One of the early discussions we have with our customers about DIY inground pool construction involves the pump, filter, heater and sanitizing equipment.
Our Deluxe and Deluxe Plus Inground Pool Kits both include the very capable Hayward S-244T sand filter and a 1hp Hayward Superpump. This standard set-up is simple to install and maintain, and with a bit of chlorine tablets, it could be all you need for your pool water. And it is - for approximately half of our DIY pool kit customers. The other half are looking for a bit more.
Upgrades to the Pool Pump
Most Americans want horsepower - but remember, bigger is not always better when it comes to pool pumps, not without a bigger filter, and possibly larger pipe diameters.
But, if you would like to reduce your electrical bill we can offer energy efficient pumps and variable speed pumps. An energy efficient pump will save about 15% on your electrical bill and the variable speed pumps can save up to 75%! These are more common upgrades for pool kit pool pumps, especially in regions where electricity is scarce and expensive. Some states, such as Arizona, Florida, Texas and California have laws that only allow dual speed or variable speed pumps. We'll let you know if you are located within one of these states.
If you plan on having any water features such as deck jets or a waterfall you may need an additional booster pump, or for smaller water features, you can use a single High Head pump. Flor plans to install a water feature or a spa/hot tub, the best option may be to install a Variable Speed pump such as the Hayward Eco Star or Pentair Intelliflo.
Upgrades to the Pool Filter
Sand filters are the easiest to maintain and use, and certainly effective, but if you do not want a sand filter you could upgrade to a Cartridge Filter or a Diatomaceous Earth (D.E.) Filter.
The advantage of a cartridge filter is longer filter cycles, or time between cleanings, slightly better filtering ability and water savings. In some parts of the country, cartridge filters are preferred because they use a lot less water during cleaning of the filter. Sized properly, a cartridge filter can go 6 months between cleanings.
D.E. pool filters are the best type of filter in terms of their ability to filter out small particles. Very small - down to 2-3 microns. When your filtering is better, you may be able to run the pump less, or use less sanitizer to keep the water clear. D.E. filters are the most expensive of the 3 filter types, and they also are a bit more complicated to use - but they are the best at keeping your water clear, and in clearing up water problems.
Adding a Pool Heater
Similar to the choices in Pool Filters, there are also 3 different options available for heating your inground swimming pool.
Solar Heating panels. Typically, solar heating panels are mounted on the roof or on a rack. You want to mount the panels in a location where you can get the most sunlight during the course of the day, usually a southern exposure. Solar pool heaters work by pumping your water through black panels where it absorbs the sun's heat. It then returns to the pool through your normal return line. After the initial purchase price of the solar panels there is no other expense, it is essentially free heat. For the best performance, you should have 50% of your pool's square footage in solar panels, although adding just one solar panel will raise the temperature several degrees.
Gas Pool Heaters are available in either natural gas or liquid propane. With a natural gas heater you run a gas line from the meter on the house over to the pool heater. Make sure the gas line is sized correctly or the heater will not work properly. In order to install the correct size gas line, you will need to know the exact distance from the heater to the gas meter. The further the distance, the larger the gas line that is required. If you use propane, a new gas line from the LP tank to the pool heater can be run by your propane provider.
With a gas heater you can heat on demand - and it is definitely quicker to heat your swimming pool with a gas heater than with the other two methods. With a gas heater, bigger is always better; as it will increase the temperature of the water faster. This is important if you are adding a spa next to the pool, or if you plan to heat the pool intermittently; on weekends for example.
Pool Heat Pumps are the third option. A heat pump works like a reverse air conditioning unit. It transfers heat from the outside air to your swimming pool. Warm air is drawn over the evaporator coil by the fan; while your pool water runs through the heat exchanger and absorbs the heat. The cost to purchase an electric heat pump is more expensive for the initial purchase but if you take into consideration on how much it will cost to run the gas line to the pool heater you are almost at the cost of a heat pump.
A pool heat pump can save up to 80% of heating costs, when compared to a gas pool heater. With an electric heat pump you can maintain a constant temperature throughout the entire day. To install a pool heat pump you will need a dedicated 220v electrical line and a 50-60 amp breaker to power it. I have a pool heat pump on my own pool in Massachusetts and for us, it was a better option than a gas heater.
Other equipment upgrades
LED lighting - New generation LED pool lighting allows you to change the pool light to different colors. There are 5 fixed colors and 7 color changing light shows. Your kids and their friends will love the deep colors in the pool.
Chlorinators – Our Deluxe pool kit includes a Hayward Offline Chlorinator which allows you to dispense chlorine into the pool by adding chlorine tablets into the chlorinator.
Salt Systems - Our Deluxe Plus kit includes the Hayward Aqua-rite chlorine generator. This is one of our most popular upgrades. A salt system will make your pool water soft & silky and much more enjoyable to swim in. When using a salt water chlorine generator you will never have anyone complain about burning eyes, skin discomfort, bleached hair or swim suits, or chlorine odor. All without any taste of salt in the pool water.
Robotic pool cleaner - Our Deluxe Plus pool kit includes the Aquabot robotic pool cleaner. This style of pool cleaner is the easiest and best way to clean your pool. Robotic pool cleaners plug into an 110v electrical outlet with a 24v transformer. An advantage of robotic cleaners is that all of the debris goes into a very fine mesh filter bag or cartridge inside the filter, no debris goes through the filter system. There are also no hoses to hook up and you do not have to rely on suction from the skimmer or pressure from the return line. You do not even have to run the pool pump, as it works independently. Pressure side pool cleaners, such as a Polaris are also completely independent, with a booster pump that turns on and off automatically, keeping your pool clean, while leaving you to enjoy your pool time.
Nature2 helps reduce the chlorine level you need to use in your swimming pool by about 50%. Nature 2 has copper; silver and zinc that are released into the pool which helps reduce the chlorine demand. Nature2 makes the water softer, purifies the water clear and controls algae. With Nature2, you can reduce the amount of chlorine in the pool to 0.5 ppm- less than half of what you would normally need. This can make your swimming pool water healthier and more enjoyable to swim in.
Del Ozonator - Ozone is very powerful, and kills pathogens, bacteria and viruses on contact. When using ozone you still need to use a small amount of chlorine .5ppm – 1.0ppm, but like Nature2, Ozone reduces the amount needed by about half. There are 2 different kinds of ozonators - Ultra Violet and Corona Discharge. The most popular kind for pools is the Corona Discharge. This style off ozonator has a chip that produces ozone, and can make 3 times more ozone than the Ultra Violet lamp style, commonly used on spas.
Controller - In this age of convenience, pool owners can operate their equipment from a distance. Controllers act as a time clock for your pump as well as any other piece of equipment or accessory you want to control in your backyard. Some of the loads you can control are: filter pump, booster pump, heater, freeze protection control, automatic cleaners and pool and patio lighting. There are many different types of remotes you can use to control your pool equipment. You can use a wireless controller, wall mounted controller or you can even control everything from and iPad or iPhone.
Eco-friendly Pool Equipment Upgrades
For the pool owner that wants to have a "Green Pool", here is a list of pool equipment that will make your neighbors "green" with envy.
- Cartridge Pool Filters. As mentioned before, cartridge filters save water because they are not backwashed - the cartridges are removed and sprayed clean with a garden hose. They also do not use Diatomaceous Earth, which although organic and natural, can harm aquatic organisms, if pumped directly towards a body of water.
- LED Pool Lights. Old school pool lights are 500 watt R-40 flood lamps. LED pool lights use only a small fraction of that, plus - last 10x longer than R-40 bulbs.
- Salt Chlorinators. You're still using chlorine, but you are reducing the amount produced and shipped around the country when you make your own chlorine.
- Solar Pool Heaters. No emissions, no electricity - just pure "green" heat for your pool.
- Pool Heat Pumps. They use only about 100 watts, and have zero emissions.
- Nature2 / Ozone. Alternative purifiers reduce your need for chlorine tablets.
- Variable Speed Pumps. 75% savings is hundreds of dollars per year.
- Time Clocks or Controllers. You do not need to run the pump 24/7.
Pool kit equipment upgrades - you do not need to have them - but the features and benefits certainly make them desirable. We offer these upgrades to all our DIY inground pool builders, but you'll find no pressure from us at all to add any additional or optional equipment to your inground pool kit. In most cases, you can upgrade down the road if you wish.
This post is also green, having used 80% fewer images! For more information on any of these upgrades, you can reach me and the rest of the guys on our "DIY pool construction support line" - 800-983-7665.
SPP Pool Expert