Choosing an Electronic Pool Spa Control System

School Summary:

There are so many considerations when it comes to selecting a pool spa control system that it makes sense to consult a professional, preferably for an on-site review.

How to choose the best control system for your pool or spa.

There are so many considerations when it comes to selecting a pool spa control system that it makes sense to consult a professional, preferably for an on-site review.  Here are some of the things that must be considered in choosing your next control system.

What type of pool do you have?

Pool Spa Combination – this is a pool with an attached spa with a shared set of equipment.  This is the most common type of pool being built today.

Pool Only or Spa Only – this is a pool or spa that does not share its equipment.

Dual Equipment – this is for a situation where the pool and spa have shared equipment.  In other words, the pool has its own pump, filter and heater, and so does the spa.

How many pieces of equipment are you trying to control?

Control systems are designed to control a certain number of relays (4 and 8 are the most common).

Here are the items that DO NOT require relays:

Heater – this connects through the terminal bar, not a relay

Variable Speed Pumps – technicians often connect these through relays, but technically, they should be wired hot and controlled through the serial data connection from the control system if possible.

Saltwater Chlorination Systems – these take their power from the pump relay and if they are integrated with the control system, they will have a comm wire that transmits information between the two.

NOTE:  If you have a saltwater chlorination system that is not integrated with the control system with a comm wire, then you will need to have a relay reserved for the pool pump so that it will cut the power to the salt system when the pump is not operating.  Failure to do so (particular on a Jandy salt system) will result in premature failure of the tri-sensor.

Here are the items that DO require relays:

Single or Two-Speed Pumps – this would include the main filter pump, fountain pumps or pool cleaner pumps

Air Blowers

Lights – you can put two of these on one relay, but that keeps you from being able to control them separately.

Do you have any manufacturer-specific items that need to be controlled?

As the technology advances, the control of various components becomes considerably more complicated, and you need to be sure that your new control system will “talk” to all the pieces of your pool system.

Variable Speed Pumps – In order to control the various speeds on the pump and to receive data back from the pump, there needs to be proper communication between the control system and the pump.

Colored Pool Lights – unless you want to do the ON-OFF-ON-OFF method of changing between colors, you need to be certain that your control system gives you the option of choosing the light color or the light show with just a couple of clicks.

Saltwater Chlorination Systems – if you have a standalone salt system (where the cell does not plug directly into your main control box), then this is not a consideration.  If you have an integrated salt system (where the cell plugs directly into the main control box), then you may have a problem.
There are far too many scenarios to cover here.  If you are in this situation, please call us at Pool Stop and we will walk you through your options.

What type of interface are you looking for?

Web Interface – this is by far the most common because it gives you a lot of options for controlling your pool or spa.  You can use your phone, tablet, or computer and you can control it from anywhere.  The only downside is that it requires an internet connection, but for most people this is not a problem. This option requires carrying your phone by the pool, but another option is to buy a cheap Android tablet (under $100) and use that around the pool.

Dedicated Wireless Unit – this is fairly common.  It allows you to take the control anywhere (within range) and gives you full control over all the functions of the system.  There are two downsides to this option.  First, the unit has a limited range unlike your phone which will connect from anywhere.  Second, if the handheld becomes lost or damaged it can be quite expensive to replace.

Wired Indoor Panel – this is less and less common these days.  It gives full control of the system, but requires running a cable inside the house and has no mobility. Also, if you change to a different system, you can end up with an unsightly spot in your wall where the old system came out.

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