Swimming Pool Automation Guide: What Are Your Options?

Imagine coming home from a long day at work and your pool is already prepared for you. Lights turn on, temperature control starts, and filtration begins running automatically.

It might seem like a far-off fantasy to have your pool automated, but pool automation could be a natural extension of a smart home.

Throughout this article, we’ll look at some of the best automation systems you can buy for your pool and how to get started with each one. I’ll also provide information on where to buy pool automation products and the installation process for those products and features.

DIY Automation

If you’re a bit wary of setting up a fully automated pool, but some features sound like an excellent investment, a la carte automation is the way to go. You can control several critical aspects of your pool without investing in a complete smart pool automation system. Let’s take a look at some of the most effective and exciting a la carte options in pool automation.

Pool Heating and Water Temperature Control

Controlling your pool’s water temperature is one of the most attractive features for pool owners. You can use solar heating technology or traditional technology automatically without adding additional automated pool features. This automation will allow you to control your pool temperature from home, work, or even on vacation!

I like having my pool heating automated because it allows me to change temperatures when I need to, even when I’m away. If the kids decide to open up the pool while I’m at work, but they need to change the temperature, they don’t have to touch the dials. They just have to shoot me a text, and I can take care of the changes from my phone.

Important note: The installation process for any heating system should involve a professional to ensure your safety and the proper installation of the system. Ensure that you can automate your system before you buy it, and ask for a rundown of how it works, especially if you’re new to automation.

You’ll want to buy your heating system from your local pool supplier, but make sure to do your research, read reviews, and ask friends with pools before choosing a provider. There are also incredible tutorials on YouTube if you’re interested in getting the most out of your product. Temperature control is an essential part of pool ownership, so it’s vital to get it right.

Cost of Automating Heating and Temperature Control

Many factors can affect the cost of your automatic pool heater. Some devices can be added to your already installed heater. These attachable devices will generally cost around $400-$1,000 and allow you to add smart capabilities to your heater.

The cheapest option for initial setup is generally a gas or propane heater, which costs anywhere from $1,600-$6,000. However, they do typically cost more to operate.

A solar heater is an excellent option because it is free to operate. The initial setup costs are more expensive, though. These systems can cost anywhere from $2,300-$9,600.

Electric heaters will range from $2,300-$7,000 for installation and are relatively cost-efficient to run.

Powering Your Pump and Filter System

Both above-ground and inground pools require filters and pumps to clean the water. Since the filter will not run 24/7, you need to turn it on to circulate the pool water and take a swim. Automated pool pumps are convenient if you want to get the water moving, but you are not at home to manually operate them.

There are several options for pumps that you’ll want to keep in mind. Pumps come in single speed, two speed, and variable speed styles. Variable speed pumps give you the most control and maximize energy-saving potential. It also allows you to pump water faster or slower, depending on your preferences.

The amount of time you run your pump depends on your pool size, the use the pool gets, and your climate. Since pool use can change on a day-to-day basis, the amount of time you run your filter will also change. This variability is where automation comes in handy. You can set your pump for your specific needs, and if you’re having a party, you can change it with ease. Check out my guide on the best pool timers for some recommendations.

Similarly, your filtration system will need to run anytime the pool cover is off to ensure the pool stays clean and tidy. You can automate that system by setting up a regular filter time each day or just turning it on from your smartphone.

Once again, these features are much easier to have a professional install. If you’ve got an existing pool, there are devices you can easily add to your system to add in automation. You will need some underlying knowledge on how pools and electrical systems work.

Cost of Automating Your Pump and Filter System

Automation devices that you can add to your existing pool will generally range in price from $300-$1,000 depending on the features and quality of the device.

Variable speed pumps are the best option if you prefer to have the most control over your pool, but they are much more expensive to purchase. They can generally range from $1,200 to $3,000 for a decent option. Single-speed pumps can run from $500-$2,000, depending on the size of your pool. And 2-speed pumps will run from $900-$2,400.

Adjusting Pool Chemical Levels

Proper pool chemical levels are vital. Without automation, it’s easy to add too much of one chemical and throw off your pool’s pH. Luckily, pool chemical automation systems are simple to find and install DIY. These systems aren’t too expensive and will save you lots of time and money in the long run.

If you’re going to automate any piece of your pool, I vote for your pool chemicals. It lightens your workload, ensures no mixups with the chemical levels, and it’s easy to do! All you need to do is research your preferred chemical automation product. You can also add remote monitors and controls.

Installing your pool chemical system yourself is a relatively straightforward process. It’ll only take you an hour or so if you follow the directions carefully. Installing the system yourself will also give you a better understanding of how it functions.

Cost of Automating Pool Chemical Adjustments

A chemical automation system will range from about $600-$2,000. As with the other automation products, the more functions available, the more expensive the system.

Adjusting Lighting

Automated pool lighting is also relatively simple to install by yourself. You will need to follow the manufacturer’s directions with their product very thoroughly to ensure your safety. But it should only take an hour or two to install the lights and automation system. An automation system can be added to an existing light setup with a few simple tweaks.

There is a wide variety of lighting types you can install. You can opt for different colors and brightness levels. It’s up to you to decide how much flair you want to add and how much money you want to spend. You can get lighting automation products from major brands like PENTAIR and Hayward online or through licensed dealers.

Cost of Automating Lighting

Since there are many adjustable lighting options to choose from, the price will significantly vary. In general, adjustable lighting is cheaper than some other automation systems. A basic starting kit will set you back around $300-$600, but they can range up to $3,000 for more complex features.

Retractable Pool Covers

Retracting a manual pool cover can be an exhausting task. Generally, you operate the cover with a crank, but the most basic options will require you to untie them by hand.

Traditional crankable pool covers are time-consuming and need some muscle to operate. You might want to consider an automatically retracting pool cover if you’re older and can’t physically handle a traditional cover, or if you have kids or grandkids and you’re concerned about safety.

Adding the retractable automation technology to your pool is incredibly simple. If you’re starting from scratch with an all-new cover, you may want to leave it to the professionals. They can handle the whole thing in an hour or two and save you time in the process. The only downside to an automatically retracting pool cover is that it is expensive.

Cost of Automating Your Pool Cover

Pool covers are one of the most expensive automation systems due to the overall size and durability of the materials needed. They can cost upwards of $5,000, and for larger pools, you should expect to pay closer to $10,000.

Automatic Pool Cleaners

Automatic pool cleaners are super effective and relatively inexpensive to own. You can purchase cleaners that can be turned on remotely or that you can schedule to work at a specific time each day. These cleaners are basically robot vacuums for your pool. These vacuums have been around for decades, but they have improved with smart technology.

These days, you’ll have a lot of options when it comes to automatic pool cleaners. Cleaners are probably the quickest and easiest pool automation to install, regardless of what type or size you choose. And they pay off big time in the long run. I recommend talking to your local pool experts to make sure you purchase a pool cleaner that best suits your needs.

Cost of an Automatic Pool Cleaner

Although the premium products can cost up to $3,000, a solid automated robot vacuum will cost around $800-$2,000.

Voice Assistants

If you have an Amazon Alexa, Google Home, or another voice assistant device in your home, you’re probably already aware that you can set them up to do menial tasks. With a smart switch, you can connect your voice assistant to any light switch in the house. With an additional outlet, you can turn on any plugged-in device through your assistant.

You can also easily add voice automation to your pool system. You can ask Alexa, Siri, or Google to turn on your pool cleaner, remove the pool cover, or change your lighting mode.

Products that help you connect your pool automation and voice assistant are simple to install on your own and require little upkeep. These products integrate seamlessly with your current systems, and you can add more automation over time just as easily. Plus, you usually won’t need additional products if you’re automating your whole pool at once.

Cost of Automating Your Pool with Voice Assistants

Some fully automated systems will come with voice control capabilities already installed. Suppose you are planning to add it individually. In that case, you can download an app that will connect automatically with your pool system (as long as your system connects to WiFi). These apps will generally be free of charge.

Using IFTTT (If This Then That)

IFTTT refers to software integrations that you can utilize with your pool automation to make things happen based on other occurrences automatically. For instance, you can create a “recipe” for when the temperature drops below a certain point according to your favorite weather app.

You can create alerts for things like your pool door being left open when you’re not home. You can also create an action to have the heat and jets turn on in your spa when your GPS shows that you’re home. This technology is incredibly basic, but it does require knowledge of electronics and programming, so you may want to leave the setup to the professionals.

If you’d like to create IFTTT recipes yourself, you can easily do so using a voice assistant. You can also use an app on your Apple or Android device. Either way, IFTTT makes your pool automations even easier and more exciting to use.

Cost of Installing an IFTTT System

You can install a simple IFTTT system for around $200, but if you plan to have a professional install it, then you will also pay for the labor cost of pool maintenance. Like voice assistants, setting up the applications for remote control of these systems is generally cost-free.

Full Smart Pool Automation Systems

If you’d rather not piece together your pool’s automated features, you can instead go for a full smart pool automation system. If you already have a few automated features or have put your automation system together slowly over time, then you’ll only need a smart hub control system to control your pool and spa remotely. These systems cost anywhere from $900-$2,500.

If you still need all of the automation products and want the whole thing installed by a professional, which I highly recommend, you’re looking at a much higher price tag. You may be looking at upwards of $20,000 for all the products and accessories. If you’re on a budget, I recommend upgrading features one at a time and opting for the full panel later.

Full systems will save you a lot of money in the long run, but they have a higher upfront cost, so it’s up to you to decide when is the right time to install one. Full automation panels or systems are very complicated to install. This complexity is why I highly recommend hiring a trained professional so you can ensure that the system is appropriately set up.

A full smart pool automation system will do nearly everything we talked about in the a la carte section, which means it’s setting you up for success right away. Although it’ll be a more significant initial investment, it will pay off in the long run.

It is worth noting that you will need strong internet speeds in your pool and spa area to run your smart pool system properly. It’s easy to check on your speed by bringing a laptop or smart device out to the pool deck and utilizing an online speed testing tool. You may need a WiFi booster outside or on the wall nearest your pool area to increase your speeds.

Here are some pros and cons to consider when choosing a full smart pool automated system.

Pros

  • Easy to upgrade on an older pool
  • Low-cost upgrade with significant results
  • Improves efficiency
  • Saves money on electrical and plumbing costs
  • Can connect with voice assistants or through an app

Cons

  • Complicated and technically challenging to install alone
  • Adds to upfront costs of pool installation
  • Individual products associated with full automation are pricey

FAQs

Can You Add Pool Automation To Existing Equipment?

For most automation systems, you will be able to simply add a device to your existing equipment that allows you to automate it or control functions with your smartphone. However, although more expensive, installing a new automated system is generally better in the long run.

Do I Need Pool Automation?

Pool automation is all about ease of access. It is not a necessary expense by any means, and if you are happy with your current pool maintenance routine, there is no need to change it with expensive automation systems. Pool automation is merely new technology that makes your life easier and is undeniably fun to watch.

Final Thoughts

Pool automation is an uncomplicated way to master energy efficiency and enjoy your pool without all of the hard work. You can automate cleaning processes, pool cover retraction, pool chemical levels, lights, sound, and more. Automation takes the pressure off you as a pool owner and puts the fun back in your backyard.

You can purchase automation products for both inground and above-ground pools. Most automation products are simple enough to install on your own if you have some basic electrical knowledge and follow directions. A complete system and panel will likely be more complicated than individual products and will require professional installation.

You can even use your voice assistant to give commands, so you can do it all without even moving your feet or turning on your smartphone. Automation is an excellent addition to any pool or spa.

Questions about swimming pool automation? Let me know. I’m always happy to help where I can.

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