How would you build the most energy-efficient pool?
At our most recent Industry Roundtable, we asked three industry experts how they’d go about building the most energy-efficient pool possible. Here’s what they had to say.
Question: If time, money and technology were no object, how would you build the most energy-efficient pool possible?
Scott Carson, Platinum Swimming Pools:
I’d be running PV solar panels on the roof of the house for a start. I’d also be using the QuikClean Extreme in-floor cleaning system, which encompasses Enviraflo. It’s the most energy-efficient in-floor cleaning system because it improves heating and chemical efficiency and you need a lot less water to run it. And I’d be using heat pumps and fully automated filtration so the customer has a really good experience.
One of the great misunderstandings of solar panels is the variance in power output. Even if you’re using solar panels, you want the pool to be as energy efficient as possible so your client gets the most out of the solar technology. A more energy-efficient pool will obviously run at a lower solar output than a pool that is energy hungry.
We’re building a lot of our pools this way now. Our customers end up with a pool that cleans itself, keeps a higher water temperature and costs nothing to run. Who wouldn’t want a pool like that?
Cliff Cooke, Cooke Industries:
I think it’s much the same as Scott said. You would also take prevailing winds and location factors into consideration. With pools in regional areas, as opposed to the city, you’ve got a whole lot of issues that come into play — extreme temperatures, different vegetation, additional dust and debris loads, and greater exposure to prevailing winds. You’ll see some pools are built with the skimmer simply located at the deep end — if that’s the opposite end to the direction the wind blows, you will find all the debris collects at the other end from the skimmer and you’re constantly trying to move that material. You need to think about the little things because function and aesthetics need to work in unison.
If you explore all the options for your clients, from harvesting their own power to using equipment that uses less energy and less flow to achieve the same result, you’re obviously going to end up with a more efficient pool. You also need to look at pool covers and blankets to explore the options which give you not just efficient electricity use, but also maintain heat and enable the heating process to be more efficient. If you can almost be off the grid as far as your power goes, then you’ve got a pool that costs very little to run.
Automating pools is a no-brainer. The more functions you automate, the better — it’s more efficient and it’s a better ownership experience. So much so that a new challenge has emerged. Because we incorporate a lot of automation features into our pools these days and the water quality always looks so good, our clients don’t recognise the need to actually test their pool water. It’s an educational task for us. Clients ask me, “Cliff, the water’s clear — why do I need to come in once a month?” We’ve got to re-educate their expectations because clear, fresh-looking water doesn’t always mean the water quality is as it should be.
Tony Sharpe, Hayward Australia:
I think holistically, it’s about integration. I think it has been an evolving landscape for the last five to seven years, and when variable speed pumps came out, we said “hey, it saves all this money”, but we didn’t address dead spots in pools; we didn’t have the knowledge to do that.
So I think when you encompass what would be the most efficient pool, it needs to be one that’s intelligent. And the only way to do that is to be integrated. We recently released a product by the name of OmniLogic, which, from one single source, allows you to adjust the pump so that it can apply its performance at different levels for different applications and different functions. So that in order to take advantage of the efficiencies of the pump, rather than having it run at a particular speed all day or at different times, you can multipurpose that pump to do more than one task. So that reduces your capital cost — because you don’t have two or three pumps. You may choose to, but you can have one that allows you to do multiple tasks.
It also allows you to then monitor and control your chlorine and pH levels so that you can reduce input for chemicals because you maintain a consistent level, but allow the service company the capacity to log in and access and see what’s going on. So you can see if there’s a fault, if the pump’s not running efficiently or things aren’t happening the way they should. But also, then, you need to add the component where you can control your heating so if you are heating your pool you can maximise those heat sources so that you don’t just run a heat source eight hours a day.
You need to be able to prioritise so that it says, for instance, for up to a certain number of hours I’m going to run this heat source. If it doesn’t reach the desired temperature, then it may activate a less efficient heat source as a backup. So then you can address your priorities, my first requirement is I want my pool hot; my second is to do it as efficiently as I can. That may be a heat pump; it may be solar heating; whatever the choice is. It may kick in at a particular time of day because it knows the temperature needs to be reached and it then has the ability to activate your heat source.
I think that integration then becomes the key to gaining the most efficient operational swimming pool from an equipment perspective.
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