The Pool Boys know that purchasing new pool equipment can be a daunting task. You are going to be spending some money and want to make sure that you make the best choice for your pool and the people that swim in it… your Friends and Family. And then there’s always that pesky budget to consider as well.
Between Pool Equipment Installation and Weekly Pool Maintenance customers, we get a lot of questions from pool owners like:
- “What pump should we choose?”
- “Which pool cleaner is the best?”
- “What’s better, salt or chlorine?”
- “Can I monitor my pool with my phone?”
Questions like this are what led to the creation of this article. As you are reading this, please keep in mind that these are the honest opinions of The Pool Boys, developed from years of dealing with these questions. The opinions of others may differ from ours and we understand that, there is no exact way that every pool should be set up.
We hope that this article answers some of your questions and helps you make the best choice for you. The info provided is offered as a general guideline and a source of information. If you’re local to us, feel free to give The Pool Boys a call at 832-473-5715 if you would like to discuss your specific application or simply have a question about our products or services.
Now let’s get started!
Power to Choose
The Pool Boys are Authorized Dealers for Hayward, Pentair and Jand
When you are planning a pool equipment upgrade or replacement project you will find that different pool service companies tend to only offer one brand of pool equipment. Typically it will be one of these three: Pentair, Hayward, or Jandy. If you are particular to one brand make sure you choose a company that offers that brand. Generally speaking you are pretty safe with any of those three brands. Service providers are going to offer brands that they are familiar with, have a good relationship with, and get good support from. Luckily, The Pool Boys are Authorized Dealers for all 3 of the major Pool Equipment Manufacturers and have extensive experience installing and servicing their products.
All of that being said, once the service provider and brand has been established you still have many choices ahead of you. Things such as single speed vs. variable speed pumps, type of pool cleaner, heater, lights, and so on. If you solely give the service provider the choice they will most likely install what they have been installing for years, and it may not be what is best for you. Times are changing, products are evolving and it is a lot to keep up with from a pool professional’s standpoint. You should have a choice so be sure you are voicing what you want if they are not already offering options to you.
Controls - Mechanical
Old School Mechanical Time Clocks
Mechanical controls are simply a mechanical timer with on/off trippers that control the pool pump. They are extremely simple to use, you set it and forget it. They are very limited in what you can add/control with your pool equipment system though, so no phone apps will be used with these types of controls.
They are good for someone building a pool only(no spa) with 2 or less pool pumps and wants to keep it very basic.
The Pool Boys take: No one should be installing mechanical time clocks anymore when there are more up-to-date options for a comparable price, like the Pentair Intelliconnect. It is basically a glorified dual time clock that can be controlled using your mobile device. You can set your schedules as well as turn on/off the pool pump remotely using an app. It can also control a Pentair variable speed pool pump.
Controls - Automation Systems (Computerized)
Pentair Intellicenter Pool Equipment Automation Control
There are several different levels of control and price. They range from simple systems that only control a couple of items, to very complex systems that can run multiple pumps, heaters, and other items. Automation systems can get your spa going with the press of a button and give you more control of heater temperature, variable speed pump settings, scheduling, air/water temp readings, and more in the palm of your hand.
The Pool Boys take: There are so many options and configurations when it comes to pool automation systems. They continue to improve these systems with more monitoring, control, and features. Some systems can be tied into your existing home automation and even be controlled by Amazon Alexa, Google Home, or your Smart Watch. When choosing your automation system, start with choosing your other equipment and features to decide what level of automation you will need. There are several entry, mid, and high level systems available to fit all needs. Take a look at our blog post Pool Automation & Control for a more thorough discussion of your options.
New Pool Pump install by The Pool Boys in League City
The number of pumps you need will depend on the different features of your pool. The 3 main things pumps are used for are: water circulation, pressure side pool cleaners, and water features. The main circulation pump is required to circulate the water throughout the pool and filtration system. Without the circulation pump it would be impossible to maintain a clean and sanitary swimming pool.
When it comes to pool pumps there are two types - Single Speed Pool Pumps or Variable Speed Pool Pumps. Once you choose a type of pump your service provider will need to size it appropriately to your swimming pool configuration.
Single Speed Pumps
Single Speed Pool Pumps are Limited in Supply by the new PPP Law
Single speed pool pumps have been the choice pool pump for ages. They have one speed (3,450rpm) and run full throttle the entire time they are running. They are not very efficient in terms of energy consumption and can cost quite a bit of money to operate. Over time, as they start to age out, they will become even less efficient.
The Pool Boys take: We recommend a variable speed pool pump over a single speed. The problem is that pool professionals have been slower to educate themselves on the technology and typically stick to what they know. Something else to be aware of is a law that was passed to stop the manufacturing of single speed pump motors in July of 2021. In the near future, variable speed pool pumps will be the only option for Pool Pumps over 1 hp once the Single Speed inventory is used.
Variable Speed Pumps (VS and VSF)
Energy Efficient Variable Speed & Flow Pool Pump
Variable Speed and Variable Speed & Flow pool pumps have numerous proven benefits with energy savings being the most talked about. Unlike single speed pumps (full speed always), VS pumps allow you to adjust the speeds. This is good for several different reasons including saving money, better water filtration, and quieter operation. A properly sized and programmed vs pump can pay itself off with energy savings, in most cases, before the warranty expires.
The Pool Boys take: Circulation of the pool water is extremely important, you want your water moving, not sitting stagnant. Most single speed pump owners limit the amount of time they circulate their pool due to the high cost of running the pump. Also, a variable speed water feature pump provides all of the benefits previously mentioned and allows you to control the flow of your water feature.
For a more in-depth read about Variable Speed Pumps see Top 5 Benefits of A Variable Speed Pool Pump.
There are three types of swimming pool filters - Diatomaceous Earth(D.E.), Cartridge, or Sand. Sand filters perform the worst and (in our opinion) shouldn’t be used on residential pools, so we are going to stick to D.E. and Cartridge Filters for this discussion.
Diatomaceous Earth Filters (D.E.)
DE Filters use Grids to hold DE Powder for Pool Water Filtration
D.E. Filters can filter out the smallest particulate. They can be backwashed using a valve. This is a quick clean to get you by for a while before needing to disassemble the filter and thoroughly clean it. Inside the filter is a series of panels (grids) that are coated with D.E. powder. This D.E. powder is what filters the water.
The Pool Boys take: For years we always went with D.E. filters. With variable speed pumps becoming more popular we have been moving more towards cartridge filters. D.E. filters need to be left off for a few hours each night to allow the D.E. powder to settle and “re-fluff” when the system turns back on. This means that you cannot continuously run the pump 24hrs straight, which you might choose to do if you have a variable speed pump. Also, backwashing wastes a lot of water out of your pool each time you do it.
Cartridge Filters do not require DE Powder to Filter Pool Water
Cartridge filters don’t filter as fine of particulate as D.E. filters, but it is not a noticeable difference for most people. These filters cannot be backwashed so when they get dirty they will have to be completely disassembled and cleaned out. That being said cartridge filters are easier to take apart and clean when compared to D.E. filters.
The Pool Boys take: Although you may have to clean your filter a little more frequently, cartridge filters are easier to clean and leave less of a mess. If you are using a variable speed pool pump you can run your pool 24hrs a day with a cartridge filter which will help cut down on pool maintenance issues.
NOTE: We frequently get asked “How often should I clean my pool filter?” The simple answer is every 6 months like clockwork. If you are fighting algae or get a lot of debris in your pool you may need to clean it more often. The cleaner you can keep your filter the easier your pool maintenance will be.
Heaters, Heat Pumps, Coolers, and Chillers
Heat Pumps and Chillers Allow for Year Round Swimming in Texas
Their names pretty much sum them up. Consider if you are going to want to heat or cool the pool throughout the year. We have a 12 month season versus other markets such as Michigan where they winterize and close their pools during the winter months.
With a pool/spa combo a gas heater is going to be necessary to efficiently heat the spa.
With a pool only setup, a gas heater would be extremely expensive to heat the pool and maintain the temperature.
In a pool only scenario an electric heat pump would be a better choice to extend your swim season in the spring and fall. It can heat the pool to a comfortable temperature and maintain that temperature for much less cost than a gas heater. Heat pumps are inefficient when the temperature gets too cold. Therefore, if you are trying to heat your pool for a party when it's 30 degrees outside it will not be effective. You would need a gas heater to achieve this.
Coolers and chillers are good for the middle to end of summer when the pool water has become comparable to a warm bath. They will effectively be able to bring the water temperature down several degrees from where it currently is. Even just 5 degrees can make a big difference when the pool is 90 degrees.
The Pool Boys take: Let’s simplify it. If you are looking to get an extra couple of months of swim season get a heat pump/chiller. If you have a spa you will need a gas heater to heat it. You can also get both a heat pump/chiller and gas heater on the same system, it doesn’t have to be one or the other. If you are building a smaller pool keep in mind that the water will naturally heat up and cool down faster when compared to a large swimming pool.
Chlorine Tabs and Salt Systems are Common in our Market
The two primary sanitizers in our Houston market are Chlorine Tablets or Salt Systems. One fact to be aware of is that the end result of using a salt system is chlorine being produced. There are pros and cons to each.
An Inline Chlorine Feeder Helps Keep Chlorine Levels Consistent
Using chlorine tablets as the primary sanitizer is the traditional way of keeping your pool algae free and sanitized. Delivery methods include a floating chlorine tablet dispenser or an inline tablet feeder connected to the pool equipment. A downside to using chlorine tablets is that they contain a chemical called Cyanuric Acid (aka CYA). CYA protects the chlorine from being destroyed by the sun. As chlorine tabs are dissolved and added to the pool you are continually raising the CYA level. As CYA levels rise your chlorine becomes less effective. The only effective way to lower the CYA is to partially drain the swimming pool and refill with fresh water.
In markets like ours with 12 months of pool operation, excessive heat/rain, and other things that speed up chlorine use, you may need to partially drain and fill your pool multiple times throughout the year due to high CYA. This can be inconvenient but necessary in order to properly maintain your pool. Keep in mind that every single pool is different and this is not true 100% of the time. We have many people that haven't experienced this issue for years. Every pool is situational, this is just what we see in the majority of pools.
Using a Salt Chlorine Generator can Reduce High CYA in Pools
A salt system can be very effective at keeping your pool sanitized. You add pool salt to the water and the system produces chlorine using the salt in the water. It’s a bit more technical than that but for the purpose of this article we are keeping it basic.
A huge benefit of these systems is that they do not add CYA to your pool, in fact you will occasionally need to add CYA to your pool. This cuts back on needing to partially drain and refill. Salt water is corrosive to natural stone, so if you add a lot of stone work to your pool you will want to seal your stone annually to prevent it from breaking down.
The Pool Boys take: There is a misconception that you will save money on chemicals with a salt system. This is partially true. Yes salt is cheap and you don’t have to add it as frequently as chlorine tabs. However, salt cells have a 3-5 year lifespan and will have to be replaced at some point. Salt cells are not cheap and can range from several hundred dollars to above a thousand dollars depending on the size and model. As for our experience with weekly pool maintenance, we have an easier time maintaining salt pools and recommend them.
Automatic or Robotic Pool Cleaners
An Automatic or Robotic Pool Cleaner is a Must on Some Pools
Pool cleaners are designed to roam around the pool and vacuum up debris. The three main types of cleaners are: Pressure Side, Suction Side, and Robotic.
Pressure Side Cleaners
The Cadillac of Pressure Side Cleaners, the Polaris Quattro Sport
Pressure side cleaners work by using water pressure from the pool circulation to drive them around and pick up debris. The most common pressure side cleaners require an additional pump (booster pump) plumbed into the pool in order to have enough pressure to run. This means you are adding another piece of energy consuming equipment as well as needing more pool control capabilities in order to operate the pump. However, they do a good job, and are pretty much maintenance free other than emptying out the bag. You don’t have to put them in the water each day, they usually stay in the pool and operate on a scheduled timer.
Suction Side Cleaners
Suction side cleaners use suction from the pool circulation to move around and vacuum up debris. These are usually the most cost effective form of automatic cleaner, but as usual, you get what you pay for, and you might find they don’t do the job you hoped they would. We don’t see many of these types of cleaners in the pools we service, and we don’t sell any either.
Robotic Cleaners do an Amazing Job of Keeping Debris out of Your Pool
Robotic cleaners are completely stand alone from your circulation system and do a much better job of cleaning the pool in most cases. Several models will vacuum and additionally scrub the pool surface using brushes that spin. Most robotic cleaners will clean the floor, the walls, and the tile line. The downside is, you have to manually place the cleaner in the pool each day or deal with a cord running to the pool.
The Pool Boys take: Pressure side and suction side cleaners take away from the circulation of the pool and are notorious for needing repairs on a seasonal basis. In most cases, they do an inferior job of cleaning the pool when compared to a robotic cleaner. However the Polaris Quatro can hold its own against most robotics. We are strong advocates of robotic pool cleaners and firmly believe that Maytronics robotic cleaners are the best quality. You do not want to leave robotic cleaners in the pool 24/7. Most people use them 2-3 times each week and store them the rest of the time. This will greatly extend the life of robotic cleaners.
There is another pool cleaner that we feel is worth mentioning - Solar Breeze. The Solar Breeze cleaner is actually a top water skimmer that uses solar energy to run. It floats on the surface of the pool and paddles around, skimming up debris before it has a chance to sink to the floor. This cleaner can be added at any time since you simply put it in the pool and let it go. Even with the Solar Breeze you will still want one of the previously mentioned cleaners as the primary cleaner.
For a more in-depth comparison of the three main types of pool cleaners see our article on Automatic Pool Cleaner Pros and Cons.
UV and Ozone Systems
UV and Ozone Systems can provide Additional Sanitization for Your Pool
UV and Ozone systems are items that can help support your primary sanitizer. These systems can help you have an easier time with the maintenance of the pool and allow you to use less chemicals when working properly. Our market is not big on these products so we do not have much opinion on these. Keep in mind that these systems do have items that will need to be replaced periodically, such as light bulbs, in order to work properly
The Pool Boys take: These systems can be very beneficial when installed and maintained properly, but are not required to keep your pool clean and sanitary.
Do It How You Want!
Oftentimes the equipment is overlooked when compared to all of the design, features, and finishes that go into building your swimming pool. The equipment is the part of the pool that continues to cost you to operate long after the pool structure has been built. You are spending a lot of money on an item that will be in your backyard for the rest of your time at your house. Spend the extra money to get all of the equipment you want now, so that you can enjoy your new pool to the fullest.
The Pool Boys are here to help. If you are located near us in League City, Texas, we have over 12 years experience in the maintenance of the pool and equipment. Visit our Pool Equipment Services section of our website for more information, and if you have any further questions please don’t hesitate to contact us and we will do our best to answer them.
Take an honest look at your current pool equipment, and what’s available in the market today and start enjoying your pool again!
The Pool Boys