Pentair 520712 Motherboard Com Port Burns Out

Xav001

New member
Jul 15, 2019
4
Detroit, MI
Hi there...I have a complex problem I am hoping someone can help with. The short story is that I am on my THIRD Pentair 520712 in two years. It seems that every time there is a lightning strike anywhere in the area, the com port on this board fails.

MY SETUP
  • In ground saltwater pool
  • Variable speed pump
  • Heater
  • Chlorinator
  • Lights
  • All controlled by a Pentair 520712...which is also connected to an Elan home automation system.

WHAT HAPPENS OVERVIEW
  • When we have a lightning storm (NOT a direct strike) the com port seems to burn out on this motherboard.
  • We DO have a whole-house surge suppressor (at the main breaker panel, not on the pool panel), and the Elan control system is protected by a UPS.

FIRST FAILURE DETAILS
  • Lightning storm in the area, the com port stopped working.
  • I narrowed in on the fact that the com port stopped working because the motherboard worked fine in terms of controlling the heater and chlorinator. Only components connected to the com port refused to function (VS Pump, radio remote, Elan control appliance in my basement computer rack.)
  • Again, anything plugged into the com port (VS Pump, remote, Elan) would not work.
  • The RG485 port on the Elan that the motherboard was plugged into also seemed to burn out. (There are two of them, I used the other one and once I replaced the Pentair motherboard it worked fine.)
  • Diagnostics didn't show anything besides no communication to the pump.
  • The "fix" was to replace the Pentair 520712 and use the other port on the Elan. Full functionality was restored after I bought a replacement board online (I was out of warranty by a month for the original one and I just wanted to be up and running so I paid the $300 and installed/programmed it myself).
  • Please note that there was no evidence of a direct strike and no other damage to anything else in the house.
  • There were also no burn marks on the mother board.

SECOND FAILURE DETAILS
  • Again, a lightning storm in the area.
  • Same symptom: Anything plugged into the com port on the Pentair 520712 would no longer function (so no controlling the VS pump and no remote control with the ELAN.
  • All other features on the board worked (so I manually turned on the VS pump and the 520712 happily fired up the chlorinator, which does not communicate through the com port.)
  • The self-diagnostic noted that there was no communications with pump again.
  • No physical damage to the board (no burn marks, etc)
  • No damage to the Elan this time.
  • No other damage to anything else in or around the house.
  • I, again, turned to online, bought a new board, installed/programmed it and was up and running again.
  • Its also worth nothing that I am aware of someone else 1/2 mile away that has the same Pentair/Elan combo and they ALSO had issues. They seemed to be closer to the strike that I am because both of their units fully failed (versus my partial, com-port only failure.)

THIRD FAILURE DETAILS
  • Very similar. Lightning strike in the neighborhood.
  • No direct hit, we did have the lights flicker.
  • No communication at all through the com port again (so the VS pump nor remote control work)
  • The self-diagnostic showed no coms to the pump (again.)
  • The system seems less stable this time...the com port does not work at all but the board runs for a while and then just dies so I lose the chlorinator (as before I am able to run the pump manually.)
  • The Elan seems perfectly fine this time, but I won't be able to confirm until I receive my replacement board again.

THEORIES (here is where I am hoping others can help!)
  • I just have bad luck, 3 lightning strikes (even indirect) could do this.
  • The antenna for the radio remote is acting as an inductive antenna and generating a current through that sensitive com port (the remote antenna unit DOES also connect to that com port). This might be a valid root cause for the first two failures, but this third time I left that antenna disconnected from the com port on the motherboard just to rule this out.
  • Something is wrong with the bonding/grounding of all my pool systems (pool itself, pentair gear, etc) making them pick up energy during a lightning storm that is then frying my boards.
  • I have had three bad boards in a row from the manufacturer.
  • Something else connected to my Elan (perhaps my home alarm system?) is picking up energy during a lightning storm and transmitting it through the Elan (which survives with no issues) and into the Pentair motherboard via its com port.

SOLUTIONS (again, please help!)
  • Install an Intermatic PS300 surge suppressor on my pool sub panel itself (in addition to the one on my main house breaker panel) .
  • Find some other in-line low voltage suppressor to protect that com port (do they make those things?)
  • ???

Again, the common event every time was lightning. The com port has died all three times, with more damage this third time. I am trying to determine what else I might do (in addition to my whole house surge) to protect this from happening again.

Thank you so much for any ideas you can offer!
 

Jimrahbe

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Jul 7, 2014
14,648
Bedford, TX
I think you are just darn unlucky...

Surge suppressors only prevent thing from coming in on the AC power lines.. They have no effect on the com buss.

The longer the wires between your com port and your antenna, the more likely you are to take a hit.

The com chip on the EasyTouch board is not all that robust.

Do you actually have your EasyTouch com port connected to your ELAN system??? If your ELAN system has a lot of wires in your attic and those wires are connected back to the Easytouch, then that is your smoking gun...

Let's see what Tom has to say... @ogdento

Thanks,

Jim R.
 

ogdento

Bronze Supporter
Mar 30, 2015
365
Chico, CA
Oh man that is terrible luck, sorry you've had so many blow up!

As Jim said, using a surge protector on your AC in won't help with the data, but there are rs-485 surge protectors (and for other types of serial comms)... I've never used one, but you could check these out:

Jim also mentioned that the comm port isn't terribly robust, and he's right. There are other chips out there that might work better for the typical kinds of screw-ups that blow these ports, but I don't think they'll help with lightning.

Interesting point about your Elan system maybe being the cause... it might make sense to go to a wireless link for that, and eliminate the cable between the Elan and the ET. You mentioned a wireless antenna... is this for an EasyTouch remote or for a Screenlogic wireless link? Of course, if your antenna theory has legs then there goes that idea ;) but most people seem to do better in storms with wireless links. I think you can actually use a screenlogic wireless link to replace your Elan > ET cable and it will "just work"... I don't think it cares about what protocols are being used, but this should be verified before purchasing anything!

Tom
 

Xav001

New member
Jul 15, 2019
4
Detroit, MI
I think you are just darn unlucky...

Surge suppressors only prevent thing from coming in on the AC power lines.. They have no effect on the com buss.

The longer the wires between your com port and your antenna, the more likely you are to take a hit.

The com chip on the EasyTouch board is not all that robust.

Do you actually have your EasyTouch com port connected to your ELAN system??? If your ELAN system has a lot of wires in your attic and those wires are connected back to the Easytouch, then that is your smoking gun...

Let's see what Tom has to say... @ogdento

Thanks,

Jim R.
Thanks for the response, Jim.

The wires between my com port and my antenna are just a few inches; the antenna is mounted on the side of my panel.

Yes, my EasyTouch com port is directly wired to my ELAN. My home automation guy said that was the cleanest install and bypassed the need to buy the other hardware (I forgot the component?) It works very well when lightning is not frying my mother board. The only other wires going into my Elan are the CAT6 to put it on the network and another cable for connectivity to the home alarm system. The alarm system has LOTS of wires (all of my end points are wired and not wireless) but if the surge were coming from that direction (alarm to elan to EasyTouch) it would mean that the home alarm and Elan survived the surge and the tiny com port on the EasyTouch is the only thing that consistently fries.
 

Jimrahbe

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Jul 7, 2014
14,648
Bedford, TX
X,

When I initially wired my ScreenLogic system to my EasyTouch, I had it hardwired from the ET to the house.. Worked great for about a year. My neighbor took a lightning hit and it took out my com port on the EasyTouch. Since then I have seen three or four reports of the same failure and all of them were hard wired.

I used to run a repair center for a company that made very high end audio/visual stuff for very rich people. We saw a ton of stuff come back for lightning damage and almost all of it was located in an out building of some type, like guest house, pool house, etc. The common factor was they were all connected via low voltage cables, some above ground and others below ground, it did not seem to matter.. Why I did not remember this, when I wired my ET, I do not know.. I assume it was the "Can't happen to me" syndrome.. :)

The "fix" was to use a device similar to what Tom shows above..

Thanks,

Jim R.
 

Xav001

New member
Jul 15, 2019
4
Detroit, MI
Oh man that is terrible luck, sorry you've had so many blow up!

As Jim said, using a surge protector on your AC in won't help with the data, but there are rs-485 surge protectors (and for other types of serial comms)... I've never used one, but you could check these out:

Jim also mentioned that the comm port isn't terribly robust, and he's right. There are other chips out there that might work better for the typical kinds of screw-ups that blow these ports, but I don't think they'll help with lightning.

Interesting point about your Elan system maybe being the cause... it might make sense to go to a wireless link for that, and eliminate the cable between the Elan and the ET. You mentioned a wireless antenna... is this for an EasyTouch remote or for a Screenlogic wireless link? Of course, if your antenna theory has legs then there goes that idea ;) but most people seem to do better in storms with wireless links. I think you can actually use a screenlogic wireless link to replace your Elan > ET cable and it will "just work"... I don't think it cares about what protocols are being used, but this should be verified before purchasing anything!

Tom
Thanks for the reply Tom. This is also very helpful and I appreciate your response.

My "Wireless antenna" is for the EasyTouch Remote. When that com port burns out, that remote does not function either.

Do you happen to know the exact PentAir component name for the "wireless link?" Is it literally "ScreenLogic Wireless Link?"

My home automation guy hard-wired the com port to my Elan controller and it works perfectly. But if that connection is somehow increasing the surge risk to that com port I am open to replacing the wired connection with a wireless one.
 

ogdento

Bronze Supporter
Mar 30, 2015
365
Chico, CA
The wireless link is just called "Screenlogic Wireless Connection Kit" and I believe the part number is 522620. You can usually find a cheap set on fleabay but make sure it's a matched pair! Here's a link to it new at Sunplay.com (neither TFP nor I are affiliated with Sunplay)...

If you check out the manual for it, you'll see a connection diagram for an intellitouch... they connect both the screenlogic and the normally wired indoor controller to the indoor wireless transceiver.

Your easytouch remote... is the FCC ID on the back P4HEASYTOUCH, or P4HEASYTOUCH2A? I've used a pair of outdoor transceivers for the P4HEASYTOUCH as a wireless link for my intellitouch indoor controller (there's one inside a mobiletouch1). I'm not sure what would happen if there was also an Easytouch Remote in the mix, but I can test it in a few days.

Tom
 

Xav001

New member
Jul 15, 2019
4
Detroit, MI
The wireless link is just called "Screenlogic Wireless Connection Kit" and I believe the part number is 522620. You can usually find a cheap set on fleabay but make sure it's a matched pair! Here's a link to it new at Sunplay.com (neither TFP nor I are affiliated with Sunplay)...

If you check out the manual for it, you'll see a connection diagram for an intellitouch... they connect both the screenlogic and the normally wired indoor controller to the indoor wireless transceiver.

Your easytouch remote... is the FCC ID on the back P4HEASYTOUCH, or P4HEASYTOUCH2A? I've used a pair of outdoor transceivers for the P4HEASYTOUCH as a wireless link for my intellitouch indoor controller (there's one inside a mobiletouch1). I'm not sure what would happen if there was also an Easytouch Remote in the mix, but I can test it in a few days.

Tom
Much thanks, Tom.

I have ordered the surge suppressor you referenced up above. My current plan is to (at the very least) put that in when I install the new motherboard. I am also going to look at the wireless connection kit...the surge suppressor was only $26 (so easy decision), the wireless kit $200-ish, and the motherboard $300-ish. So I will do some return-on-investment analysis for next steps beyond the suppressor.

Thanks again for your help!!