Swimming Pool Automation
Is the time you spend cleaning, dosing and maintaining your pool stopping you from engaging in other activities like swimming, golfing or maybe even work? If you want some time back in your day, it’s worth considering automating some of your pool equipment.
In this blog, I use the term ‘automation’ quite loosely and some of the options suggested do in fact require some human assistance. So let’s start at the basic level and work up from there.
1. The first place to start is to use a timer for your pool pump. You can buy a simple timer from any good hardware store, set the times you want your pump to turn on and off, plug the pump into the timer and turn it on. For most pools here in NZ the pump should run for a period of time EVERY day of the year (longer in summer, less in winter). Don’t leave the turning on and off of the pump to chance – automate it!
2. The next step up in pump automation is a programmable pump that can run for set cycles. There are better ways of achieving this outcome by connecting your pump to an automated chlorinator.
Automating the chlorinating of your pool is highly desirable. Pool owners with automated systems have far less trouble with algae and the dreaded green pool than those who haven’t. There are many options available and they are collectively called ‘chlorinators’.
The simplest chlorinator is a tablet feeder. Multiple chlorine tablets can be stacked inside a tablet feeder that is plumbed into the pool circulation system. As the water flows through the feeder the chlorine tablets slowly dissolve releasing chlorine into the pool. This is a very economical option for those on a limited budget.
A big step up is to look at a salt chlorinator or a liquid chlorine dosing machine. These are the units I mentioned earlier that you can plug your pump directly into. Let’s look at the liquid chlorine option before embarking on the salt discussion.
Automatic dosing machines for liquid chlorine have been on the market for many years and have proven to be sturdy, reliable and relatively long-lasting. They use a probe to analyse the water when the system is running and add precise doses of chlorine and acid to maintain optimum water quality.
We recommend and have been installing the Chemigem range for many years now. The Chemigem D10 is suitable for domestic pools of all shapes and sizes and gives you total control over sanitiser levels and pH.
So we move onto salt chlorinators.
Just to clear up any confusion right from the start, salt pools are not chlorine free pools. Salt pools are a system that uses dissolved salt in water to produce chlorine via a process of electrolysis. There are many variations of salt systems available and their price varies considerably depending on the degree of automation.
A basic salt chlorinator will produce chlorine based on the production level it is set to. It may not have a timer included, so you may need to run it using a simple timer as discussed at the start of this blog.
Top of the line salt chlorinators have probes in the system that constantly test the water to determine if chlorine is needed or if the pH is too high. These models dose liquid acid and will manage the pH for you, as well as the chlorine level!
There are all sorts of variations available between the basic and top of the line, and we can usually find an option to suit most pools and budgets. We have a lot of experience with and recommend the top of the line Gemini and Viron Equilibrium salt chlorinators. For those looking for basic or mid-level salt chlorinators, we stock the BioGuard range of Silver, Gold, and Platinum.
If you look online you will find a huge range of options available. We have access to most brands so if you are considering installing a salt system come and talk to us.
Automated pool cleaning is a great way to get back some time in your day.
3. The easiest way to vacuum your pool is with an automatic robotic pool cleaner. It will vacuum your entire pool without supervision. It is not strictly automated as someone needs to put the robot in the pool and get it out again, however I’m calling it automation because your pool gets cleaned and you don’t have to even be there!
A massive benefit of a robot is its lower running costs compared to regular suction vacuum cleaning (vacuums that have hoses attached to your filtration system). Robots are completely independent of the pools main filtration system and estimates show that backwashing is reduced by up to 30% when using robots compared to all other cleaning methods. This means you save water and reduce chemical loss from backwashing. There are so many benefits with a robot but I won’t go on.
Let your fingers do the walking and have a look online at robotic options. There are a huge number of robotic pool cleaners on the market now and most of them are pretty good. Beware the very cheap cleaners though as you do get what you pay for. We have Dolphin (Maytronics) robots in stock as they are our favourite and we are the South Island service agent for them. We usually have Hayward and Zodiac robots in stock as well.
Now for the full-on fancy automation.
4. Over recent years manufacturers have been developing intelligent systems capable of managing all the features for your pool and spa including lights, pumps, filtration systems, chemical feeders, jets, heater and any other electrical component you may have incorporated in your landscaping.
Today’s technology makes these systems very helpful and accessible. Some controls interface with your cell phone giving you ultimate remote access, while others have LCD touch screens and control pads that mount inside your home to make managing your pool and spa even more convenient. Available options are constantly changing and evolving as technology develops. We have installed a few systems recently, however, I see this area as growing rapidly and becoming more common in the future.
If you are interested in automating your pool please get in touch with us. We will look at the latest advances and let you know what is available and will suit your needs.
You can either contact us via phone or email or come and see us in our store at 123 Blenheim Road, Christchurch.