I want to be able to start and stop two pool pumps by remote control, independently. Each one works at 220V, 1 kW (i.e. around 5A, expect a current spike when starting.)

Do you know an off the shelf solution for this? If not, any DIY solutions are welcome.

Expect the location for the switch to be dry.

The main use case is turning on the 'swim against the current' pump, from a wireless keychain remote. It would be even better if this pump would turn off automatically after, say, 30 minutes.

  • 1
    What kind of remote? RF wireless, or can it be house wired X10 type?
    – SteveR
    Commented Mar 26, 2012 at 21:15
  • @SteveR see updated question Commented Mar 26, 2012 at 22:56

5 Answers 5


There are many different solutions depending on how much you'd want to spend, how much DIY you want to do, and what exactly you are trying to achieve. I would not try to directly switch this load: inductive loads generate voltage spikes when switching them, which can damage electronics and such that are not designed to handle it. They also have high in-rush startup currents which are beyond the normal ratings.

On the cheapest, very DIY side, I would use a definite purpose contactor for each pump (~$20, give or take), and run some smaller (14/2) wires inside to a switch.

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The benefit here is the wiring going inside is low-current, and so you can use a regular lightswitch, count-down timer or programmable timer.

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Insteon is another way to go. Insteon is a power-line carrier signal, which means it runs over your existing wiring. They have a high-current relay module which would be used to control your pumps.

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You can then control from any Insteon-capable controller: there are a number of keypads, light switches, timers, home automation controllers, key chain remotes, motion sensors, and PC interfaces. The benefit of this is your "remote" can be anywhere (and you can even have multiple remotes). For example, here is a 6-button keypad that would work:

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You could have a timer/controller set up to run your pump at certain times of day, or have a motion sensor that runs it if someone is in the pool area, or a button to manually trigger it. With a controller you can do very complex things, like have it run if someone is in the pool area for more than 30 minutes, or if it's manually triggered, and also ensure that regardless of that, it runs for at least 4 hours every day. Heck you can go crazy fancy and have it run more after it rains, or after it's particularly windy (to get leaves out).

I've linked to smarthome.com (who is the manufacturer of Insteon) but you can also buy their stuff from many other places, including Amazon.com.

There are equivalents to Insteon in other technologies (both wireless and power-line carrier) such as Z-Wave, UPB and X10 (though X10 is very poor technology, I would recommend staying with something newer).

You can also combine. For example, there is a UPB dry-contact output which you could wire up to a definite purpose contactor.

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  • Very nice answer :D I came across Insteon products while googling around, but I failed to find a keychain-like wireless controller. Am I missing something? Commented Mar 26, 2012 at 22:58
  • I don't see a keychain-type controller, but the RemoteLinc is modest size (a bit big for a pocket, though).
    – TomG
    Commented Mar 27, 2012 at 11:36
  • I've taken a deeper look at InsteOn's offer, and while interesting, it's way overkill for what I need - the price covers the massive amounts of extra flexibility, but I don't need that. Also, thanks for pointing out contactors - didn't know there's a special name for power relays :) Commented Mar 28, 2012 at 12:18

This is a popular way of remotely controlling a dust collection vacuum in a wood workshop. Sounds like what you are looking for.

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Here's how I resolved the remote control for the pumps:

I used a wireless receiver that controls 2 separate relays (220V AC for both the controlling and the controlled circuits) + the corresponding remote control keychain.

They are made by a czech company, Jablotron, and cost me around 65EUR (~= 85USD) together.

wireless receiver wireless keyfob transmitter

I also looked at a pair of single relay wireless receivers ready to be plugged into a wall socket. These offer better programmability for automatic timed shutoff (1 min to 24 hrs or something like that), but a single such receiver costs about as much as the 2 relay receiver. These are controlled with the same remote control as above.

wireless socket receiver

Because neither receiver's relays are beefy enough (5A for the 2 relay receiver, 8A for the socket receiver), I will use the wireless relays to command two power relays (aka contactors). I found a few options running 220V AC / 12A at $10-$20 apiece.

Elmark contactor

  • See that the relay you choose can handle the rated HP of the pump motor. Because the motor is inductive, using the current rating of the relay contacts alone is not good enough.
    – SteveR
    Commented Mar 28, 2012 at 12:24

The first thing that comes to mind are some heavy duty relays (rated for the voltage / current you're talking about) run off of some 14/3 wiring (one hot line to control each motor).


Wire up both pumps as if you was wiring up two single-pole light switches. Then instead of using the standard single pole switch, buy two Wemo WiFi light switches. When setting up these switches the Wemo app gives you the option of naming these switches along with several other options. If you only want to use one pump at a time then both pumps need to be on different circuits (they should be anyway). Now you can turn your pump or pumps on from anywhere. It's very nice not coming home to a green pool after being away on vacation.

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