Turn off the breaker feeding the Load Center. Verify no power at the Load Center before removing the dead front cover
  • Turn off the LC breakers
  • Remove the dead front cover
  • Photograph and document the wiring to the system transformer
  • Remove the top OCP bezel screws and lower the bezel to reveal the wiring
  • Photograph, document, and label the wiring to the OCP
  • Use the Upgrade Installation Guide to complete the installation. Here are the basic steps:
    • Disconnect wiring from OCP and remove OCP from Load Center
    • Disconnect wiring from SCG circuit breaker and SCG surge board
    • Disconnect system transformer wiring in HV compartment
    • Remove circuit breaker and system transformer bracket
    • Remove SCG circuit breaker
    • Remove SCG surge board
    • Cut off SCG circuit breaker mounting tab
    • Mark mounting hole locations for new SCG surge board (Detailed instructions and photos below)
    • Drill and tap SCG surge board mounting holes
    • Mount SCG surge board
    • Tap mounting holes on new circuit breaker and system transformer bracket
    • Install new SCG circuit breaker in bracket
    • Mount new circuit breaker and system transformer bracket
    • Connect wiring between SCG surge board, SCG circuit breaker and SCG transformer
    • Connect system transformer wiring in HV compartment
    • Mount new OCP to Load Center
    • Install Wireless Antenna Kit (at least the wiring inside the load center; the outdoor antenna can be mounted later)
    • Connect wiring to OCP
    • Close OCP
    • Mount dead front cover
    • Turn on main breaker
    • Turn on Load Center breakers
    • Configure system
Details for Mounting the new SCG Surge Board

This photo shows the old-style SCG circuit breaker and tab as well as the old-style SCG surge board. The breaker and surge board will be replaced, and the tab must be cut off.
20210528_115133.jpg

This photo shows the LV compartment after drilling and tapping the holes for the new SCG surge board. Note the SCG breaker tab had not yet been removed. In retrospect, I should have done that before drilling the new holes. In the photo, you can see four holes on the rear wall, above the red wires from the SCG transformer. The holes on the far left and right were from the old SCG surge board bracket. I reused the far right hole for the new SCG surge board, and that then made marking the location for the other two holes (bottom middle hole and top hole) very easy. Note that the top hole uses a 10-32 tap. All other holes, including the bezel and bracket holes, use a 8-32 tap.
20210528_132858.jpg

This photo shows the SCG surge board after being mounted. The new OCP has also been mounted as well.
20210528_142735.jpg

And here's the finished product!
20210528_161007.jpg

I'll post another update once I have the RPi ICP installed.

Tracy
 

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