ColorQ vs TF100

doncaruana

LifeTime Supporter
Aug 25, 2011
320
Northville, Mi
#1
Well, in my search for results I can rely on, I went ahead and bought a TF100 kit and decided to do a side-by-side with the ColorQ. I'm spending a lot of money on this testing stuff, but it's obviously important. Once I get settled in, I'm good.

Fascinating results and let me share them - all of this taken from the same sample, which was from about a foot below the surface and all the results gathered over maybe 45 minutes, tops.

I ran through the ColorQ first and got this:
FC 2.01
TC 2.20
CC -> .19
pH 7.6
TA 199
CYA 38

I then went over and the FAS-DPD test with the TF100
FC 3.5
CC 0.5
TC 4.0
pH 7.8 (SO tough to read for me!)
TA 140
CYA 40

Wow!

I tried the DPD test then and got
FC 3 (maybe a little under)
TC 3 (maybe a little over)
That seems to back up the FAS-DPD...

So let me try the ColorQ again...
Now I get
FC 1.75
TC 1.93
CC -> .18

What the...?

Okay - let's give the FAS-DPD test another shot...
Identical to the first FAS-DPD results

On a whim, I figure I'll try the ColorQ for pH again - this time I get 7.5.

I also have another pH test (the Leslies one, with the bigger scale) and I got maybe 7.7 on this one.

Wow...

So, what did I find from all this?
The consistency of the TF100 results are reassuring to me. The ColorQ results are, to say the least, frightening! That the chlorine would change reading in that short of the time (I had seen this before but it was after a sample sat closed, out of the sunlight between samples), just makes me thing I'd be better off guessing. The pH was inconsistent (although that fluctuation doesn't bug me as much) and the TA was almost 50% higher!

The irony of all this is that the ColorQ is supposedly known for CYA being the least accurate, yet that was almost spot on with what the TF100 gave me. Even taking into account the tolerances of the ColorQ (per LaMotte, posted below for reference).

My conclusion from all of this, for what it's worth, is that the ColorQ is essentially worthless to me. I'm obviously tremendously disappointed and of course there may yet be some learning curve for me on the TF100 (although I've been taking other taylor measurements via some Leslie's stuff). I had hoped the ColorQ would serve the purpose of it *not* being necessary to squint and tell which color it's closest to. But as long as I can convince myself that the colors are close enough to work to, I think I'm better off putting the ColorQ away and chalking this up to a learning experience. Obviously, your mileage may vary, but anyone else considering the ColorQ, please keep all this in mind.

Don



These are the ColorQ tolerances, per LaMotte. Each value is a 'plus or minus', so if you get 7.5 on your pH, it could be anywhere from 7.3 to 7.7.

pH 0.2
Alk 15
cH 25
CYA 15
Chlorine is graded, with it being less accurate at higher concentrations
from 0-1ppm 0.1
from 1-4ppm 0.2
from 4-6ppm 0.5
from 6+ppm 1.0
 

doncaruana

LifeTime Supporter
Aug 25, 2011
320
Northville, Mi
#3
aasbury said:
The TF-100 tests are accurate and repeatable.
I know that - that's not in dispute or the point. I posted this so that others, who, like me, might wish to avoid trying to match colors or count drops for the sake of convenience, would be aware of what my testing shows are results unreliable enough to cause problems.
 

jblizzle

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
May 19, 2010
41,197
Tucson, AZ
#4
of course pH is the only test you have to color match. And even then if it is more orange than pink or yellow you are good to go.

Posted with Tapatalk ... sorry if I sound short ... hate typing on phone ;)
 

HuskerFan_1

LifeTime Supporter
Apr 15, 2012
45
Nebraska
#5
Don,

I had same results with my color Q. You should be able to search my previous posts with the problems I had matching the pool store results. My color Q seemed accurate on CYA also???? pH and chlorine where fairly close.

Been very pleased with the tf100. Was hoping the color Q would be simple and accurate. LaMotte wanted about the same amount to check out my color Q as what the tf100 cost. That is why I bought the tf100.

Good luck,

Dan
 

ps0303

TFP Expert
In The Industry
Jul 6, 2011
3,956
FL
#6
I routinely use the ColorQ and on more than just one pool. I also periodically take a sample into the local pool store just to see how far off the numbers are and I'm very surprised to see that the numbers are .5 either way.

Of course, everyone's results may vary and the ColorQ might not be for everyone. I would think that in 2012 someone would be able to make a system that reads the results for you instead of you having to determine what the exact shade of color something is.
 

doncaruana

LifeTime Supporter
Aug 25, 2011
320
Northville, Mi
#8
ps0303 said:
I routinely use the ColorQ and on more than just one pool. I also periodically take a sample into the local pool store just to see how far off the numbers are and I'm very surprised to see that the numbers are .5 either way.

Of course, everyone's results may vary and the ColorQ might not be for everyone. I would think that in 2012 someone would be able to make a system that reads the results for you instead of you having to determine what the exact shade of color something is.
Isaac-1 just took the words right out of my mouth. Believe me - I wanted the ColorQ to work in the worst way. But the first thing you have to realize is that the pool store, until proven otherwise, is *not* to be considered an unimpeachable source! There are story after story here of that and I demonstrated it to myself by taking samples to 3 different stores and getting different results from the same water.

I don't think anyone (anywhere) disputes the accuracy of the TF-100. The only gray area would be the color matching for pH. And, after investing $140 on the ColorQ, I was *not* eager to go spend even more money on testing equipment. But the bottom line is you have to have some sort of baseline and work from there. Maybe your ColorQ works great. But for mine, measured against something with a known level of accuracy, it falls short big time. So, back to my original post - be wary of the results from the ColorQ...
 

donaldm823

LifeTime Supporter
May 21, 2007
147
Cape Coral, FL
#9
Today I noted a large drop in pH on my ColorQ and took a sample comparison to two different pool stores. Both stores reported a ph of 7.8 with TA 70 and FC 3.0ppm with my ColorQ reading pH 7.5 and TA 65 and FC 3.7ppm. Since pH changed from 7.6 to 7.5 in one day with no explain and both pool stores reporting a higher pH value I suspected a ColorQ problem.

I found that the test tubes were a lillte cloudy-so cleaned the test tubes with a small test tube brush, changed the batteries, and changed my reagents for the ColorQ to some I bought in MArch 2012 (the prev reagents were new but bought in 2011). Results ended up very close to the pool stores in both pH and TA (new pH was 7.7 and TA 80. The story, my ColorQ is a great test device, but be careful with reagent age and test tube cleanliness. Much easier to use the ColorQ on a recurring fashion and use the TF100 or Taylors on a weekly/semi-monthly check basis

As a side note, I gave up a long time ago using ColroQ for CYA or CH, as I found inaccuracies. I use Taylor testers for those analysis on a weekly basis.
 

duraleigh

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Apr 1, 2007
31,333
Sebring, Florida
#10
On more than one occasion, I considered reselling the ColorQ because I think it is a VERY convenient and appealing tool to manage pool water. I just can't work around the inaccuracies and inconsistencies, though.

Like donaldm823, I had always heard reports of CYA and CH being the weak link. Recently, someone reported CYA as spot on the money but had an issue with pH.....which I seem to remember that most people feel like it is pretty accurate with that.

I could like it a lot better if it would be consistently and predictably inaccurate....that's easy to compensate for.
 

CAW

LifeTime Supporter
May 29, 2012
10
Bettendorf, Iowa
#11
Ah finally, someone with the exact same problem/issue I have. I first purchased a ColorQ and within 4 weeks got the TF100. I've also posted a similar post that the CYA on both tests that I run nearly every day (because I had to wrestle high CYA) are almost identical. Of course, my CYA is slightly higher so it's probably prone to less accuracy. I'm generally around 75 on ColorQ and 70-80 on TF. However, my chlorine tests are always lower on the ColorQ. Today, I ran FC 9.5 on TF and 3.55 on Colorq, both showed cc 0. My PH is always pegged at 7.6 or 7.7 on both tests. TA is slightly lower on TF test at 140 vs. 150-160 on ColorQ.

So I too would love the ColorQ to be the best test out there but it is always very different on FC/CC and slightly different on TA.

Why run both test systems every day you ask? -- it gives me 10 mins of peace and quiet and makes me feel better. My pool is crystal clear since finding TFP, I will never go back to the Dark Side of pucks. Thank you TFP!!!!!

For what it's worth.....
Thanks
Chris
 

ps0303

TFP Expert
In The Industry
Jul 6, 2011
3,956
FL
#12
Isaac-1 said:
This assumes the pool store is using an accurate test system and not just their version of the ColorQ
I have yet to find a pool store that uses any type of "electronics" for testing water other than the computer they plug your numbers into and then print your sheet out.
 

UnderWaterVanya

TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Jun 14, 2012
2,589
Mint Hill, NC
#13
ps0303 said:
Isaac-1 said:
This assumes the pool store is using an accurate test system and not just their version of the ColorQ
I have yet to find a pool store that uses any type of "electronics" for testing water other than the computer they plug your numbers into and then print your sheet out.
The one up the street I'm going to has some fancy optical reader that reads colors and spits out results. The results seem to vary quite a bit. The trouble is that I am unsure that they follow the directions to the letter - they missed the timings posted on the charts that say how to do it a bit. I had one girl run four samples of my water in 25 mins and come up with completely different results - she started using results from all of the sample runs saying she thought X was right and not Y on this run and Z was right but not W on this other run... etc.

The system is fancy... and looks amazing with all the little square vials sealed up and waiting for the customer... but it's results are not repeatable. My TF100 isn't either if I don't follow directions - but at least I am in control and can manage to develop my own technique which gives the same results over and over on most tests and only varries a small amount on the others.
 

JasonLion

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May 7, 2007
37,879
Silver Spring, MD
#14
There are a couple of different electronic systems for water testing that are fairly popular. One is based on an electronic test strip reader and suffers from the inherent problems of test strips. The other is in many ways very similar to the ColorQ, and shares many of the same quirks, but is larger and has a computer interface instead of an LCD display.
 

UnderWaterVanya

TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Jun 14, 2012
2,589
Mint Hill, NC
#15
JasonLion said:
There are a couple of different electronic systems for water testing that are fairly popular. One is based on an electronic test strip reader and suffers from the inherent problems of test strips. The other is in many ways very similar to the ColorQ, and shares many of the same quirks, but is larger and has a computer interface instead of an LCD display.
This may be the ColorQ - it has a small box that reads these small square vials and gives results on an LCD. I wish it worked well because it's simple and they do it for free. I buy my dry acid there and they are also my favorite local hardware store so they get plenty of business and I would love to take water to them (5 mins from the house) but the test is unreliable.
 

JasonLion

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May 7, 2007
37,879
Silver Spring, MD
#16
The second system I was referring to is not the ColorQ, though it is similar as I said. It is the WaterLink Express. I haven't heard of a pool store using a ColorQ.
 

UnderWaterVanya

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Jun 14, 2012
2,589
Mint Hill, NC
#17
JasonLion said:
The second system I was referring to is not the ColorQ, though it is similar as I said. It is the WaterLink Express. I haven't heard of a pool store using a ColorQ.
My mistake - I misread you. I'll find out what it is the next time I'm up there.
 

XsAllOverIt

LifeTime Supporter
Dec 8, 2010
560
Mount Airy, Maryland
#20
I find it funny that you look at the results and get so worried about numbers straying what I would consider a small amount. Now I will say that my FC is always much closer than you had measured. The ColorQ comes up with good numbers each time that I test between that and the TF-100. Though they may not be as accurate, they are consistently showing you trends which you should pay more close attention to than worrying about numbers that are off by small percentages. I've also calculated CSI each time with both tests and the CSI is always very close for both testers. I've used both testing systems for 2 years and most importantly with what I term as trending, my pool has never had any algea outbreaks and my water is crystal clear. I test on average once a week and know how much muriatic acid I need to add about every 3 days prior to any tests. As many have stated, you learn your pool and know in advance with greater confidence what the numbers will be. Now that said, I've got an SWG and it it's working correctly, I won't have many numbers changing besides pH unless mother nature comes to play. Most of my numbers remain the same and I'm almost always a happy swimmer!