Greening of pool cleaners?

Here in lies the dilemma what about all the cleaners that use booster pumps. Yeah they work great at cleaning but consume to much energy in the process. After all they require both pumps to be operational to function. Could the trend toward more energy efficient pools mean the begining of the end for these types of cleaners? Units that run on the pools filter pump obviously would be more efficient use of energy, but then frequently pool builders tend to use larger than required pumps that will need to be downsized as the green initiative builds. Will the robotic cleaners win the day and rule the industry considering they have their own pump and filter. They can actually help to reduce electrical and chemical consumption. What do you think?

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  • We have had incredible results with the Pentair VF series pumps. We currently have about 40 in the field, and are still fine tuning our systems to maximize efficiency. As for the robotic cleaners, my biggest complaint has been that they are quite tempermantal, and not very reliable. We have one client that insists on a spotless pool. He runs the robotic cleaner 3 x's a day for 2 hrs. each time. The sweep needs rebuilding about every 9 month (at a cost of $600 each time!!). We have just begun to test the Pool Cleaner in our pools, and my initial impression is very positive. We actually plumb our cleaner lines with minimum of 2", and even 2 1/2" if we have a long run. We bush down to 1 1/2" right at the 90 where we penetrate the shell. We also use a minimum of 3" on the suction side of our systems, and 2 1/2" on our return side. The latest project we fired up in April, was actually flowing 45 gpm at 250w. through a 100 sf DE filter. We actually have dialed the flow down to 25 gpm for a 20hr./ day run time, and the pool is crystal clear, SILENT, and using 123w.! When this particular pool is in cleaning mode it is only running around 175w. (and still SILENT). We put actuators on all of our pool sweeps, suction or return. I agree that there is no need to run a booster pump these days. The new variable speed pumps are plenty capable of pushing enough water to run the proper return side cleaner (Polaris 360, Pool Cleaner 4 wheel, Pentair Legend2).
    Not only are we greatly reducing our energy consumption (We are in SoCal and pay upwards of $.45/ kWhr.), but we are also creating a much more pieceful backyard environment, by reducing the noise generated by pool pumps. People love the sound of gently running water, but when you have to run the waterfall at 80gpm to overcome the DRONE of the pool pump, it sort of defeats the effect.
  • Removing the surface debris before they reach the bottom of the pool has many GREEN benefits.

    I am the distributor for the PooSkim. Using the PoolSkim is an effective way to remove floating debris, improve circulation and it will also reduce the pump's work load. It is connected to the return not the suction side, creating a venturi that draws debris to it, which is then collected into a clip-on bag. The venturi effect will even work on a pump's lower speed. Sometimes other returns are block off and that will increase enough necessary pressure to create the venturi.
  • Hi Rex,

    Great info, adjusting the TDH is something new for me.
    I'm looking forward to the release of the other Groups.
    I need to contact you on your private email to ask a question,

    Thank you, John
  • Rex Richard said:
    John,

    You are definitely on the right track. Believe it or not, there is still some more energy to squeeze out of your system. My partner, Ray Cronise, operated the most advanced test facility for pool pumps on earth and discovered some interesting data.

    Under the precise TDH settings, using the Pentair Variable flow pump, with the pump set to 44 gpm, he was able to reduce wattage consumption to 240W. This required a high flow design, (large pipe size), but increasing the TDH on the system via an artificial restriction point.

    The science goes like this, the higher the TDH on the system, the lower the power consumption. The challenge is finding the "critical" TDH as too much and the flow can not be achieved, too little and excess energy is consumed.

    Since the Pentair is not a variable speed, but instead a variable flow, (flow constant and various TDH settings), the orifice on the return side can be restricted to a point creating the highest possible restriction for a given flow. This in turn provides the lowest energy consumption. A LOT lower.

    By using an automatic valve with preset cam settings dialed in to create the specific predetermined restriction during the "low flow" cycle, the least energy is consumed. The restriction is "relieved" for spa or cleaner operation during a brief period.

    This test was replicated with several different pumps to remove the possibility of some "freak" performance glitch. The performance was monitored by the most sensitive instruments ever used in testing pool equipment. (Ray's background as a NASA scientist gives him access to some pretty cool stuff). Pentair used this same facility to test much of their pump and filter equipment.

    As it stands the future "ultra efficient" pool may be a Variable flow pump, an automatic "variable TDH" valve, and a booster-less pressure side cleaner running for the least possible time to provide a clean pool. (time will vary on pool size and design)

    More study is being done now to verify the best possible cleaning system design based upon energy consumption criterion. Parts of these studies can be found on the "Clean and Green" videos Ray and I produced from our joint seminar at the Pool Spa Expo. They are password protected for now, but we plan to release them to the entire "Network" next week. Be sure to check them out. (Located in the "Clean and Green" Group and available Saturday, 12-13-08)
  • John,

    You are definitely on the right track. Believe it or not, there is still some more energy to squeeze out of your system. My partner, Ray Cronise, operated the most advanced test facility for pool pumps on earth and discovered some interesting data.

    Under the precise TDH settings, using the Pentair Variable flow pump, with the pump set to 44 gpm, he was able to reduce wattage consumption to 240W. This required a high flow design, (large pipe size), but increasing the TDH on the system via an artificial restriction point.

    The science goes like this, the higher the TDH on the system, the lower the power consumption. The challenge is finding the "critical" TDH as too much and the flow can not be achieved, too little and excess energy is consumed.

    Since the Pentair is not a variable speed, but instead a variable flow, (flow constant and various TDH settings), the orifice on the return side can be restricted to a point creating the highest possible restriction for a given flow. This in turn provides the lowest energy consumption. A LOT lower.

    By using an automatic valve with preset cam settings dialed in to create the specific predetermined restriction during the "low flow" cycle, the least energy is consumed. The restriction is "relieved" for spa or cleaner operation during a brief period.

    This test was replicated with several different pumps to remove the possibility of some "freak" performance glitch. The performance was monitored by the most sensitive instruments ever used in testing pool equipment. (Ray's background as a NASA scientist gives him access to some pretty cool stuff). Pentair used this same facility to test much of their pump and filter equipment.

    As it stands the future "ultra efficient" pool may be a Variable flow pump, an automatic "variable TDH" valve, and a booster-less pressure side cleaner running for the least possible time to provide a clean pool. (time will vary on pool size and design)

    More study is being done now to verify the best possible cleaning system design based upon energy consumption criterion. Parts of these studies can be found on the "Clean and Green" videos Ray and I produced from our joint seminar at the Pool Spa Expo. They are password protected for now, but we plan to release them to the entire "Network" next week. Be sure to check them out. (Located in the "Clean and Green" Group and available Saturday, 12-13-08)
  • I rarely install a booster pump.
    Here in the north bay of San Fransisco we pay .35 a kilowatt hour.
    Running a pump 8 hours a day with a 7.5 amp draw will cost $1750.00 a year or $145.00 per month.
    Add a booster pump at 3 hours for a pool cleaner and that will increase the cost by about $35.00, total $180.00 per month.
    Most people have no idea what thier pool is going to cost them, but there is a solution.
    Since the pump is already running to filter the water, diverting that water to a pressure cleaner is as green as we can get untill the solar power cleaners are developed.
    This what I have done for existing pools to make them more energy effiecent. It works in most pools but not all pools
    First step is to replace the pump with a variable speed pump.
    I like the IKERIC VS200 2HP. There are other pumps available but this is the one I prefer.
    The amp draw needed for circulation is between 1.0 amps to 3.0 amps.
    At 450 watts the flow rate is 35gpm. This is the same with IKERIC or Pentair.
    The cleaner I use needs 15gpm. It requires a 1.5" return line. 1" will work but it's tricky.
    The flow rate will depend on your filter and plumbing size.
    If possible I replace the filter with a Glass Media Filter no smaller than 600lbs.
    This is a sand filter with a recycled glass as the media.
    The filter works as well as DE without the mess and the flow rates are better.
    If the amp draw is 3.0 for 8 hours a day the monthly charge should be less than $60.00.
    Saving are $120.00 a month.
    The pumps pay for themselves in 18 to 24 months depending on what size pump you are replacing.
    At 1.0 amp the charge is less than $20.00 per month.
    The flow rates are enough for filtering but will not be enough to fire a heater.
    I tie the fireman'ss switch to the VS200, when there is a call for heat the VS200 increases it's speed to the proper flow rate to fire the heater, over 40gpm. I install flow meters to be sure I have the proper flow rates.
    The next step is the pool cleaner.
    Years ago Jacuzzi sold a suction side cleaner called the Tracker. Jacuzzi sold to Cantar, but that did not include the Tracker. The manufacture retained the cleaner which is now called The Pool Cleaner. Today there are 2 suction cleaners and 1 pressure cleaner. I use the pressure cleaner as much as possible and only the suction in a pool if nothing else will work. The pool cleaner needs only 15gpm to operate. Because of the low flow rate I have 3 options.
    1, I can install a tee for the pool cleaner and set the pump to run at a high enough speed to maintain 15gpm in pool cleaner return line. The IKERIC will turn on twice a day for 4 hours, the first 90 minutes will be in high speed for the pool cleaner. This is the least energy effeceint but still better than a conventional set up.
    2. A jandy valve can be install to force more water to the pool cleaner. This would require less energy to maintain the 15gpm needed for the pool cleaner. This method is a little better.
    3. Install a valve acutuator and program the valve to run the pool cleaner. This is the best method. The speed of the pump may not have to be increased at all to maintain the 15gpm.
    The cleaner should only run 3 hours a day any longer and it will shorten the life span of the cleaner.
    If a solar system is used a simple flow switch is all that is needed to increase the flow rate for the solar as needed.
    The very first IKERIC I installed was a single speed using 2.9 amp, (they are no longer available). The pump I removed was a 2HP. After 1 month the home owner told me his bill had dropped by $200.00. He was actually mad. He said I could have saved him $25,000 if I had told him about the pump ten years ago!
    The last VS200 I installed was on a 24,000 gallon Koi pond. The home owners bill was over $400.00 per month. The first month with the VS200 her bill was $119.00
    I have a client with a brand new pool. He complained about his electrical cost.
    I did the analysis of his pump 1.5 HP and booster pump 3/4 HP. I then showed him how much he could save by replacing both brand new pumps with the VS200 and remove the brand new Polaris 280 and replace it with the Pool Cleaner.
    He said it was a no brainer. We did the job and he is happier now.
    You will reduce the eletrical cost using this method.
    While robtic cleaners work well they still use more electricty then needed unless your turn your filter pump off during the time the robot is on. We have salt systems, Ozone systems and chlorinators, all require at least 8 hour run times to properly do their job, so I can't agree that robots are the greenest.
    I think the greenest pool cleaner is proper water flow and return placement.
    If a floor system is set up correctlly you will never need a pool cleaner.
  • Manufacturers and Distributers out there I hope you're paying attention. I've been ramming my head against the higher horsepower for years. We realy need to see a return to 1/2 & 3/4 hp pumps for aboveground pools, a 3/4 hp system is a special order from distribution - and you're still trying to push all that water through a 3/4" return.
    • Lets face the reality of it all, higher water pressure reducing the ability to clean the water lower pressure is more effective. Notice the comment here is regarding pressure not volume. There is an issue not just with horsepower but also head pressure. As builders you need to reduce the total head of the plumbing on site. As manufacturers you need to improve flow dynamics to reduce head. As pool sales people we need to educate our customer on optimal performance vs cost benefit in addition to intermittent vs continuous run times and the effect on chemistry and cleaning demands. As far as returns are concerned nothing is stopping you from adding more. Just remember all pumps need a little resistance on the discharge side in order to function properly.
  • There is no question you are correct in the fact robotic is currently the best choice for the "GREEN" movement. As robotic cleaners run they filter and circulate the pool as well as filtering, in some cases, as fine as a D.E. filter. When using the robotic cleaner the main circulation/filtration system does not need to be in operation. My personal opinion is that we have yet to see the true "GREEN" cleaner. As solar technology improves you will see a solar version of just about anything that currently uses electricity. Currently there is a solar powered cleaner available (or soon to be) but the question is reliability. If following the home improvement industry is any indication there will be more choices sooner than later or our industry will suffer the wrath of the self sustainable consumer. As an industry, I feel we have yet to put the effort needed in reaching self sustainability in our watershapes. With more and more public pools closing due to lack of funds and customers walking into our stores complaining of the high cost of ownership and upkeep, you would think, as an industry, we would already have put our heads together and found immediate solutions as well as future ideas to beat the other industries that we compete with for our customers money. The end result is we need more "GREEN" products and solutions quick for our industry to thrive and prosper.
    • Great comment Justin! I am in favor of using small filter/circulation pumps in the range of 1/3-1/2 hp depending on the pool volume that run 24hr/day which we all know provides the best water quality. For water features have additional pumps which only run as needed. Buy going with the smaller motor you can get maximum performance rather than using a two speed which is not very effecient at low speed. In addition the smaller motor is more easily powered by solar due to the lower energy requirements. Of course there is always the new generation of varible speed motors however I have reservations to how effecient they are at the lower speeds when compared to the smaller hp motors.
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