Alternatives to Hayward/Goldline Pool Automation?

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DesertGator
Posts: 86
Joined: Thu Jun 21, 2018 11:12 pm

Alternatives to Hayward/Goldline Pool Automation?

Post by DesertGator »

I read a great thread here that about do-it-yourself pool servicing, a.k.a. the Boglehead way, and now I'm hoping maybe there is a more Boglehead "way" of handing the pool automation control system.

I have a large pool/spa with a full automation system run by Hayward/Goldline equipment and controls designed over 10 years ago. It generally performs very well, except the control devices (system electronics, remote control, system boards etc) are prone to failure, hard to get and very expensive.

I'd love to retrofit a different, modern "Smart" pool automation control to replace it; something that works with a Smartphone for example. All the control systems do is turn on a couple pumps, open and close valves, and do it on a schedule.

I've done some research and find other pool automation systems for sale, but nothing that looks like it is for retro-fitting to an older system; perhaps they can but it isn't specified in the product description. Costs seem just as high.

It would seem that there really isn't much to these systems; you could almost run one of these using a RaspberryPi and a simple hardware interface board, so I hardly think it truly requires $5000+ worth of custom electronics.

I'd love to hear from anyone who may have a better solution than continuing with Hayward/Goldline.

Thanks!
BobTexas
Posts: 156
Joined: Sat Dec 30, 2017 11:56 pm

Re: Alternatives to Hayward/Goldline Pool Automation?

Post by BobTexas »

The pool equivalent to bogleheads is https://www.troublefreepool.com/forums/

They have a great site and many experts on this sort of question
illumination
Posts: 1412
Joined: Tue Apr 02, 2019 6:13 pm

Re: Alternatives to Hayward/Goldline Pool Automation?

Post by illumination »

I've had the same problems with pool automation to where I have just embraced a real old school approach. Basically a breaker box.

I'm not sure why pool automation is this way, combination of high price and crazy reliability issues, but after putting in several new circuit boards that were obscenely expensive, I just decided to embrace pools how they were controlled pre-2000.

It might not be for you, but if I say want my spillway on, I just flip the breaker. Or if I want to heat the spa, I flip a breaker. I'm out there anyway.
About the only automation is my variable flow pump has a built in timer.

But something like a "Z-wave" type unit (basically a wireless switch) may be something in between that is a good alternative.
wfrobinette
Posts: 1465
Joined: Fri Feb 20, 2015 3:14 pm

Re: Alternatives to Hayward/Goldline Pool Automation?

Post by wfrobinette »

DesertGator wrote: Mon May 03, 2021 12:07 pm I read a great thread here that about do-it-yourself pool servicing, a.k.a. the Boglehead way, and now I'm hoping maybe there is a more Boglehead "way" of handing the pool automation control system.

I have a large pool/spa with a full automation system run by Hayward/Goldline equipment and controls designed over 10 years ago. It generally performs very well, except the control devices (system electronics, remote control, system boards etc) are prone to failure, hard to get and very expensive.

I'd love to retrofit a different, modern "Smart" pool automation control to replace it; something that works with a Smartphone for example. All the control systems do is turn on a couple pumps, open and close valves, and do it on a schedule.

I've done some research and find other pool automation systems for sale, but nothing that looks like it is for retro-fitting to an older system; perhaps they can but it isn't specified in the product description. Costs seem just as high.

It would seem that there really isn't much to these systems; you could almost run one of these using a RaspberryPi and a simple hardware interface board, so I hardly think it truly requires $5000+ worth of custom electronics.

I'd love to hear from anyone who may have a better solution than continuing with Hayward/Goldline.

Thanks!

FWIW I put in a pool 2 years ago or so. Anthony and Sylvan built it. They are in several large metro areas and have been in business for 40 years or more and stand behind everything they put in. I asked about automation upfront and the sales guy told me they won't even put them on their pools because they are unreliable and required way too much followup.

The boglehead way is to just let the timer do it's job. Test your own water and follow the the pool school at troublefreepool. If you have a SWG it's 10 minutes a week max. If not I'd put one in before I automate.

For the price of these system I can maintain my pool for 10 years or more.
teCh0010
Posts: 222
Joined: Mon Oct 31, 2011 11:20 am

Re: Alternatives to Hayward/Goldline Pool Automation?

Post by teCh0010 »

What pump do you have, and does it support relays to call speed?

You can use any home automation system to control speeds and valves via low voltage relays. They type of zwave device you need to trigger is a dry contact relay. You can then build a virtual switch that represents a scene that turns on say speed 3 and moves the valve to your waterfall position. So all you would need to do is turn on that virtual switch to activate the water feature, and turn off that virtual switch to return to scheduled operation, all controlled by your automation schedule.

If you just have a single body of water this works great, it gets more complicated when you have a spa because it is harder to write the safety logic that would prevent you from say pumping down the spa and running the pump dry.

Pentair make a slim automation system called intelliconnect that you can get to control their pump, plus a SWG, and a single valve through a SPDT relay. If your system is simple it is great value.
aquaman
Posts: 170
Joined: Thu Jul 28, 2016 2:13 pm

Re: Alternatives to Hayward/Goldline Pool Automation?

Post by aquaman »

illumination wrote: Mon May 03, 2021 6:24 pm I've had the same problems with pool automation to where I have just embraced a real old school approach. Basically a breaker box.

I'm not sure why pool automation is this way, combination of high price and crazy reliability issues, but after putting in several new circuit boards that were obscenely expensive, I just decided to embrace pools how they were controlled pre-2000.

It might not be for you, but if I say want my spillway on, I just flip the breaker. Or if I want to heat the spa, I flip a breaker. I'm out there anyway.
About the only automation is my variable flow pump has a built in timer.

But something like a "Z-wave" type unit (basically a wireless switch) may be something in between that is a good alternative.
Have you had a lot of power surges in your area? I am very surprised to hear about all the issues that you've encountered, as I have a Goldline pool automation system, which has been rock solid for well over a decade. Goldline is the most popular pool automation system in our area, at least among all our friends and acquaintances, and is the one recommended by all the pool companies.

I've heard of one or two instances where huge power surges have forced their owners to replace the control boards (use whole house surge protectors to guard against those), but they've all otherwise been super reliable.
DoubleComma
Posts: 284
Joined: Sun Aug 23, 2020 2:23 pm

Re: Alternatives to Hayward/Goldline Pool Automation?

Post by DoubleComma »

This is definitely a topic for TroubleFreePools.

That said, I’ve built 3 pools. 1) couldn’t afford all the automation so we had manual controls it worked well. 2) A couple years later we moved, had a little more cash, and built what we though was the pool of our dreams with spitters, waterfalls, led lighting everywhere, heating etc all controlled by Hayward automation system. It was a PIA, and always seemed to have an issue here or there. 3) current pool was built 5 years ago, feeling frustrated from the previous setup, this pool is much less “fancy” and we went back to manual activations. The current pool has been our favorite of the 3.

My suggestion, ditch the automation. For infrequent use the typical pool owner needs to use it I would just assume walk to the equipment control panel.
illumination
Posts: 1412
Joined: Tue Apr 02, 2019 6:13 pm

Re: Alternatives to Hayward/Goldline Pool Automation?

Post by illumination »

aquaman wrote: Wed May 05, 2021 8:23 am
illumination wrote: Mon May 03, 2021 6:24 pm I've had the same problems with pool automation to where I have just embraced a real old school approach. Basically a breaker box.

I'm not sure why pool automation is this way, combination of high price and crazy reliability issues, but after putting in several new circuit boards that were obscenely expensive, I just decided to embrace pools how they were controlled pre-2000.

It might not be for you, but if I say want my spillway on, I just flip the breaker. Or if I want to heat the spa, I flip a breaker. I'm out there anyway.
About the only automation is my variable flow pump has a built in timer.

But something like a "Z-wave" type unit (basically a wireless switch) may be something in between that is a good alternative.
Have you had a lot of power surges in your area? I am very surprised to hear about all the issues that you've encountered, as I have a Goldline pool automation system, which has been rock solid for well over a decade. Goldline is the most popular pool automation system in our area, at least among all our friends and acquaintances, and is the one recommended by all the pool companies.

I've heard of one or two instances where huge power surges have forced their owners to replace the control boards (use whole house surge protectors to guard against those), but they've all otherwise been super reliable.

I don't think my situation is all that unique, going to other pool forums and even here, there's a chorus of these things having lots of issues. There's even 3rd parties that just specialize in rebuilding these pool automation circuit boards.

The equipment in question was Pentair, I normally have had good experience with almost everything else they build. If it's just extra sensitivity to surges, maybe the equipment manufacturers should build in better surge protection? I'm not sure, I'm not an engineer. It just also seems to me this stuff is extremely expensive for what it is. Just way too many headaches and too many second chances.

It sort of reminds me of the early days of home automation when brands like Crestron were big, just at the end of the day it was extremely overpriced, buggy, and had lots of issues. Maybe all that has been resolved now, but it looks like the same equipment to me.

If it works for you, great. I just personally have found I didn't really need the automation beyond some basic timers and breaker boxes that have been absolutely rock solid.
aquaman
Posts: 170
Joined: Thu Jul 28, 2016 2:13 pm

Re: Alternatives to Hayward/Goldline Pool Automation?

Post by aquaman »

illumination wrote: Wed May 05, 2021 9:48 am If it's just extra sensitivity to surges, maybe the equipment manufacturers should build in better surge protection? I'm not sure, I'm not an engineer.
I don't think it's "extra sensitivity" to power surges. All electronic equipment is sensitive to power surges. If the failures are caused by the power surges, you can have a whole house surge protector installed for just a couple hundred dollars, which will attach to your breaker box and protect the entire house.

I've been a member of the trouble free pool and have never read about major complaints about pool automation, which is generally described there as highly reliable. It's just not something that people update often, so what tends to happen is that from time to time the manufacturers come up with new models, at which point getting replacement parts for the existing equipment can become more difficult and more expensive. So, for instance, if you drop and crack the controller console from a decade ago, you won't be able to get a new one from the manufacturer and will have to buy it elsewhere. The same is true for the main boards and the like, as if you've got one that gets damaged in a power surge, it'll generally make sense to buy a rebuilt one from a third party company.
If it works for you, great. I just personally have found I didn't really need the automation beyond some basic timers and breaker boxes that have been absolutely rock solid.
Pool automation is just one of those convenience features that once experienced, people tend not to want to live without, but it's definitely not a must have. In our case, for instance, the pool and hot tub pump run times are automated, as is the pool cleaner. We have an SWG, so pool automation displays the salt level on the console, which sits in our house, so we don't have to go outside to manually test it.

If we want to heat the pool or the hot tub, we press a button on the console without needing to go outside. The same is true if we want to turn on the spa jets or the pool lights. If your system also supports app controls, you can turn on the hot tub when you're away from the house, so that when you get home, it's all ready for you and you can jump right in.

None of it is a must have, but it is super convenient. I get your point though, which is that if the system doesn't work well or isn't reliable, that convenience turns into a headache. As I mentioned above, our system has been rock solid for well over a decade, and the only issues that I've heard about have all had to do with power surges, which you should be able to easily and inexpensively rectify with a whole house surge protector.

P.S.
I have read that chemical automation can be annoying, as you have to calibrate the probes. We don't have chemical automation.
mgensler
Posts: 249
Joined: Sun Aug 20, 2017 9:17 pm

Re: Alternatives to Hayward/Goldline Pool Automation?

Post by mgensler »

We've simplified our pool since building it ten years ago. All of these extras seem to break or develop a leak at the most inopportune time. So we just opt not to replace them. Right now we have a SWG, variable speed pump, cartridge filter, and heater. I even redid the plumbing at the pad to make it simpler as the installers had it running all over the place. The slide, bubblers, returns, drains, skimmers all have mechanical Jandy valves. I've only had to rebuild one of them as it developed a slight leak.
aquaman
Posts: 170
Joined: Thu Jul 28, 2016 2:13 pm

Re: Alternatives to Hayward/Goldline Pool Automation?

Post by aquaman »

mgensler wrote: Thu May 06, 2021 8:08 am We've simplified our pool since building it ten years ago. All of these extras seem to break or develop a leak at the most inopportune time. So we just opt not to replace them. Right now we have a SWG, variable speed pump, cartridge filter, and heater. I even redid the plumbing at the pad to make it simpler as the installers had it running all over the place. The slide, bubblers, returns, drains, skimmers all have mechanical Jandy valves. I've only had to rebuild one of them as it developed a slight leak.
Just to make sure that we are talking about the same thing, pool automation does not and cannot develop leaks, as it just controls your existing equipment. Likewise, lots of people have mechanical valves controlled through pool automation.
illumination
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Re: Alternatives to Hayward/Goldline Pool Automation?

Post by illumination »

aquaman wrote: Thu May 06, 2021 8:02 am
illumination wrote: Wed May 05, 2021 9:48 am If it's just extra sensitivity to surges, maybe the equipment manufacturers should build in better surge protection? I'm not sure, I'm not an engineer.


I don't think it's "extra sensitivity" to power surges. All electronic equipment is sensitive to power surges. If the failures are caused by the power surges, you can have a whole house surge protector installed for just a couple hundred dollars, which will attach to your breaker box and protect the entire house.

My point is, why is the pool automation equipment failing and not every other electronic in the home at the same time if "surges" are to blame? I'll have equipment right next to it (like say an electronic sprinkler control unit) that keeps working perfectly.
aquaman wrote: Thu May 06, 2021 8:02 am

I've been a member of the trouble free pool and have never read about major complaints about pool automation, which is generally described there as highly reliable.

There's actually hundreds and hundreds of posts of people with problems, I know because I'm one of them.

https://www.troublefreepool.com/google- ... h+problems
aquaman
Posts: 170
Joined: Thu Jul 28, 2016 2:13 pm

Re: Alternatives to Hayward/Goldline Pool Automation?

Post by aquaman »

illumination wrote: Thu May 06, 2021 9:27 am My point is, why is the pool automation equipment failing and not every other electronic in the home at the same time if "surges" are to blame? I'll have equipment right next to it (like say an electronic sprinkler control unit) that keeps working perfectly.
It just depends on the way that it is wired and the way that the surge travels. This is also the reason that a surge doesn't take out all your equipment simultaneously, and it's impossible to predict what will be affected and when. Either way, a whole house surge protector is a simple and inexpensive way of protecting all your equipment.

If you've got issues with it other than those caused by a power surge, that's a different story. A control board failing, however, is something that is generally caused by a power surge. I sympathize with the frustration, but don't think that it has anything to do with the reliability of your equipment.


There's actually hundreds and hundreds of posts of people with problems, I know because I'm one of them.

https://www.troublefreepool.com/google- ... h+problems
This is about Pentair, which I don't know anything about. The OP has Hayward/Goldline, which is what I also have and is what is used by about every pool owner that we know of in the area and is what is generally recommended by all the pool companies here.
illumination
Posts: 1412
Joined: Tue Apr 02, 2019 6:13 pm

Re: Alternatives to Hayward/Goldline Pool Automation?

Post by illumination »

aquaman wrote: Thu May 06, 2021 9:52 am
illumination wrote: Thu May 06, 2021 9:27 am My point is, why is the pool automation equipment failing and not every other electronic in the home at the same time if "surges" are to blame? I'll have equipment right next to it (like say an electronic sprinkler control unit) that keeps working perfectly.
It just depends on the way that it is wired and the way that the surge travels. This is also the reason that a surge doesn't take out all your equipment simultaneously, and it's impossible to predict what will be affected and when. Either way, a whole house surge protector is a simple and inexpensive way of protecting all your equipment.

If you've got issues with it other than those caused by a power surge, that's a different story. A control board failing, however, is something that is generally caused by a power surge. I sympathize with the frustration, but don't think that it has anything to do with the reliability of your equipment.


There's actually hundreds and hundreds of posts of people with problems, I know because I'm one of them.

https://www.troublefreepool.com/google- ... h+problems
This is about Pentair, which I don't know anything about. The OP has Hayward/Goldline, which is what I also have and is what is used by about every pool owner in the area (that we've know of) and is what is generally recommended by all the pool companies here.


From your username, are you in the pool business or some sort of Hayward rep? The OP has said he's had several failures of his Goldline equipment, so not sure why you keep insisting these things don't have issues.

Here is all the Goldline board problems on TFP, also hundreds and hundred of issues

https://www.troublefreepool.com/google- ... lems+board
aquaman
Posts: 170
Joined: Thu Jul 28, 2016 2:13 pm

Re: Alternatives to Hayward/Goldline Pool Automation?

Post by aquaman »

illumination wrote: Thu May 06, 2021 9:59 amFrom your username, are you in the pool business or some sort of Hayward rep? The OP has said he's had several failures of his Goldline equipment, so not sure why you keep insisting these things don't have issues.

Here is all the Goldline board problems on TFP, also hundreds and hundred of issues

https://www.troublefreepool.com/google- ... lems+board
Not at all. I have zero affiliation with Hayward and am not in the pool business. I also didn't tell you that Goldline is more or less reliable, as I've mentioned that I know nothing about Pentair.

Although I do obviously have a pool, "aqua" in my username refers to me being a big water drinker and has nothing to do with pools.

I am not entirely sure what the point is of running a search of "problems ...." There's no product out there that's problem free. The more popular a product is, the more people will own it, so the more posts there will be about some of them having problems with it. This doesn't tell you how common these problems are.

By the way, according to this (https://www.troublefreepool.com/threads ... on.119002/), Pentair's automation system gets very good reviews on TFP.

Here's a good and objective thread on pool automation in general: https://www.troublefreepool.com/threads ... ot.112199/
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