The primary benefits
The benefits of using an automated chemical controller fall into five categories: bather experience (safety and comfort), operational efficiency, facility maintenance, environmental benefit, and regulatory compliance.
An automatic chemical controller makes intelligent chemical feed decisions based on demand rather than a scheduled or timed dispersal via standalone feed systems. Change in demand can happen through a variety of ways: fluctuating bather loads, rain water, insufficient filtration, the addition of other balancing chemicals, the addition of fill water, and so on. By relying solely on a standalone feeder or an operator who takes manual tests based on a schedule, bather safety and comfort can be at risk.
The responsibility of a facility operator is to ensure pool and spa/hot tub water is safe for bathers. This translates into making sure the water chemistry is balanced and meets health code requirements.
Without the presence of an automated chemical controller, it is estimated that an operator spends 40 per cent of his/her time attempting to maintain the proper water chemistry balance. In this regard, the operator is tasked with constant manual testing, analyzing, and documenting the results (a common source of error), referring to chemical data sheets, making chemical change calculations, and, finally, manually introducing the chemicals into the pool (which poses the risk of handling aggressive chemicals) or by turning on and off feed equipment. While some operators may think of the controller as an adversary, others think of this equipment as one of their favourite tools in their arsenal.
The swimming pool and/or spa/hot tub’s lifespan (e.g. finish, surface, structure, etc.), circulation equipment, along with the facility’s indoor applications, can be lengthened via the use of an automatic chemical controller. Chloramines are a common byproduct of poor water management, which are not only harmful to bathers and operators, but also destructive to an indoor facility. Chloramine gasses have been known to contribute to the corrosion of metal components in and around the pool area (e.g. ladders, diving boards, lifeguard chairs, lights, and even the building’s structural stature and heating, venting and air conditioning [HVAC] equipment).
Swimming pool and spa/hot tub surfaces are also in jeopardy with improperly balanced water. Surface staining is thought of as an inevitable process that occurs over the lifespan of a swimming pool or spa/hot tub; however, this does not need to hold true as consistently monitoring and managing pH will reduce—possibly even eliminate—surface staining.
Maintenance, annual operating costs, and facility depreciation are all positively impacted through automated chemical management simply by the reduction of manual testing, the increased lifespan of the pool surfaces and accessories, and the reduction in the amount of chemicals being used. Through a process termed ‘proportional feed,’ controllers are able to make many-minute feed decisions; therefore, eliminating the unnecessary addition of excess chemicals.
By reducing the amount of chemicals through demand-based feeding, fewer products are consumed and less chemical deliveries are needed, all of which reduce the facility’s carbon footprint.
With more effective sanitizer conditions, aquatic facilities can also reduce backwash frequency, which results in wastewater and energy savings. Every time a facility backwashes its filters, it loses valuable heated and chemically balanced water. These facilities then require new fill water, which then needs to be chemically treated and heated.
Health authorities require the maintenance records of water chemistry. That said, advanced chemical controllers with onboard measurement capability eliminates the time required and the potential for human error associated with taking and recording water parameter measurements manually. Onboard communication systems automatically populate the data to off-site ‘cloud’ storage devices where it can be retrieved and viewed online. The data stored includes water chemistry measurements as well as any alarms or notifications.