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A Guide to Pool and Spa Automation - Part Two

In the first installment of this two-part series, we provided an overview of how automation can simplify the operation of your pool and spa components. Here, we talk about the various options on the market today, and how to find the right system for your needs.
People often wonder what goes into controlling the pool equipment they see every day. More often than not, it’s an automation system doing the real work. These can be as simple as a $60 mechanical timer or as complex as a $1,500 fully integrated system that you can control from anywhere with your smartphone.
Years ago, you had to manually turn your pump on and off for filtration or cleaning, or manually adjust your valves to adjust your water features. Now you can manage them all with your phone or remote control, or set up a schedule for your equipment to run at certain times of the day. Some systems even allow for a favorite setting or profile for different moods that you can activate with the touch of a button, customizing water flow, lighting and other features.

How to Choose
There are dozens of highly-rated automation systems available, ranging from those with basic features to the most advanced in the industry. They allow for differing levels of control, ranging from managing everything through the system console itself to using an indoor controller or remote to handling everything from your personal mobile device. Many systems are salt system-ready as well, allowing you to power your salt cell through the system console rather than through its own power center, simplifying your setup.

So with so many options available, where to begin the process of determining what's best for handling your needs? Here are a few things to ask yourself when looking for an automation system:
  • What type of lights are you looking to control? If LED, which brand?
  • What type pump do you have - single speed, two speed or variable speed?
  • What else will you be controlling?
  • How many functions will you need?

A good rule of thumb is to choose a system that fits as closely as possible with the brand names of your most important equipment. In fact, the first two questions from the above list stem from the fact that among all components that automation can oversee, LED lights and variable-speed pumps often can only be controlled by systems made by the same manufacturer which made the equipment. A Pentair WhisperFlo pump, for instance, will generally only work with Pentair automation.

This isn't always a major obstacle to finding the optimal system because, as you might guess, most of the top brands in the pool and spa industry offer automation options.

Pentair is one of the most established providers of automation systems, carrying three major systems that range in design from basic to those handling more sophisticated setups:
  • The SunTouch is an established entry-level system suitable for pools with only a few functions to automate.
  • The EasyTouch and EasyTouch PL systems are Pentair's most popular automation systems, a mix of affordability and heavy functionality. These handle up to eight components, giving you the ability to control everything from your pool pump to the color displays of your Intellibrite LED lights. The Easy Touch PL is excellent for remotely controlling the console panel that is already powering your equipment.
  • The Intellitouch is similar to the EasyTouch but allows for control of up to 16 different functions. This is typically helpful for more complicated systems, such as commercial applications and larger residential setups.

Hayward is another popular brand for automation, with its own notable options:
  • The OmniLogic is perhaps the most advanced option on the market today. This system is all touch-screen and is the most customizable of all automation systems, making it one of the easiest to use. The OmniLogic also allows easy upgrades to new firmware revisions, with no need for hardware upgrades.
  • The Goldline Aqua Plus and Pro Logic are solid starter systems, suitable for controlling up to four functions, and are examples of systems which add salt cell functionality like we mentioned earlier. These systems each include a T-CELL-15 salt cell, which converts your pool to saltwater chlorination, and include the ability to control from either the central console, remote control or smartphone.

Zodiac, meanwhile, has been the top-selling automation company in the country for many years running. It offers three popular Aqualink systems that will suit every need from simply powering on your pump to being able to automatically balance your water chemistry without touching a test strip:

  • The Aqualink Z4 is most suitable for typical smaller residential applications, controlling your pump, heater and three additional functions.
  • The Aqualink PDA is a great option for those looking for more advanced features. It comes standard with a wireless interface for easy control over your system.
  • The Aqualink RS offers the most functionality of all Jandy systems, from being able to change settings based on the season to turning on landscape lighting as the sun sets.

Home owners who inherited an older pool or spa setup might have some type of basic mechanical timer to turn equipment on and off at predetermined hours of the day, eliminating the need to manually control the pump. Intermatic's Mechanical Timer is a prime example, one of the simplest, yet effective and time-proven systems available.

This is fine for the simplest pools and is the most cost effective approach to automation, but Intermatic, one of the first companies to offer pool timers, has expanded into modern automation as well. Its MultiWave Wireless Controls line is one of the most economical on the market, and like most of the other brands is made up of three models with varying levels of functionality. The Intermatic units, however, are differentiated simply by amperage. The top model, for example, the PE34065RC, has an 80-amp capacity, making it the ideal choice for handling larger items such as heat pumps. All three are limited by the ability to control a maximum of five components.
No reason to wait
If you’re ready to take pool maintenance to the next level, automation is a great way to make controlling your setup easy and fun. Get rid of that old rusted out mechanical time clock and start enjoying your pool the way it was meant to be enjoyed.

For a handy guide to get started, use this chart to help figure out which system will best fit your particular needs. Note, Dual Equipment Control refers to the system's ability to handle heaters, pumps and lights for both a pool and a spa. 

    Function VS Pump Compatible SmartPhone Control Salt Compatible LED Compatible Auto pH Balance Dual Equipment

SunTouch 4

EasyTouch PL4/PSL4 4
EasyTouch 8

IntelliTouch 10

AquaPlus 4
ProLogic 16
OmniLogic 16

Aqualink Z4 4
Aqualink PDA 8
Aqualink RS 32

PE653RC 5
PE24065RC 5
PE34065RC 5


You're bound to need some assistance as you study your automation options, so be sure to contact us with your questions or concerns and we'll be happy to help. We carry the an extensive selection of automation systems because customers are seeing that the ability to control their pools and spas on the go isn't just a nicety - for many it's becoming a necessity.
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Pool Supply Unlimited is an e-commerce company that loves water. We love to pump it, filter it, heat it, chlorinate it, light it up and stare at it while we're barbequing a fat, juicy steak. There are real pool professionals working here. Our guys have seen thousands of pools in their careers, no exaggeration. We are based in San Antonio, TX and can land most products to your door (within the 48 contiguous states) in less than a week.
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