Updated July 2018
In Chapter 14, we went over how to connect swimming pool equipment to your Smart Home. The example used in the book was the Jandy iAqualink, but since moving, I now have the Pentair ScreenLogic2 system, so this update is focused on Pentair.
Again, the idea is that instead of either having to go outside to the pool equipment panel, or having to use a hardwired touch panel from a location inside the home, you can now program and control all aspects of the pool equipment from either your smartphone or computer. In order to do this, the Pool Equipment panel outside has to be connected to your home network somehow. In this example, the connection between the pool equipment and your router is wireless meaning that no cables need be run between the two pieces of equipment.
There are three pieces of physical equipment with the Pentair system. The first piece is installed by the pool guy at the location (within ten feet) of the main control panel. This Outdoor wireless pod (fancy term is transceiver), then connects wirelessly to an indoor pod that needs to be located within a foot of the third piece called a Protocol Adapter. The indoor pod requires AC power but feeds power to the Protocol Adapter over the included cable. The Protocol Adapter then plugs into one of your router’s Ethernet ports with an Ethernet cable. (Yet another reason to have extra Ethernet ports on your router)
If that all seems confusing, it really isn’t once you look at the diagram in the manual. The outdoor work is done by the pool guy and it is pretty easy for you to do the indoor work with the indoor pod and Protocol Adapter yourself.
One of the differences between the Pentair System and the Jandy iAqualink is that the Jandy system connects to your home network using standard WiFi directly from the outdoor wireless pod. With Pentair, the outdoor and indoor pods communicate using another method unique to Pentair. There is really no way to test for this in advance – it will either work or it won’t. Fortunately, it uses a lower frequency radio than WiFi so in general, it means you’ll get better signal penetration through walls and other objects than WiFi.
Once all the gear is physically installed and Mr. or Ms. pool person turns on the system and programs it, all you have to do is have the correct apps loaded on your phone and you are all set.
As of May 2018, the only app you need to download is the Pentair ScreenLogic app. The updated app is 100% better than the previous ones both in the ease of use and functionality. Everything you need to configure, including schedules, pump speeds, the amount of chlorine generated from the salt water chlorinator are all now available in the single app. All day to day functions are also in the app as well. There are also Windows and Mac versions of the Pentair app available from the Pentair web site, but these are no longer necessary since the last phone app update.
The Pentair phone app can be used locally (with no username/password) and remotely (with a username/password). Before trying to use this remotely (away from your WiFi network), first press the “Local” button after launching the app. At the top of the page on your phone, you will see the title “Main Menu” and then underneath it will be your new username. It will read something like “Pentair: AB-4C-F1” where the last six digits will be specific to your unit. You can make up your own password.
Now, when you want to log in remotely, launch the app and click on the “Remote” button within a few seconds. Now enter your name and password, hit the connect button and you should be able to log in from anywhere. Whether you are local or remote, it is probably easier to use the remote login since it will work for both and simplify the experience. If you have an iPhone and like to play with the widgets function, Pentair does have one that is pretty useful to get a quick snapshot of water temperature, salt levels and other key data.
Yes, pool equipment hasn't been most user-friendly thing but the Smart Home tools at least make it easier to do many of the day to day tasks that we would shy away from if we had to go outside and use the rather awkward control panel.
There is no concept yet (mid 2018) of HomeKit enabled pool equipment or integrations with other gear so for the time being, this is a standalone effort with respect to any of the other Smart Home equipment you may have.
Budget wise, it is hard to put a price on this since it is included now with most new installations. Again, with pool equipment, we are at the mercy of the friendly neighborhood pool guy.
The Bottom Line - Pentair ScreenLogic
With the proper hardware setup from Pentair, it is possible to configure and run your pool equipment locally and remotely from either a smartphone app. The iPhone app you want is called "ScreenLogic" and with the May 2018 update, does everything you need.
Both smartphone and computer apps can be used with no monthly fees and work local and remote. As with the Jandy system, the apps are not too sophisticated in terms of their ability to do notifications if there are problems or if there is anything needing your attention. Having said that, it seems on par for pool equipment and certainly worth doing if the upgrade costs are not prohibitive.