A swimming pool in your own backyard – that’s probably what even residents of the smallest rental apartments dream of. The Belgian manufacturer LPW Pools makes this wish come true with one-piece pools made of composite materials. This requires covers, which are manufactured by sister company Covrex. To keep the dream fun, the company uses products from Phoenix Contact.
What do swimming pools have to do with terminals, controllers and control cabinets? “Quite a lot,” explains Raf Olaerts of Covrex. The company, based in Aarscht near Brussels, manufactures automatic pool covers and their custom-fit drive systems. Together with pool manufacturer LPW Pools, which has a presence in the Benelux and Germany, both companies are part of the TSPH Group of Companies (The Swimming Pool Hub).
Raf Olaerts is responsible for automation at Covrex. And so right in the middle of developing the innovative products for which Covrex is known. Because without a cover, a swimming pool quickly becomes a problem. “More than 70 percent of all pool owners opt for a pool cover,” Olaerts reports in conversation. “The reasons for this are first of all safety and cleanliness, because a pool without a cover can already become a risk, especially in a family household. And without a cover, a pool quickly becomes a magnet for everything that flies around in the air, from leaves and twigs to waterfowl and dust. Plus, in our latitudes, don’t forget about temperatures during the cool months. If the water body is unprotected, it quickly loses its comfortable temperature or even threatens to freeze.”
When it comes to hardware, Covrex therefore relies on various pool enclosures with a clear-glass look, which turn the pool into a real swimming pool, and, in a less expensive variant, on slat enclosures, where Covrex has its own patents on its fully foamed variants. These fully foamed louvers offer better thermal insulation and are more resistant to weather conditions such as frost and hail. Customers can choose from a variety of shapes, colors and accessories for their pool.
The electronic lifeguard
To ensure that this hardware can also be used sensibly, electrical helpers are essential. Pumps and filter systems, heating and lighting, and the drives for the motor-moved covers all require expert installation. Covrex’s in-house-built control cabinets are used, combining all functions into a user-friendly control system with remote control. “Our pool controls are standardized basic solutions that can be adapted to the specific situation on the customer’s site,” Raf Olaerts explains the approach.
High availability and low maintenance were in the specifications for the development of the pool control cabinet. There is still a special challenge with the automatic pool cover, because its drive system is completely submerged. “The control box therefore has two separate power supplies,” explains Raf Olaerts. “If a leak occurs and causes a short circuit in the motor, the rest of the system continues to function.”
Wrapped upside down
Covrex solves another potential problem with a special power relay in the motor’s power supply: “The reel system is often installed in a niche at the bottom of the pool,” explains Raf Olaerts. “Since the slats are lighter than water, they counteract the pulling forces of the electric motor. When they unroll, they then virtually turn the electric motor in the wrong direction. Using the changeover relay, we can slow down the motor and prevent it from acting as a generator in the direction of the power grid as a result. Also, the speed has to be controlled to make sure the pool cover is correctly on the surface.”
Jimmy De Sitter has been the contact person at Phoenix Contact for many years. He adds, “The ELR module has built-in overvoltage protection and can control the speed of the motor via pulse width modulation (PWM). For applications like this, where a DC motor needs to be reversed and decelerated, it’s an efficient solution because the module controls everything electronically.”
“One of the reasons we like working with Phoenix Contact is that they are always thinking about these kinds of solutions with us,” says Raf Olaerts. “When we have a question, we don’t just get a quick answer. Our partners at Phoenix Contact have ideas, then think ahead with us.” The collaboration between the two companies began many years ago in the area of production and over time shifted more and more directly into Covrex’s products as well.
In addition to power supplies and the ELR module, terminal blocks from Phoenix Contact are used, including special terminal blocks for potential distribution that enable smooth and efficient assembly. Meanwhile, Covrex also makes use of the Value Added Center from Phoenix Contact for the supply of complete assembly strips. These are customer-specific DIN rails on which all the desired components are already mounted, with the necessary labeling and bridges.
Business with the private swimming pool in the garden is booming. And thanks to the cooperation with Phoenix Contact, Raf Olaerts and his team can devote themselves to the further development of their innovative products. So that the dream of a pool doesn’t become a technological bellyflop.