Smart Phones Take Swimming Pool Automation to the Next Level

by Pool Builders on 12-01-2012 in Articles

Imagine this: you are on your way home from work and you decide it would be a great idea to relax and unwind by pouring yourself a glass of wine and getting into your heated spa when you get home. Trouble is you have to wait intil you get home, turn the spa on, and fire up the heater. You say to yourself "I wish there were a way of having my spa ready to go when I get home." Well wish no more. Now there is a way of using your smart phone, PC, or tablet (basically any internet-enabled device) to tell your pool automation system what you want it to do.

In order to make this work you must already have a pool automation system installed. As an aside for the next three paragraphs the term "pool automation system" will be referred to as "system." Let's take a look at what a system is and what it does. A typical system consists of:

1) the main control board - it is the brains of the system and is mounted in a weather proof enclosure near the pool equipment,
2) a power distribution center - houses circuit breakers and/or ground fault circuit interuptors. It may be located in the same enclosure as the main board,
3) valve actuators - they move valves using small electric motors,
4) sensors - water and air temperature sensors,
5) a wall mounted (wired) control panel or hand-held wireless controller - this is what you use to tell the system what you want it to do. The wired version is mounted in your house, and,
6) a spa-side control panel - the spa-side panel allows control of certain spa functions while you are in the spa.

Now let's take a look at the internet-based system:

1) An internet capable PC, tablet, or Smart Phone,
2) the internet
3) your existing home network,
4) and a receiver which is wired into the main control board of your system.

So how does internet-based control allow you to control your pool/spa? First of all you will have to create an account on a web site hosted by the manufacturer of your system. Whenever you log into your account a communication path is established between you and your system. Here is the path:

1) the PC/tablet/phone you are using,
2) the internet,
3) the router of your home network,
4) the receiver, and finally
5) the system itself.

Once communication is established you can turn pumps on, move valves, turn the pool/spa heater on, etc. You can control your system from anywhere there is internet service. You could be across the street at your neighbor's or across town.

Here are a few things imperative to this discussion:

1) You must already have an automation system installed.
2) The brand of both the automation system and internet-based system must be the same.
3) You must have a home network with a wired or wireless router.
4) Your smart phone/tablet must be able to run the app for whatever brand of system you have.

Here are a few words of caution: an installation such as this is not for the faint of heart. I highly recommended you hire a competent and qualified pool professional to install this. There are dangerous voltages present inside the power center and main enclosure. Poking around in there if you don't know what you are doing may result in property damage, serious bodily injury or death.

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