Intelliflo VF + Suntouch + solar: up to date info?

sd_tomJanuary 31, 2011

Hello all, we should close on a house here in san diego in the next week with a pool, with an ancient pump. So we were thinking of changing the pump out right off the bat to try to get some energy savings and set us up for solar heat down the road (depleted savings due to home purchase may have us wait on the latter).

Anyway, been reading a lot of posts here, most of which are a couple years old along the general lines that a Suntouch with an Intelliflo VF is a poor combination due to the Suntouch turning it into a VS-3050. However, if I look at the current manuals.. comparing the suntouch and easytouch sections of VF integration side by side, it looks like the suntouch can control the VF to the same level as the easy touch.. set turn over cycles, etc. So, is it correct to assume there has been a more recent firmware version released since all the 2008/2009 posts I was reading that said the integration was more limited than that? Or am I missing a nuance here.

While the VF doesn't need a controller on its own, the reason I'd be looking at this combination is that later I would want to add solar heat. Those same era posts also had a lot of warnings about the VF getting tricked by the head pressure priming the solar system and shutting down thinking there was a blockage. Is this still the consensus? There seemed to be the idea floating around that as long as the pump was on prior to the solar valve activating it was ok; problems were more generally about trying to start the pump up into a empty solar array.

I really like the VF for being able to control it at that "turn over" level rather than RPM. Though, a VF by itself is the same price as a VS+Suntouch so a bit on the fence as would still need a suntouch anyway for solar automation.

Also, I'm generally new to pools. This pool is dead simple right now, which I'm generally ok with. My question, and maybe it's more about not being familiar with the vocab words, is that the inlet side of the pump is fed by 2 intakes that get combined just before the pump.. the drains in the floor, 1 skimmer, and a vacuum port from a kreepy krawly (suction) in some combination. There's two seperate manual valves to shut either the drains or the vacuum down (I think.. not sure yet how the skimmer is involved) There's no boost pumps or any of the fanciness I've seen in these posts. so the question is, do I have to worry about any of these "cleaning" or "vacuum" modes in these automation functions if I don't want to? I think I am ok with just walking over there and manually turning the kreepy krawly valve on/off when I want to do vacuuming.. are these fancy pumps ok with that? Or for that matter, anything wrong with leaving them both open all the time (esp if I figure out the vacuum port + skimmer are together). I can see though that maybe upping the GPM during periods of cleaning might be the purpose so the kreepy krawly works.. but I'm ok with avoiding actuators, valves, relays, boost pumps.. as there is none of that now.

Anyway, a lot to come up to speed on. but since I'm an engineer, this seems way more interesting than shopping for window treatment.

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Rack Etear

As an engineer I understand the appeal to you for overkill, but why do you feel like a variable speed pump wont serve your needs?

    Bookmark   January 31, 2011 at 11:00AM
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Being inexperienced with actual pool reality, the idea of controlling flow directly seems to better get at what you want out of a filter system.. a # of turnovers per time period. The fact that the pump scales its speed to meet your turnover requirement and the schedule you provide seems to be the right way to approach it from a controls point of view, esp to optimize efficency.

I'm sure you can get close with speed pump, but a lot more estimating rather than measuring. But yeah.. I fully admit the reality of the difference might be insignificant.

    Bookmark   January 31, 2011 at 2:00PM
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For the $80 a flow meter would cost you, you can save $400 on the purchase of a VS or a VF. Anybody who can do math can peg the turnover to within a few hundred gallons and saying you want one exactly is just not necessary to be that exact. One turn a day is desirable but it won't kill you to miss a bit. You don't mention a spa so there is really no reason for a Suntouch. Add a Goldline GL235 solar controller when you buy solar. Way better instal with a Suntouch/Vs or better yet, spend a few bucks more and go VS-SVRS and get the stand alone timer WITH some SVRS protection that the other two won't give you to tha that level.

    Bookmark   January 31, 2011 at 9:35PM
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Rack Etear

The nice thing about the sun touch that you can have it ramp up the speed for the solar/solar priming if required.

They are about the same price.

    Bookmark   January 31, 2011 at 10:18PM
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yeah been looking a bit at flow meters today, so that an a spreadsheet and can probably get a close enough turnover as you say.

yeah no spa.. so was in general liking the idea of avoiding a controller with the VF, but solar seems like it's best served with one. i'll checkout the goldline

    Bookmark   February 1, 2011 at 12:09AM
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Rack Etear

I don't get the appeal of the gold line its about the same price as the suntouch, and lacks native control of the intelliflo.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2011 at 11:27AM
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HI sd ,
I have a VF and I have managed to get 120 watts per hour at 20 gpm so I am happy I was just wiring up the suntouch today in combination with an intellicomm II to set a external control for higher flow rate . When I turn the suntouch on and went thru the menus I notice it had support for the VF but my instruction manual did not show it . So i guess mine was given the new firmware update 2.0 but shipped with the old manual , still not sure how it intergrates with the VF but .

So with the VF and solar , if I manually moved the solar valve while the pump was in Filter mode it would shutdown thinking there was a blockage ,but if I start the VF in manual at 30gpm it works ok and runs at 225 watts per hour so you really need to run an ext control program , so that it goes into priming mode to get the water upto the panels .

Iam going to use the suntouch and intellicomm II at first and maybe later after some research try just suntouch , should be up and running tomorrow so can let you know how its going .

    Bookmark   February 8, 2011 at 6:39AM
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Return the Intellicom II. You don't need/want it.

The pump comes with an RS485 cable that connects to the pump and controller.


    Bookmark   February 8, 2011 at 8:29AM
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Hi poolguynj ,
So today I set up the suntouch with the intellicomm spliced into the solar valve relay as shown in the instructions and turn it on , I set the time and the temp from F to Celsius and this is when my problems started, the water temp was showning 225C but the solar valve seemed to stay on all the time anyway , in the calibration section for the water sensor the lowest it would go was 85 deg Cel , at first I thought it may be becuase of the intellicomm so I removed that but no, then maybe becuase i had to solder an extention wire to it(2 different types of wire) to reach the suntouch , so I took the sensor out of the pipe cut the extra wire off and put it back in the ST but still the same , I then did a reset and saw that when degrees set to Fahrenheit the temps were about right the I soldered the ext wire back on put it in the pipe and it was still ok , so iam leaving it like that .
Scott when I connected the VF to the suntouch I then have to progam all my flow rate and pool size, but how would I set it up just to run solar only ? do I need to assign a circuit eg Solar ?
The manual says how easy it is but these no examples of how what runs with what and what circuits ect should be turned on .
Also running thru the whole Suntouch menu system to say start vacuum or go to manual or just even turn the pump off is a bit clunky, pressing one button once instead 15 ? times . how do you find it Scott ?
Thanks David .

    Bookmark   February 9, 2011 at 6:24AM
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Power down.

Lose the IntelliComm. You don't need/want it. It was designed so non-Pentair controllers can can have the multiple speeds these pumps offer.

Wire the power to the VF directly from the breaker.
Attach the RS 485 cable from the pump to the ST terminal block.

Power up the ST then the VF.

Configure the ST so it knows you have a VF. It's that simple. The rest I think you know.


    Bookmark   February 9, 2011 at 9:11AM
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Temp part sounds like an open sensor. Do you have three sensors. Water, air, solar? Are they all connected?

Lose, return, or sell the Intellicomm. Not needed.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2011 at 12:54PM
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sensors seem ok no havent tried putting it back to celsius but,
I have water and solar sensors .

Ok I plugged the VF into the ST and went to the pumps section
put in the pool data , I assigned 1st circuit to pool and its flow then 2nd to solar , the only thing is the start stop time which i guessed is controlled by schedules section so I went there Schedules [pool] - program 1/1 ADD , then then start 630am , stop 500pm but come 5pm the filter pump didnt turn off .
This is my pool 4000 gallons set for 3 turn overs a day @ aprox 25gpm . no spa or water features .
Other than that the solar works fine and it goes back to filter mode when solar stops .
So how do I get the ST to turn the VF on at 630am , Iam starting to think that putting the intellicomm II back in and using ext Program 1 would be easier and I wouldnt lose the display and functions on the VF keypad which I liked having .
As someone on troublefreepools said about intellitouch intructions they are not very clear or logical and their terminology is hard to decipher , orrr I am just dumb :-)

Thanks Dave

    Bookmark   February 10, 2011 at 1:57AM
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Hi again , do i have to leave it in pool/spa mode , Ive been turning it back to solar only mode after setting schedules , filter parameters ect is this why its not turning off maybe ?
TY Dave

    Bookmark   February 10, 2011 at 6:00AM
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Ok I left it in pool/spa mode and shared equipment and the VF turn on at 630am this morning , if it turns off at 530pm tonite then all should be good at last !! (:-)

    Bookmark   February 10, 2011 at 5:14PM
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Ok, so have moved in now and getting a handle on the pool equipment. Just ordered the vs-3050 and suntouch. Still trying to tell on a method for getting gpm. Right now I'm going to delay flow meter as I'm thinking the plumbing likely to get rearranged when we add the solar heat system, at the only current 30" straight pipe above ground. So on a pool forum there's a spreadsheet for pentair pumps mapping rpm + watts to gpm. My remaining question is, in the suntouch user guide it says there's a watts display for vs pumps.. So as long as that works, I have something to start with.

    Bookmark   February 15, 2011 at 11:06AM
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