Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to be tech savvy to automate your pool or use pool automation products.
There’s a lot to love about having a backyard pool – but pool maintenance isn’t one of them. All those hours spent skimming leaves, scrubbing walls and adjusting chemical levels, not to mention shocking, flocking and backwashing the filter. By the time you’re finished, it’s mid-afternoon, the kids are begging to jump in and you’re ready for a nap.
The good news is that you can cut down your pool maintenance time by doing one simple thing – automating your pool. That’s right! No more messy strip tests, cleaning or remembering to turn on the heat pump.
In this guide, we explain how pool automation works, what equipment it can automate and why automation can make your pool cleaner, greener and easier to maintain.
Pool automation is a system that allows you to control most of your pool equipment and processes from one location, usually with a control panel or mobile phone app.
Depending on the system, automation can control your lighting, heating, filtration, cleaning and basic water chemistry. For example, you can adjust the temperature on your heat pump, activate the filtration system or turn on the pool lights with the touch of a button. You can also set timers to allow functions like filtration and in-floor cleaning to happen at regular intervals or while you’re away.
A Pool automation system includes a wall-mounted unit where you plug in your pool equipment. This unit needs to be installed by a licensed electrician and a qualified person to set up, so don’t try to do it yourself. The unit is then connected to the internet, which allows you to control the system by phone, tablet or laptop. Having said that, if you have an unstable connection or you’re not confident with a hand-held device, you can still program it through the control panel.
Smart pool systems are usually installed at the same time as your pool, but you can add them later – as long as your existing equipment is compatible. If it isn’t, you may need to upgrade to a newer model to get the most of your automation system. Some home automation systems can be integrated with pool automation to keep everything running smoothly both in and outdoors (check with your installer on compatibility).
While pool automation systems can be expensive, they offer a couple of advantages. First, they cut down on maintenance time. Second, they eliminate manual errors that can damage or unbalance your pool, such as incorrect dosing or running short filtration cycles. This can be a lifesaver for people who are busy, travel frequently or lack confidence with pool maintenance.
*Products that can be controlled by Viron Connect
The pool processes you automate depend on your pool, lifestyle and budget. Some entry-level automation systems allow you to control two or three pool functions, while others, like the Viron Connect, offer 10 or more equipment outlets. The key to automation is ensuring you stay with one brand across your pool products, and this will ensure you have proper control over all the available pieces of equipment, using different brands may not provide any control at all. If you’re keen on getting a pool automation system, here are some common functions you can automate:
Not everyone remembers to run their pump for at least 8–10 hours a day, which is why your pool pump should be the first thing you sync to an automation system. It’ll keep your pool water circulating, allowing debris to be filtered out before it gets a chance to cloud your pool water or affect the chemical balance.
An automated salt chlorinator can check chlorine and pH levels and adjust them accordingly, keeping your pool chemistry balanced. Unlike manual chlorination, some chlorinators can be linked to your pool automation system so you can handle its operations – such as checking the water balance, cleaning the unit or programming the filter backwash – with the touch of a button. Or, if using an AstralPool Viron eQ chlorinator combined with an AstralPool Viron pump, you can select Ai mode for complete filtration and sanitation control
Some people prefer to balance their own pool water. But this is a time-consuming process, and you don’t always get it right. But if you have a chemical dosing system, as an alternative to a saltwater chlorinator, the sanitiser and pH levels are monitored and adjusted automatically – and they can all be managed through the centralised hub of your automation system.
Instead of adjusting settings manually, you can program your heat pump, gas heater or solar pool heater to warm up your pool or spa water in advance, or just switch on via your smartphone app a few hours before you come home. No more waiting for the water to reach your desired temperature!
If you’ve got in-floor pool cleaning or a smart robotic pool cleaner, you can sync it to your automation system to make management easy. This means you can activate it whenever you want, even if you’re not at home, or program it to clean on a regular schedule. With robotic cleaners, you can even find out if the canister is full or if it’s finished cleaning.
If you have LED lights, these can be synchronised with almost any device, including a pool automation system. This means you can turn them on remotely, change the colour or use a timer to turn them on and off at a particular time. If you want to limit your automation to lights, you could get a dedicated light controller like the Halo lite. Not only can this help you automate and customise lighting for your pool, but it can control your backyard lighting as well.
Got fountains, waterfalls or deck jets in your pool? With the touch of a button, you can turn them on or activate them with a timer. Not only do water features add drama to your pool (particularly if you’re having a party or it’s school holidays), but they help circulate the water, keeping it balanced and clear.
If you have an outdoor sound system, you can sync it with your home automation system? This means you can control it with your phone, even if you’re floating on a pool hammock. No more rushing inside to adjust the volume (when the neighbours are complaining) or using a separate remote.
You can continue operating your pump, sanitiser and lights separately, but controlling their operation from one location brings a range of benefits. Here are nine ways that automation can benefit your pool.
We know how time-consuming it is to keep water balanced. Rain, heavy use and environmental debris can all wreak havoc on your pool, making it cloudy and unsanitary. This means constantly checking the water, taking samples to the pool shop or shocking it with chlorine to get it back on track again.
Basic feedback devices like Blue Connect help you avoid this hassle by reporting water quality so you can address it straight away. It only takes three minutes to install, and it spends the rest of the time floating in your pool or fixed on the pool plumbing, collecting data. So only occasional visits to the pool shop are required. More advanced control systems, like the Viron Connect, can adjust chlorine or pH levels automatically, eliminating this task altogether. And unlike manual dosing, which can be inaccurate or infrequent, automatic dosing means that your pool water is always balanced and safe for swimming.
Your pool pump is the lifeblood of your pool. It circulates water, helps filter out particles and minimises the need for chemicals. When this is done manually, there’s a risk of not running it long or often enough. With an automation system, however, you can ensure that the pump is operating for the optimal time – either consecutively or at intervals. Not only does this improve your pool’s lifespan, but it also keeps your pool clean and swim-ready all year round.
Pro Tip: If you have an automated in-floor cleaning system, sync it with your pool automation system to take it one step further.
It doesn’t matter if you’re at home or overseas, you can use your phone to automate, stop or adjust functions with the press of a button. If you’re at work, for instance, you can turn on your spa in advance so it’s toasty when you come home. You can even check the inside and outside temperatures so you can choose the right heat setting. If you forgot to turn off the pool pump or robotic cleaner when you left for a holiday, automation allows you to control this remotely so you don’t have to drive back or waste unnecessary energy by leaving it on.
You’d be surprised how many people forget to turn off their heat pump or pool lights. This can waste energy and increase your bills. But with automation, you can schedule these processes to turn on and off so there’s no room for error. What’s more, if you’ve got a variable speed pump, you’ll be able to operate it at a lower speed or during off-peak hours, which can save even more energy.
Automation saves time because everything is controlled from one location. No more flicking switches in different locations to turn pumps on or off. Nor do you have to worry about testing the water, taking it to a pool shop and adjusting the balance with a cocktail of chemicals every week. Your basic water parameters are analysed, and the balance is adjusted automatically (such as pH and Chlorine). While you’ll still have to scoop leaf litter or run your pool cleaner, these tasks will be less frequent or laborious than they used to be.
When you’re busy, pool maintenance can fall by the wayside. This means that environmental debris, heavy usage and infrequent cleaning throw off the chemical balance of your pool. This can create a lot of issues, such as clogged filters, stained liners and scaling (from excess calcium). But pool automation ensures that your pool water is always clean, balanced and sanitised, helping you to extend the life of your equipment and improve the longevity of your pool.
Automation gives you different settings for different occasions. Instead of tinkering endlessly to get everything right, you have a one-touch setting, such as ‘pool party’ or ‘school holiday’ mode. You can even adjust these to suit the climate or the season. If you have a spa as well, you can switch between the two with ease. Or have them both on at the same time!
While there’s an initial cost with automation, there are savings in the long run. When your lights, heating and pool pump are on a timer, you avoid unnecessary energy usage and hefty bills. Plus, you use fewer chemicals. Why? Because not only is your water generally cleaner, but any slight chemical imbalances are adjusted automatically. This means you don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars on chemicals to make a cloudy or unbalanced pool right again (think algaecides, clarifiers, flocculants and pool shock) – or pay someone else to do it!
You may not know this, but some home buyers are wary of pools. This is because they’ve got a reputation for being expensive and time-consuming. But automation can change that. First, automation gives you a cleaner pool. This makes a great first impression when people are inspecting your home. Second, the ability to cut down on maintenance time by controlling all processes with your phone can make your pool more desirable to buyers who are on the fence. The result? An increase in your home’s value – and your pool!
Almost any pool can be automated, but it depends on two things. First, is your current pool equipment compatible? Most important is to ensure you have the same brand across all pieces of equipment you wish to automate, many use different communication protocols, so ensure you stick with the same brand. Also, some older pumps or halogen lights will not have smart capabilities. This means you won’t be able to hook them up to your automation system. If that’s the case, you’ll need to upgrade your equipment. While this can add to your costs, a new variable speed pump or LED lights will save you time, energy and money in the long run.
Second, do you have a good internet connection? Automation uses Wi-Fi, so if your pool is located a long distance from your home modem/router, your connection may not be reliable. This will make it difficult to reliably control or program your pool system. If you’re unsure, check internet speed using online testers. You can also use wifi extenders or powerline adapters to increase the efficiency of your home network. However even if you cannot connect to wifi and you still want automation, the device control pad will allow you to control functions.
As technology progresses and our lives become busier, more pool owners are turning to pool automation. It doesn’t eliminate pool maintenance, but it makes owning a backyard swimming pool easier and less time-consuming.
While the set-up costs of automation may be high, the convenience of being able to run your pool pump, clean your pool, increase water temperature and manage chemical dosing – all with the touch of a button – can’t be ignored. And because your equipment runs like clockwork, you get a pool that’s cleaner, more energy-efficient and easier to maintain. It’s the dream, right?
Ready to spend less time fiddling with switches and more time swimming? Then contact one of our authorised dealers to find the right automation system for your pool.