Ultimate Pool Chemical Automation System
The Pentair IntelliChem is a chemical automation system for your pool or spa. It monitors the pH of the water and the ORP (oxidation-reduction potential).
What is ORP?
The oxidation-reduction potential is a measurement of how well or efficiently the chlorine can attack and get rid of organic material in the body of water. It is not a direct reading of what the chlorine levels are in terms of parts per million.
Since lower pH makes chlorine more effective and higher pH makes chlorine less effective, the IntelliChem takes the current readings of pH and the current levels of free available chlorine and calculates the two readings together, giving you what is called the ORP.
Choosing the Right Intellichem Setup
for Your Pool or Spa
There are a few different options when it comes to choosing the right IntelliChem set up for your pool or spa.
All IntelliChem will come with a four-gallon holding tank for muriatic acid, which is used to lower pH. But for dosing chlorine, we have a few different options.
The first option, and in my opinion the best option, is to choose the IntelliChem set up with a separate 4-gallon holding tank for liquid chlorine. The reason I believe this is the best option is that liquid chlorine instantly reacts in the water once it is dosed through the IntelliChem.
Liquid chlorine also does not have cyanuric acid attached to it as old school chlorine pucks do, which are 50% cyanuric acid per puck, which is roughly an eighth of a pound per puck. I will get into why high cyanuric acid levels are bad news for your pool or spa in a later article.
The next option that we have for dosing chlorine through the IntelliChem is to wire it to a Pentair Intellichlor salt cell. This is a decent option but would not be my first choice.
The reason I would not choose to have a salt system for producing chlorine is because there are a few things that have to be just right in order for the salt cell to produce chlorine. The salt levels have to be perfect, which if the pool has a leak (which can happen) or if you have a sand filter and backwash often the salt level, will constantly drop requiring constant addition of salt which can get expensive over time.
The salt cell will need to be cleaned every few months to ensure proper operation. The salt cells also have a limited amount of chlorine that they can produce in their lifetime, typically 5 years or so, requiring the purchase of a new salt cell.
The last option for dosing chlorine—which I am highly against—is to just stick with the old school style chlorine puck erosion feeder. This option doesn’t actually communicate with the IntelliChem, so it can not control the amount of chlorine the pool or spa has.
The reason I am highly against erosion chlorine feeders is that chlorine pucks can be dangerous. They have a pH of about 2 or 3 and they are 50% cyanuric acid per puck as we discussed earlier.
Key Benefits of Having a Pentair Intellichem
- Checks the pH and ORP levels every second the pool equipment is running.
- It will dose muriatic acid periodically throughout the day if the pH rises above the desired set point.
- Dosing acid in smaller amounts throughout the day is more efficient and uses less acid throughout the month.
- Maintaining a constant pH is healthier for the life of the plaster, better for the life of the pool equipment, healthier for the swimmer, keeps the chlorine at its most effective state.
- Proper pH of 7.2 to 7.4 is the pH of our skin and eyes so it feels softer and you don’t get the itchy skin or burning eyes.
- When the IntelliChem system has either the liquid chlorine tank or the Intellichlor salt cell, the IntelliChem will also dose chlorine throughout the day as needed.
- Keeping the chlorine level at a constant level keeps the pool water healthy and safe, you reduce the risk of having algae outbreaks.
- Maintaining proper pH and ORP keeps your pool sparkling like a diamond.
Some Things to Consider When Purchasing an Intellichem
The IntelliChem is not a miracle machine. It still needs a professional to clean and calibrate the probes on a monthly basis.
It usually takes a few weeks to calibrate and program the IntelliChem to ensure that it doses the proper amount. The reason for this is that each pool is unique in its own way. All pools have different plumbing, different circulation, different usage, different types of landscaping around the pool which all have an effect on maintaining proper chemical levels.
If you don’t have a Pentair equipment set and you have another brand, you can still install the Pentair IntelliChem and have it set up as a stand-alone unit. If this is the option you choose, I highly recommend the IntelliChem option with the acid tank and liquid chlorine tank.
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