Automation - Further Reading

Pool Automation

Automation helps you with pool maintenance, but it will not replace the need for you to test your water, understand what you are looking at, and then making sure your water is balanced.[1]

The main downside to automation is cost. Before going too far down this path, you might ask your PB what it's going to cost. That said, the best time to install automation is when the pool is being built, because all the connections to the system can be made without having to figure out how you are to get power across 50' of new deck. Also, the additional cost, when compared to the cost of the pool, will be minuscule.

Automation systems work best when the same brand is used because then the pieces can "talk" to together.

Advantages of Having a Pool Automation System

Appearance

Instead of having a bunch of different boxes hanging on your wall you have one, professional looking enclosure.

Circuit Breaker Panel

The bottom half of the enclosure is a circuit-breaker panel where the breakers for your pool equipment (Pumps, Heater, etc.) are located.

This panel is also an excellent place to add surge protector, which is an absolute must if you have the IntelliFlo or other variable speed pumps. Even if you do not get the automation, make sure your PB includes a surge protector for the pump.

SWG Control

Without automation, your SWG will have to have a timer, synced to the pump timer so that it does not run when the pump is off. This function is built into most Automation panels, but you need to confirm that the SWG you select can be controlled by the Automation panels you select.

Spa mode and SWG output

Normally all the water flows through the SWG, so when in the Spa mode, an Automation panel can reduce the amount of chlorine the SWG produces, so that the Spa users are not subjected to high levels of chlorine.

Pool Lighting

Automation panels allows you to control your pool lighting from your PC and/or from a schedule. This is another reason to add the automation during the pool build. Once your pool light is wired to switches inside your house, it might be very difficult to get the wiring to any automation system.

Control of Spill-over and bubblers

Right now I'm sure you are thinking I want that spillover running 24-hours a day because it is so beautiful.. Well, after a few weeks of having your pH go through the roof, you'll appreciate the ability to only turn it on, when you want it on. The same with the bubblers. With most Automation panels, you can program them to run on a schedule for a few minutes a day to keep the everything properly chlorinated or when you want to "show off" to your guests..

Relay Control

Automation panels has four (really three) or more relays that can be used to control other things, such as, Booster pumps, Spa blowers, landscape lights, etc…. Some Automation panels can be expanded later, others are fixed with what you initially get.

Built in Valve controls

Automation panels has the ability to control 4 valves or more. Two work for switching between the Pool and Spa modes, while two others can be programmed to do whatever you might want, like bubbler control. I would note that a lot of bubblers are controlled by manual valves that cannot be automated. You need to be sure to tell your PB that you want Jandy style valves for your bubbler control.

Heater Control

Automation panels can control your heater. So, you can be inside and tell your PC what temperature you want the Spa to be and it will tell you when it is ready.

Solar System

Some Automation panels have a built-in solar controller. It does however use one of the valve outputs to run…

PC/App Controls

Most Automation panels have some form of PC and/or app controls. Some are bundled with the panel and some are additional cost add-ons. Programming the system is usually easier on a PC or App then using the panel controls by the equipment pad.

Pentair ScreenLogic allows you to program the EasyTouch with various schedules. It lets you see most all of the inputs and output to the EasyTouch and lets you decide what you want on/off and in the case of your SWG, lets you adjust the % of output on the fly.

Variable Speed pumps

Automation panels can be programmed to adjust your pump’s speed. So when running just the pool, it can run slow, but when running your waterfall, it will automatically increase the speed to make your waterfall or other water features look exactly how you want them to look.

Things to Discuss with a Pool Builder about Pool Automation

  • Will the system allow for control by your PC, phone or tablet?[2]
  • What will the system control vs. what you want it to control?
  • Will it switch between the pool and spa mode? (Most do)
  • Will it turn any water features on/off?
  • Are any actuators included? Did the pool builder use ball valves that can't be controlled by actuators?
  • Will it control your lights? And if so, how many and will you be able to control the color of each light independently?
  • Will you have a SWCG? Will it be controlled by the automation?
  • Now would be the time to go with a VS pump... Will your new automation system control a VS pump?
  • What kind of remote controls come with the system?

The key here is for you to tell your pool builder what you envision happening when you press a button and then let the pool builder tell you what that system will cost.