Pool Automation and Control in 2020

It’s amazing to see how far Technology has come today. It’s even more amazing to imagine where it will be in the next 10 years. Before too long, we will be controlling our swimming pools by transmitting our thoughts through the air… ok maybe not quite yet... but that would be pretty cool.

Pentair Intellicenter and Pool Equipment installed by The Pool Boys

Pentair Intellicenter and Pool Equipment Installed by The Pool Boys

In the 4 short years since my article about the Hayward OmniLogic, we have seen some pretty neat things introduced to the pool industry. You can now control your pool system with your Apple Watch or turn on your pool heater with your voice using Amazon Alexa or Google Home.

Apple Watch with Pentair ScreenLogic software showing

Apple Watch with Pentair ScreenLogic software for Pentair Intellitouch

Over the last 24 months, we have experienced an increase in customers who are interested in upgrading their pool controls. I believe this is due to a few different factors, such as price, features, and ease of use, not to mention the increase in technology in all areas of the home.  

There are many different brands, models, and options when it comes to pool automation. The most advanced systems from our big three manufacturers are as follows:

  • Hayward Omnilogic
  • Pentair Intellicenter 
  • Jandy Aqualink RS

These are the systems that have all of the bells and whistles and in my opinion provide the best user experience. We’ll dive into these and more here in a bit. For a full breakdown on all of the various systems The Pool Boys offer, check out our Pool Automation and Control Systems page in our Pool Equipment Services section for an in depth look.

Benefits of Pool Automation 

Pentair Intelliflo control panel display with top of screen showing Air Temp 57F, 5:48 pm, and icons labeled Pool, Spa, Features, Lights, Schedules, Usage, Chemistry, Status, Settings

Pentair Intelliflo Control Panel backlit at night

There are numerous benefits that come from upgrading to a pool automation system.  Not having to manually set all of the equipment when you want to use the spa is a big one. Why not turn the spa on with the press of a button on a remote?  Or better yet... Why not turn on the spa when you leave work on Friday night so that it’s ready when you get home?

Pool Automation Systems have improved dramatically in recent years. Originally you had a remote mounted on the wall inside of your backdoor, or a handheld pda remote. The interface on these are very basic, just a backlit readout of the words. Navigating these systems was done using a combination of directional arrows, a menu/select button, and a back button, which could get pretty confusing.

Hayward OmniHub unit, controller and mobile phone with Hayward software displayed

Hayward OmniHub Pool Automation System

Now you can control your pool using a variety of different methods including traditional remotes, wifi control with mobile devices, Apple Watch, and even with your voice using Amazon Alexa or Google Home.

Other features outside of how you control the systems are the protections they have to offer. There are interlock capabilities which you can put in place to protect your booster pump from running dry. 

You can also use interlocks to do things like bring your VS Pump up to a designated speed when you turn the heater on. That way you can ensure that anytime the heater is turned on it receives the desired amount of water flow.  

Freeze Protection is another nice feature available to help protect your equipment. If the temperature starts to dip near freezing, the system will turn on your main circulation pump so that water is flowing through the lines and you don’t end up with busted pipes. Protections like these help prevent expensive repairs.

The list of features that these systems have to offer is long so I am only highlighting a few. The bottom line is that you can really improve your pool control experience by using new technology.

Different Configurations to Fit Different Needs

Hayward OmniLogic Smart Pool and Spa Control screen

Hayward OmniLogic Smart Pool and Spa Control screen

Pool automation systems have TONS of different configurations to choose from. 

  • Do you have a pool, or do you have a pool/spa combination?
  • Do you want a salt system, or are you sticking with chlorine?
  • Do you have 8 pieces of equipment to control, or do you have 4 pieces?

Questions like these will help to narrow down what you need for your desired setup.

Because there are so many different configurations from the factory, distributors choose to carry a few different packages that will cover almost all install needs. In some cases you may be getting more features than you need, but the cost will generally be less than building an ala carte package (which can be confusing), paying freight to ship it in, and waiting several weeks for it to arrive.

Entry Level, Mid Level, or Premium Level?

pentair intellicenter and pentair vsf pump installation

Pentair Intellicenter with VSF Pump Installed by The Pool Boys in League City

I classify systems into three levels - entry, mid, and premium.  The manufacturers may have different ways/titles to classify their systems but this is what I’ve come up with.  As you go up in levels you also go up in price and get more features.  Here is a quick summary of some of the differences in the levels:

  • Number of high/low voltage relays - how many pieces of equipment it can control
  • Expansion capabilities - ability to add on more equipment such as an additional vs pump, LED pool light, pool chiller, etc.
  • Features -  freeze protection, spa control, salt control, light shows, etc)
  • Price - low to high
  • Install requirements - standard/gfci outlets and breakers, light pulls, conduits, mounting, etc.
  • Remote Control with handheld pda, wall mount controller, or spa side controller
  • WiFi Control with smartphone or tablet
  • Voice Control with Amazon Alexa or Google Home

Questions You Should Consider

As you look through the summary of the differences in levels you should start to think about what features you would want in your automation system. Knowing these things will narrow down which systems you should be looking at.  

One thing I would suggest is to build it how you want it so that you will enjoy it.  Don’t sacrifice features you want to try to save on the cost, you may end up with a system that you don’t appreciate. If budget is holding you back from what you want, set yourself up for the future by getting something you can add on to.

Answers to Have Ready “Right Now”:

  • Do you have a pool only or a pool and spa combination? (How many bodies of water)
  • How many pieces of equipment does your system have? What are they?
  • Do you have a salt system?
  • Do you have a variable speed pool pump?
  • Do you have a gas heater, heat pump, or chiller?
  • Do you have color changing LED lights?
  • Is there a sub-panel or breaker panel near the pool equipment?
  • Do you currently have a home automation system?

“Forward Thinking” Answers to Have Ready:

  • Do you want mobile control?  If so, do you want to use your phone or tablet?
  • Do you want Apple Watch control?
  • Do you want Alexa or Google Home control?
  • Do you want to control your pool/spa lights with the system? (This question seems like a no brainer, but is very important because most lights are controlled by a lightswitch by the backdoor.  The cost to run the lights to the new system can be significant depending on a few different factors.)
  • Do you want your pool and spa light to be controlled individually or together?
  • Do you want a Maytronics Robotic Pool Cleaner rather than a Polaris Pressure Side? (This question may not apply to everyone.  By switching to a Robotic Pool Cleaner we can eliminate the need for a booster pump which lowers the number of high voltage relays we will need and saves on energy consumption)
  • If you have a home automation system, do you want the pool system to link to it?

Installation Questions:

  • How far away from the pool equipment pad is the sub-panel or breaker panel?
  • How far away are the on/off switches for the lights?
  • Is there space to mount a pool control box?

These questions may not cover it all but will give you a head start in the process of choosing your system. 

Upgrading Existing Automation

compool to pentair easy touch 8 upgrade kit installed

Compool Pentair EasyTouch 8 Upgrade Kit Installed by The Pool Boys

There are several automation systems, like the Jandy Aqualink or Compool, that have been out for 10+ years now.  If you have a pool automation system with old software in it there may be simple upgrades available to you. 

You have to keep in mind that some things like Variable Speed Pool Pumps came out years after pool automation was already on the market.  If you try to put a VS Pump on outdated pool controls, many times the software is not able to control the pump.

Maybe you would like to simply get phone control. Or in the case of people with older Compool LX Systems maybe parts are obsolete and you don’t want to have a whole new system and box installed.

In any of these cases there are upgrades available at a much lower cost than installing a new system.  

The upgrade for the Compool System is very popular, and turns your existing system into a Pentair Easytouch 8 system by simply installing a retrofit panel and board into the existing box.

This saves all of the time and money of having to tear down the old system and install the new one with all of the new conduits, wiring, breakers, and so on.

Upgrades are a very cost effective solution to bring your pool automation system current.

We are excited to see the release of the Pentair IntelliCenter retrofit upgrade for all Easytouch and Intellitouch pool automation systems. With this upgrade any Pentair Easytouch or Pentair Intellitouch can be turned into a Pentair IntelliCenter, Pentair’s premium touchscreen Pool Automation System.

Give The Pool Boys a Call 

Hayward OnCommand controller with VSF Pump and Heater install

New Pool Equipment Installation by The Pool Boys

We’ve gone over several of the features and benefits today’s pool automation systems have to offer.  With all of the choices of systems and upgrades available there is something out there to fit whatever your needs are. 

If you’re near our service area around League City, give The Pool Boys a call at 832-473-5715 and we’ll be happy to help. After hours you can Contact Us for more information.