Need help determining what SWG to replace my current one with, as well as opinions on whether or not to do other equipment change out

Jason245

Well-known member
Jul 27, 2019
87
Fort Lauderdale FL
If I am in the wrong thread please tell me, but my biggest priority is getting opinons on the SWG. I am about to do a full inground Pool/patio reno and figured while I am at it to do an equipment upgrade/change out if it is warranted. (all of this set up was put in place before I bought the house except for the solar heater which I added)

Pool size is ~10k Gallons

Current setup is as follows:
Single Speed 1.5HP Motor
Filter - Using the Jacuzzi CFR/CFT 75 Cartridge filter (well an equivalent one)
Solar pool Water Heater ( one of those ones where the water basically gets routed up to my roof to warm up with the sun, has a nice sensor box that I set it too so that it heats based on the temp I set)
SWG - Autopilot Pool Pilot Digital Nano (Produces 0.8LB/Day of chlorine see below... but it isn't producing enough).
Location - South Florida (swim in the pool 10 months out of the year thanks to the heater)
Pool is in a screened in patio.

Likes/Dislikes/Commentary on current equipment-

Thanks to the advise of the people in this forum, I have successfully been algae free for the almost 2 years since I fired the pool guy. I have also learned so much about the chemistry of my pool... much more than I thought I could ever know, and given my experience here are my biggest observations (things I am trying to resolve).

SWG Specific:
1. Chlorine Generation - During the summer months my current SWG just is not/was not able to keep up with the amount of chlorine burning off the pool. My CYA was fine, but I had to regularly supplement or run the pool 24 hours a day at 100% just to get the chlorine generation I needed (and some days even that was not enough. Based on that, I think my best bet would be to get a system that produces a lot more than this one can and does (I am thinking of targeting around 1.2-1.5LB of chlorine production a day). Does anyone have thoughts on sizing. I live near Fort Lauderdale FL if that is a good frame of reference for others.

2. SWG Cartridge's - Personally I think it makes more sense to replace a SWG cartridge (like the auto Pilot) than having to replace a whole system (Like the Pentair one I saw) when the cartrige goes bad. It looks more economical but maybe someone has more insight.

3. Sensors and options of the SWG system - I like the fact that the Autopilot can at the push of a button tell me salt count (I have tested and it is pretty accurate). My biggest frustration with the autopilot is there is no way for me to know if my SWG cartridge is actually producing or not without having to remove the cartridge and buy a fake cartridge or keep an old one (Which I always get rid of before remembering I need to keep it to test if the old one is finished, or if there is something else going wrong with the system). If there was something that could just tell me that the cartridge is all used up that would be awesome.

4. Reliability - For the most part the autopilot has been reliable but I expect almost any of them to be reliable. The only complaint I have is really the whole power cable plug in being finicky as heck to the point where sometimes I don't know if the cartridge is used up or if the power cable is just being difficult.

Pool Pump and filter setup:

The stuff works, not sure if it is worth changing. Similarly, Variable speed vs single speed, I dont really see the huge benefit there, other than that I know that if I don't have at least 1HP running I don't believe it is enough power to get the water to my roof to heat the pool. When I had a 1HP motor it didn't feel like it had good suction on the skimmer when I was running both top and bottom (1.5HP took care of that).

About me and my abilities:
I am more than capable of doing the testing, normal brushing and vacuuming of the pool, and changing SWG cartridges etc... Not really an electronics expert (e.g. soldering stuff ).


Anyone gone through something similar, and have any advise or opinions or suggestions?
Since we are having the pool re-plastered and the company is going to do the initial pool set up as part of all this, once I do the SWG change out, assuming nothing else, the only thing I will probably have to do is (assuming I don't buy a new filter system if anyone has advise/suggestion) buy 2 or 3 replacement filter cartriges given that I can only imagine that at least 1 if not 2 will be completely destroyed by the initial pool startup.

Thanks in advance for comments and advise.





 
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mknauss

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
Bronze Supporter
May 3, 2014
41,508
Laughlin, NV
Pool Size
6000
Surface
Fiberglass
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-40
In your pool volume (10K), the 0.8 lb per day chlorine gas generation of your SWCG (your number) will create 9.6 ppm FC per day. So if it was not generating enough chlorine, it was because the unit was not being run long enough or you had algae. How many hours per day and at what % generation were you running it?

Circupool is a popular DIY brand of SWCG here on the forum.

If your current pump works, keep it. Do realize that the next time the motor needs to be replaced you will have to put in a VS motor. On July 19, 2021 a Federal Regulation concerning pool pumps great than 1.1 THP takes effect.

Your filter cartridges should be able to be cleaned and reused. They will need replacement when the filter media is compromised or the end caps disintegrate. The plaster dust from a replaster should be no issue for them.
 

Jason245

Well-known member
Jul 27, 2019
87
Fort Lauderdale FL
In your pool volume (10K), the 0.8 lb per day chlorine gas generation of your SWCG (your number) will create 9.6 ppm FC per day. So if it was not generating enough chlorine, it was because the unit was not being run long enough or you had algae. How many hours per day and at what % generation were you running it?

Circupool is a popular DIY brand of SWCG here on the forum.

If your current pump works, keep it. Do realize that the next time the motor needs to be replaced you will have to put in a VS motor. On July 19, 2021 a Federal Regulation concerning pool pumps great than 1.1 THP takes effect.

Your filter cartridges should be able to be cleaned and reused. They will need replacement when the filter media is compromised or the end caps disintegrate. The plaster dust from a replaster should be no issue for them.


So it could have been the cord issue with the cell that kept coming up, but honestly, everyone in my area seems to struggle in summer on chlorine. I have a close family friend who who lives down the block who was putting in 2 Trichlor tabs a week and dumping 2 to 4 gallons of home depot chlorine in a week as well for a similar sized pool (That equates to up to what 50 PPM FC being added in a week or almost 7 PPM a day). I had no Algie... passed the overnight FC loss test multiple times. When I ran it 20 - 24 hours a day it held up chlorine, but at that rate the cell life drops dramatically. UV in South Florida is just extreme. I noticed that there is a Circupool RJ 30 which produces 1.5LBs per day says it is rated for pools with volumes of 20k in southern climates. Honestly, I think this unit that was installed before I bought the house was undersized for the summer month demands of florida

I think it is funny I will need to put in a VS motor even though I don't have the setup for VS... gotta love the feds.

As for the filter... Good to know...thanks for the insight.
 

ping

TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Jun 24, 2011
3,145
Long Beach, CA
What is the CYA level? The pool should use no more than 4ppm of FC during the summer if all the chems are right. And while you are at it please post all of the test results, thanks.

Auto Pilots are top of the line SWG's and they do have ways to tell if the cell is still producing by checking the amps and voltages. You need to read the manual towards the end. The one thing that makes Auto Pilots so nice is that there are a lot of details that you can see but it also makes it more difficult to understand. This size of cell is undersized for your pool do to location and size of pool so I would consider switching it to a new larger system. What sucks about the SWG that you have it can only accept the small sized cell. I'm all for getting the largest size of cell that you can get. It will need minimal pump run time and it will not have to run nearly as long as a smaller cell which will save money on electricity and extend the life of the cell.
 
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mguzzy

Gold Supporter
I poked around on Autopilots site.. and I think the Nano will accommodate two cell types. the PPC1 has an output of .8 and the PPC2 cell has an output of 1.06 for a 30K pool. That should work fine on your 10k pool I would think. So if you are happy with they way the Nano works, just put in the higher output cell. I would double check with manufacturer, but I expect it should work. That would be the path of least resistance.


If anyone knows it would be @JamesW
 

Jason245

Well-known member
Jul 27, 2019
87
Fort Lauderdale FL
What is the CYA level? The pool should use no more than 4ppm of FC during the summer if all the chems are right. And while you are at it please post all of the test results, thanks.

Auto Pilots are top of the line SWG's and they do have ways to tell if the cell is still producing by checking the amps and voltages. You need to read the manual towards the end. The one thing that makes Auto Pilots so nice is that there are a lot of details that you can see but it also makes it more difficult to understand. This size of cell is undersized for your pool do to location and size of pool so I would consider switching it to a new larger system. What sucks about the SWG that you have it can only accept the small sized cell. I'm all for getting the largest size of cell that you can get. It will need minimal pump run time and it will not have to run nearly as long as a smaller cell which will save money on electricity and extend the life of the cell.
CYA range actually ran between 80 and 90 in the summer.

Since it isn't summer, I can not post all test results for summer, but right now I am at FC4.5 CC 0.5 TA 80 CH 250 CYA 80 PH 7.6 (and in summer I try to keep it around the same)

Unfortunately, the Amp and Volt indicator is not perfect at least on the one I have. The only way to confirm 100% that the cell is dead is to actually put in a dummy cell to turn system on (not trip flow sensor), and then fill the cell up with water and run it and see if it bubbles.

9 times out of 10 the low amp indicator trips because the plug connecting the unit to the cell has come loose or there is a flow issue.

I have the nano not the nano plus so I can not take the bigger cell.

I have heard people say many times that it should take no more than 4PPM, and I am telling you that for whatever reason that is not fact given that in summer the UV in south Florida is off the charts, combined with the extreme amounts of rain we get.

Here is a Video I found when I was researching my system to confirm this (Youtube university has been my go to on trying to figure out how to fix issues I have had with the unit if/when they arise.).


I agree it is undersized.... do you think the RJ 30 circupool Is a good option? Other option if I stay with pool pilot is the PPC 3 Pool pilot digital.

 
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mguzzy

Gold Supporter
The Circupool SWG's are very popular here. I think in part because they will honor the warranty with a DIY install, which it sounds like you are wanting to do. I bet you could put your old controller up on CL and someone will need one.

A daily FC demand of 4ppm is a great over simplification. Every geographic region is subject to different conditions. In the south west its hotter and the sun is higher in the sky, in the north it more humid and the sun is high in the sky for a short season.. My pool is in the shade for all but an hour a day.. And my neighbors pool has pretty much full sun all day and our pools have different chemical needs as a result. Based on what you are saying, and it sound like you have a good handle on your chemistry, a FC demand in the 6, 7, 8 range would not be unheard of in the mid Florida area in the heat of the summer. All I am saying is you have to look at the whole picture. Hey you could also put UV blocking screen on part of your pool screen to help block. I've heard that helps as well.
 

Jason245

Well-known member
Jul 27, 2019
87
Fort Lauderdale FL
The Circupool SWG's are very popular here. I think in part because they will honor the warranty with a DIY install, which it sounds like you are wanting to do. I bet you could put your old controller up on CL and someone will need one.

A daily FC demand of 4ppm is a great over simplification. Every geographic region is subject to different conditions. In the south west its hotter and the sun is higher in the sky, in the north it more humid and the sun is high in the sky for a short season.. My pool is in the shade for all but an hour a day.. And my neighbors pool has pretty much full sun all day and our pools have different chemical needs as a result. Based on what you are saying, and it sound like you have a good handle on your chemistry, a FC demand in the 6, 7, 8 range would not be unheard of in the mid Florida area in the heat of the summer. All I am saying is you have to look at the whole picture. Hey you could also put UV blocking screen on part of your pool screen to help block. I've heard that helps as well.
I would take something that works good over something with a good warranty that always needs repairs any day.

I am having the guys that redo my deck and pool do the install of the system.... so really it is more of a question on which one is the best to pick. Ultimatly, To me the ~$500 price difference means less than the importance of reliability.

I went on this website:
Compare and Review Saltwater Chlorine Generator Prices and Features | DSP

And for whatever reason they rate the Circupool very high...

There isn't exactly a consumer reports I can find on this stuff, but the best options I see are:

Circupool RJ 30 (seems like it is also one of the least expensive options)
Autpilot PPM 3 (seems like about 50% more in price than the circupool)


Followed by

Aqua Rite T15 (Seems like an overpriced mirror of the circupool from basic examination, but I guess comes with the Hayward name).



So I find myself stuck between Circupool and Autopilot... and no idea which is the better option, unless the Hayward really is the one to get.
 
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mguzzy

Gold Supporter
If you read other posts around here you will find lots of people with Circupool.. DIY or otherwise. I have a Hayward I put it in myself when I did a complete upgrade to all the equipment on my pad, in 2005. I have been pretty happy with it. Since they are so popular they are easy to get parts for and everyone understand how they work. At the time.. it was the best and really only game in town back in the day. So I have had this for 15 years and have only had to fix the thermistor (that is a common problem) and I am on my second cell. When this cell goes out I will likely just get another one. If the whole controller goes out then I would start thinking about a more automated system with perhaps and Intellicenter. But I have really not been able to justify the added cost for saving a 20 foot walk to the pad to switch the valves when I turn on the spa. And all the pool lights and waterfall are already wired to switches on the side of my house.. so I am back to a stand alone SWG.. of which the Circupool is one of the better ones of that batch. I know that doesn't answer your question. But that is just my opinion.
 

Jason245

Well-known member
Jul 27, 2019
87
Fort Lauderdale FL
So I have done some research between getting a Autopilot Digital and a Circupool and here is what I have discovered. I am not doing any of this fancy automation Crud, I can use switches and an old fashion timer.


Autopilot Digital
Has a premium price (about 50% more than Circupool)
Made in USA (in Florida)
I can get a higher producing or lower producing cell for it even if I start with 1 size.
Tech support seems more reachable.
Sensors seem to be generally regarded as providing very accurate salt and temp readings.
2 year warranty
They have a flow screen that will catch debris if any before it gets to cell (annoying as heck to clean IMHO but supposed to help make cell last longer/better)

Circupool
Inexpensive option
From Australia (No idea where made, but if I had to guess it would be China but someone correct me)
You pick a size (e.g. RJ 30) and are stuck with it.
Tech support is helpful but not always easily reachable.
Sensors do not seem to calibrate correctly or spit out very accurate results all the time (maybe fair readings)
7 year warranty. .
No annoying screen to clean...no idea if this is good or bad.


Any pluses or Minuses I am missing when I compare the two?
 

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Jason245

Well-known member
Jul 27, 2019
87
Fort Lauderdale FL
So I have done some research between getting a Autopilot Digital and a Circupool and here is what I have discovered. I am not doing any of this fancy automation Crud, I can use switches and an old fashion timer.


Autopilot Digital
Has a premium price (about 50% more than Circupool)
Made in USA (in Florida)
I can get a higher producing or lower producing cell for it even if I start with 1 size.
Tech support seems more reachable.
Sensors seem to be generally regarded as providing very accurate salt and temp readings.
2 year warranty
They have a flow screen that will catch debris if any before it gets to cell (annoying as heck to clean IMHO but supposed to help make cell last longer/better)

Circupool
Inexpensive option
From Australia (No idea where made, but if I had to guess it would be China but someone correct me)
You pick a size (e.g. RJ 30) and are stuck with it.
Tech support is helpful but not always easily reachable.
Sensors do not seem to calibrate correctly or spit out very accurate results all the time (maybe fair readings)
7 year warranty. .
No annoying screen to clean...no idea if this is good or bad.


Any pluses or Minuses I am missing when I compare the two?
New dumb question on this.

From my looking at the set up and system, it almost looks like I could buy a Digital controller and a PPC 3 cartridge, keep the plumbing the same (since I am using the Nano basically a controller replacement), and , and then just power it up and plug in the tri sensor and the a new salt cell.

Has anyone done this before or know if it is possible.

If so, doing an autopilot digital might be the way I go since it cuts the price down significantly to where it mirrors the circupool price but has a much lower plumbing hassle factor (what can I say... I am lazy)
 

-MacGyver-

Well-known member
May 17, 2016
57
Rochester, NY
Have not looked at the manual for the RJ system, so cannot confirm what you are saying.

Having a RJ+ system I can say that the controller does work with the different sized cells for the RJ+ line. The cell housing should be the same, its the # and length of plates that change, and the controller has a setting that you can adjust the cell.
 

Jason245

Well-known member
Jul 27, 2019
87
Fort Lauderdale FL
Have not looked at the manual for the RJ system, so cannot confirm what you are saying.

Having a RJ+ system I can say that the controller does work with the different sized cells for the RJ+ line. The cell housing should be the same, its the # and length of plates that change, and the controller has a setting that you can adjust the cell.
Just got confirmation from an autopilot distributor.

Plumbing and cell size are identical. I literally can just swap the controller and put in the new cell.

My total out of pocket on the controller will be ~$700 and then the cell I want is ~$400 (plus a rebate of some kind).

And no new plumbing to deal with.

I think I will go that way from an inertia perspective.
 

Newdude

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Jun 16, 2019
8,761
NY
And no new plumbing to deal with.

I think I will go that way from an inertia perspective
I seriously considered changing systems away from my somewhat pricey Pentair SWG when the time came. Maybe the circupool would have been even better, maybe not. So in the end I stayed with what worked great and the swap took a whopping 10 minutes including unboxing and walking out back. (y)

Ya did good.
 

Jason245

Well-known member
Jul 27, 2019
87
Fort Lauderdale FL
I seriously considered changing systems away from my somewhat pricey Pentair SWG when the time came. Maybe the circupool would have been even better, maybe not. So in the end I stayed with what worked great and the swap took a whopping 10 minutes including unboxing and walking out back. (y)

Ya did good.
By the way, if anyone else is ever interested in getting help on an autopilot or have technical questions the guys over at SaltPoolGuys are quick and super knowledgeable. They even tried to figure out why the SWG I have (the Nano) isn't producing enough when I was trying to buy a the new system from them and asking the questions. It is very rare I experience integrity like that.
 
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