New Pool Fairfax Va. Alpine Pools - Feedback Requested!

CPinOaktonVA

Member
Oct 11, 2020
9
Fairfax Va.
Hi Everyone. New to the forums.

We have a proposal for a new pool from Alpine Pools. We're going thru a landscape design company and they say they've done a lot of pools with them. Anyone have any experience with this builder here in northern Virginia?

Here are parts of the proposal and equipment lists. We know nothing about any of this. Please let us know if this is a good build or any recommendations for changes!

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It's going to be a family pool with no diving (obviously) and we just want something we can relax in
 

HermanTX

Gold Supporter
May 20, 2020
956
Katy TX
Pool Size
14600
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Liquid Chlorine
Welcome to TFP and pool ownership.
One item missing from your description is pool volume and shape. Do you happen to have a graphic to attach?
Some immediate items that standout.
Would be nice to have 2 skimmers (depending on your size/pool volume). 2 really helps in cleaning the surface debris. Both should be independently plumbed back to the equipment pad.
You should go with a Variable Speed Pump - the Pentair IntelliFlo is the well regarded. New laws are going into effect in 2021 to only use variable speed so not sure why they offered the WhisperFlo pump.
The DE Filter is good but you could also consider a large cartridge filter by Pentair.
The 280 cleaner is really old technology. You may want to consider an electric robot cleaner (does not require the booster pump) or an updated pressure side or suction side cleaner.
I am sure others will chime in on additional thoughts. Please post a graphic of your design if available.
 

Jimrahbe

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Jul 7, 2014
19,796
Bedford, TX
CP,

I love saltwater pools, but the downside is that you might have to run your pump longer to generate the amount of chlorine you will need. This is one reason that we almost always recommend a 2-speed or variable speed pump..

If you liked the old black rotary dial telephone from the 1960's you will love your pressure side cleaner... :mrgreen: You might want to step up into this Century and go with a Robot cleaner like this..


I too like having a large Cartridge filter.. I have two rent house pools that have DE filter and I can't wait until they die so that I can replace them with cartridge filters.. No messing with DE, no backwash valves to leak or go bad, dirt simple plumbing..

Looks like it will be a nice pool to me..

Thanks,

Jim R.
 
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CPinOaktonVA

Member
Oct 11, 2020
9
Fairfax Va.
Sorry, it's 3' 6'' to 6'.

Ok. So far it seems like i should....

1. ask about a robot cleaner instead of the 'pressure side' approach? (am i saying that right?) Is there a consensus on best value cleaner? What is the lowest maintenance model?
2. ask about "a large cartridge filter by Pentair". Is there a model or something i can ask about specifically?
3. ask about a 'variable speed' pump - given pending legislative requirements, surprising they didn't recommend that to begin with.
4. ask about a second skimmer.



Any comments on the cover(s)? It looks like they proposed two? Is the automatic cover a 'security cover'? We won't have a fence which means we will be closing the cover whenever the pool isn't in use.

We are in northern virginia, so hoping the heater and pool cover will help us extend the use an extra few weeks in the spring and fall. Is the heater a 'good' heater?

Thanks again everyone!!
 

duraleigh

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Apr 1, 2007
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I think Cartridge filters are very good but you should familiarize yourself with sand filters as well. They are hard to beat. In order, my choice would be

Sand Filter
Cartridge Filter
and then, a distant third, DE Filter.

Learn the characteristics of each and then make a common sense choice.
 
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HermanTX

Gold Supporter
May 20, 2020
956
Katy TX
Pool Size
14600
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Liquid Chlorine
Sorry, it's 3' 6'' to 6'.

Ok. So far it seems like i should....

1. ask about a robot cleaner instead of the 'pressure side' approach? (am i saying that right?) Is there a consensus on best value cleaner? What is the lowest maintenance model?
2. ask about "a large cartridge filter by Pentair". Is there a model or something i can ask about specifically?
3. ask about a 'variable speed' pump - given pending legislative requirements, surprising they didn't recommend that to begin with.
4. ask about a second skimmer.



Any comments on the cover(s)? It looks like they proposed two? Is the automatic cover a 'security cover'? We won't have a fence which means we will be closing the cover whenever the pool isn't in use.

We are in northern virginia, so hoping the heater and pool cover will help us extend the use an extra few weeks in the spring and fall. Is the heater a 'good' heater?

Thanks again everyone!!
#1 - Robot cleaner - you could just have the PB remove the pressure side cleaner and booster pump, then buy the robot cleaner on your own to save money. See the model that @Jimrahbe uses. There are other versions as well. The main item for your PB is to provide a GFCI outlet near the pool (within electrical code for your area) so you can plug in the robot. A robot usually has 40-50 ft of electrical cord to allow it to reach all areas of your pool.
#2 - Filter - either DE or Cartridge filter is fine - the cartridge filter may be less maintenance for you in long run. It is best to get the largest cartridge filter if you go that route. He has already noted the 60sq ft size for the DE filter which is good as well.
#3 - Suggest the Pentair IntelliFlow VS Pump
#4 - The reason for the second skimmer is that wind across your pool surface has more to do with floating debris then does water circulation. Also, the second skimmer is good to have if you should have a problem then you have always 1 functional skimmer.
I would request that the PB provide you 2 schematics. The first is the pool layout with the 2 skimmers and the 3 returns (personally I have 5 returns in my pool and it is slightly small than your proposed pool) - you can get by with 3 but if he shows you how he plans to set it up that would be helpful.
Second would be a layout of your equipment pad plumbing. You would want each skimmer and the main drain to have its pipes run to the equipment pad as suction to your pump. It then flows to your filter then to you heater, then thru the Saltwater Chlorine Generator (SWCG) and back to the pool. You can also ask if he plans to include a bypass for your heater.
Other - your PB seems very hands on based on the comments in the "Supervision" section. That is great and he should be very open to discussions on items noted above.

I cannot comment on a cover as never had to use or install one.
Let us know the feedback after your discussion with the PB.
 

gingrbredman

Well-known member
Jun 10, 2020
186
Chicagoland
Pool Size
11200
Surface
Fiberglass
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-40
I have learned a lot by reading the build threads here, and just going through my build, so I'm not an "expert", but here is what I would look at.

1. Robot for sure. My pool is a FB, so there were never talks of booster pumps, or in floor cleaning, but can tell you the robot I have is great for keeping the pool clean and so easy to use.
2. Looks to me like there is no automation is your proposal, but a few parts put together and run by timers, will very likely work together just fine. But, for a modern pool, with controls that will make life easier now, and in the future, here is what I would think.
- Intellicenter bundle with IC40 salt water chlorine generator (SWCG).
- LED lights would be Microbrites by Pentair (the proposal does not mention what kind they are)
-Intellicenter expansion module for auto cover (Assuming the auto cover you are getting is a Coverstar one, which it sounds like based on the upgraded cover for pavers). This will allow you to see, through the Intellicenter, if the cover is open or closed, as well as program features like the SWCG and lights to run or not run based on the status of the cover. The cover would only be able to open or close by the keypad.
3. Pentair IntelliFlow VS Pump

All these Pentair parts will talk and work with each other through the Intellicenter, and you can control all of them by either the main panel, remote panels, or an app on your phone.

Sometimes when a "simple" pool is being installed, the thought of automation is secondary as if it is not needed. Is it "needed"? Probably not. Is it nice to have? Sure is. It is nice to have programs, schedules, and the control over your pool and equipment which most modern pools should have anyway.
 

CPinOaktonVA

Member
Oct 11, 2020
9
Fairfax Va.
What's a FB pool? (I'm soooo new to this pool thing).

So it seems like you either use the pool pump to power a cleaner or you get a 'robot' that is powered separately to run around and clean? Sounds like most people prefer using the robot vs upgrading the pool pump.

Thanks for the feedback and ideas! I have an existing and will likely add another Ring Camera in the back yard. We access them from our phones and our Echo Show's around the house. But I like the automation of lights ideas and the ability to turn on/off remotely.

I'm not sure what cover is proposed other than what's listed. Our landscaping company arranged the proposal and I haven't talked with them yet.

Thanks!
 

gingrbredman

Well-known member
Jun 10, 2020
186
Chicagoland
Pool Size
11200
Surface
Fiberglass
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-40
FB is a fiberglass pool.

Yes, you would either get the separate pump with the "in floor cleaning system", or a robot. Eliminating the in floor cleaning system would reduce your cost, and simplify your plumbing. The robot just drops in the pool and runs around like a "rumba" house vacuum and cleans the pool. There are some that like their in floor cleaning system, but the robot is just so simple, and effective, I personally wouldn't want anything else.

You would not need this if you went with a robot..

1605628702623.png

If you are someone who likes technology, Ring cameras, Alexa etc., and using your phone to control things, you will like the Intellicenter for automation. You can control the lights from your phone, change colors and all that, and schedule everything as well as keep an eye on all your stuff.

For your pool, the auto cover expansion kit wouldn't necessarily be a "must have" because it looks like you do not have water features, but the small cost of the add on will give you all kinds of added features that may keep things running more efficiently down the road. I'd talk with who arranged the proposal because I believe the add on to the Intellicenter for the cover only works right now with Coverstar covers. It may work with others, but is very straightforward and the instructions come specifically for the Coverstar brands.
 

YippeeSkippy

Mod Squad
LifeTime Supporter
Jan 17, 2012
14,962
Evans, Georgia
There is no way I'd put an IFCS in a fiberglass pool shell. In fact, I've never heard of one in that type of pool.

A robot costs much less, works better and saves a TON on electricity as you don't have to use a secondary pump to run it.

Sand filters are the easiest, IMO, to use.

Maddie :flower:
 

bmoreswim

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Jul 16, 2012
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Very exciting! I remember this state very well. The other cover you have in your contract is an excellent choice. Loop-Loc is one of about 3 or 4 high quality winter safety covers. It is possible to use an autocover as a winter cover in snow areas but I personally would not recommend it. It’s a whole other discussion on that topic for sure. A PB here has many/most of his autocover customers use them as winter covers. But don’t change to that without being fully informed.

Using your autocover as a safety device (no fence) is allowed in certain jurisdictions. I am very much not a fan of that concept for several reasons, but I will hold off because it will sound preachy, unless you are interested.

I’ll reiterate what was stated earlier because its a biggie. Your contract has super cheap mechanical timers. The bigger issue is it’s a great pool with great equipment, but there’s a mis-matched SWCG, and no automation to tie it all together. The Pentair Intellicenter is a no-brainer. Thought I would definitely give thought to switching to a Latham/Coverstar cover so the module is part of the deal. Being able to have it adjust your SWCG setting alone is great. I realize you’ll have it covered much of the time, but on days by the pool, you will need to adjust your FC setting higher unless you run plenty of excess FC (not impossible or a big issue).
 

CPinOaktonVA

Member
Oct 11, 2020
9
Fairfax Va.
Thanks!! I'm definitely interested in your fence perspective, as well as any ideas on how to best incorporate a solution. We're on a little more than an acre of land and didn't like the idea of having to fence the entire back yard off or even parts of it.

When you mention the timers, what are you looking at? I don't even see them in the proposal. We have/will ask about the Intellicenter and will look at the "Latham/Coverstar" cover you mentioned. What does "FC" mean?
 

bmoreswim

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Jul 16, 2012
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Thanks!! I'm definitely interested in your fence perspective, as well as any ideas on how to best incorporate a solution. We're on a little more than an acre of land and didn't like the idea of having to fence the entire back yard off or even parts of it.

When you mention the timers, what are you looking at? I don't even see them in the proposal. We have/will ask about the Intellicenter and will look at the "Latham/Coverstar" cover you mentioned. What does "FC" mean?
On the autocover with no fence, my main reasons against it are: 1) people forget, 2) covers break down, and 3) electricity goes out. In all three cases your pool is open to littles accessing it. It only takes one little to appear for the process to be re-thought. There are, of course, counter-arguments 1) No one will ever forget, 2), We'll get it fixed quickly, and 3) Everyone will know the backup procedure, if it's possible. It's a risk tolerance issue that I'm too risk averse for. But, and this is not sarcastic, be sure to have an umbrella insurance policy. All pool owners should.

Regarding the fence layout, here is a picture of our pool, also in your region, and also on one acre, for an example of how a pool can work. I realize it's a different scenario though. The lot extends about 100' past the pool. There is space on both sides to access that. My first thought is a way to get your pool separated from the house (a sin for many I'm sure). I'd consider pushing your pool away from the house another 6', and to the left as required to stay out of your septic setback. Then I'd put in about a 2' drop from the house level down to the pool level. Have that wall run parallel to the house (with a black aluminum fence atop it) and then on the left side have it wrap out toward the woods, perpendicular to the house. It would create a great recessed feeling and cool environment. With dogs and kids, I am not a fan of having a pool that is closed for the winter so accessible either. Just because there's a safety cover on it, doesn't mean it's not messy if someone walks on it. We have dogs too and I like being able to have them separated from it. The other alternative is to have a fence more or less across the back of the pool (maybe back a bit) and run it to the sides and then bring it to the house. That doesn't separate it from the house but does get a fence in place for littles from outside. Keeping access on the sides of it to the back section of lawn. It's always a matter of examining the full property usage for it's best overall functioning. There are some missing full property views to see that here, but I think you get the idea. As I often say, feel free to say thanks but no thanks to any and all of this! I just realized you can see my neighbors and interestingly, they have theirs fenced in but close to the pool to retain the back and side yards being as unobstructed as possible.


Regarding the timers, it's the line under Electrical Components: Independent 24 hour times for filter and cleaner pumps. I take this to mean these...since there's no mention of automation.

Amazon.com: Intermatic T10404R Power Center, Beige: Garden & Outdoor

I do love your autocover upgrade to have the coping stones also used there. It is a great choice. We have it and it looks smart. Also bluestone.

 

CPinOaktonVA

Member
Oct 11, 2020
9
Fairfax Va.
We met with our landscaping firm yesterday and discussed many of the topics here.

1. He's going to discuss the variable speed pump with the installer but his initial reaction was it adds a little cost and not opposed but not sure it adds much value. He said we have a very simple pool. One (or two) skimmers, no waterfall, no sprayers, rectangular, etc.. Said that they usually put variables in when there are a lot of other things being powered. But if it's just a minor cost difference, we'll ask them to do it anyway.
2. Filter. He brought material over including some good overview materials. He still thinks DE is the best, doing occasional backwashes vs. having to clean filters etc.. We re-read the materials he brought (Best Pool Filter Type: DE, Sand or Cartridge? | InTheSwim Pool Blog) and then looked at our county regulations and seems like we have to go with Cartridge. We're on a septic system and right next to storm water drains. Doesn't seem like we can do anything that requires a backwash. (at the end of the season apparently we can let the pool chlorine evaporate and then flush thru the storm water drains OR use a sewage company to take it away).
3. Extra skimmer. He thought our pool was relatively small and simple and said there really isn't anything than can 'break' in the skimmer - our only issue would be if the pipe was cut/ruptured, but he's going to check with the installer.
4. Robot cleaner vs. Polaris. He said simple pool and the polaris just uses the pump to power around and clean. Could do a robot but more complicated device, have to have a power cord connected vs. just hooking into the side of the pool. Didn't seem to be philosophy issue, just trying to keep things as 'simple' as possible. Seems to make sense. I know we'll burn more electricity but less work if we just leave it in the pool and let it run.
5. He's asking about the Automation - although given the rest of the discussion doesn't seem like we have a lot to automate.
6. He thought two lights was plenty, doing more would be overkill.
7. He was clear that the automated cover is a security cover and will help with keeping the pool clean and warm and the second cover is for when we close the pool for the season and built to handle snow accumulations.
8. Fence, we're still thinking about options....

Sounds like we'll have 60-90 days with the county and probably not started until march time frame once we sign, which we haven't yet. More to do, thanks for all of the advice so far!!
 
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bmoreswim

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On the robot, I find our robot to clean much, much better than our pressure side cleaner did. So glad I got rid of that. That is my logic for getting one. Small electricity savings (probably none really because you will be running the pump anyway) would be very minimal.

Agree on the covers and their purposes. The auto over also must have the pump on it for it to be a safety cover. So it’s close the cover then put on the pump. Not a big deal but don’t forget. A quick rain without the pump on it and you have a danger again. It takes very little water on the cover to pool around a little should they get on it.

Automation is not required. My reasons for enjoying it on a pool that has your exact features are:

1) Being able to adjust SWCG speed, turn on/off pool lights, turn on/off lights around pool, check pool temp, etc, from inside.
2)Being able to have my lights around the pool automated. Can be done other ways too though.
3) Most systems now have internet control so you can also do anything from anywhere. Mine could but it was an extra module I never bought.

VSP - With a 2-speed, you only have two speeds. Sound obvious but if low isn’t the speed you want (which you won’t have an appreciation for until you have a pool for a while) then you have no option. You won’t want to run it on high because a) it’s loud and b) it’s expensive. Low on a 2-speed uses 1/4 the electric while runningat half the speed. Not required but has its benefits even in your setup.

Don’t get me wrong, your pool will be wet and wonderful, just so many things that can be tweaked. Everyone has to allocate resources and make choices. No wrong choices, except maybe that vacuum. ;)
 

gingrbredman

Well-known member
Jun 10, 2020
186
Chicagoland
Pool Size
11200
Surface
Fiberglass
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-40
Regarding the VSP, while the landscape firm is not technically wrong, for the relatively low cost to get one over a 2 speed, PBs really shouldn't be installing them now anyway. Come July 2021, main pumps for filtration will be required to be VSP, why not just make the switch now?

Could do a robot but more complicated device, have to have a power cord connected vs. just hooking into the side of the pool. Didn't seem to be philosophy issue, just trying to keep things as 'simple' as possible.
Really, if you want to keep it simple, removing the built in cleaner and using a robot is as simple as it gets. Plug in, drop in, watch it clean. Maybe the robot itself is a more complicated device than say the pump used to power the installed cleaner, but it actually removes complication from your whole build, to remove the pump and plumbing for the built in cleaning system. Also, if the issue is "we need to have power nearby", you are already going to need power nearby for the pump you will need for the auto cover. As bmoreswim mentioned, you put the pump on top of the cover when you close the cover, and plug it in, so you will need power somewhere.

5. He's asking about the Automation - although given the rest of the discussion doesn't seem like we have a lot to automate.
Regarding automation, it sounds as if there isn't anyone on the build team that is familiar with this, so it may be less of a headache at first to skip it. Someone will need to hook it all up, and program it, and if they are comfortable with just timers, and that works for them and you, not sure I have anything to say that would change the situation. Just know, there are things there to automate, they probably just doing normally automate them.

Don’t get me wrong, your pool will be wet and wonderful, just so many things that can be tweaked. Everyone has to allocate resources and make choices. No wrong choices, except maybe that vacuum.
Well, I would also say the following statement is wrong...
6. He thought two lights was plenty, doing more would be overkill.
Three lights are not "overkill" for a 15x30 pool. Take a look at my construction page, you can see three Microbrites in a 14x30 pool, and they seem just right. Two may be "ok", but three would be better IMO.

Good luck with the process! I know there is a lot of information to process, and a lot of opinions. some of them from some of us may be strong, but that is usually because we went through the same discussions as you, and remember when a PB told us something we found later to be not the best solution.