Simple Pool Automation - low cost with basic off the shelf, ready to use components

JonoVegas

Well-known member
Oct 6, 2018
64
Las Vegas NV
After researching TFP site and many other web sites I found a simple home automation approach that may be useful for some. My goal was to primarily be able to A) from my phone (anywhere) be able to start the hot tub/spa so that when I did get home all would be set to jump in and B) have the Alexa ability to say things like “Start the hot tub” or “turn on the Spa Lights”, or “turn on spa lights”, or “turn on bubbles”, or “turn everything on/off”, etc. so very wife friendly automation.

My existing pool has one variable speed Intelli-flow pump, two electronic valves (to alternate between pool and spa water flow), MasterTemp 400 heater. The pool had old x10 setup so the heater, valves and bubbler had individual standard electric plugs in the electric box so they could support simple power on/off remote control. The pool lights and spa light and on/off light switch in electric box (by pool equipment).
After tons of research I eliminated two options. 1) The Pentair type automation options, etc. are very expensive $1,000’s and their software appears flakey from most reviews and not simple to install. 2) the DIY options with relays, Sonoff switches, etc. were the right pricing but even though I would say I am fairly technical they were just a smidge out of my expertise range.
So here is what I did:
  • To turn on/off the pump without monkeying around with wiring, relays, high cost items I just bought a simple wifi mechanical switch to literally push one of the 4 Intelliflow manual buttons on the pump itself. I set up button number 4 on the pump to turn on the pump for 3 hrs (standard Intelliflow button option). Then duct taped the mechanical button pusher over the number 4 button. “Ta-da” for $30 I can now turn on/off the pump from remote phone app or Alexa! NO wiring involved! Super Simple! Here is the “button pusher” I bought https://www.amazon.com/SwitchBot-switch-button-controlled-compatible/dp/B07B7NXV4R

  • I bought a 3-way wifi plug adapter to enable wifi on/off control for the valves, bubbler and heater. They go for about $20. Again NO WIRING, simple plug and go. Now I can turn off/on via wifi individually or as a group the heater, switch the valves between pool and spa, turn on/off the spa bubbler.

  • For the pool lights and spa lights again very easy just replaced existing light switches for the pool and spa lights with wifi light switches (about $20 each)

  • Alexa pulls it all together with very simple to setup “Routines”. I created Alexa routine to “Turn on Hot Tub” which first turns on/off the valves to switch flow between the pool and spa, then waits 30 seconds, then turns on pump, waits 30 seconds, then turns on heater. I have a bunch of routines to do all kinds of things. Also via Alexa app you can launch a routine while away via the phone app.

  • I also added two Wyze cameras ($25 each). One pointed at my valves so I can visually verify the water flow between pool and spa from my phone from anywhere and one pointed at the Heater display so I had a low tech simple way to see the exact spa temperature from anywhere on my phone!
So for about $100 and basically NO WIRING, just off the shelf wifi “ready to use” components I have pool home automation my wife can handle by simple commands to Alexa and I can launch from virtually anywhere. Hope this might help others!
 
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JonoVegas

Well-known member
Oct 6, 2018
64
Las Vegas NV
Yeah the Switchbot works great and it was my most challenging problem to solve (cost effective way to remotely turn on/off the pump via wifi). Was pretty simple to duct tape to pump in a way that I can still access all the buttons as needed).
 

JonoVegas

Well-known member
Oct 6, 2018
64
Las Vegas NV
The Wyze cam on the heater display was another awesome, simple solution to A) verify remotely the heater was on or off and B) see the exact spa temp with out sensors, wiring etc. The Wyze cam app (on phone) simply shows the heater display no matter where I am!
 

Aquaman7

Well-known member
Sep 15, 2019
306
NNJ
Jono very Impressive. I was also looking for alternatives after looking at some of the prices of the automation systems.

I have a question about your set up. How does a three-way Wi-Fi plug control a valve? Normally the valves are wired into the automation control box.
 

JonoVegas

Well-known member
Oct 6, 2018
64
Las Vegas NV
My automatic valves were already wired, when we moved in, to have a standard plug end (male side) in the Pool wire box. So it was very easy for me to literally plug my automatic valves into a my purchased wifi recepticle/plug and that part was done. Via the phone app turn on outlet/plug and the valves turned one way. Turn off the outlet/plug and the valves turned the other way.

I don't know much about automatic valves but I would guess they are all similar. I think there are 3 factors in play for the valves:
1) Of course first step is you need automatic valves. Operate like manual valves but they have a small electronic box with a flip switch to electronically operate the valves. In my opinion if you already have automatic/electric valves then its a no brainer to get a wifi plug to operate them remotely.
2) My flip switch on each valve has up/middle/down settings. Flip up on each valve and the valves turn one way, Flip down on each valve and they turn the other way. The middle puts valve in remote operation mode which is nothing more than an on/off mode to move the valves in a direction. Net-net just means that the valves can be operated remotely. I would assume all automatic valves have something similar.
3) Last point is to remotely turn on/off the electronic valve connect. Again my wiring already had a plug end-end in the pool electric box that would drive on/off electric for both valves. So extremely easy to just plug that valve electric plug into a standard wifi plug. If yours happens to be hardwired connection, it would be a simple electric job to change that hard wire to a plug end.

Hope that helps
 
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JonoVegas

Well-known member
Oct 6, 2018
64
Las Vegas NV
Also I may have used poor terminology when I said three-way Wi-Fi plug. This is just a simple wifi type plug. Plug into outlet and through phone app you can remotely control on and off for whatever is plugged into the wifi plug. The "three-way" term simply meant this has 1 end to plug into the recepticle and the other end has 3 places to plug something into. So the app on this "wifi plug" can turn / on off 3 separate devices that may be plugged into it. So I have my heater plug in to this, my valves, and my spa bubbler. Here is a link to one BN-LINK Smart WiFi Heavy Duty Outdoor Outlet, Timer and Countdown Function, No Hub Required for Outdoor Lights, Compatible with Alexa and Google Assistant (Outdoor) 2.4 GHz network only - - Amazon.com
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Aquaman7

Well-known member
Sep 15, 2019
306
NNJ
My automatic valves were already wired, when we moved in, to have a standard plug end (male side) in the Pool wire box. So it was very easy for me to literally plug my automatic valves into a my purchased wifi recepticle/plug and that part was done. Via the phone app turn on outlet/plug and the valves turned one way. Turn off the outlet/plug and the valves turned the other way.

I don't know much about automatic valves but I would guess they are all similar. I think there are 3 factors in play for the valves:
1) Of course first step is you need automatic valves. Operate like manual valves but they have a small electronic box with a flip switch to electronically operate the valves. In my opinion if you already have automatic/electric valves then its a no brainer to get a wifi plug to operate them remotely.
2) My flip switch on each valve has up/middle/down settings. Flip up on each valve and the valves turn one way, Flip down on each valve and they turn the other way. The middle puts valve in remote operation mode which is nothing more than an on/off mode to move the valves in a direction. Net-net just means that the valves can be operated remotely. I would assume all automatic valves have something similar.
3) Last point is to remotely turn on/off the electronic valve connect. Again my wiring already had a plug end-end in the pool electric box that would drive on/off electric for both valves. So extremely easy to just plug that valve electric plug into a standard wifi plug. If yours happens to be hardwired connection, it would be a simple electric job to change that hard wire to a plug end.

Hope that helps
Very impressive. I like how you control the valves with the WiFi outlet.

Thank you