Hayward sees big potential in pHin, the “Smart Water” monitoring device.

The pool equipment manufacturer announced it has acquired ConnectedYard, the Silicon Valley start-up that invented the product that promises to simplify pool care.

The pHin Smart Water Care solution floats in a pool, continually monitoring chemical levels, and alerts homeowners via app when to add certain chemicals. To bring the water back into balance, homeowners need only drop in color-coded, single-dose pods. The product also provides an optional subscription service that delivers chemicals to people’s doorsteps.

Hayward believes pHin complements its line of pumps and heaters that can be controlled with a smartphone.

“We see tremendous opportunity for both the stand-alone Smart Water monitor in addition to potential integration with other products as part of Hayward’s broader IoT strategy,” said Hayward CEO Clark Hale, referring to the Internet of Things.

ConnectedYard founders Justin Miller and Mark Janes will continue to operate pHin as a separate entity under Hayward. “The ConnectedYard team have built a lot of brand equity in the pHin brand and, as such, we plan to keep it,” Hale said.

Miller and Janes introduced pHin to the market in 2016 after securing $7 million in funds by investors such as Lonza, makers of POOLIFE, Leisure Time and HTH. That partnership made pHin available to Lonza dealers nationwide. Hayward’s acquisition will not impact arrangements between pHin and the chemical maker, officials said.

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“Over the next few months, we will be talking to our dealers and channel partners to introduce the product, educate and train on the new technology in preparation for the 2019 season,” Hale said.

Miller and Janes acknowledge that the concept initially didn’t sit well with some retailers and service technicians who felt the device would erode profits. But they say they’ve overcome much of that resistance and have had major buy-in from professionals across the industry.

They claim certain benefits for retailers, namely that the app will direct consumers to locations where they can purchase chemicals. Participating dealers also can gather data on customers’ pools, tracking chemical levels and product inventory.

The pitch to service techs is that they may be able to scale back their weekly maintenance visits because they can keep an eye on water balance from afar and only respond as needed. They also can receive requests through pHin’s service platform, which connects homeowners with vetted technicians. That component of pHin’s business, Pool Service On Demand, could get a boost under Hayward, whose dealers may also like to participate. The program has more than 1,000 technicians nationwide.

“We expect [the acquisition] to actually accelerate what we’ve been doing there,” Miller said.