Overwhelmed with attempt to automate pool pump

kleepride

New member
Oct 21, 2019
2
NC
I just got my pool installed this March and didn't get an option into the pump timer we received. I currently have an Intermatic 24 hour mechanical timer in an outdoor case. Being a noob, I didn't know what I didn't know nor had a clue about timers and such at the time. After enjoying the pool this summer, I'm wanting to be able to make a couple upgrades to do 2 things:
1. Automate my pool pump to turn on/off via electronic means such as a phone based app and hopefully Alexa.
2. Be able to use IFTTT (or something similar) to have my pump turn on if the temperature falls below a certain range (i.e., close to freezing temps).

I'm a little overwhelmed when looking online as I'm not sure exactly where to start if I want/need to connect something into the existing Intermatic timer or overhaul with something different. Since the pump is 240V, I've heard about having to use relays and transformers to step down to the 120v to use with things like WEMO switches...but I don't know where to begin.

I found the following which may seem like a viable option with WEMO, but wanted feedback:
IMG_2203-contactor-WeMo-r2-6.jpg

I've seem other options that see like this (Insteon example) solutions but not sure if I could use this with IFTTT to control based on temp.

Anyone have any input or links that shows examples or guides on this? Any other insight or advice based on what I'm trying to do? Very much appreciate the help/support!

Thanks!
 

Rattus Suffocatus

Silver Supporter
Jun 5, 2019
435
Corona de Tucson, AZ
The contactor (relay) should work when driven with a wifi switch. A modern panel should have a neutral connection in it (white wire). Especially if there is a 120V light and/or GFCI. This is the desired way to get 120V to the switch. I would run the neutral if not there before attempting to use a transformer.

Please bear in mind that a wifi switch will NOT function in the metal Intermatic box... You will need to mount it outside of the box in a waterproof outdoor plastic box.

I have a Hayward VS pump that has a fairly fancy timer control built in but I had a dumb switch for the LED light. I use TP-Link Kasa switches but I can say "Alexa, turn on the pool light" now. But I had to move the switch out of the Intermatic box to get it to work at all (and reliably).
 

kleepride

New member
Oct 21, 2019
2
NC
Rattus...just a little lost, sorry. My setup is the intermatic box which only is hooked up to the pump, currently. So are you saying the wiring diagram I attached would not work? I'm lost on the neutral you are mentioning.
 

kefjens

Well-known member
Jul 25, 2011
69
Michigan
You need to be comfortable handling 240v wiring and the principles associated with AC current before you undertake a solution like this. I did something very similar to what you want to do using Lutron Caseta switches. I use my mechanical timer to turn the pump on/off and the wireless switches to change between pump speeds (Hi/lo) and turn on/off the waterfalls. If you just want swap out your timer, there are far better commercially available systems to start with. Intermatic, wion and others if you search the forums here.

Also, if freeze protection is critical, ask yourself how much you trust IFTTT to protect your investment.
 

Rattus Suffocatus

Silver Supporter
Jun 5, 2019
435
Corona de Tucson, AZ
In the US, we have 240V single phase in most places residential. That is further divided into two (center tapped transformer with the neutral earthed at only one point) 120V circuits that, like the diagram shows is literally tapped off the power company's transformer in a similar fashion. That center tap is the "white" wire, or neutral. You should have a neutral block in that Intermatic timer panel. Likely for either your pool light or GFCI outlet. There will be a white wire going to that block. This is a better place to tap for 120V than adding another transformer. The ground ("green" or no insulation) is actually a second neutral that is used as a safety backup but isn't intended to carry current. This is in fact how a GFCI can work.. if it determines there is a current imbalance that causes current on the ground run then it will instantly pop the circuit.

But I do have to agree. If you don't understand basic wiring, this isn't really a great project for you. Read up a bit on it before you attempt this. What they mean by that diagram is to generate an "artificial" neutral with a second transformer, presumably because they didn't have it available in their box. This isn't a good idea, especially around water, because that artificial neutral will be floating from the earth ground potential. I would run a neutral in that case. You likely have it available in your Intermatic panel, since it's probably the same on everyone else has, including me.

IFTTT tends to skip days on commands on occasion.. I find it more reliable if I have it notify me of the turn on of my lights, but I would agree that it isn't reliable for freeze protection. You will really need to consider using a local sensor for that as well, and have that command the wifi switch.

Hopefully you will be able to figure it out once you do more reading. It is a doable project.
 

phunystuf

New member
Nov 13, 2019
2
TX
I did this same project a few weeks ago. Documented here.

It was fairly easy once I found out my old Intermatic timer was receiving 220V. Both my heater and pool pump receive 220V from the new GE smart switch, which I can fully control through SmartThings. Highly recommend this project, just be sure to know:
Voltage is coming in
Voltage going out to your equipment
Amps on equipment (so you can calculate total wattage and ensure you don't exceed what the new switch can handle)

and TURN OFF the power coming in at the breaker. That's step #1
 
Last edited: