An automated swimming pool: Part 2

What we did we do to help manage the pool work more effectively and to save the owner money?

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.

For instance:

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 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.

The next steps will be to add a thermometer to the pool itself and automate the use of the boiler to keep the pool at the favoured temperature depending on usage and the weather. The pool itself is outdoor but covered in a semi-permanent cover.

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.

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Curtis Ashworth