Note: The information contained in this periodical weblog may be outdated. This was my personal weblog published before January 1, 2015. Since then I have been the co-owner and Principal Solar Designer at Florida Solar Design Group.

7 Comments

  1. I just had a Solar Touch Controller installed and connected to a Pentair VS pump. In my opinion, the signals sent to the pump are incorrectly programmed by Pentair. I have talked with their engineers and they are currently looking into the problem. Normally, when solar heat is called for, the Solar Touch sends a signal to run external program #2 on the VS pump and when solar heat is not needed (pool temp reached) a signal is sent to the VS pump to “return to its schedule”. That’s the good part.
    The bad part is if you want to use the “disable” feature by holding the enter key down, the solar actuator shuts off but the Solar Touch now sends a signal to the VS pump to run external program #1 (instead of returning to the schedule).
    This solar controller is programmed WRONG.
    To mitigate this problem, I have DISCONNECTED the communication line between the Solar Touch and the VS pump and I am running the VS pump MANUALLY at a fixed speed.
    Disable happens to be a feature that makes going away (on vacation) a simple operation, but you do NOT want the VS pump to be operating at external program #1 speed, but the normal schedule.
    Hopefully, someone from Pentair will read this and wake up! This product does NOT work properly!!!!!

    1. Hi Dave,

      I think you are misinterpreting the function of holding the Enter button for three seconds. The purpose of this is to shut off the SolarTouch functions only. It stops sending a signal for pump speed 2, stops the booster pump relay (if used), and turns off heating, cooling, and freeze protection. You would use this when servicing the pool to stop the SolarTouch from sending a signal for pump speed 2 because the SolarTouch overrides the schedules in the pump. For example, if your pump is outside of any scheduled run time and the SolarTouch calls for solar heating, it would start the pump at speed 2, which would have bad consequences if your filter was opened for service. After entering the disabled mode, you still need to tell the pump what you want it to do, which is usually shutting it off for service.

      To make sure your pump is in the normal scheduled run mode, press the Start/Stop button to turn the pump off, then press it again to return to its schedule. At this point, the SolarTouch will not send a signal to run external program 1 (or any other signal) when in disabled mode. It ceases to communicate at all in disabled mode.

      I was unable to duplicate the behavior that you mentioned, but even if I could, I don’t understand why it is so bad. Returning to the schedule is pretty simple.

  2. Hi Dave,

    I reconfirmed this with Pentair. The SolarTouch is incapable of sending a signal to request speed 1. It just stops sending a signal for speed 2 (and 3) when disabled. If you can take a short video of your issue with a mobile phone and upload it to YouTube, maybe we can help you diagnose the issue. If you are in Southwest Florida, I’d be happy to stop by sometime to see if we can figure out what’s happening.

    While on the subject, Pentair let me know that the next firmware version will give us the option to select whether timer override for the pump is enabled. We will be able to choose if the SolarTouch can turn the pump on to perform solar heating outside of the scheduled run time. Right now it is set up so that the SolarTouch will always override the schedule to engage external program 2 when solar heating is available. This has caused a few issues in the past, and requires an external timer to bypass now, but it can also be a desirable feature.

  3. I just got a SunTouch installed. The display shows the disabled message but the controller does not respond to the “Enter” key. I can press it as long and as hard as I want but nothing happens. Hardware issue or does anybody know a trick?

  4. Can the solar touch be programmed to turn on the intelligence speed pump when solar is not available and it would be desirable to operate the heat pump via sensing flow?

    1. Using the proper automation system, you can call for a specific speed on an Intelliflo pump when the heat pump is in operation. It sounds like you are considering using “solar preferred mode,” which will try to heat your pool with solar, then revert to the heat pump when solar is not able to heat the pool. In this mode, you can set a pump speed that is appropriate for both the solar heat and heat pump.

      However, the SolarTouch will not control a heat pump. The Pentair SunTouch will. Although not much more expensive, the capability and complexity of the SunTouch are much greater than the SolarTouch. The only downside is usability. With additional capability, the complexity definitely increases.

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