Well, after three years, I switched. This was last year (2009).
I got the information from this site, can't recall why I didn't join.
I can tell you this:
28' Pool, aboveground, round.
8' deep end, on the west end of the pool.
We live in the sw part of iowa, so swimming season is basically june to late august, sometimes into september depending on weather.
It is about 32 thousand gallons with the deep end.
We take it 16" below the oulet valve every winter, the rain and snow fill it up for us. (This year, we had to lower it down 5 times to make it the normal level because of the unusual amount of snow and rain. 12 feet of snow, and 32" of rain so far)
20" sand filter
1.5" dual speed waterway pump (unfortunately we have had to replace this year after 5 years because it spent 4 months under snow and I didn't have a chance to take it in for the winter)
So last year, we went to look up our chemicals--specifically Baq. I was reluctant to buy the lot this year, because like all years, no matter what we did, it was over $1500. (We live in the country, so lots of breezes, lots of farmers doing chemicals by air, lots of my darn horses getting loose and deciding the pool looked nice so taking a long drink and slobbering in it, and of course, the occasional raccoon or skunk.
So at that time, we decided to look at chlorine, because we already knew it was cheaper. In searching the internets, we came across your site. So instead of going the chemical way, on pool opening that year, I tested the water, went to Costco, and bought 10 cases of Clorox. (3 per case, $7.67 per case)
Well after that 10 cases that I dutifully dumped in the clorox. It did pretty much exactly what everyone else described and then turned BRILLIANTLY clear. (Except for the leaves at the bottom).
We cleaned out the leaves, and basically dumped 1 bottle of the clorox in a week. Never had to add borax or baking soda because it just wasn't needed according to the test.
So 10 cases to start. (which was basically just the switch)
then about 5 cases to get through the season.
At the end, just to be safe, I dumped in 2 more cases to, I don't know, hold it over when we closed it.
So 17 cases @7.67 came out to about $140.
For the season, and the winter.
So this year....we opened the pool. At the end of last year, we bought a new cover, but didn't bother with the leaf gaurd thing to go over the top. We bought the clips for the cover instead of the cable that came with it.
So this is the result:
The clips are MUCH better then the cable, as long as you pay attention and make sure they stay on. Which I did about once a month. It gets VERY windy out here, and we had quite a few ice storms, so for about two months, there was about 3 feet of snow over the top of the pool. (Through our back yard we had 8-12 foot drifts RIGHT after the leaves fell)
Needless to say, a lot of those leaves got in the pool because we didn't have a chance to reclip after the first snows started.
BUT....and this is the VERY important thing....when we took the cover off....we could see the bottom. YES, there was a massive amount of leaves, but unlike ANY other year with baq, we could actually see the bottom. It wasn't perfectly clear, but it was a **** of a lot clearer then any other year since we bought the pool.
This year, before we even opened the pool, bought 10 cases. Costco has lowered the price her, and they are now $7.07 per case. (I believe they are 2 gallon jugs, but I never have bothered to look.)
After all the storms we have had, we just this last month got the cover off completely and took the solar cover off this last week. We had been just getting leaves off the sides with the solar cover on. In the deep end, there were still plenty of leaves, and around the edges of the deep end. So I dumped in 3 of the 10 cases. It went right to work dissolving a lot.
So having just got the solar cover off in the last week, we can now get the leaves out of the deep end but because of the last two weeks of storms and hot weather, there was ALOT of algae build up. Then I dumped in another 3 cases of bleach.
Then I went to work on it with a leaf vaccuum. As anyone who uses one will tell you, using a leaf vaccuum is great to get leaves, but also lets through a lot of sediment through the mesh. So I vaccuumed the sediment out. the water turned a bit cloudy. And 1 more case of bleach went in.
After 1 day, the cloudiness is gone. The pool is clear. I tested, and the chemicals are perfect, although the chlorine is just slightly high, but it will be fine in a couple days. I have 1 case of clorox left. That will get me till the first week of august, so I figure 4 cases more to do the winter dump as well.
What have I learned?
A LEAF MESH COVER IS REQUIRED, so that I don't have to mess with the leaves as little as possible.
From what I can tell, without it, it would take about 6 cases of bleach for the whole season, including the winter dump.
So this year, about $98 is Costco clorox. Next year, assuming price is the same, and I don't need borax or baking soda (my tests this year say I don't so far), then I figure next year I will need the 6 cases, which is about $42. I like that number.
A convert that will be going from almost $1500 a year, to this year at $100, and next year at $42.
I should mention that my black lab, english springer spaniel, corgi/australian shepherd, 2 daughters, 1 wife, myself, and various family members swim in this pool EVERY day, and have since we put it in to give you an idea of usage. I also spend much time testing (ok playing) with my scuba equipment in it.