Pool Control: How It Can Save You $400
A new iPhone App makes it easy to monitor a pool’s energy consumption.
A pool control iPhone app allows you to check temperatures, adjust pumps, remotely monitor and more.
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May 21, 2009 by Tom LeBlanc

You can program an iPhone to control your lights, shades, security and home theater. Why not pool control, too?

Actually, you can and you should.

It helps that home automation manufacturer HomeLogic and Pentair Water recently collaborated on the IntelliTouch Control for iPhone and iPod Touch.

According to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), in-ground pool owners can save up to $400 on annual utility bills by taking more control.

The pool control app, available at Apple’s App Store as of April, is for IntelliTouch customers with ScreenLogic interfaces. However, you don’t need an iPhone/iPod Touch or a HomeLogic/ScreenLogic product to incorporate pool control into home control systems.

Pentair’s iLink interface protocol adapter “allows existing home automation systems like Crestron, AMX or Control4 to integrate with our system,” says David MacCallum, Pentair product manager, lights and automation.

The ScreenLogic brand is born out of control manufacturer HomeLogic’s OEM relationship with pool company Pentair to develop pool control products that control other home systems.

These days home control systems can be programmed to control just about all controllable pool features including temperature settings, jets, lighting, water features, remote video monitoring and the latest in wireless pool security.

Robert Drucker, president of All Island Gunite Pools and owner of All Island Smart Homes, uses either a HomeLogic or ScreenLogic basic unit. “If I’m going to be integrating the whole house, I’ll use HomeLogic,” he says. “If the customer is more focused on pool, I’ll use the Pentair [ScreenLogic] because it’s more pool functional.”

Drucker says he’s also looking into offering a Control4 home automation solution that includes pool control.

Why Pool Control Matters
“The pool and spa control market has grown tremendously in the past five years,” MacCallum says, adding that the reasons are pretty clear.

1. After September 11, 2001, “More people are staying home and investing in their backyard as their vacation.”

2. High energy costs have made pool owners more cognizant of the drain on utilities. 

Along the lines of No. 2, NRDC offers the following data:

  • U.S. in-ground pools cause about 10 million tons on C02 emissions annually, equivalent to that of 1.3 million cars and light trucks on the road.
  • Reacting to inefficiencies in pool pumping and heating can save in-ground pool owners up to $400 on utilities.
  • Those savings are similar to if an average home is upgraded to meet Energy Star’s home requirements.
  • If all residential pools are upgraded to reduce pumping energy by one-third and reduce heating energy by one-third, total annual savings is estimated to be over $360 million and carbon dioxide emission would be reduced by at least 3 million tons.
  • Suggested tweaks that in-ground pool owners should make include switching to a variable speed pump with programmable controls, efficient filter, efficient gas heat pump or solar heater and robotic cleaner.
  • The best variable speed pumps offer sophisticated control options, making it possible to align operation with off-peak reduced utility rates.

To help customers minimize their pools’ energy usage, Joe Lautner, VP of sales for HomeLogic, says his installers often program in “histograms” of customers’ energy usage patterns. “You can monitor how much the heaters are running at different temperature settings,” he says. “It results in something like a Prius effect.”

The Prius effect, of course, is the idea that if people actually track their energy consumption, it compels them to reduce their usage by an average of 10 percent to 15 percent.

MacCullum, meanwhile, expects pool control to continue to grow in popularity. “It has gone from a nice-to-have luxury item to being almost standard. The iPhone [feature] helps because it’s an intuitive interface and something that the customer is used to dealing with. It makes it simple.”

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