Variable speed pump and solar panel bubble question

khoidofl

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Jul 3, 2020
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My pool had a single speed 2HP pump that just recently died. My pool also has solar panel and a Hayward Aqua Solar GL-235 controller. I'm not the original owner of the house who installed these equipment. In the past 2 years I've own the house, I just set the desired temperature on the solar controller and never have to mess with it and never gotten air bubble in the pool return with the single speed pump. I've just replaced the pump with the Pentair VS SuperFLO. The pool store owner and installer said it should be enough to pump water up my solar panel even at slower speed. It's listed at 1.5HP but the installer said it's has 2.2HP. Previously, I believe my pool timer would turn on/off both the single speed pump and the solar controller at the same time. However, with the new install, the VS pump is no longer driven by the pool timer and only the solar controller is.

I noticed when the VS pump is running at slower speed, I'm getting a lot of bubble in the pool return that does not go away even after running for hours. I also hear the bubbling sound in the pipe going up the solar panel. When I increase the RPM to 2900, the bubbles stop. Also, if I bypass the solar panel, even at slower speed there is no bubble. Some how running at slower speed introduces bubbles into the pool return. I am okay with running the VS pump at 2900 RPM to not have bubbles in the system. However if I run it at that constant speed or higher, I feel like I'm not making use of the energy save of using a VS pump by running at slower speed especially if I want to run it at night.

The installer has set my pool timer to turn on/off the solar controller to be on the same schedule as the VS pump running all 3 schedules( there are a total of 3 schedules that it runs everyday). But unless all 3 schedules are running at 2900 RPM or faster, I get air bubbles in the system.

So a few questions I have are:

1) Is there any harm in having air bubble in the system, especially in the solar panel?
2) Should the pool timer still turn on/off the solar controller? Or should I just let the solar controller run 24/7? Because when the solar controller is turned off, the bypass valve doesn't get rotated.
3) Is there a way I can get the solar controller to turn on the bypass valve if it recognizes that the VS pump is running at slower speed?
 

1poolman1

In The Industry
Jul 14, 2014
1,638
Sacramento
That GL-235 is an excellent solar control. However, it is, basically, just an on/off switch that reacts to temperature settings and inputs. Turns a valve and runs a motor if a pump is connected. It won't interface with a VSP. A Pentair SolarTouch and SunTouch will communicate with their larger pumps but not a SuperFlo for some strange reason. If you were able to get the correct but near-impossible-to-obtain communication cable for your pump, a competent pool pro, especially a Pentair pro, could make it do what you are asking, but it is a very complicated process.

At lower pump speeds the water can fall off the roof faster than it is supplied. This will pull open the vacuum relief that is at the top of the array pulling in air. Some systems have this relief lower in the plumbing, but it works the same way. You need more flow to keep that valve closed, especially as their normal position is open. They close under water pressure.

On your system air shouldn't cause problems other than it reduces the efficiency of the solar panels but doesn't harm them as they are full of air with the sytem off.
Easiest solution is to clean your filter, turn on solar, adjust flow to where bubbles stop, add about 10 percent and run that speed during " normal" solar hours. You don't say your location, but for most areas that is between 11:00am and 5:00pm.

All of the systems I installed had the control continuously powered so they would close the solar valve as the day cooled. That way the pump would start next day without the load of the solar, primes faster. Only did a very few where the control also actuated a separate pump.
 
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Dirk

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I suspect the bubbles have to do with the location of the vacuum relief valve (VRV). I think @mas985 knows a lot about that (reading one of his articles is why I think that). So we'll look forward to his input. I think he will need to know exactly where in your system the VRV is located. I think it has something to do with the amount of pressure in the system at low RPMs is not enough to close the VRV, so it's letting in air. You'll probably need to replace it, and/or relocated it. Just a guess...

1. No, you don't want air in the system. That will only lessen the effectiveness of your solar heating system.
2. If you want maximum heat out or your system, let the controller run 24/7. It'll turn on the solar heater whenever there is sufficient sun on the panels. If you want to contain the heating to a set number of hours per day, then keep it on the timer. This is assuming the controller can send on/off signals to the pump. If not, then I think you have to keep things as is, with the timer syncing with the on/off times of the pump. I'm not sure on that, as I have a controller that handles both the solar valve and the VS pump and when both go on and off during the day.
3. Sorry, I'm not familiar with that controller, so I can't answer that.

If you want to maximize the energy efficiency of your new pump, you'll likely need some other controller. The solar controller should be able to:
- be programmed for on/off times
- turn the solar valve on/off based on:
- available heat on the roof,​
- the pool's temperature, and​
- the "thermostat setting"​
- select a preset pump RPM setting when solar heating is called (high RPM)
- select a different preset pump RPM setting when solar heating is turned off (low RPM)

Without those last two, you're right, you're missing a significant benefit of your VS pump. My EasyTouch controller does all that. I'm not familiar enough with your particular pump or the other Pentair offerings to weigh in on if there is a less expensive solution.
 
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khoidofl

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Jul 3, 2020
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32766
I live in central Florida. I did not know that speed pump speed can be controlled by an external device such as the solar controller. Now that I think about it, I recalled seeing my solar controller power being on even when my old single speed pump was not running. It's possible that the VSP installer rewired it to be control via the pool timer. I tested the solar controller and it does not operate the bypass valve actuator when the controller is switch off so I'm failing to understand why it needs to be connected to a pool timer with an on/off cycle. Can I assume that there is no harm to the either the pool system or the solar panel if the valve is opened when the pool pump is off?

After reading everyone responses, I did some research and found that my VSP does have an external control feature that can be hooked up to an external device for running one of the speed setting. However, it does not look like the VSP is compatible with the Hayward GL-235. My solar controller only monitors temperature and controls the valve actuator. I do not see any pool pump control. I guess for now, I'll just let it run at constant speed where where there are no bubbles until I get a chance to change to a compatible solar controller.
 

Dirk

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However, it does not look like the VSP is compatible with the Hayward GL-235.
That's what I was getting at. Below is a controller that probably does what you need, but I'm not sure you get all its goodies with a SuperFlo. You might need an IntelliFlo (which is considered to be the Cadillac or pool pumps). Is it too late to take the SuperFlo back and upgrade to IntelliFlo?


In general you want things like controllers and pumps and salt water generators to all be of the same brand, so that they can all 'talk' to each other. Rule two is to buy components that will each fulfill and be compatible with your ultimate planned system, even if you can only afford to buy them one-at-a-time, over time. So when shopping for your solar controller, think about what you want your system to be able to do, even if it's down the road. Are you OK with timers and turning thing on and off manually? Or do you want everything automated someday? Is a chlorine generator on your wish list? Would you like to be able to monitor and control your pool from a computer or your phone? You might hang out here and read some threads that could help you understand what is available now-a-days. Pool pumps and gizmos have come a long way in recent years.

With my EasyTouch, I can control "all things pool" from the laptop I'm typing on. Or from my phone. It controls my salt water chlorine generator. Eight different pump speeds and schedules. My solar heater. My gas heater. When my pool cleaner does it's thing (and it operates the valves that make that happen). It automatically kicks in to protect my plumbing during a freeze. It controls my pump and adjusts its speed to any RPM needed (differently in each case) for solar, vacuuming, general filtering, high-speed skimming, freeze protection and chlorine generation. Such that all of those functions operate using the most effective and energy efficient pump setting. And I can call for any of those functions on the fly with the push of a button on my phone or on an indoor control panel next to my HVAC thermostat. Or while I'm at the store or on the other side of the planet. I could also control my pool light, or my garden lights, or anything else that "plugs in," etc. It even adds acid to my pool automatically.

And there are newer and more capable systems than an EasyTouch. Even that is "old" tech now.

It's not cheap to automate a pool, and certainly not necessary, but it's possible. Something to think through before your next purchase...
 

Dirk

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Can I assume that there is no harm to the either the pool system or the solar panel if the valve is opened when the pool pump is off?
I think that's OK, though not ideal. Maybe you go out to run the vac because of a windy fall day, and instead your solar panels fill up. No real harm, maybe a bit of wasted energy. Just a matter of being aware of the solar valve's position when you want to perform some other pool function. It'd be more of an issue in a climate where winterizing your solar panels is needed.
 

khoidofl

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Jul 3, 2020
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I'm pretty new at managing a pool. I'm pretty good with managing the chemical but still don't know much about the pool electrical equipment and automation. I think I'll just stick with the Pentair Superflo for now and start upgrading the equipment slowly overtime. I have a screen around the pool so I don't have any leaves problem.

I did see some older posts about using the Hayward GL-235 to externally control a speed on the SuperFLO VS specifically this post. However I'm not sure if person ended up using SolarTouch or stayed with GL-235. I've PMed him for more information. I think this is what I want for my current setup.
 

Dirk

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I think I'll just stick with the Pentair Superflo for now and start upgrading the equipment slowly overtime.
Sure. Just wanted to get you thinking about what you eventually want to end up with, function-wise, so that all your future purchases will support and be compatible with that vision.

I did see some older posts about using the Hayward GL-235 to externally control a speed on the SuperFLO VS specifically this post. However I'm not sure if person ended up using SolarTouch or stayed with GL-235. I've PMed him for more information. I think this is what I want for my current setup.
Yah, sorry, not sure I'll be of much help. That's what I meant by "I'm not familiar enough with your particular pump or the other Pentair offerings..." I know that some SuperFlo pumps can be controlled by some controllers, just not sure about which and which.

I've also read here that programming (or maybe even just using) a SolarTouch can be a real bear. Something about a clunky user interface. You might ask around here about that, too.

You're on the right track: ask a lot of questions, read some posts here. Pentair has pretty good tech support, so you can call them. Do your research before your next purchase to be sure you get the best thing for your needs.
 
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mas985

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I believe the newer SuperFlo can be controlled by any of the Pentair controller systems.

Also, if you move the VRV to the solar supply side, you can operate at lower RPMs than you can when it is installed on the return side.
 
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1poolman1

In The Industry
Jul 14, 2014
1,638
Sacramento
I just saw this post and I had already started one here: Need new pump: VS with solar panels?

I also have a GL-235, aligning to buy the Pentair Superflo VS and I definitely think now that it can switch the pump speed.
The biggest problem with trying to get the communication cable for the SuperFlow is that they are virtually unobtainable. And, you must match the cable to the serial number of the pump as they made (make?) two different cables. The IntelliFlow cable, which can be found everywhere, won't fit. If you can get one, then it is possible, with the right combination of voltage inputs to the relay and outputs from the relay to the correct color wire, for the GL-235 to control the speed of the pump. If you are very knowledgeable and willing to figure out which pin on the communication port is voltage out and which controls the speed, there are some on this forum that have found the connection that will allow you to make your own cable.
 

John Rock

Well-known member
Apr 10, 2010
105
Montreal, Quebec
Argh... you're right, it seems like it's nowhere to be found, which makes me question if this is the right brand for me. But I would be absolutely be interested in making my own cable if that's the only showstopper! Do you have the link to that thread by any chance?
 

1poolman1

In The Industry
Jul 14, 2014
1,638
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Argh... you're right, it seems like it's nowhere to be found, which makes me question if this is the right brand for me. But I would be absolutely be interested in making my own cable if that's the only showstopper! Do you have the link to that thread by any chance?
Try here. The New Pentair SuperFlo VS or VST??. If you get the parts, I can get the Pin-Out diagram that tells which pin does what, but does not identify which pin in the connector the wire is connected to. I believe that somewhere in the thread I referenced someone had a diagram of that.
 

ajw22

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This is now in Pentair Superflo VS Pumps - Further Reading

Try here. The New Pentair SuperFlo VS or VST??. If you get the parts, I can get the Pin-Out diagram that tells which pin does what, but does not identify which pin in the connector the wire is connected to. I believe that somewhere in the thread I referenced someone had a diagram of that.
Pulling it all together into one post for wiring the SuperFlo VS cable...

If you have the 353129Z then you have 6 conductors but the physical connector that plugs into the pump will have 8 'holes' in it.
screen-shot-2021-07-15-at-12-50-25-pm-png.355393


1651879468547.png


The M12 (12mm) "aviation plug" was too small.

What did fit with some dremerling is this "GX16" - 16mm "aviation plug":


It's unfortunately too big! =|

DREMEL TO THE RESCUE!!
I was able to take a dremel to it & I've got it "fitting" well enough, at least well-enough for a test run. But I need to figure out the pin-out which is now below...

From the notched edge going clockwise.

Center - Black
1- red
2- empty
3- empty
4- green
5- yellow
6- orange
7- brown

img_20210715_171809807-jpg.355517


Another member posted...

I couldn't find a compatible connector off the shelf but after looking at the back of the existing connector to check, it's just terminated from the loose wires coming out of the controller module anyway. So I bought a standard GX16 connector kit like ADanto640 and will just cut off the proprietary/mystery Pentair port and reterminate the wires onto the GX16 port (which fits the same hole in the cover). My time soldering this together may not have been worth the ~$40-50ish for the Pentair solution if it was available but it's certainly worth $200 for a simple cable.
 
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John Rock

Well-known member
Apr 10, 2010
105
Montreal, Quebec
Ok, so if I understand correctly, you either:
1. Buy a plastic GX16 8-pin adapter that will fit after taking some material off
2. Buy a complete connector kit a actually replace the connector on the pump side.

If I understand option 2 correctly, has anyone posted details on how to remove the connector on the pump side? How is it attached?

Also, does the OEM cable screw in, or is it just pressed in?