Pentair IntelliBrite 5G Defect

Dirk

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I'm not sure how valuable this information will be for anyone, but I thought I'd share. I had an IntelliBrite 5G installed by my pool guy in July. The red LED stopped working last week. Local Pentair dealer came out and replaced the internal circuit board. All is well, no cost to me, covered by warranty. But he told me something very interesting.

I had expressed to him my concern about buying the thing in the first place because of some bad reviews I'd found. Basically stating what I'd just experienced, the thing frying after way too short a time. He explained that Pentair had problems with early gen IntelliBrites and had since fixed the problem. Apparently they had some defective chips on the board, and the board itself was backed by a thin aluminum heat sink that was found to be inadequate. They now have a thick copper heat sink and he claimed they haven't had to replace any of those yet.

So I got the newer part and am hopeful my light will last a good long time.

So if your Pentair light is still under warranty, and maybe even if it isn't, it might be worth pursuing a solution before you have a problem. Not sure how Pentair would react, but worth a call maybe? Have them determine, somehow, if your light is one of the defective ones or not? Or if it's gone bad out of warranty maybe they'd be willing to offer a fair solution?

Maybe that's a long shot, but the point of sharing my experience was to alert other IntelliBrite 5G owners that Pentair is well aware of a defective set of lights in the marketplace, and maybe that could get you a fix if yours is one of those....
 

mas985

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Was this in the light itself or the controller?

I installed both a pool and spa 5G about 2 years ago and it has been operating fine without incident.

But these lights have been on the market for some time so I wouldn't think your light would be an early generation.
 

bdavis466

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I've had several go bad and they always lose the red color first.

It's the driver in the light that goes bad and a replacement driver is nearly $400... Might as well just but a new light
 

JoyfulNoise

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This is a typical problem all throughout the LED lighting market - the LEDs themselves are bulletproof. It’s use of cheap, mass manufactured drivers and improper thermal management that causes problems. I see this all the time with my landscape LED bulbs - they claim a lifetime of 50,000 hours but they fail almost as frequently as regular filament lightbulbs. And it’s the driver or regulator circuit almost every time.
 

Dirk

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Was this in the light itself or the controller?

In the light (I don't have the controller, it works off my EasyTouch).


I installed both a pool and spa 5G about 2 years ago and it has been operating fine without incident.

But these lights have been on the market for some time so I wouldn't think your light would be an early generation.

It definitely was. The service guy showed me the board, and pointed out it had the early gen heat sink and suspect chip. The original installer is the snake that has caused me so much grief since I took over this pool. I wouldn't be surprised to find out he used some stock that he's had sitting around for years and counted on the built in repeat business it would provide him, whether the known-to-be-defective unit failed in or out of warranty. He's the local Pentair dealer, so he would have gotten the call, and the work, either way. But I'm still bitter about my other dealings with him. Best case was that he honestly didn't know his old stock was defective. Though he should have known. Is that on him, or Pentair? Pentair should have recalled all those early lights. Something fishy going on there. (Of course, he should have also known not to use tabs in my pool for six years, or to change my CH-high water more often than once in six year, etc, etc) Sorry, still bitter about my recent replastering need caused by bad chemistry. Academic at this point.
 

Dirk

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I've had several go bad and they always lose the red color first.

It's the driver in the light that goes bad and a replacement driver is nearly $400... Might as well just but a new light

That's why I shared. Maybe someone could leverage this info. If my repair guy knows about this early-gen problem, and that it's been since addressed, then is it fair to assume Pentair also knows (THEY redesigned the board!). Maybe pointing that out to the right supervisor at Pentair would get a fair resolution for a bad light, in or out of warranty. "Class action" is always a fun term to let slip... :twisted:

Sidebar: Sorry, again. I keep letting my current pool troubles infect my posts. Perhaps an age thing? Am I a just a grumpy old man? Has the all-important drive for profit made doing the right thing a distant memory? I've had my fill of that in the pool industry, but, of course, they are in no way unique in that regard. Well, I'll still fight the little skirmishes I can win...
 

JoyfulNoise

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Slimy PB using old stock to make a fast buck - highly likely.

Pentair (or any other manufacturer) admitting a manufacturing defect and instituting a recall - pigs will fly first....

My gut feeling is the Pentair 5G LED light issue is simply another case of manufacturing product and quality control 101. Pentair, like many other manufacturers, saw a market hungry for energy efficient lighting and decided to jump in and manufacture LED pool lights. Just like their variable speed pumps and SWGs, the first generation is always the worst. Most smaller companies like pool equipment industry are not research organization with a vast array of product engineering groups - they can't study something to the Nth-degree before launching it. They take the Microsoft approach to product engineering - release a piece of junk product marketed as the best thing since sliced bread and then fix the problems as they crop up. Learn a few lessons and then release a better version 2. Rinse & repeat.
 

Dirk

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This is a typical problem all throughout the LED lighting market - the LEDs themselves are bulletproof. It’s use of cheap, mass manufactured drivers and improper thermal management that causes problems. I see this all the time with my landscape LED bulbs - they claim a lifetime of 50,000 hours but they fail almost as frequently as regular filament lightbulbs. And it’s the driver or regulator circuit almost every time.

Great. :( I was all proud of my landscape lighting, too. And thought I had changed my last bulb! (My old incandescent system was always down.) Though, so far it's been much better. I'm coming up on three years and no problems so far. I was determined to build the best system I could. I used low voltage, hardwired. Heavy duty wire. No big-box solar junk for me! I soldered every connection (that was a real pain) and used high-quality wire nuts (with that gooey stuff inside) over those. I didn't want any more corrosion issues. And I bought what I think (thought?) are the best lights on the market:

Volt Lighting

Crazy expensive. But beautiful. And solid brass. All LED. Water proof. Lifetime guarantee. I hope their electronics are decent. Anybody had experience with Volt? Good or bad? I'm not sure some of the lights even have boards in them. Looks to be just a bulb. Some do, though. A tiny little board with LEDs mounted on them. Hmmm.

Screen Shot 2017-12-02 at 8.25.10 AM.jpg

I bought a kit and then added a few extra fixtures.

f03dbe82-ad16-444c-9290-3e3a23a02f66.jpeg

Fingers crossed, for these and my newly-fixed Intellibrite...
 

Dirk

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Slimy PB using old stock to make a fast buck - highly likely.

Pentair (or any other manufacturer) admitting a manufacturing defect and instituting a recall - pigs will fly first....

My gut feeling is the Pentair 5G LED light issue is simply another case of manufacturing product and quality control 101. Pentair, like many other manufacturers, saw a market hungry for energy efficient lighting and decided to jump in and manufacture LED pool lights. Just like their variable speed pumps and SWGs, the first generation is always the worst. Most smaller companies like pool equipment industry are not research organization with a vast array of product engineering groups - they can't study something to the Nth-degree before launching it. They take the Microsoft approach to product engineering - release a piece of junk product marketed as the best thing since sliced bread and then fix the problems as they crop up. Learn a few lessons and then release a better version 2. Rinse & repeat.

Uhgck. That's all I can add. Just Uhgck. Though I'm not sure I'm spelling that right...
 

JoyfulNoise

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The higher quality outdoor fixtures will last. But it’s not a wiring problem or a transformer problem...it’s a bulb problem. It’s how they’re designed and what kind of components are used. If the manufacturer warranties them, then definitely hold them to it.
 

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Dirk

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Just like their variable speed pumps and SWGs, the first generation is always the worst.

Well, I guess I shouldn't worry about that until I need to. I have Pentair throughout, most bought from the same snake. Who knows what I ended up with. But I did manage to get him to wangle a three-year system warranty out of Pentair, even though I didn't technically qualify since I didn't actually buy all the components necessary to get one. Nothing in writing though. I confirmed my warranty status directly with Pentair, by phone, but that exists only as some notes in their database. Time will tell:

- if I have any more first-gen stuff,
- if it will fail,
- if it will fail inside of three years,
- and if Pentair will make good on the system warranty, or conveniently "misplace" their record of it.

You know, when my daughter was feeding me the internet pages of houses for sale after I first brought her the idea of moving closer to her, they all coincidentally had pools! And so, I daydreamed about lying around next to one of those pools on my chaise, sipping a cool drink; or watching the g-sons doing cannonballs; or tossing the cutest g-daughter that has ever existed (no, really) into the air for a big splash... Ah, daydreaming...

 

Dirk

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The higher quality outdoor fixtures will last. But it’s not a wiring problem or a transformer problem...it’s a bulb problem. It’s how they’re designed and what kind of components are used. If the manufacturer warranties them, then definitely hold them to it.

I'm not clear on if the warranty extends to the bulbs. Probably not. But at least they're in the $10 neighborhood, not $400...


Hold a manufacturer to a warranty? Ha! I am the king!! I just had all my outdoor furniture slings replaced, like thirteen of 'em, at no cost, because I held on to the coupons that guaranteed that, which originally came with each piece. I squirreled them away, receipts attached, in my neat little filing folders, for fifteen years!! Yah, baby. The local dealer made good, but had to admit they didn't get many of those coupons back!! Like I said, little skirmishes... ;)
 

JoyfulNoise

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You qualified for the Pentair 3 year warranty. He didn’t do any finagling. You have an IntelliFlo, an IntelliChlor, a MasterTemp, a Clean & Clear, and an EasyTouch system. You only need to buy three pieces of Pentair equipment at the time of your build to get a 3 year warranty on everything....
 

Dirk

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You qualified for the Pentair 3 year warranty. He didn’t do any finagling. You have an IntelliFlo, an IntelliChlor, a MasterTemp, a Clean & Clear, and an EasyTouch system. You only need to buy three pieces of Pentair equipment at the time of your build to get a 3 year warranty on everything....

I bought more than three, but I had two installations, a few months apart, and so not all that I bought was on the same invoice. And some of what I now own were here when I bought the house, so not everything in my sig was purchased by me.

When I called to confirm the warranty, Pentair explained that there are specific items that must be included at time of purchase, and all on the same invoice. I forget which. I think a filter and a pump are required, along with one more item. And the filter was one that was already here. So, even though I did buy more than three, because the filter was not one of those, and because not everything was bought at the same time, I didn't actually qualify. Something like that. I bought enough stuff that they agreed to it, but they gave me the impression they didn't have to, and were making an exception.

The wording is a little vague, and I'm half expecting they'll renege if and when it comes down to it:

https://www.pentairpool.com/en/support/registration and warranty/product warranty

The first snake and I will next meet in court (over the replastering). So I don't think he's going to pony up in a few years. And the replacement snake I recently fired (when I found TFP). They're both Pentair dealers, and the only two in town. I think I left the second guy on good terms. He's the one that came out to fix the IltelliBrite, and he did so under warranty. So... so far, so good. Time will tell.

Hey, here's a crazy thought. Maybe I purchased some really expensive equipment from maybe one of the world's premiere providers, and just maybe that stuff will last more than a few months!

OK, sorry, I got a little crazy there... what was I thinking!?!
 

JoyfulNoise

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TFP has always had very good reviews of Pentair warranty claims. I seem to remember someone posting that Pentair covered a failure even when the person was a few days past their warranty (might have even been a few weeks) and they still treated it as a warranty issue. So if Pentair gave you a verbal confirmation on your warranty status, then I’d trust that. They’ve always been a good company to deal with and their technical support is helpful.

I’m always very skeptical when anyone says, “I got you a deal....blah, blah, blah.” Mainly because it goes against human nature where most people are lazy, self-centered, and out to make the fastest buck they can....but, when people actually demonstrate that they care and are conscientious, then they go into my contact list of vendors I’ll only exclusively deal with.
 

Dirk

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TFP has always had very good reviews of Pentair warranty claims. I seem to remember someone posting that Pentair covered a failure even when the person was a few days past their warranty (might have even been a few weeks) and they still treated it as a warranty issue. So if Pentair gave you a verbal confirmation on your warranty status, then I’d trust that. They’ve always been a good company to deal with and their technical support is helpful.

Good to know. Thanks for the reassurance. Very much appreciated by this pool newbie.

I’m always very skeptical when anyone says, “I got you a deal....blah, blah, blah.” Mainly because it goes against human nature where most people are lazy, self-centered, and out to make the fastest buck they can....but, when people actually demonstrate that they care and are conscientious, then they go into my contact list of vendors I’ll only exclusively deal with.

I can attest that my dealings directly with Pentair have been very good so far. They were very supportive about the warranty, even at the expense of contradicting one of their own dealers (I had originally called to confirm my warranty when pool-guy-snake #1 threatened to have my system warranty cancelled as part of his tactic to get me to cave on my demands he fix the plaster damage his acid washing caused. Craziness story for another day.) And the tech support guys I've spoken with a few times seem to be knowledgable, and very helpful and patient (and maybe even in the USA!). The light was fixed under warranty. No squabbles.

My main complaint about Pentair is their tech. I was expecting more for the price I paid. The programming and feature set of my EasyTouch PSL4 seems woefully inadequate for the price. It's a big, empty metal box with a tiny little circuit board inside. No breakers. No panel. Six bills plus installation. I had to have a separate breaker box installed, and a separate transformer box for the SWG. Kind'a a mess at my pad. I think that was mostly snake #1 again, and what I was sold, but Pentair's upgraded solutions go crazy in price. And then to find out my programming capabilities are ridiculously impaired, very disappointing. I still have to take that up with Pentair, but at first pass at this I think I can only program four events? What if I want my pool to circulate four times a day? Maybe at different speeds? Plus ramp up my VS for a quick skim a few extra times a day, plus lights and the vacuum cycle? And egg timers are counted in the four? It all seems a mess to me so far. That's a discussion for another day, but my cursory answer with a tech is that "Nope, you need the 8 for that." I'll get into that in another thread some day soon, so no need to chime in on that yet, but I've been led to think I have a very barebones controller and I'm disappointed in what I got for what I paid. What's most disappointing, is that the hardware is there. The VS, the actuators. Just not the capability. How much more do I have to pay to get them to do what they are capable of?

And the 5G. Another sad example. All the LEDs are there to achieve virtually millions of colors, in a free flowing, cascading beautiful show, that should be instantly selectable, and infinitely variable, with fast, easy, unlimited user control. But for six bills, plus installation, you get squat. A half dozen preset colors, and a half dozen scenes of questionable affect, that clunk from one color to the next. Oh, you can switch between them all, from your phone no less, but that'll cost you another, what, three or four bills. And I couldn't believe the user interface when I first tried it: select new color or scene, light goes out, click-click-click-click-click-click-click-click-click-click-click-click-click-click-click-click-click goes the controller, swimmers ponder their fate, or perhaps the meaning of life, for some extended period of time, new scene finally comes back on to restore their faith in humanity! Oops, don't like that scene? Start over! OMG, seriously? I'm picturing Pentair's industrial design department: two guys scratching their heads equipped with a soldering iron, a yellow pad of paper, two stubby pencils and one of those IBM computers in the background, with the spinning tapes and punch cards falling out onto the floor?!?

OK, harsh, maybe, but I can buy a phone, the size of a deck of cards, for a couple hundred bucks, that has over 2 billion transistors in it that can access man's entire collective knowledge base (including TFP!!) in the middle of nowhere. But Pentair can't manage to offer some electronics that feel more advanced than a set of $12 end table lamp timers? Too picky?

Don't even get me started on their app offerings. Too late! The Mac app, the iPhone app, the iPad app, all a joke. Very poor cohesive interface between the three (they all look different, and all have a different set of capabilities), and their user interface/navigation design is just awful. I mean really bad. And seemingly unchanged for years? I design interfaces for a living, so I'm hyper sensitive to it, but still. And nowhere in forums I've pinged about it does anyone complain. Just the opposite. Everybody seems to love this stuff. So it's just me.

I don't get it. Have these automation capabilities in the pool equipment industry been so neglected that these way-too-late-to-the-party anemic offerings now seem like godsends to most pool owners? That's my suspicion. But the disconnect for me is why the pool-owning public doesn't cry out for better advancements, especially considering they are all exposed to appliances and devices that put Pentair equipment to shame. Geez, I can buy a refrigerator that can order my groceries, from a giant built-in full color touch screen!! But I can't get my LED pool light to switch colors faster than 30 seconds at a time? Oops, sorry, only six colors available!

OK, end of rant, today I gotta go sweep my pool and check my chem's! I'll fix Pentair tomorrow... ;)

By the way, I don't expect anyone to actually keep up with me here, or read all this drivel. I just like to listen to myself babble on!!
 
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bdavis466

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You qualified for the Pentair 3 year warranty. He didn’t do any finagling. You have an IntelliFlo, an IntelliChlor, a MasterTemp, a Clean & Clear, and an EasyTouch system. You only need to buy three pieces of Pentair equipment at the time of your build to get a 3 year warranty on everything....

The lights only have a 1 year warranty no matter what you bought with them...

The Volts are quality lights but as JoyfulFart said, it's the bulbs that will fail. I've got 60 in my yard and I've replaced 35 in less than 2 years.
 

samendolaro

Member
Aug 29, 2012
11
I replaced my spa and pool lights with 5G's in 2015. The Spa light is still working fine. The Pool Light, the Green LED went out after 13 months, decided not do do anything . Blue LED lasted another 2 years just went out last week. So I am left with a nice creepy red pool at the moment.

I won't believe that Pentair fixed anything unless I see somehting from them mentioning an update. Reading some of the reviews on amazon about people going through multiple board replacements, some this year so even if true it appears that is is pot luck that you would get a new or old board. I am not ready to lay down another $400 on chance.

I am leaning toward the aftermarket PENTAIR 619818Z KIT marketed as Pool baron.
Supposedly it is a direct plug in replacement to the pentair board, anyone have any experience with this ? The only downside is that although it changes colors in the same way as the 5G and has more colors and programs they are not the same on/off for the ones which match so they will not sync with my Spa 5G. I may just need to place it on another circuit until I replace the SPA board if I decide to go with this option.
 

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