Pool automation allows you to put your swimming pool on autopilot. Pool automation is the process of automatically monitoring and adjusting both the sanitizer and pH levels to maintain high quality water at all times. Pool automation has many benefits including improved safety, convenience, and lower cost of chemicals and repairs. The gold standard in pool automation combines microprocessor controlled water chemistry with ultraviolet pool systems that work to lower chemical demand. Every modern aquatic facility includes pool automation, but automation is extremely rare on residential pools.
In the typical residential swimming pool, there is no pool automation system. Pool water testing and water adjustments are made manually (or in some cases not at all). Today’s pool owner doesn’t have time or the patience to test water daily (commercial pool laws require hourly testing). So the typical backyard pool gets tested about once a week. In between testing, the systems in place to control critical parameters like pH and sanitizer levels can be best described as woefully inadequate.
In smaller pools with lots of use, the chlorine level can move toward 0 in a matter of minutes. Residential pools simply aren’t equipped to handle rapid changes in bather load and organic matter. Chlorine is usually added with a crude automatic chlorinator or a chlorine generator, also called a salt water pool system. By the way, a salt chlorine generator itself is not considered pool automation because adjustments to chlorine output and pH are made manually. Although these devices do add chlorine, they almost always add chlorine in the wrong quantities, resulting in either too much chlorine or not enough chlorine.
Residential pools have no feedback loop by which they adjust the level of chlorine added based on how much is needed. To make matters worse, some of these devices are prone to clogging. The settings are imprecise, and the correct setting for your pool at any given time is a guessing game. Pool chlorine automation is a game-changing technology, allowing precise, real-time automatic testing and adjusting. Chlorine levels are precisely controlled through a groundbreaking qualitative method called Oxidation Reduction Potential, or ORP. How effective is using ORP? According to the Professional Pool Operators of America (PPOA.org), “ORP is the bottom line. Get it, somehow; it is necessary in order to make your water safe and to keep it safe!”
Automated pH control is perhaps more critical than chlorine control. The pH of pool water can move up and down rapidly within just a few hours. Without pool automation, there is no way to control the rapidly moving pH of the pool water. Why is minute by minute control of pH so important? Because it directly affects all other parameters of water quality. To give you an idea, if the pH is allowed to drift from 7.5 to 8, chlorine loses about 80% of its sanitizing power. At a pH of 8.5, chlorine loses nearly all of its sanitizing ability. Pools without automation often get trapped in a vicious cycle. Chlorine is added (or produced by a salt system) which throws off the pH and the water. The pH drifts to the point where the chlorine has no sanitizing power. Algae, bacteria, and viruses make their way into the pool water and thrive. How do we solve the problem? Pool Automation.
We’ve automated our homes for years, and now it’s your pool’s turn. Advanced pool automation uses digital microprocessors that automatically test and adjust the water chemistry every minute, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days per year. Pool automation systems include digital controllers for pH and chlorine (through ORP), storage tanks for the liquid chlorine (sodium hypochlorite) a pH decreaser, and injectors that add the precise dosage. Liquid chlorine is the most pure form of chlorine available to pool owners. Other than water, it has no fillers, no calcium, and no cyanuric acid. All of these additives can lead to water problems. You may be surprised to learn that household bleach can be used in place of liquid chlorine. Bleach is identical to sodium hypochlorite, but it’s half the strength. You’ll use about twice as much, but it can be less expensive, and more convenient.
Pool automation can make your pool safer, healthier, and easier to manage than pools without automation. You can save money too. You’ll reduce water changes, saving thousands of gallons of water. Pool automation minimizes the need for chemicals (especially when combined with ultraviolet disinfection) because you’re always putting in a precise amount of the right chemical. And pool automation is better for the environment.
If we were to head over to a world-class aquatic center, say at one of the leading universities, we would find two things - a pool automation system and an ultraviolet pool system. What does ultraviolet disinfection do? Using technology developed for drinking water purification plants, UV systems emit a high intensity ultraviolet light that destroys all types of microorganisms including bacteria, algae, viruses, cysts and even chemical by-products like chloramines. UV systems are extremely effective. In addition to lowering chemical requirements up to 80 or 90%, UV can make any pool safer, healthier, and easier to manage than traditional disinfection products.