Aquatic Consultants used complex automation in this Key Largo project that has a Lautner knife-edge pool-spa combo.Photograph by Jimi Smith

Making Waves with Pool and Backyard Automation

Three experts discuss their favorite pool “toys” to create wildly wonderful projects.

Technology is the unsung star of today’s most exciting and dazzling pools, but it’s so seamlessly integrated that you’d never know it even exists. 

And that’s by design. 

Automation and elaborate operating systems that do everything from bathe the pool in rainbows of color to warming up the spa before the guests arrive are not, in and of themselves, the subject of poolside conversation. 

That’s why we asked three experts to tell us about how they used their favorite pool “toys” to create wildly wonderful projects.

Photograph by Jimi Smith

KEY LARGO, FLORIDA

Designer: Aquatic Consultants, President Andy Kaner
Builder: Reef Tropical Pool & Landscape 

With its spectacular oceanfront site and special contemporary/minimalist design, this project is one of my favorite automation stories, because it includes technology that we got the opportunity to use for the first time. 

Set on about an acre, the Lautner knife-edge pool-spa combo with swim-up bar and stainless-steel barstools has a pair of auto-ignition fire features that turn on at the touch of a button and three LED bubblers in the shallow lounging area that come to life with automated color lighting. 

Photograph by Jimi Smith

An app by Jandy syncs to the home’s automation system, allowing the owners to control and program every aspect of the pool with any device with the touch of buttons.

All of these features are pretty standard these days, but what’s cool about this is the new automation that we had a chance to incorporate that you don’t see. There’s a below-ground collection basin, controlled by Commercial Energy Specialists’ digital water-level sensors. The sensors are connected to the overflow pumps variable speed drive to keep the water in the basin at a low level, despite bather surge. This technique aids in the taxation of the auto fill and conserves water. It’s a unique system that works behind the scenes. The pool is connected to the basin by a gutter that’s incorporated into the design to be virtually invisible. 

The pool is such a simple design that you’d never guess the automation is so complex. aquaticconsultantsinc.com, jandy.com, reeftropical.com

Designed by Parker- Yannette Design Group and built by Almar/ Jackson Pools, this Jupiter, Florida, pool is fully automated. Photograph by Ron Rosenzweig

SEWALL’S POINT, FLORIDA 

Designer: Lucido & Associates
Builder: Almar/Jackson Pools, Vice President Drew Nash 

The sheer size of this project – the 12-foot-deep pool is 3,500 square feet, and the coral stone deck covers more than 7,000 square feet – allowed us to amp up the automation in ways we usually don’t get to do. 

There’s one system that controls the pool and spa and a second one for the plunge pool, which the owner wants to keep at a consistent temperature of 60 degrees. 

Photograph by Ron Rosenzweig

The lagoon-style poolscape is loaded with features that include rock waterfalls with a grotto underneath, a swim-up bar that seats a half dozen people and an ipe-wood bridge with an underlighted rain curtain that leads to an island and spa. There is a beach-entry walk in one section of the pool. 

The automation is controlled by Jandy’s AquaLink RS 12. We put variable-speed pumps on the waterfalls to control the desired effects and water flow, and there’s a spa-side remote that allows the owner to create and control four custom functions. 

The project has five lighting zones. Three of them control the illumination of the pool—each bubble of the three-bubble-shaped pool can be a different color simultaneously. Other zones are set up to illuminate the spa, the plunge pool, the landscape lighting and the tiki torches, which can all be set to different colors. 

Photograph by Ron Rosenzweig

As with all of our projects, this one uses the Jandy Pro Series AquaLink RS OneTouch system that allows us to create custom overall scenarios that range from party mode to night-time mode. Our technician meets with the customer when the project is finished to learn how they’ll be using their pool and outdoor features, and from there we use the technology to customize their automation accordingly. 

Additionally, all of the pool automation can be programmed through Alexa, Google Home, or home automation systems like Linux, to offer homeowners one comprehensive service to control all their features. 

We got a chance to go all out with automation on another spectacular project, this one in Jupiter, Florida, that was designed by Parker-Yannette Design Group. In this case, it was a lap pool with a sunken spa accessed via stepping stones. It has eight laminar jets, and we used automation to control everything from the height of the fountains to the colored lighting in its three zones. almarjacksonpools.com, jandy.com, lucidodesign.com, pydg.com 

Tipton Spires Design|Build’s poolscape, which won a 2021 Pinnacle Award, is totally controlled byPentair’s IntelliTouch with ScreenLogic Interface system. Photographs by Jimi Smith

GALVESTON, TEXAS 

Designers: C.B. Stanley, Tipton Spires Design|Build and Reagan Markey, Green Couture Co.
Builder: Tipton Spires Design|Build 

This was a massive front and rear projec—the backyard alone is 9,000 square feet—and the owners wanted everything to be automated so the pool entertaining space can be party-ready and fully operational for when guests arrive. This was particularly important for the spa bar, which is two to three times larger than the norm and takes a while to heat up.

Photographs by Jimi Smith

Pentair’s IntelliTouch with ScreenLogic Interface system, which gives the owner control of all the key functions and elements of the project, was used. It operates everything from the lighting and the sunken fire pit that burns natural wood and has an automated gas-assist ignition to the three water sheers that flow from copper scuppers into the infinity-edge pool, which features two shelves with lounge chairs, an upper Baja shelf and a lower spill-over basin shelf.

A custom, solid ipe automatic gate for the front entry is another design element integrated into the automation. Artificial-turf putting green lighting, a pool and play area for the pets, along with artificial turf for the entire 11,000-square-foot design space, are more elements on the property. 

Photographs by Jimi Smith

The design of the pool literally reflects the architecture of the house, which is a modern piling home on the island. The shadows the home cast by the sun onto the yard were the inspiration for the shape of the pool, hardscapes, and angles. It looks different from anything else we’ve designed because it actually uses Mother Nature’s true shadows of the home as a reference point for the designed space. greencoutureco.com, pentair.com, tiptonspiresdesign.com 

This article published in the Spring/Summer 2022 issue of Luxury Pools + Outdoor Living. See more inside this issue or subscribe here.

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