I have been working on our budget lately and realized that I spent over $15,000 on my pool in two years. Some of that was money well spent, but most of it was not. I overtrusted "expert" pool guys who really didn't know how to analyze cost.
I moved to my current home two years ago and fell in love with the sparkling pool. They had a service at $95/month that took care of everything and most of the equipment was fairly new and top quality. I could have continued that and saved my $$$$. I decided to do it myself. I have an engineering degree, at one point even designing water treatment/wastewater treatment plants. I should be able to get a handle on this myself.
I did, but made a lot of costly mistakes.
The good stuff I did and would keep any day:
-They used pucks and the cya was really high. I realized that pucks would just add cya and didn't want to do the drain because my pool is large and it just seems a hassle. Saltwater pools feel great and the "gadget queen" in me won out. I did fix the chemistry of the pool by installing a swg and letting the cya drop naturally and through winter rain dilution. I am very happy with this, but I should not have gone with the first product from Leslie's. The fittings are only 1.5" and I have since had a bypass installed to avoid restricting flow so much (my pipes are all 2"). I also would have installed a bigger swg that could keep up with the pool in the summer. I have to supplement with liquid chlorine or bleach on hot days when we have heavy usage.
-Kept a great filter and clean it infrequently. I let it work and it works well.
-Learned the Jandy system inside and out
What I wish I hadn't done:
-Solar. I know you won't believe this one, but let me explain. I had 3 guys come and bid on it. One refused to bid because he claimed that it would not be worth it. My pool is too large and the roof I wanted it installed on was too small. I charged ahead with the other bidders, but I should have believed him. He was so right. I could have run the pool for less than 1/2 the time and these days power costs are so high....It also increases the pressure and reduces flow, further increasing run times. I made another huge error by getting dazzled by a solar guy who claimed that if I installed coils on an east-facing roof and mats on a small south-facing roof, I would optimize my system. It turns out that this is too complicated and not optimal at all. Payback on this might never come. I could have run the heater 300 hours/year even if I look at a 5 year payback. That is not even including the costs of the extra maintenance, the roof integrity issues down the line, and the extra wear that the higher pressures subject the rest of the pool equipment to.
-new heater. I though that my heater was breaking down because I noticed black flecks at the return locations. This is probably true, but I could have run it longer and I should have thought of that when looking at the cost of the new heater. The old heater was also the only "old" equipment on my pool when I moved in. It had only 1.5" so it restricted flow and it had a pilot so it wasted gas. But, it worked. As I remember, it heated my spa from ice cold to 104 in 30 minutes. My new one does it in 15 minutes. Big deal. I should have known to install a bypass to address the restriction issues and saved my $$$$. Payback on this might never come.
-Pool "optimization." I should have waited to do this when my pump eventually breaks. I got scared by high energy bills and forgot to think about reducing pump run times to save energy costs. (Of course, if I hadn't installed solar, this wouldn't have been an issue.) My 2 hp Whisperflo was running fine and it could have run for several more years. My Polaris 280 was good for my pool and just needed less than $100 repairs every year. Small price to pay for a reliable system. Yes the new system saves a lot of energy, but it moves a lot less water, even at higher levels. The pool is clean, but on closer inspection is much dirtier at the scum line because of the reduced surface action. It is also much more fiddly with valves that require adjustment when I just want to remove the cleaner. The installer made a major error on their first install. I caught it, they didn't. It was big enough that should have had them put everything back the way it was and demanded a refund. The monetary payback on this will be 2 years, but I will always suspect it because of the errors that were made on the installation....
Now, if I look back with the knowledge I now have under my belt, I would keep my old system with the heater running a few hours a week and definitely add an swg (bigger and better) and add a couple of bypasses to optimize things.
I really hope that this venting of my experiences will help someone. When you consider a change, consider keeping it simple.