By Greg Fournier and Tim Pettman
With all of today’s technology, the expectation is to be able to control everyday life with a few taps on a smartphone. Conditioned for instant gratification, most of us want what we want, when we want it, which usually means now, rather than later. We prefer to sit back and let technology do all the heavy lifting simply because in this day and age, it actually can.
With the introduction of sleek, contemporary, and intuitive apps, technology is advancing to save time, work, and money. Historically, the pool industry has taken its time adopting new technology, choosing instead to ensure it works before incorporating it into new products. This is particularly true of backyard automation. In many industries, manufacturers favour developing a brand new control using today’s technologies, such as microprocessors, touchscreen interfaces, wireless connections, or USB upgrades. In the pool and hot tub industry, however, engineers prefer to adapt older products to work smoothly with the web, or more recently, with smart device apps. This allows pool owners to use simple backyard controls to maintain and enjoy their pools or spas.
Why have a controller?
The core satisfaction of any automation system is the ability to remotely control a pool and/or spa. These days, it is nearly unheard of to spend $30,000 on anything that does not have a remote control and an app. Even a $100 television has the means to control it right from the comfort of your couch using either a remote or your smartphone.
Many people who have a somewhat simple pool in their backyard may be wondering why they would need a controller or remote. While it’s true you can get away with a time clock and chlorine tablets, for instance, why would you want to? Automation technology has advanced drastically, making it relatively affordable to control your systems. An electrician can install a basic system for less than $1000 that can provide a homeowner with timers and a remote control. However, for app control, the cost is likely closer to $2000. For example, variable speed pumps allow you to set them to run at specific speeds during certain times of the day or year. This helps ensure the pool has been properly filtered and is free from debris, not to mention allow you to enjoy substantial savings on energy bills. This technology can also avoid having to manually adjust timers in the summer when heat changes the lighting, filtration, and chemistry needs of your pool.
For convenience sake, it is nearly impossible to not have a controller if you have both a pool and spa. At the most basic level, it is a time clock for your pool’s filtration and allows you to turn the spa’s heat setting up and down as needed. However, the most important reason to have a controller is the ability to automatically turn the valves to the proper position when operating the spa. For all of you whispering under your breath that you can do this manually, you are right! However, consider that every time you want to get in the spa, you need to walk out to the pool pad (which is often placed at the back or side of your yard) and switch on the suction and return valves. Then after a relaxing hour of hydrotherapy at bedtime, you need to walk back out to the pool pad in the dark and set the valves back to the proper position. If for some reason you forget, your pool will not filter properly you end up with a very green pool in a matter of days. Now you have to spend the rest of the week trying to clean up the mess that could have been avoided if you had a controller.