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Thread: EcoSmarte

  1. #1
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    EcoSmarte

    Just to be more complete in the discussion with Wendy about EcoSmarte, she did not fully represent what was being done for oxidation when she described the titanium coated with noble metals. If you look at the EcoSmarte website and click on the Science Summary link, they describe what is being done (sort of). It's essentially electrolysis of the water which produces mostly hydrogen and oxygen gases, but probably due to their proprietary coatings of noble metals and use of sufficient voltage, they also say they produce some amounts of hydroxyl radical, atomic oxygen and hydrogen peroxide.

    Their table of Oxidation Reduction Potentials is incorrect in that they list "Sodium Hypochlorite" with a symbol of salt (NaCl) and give it an ORP which it does not have. I think they meant hypochlorite or OCl- since the ORP is roughly close to that. But then they say that each EcoSmarte oxidizer (in bold) has a higher ORP than sodium hypochlorite and that is very misleading because some of the ORPs listed are for standard conditions (1 Molar concentrations) and not for the conditions (including pH) of the pool. There really isn't a separate hypochlorite and hypochlorous acid ORP -- they have a single ORP since they are in equilibrium and the ORP is higher than that of oxygen. Interestingly, the oxygen ORP they list is closer to the theoretical number in pool conditions, but this is still a theoretical number. Actual ORP sensors tend to measure dissolved oxygen ORP at around 300-400 mV while chlorine, even with CYA, is around 650 mV.

    Anyway, the main problem is that there is no indication that the much more powerful oxidizers are produced in any significant quantities except for their claim that "20-80 grams per minute of oxygen radicals are created from the water". All they claim they have demonstrated is that dissolved oxygen measures an increase to which I say DUH! Oxygen is clearly produced through electrolysis, but water is already saturated with oxygen due to its equilibrium with the air so adding more isn't going to do any good except to cause oxygen bubbles to percolate through the water (as well as hydrogen gas bubbles at the other electrode) and may lead to a SMALL amount of super-saturation as dissolved oxygen (DO). Anyway, back to the 20-80 grams per minute claim for oxygen radicals. Let's assume that they are talking about atomic oxygen with roughly 16 g/mole molecular weight. That's 1.25 - 5 moles of atomic oxygen per minute. That's 96485 Amp-sec/mole * 1.25 moles = 120,606 Amp-seconds minimum or over one minute (remember they said "grams per minute") that's 2010 Amps. That's not very low current, now is it! The electrolysis at around 2 amps would produce milligrams per minute, but most of that would be oxygen gas. So who knows what the REAL number is for the amount of oxygen radicals being produced.

    waterbear (Evan) talked about this earlier, but their claim about EcoSmarte electronic oxidation keeping calcium carbonate from precipitating by keeping it in the soft bicarbonate form is ridiculous. It's completely dependent on pH, TA, CH and temperature. They say they have a successful history up to a pH of 8.3 and CH of 442 ppm -- well, sure, if you have the TA be low enough then you can ensure no scaling will occur. At a TA of 50 ppm, the saturation index with their pH of 8.3 and CH of 442 is +0.6 which is high, but probably not quite high enough to show scaling. At a TA of 100 ppm (CYA of 30 ppm), it would be +0.95 so would likely start to show scaling. There's nothing about the EcoSmarte system that changes that. At a pH of 7.5 they should be able to handle a CH of 2000 ppm or more before scaling becomes a serious problem (saturation index of +0.6 with TA of 100). And maybe when they talk about their successful history up to a pH of 8.3, they are referring to initial water, not the pH they normally target which is close to 7.0 and of course would not show scaling even with rather extreme TA and CH.

    They say "Calcium is managed in bicarbonate form CA(H(CO³)² to 155°F under methods testing approved by ETL/EPA Labs and developed by Ecosmarte® in 1995. Alkalinity of the water is also primarily bicarbonate, reducing corrosion tendencies. These principles are consistent with Langlier theory, though not widely known in the water industry. Most Canadian and European water analysis are now measuring bicarbonates." Well, we already talked about the saturation index so principles consistent with that index would be, perhaps, controlling pH, TA, CH and temperature?

    They use copper ionization most likely for algae control. They say "No constant introduction of copper occurs and the residual sanitizer in the pool is recognized by the National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency." Well that's interesting isn't it. Where does the "residual sanitizer" come from. They can't claim that copper is that sanitizer -- a pesticide, yes, a sanitizer suitable for killing bacteria quickly, no. But I found on other sites of theirs that in fact they do claim that the residual copper is the sanitizer.

    They then go on to list a series of chemical definitions. The copper kill rates table is interesting, but doesn't mention the fact that the kill rate is very slow compared to chlorine. In fact, it isn't much different then using PolyQuat 60 which isn't just an algaecide and a clarifier, but also disinfects, but is slow-acting and works by the same mechanism of blocking ion channels. So using copper to stop bacterial growth and then a strong oxidizer to destroy that bacteria is reasonable in a water system exposed to the copper for a long enough time and for it to get circulated to the oxidizing system, so for preparing drinking water this may be reasonable. But when bathers are constantly introducing bacteria into the water, you want that bacteria killed in the time it leaves as fecal matter until it gets splashed into your mouth (sorry for the graphic description -- I couldn't figure out another way to say it). You can't wait an hour or more. Disinfection with copper alone takes at least 100 times longer than for chlorine alone (and that's with CYA in the water). Most "easy-to-kill" bacteria have 2-log (99% kill) CT values of 0.04 to 0.08 and the disinfecting chlorine amount in pools is around 0.05 ppm so that means a 99% kill in about a minute or so. The 50% kill time for chlorine in pools is around 7 seconds which is far faster than the bacterial reproduction rate of 15-60 minutes. The copper kill rate table shown on the EcoSmarte webpage just indicates that you need that much copper to kill bacteria faster than it can reproduce since most bacteria double in population in 15-60 minutes. So you need enough copper in the water to kill faster than that window of time and that concentration (with some safety factor) is what is listed in the table. Their system keeps from 0.4 to 0.7 ppm of copper ions in the water. So the copper takes around 10 minutes or so to kill half the bacteria before it doubles in population while the chlorine takes around 7 seconds to do the same thing.

    On their "Pool and Spa Systems" web page they say, "The system uses copper ionization, which has a faster and longer kill rate than chlorine or bromine." which is simply not true since copper is NOT a faster kill rate than chlorine or bromine.

    They talk of using CO2 for lowering pH, but they don't mention that this will increase TA merely exacerbating the problem of having the pH rise in the first place! [EDIT] I must correct myself here. Injecting CO2 lowers pH with no change in TA, as it's the exact opposite of outgassing. However, it does add to carbonates so with the lower pH at the same TA it DOES increase the tendency of the pH to rise compared to using acid which would lower both pH AND TA with less resulting tendency for the pH to rise. [END-EDIT]

    It's not that copper doesn't have value, but saying that it can be used without any sort of fast-acting disinfectant is irresponsible, and probably illegal in some jurisdictions (anyone have any info on the requirement of using chlorine with copper ionization systems?). If their system really does oxidize at a fast rate (and clearly their reported numbers are wrong), then you could probably use a lower level of chlorine in the water as a fast-acting sanitizer, but I wouldn't eliminate it completely. Realistically, the risk in a residential pool is low unless you treat it more like a commercial pool by having a large swim party and somebody goes in the water with some fecal-to-oral disease.

    Richard
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  2. #2
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    Wendy, I'd be very interested to read your response to the issues Richard raised regarding your system, in the manner with which he presented them.

    Fact for fact, point for point.

  3. #3
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    I already raised many of these points with her and asked her why she did not respond to me and she flatly stated that she would not debate the merits of her system with a "pro salt pool guy". Here is her direct quote from the thread "To SCG or not to SCG?"

    "As far as being drawn into a discussion with the salt reps or pro-salt pool guys defending the system I represent, no thanks."

    I take that as a blanket admission that she cannot defend the pseudoscience claims and errors on the various ecosmarte websites.

    Caveat Emptor!

  4. #4
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    I think that the ecosmarte system like to play up the phrases, no toxic chemicals, healthy, fast killing etc etc and then it buries the lline... will allow you to use a lower concentration of chlorine. I can see how someone can easly buy into the system with all the catchy phrases and not realize what they are actually buying. When the box says 100% Chlorine free, well sure, the unit is 100% chlorine free, but the fact is that you still have to use chlorine or bromine as a sanitizer.

  5. #5
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    I'm curious what kind of cardboard they use to make the box with the %100 chlorine free label on it.

    Hopefully it's made from a chlorine free paper product!
    Jim

  6. #6
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    Does anyone have one of these systems? And if so, what is your opinion of it? We are looking at one with our future pool, but would like to hear from current users, if there are any.
    -Rachel

    No pool yet...doing massive research!

  7. #7
    Senior Member The Mermaid Queen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by venusflyer
    Does anyone have one of these systems? And if so, what is your opinion of it? We are looking at one with our future pool, but would like to hear from current users, if there are any.
    You probably will not hear much positive feedback here about these alternative mineral-based systems... They add metals to your water under the guise of minerals, which can cause problems; the replacement cartridges (or whatever this system uses) are usually pretty pricey; you still need to keep your other water parameters balanced (pH, TA, Calcium, etc); and you still need to use a source of chlorine to keep your water sanitary.

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  8. #8
    Administrator JasonLion's Avatar
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    I did a fairly through Internet search for reviews/comments on EcoSmarte and only found two people talking about the system who actually owned one, weren't posting on an EcoSmarte owned domain, and weren't a dealer selling EcoSmarte systems. The first guy discovered, after the EcoSmarte was installed, that operating his pool acording to the EcoSmarte directions would void his heater warranty. He gave up on it then and there. The second guy said that he has had one for six years and was happy with it, but that keeping the PH between 6.8 and 7.0 took some effort.
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  9. #9
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    Has anyone besides me noticed that Wendy the ecosmarte rep is very conspicuous in her absence? (Nor has she ever directly answered one of the criticisms about the system she represents but just jumped on the "bash SWGs bandwagon"? Makes you wonder...)

  10. #10
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    My pool's construction was completed in April 2006. We had an Ecosmarte system installed then. All I can say is---RUN, RUN AWAY VERY FAST if someone tries to sell you an Ecosmarte system. We have had nothing but problems with it in the 1.5 years we've had it. Green water, the box quitting unexpectedly, hundreds of dollars in chemicals we weren't "supposed" to have to buy, etc. The icing on the cake was when the so-called owners of the company talked down to me as a woman, and completely blasted the pool company I use, even though that company has spent tens of thousands of dollars with Ecosmarte. Please save yourself a great deal of hassle, heartache, tears, frustration and dollars. I will be having a salt-water generator installed next week. I'm done with Ecosmarte. They do not stand behind their product in any way.

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    Ecosmarte copper systems

    LOL! Some of these posts remind me of political blogs "oh yeah, you neocon/liberal idiot, well let me introduce about 500 FACTS and then YOU have to respond to EVERYTHING I say or you're a FAKE!!!!"

    Seriously, I've had the Ecosmarte for quite a while and am pleased. As one poster noted, you MUST maintain ph within range (lower is better) and must NOT let copper get low. I found it took a bit of attention and consistency - noting what changed after a lot of rain, for instance, but I like that kind of stuff.

    I know a couple in our area who returned their systems (great money-back warranty) and when kindly pressed, they admitted they weren't consistent on testing the water and making adjustments. One even had their pool service do it - so they added nonapproved chemicals (including granular chlorine - a big no-no) so I frankly view it as their own fault. Kind of like a person with a gas car who adds diesel fuel. Oops.

    I called the help line when I was first starting up - the manual could be clearer - but got good answers that worked.

    BTW - I've also found my local pool stores (where I take the water for testing every so often to doublecheck my tests) don't mind the fact they're not selling me a bunch of chemicals anymore. A couple gallons of muriatic acid every so often, plus buying pool floats, brushes, etc (normal pool supplies) and everyone's happy.
    Angie

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  12. #12
    Senior Member SeanB's Avatar
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    Actually, if you look at Chemgeek's post above, it's kind of the opposite. He is not demanding that anyone address 500 facts. He took the many claims from the ecosmarte website and explained them and why they don't stand up. Of course, you or anyone else, can refute his analysis, but you'll need to be able to back up your claims if you want to appear credible. There are many ecosmarte reps who visit sites like this one to pump up their product and abandon the discussion when it turns to scientific fact. Chemistry is a science and pool chemicals should be able to be discussed in a scientific manner - especially by those touting their effectiveness.

    As far as the local pool store, I've got nothing against them. I stop into the local Leslie's now and again for supplies. I prefer them to Home Depot.

    You just have to be an educated consumer and know what you need and why you need it. The best way to do that is to learn at sites like this one and test your own water.
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    Re: Ecosmarte copper systems

    Quote Originally Posted by texanesone
    Seriously, I've had the Ecosmarte for quite a while and am pleased. As one poster noted, you MUST maintain ph within range (lower is better) and must NOT let copper get low. I found it took a bit of attention and consistency - noting what changed after a lot of rain, for instance, but I like that kind of stuff.
    I'm glad the EcoSmarte system is working for you. There is no question that with a decent amount of copper you will prevent algae growth. The same can be said of using PolyQuat 60 algaecide -- both are slow-acting, but in sufficient quantities they will prevent algae from growing. And if the pH is kept low, then the copper will not stain. The low pH, however, will void most heater warranties unless they are specifically designed to operate at lower pH (newer heaters that use titanium or other alloys should fare better).

    Though you can see algae when it blooms, you can't see bacteria, viruses and protozoa in the water. So having the water be crystal clear is a false sense of security. That's not meant to scare -- it's just a fact.

    I said at the end of my post that the risk is low and is more of a concern for commercial/public pools, but anyone using EcoSmarte without at least a little amount of fast-acting sanitizer (chlorine, bromine, Baqua/Biguanide/PHMB) is taking a risk. Bacteria, viruses or protozoa shedding from one body to the same person or to another via the fecal-to-oral route is the risk that is being taken. It's a low risk in a private pool where you limit who goes in, but in a commercial/public pool, one person can infect hundreds.

    The thing that irks me is when companies (or anyone, for that matter) lie or deceive. That's why my initial post may have sounded like a rant. I wouldn't mind at all if EcoSmarte just accurately described their system, both it's pros and cons.

    Richard
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  14. #14
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    SeanB

    Actually, I wasn't very clear - I was referring to some of the comments I saw in the hypertext links. What was here was mild by comparison !

    Chemgeek - thx for the reasonable response. I didn't mean to come across as strident, either. My understanding from their literature was that their process controls the bacteria - they had testimonials from some pretty large commercial pools who I'd think were doing regular health hazard testing. I think I may write to them and ask them if they need add any additional chemicals. The 60-day moneyback guarantee was what frankly nudged me over the edge on buying. But based upon what you've said I will take a sample into my local water authority for testing. If it comes up short (my grandkids swim in this pool) I promise you I'll be back with a rant like you've never seen.
    Angie

    18'x52" above ground pool appr 6800 gallons
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  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by texanesone
    But based upon what you've said I will take a sample into my local water authority for testing. If it comes up short (my grandkids swim in this pool) I promise you I'll be back with a rant like you've never seen.
    Here is some information you will probably want to read. In 2004, the Australian government cracked down on metal pool sanitizers and their bacteriostatic claims. Here's a quote:

    The metal ion based products against which the APVMA took action were not registered with the APVMA and had not been assessed according to scientific standards for safety or efficacy. The APVMA did not have reliable evidence that these products worked effectively to protect the health of pool users. Importantly, the APVMA had scientific information that called the efficacy of these products into question. This raised serious concern about these products because microorganisms transmitted to bathers through pool water can be very dangerous and even deadly
    Authoritative expert bodies worldwide agree that silver and copper ion based systems have not been shown to be adequately effective in controlling human pathogens of concern in a swimming or spa pool environment
    Published papers in the scientific literature indicate that silver and copper ions require lengthy periods of time (usually in the range of several hours) to exhibit significant anti-bacterial activity. In addition to being slow, the antibacterial activity does not kill all cells but may have only a bacteriostatic effect on a portion of the population.

    Virucidal activity also appears to be variable or not present for some viral types. Copper and silver ions in the presence of reduced levels of free chlorine (below 1 ppm) do not ensure the total elimination of viral pathogens from water. Two published studies from the 1990’s cited below describe some crucial findings

    Note that it says that not only did the government not have any "reliable evidence that these products worked effectively to protect the health of pool users", that it also "had scientific information that called the efficacy of these products into question". In other words, the manufacturers have provided no evidence that they work, and that in fact the Aussie government had evidence that they didn't.

    Here's the link to the whole page: http://www.apvma.gov.au/qa/poolspa_FAQ_May2005.shtml#_2

    In my opinion, the health of anyone swimming in a pool where metal ion systems are being used without a sufficient chlorine level is at risk. The further you read into the report, the more ****ing it gets.
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  16. #16
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    This link is one of many water bacteriological assay kits you can get also shown and priced at this link. Coliform bacteria are the ones to be most concerned about and should be at zero. Total or Non-Coliform should have plate counts of < 500. You'll want to do the testing soon after people have been swimming in the water.

    Richard
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  17. #17
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    Is this the EcoSmarte Wendy that was being discussed?

    http://www.ecosmarteblog.com/2007/08/ar ... rine.shtml

    Here are excerpts from her blog entry from August 5, 2007 titled Arrrrgh - Chlorine!!!

    Well, I'm in a mood this morning. Okay, I know we purveyors of non-chlorine and non-salt (chlorine) pools are in the minority and the toxic chlorine pool peddlers are still in the majority. The tide is turning, but not fast enough for me. I also understand that since I represent a company that manufactures chlorine-free and salt-free pool and spa systems, that salt pool and chlorine pool salespeople might be prone to attacking the validity of this technology. So they can sell people more toxic chemicals. So - I took a look in their bag of secrets (that are not so secret now that the internet is in existence).
    Yikes, are you guys here at TFP part of the "toxic chlorine pool peddlers" that Wendy is referring to? Shame on you!

    Wait, there more!


    Washington Post article "Being in the Pool Is Just Plain Irritating"
    The Ledger online from Florida "Asthma Risk Higher For Infants Who Swim Indoors"
    The Independent online from Ohio "Swimmer's Cough"
    The Herald from South Carolina "Fumes affect 20 children at kiddie pool in Myrtle Beach"
    Daiji World from the West Coast of India "Love to Swim? Beware of the Water!"
    Last but best - this site is so comprehensive and informative about the dangers of chlorine pools: "Chorine Toxicity - A Matter That Should be of Concern to All Swimmers, Coaches and Parents"

    Now, I gotta tell you - that was SO easy to research. And this information is just the tip of the iceberg. Try doing a search with "chlorine cancer" - that's scary. Or try "chlorine miscarriages" - that's very sad. Again, try "chlorine heart disease" - very scary. Chlorine by-products are absorbed through your skin, so don't think that since you are not drinking it - you're safe. Please don't continue to jump into that pool filled with toxins, or drink unfiltered water. Technology already exists that can help you eliminate chlorine by-products from your pool or spa, and from your drinking water, too. ECOsmarte.
    Well, that seemed to be a well-researched blog. I think I am going to abandon my BBB routine and go install an EcoSmarte system tomorrow.

    Titanium
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  18. #18
    Administrator JasonLion's Avatar
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    Chlorine is not completely safe. However, all of the alternatives are much more dangerous than chlorine. What they are saying is kind of like pointing out a couple of plane crashes and saying you should never fly, when flying is actually the safest way to travel.
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  19. #19
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    I'm sure Titanium is being facetious.

    What's also really irritating (pun intended) is that all of the problems of asthma, respiratory problems, and occular problems are associated with indoor pool use (not with the use of outdoor pools) and I believe that it isn't just the lack of sunlight and poor air circulation that are to blame. I believe that the lack of CYA has many such pools overdose disinfecting chlorine and one of the side effects is a greater production of disinfection by-products including nitrogen trichloride that is implicated in many such respiratory and occular problems. I have yet to see this proved in a field study, but I'm seeing if that can be checked out.

    My wife had breast cancer a few years ago so I've been very sensitive to using the safest approach for our swimming pool and believe that a properly maintained chlorine pool, especially outdoors, is the most effective. It balances sanitation against minimal chemical exposure. If one is concerned about chlorine exposure, then the greatest such exposure occurs in showers for water that is still using chlorine for chlorination (our area now uses monochloramine which is less reactive), but it's still a relatively low exposure (one can buy a activated carbon filter for the showerhead that will eliminate this issue, though we have not done so ourselves).

    Richard
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    12 Fafco solar panels; Purex Triton PowerMax 250 natural gas heater (200,000 BTU/hr output); automatic electric pool safety cover; 4-wheel pressure-side "The Pool Cleaner"

  20. #20
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    chem geek,

    You are correct - I was just joking around with my last post.

    I had never really been exposed to EcoSmarte before, so I am somewhat shocked (pun intended) at what these guys are claiming, how they are claiming it, and even worse, that they seem to be getting away with it.

    I fear for the safety of those using EcoSmarte systems. Copper makes for an acceptable algaecide, but is unacceptable as a bactericide.

    http://www.chem1.com/CQ/gallery.html (scroll down until you get to "EcoSmarte")

    http://www.chem1.com/CQ/aquacrack.html#ECOS

    Thread from GardenWeb on EcoSmarte. Some great replies from repair_guy, kurtv and racket. http://ths.gardenweb.com/forums/load/po ... 20111.html

    EcoSmarte owners manual http://www.ecosmarte.com/man/pool/Pool_ ... t_2007.pdf

    Some interesting tidbits from the EcoSmarte owners manual.

    In Australia and Canada, your Goverment requires a .5 ppm free chlorine residual with the ECOsmarte copper ionization. This level must not exceed 1.0 with ECOsmarte. NO CYANIDE (Conditioner, Stabilizer) is to be used with the ECOsmarte Pool System. All other residential pools are to avoid the use of Chlorine.
    Why is the US lagging behind Australia and Canada with this junk water science?

    DO NOT LET YOUR CHLORINE LEVEL fall to ZERO prior to install.
    1-800-ION-SWIM:
    FREE five minute orientation available & encouraged with new users.
    Wow!! A whole five minutes. And FREE to boot.

    Cartridge Filters: NOT COMPATIBLE
    They don't receive a regular soak in chlorine and form molds and biofilms and are not compatible with the ECOsmarte system, when total gallons of water exceed 1,000. They are used on spas only.
    Titanium
    24,000 gallon inground freeform pool/spa circa 1983 (113 ft perimeter, 625 sq ft) with 350 gallon attached spill-over spa
    2007 2 HP, three-phase Hayward TriStar pump which is powered by an Ikeric VS-200 variable speed drive system
    1983 Laars XE Pool/Spa Heater Type ES 400,000 BTU, 1998 Hayward Super Star-Clear C-4000 cartridge filter (400 sq ft, 4 separate cartridges)
    1998 Polaris 380 pressure-side cleaner w/ 3/4 HP booster pump
    One skimmer :( and one PoolSkim :), One Supervision Galaxy LED pool lamp, Second story solar panels
    Hayward/GoldLine AquaLogic PS4 (replaced 1983 vintage dual circuit Intermatic timer)

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