Jumping back in: Bullfrog A5L with SmartChlor

BravoRomeo

LifeTime Supporter
Jun 15, 2012
74
San Juan Islands, WA
Any updates? We just started a new tub with this @ease system after Awwsome treatment since we got a bunch of it “included”. I maintain our SWG pool totally TFP wise and with borates. The water seems agreeable so far but the pH rises very fast with aeration at their recommended TA. I am going to try dropping the TA to 50-60 and using boric acid at 50ppm.
Sorry for the late reply. I've been in my winter home which doesn't have a hot tub. Just got back, and one big task yesterday was de-winterizing the hot tub. I don't have a new @ease kit for this season, so I am doing Dichlor-bleach method for now. That said, I expect we'll end up going back to @ease for the convenience factor. It is nice not having to fiddle quite as much once you get to trusting the system. Trust but verify, as they say.

Lessons learned from last season with @ease:
1. Mark you calendar when you expect to replace the chorine cartridge (~5 weeks for our tub and usage). Yes, you still need to test, but it's all-too-easy to lose track of time and start trusting the system so much that, oops, why did the chorine crash? How long as the cartridge been empty?! It's been six weeks already? Where did the time go...
2. Keep your water balanced. Their TA guidance is just that. What's more important is you find the balance that works for you.
3. Don't freak out over the ~0.5 - 1 PPM FC or the high CC readings (better expressed as Total Oxidizer).
4. If you change you out the water early, you're supposed to use a new silver mineral cartridge. That was news to me, and makes me wonder why it's even a cartridge then.
5. Keep your water balanced. I suspect some of the negative reviews claiming poor cartridge life may have overly aggressive water, but that's just a suspicion on my part based on the water specs from King Technology.

I also used borates last year as both a pH buffer and for the nice silky feel.

Keep us updated with your experience as well. There are pros and cons with every system.
 
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RDspaguy

In The Industry
Mar 21, 2020
925
Cabool, Mo
Interesting thread. I am not familiar with the smartchlor system and would have been quite alarmed by such a high cc reading that remained un-oxidized by ozone. Thanks for the detailed description and testing. I learned something new about spas today, which doesn't happen much anymore having worked on them for 25 years. :goodjob:
 

BravoRomeo

LifeTime Supporter
Jun 15, 2012
74
San Juan Islands, WA
Well, that was interesting. Second season on Frog @ease "SmartChlor" ... now at the tail end of the second SmartChlor cartridge, and the water just wouldn't make it any further. It turned gradually, then suddenly. No way was I going to soak in it! Cloudy and sudsy. Shocking with MPS or 8% bleach had no effect other than knocking back a slight chemical odor. Even the "clarifier" flocculant that came with the tub had no effect. So, I've pulled the plug. Well, I did Ahh-some first, as usual. Wow - what a mess of green and brown slime came out. Not good.

I'm disappointed, but not surprised. Frog states 3 months between water changes and "only" monthly shocking. Perhaps sometimes.

I think the Achilles heel with @ease is that the free chlorine level never bumps up above .5 PPM. Based on conversations in this thread, I believe that allows contaminants (bather waste) to build up, eventually to the point where the water may be sanitized, but filthy. Ozone / MPS may be a workable weekly shock with this system, but the water still slowly went bad. To add insult to injury, changing the water is normally an inexpensive fix for a hot tub, but with @ease, it requires replacing the expensive silver mineral cartridge as your punishment (and it leaves a small yellow stain in the filter compartment).

I much prefer the near-perfect water I can maintain with dichlor/bleach method over many months.

So, I'm going back to tried-and-true manual dosing using commonly available supplies. Thanks to all who participated in this thread - it's been interesting!
 

JoyfulNoise

TFP Expert
Platinum Supporter
May 23, 2015
17,378
Tucson, AZ
Thanks for the update. 0.5ppm FC is really too low for oxidation of bather waste. Eventually bacterial biofilms will grow inside the plumbing and none of the chlorine provided by the @ease cartridges will penetrate it.

I do agree that the dichlor-then-bleach method will keep your tub clean. It takes a bit more work than just plugging a cartridge into the tub but the resulting water quality is better for you and your plumbing.
 

BravoRomeo

LifeTime Supporter
Jun 15, 2012
74
San Juan Islands, WA
Thanks for the update. 0.5ppm FC is really too low for oxidation of bather waste. Eventually bacterial biofilms will grow inside the plumbing and none of the chlorine provided by the @ease cartridges will penetrate it.

I do agree that the dichlor-then-bleach method will keep your tub clean. It takes a bit more work than just plugging a cartridge into the tub but the resulting water quality is better for you and your plumbing.
I think that's exactly what happened. Even when I tried Frog's recommended procedure of shocking with MPS, the water was never as clean as I knew it could be. Attempting to shock with bleach was maddening as I couldn't test what was actually happening or not happening due to the misleading CC reading from the SmartChlor reserve.

So nice today to have a crystal clear tub once again, and strangely re-assuring to have FC in a reasonable range under my control.

I only wish I had worn my face mask during the Ahh-some purge yesterday. The aerosolized mist from the tub ended up being an inhalation irritant and a potential pathogen source.