Pentair Intelliconnect With Solar Pool Heaters

The Pentair Intelliconnect pool automation system was introduced in 2018. We are starting to see it in the wild here in Southwest Florida. This product is intended to fill a small niche market for pool only scenarios (no spa). It’s for pool owners need only control a couple of features and want online control via an app.

It covers only the very basics, like controlling a pump and a light, or a light and another electrical feature plus a Pentair variable speed pump. It can’t control advanced multi-color lights. The one major thing it adds is the Internet and app control that many people want. This will be the appeal.

Pentair Intelliconnect
The Pentair Intelliconnect is not capable of solar pool heating control. In fact, it doesn’t control any heater types!

There is one huge problem – the Intelliconnect is incapable of controlling a heater – any heater. That includes solar pool heating panels!

The Intelliconnect is not intended to control plumbing valves. It has no spa control and can’t turn water features on and off. That also means there is no provision for turning a motorized valve actuator for a solar valve. Moreover, it doesn’t even have a 2-wire control to turn on a heat pump or gas heater. It simply doesn’t do pool heating.

Limited Control for Pools

We find this to be a very limiting pool controller. Without heating, which most pools in Southwest Florida incorporate, we cannot recommend this product. We are imploring local pool builders to avoid using this controller. Many homeowners later upgrade pools to incorporate solar panels. Even if future traditional heaters are added, automated control is impossible. The limited appeal of limited app control of a pool is not attractive enough to install this controller.

Our recommendation would be to install a Pentair PL4 or PSL4. While more expensive, compared to the cost of a new pool, it is a small price to pay for much more capable control and future-proofing of the pool automation system.

The other factor with the Intelliconnect is serviceability. They are few and far between and unlikely to penetrate this market. Therefore, pool service companies will be unfamiliar with it. You want your pool service to fully understand your automation system. Otherwise, you are looking for trouble.

The Intelliconnect is a niche product to be avoided, especially if there is any chance that solar pool heating panels will be added to the home at any time in the future. The cost to replace the Intelliconnect with a properly featured controller outweighs the cost savings of installing this product initially. Do yourself a favor and avoid this controller. Contact us if you are building a pool and need a recommendation if you want to incorporate solar panels in the future.

  • Comment (1)
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  • blank Geoff Hubbell says:
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    I agree the intelliconnect has limited functionality but it will control a gas heater I added wifi switches to my lights ab spa blower an a bhyve irrigation controller to operate 3 valve actuators. For under 800 dollars I have a fully automated system controlled by my phone
  • blank Ian says:

    To be fair this device can control a propane/gas heater as it has a set of dry contacts that can turn on a remote control capable heater. It can support a water temp sensor that can through the app control the dry contacts to call for heat when the temp is below a set point. Set the actual heater above the desired temp in the app and the dry contacts can remote control the heater quite effectively. I have this set up control my gas heater. Works great.

    In theory it should be able to drive a dry contact to activate a solenoid for solar valve actuator but it only has one dry contact so not sure how to get it to close the valve again.

    • blank Jason Szumlanski says:
      Your comment is awaiting moderation. This is a preview; your comment will be visible after it has been approved.
      Hi Ian, That’s not how a solar controller works. You need a roof sensor to provide differential temperature control. A gas or electric heater can provide heat at virtually any time by closing dry contacts. Solar heaters need the additional logic to determine if the sun is actually shining. It simply isn’t designed to work with solar heaters. With respect to controlling gas or electric heaters with dry contacts, you need to be very careful with this. Since the Intelliconnect does not have temperature control, closing a set of dry contacts to start an external heater could result in dangerous scalding if the heater does not limit heat when commanded by an external control. Installing a separate temperature limit switch would be highly advisable in this scenario. Again, this setup is not supported or recommended. It simply isn’t designed for heaters.
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