Technology and Swimming Pools
We are entering an interesting time concerning technology and our swimming pools. It is important to understand what is available and how it may impact the enjoyment of your swimming pool. Just because a technology advancement happens does not mean it is right for you. Some pools are just so simple that it makes no sense to upgrade to the latest and greatest. Other pools may be very complicated and benefit greatly from a slight upgrade in the latest control system technology. I will attempt to explain a few of the best upgrades you can make to your pool equipment and why you might want to do it.
Who needs a smartphone to control their pool? Upon thinking about this question, you will either think the idea of controlling your pool with your phone is terrible or you will have a, “Why haven’t I thought of this before?” moment. If you think this notion of using common technology to control your pool is a bad idea, you probably have a very simple pool equipment setup. We must remember that some pools have an attached spa and possibly multiple pumps to create waterfalls or other features. These types of scenarios is where a smartphone tends to shine. Imagine the ability to turn your spa heater on from a restaurant several miles from home. When you arrive home, the spa is heated, lights are on, and all you have to do is hop in. Another possibility might be that you have guests visiting that are unfamiliar with your pool. They want to use the spa or turn on some feature, but are unsure of how to do it and you are away at work. You could use your phone to activate the feature they want to use. Another benefit is that your pool professional can even access your system from offsite and adjust settings.
All of these features rely on a technology that most of us have access to. You need either a WiFi or hard wired internet connection near your pool equipment. Once connected to the internet, your pool equipment can be controlled from any computer, tablet, or smartphone, from anywhere in the world, as long as you are connected to the internet. All three of the major pool equipment manufacturers offer a solution for this technology. I am most familiar with Zodiac’s iAquaLink 2.0 system and I can tell you that it is impressive. It never gets old setting it up for a customer and then watching them turn things off and on for the first time.
Variable Speed Pumps
Second up, let’s talk about variable speed pumps for a few minutes. These pumps allow significant energy savings and that means more money in your wallet. They are not cheap and thus they are a hard sell for someone like me. I think that pool owners are warming up to them somewhat and I have installed more of them in the past couple of years than ever before.
The way variable speed pumps work is that they allow you to program several speeds for different times of the day or different functions to be performed by the pump. Think of it like this – you can have one high speed run for an hour every day at noon (because you like to swim at 1:00 pm). The point of running the pump on high speed at this time is to help skim the surface to remove any bugs or debris that may be floating around. The rest of the afternoon the pump can run at a lower speed, just to circulate the water. Then at night, maybe you have it go to an even lower speed or shut off completely. Some people may have an automatic cleaner attached that needs to run on high speed in the morning. You can program the pump to do that and then run at lower rpm for the rest of the day.
Variable speed pumps can be controlled by an automation system or they can be used standalone, using the pump itself to control the speed programming. They are even compatible with the smartphone controls that we spoke about above. The important thing to take away about variable speed pumps is that they save electricity by running at a slower speed for longer hours.
Salt Systems aka Chlorine Generators
I am not going to go into great detail about salt systems, but it is worth noting here in an article about technology. Salt systems are not new by any means and they do exactly what they have claimed to do for decades now. You add salt to the pool water and the salt system turns it into chlorine. An interesting note is that when chlorine gets used, it turns into salt, so this is a renewable process. You only lose salt from the pool when you lose water by draining, backwashing, splashing, carrying it out, etc. Although not normally an issue, saltwater is more corrosive than just regular pool water, so there is a slightly accelerated degradation to pool equipment and the surroundings. Flagstone coping, for example, does not fare as well with a salt pool. The salt soaks into the stone and then expands as it drys. This causes flaking of the stone to occur. Of course, if sealed properly, the stone should be better protected from the saltwater, but this is almost never the case. In my opinion, the benefits of a salt system far outweigh the negatives. I always recommend to buy one to anyone who asks.