How to Set Up an Automated Pool Chemical System

Written by Michael Dean
December 15, 2023

automated pool chemical system

Setting up an automated pool chemical system is a great way to minimize the time you spend maintaining your pool and maximize your time enjoying it. I’ve set up several pool chemical automation systems over the years – below are all the steps I follow and what you should consider as a swimming pool owner.

Main Takeaways

  • An automated pool chemical system can help reduce the amount of chemicals you waste and make it easier to get your pool ready for the season.
  • To set up an automated chemical system, you have to set up the power center, the heating system, the purification systems, the pump, and the accessories.
  • Pool automation systems cost anywhere between $1,500 to $5,000, with most costing under $2,500.

Why Automate Your Pool? Are There Any Problems?

With the proper configuration, an automated chemical system can reduce the amount of chemicals you waste and simplify the process of preparing your swimming pool each season. You can also expect a lot of savings on your energy bill.

When misconfigured, an automated pool system could prevent you from noticing some problems until they damage the pool. Sensors are helpful, but don’t rely entirely on them.

Before We Start

This is a general guide, and you can use it for most systems. However, specific components or tool setups may have setup requirements that differ from the instructions below. So, be sure to check the manufacturer’s instructions for any parts you acquire, and contact the manufacturer if necessary for additional guidance.

If you’re unfamiliar with pool chemicals or why they matter, read my swimming pool chemicals guide first.

Step 0: Make Sure You Buy Components That Work With Automated Systems

It’s far too easy to buy the best components for your pool and realize that half of them don’t work with automated control systems. That defeats the purpose, so make sure all the components you buy for a computerized pool system work well together.

If you’re hiring a professional installer for the system, they can help with this. Try to pick out all your parts ahead of time; having everything ready when your installer starts will minimize costs and delays.

Step 1: Set Up Your Power Center

The power center is the hub of your automated pool chemical system. Depending on the setup, it may provide power to each component or control all the features. Power centers rarely have large displays built-in, but you can connect them to touch-screen control panels.

The best place to install a power center is close to your pool and where you want to put the other components, but not somewhere that’s too exposed to the weather. Some people build small sheds or storage cabinets for power centers.

Most power centers have a main control panel, several circuit breakers, and control options to help manage different components. A typical power center can handle several features (or connected components).

What I Recommend

If you’re looking for the best power center, I recommend the iAquaLink, which can control up to 32 pool features. I’ve found that this system is relatively easy to set up to automate any pool, even for pool automation newbies. Other brands I recommend include Hayward and Pentair.

Step 1b: Set Up a Wireless Internet Relay (Optional)

Power centers and automated pool systems work best through remote control systems, which have better user interfaces and allow you to control your pool systems from anywhere with internet access. However, some pools are outside the range of home Wi-Fi systems.

The easy solution to this is setting up a wireless internet repeater. These devices connect to an existing Wi-Fi network and expand its range, transmitting data to and from the original network. Alternatively, you can run an ethernet cable from your home to your pool area and set up a wireless router somewhere around there.

If possible, keep your internet access point in a well-protected area. Somewhere inside your house is best, but if that won’t work, put it in a compartment that stays at room temperature throughout the year.

Step 2: Set Up Your Heating System

Heating systems keep pools at safe, comfortable temperatures throughout the year. As experienced owners know, a well-insulated pool with a proper cover on top is easy to maintain at the right temperature. Automating this is one of the best ways to save money because it costs less to maintain a pool’s temperature than to heat it whenever you want to use it.

Make sure to connect the heating system sensors to the power center. This makes it easier to monitor and manage your pool’s temperature. You can also schedule things to turn on the heater at particular times, ensuring the pool is at the right temperature when you’re ready to use it.

What I Recommend

What heater you get is entirely up to you and whether you prefer electric, gas, or solar. If you’re not sure what to get, I recommend checking out Pentair and Hayward. Check out my list of the best pool heaters for more specific recommendations.

Step 3: Set Up Your Purification Systems

Purification systems vary but typically include pool sanitizer and pH adjustment systems. Higher-quality components can provide precision doses of your pool chemicals, ultimately saving money by wasting fewer chemicals.

Sanitizers help kill bacteria, algae, and other things growing in unattended pools. Some purification systems have separate monitoring components; others integrate the monitors into the primary purification system.

Many pool owners use chlorine generators for purification systems rather than dispensing other types of chemicals. Chlorine generators are cheap, effective, and popular, making them more likely to integrate with an automated chemical system.

What I Recommend

I highly recommend Hayward’s Automatic Chemical Feeder if you’d like a reliable automatic chlorinator or brominator for your pool.

Step 4: Set Up Your Pumps and Tanks

Pumps and tanks integrate with purification systems but may be separate from them. The critical thing to keep in mind here is that tanks eventually run out of chemicals. The size of your tanks affects how long your pool can run independently before you have to fill them up with chemicals again.

When setting up the pumps and tanks of your chemical automation system, consider the ease of access. If your tanks are buried underground, you can’t refill them. This means that tanks and pumps need to be somewhere accessible and preferably somewhere that won’t obstruct your view or ruin the scenery.

Above ground pools can usually place these somewhere along the sides of the pool, preferably with a bit of shelter from rain and sunlight. Inground pools usually need these systems in a separate access area, either through panels or in a connected shed.

If you want to go all-out on automating things, you can even run lines from the pool into your house or garage, allowing you to adjust your pool chemicals without even going outside. That’s more expensive and complicated than putting all the components closer to the pool, but it is an option.

We’re bringing this up because it’s important to remember that pools can have many different configurations. Creativity goes a long way when creating an automated system, and thinking outside the box can offer significant advantages.

What I Recommend

A solid tank with a built-in pump I would recommend is the Stenner Chemical Tank and Pump. I used the 7.5-gallon model, but you can invest in a 15 or 30-gallon tank if you have a larger pool.

Step 5: Set Up Your Accessories

Pumps, tanks, purifiers, and heating systems are the essential components of fully automated pool systems. Once you have all of those in place, everything else is for fun. However, accessories can make things even better, and integrating them into your pool automation system can save a lot of time.

Here are some of the most popular accessories.

Management Screens

Management screens are essentially just tablets or smartphones that you only use to control pool systems. You can either install a management application or purchase a dedicated control screen. Either of these is a viable option, but I would recommend the former for a more seamless experience without having to purchase yet another product for your pool.

Retractable Pool Covers

Motorized, retractable pool covers are among the most useful additions to an automated pool chemical control system. While they don’t directly add or remove pool chemicals on their own, having a cover on top of your pool can help reduce chemical loss and maximize efficiency.

Pool covers also help prevent debris from landing in your pool. This isn’t as important if you have an indoor pool where the regulated environment keeps out leaves, insects, and the like, but it’s extremely helpful if you’re automating an outdoor pool.

What I Recommend

I tested Coverstar’s Eclipse model and found it to be super durable and high-functioning. If you are willing to pay for it, you’ll love these automatic pool covers.

Step 6: Advanced Considerations

You can connect many non-chemical accessories to an automated pool control system, but those are outside the focus of this guide. That said, if you want to maximize the performance of your control systems, there are a few more things to keep in mind.

Replacement Times

No pool chemical system is fully automated, and there’s a reason for that: chemicals are consumed. Maintaining proper pool chemistry can minimize chemical loss, but you’ll need to refill things sooner or later. The question here is how often you want to do that. Automating your pool chemistry isn’t doing much if you need to refill things every week.

The sweet spot for replacement times is setting things up to let you replace everything at once on a predictable schedule. We suggest aiming for monthly if possible, but some people use systems that allow yearly chemical replenishment instead.

If you’re not trying to match replacement times, try to get a system that monitors your remaining chemical levels and can give you a heads-up when it’s time to start refilling tanks. The easier you can make this, the better.

Sensor Locations

Some internet-ready pool systems have sensors you can place around the pool to monitor things. These can vary from chemical detectors to temperature gauges or even dispenser units that help create an even distribution of pool chemicals. You can build some impressively complicated setups if you want to invest that much in automating your pool.

The important thing to keep in mind here is that sensor locations matter. If your pool chemical sensor is located in the wrong place, an automated system could end up dumping far more chemicals into the water than necessary.

Make sure you follow the manufacturer’s instructions for placing sensors throughout your pool. If you’re unsure at any point in this process, talk to an expert who can guide you through the process. Installing sensors wrong could wind up damaging your pool, so it’s always better to be cautious here.

Pool Shock

Automated chemical control systems address many reasons for shocking pools, but you may find that you need to do this every now and then despite the pumps, tanks, and chemicals we discussed above.

When you do shock the pool, consider using non-chlorine shocks like potassium peroxymonosulfate. This is a fast-acting pool shock that can clear up in as little as 15 minutes.

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How Much Does It Cost To Set Up A Fully Automated Pool Chemical System?

Prices vary based on factors like how many systems you’re automating, whether you can keep using any current components, and how much digging the installers need to do. In most cases, pool automation costs anywhere from $1,500 to $5,000, with most systems costing less than $2,500.

The best way to figure out the costs of automating your pool chemical system is to call your local installer companies and ask for some estimates. They can give you an accurate price for your setup.

Is Pool Chemical Automation Worth It?

While automating pool chemical systems has a considerable upfront cost, these systems usually increase efficiency so much that they end up saving you money over time. Realistically, you might save 50%-70% on energy costs alone, especially if you add a pool cover (automated or not) at the same time.

Questions about automating your chemical systems? Feel free to drop me a line.

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