So what are we doing wrong?

1: Chemical Usage

The approach, which is totally wrong, is to throw a host of chemicals at the problem. This chemical approach delivers a short-term result only to have you heading down to the pool shop a few weeks later and returning home with a boot full of chemicals once again. Chemicals are environmentally unfriendly, expensive, form all sorts of toxic by-products and can make the swimming experience for bathers unpleasant.  

An efficient pool should be using very few chemicals, should be a pleasure to swim in and should definitely be a pain in the butt for the pool owner. Of course, chemical manufacturers and suppliers don’t want you to have a trouble-free, non-chemical reliant pool, they make a profit, LOTS of profit selling chemicals.

If you get the basic fundamentals right in terms of flow rates and filtration, this chemical approach should be a thing of the past. In Europe and most other countries, the accepted approach is the use of the “treatment pyramid as per the below, this is the right approach and as you can see chemical treatment is a very small part of this and is only used for fine-tuning. We will explain later the fundamentals and how this all works.

2: Single Speed Electricity Hungry pumps

The next area of inefficiency is of real concern in a country struggling with power supply. 99% of swimming pools in South Africa use single-speed pumps. Single-speed pumps run at one speed and use a constant power supply which equates to power wastage of over 80%, yes 80%. It’s like driving your car on a long trip in first gear at extremely high revs and burning through fuel unnecessarily.

Let’s put it nice and simple in pool terms: The highest flow rate required in a pool filtration system is during a backwash cycle which lasts around five–ten minutes once per week. The basic principle of a backwash is to have sufficient water flow to lift the filter media bed to displace and “wash out” the sediment that has been filtered out by the filter media. It’s extremely important to have a sufficient flow rate for an effective back wash and for this to be possible an adequately sized pump supplying sufficient water flow is required.

The problem is this: if you have a single-speed pump, the required backwash flow, which is the highest flow requirement, is how the pump needs to be sized. In other words, the pump is sized to allow for the high backwash flow rate which happens for the five–ten minutes once per week, the rest of the time when not in backwash and in normal circulation/filtration cycles this high flow is not required and this just a total waste of energy.

Putting it simply, 99% of the time the high flow is not required and you are wasting huge amounts of power and burning money on electricity that’s not required……that’s absolutely crazy and hugely environmentally unfriendly considering we burn fossil fuels to make electricity that’s being wasted.  With a variable speed pump AKA an inverter pump like the InverPro pump you can easily set different flow rates and the pump motor automatically slows down for lower flow requirements and speeds up when higher flows are required ie the backwash cycle. This results in massive power savings of more than 80%…..yes 80%, that’s huge. Let’s put this into a working example to make it clear.

A standard 30 000lt (30m3) pool should be circulated/turned over at a flow rate in order to turn the volume of the pool over every 3 – 6hrs (the faster the volume is turned over the better but this also means higher flow rates which means bigger filters which we will get to later). For this example let’s work on turning the volume of the pool over every 5hrs. This equates to 30 000 (the volume of the pool) divided by 5 (the turnover rate) i.e.  30000/5 = 6000. This means the pump must circulate water at a rate of 6000lts/hr in order to turn the 30 000lts over in 5hrs. 

Now we know the flow rate required let’s get to the pump as this is where it gets interesting: with a single-speed pump the average size installed on a 30 000ltr pool in SA is a 0.75kw (750watt) pump. Seen as this is a single speed the constant power usage is approximately 750 watts per hour. If the pool circulates for 10hrs per day then the total power usage is 750 watts x 10hr = 7500 watts (7,5kw). With the Aquagem InverPro inverter pump set at a flow of 6000lts/hr (the circulation rate required), the pumps power draw is a mere 100watts (0.1kw), which means for the same 10hr total circulation time the total power usage is 100watt x 10hr = 1Kw. If you are falling off your chair at this point you should be and you are now starting to understand what we mean by inefficient, that’s 1kw compared to 7.5kw, a 6.5kw power saving every single day, more than 80% saving.  

Take it a step further and consider there are an estimated 1 million private pools in South Africa, many bigger than 30 000lts so requiring bigger pumps but let’s keep it simple and apply the above example to them all, if each pool installed an Aquagem Inverpro inverter pump the savings would equate to 1000000 x 6.5kw = 6500000kw/hrs (6.5 Mega Watts)…….wowzers 6.5 Mega Watts of electricity saved each and every day just from installing state of the art energy efficient pool pumps which are readily available.

Are we here at pool efficiency SA the only ones that think this should be mandatory and an initiative that the government should be subsidising?  

Some additional benefits we need to mention: *the InverPro pump is so quiet you won’t hear it, you literally won’t know it’s on, no more humming buzzing sound at all. *You can monitor and control all the functions via your phone on the App. *If you are running your home from solar and battery back up you need all appliances to be as energy efficient as possible, the Iverpro uses very little power putting very little strain on your solar system or battery backup storage. 

3: Filtration Media

Choosing superior quality filter media to install in your pool filter is probably the most important thing you can do for your pool. The standard practice in South Africa is to use silica sand and cheap crushed glass products as the filter media. Using these products is the worst thing you can do for your pool and results in more inefficiencies and problems than we can mention.

There is only one filtration media to use and that is AFM (Activated Filter Media) manufactured by Dryden Aqua in Switzerland. AFM offers so many advantages and results in crystal clear swimming pools and increases overall efficiencies by a massive margin, it’s the most popular filter media all over Europe for a very good reason.

We won’t mention all the benefits and will let you watch this quick AFM video which explains it all very well (click here).

As we are all about efficiencies we need to highlight two major advantages: 1. by replacing the silica sand in your filter with AFM you will see a chlorine usage reduction of around 80% which leads to all sorts of other savings and improvements in pool efficiency. 2. AFM last 15 -20 years without needing replacing, which means no inconvenience or cost of replacing sand in your pool filter for the next 15 years at least.  Just those two benefits coupled with the fact that your pool will be crystal clear and trouble-free make changing to AFM an absolute no-brainer and we can’t understand why every pool owner hasn’t made the change already.

Unfortunately, most pool maintenance companies and shops will never recommend or push a product like AFM, it simply results in a pool that is too efficient and maintenance free which in turn results in a very low chemical and maintenance demand, that’s bad for business for them and certainly not a product they are going to push, oh yes and they don’t get to charge you for filter sand replacements every 3 years.  At this point you are probably thinking how much this magical AFM is going to cost, it generally costs around 5 times the cost of traditional silica sand BUT remember it lasts 15 – 20 years compared to 3 years, leads to huge chemical and water savings and results in a crystal clear efficient pool……is it actually more expensive? absolutely not, it’s significantly less expensive!!

What else do we need to do?

Now that we have discussed the three most important areas to improve efficiencies and give you the cleanest pool on the block, let’s recap on these and add in some other suggestions.

  • Replace your pool pump with the AquaGem InverPro Full Inverter pool pump which is the most efficient pool pump on the market or install the Isaver controller to convert your current pump to a variable-speed pump. These devices pay for themselves and save the planet at the same time.
    Click here to view the Iverpro or Isaver Variable Speed Pool Pump Controller
  • Replace your silica sand or cheap crushed glass with AFM (Activated Filter Media). This will be the best thing you have ever done for your pool, trust us.
    Click here to read more on AFM (Activated Filter Media).
  • KNOW THE FLOW: install a flow meter after your pump so you can clearly see and set the flow rates being delivered by the pump. Fine-tuning the speed of the pump to deliver just the right amount of water for filtration and backwash cycles results in massive power savings and filtration efficiencies. If you install the AquaGem InverPro Pool Pump, this has a built-in electronic flow meter so no need to worry about this.
    The Isaver is an external device to the existing pump so this does not have an integrated flow meter, we recommend installing an external FlowVis flow meter in order to “know the flow”.
    Click here to view the FlowVis Flow Meter
  • Apply a small amount of an environmentally friendly flocculant to improve filtration efficiency even further. We highly recommend the APF product from Dryden Aqua (the same fellows who manufacture the AFM)
    Click here to read more on APF® (All Poly Floc)
  • Apply a high-quality Catalytic Oxidiser and harness the sun’s natural light to form free radicals. This offers numerous benefits. We highly recommend the ACO product from Dryden Aqua (these guys at Dryden just make the best products on the market and are all about environmentally friendly)
    Click here to read more on ACO® Active Catalytic Oxidiser
  • Make sure your pool filter is correctly sized in relation to the size of your pool. An undersized pool filter will not result in a clear pool and will lead to frustration. There are a few basic fundamentals to stick to when sizing a pool filter, which sadly many pool “professionals” don’t use or even know about. *See this easy-to-use read chart which gives you filter sizes and flows in relation to pool size.
    Link to basic chart
  • Run your pool pump for longer periods of time. The longer you can circulate your pool for the better and with an Inverter pump you can do this with very little power consumption. It’s recommended to run your pump at the required turnover rate of 12hrs per day and then slow this right down to a low circulation rate for the remaining 12hrs. Doing this means your pool water is circulating 24hrs a day and moving water is clean, healthy water. With the InverPro pump, you can circulate your pool 24hrs per day for less than 2kw of total power, that’s 3.5 times less than using a fixed speed pump for only 10hrs, and that’s a win-win any way you look at it and remember it’s so quiet you won’t hear it at all.

So how do we solve this?

Now that we have discussed the three most important areas to improve efficiencies and give you the cleanest pool on the block, let’s recap on these and add in some other suggestions.

Our ambition is to educate the South African pool owner about the new technologies, products and good practices available to insure a trouble-free super-efficient pool.  South Africa is light years behind the rest of the world when it comes to these practices and we feel it’s time we catch up. Unfortunately, many pool maintenance professionals don’t want you to know about these products as they are quite simply not good for business Make the investment, and implement the changes we have suggested and you will see guaranteed results and savings.  

No one has time for a problematic pool and we hear far too often the phrase “My pool is such a mission I would rather just fill it in”, this shouldn’t be the case and if you stick to the basic fundamentals and use the correct products you will have a trouble-free, crystal-clear pool requiring very little attention from you and you will very soon fall in love with your pool again.  

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