In Part 1 of this project I designed and built a Reticulation Controller that uses MySensors and Arduino to interface with my Vera Home Automation Controller.
In doing so I took some of the manual work out of managing my garden watering which make my life easier. This was a precursor to the end game though, which was to implement a system that took away another regular manual chore - keeping the pool level topped up.
Now, some of you might be thinking that this could be done with a simple float valve - and if I was able to dig up all of the liquid limestone around my pool and down the side of the house and connect to the water main, discreetly mount a valve and the pipework to an existing installed pool, that might be true. Even then, my ambitions for pool automation extend beyond just the water level.
The functional specification for this project:
- High and Low water level sensors for the Pool.
- Pool Acid Tank Level Monitor - alert when acid tank needs refilling. Thanks to Jeremy Goodchild for the inspiration.
- Automatic Filling of Pool by redirecting existing garden reticulation flow into the pool water feature.
- Water Flow and Volume to track the amount of water being used to fill the pool.
- Ability to control Pool garden lighting (5 individual switches)
- Control of 24VAC 3-way valve actuator, to control flow to water feature or return jets (currently a job that involves going into the pump house and manually activating a valve).
- All water valves, solenoids, lights configurable to be on/off controlled from Vera or to have a timer set as a failsafe or automatic off on the controller.
- Expandability for additional sensors (temperature, pressure, pH and ORP).
The reticulation controllers I built originally can, with some code modification, handle all of this. Vera as the central brains of the operation will take care of the interaction between the existing reticulation controllers, so that water is sent to the pool garden where the Pool Manager will then redirect that flow into the pool. Vera can also consider the weather forecast and not top up the water level if rain is expected.
As a schematic overview the Pool Manager looks like this, where Blue lines are water flow and Orange are electrical connections. Click on the image for a full size version.
How the Pool Manager fits into the bigger picture of controlling reticulation and water flow around the house.
It might seem a bit like a Rube Goldberg machine as filling the pool requires a number of sequenced events to occur across multiple devices. But that's exactly why you have Home Automation Controllers - to make complex things happen simply.
Here's how the automated Pool Fill routine works.
- Every night at 8pm, Vera checks the level sensors reported by the Pool Manager. I have this run at a scheduled time, so not to interfere with garden watering times or when people are likely to be using the shower.
- If the water level is low, a voice announcement is played on the Sonos speaker in the kitchen, advising that the pool level is low and the auto-filler is being engaged.
- Vera then tells the Pool Manager to go into Pool Fill mode. The Arduino than closes the Pool Garden solenoid, and opens the Pool Waterfall solenoid.
- Vera tells the Front Reticulation controller to turn on the Pool Garden station. The Arduino opens the Master Valve and the Pool Garden solenoid.
- At this point, water is now flowing from the mains into the Pool Waterfall. The flow meter measures how fast and how much water is used. Typically 47.2 litres/minute and around 1050 litres total volume.
- When the High Water level sensor is tripped (or the maximum run time I've set for the auto filler is reached - 25 minutes) the auto fill terminates.
- Vera then tells the Front Reticulation controller to turn off the Pool Garden station.
You get to watch all of this happening on Vera's UI:
As you can see, I have my Pool well under control. In addition to the Pool manager devices, there are a couple of Z-wave Smart Switch 6's which are keeping track of power use.
In the next installment, I'll run through the physical installation of the Pool Manager.