There has been a revolution in home technology gradually gathering momentum over the past 10 years. What started out as gadgetry for only the wealthiest or most technology-obsessed early adopters has steadily transformed into normal expectations for convenient living and peace of mind. Broadband penetration with lightning-fast speeds has now reached the majority of North American homes, meaning consumers can reliably stream TV and music on multiple devices and power a growing assortment of smart products around their home.
For homes with a pool, smart technology is the obvious next step. Why put up with trudging back and forth, shutting off lights, pumps, and filters when all that should be required is a quick tap, swipe, or voice command?
Options for automation are endless
In the past, sophisticated automation systems have been chiefly aimed at new pool installations and not towards the more basic needs of existing backyard pools. Installing an easy-to-use automation system with full smartphone control of an entire pool pad has typically meant a major renovation. And if the new technology is complex, it may also involve multiple contractors—including electricians—making it time consuming and expensive to install.
The good news is the pool industry has caught up with consumer needs and many easy-to-use/easy-to-install smart control options are available to pool owners. Anyone looking to replace a pump—that does not have a full automation system already—has simple upgrade options available to them to add smart pool control at the same time as installing an energy-efficient variable-speed pump (VSP). VSPs deliver a wide range of benefits including significant energy and cost-savings. With rebates on the rise, including a $400 local electric utility rebate offered in many municipalities in Ontario through the PoolSaver program (which the Pool & Hot Tub Council of Canada [PHTCC] is working to expand across Canada), and a United States Department of Energy ruling that will require the use of energy-efficient pumps beginning in 2021, the demand for VSPs with smart pool control is only expected to increase.
Smart pool control can also be purchased as a standalone system that can be fitted to any installation quickly and easily, as well as configured with existing equipment to provide total control of a full range of pool and hot tub equipment (including pumps, heaters, lighting, sanitization, water features, and more), right from a smartphone or tablet. Pool owners who thought automation had passed them by, or assumed the upgrade was beyond their budget, now have options to control their entire pool from their smartphone, while potentially reducing energy costs by up to 90 per cent (versus the use of single-speed pumps).
Smartphone and smart home device compatibility also factors large in an automation system upgrade. Many smart pool control systems work across all popular mobile devices and are also compatible with home automation systems like Nest and voice-activated Amazon Alexa.
Once a pool owner has lived with the convenience of smart pool control, they will wonder how they ever managed without it. Pool and hot tub retailers and their customers have waited too long for affordable, common sense smart control systems, especially devices that are able to increase efficiencies and save homeowners money.
Robotic pool cleaning
When it comes to pool cleaning, robotic cleaners have been following an upward growth path because of their ability to provide the ultimate user experience. Homeowners want a clean, spotless pool and a device that performs this task reliably without supervision (e.g. robotic cleaners) is just what they need. They are energy efficient, provide excellent pool coverage, and offer a wide variety of models with various features and levels of performance.
A common misconception is that a pool cleaner works as a filter, but this is not the case. A pool cleaner is made to remove visible debris from the water, and put smaller, microscopic particles back into suspension so they can be captured by the filtration system. A pool cleaner is, in fact, a great partner for the filtration system as it can increase circulation of the pool water.
In recent years, the vacuum cleaner industry has been revolutionized by a new generation of products with technologically advanced features, making them even more robust and effective in picking up debris. With similar technology entering the aquatics industry, pool owners now have similar options for robotic cleaners with enhanced features to further simplify the chore of vacuuming the pool.
Pool debris can be much more difficult to pick-up than the typical dust and dirt facing a traditional vacuum cleaner. This means a robotic pool cleaner needs a more powerful suction system and to be able to maintain full power at all times—as opposed to gradually losing power as collected debris builds up in the filter bag. Hydro-cyclonic technology has become popular for providing improved suction power and convenient debris collection without filter bags. Hydrocyclones form a swirling spiral of suction creating enough strength to pick up even the most troublesome dirt, and then contains it in a touch-free, filter-free canister that can empty and rinse itself. There are no filter bags to clean and, best of all, the homeowner does not have to get their hands dirty from rinsing or scrubbing.
Adaptive traction systems with intelligent sensors help cleaners maintain better suction on a wide range of surfaces, while also providing the ability to manoeuver obstacles with ease. Never getting beached on drain covers or steps and maintaining motion throughout the pool to get through the cleaning cycle.
Additionally, some models offer Wi-Fi or Bluetooth connectivity to a smartphone to access advanced features, scheduling, or to act as a remote control. Having the ability to take control and steer the robotic cleaner to dirty areas of the pool is very efficient for quick clean-ups without running through the full cleaning cycle.
Technologically advanced products are taking pool ownership to a whole new level, eliminating many of the chores of managing a pool, while reducing energy consumption and increasing enjoyment. Smart pool control combined with automatic pool cleaning can become like a personal maintenance team for homeowners, allowing them to take care of a pool with minimum effort. The ultimate result is less time guessing and more time to relax.
Greg Fournier is the senior product manager of controls and backyard synergy for Hayward Pool Products. Fournier is responsible for developing products that maximize the homeowner’s backyard experience such as innovative controls and lighting. He also has experience in designing, manufacturing, sourcing, and marketing innovative electronic products. Fournier can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Patrick Caty is the senior product manager for automatic pool cleaners for Hayward Pool Products. He is responsible for leading the automatic pool cleaner product line in the rapidly changing business environment of energy-efficiency, ecology, swimmer health, and customer convenience. He can be reached via e-mail at email@example.com.