America’s growing love affair with the
environment and wireless technology has transformed the
market for pool sanitizing equipment.
Responding to consumer demand, manufacturers are
producing more earth-friendly products requiring less
energy and fewer chemicals.
“The biggest trend with consumers is their
demand to work less and use fewer chemicals while still
maintaining clean, clear swimming pools,” says
Lynn Nord, marketing manager at King Technology Inc. in
“Simplicity is becoming a huge driver for
consumers as our lives become more and more technologically
complicated,” she adds. “The easier the
product is and the more
intuitive, the greater comfort level consumers will
Here, we explore how manufacturers are reacting to
growing consumer needs, and how innovation is
revolutionizing the world of sanitizing equipment.
A decade ago, ozone generators relied on ultraviolet
ozone. But UV ozone has its limitations: The
bulb’s output, for one, tends to diminish over
Today, corona discharge creates three to four times more
ozone than its predecessor. The technology uses less energy
than ultraviolet, which is a major breakthrough for
residential pools, says Dennis Lavelle, president of DEL
Ozone in San Luis Obispo, Calif.
Increased ozone also means less chlorine is needed for
residential pools. The change corresponds with the global
shift toward using fewer chemicals, according to
But public demand for chemical-free pools is taking a
toll on other products. As a result, equipment such as
chemical feeders soon could become obsolete, Nord says.
Today, King Technology only offers a single product
within the chemical feeder category. Instead, its customers
prefer a system that uses mineral technology to cut
chlorine use in half, Nord says.
“Consumers are looking for greater ease and
green alternatives, which [our] chemical feeders
can’t offer,” she notes.
“Alternative products … are taking over
the market, especially with new pools.”
Other firms have cut back their reliance on energy. For
example, chemical feeders sold through Chemilizer Products
Inc. do not use electricity. While traditional cleaning
methods utilize chlorine compounds or saltwater chlorine
generators, Chemilizer’s feeder injects liquid
chlorine into circulating water, says Gary Ardrey,
marketing director at the Largo, Fla.-based company.
The injectors do not release emissions or heat into the
atmosphere. And they’re designed to produce less
chemical waste than other systems, Ardrey says.
“Consumers are used to using electric-powered
equipment for pools,” he says. “Our
approach is a nonelectric water power ejector.
We’re very green because we’re not
Recent advances in technology have jolted the steady
world of sanitizing equipment.
Pool owners now have greater control through wireless
communications and personal central command posts.
“Chemistry is chemistry,” says Dave
Button, national sales manager at Chemtrol.
“It’s technology that’s driving
The Santa Barbara, Calif.-based manufacturer reports
strong sales of remote-access software programs for its
pH/ORP controllers. Pool owners can manage the equipment
from afar by dialing into their controllers through
laptops. It’s proven particularly useful for
frequent travelers, Button says.
CAT Controllers, meanwhile, has begun marketing a pH/ORP
controller that monitors pool data remotely. The system
transmits alarm notices to homeowners and service
technicians when it senses trouble with water
“Think of it as your home alarm
system,” says Culin Tate, vice president of the
Gaithersburg, Md.-based manufacturer. “It reaches
out and notifies the authorities.”
Elsewhere, manufacturers are streamlining equipment by
bundling multiple products.
With patents to merge ozone and salt-chlorine
generators, Prozone Water Products Inc. has introduced a
full line of combination systems. Compact and with
straightforward controls, they require less salt and use
less energy than traditional salt systems.
The combination salt chlorinator and ozonator systems
are among the company’s strongest sellers.
“[Those] systems are inherently user-friendly,
which is self-compensating, and requires much simpler
electronics that are easy to maintain,” says
Cherie Brook, president of the Huntsville, Ala.-based
Many of today’s pool owners prefer sanitizing
systems that do the work for them.
This trend, along with rising chlorine costs, has driven
a strong and steady demand for salt-chlorine generators
over the past five years, says Sean Assam, commercial
product sales manager for AquaCal AutoPilot Inc., St.
“Homeowners are realizing the convenience of
salt-chlorine systems as well as the ability to help them
maintain their pools better than they could
themselves,” Assam says.
As a result, salt-chlorine generators are fast becoming
standard equipment for new pools, as opposed to an add-on
for existing vessels.
Again, customers are driving the demand, says Jim
Eisenbeis, vice president of marketing at Fox Pool Corp. in
“When the consumers start asking for it, the
dealers start providing it,” Eisenbeis says.
And sales have surged.
At least 60 percent of new residential pools now have
salt-chlorine generators, compared to approximately 1
percent a decade ago, manufacturers report.
Competition is equally strong for ionization systems,
says Randy Hannum, marketing and operations director for
Pioneer H2O Technologies.
However, the Denver manufacturer does not see the same
rivalry with the saltwater generators it builds for spas.
It’s still a young market for the product, Hannum
says, adding that he’s unsure when interest might
“We don’t have much competition for
our product,” Hannum says. “And in the
back of our minds, we wonder why.”
With automation the name of the game, sales of
computerized pH/ORP controllers have spiked as well.
Manufacturers report a 40 percent jump in sales over the
Ozonators, meanwhile, tend to sell better in conjunction
with salt-chlorine generators. Still, manufacturers say the
product needs more time on the market to catch on with
The new generation of pH/ORP controllers is making a
splash with residential pools. Automating chemistry allows
homeowners greater independence from builders. And it gives
builders a break on the closely watched break-in period for
In the past, builders frequently returned to their pools
within the first 60 days of
operation to help maintain healthy pH levels and prevent
damage to new systems. That maintenance costs time and
Builders now know there’s a device that
monitors pH levels, Tate says.
“It’s probably the hottest market
right now,” he notes. “It’s been
addressed as an elegant way of sanitizing the pool for
Several manufacturers say the key is to simplify
installation and operation of sanitizing equipment.
That’s the goal at Lakewood, N.J.-based SmartPool,
particularly on its saltwater chlorine generators. Cutting
prices helps as well, says Stephen Shullman, director of
“There was this mystique surrounding the
saltwater chlorine generators for years that seemed
complicated,” Shullman says. “People
didn’t know how they worked. They were a little
more expensive. They weren’t designed for the
The approach has taken hold at Zodiac Pool Care Inc.,
where the company has developed a combination system of
salt chlorination and other technologies that cleans pools
automatically. Selling points include decreased reliance on
chlorine and a long-life rechargeable battery.
It’s also designed to provide longer cell life
through reduced chlorination output, says Buzz Robinson,
national technical training manager at Zodiac Pool Care of
Pompano Beach, Fla.
Though ease of use is always a goal, some products, such
as pH/ORP controllers, do
require extra care and maintenance.
These products rely on high-tech probes that need
regular cleaning — a challenge to broader market
acceptance, says David MacCallum, product manager, lights
and automation, at Pentair Water Pool and Spa, based in
Along with sweeping modernization of sanitizing
equipment comes caution from pool builders. Some hesitate
to adopt often pricey new products, especially in
today’s uncertain housing market.
Still, some manufacturers argue that producing sleeker,
cleaner products is exactly what’s needed in an
“In any economic downturn, the brightest
companies fight it and thrive,” Tate says.
“There are all kinds of new technologies that
allow you to build a better pool and a more diverse