How to run a pool, easily and cost effectively
Step one – Understand the problem
First of all, we set about understanding what the different components (pump, filters, heater etc.) did and what they needed to do to keep the pool healthy and fun. Once we understood this and how the owner used them, we could then build the programmes that would automate much of the work.
The pump needed to run for about 6 hours per day when the pool was in heavy use with the UV filter running for 4 hours of that. The pump also moves the water through a sand filter all the time. The UV filter is to kill bacteria, whilst the Sand filters out most of the physical dirt. When the pool was in light to no use, then the pump would run for 4 hours and the UV filter for 1 or 2.
In both cases, the pump had to come on before the UV filter to ensure the filter did not burn out. To ensure this was the case, we put in a 30 second delay before the UV filter was launched. We created programmes that would automate this and built them into the Nifty App.
Step two – Look at the hardware
We had to understand what hardware was installed and if it had any specific issues (power draw, Gas connection etc.) and how we could control each item and ensure they turned on safely and accurately.
In the end, to control all of the devices, we used these different controllers:
For the Pump, Deck Lights, Pool Lights, internal lights we used: Fibaro single switch 2
These provided reliable and secure Z-wave connectivity and would allow us to turn each device on and off.
To check the pool room temp. and turn the internal lights on: Fibaro door/window sensor 2
A reliable multifunction sensor, telling the Nifty brain™ what it needs to know
For the boiler we used: Thermostat by Secure
This provided us with a simple, low cost and reliable thermostat that could be controlled by the Nifty brain™
For the UV filter, in room heater we used: Aeotec smart switch 6 plugs
These are standard smart plugs but would enable us to control the devices that were plugged in rather than hard wired.
To physically monitor all this: Foscam FI9900p
An external camera which meant it could cope with the temperature fluctuations and possible wetness inside a rough pool shed.
To pull it all together: Nifty Brain™
The smarts that could take all the data feeds and run the system.
The physical installation of all this hardware and the wiring up took a day, in this instance we had a consumer unit in the room and much of the basic wiring was already in place which simplified a lot of the work.
The actual programming and customising of the Nifty brain™ took significantly longer than expected, predominantly because we wanted to build in the flexibility needed to cope with any future demands and the need for detailed usage reports on the devices to help understand the costs involved.
This also included a number of routines that automated the basic filtering, heating and pump processes.
As you can see from the App, the owner can remotely control each of the items connected to the app or use routines to automate the services. The camera is in place to look for signs that the various devices have turned on (they glow, lights come on) this allows a visual confirmation that the app is working.
In addition the owner can check the ‘Link’ status at the top of the screen to make sure there is a link between the pump room and the Nifty Brain™.
Ultimately this is what the owner wanted, this single screen that gave them more control over the pool and allowed them to save money but only running the devices as required. Future work will include remote temperature monitoring and moving the heating from a gas boiler to an Air Source heat pump.
For a video on the work and what we have done there, click here
While we don’t all have a pool, it is a good example of how Nifty can solve problems and reduce hassle for people through the use of existing technology designed for the home.