Typically, shortcuts in pool maintenance are few and far between. You know that there’s no skipping powering on your pump every day, or turning on your heat pump at the last minute when it’s chilly out. But what if I told you you could operate everything connected to your pool with a snap of your fingers, even if you’re on the other side of the world?
Well, finger snapping actually won’t work. But with a pool automation system, you can use an app on your phone to control every aspect of your pool operation, including your lights and alarm.
It might sound futuristic, but it is actually possible—and pool owners everywhere are opting in. I’ll explain how pool automation works, why it might come in handy, and how to set up your very own automation system. Get ready to save some time and a chunk of cash.
Wait… What is Pool Automation?
Some pool owners misunderstand pool automation, thinking it’s the same thing as making your pool energy-efficient. But pool automation isn’t just about installing a programmable pool pump or timing your pool lights to turn on at sunset.
Basically, a pool automation system allows you to connect your pool’s equipment to one central hub. This ultimately allows you to control your pool from an app on your phone—no matter where you are in the world.
To set up pool automation, you’ll want to get a control hub that connects to your pump, heater, lights, and any other fixtures. This control hub is called a pool pad, and should have its own screen so that you can also operate it in person even if the internet cuts out.
Pool automation is as futuristic as pool ownership can get—at least for now. And whether you consider yourself tech-savvy or not, you can benefit from the simple steps to get your pool automated.
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When to Use the Automation for Your Pool
You might already be thinking “sign me up!” or you might be shaking your head, wondering why on earth you would need to control your pool from your phone. If this sounds more like you, hear me out through a few could-be-you scenarios.
Imagine you’re on the way home from a particularly tough workout. You want to decrease recovery time by soaking in the hot tub, but you know that it won’t be as effective if your muscles cool down for too long before you climb in. Instead of getting home, turning on the hot tub, rinsing off, and patiently waiting for the hot tub to get hot, you can turn on the tub via a “Post Work-Out” theme on your phone, right there in the locker room.
Or maybe you’re on a long vacation, and you’ve noticed that a heat wave is hitting your hometown soon. Instead of being stuck with the settings you manually programmed into your pool gear, you can increase how long your pump runs and avoid an algae infestation—because that’s the last thing you’d want to deal with when you get home.
Maybe you’re even hosting an impromptu gathering, or you lost track of time picking out new floaties in the store—and guests are coming any minute now. By turning on a “Pool Party” theme on your phone, you could turn on the pool lights to party colors, get the hot tub roaring, and turn on your heat pump, all while in line at checkout.
Setting up pool automation might not be for everyone, but using it certainly is. Once it’s set up, it’s all downstream from there. Decide for yourself if this high-tech convenience is worth the installation. And if you’re game, read on.
How to Automate Your Pool—And Save
Ready to automate your pool? The details really depends on the system that you opt into, but these steps are where any pool owner should start.
First, Get Connected
Still have dial-up internet? That’s going to have to change if you’re serious about pool automation. The first step toward controlling your pool from your phone is making sure that you have reliable internet connection. Ideally, you want upload and download speeds of at least 3 megabits per second (mbps) near your pool.
Don’t be fazed by the acronym! Mbps is nothing to be intimidated by, as it’s just a name for a measurement. You can easily find out yours by testing your internet speed for free online.
Set Up a Variable-Speed Pump
Your pump is the heart of your circulation system—and the more controls it has, the better you can customize your pool’s operation for your needs. Pool automation helps you take full advantage of these benefits, but they’ll be limited unless you have a variable-speed pump.
Variable-speed pumps allow you to control their revolutions per minute (rpms). The slower you direct them to go, the more thoroughly your pool water circulates. And here’s the kicker: the slower you set your variable-speed pump, the more you save. Lower speed, lower use of energy, lower monthly bill.
It’s a win-win situation, and why I say all pool owners should have variable-speed pumps. As of 2021, it’s also virtually federal law. If you haven’t gotten one yet, it’s time.
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Get a Control Hub
You’ve got your pump. Now this is the most essential step: getting a control hub (also called smart hub), which will act as your pool pad moving forward.
And you guessed it: you’ve got options. There are “smart hubs” sold by pool companies, but you can also get one like the SmartThings hub, which allows you to connect up to 200 devices and set up specific sequences.
Once you get your control hub, you want to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for installation. And if it seems above your wheelhouse, don’t hesitate to call in an electrician! Safety is the most important aspect of this process, and installation should only take about two hours.
When your hub is properly set up, it’s time to connect devices. Your pool pump, pool heat pump, lights, switches, sound systems, motion-sensor cameras, and safety-essential pool alarms should all by synched up by plugging them into the control hub and fixing settings on your smartphone app.
Though specific instructions will differ based on manufacturer, it’s really that easy to get started.
Tech Brainiac? Take it Further
If you’re itching for more, you’re probably pretty comfortable with technology. Thankfully, there is more you can do to customize your automated system.
Feeling chatty? Some of the pool brand automation systems integrate home voice assistants. That means that you could be standing in your kitchen and tell your pool lights to turn on. Pretty cool.
You can also integrate IFTTT software, which stands for “If This, Then That.” Using this software, you can prompt your pool to automatically shift its operation in response to changes in the weather forecast. But that’s just one example—the options are endless. Pool automation is already convenient. Why not make it yours?
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You’ve Gone Automatic!
Congratulations—you’re ready to wow your friends for sure. But you’re also about to enjoy a smoother relationship with your pool. And for all the work you put in to make sure it’s sparkling clean, I’d say you deserve the help. Enjoy.