How do aquasensors work?

Discussion in 'Water Softener Forum, problems, installation and r' started by teve, Nov 29, 2011.

  1. teve

    teve New Member

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    Do softeners with aquasensors, and water meters, just measure/calculate hardness that passes into the softener? Are the sensors part of the valve? Where and when exactly do they sense? I would assume the calculation needs to be adjusted periodically as the resin ages. Can an additional sensor of the same type detect if the softened water starts showing hardness? Can the sensor tell the difference between Ca/Mg in the water versus Na.

    How do the sensors actually measure the water hardness? (Something electrical I'm guessing. Is it just conductivity?) How accurate and sensitive are they when working properly?
     
  2. Tom Sawyer

    Tom Sawyer In the Trades

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    It's Voodo teve, straight up Voodo. all chicken bones and dead cats. :D
     
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  4. teve

    teve New Member

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    Ah. So, when there's a problem with an aquasensor I figure a goat sacrifice should fix it. :D
     
  5. Gary Slusser

    Gary Slusser That's all folks!

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    Sensors don't work well and that's why only 1-2 companies sell them. IMO they are just a gimmick type thing and are hard to keep working. They have been tried a number of times.
     
  6. Tom Sawyer

    Tom Sawyer In the Trades

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    Yep, every Culligan aquasensor unit I have run across has been bypassed. In fact, I've bypassed a bunch of them myself. As for how they work, I believe that they do measure electrical resistance which changes with mineral content. Even when one is working I always wondered just how accurate they could be and of course, being made by Culligan, unless you are a dealer getting information from them is impossible. Almost as hard as getting anything out of Kinetico
     
  7. teve

    teve New Member

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    I figured they were gimmicky or they would likely be much more common.

    I found a Culligan manual that answered a number of my questions. (Their programming seems much more complicated than Clack.) The sensor is embedded in the resin and detects when it's starting to get exhausted. It also detects when slow rinse has pushed the remaining brine through so the next cycle can start a bit earlier.

    If the sensors gradually fail, it seems they would detect less conductivity (thus less hardness) than is actually there, so less frequent regenerations I'm assuming. But is seems override settings for calender or water volume or maximum grain capacity can easily cover for it.

    Why do the sensors have to be bypassed? Do customers report their treated water being hard? What are the symptoms of a failing sensor? Doesn't Culligan bother to set the overrides?
     
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2011
  8. Tom Sawyer

    Tom Sawyer In the Trades

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    Most culligan customers call after a few seasons of getting shafted by their culligan dealer.
     
  9. DonL

    DonL Jack of all trades Master of one

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    The Problem with sensors is that they become Contaminated.

    A good Example of that is the sensor on Your Automobile Emission System.

    When You get a Service Engine Soon Light, Most Mechanics and Testers say to replace the Sensors.

    At 50 - 100 Dollars a Pop, It is much cheaper too just Clean the Old one.
    That is , if you can Remove , Clean and re-install them without damage.


    Water Sensors suffer the same Death, Contamination from Buildup...
     
  10. teve

    teve New Member

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    How do customers get shafted? You buy the softener from Culligan. They install it. Maybe they deliver salt. What happens beyond that?
     
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2011
  11. teve

    teve New Member

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    Yes. But what does Culligan (or others) do about it? If a customer happens to notice hard water, does Culligan sell them a new softener when it's just a failing sensor?

    Can the sensors be removed to be inspected and cleaned or replaced, or does Culligan just reprogram the unit to use water metering?

    It seems a system could be designed to use the sensor to regenerate with, say, 6lbs. Otherwise if it's been a couple more days, or few more hundred gallons, than expected, fall back to metered regeneration with 8lbs and turn on an indicator light. Everything is still fine and the customer can decide if they want to do anything about it.

    Correction: A couple more days might go by without the sensor failing and a calender override could take care of that. But if a few hundred gallons more than expected are used, that might indicate a failing sensor and metered usage could take over with a little more salt and little higher gallon capacity to trigger regeneration.
     
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2011
  12. teve

    teve New Member

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    You know, they have tire air pressure sensors in cars now to warn you when your tires are getting low.

    Are there sensors to detect when treated water is starting to get hard just before regeneration?
     
  13. Akpsdvan

    Akpsdvan In the Trades

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    The system is as good as the sensor.... and will last as long as the sensor is good.

    More times than not when the sensor goes bad the system fails. Replace the sensor is easier said than done.

    At one time and still may be this way the Culligan sensor was at the end of a line that was set in the tank when the gravel was put in and then the resin added, so if the senor goes out then the media has to be removed and a new sensor put in. That is if the designe has not changed.

    If the sensors are through the side of the tank , then care .... real care is needed not to frack the tank in changing out the sensors.....

    For me it looks to be more of a pain than a savings.

    Blue Tooth is great when it works, but if it does not work because of one line of code some place then............ it is a pain.
     
  14. ifican

    ifican New Member

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    I realize this thread is old but i did come across it while searching initially so i will update here. I have a culligan unit with a water sensor, from my understanding its the latest iteration and fixes some of the early gen model issues. Time will tell but i have been doing all i can to fool it outside of purposely changing the incoming water. I have reset the flow meter several times (during this regen cycle). The flow meter has been turned on the unit is solely making its decision based on the aqua sesnor. I will know in the next couple days is my attempts have been successful or the sensor is working as designed. I have also go so far as to set the unit as 15gpg when my water is 20gpg (I tested it myself). I cannot speak to longevity at this point but i will very shortly be able to speak to if it actually generates a regen on reading it is pulling.
     
  15. ditttohead

    ditttohead Water systems designer, R&D

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    There are several designs of sensors. Most work but... Longevity is the main issue. That and settings for efficiency... unless it is in a twin alternating system, they tend to be no more efficient than a properly operating and programmed single tank meter design.
    The best use for a sensor is when the water source hardness varies considerably, the algorithm of a twin alternating/metered system can properly adjust the hardness settings to match the water thereby making for a very efficient design, but again, only when the hardness fluctuations are considerable.
     
  16. ifican

    ifican New Member

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    If my sensor triggers in the next couple days it is far more efficient in the sense that it will have utilized far more of the resin bed than had i just left it as is. It comes pre-configured to regen at 30% reserve. I initially had moved that down to 10% and i am already past that as far as the meter is concerned. Longevity we will see.....
     
  17. Reach4

    Reach4 Well-Known Member

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    I can see how a conductance sensor can tell if you have had enough rinse. But I thought that the conductance of softened vs non-softened water was pretty similar. The cheap TDS meters are just measuring the conductance, and I was thinking they usually show little change in conductance between the hard and softened water.
     
  18. ifican

    ifican New Member

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    I cannot get info on what its reading or how its doing it but i can tell you i speculate its just that. There are two probes on the sensor and what it appears to be doing its measuring very slight differences in the conductance of the water between the two. When watching the output of the probes over time they stay basically the same until really close to the depletion of the resin bed then it shows higher on 1 then the other. Im thinking what it does is start tracking the levels more closes as probe A starts showing variance. Then it waits until prob B gets a hint of it then i believe at that time it send regen signal. The prob itself is around 8 inches long and the sensor prongs are about 3 inches apart at their closest point. The prob body hangs about 6 inches from the bottom the tank.
     
  19. Reach4

    Reach4 Well-Known Member

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    I would think that the two probes are working together to produce a single number.

    http://www.culligan.com/uploadedFil...ldSoftener_TotalHome_OwnersGuide_01018854.pdf says
    Aqua-Sensor┬« Mode ​
    The Aqua-Sensor is a conductivity probe that senses when a hardness front passes through the resin bed. It functions independently of the influent water hardness so therefore, is useful in conditions when the influent water hardness varies throughout the year. It provides for the most efficient mode of operation. In addition to sensing when a resin bed is exhausted, it can also be used to determine when the brine solution is rinsed from the resin bed during the Brine Draw/Slow Rinse cycle triggering the control to move to fast rinse. This patented feature provides water savings by optimizing the amount of rinse water required to completely rinse out the resin bed.​
     
  20. ifican

    ifican New Member

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    The screen that shows the output shows 3 variables: zm1, zr1 and I. The I variable is a percentage based on one of the Z's. I would have to go look now but one stays and has always been stable. I am waiting to see if my hypothesis on that one changing causes a regen. The other was stable for quite awhile until the bed started getting exhausted and it has changed and fluctuates up and down. The difference in the numbers between Z's generated a percentage shown as I. The highest i have seen it thus far is 1.0% most of the time it is less than 1. I simply wish i could find technical data on how that sensor determines regen time but since it proprietary i will have to reverse engineer it, will just take some time for me to figure it out.
     
  21. ifican

    ifican New Member

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    So sensor worked as it should have and it went far longer than i would have ever expected. I also learned you cant always go by feel to know if your water is truly soft or not. I had expected hardness was leaking through but thorough testing proved it was still soft up until the time i went to bed the night of the regen. What i am attempting to do now is reverse engineer what its doing and how, though tough as the numbers for the sensor have changed. If anyone has any technical data on them i would love to read it.
     

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