Pool strips vs. test kits

MommaHuffman

Active member
Jul 28, 2020
28
Palmyra, PA
Hi all! I've had my pool now for a month using test strips. So far I haven't had any serious problems with maintaining my levels. The only problems I have is trying to keep the pH down and FC up. I add Clorox pH Lower and it does it's job. For low FC I add 1 lb. of shock and that seems to help but it doesn't last long.

I have a 30' x 54" AGP. When I look on line, it shows the capacity for this pool is 23,900 gallons. When I had it filled, the water guy told me he used approximately 22,000 gallons (not metered). So I've been using that number to calculate chemicals.

I see lots of people frown on the use of strips. I've looked into the different test kits and wonder if it is worth the cost. How long do these "drops" in your test kit last? How often would I need to buy a new kit. Do you actually get a specific number reading to enter into our Pool Math app?

Any kind of advice and suggestions are greatly appreciated! Happy Swimming!
 

cowboycasey

Gold Supporter
LifeTime Supporter
TFP Guide
Jul 3, 2013
4,328
Fletcher, OK
Hey there, we like to call them guess strips because you really have no idea how far off they are.. It will work until it does not then your in trouble when your pool turns green... I love the TF 100 but the K 2006C will also work, they use the same exact chemicals.. The speed stir will help to get a better read when doing the tests so I always recommend it...

I say they last a season and then in the spring you get a new refill and use it that season that way you always have fresh chemicals to test your water.. so it will cost you 25 dollars more a season but you will have control over your pool and know exactly what is going on, no guessing...

We recommend using liquid chlorine because that shock has CYA in it and your free chlorine is tied to it.. once your CYA is too high and your FC is low your pool turns green.. With this kit that should not happen if you follow the simple way off adding chlorine daily and testing..

You really need the FAS DPD FC test that will read chlorine levels up to 50 free chlorine



I hope this helps :)
 
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Newdude

Well-known member
Jun 16, 2019
4,512
NY
When I look on line, it shows the capacity for this pool is 23,900 gallons. When I had it filled, the water guy told me he used approximately 22,000 gallons (not metered
They are probably both right. If you filled it to the brim, the manufacturer would be accurate but it’s 6-8 inches less than that so the water guy is probably closer.
How long do these "drops" in your test kit last?
A fresh kit from tftestkits.net gets about 2 years before they expire. If you get one of the cheaper kits (k-2006) it has smaller bottles and you may run out before they expire.
Do you actually get a specific number reading to enter into our Pool Math app?
You get similar #s but many times the accuracy so what you add is also the correct dosage. Keep in mind that the pool stores make their money from you being off. If you come in with lousy results, or use their lousy-ier results, you spend more. And it hurts more than it helps to add things you didn’t need. Which costs more for the 2nd fix and it spirals from there.
 
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YippeeSkippy

Mod Squad
LifeTime Supporter
Jan 17, 2012
14,631
Evans, Georgia
If you don't have algae and just test routinely, the kit ought to last you about 1.5 seasons. Testing accurately saves a TON of money in the big scheme of pool care. Yes, you get an actual number result from a good test kit.

Have you read up on how we treat our pools? Which chemicals we do like to use....and which ones to avoid?

Maddie
 
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Dirk

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Nov 12, 2017
6,904
Central California
I see lots of people frown on the use of strips. I've looked into the different test kits and wonder if it is worth the cost. How long do these "drops" in your test kit last? How often would I need to buy a new kit. Do you actually get a specific number reading to enter into our Pool Math app?

Any kind of advice and suggestions are greatly appreciated! Happy Swimming!
Any kind? ;)

It's not just a frown, we flat out advise you NOT to use test strips. No one likes a long-winded explanation better than me, but since I haven't had my coffee yet, I'll give you the short-ish version. Not just learned here, but from personal experience, and the hard way at that.

Taking care of a pool properly and keeping the water safe for you and your family means a certain amount of equipment required and a certain amount of expense. You can certainly spend more than you need to doing that, but you won't get away with spending too little. That will backfire, and either you will end up spending much more to correct the trouble short-cutting will surely cause, and/or your water will just not be safe (and you might not know it). Test strips do not meet the need. Period. If you purchase and learn how to use one of the two recommended kits, and study the TFP method of pool care, you will end up with the highest quality water possible at the lowest possible total cost. We have 10s of thousands of folks here who have torture tested that notion to prove it. I'm just one.
 
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Newdude

Well-known member
Jun 16, 2019
4,512
NY
Momma you are one of Hundreds of THOUSANDS that came here looking for a better way. And we have it. Scroll through the proof below and be amazed.
 

outpost

Well-known member
Jun 1, 2020
52
Long Island
I have both a k2006 and aquachek strips. I use both. While the results are not always exact they are close and I have never had a reading from the strip that was so far off that it would have dictated a different chemical approach.

If you manage your cya from the start, use the correct chemicals and stay on top of your levels, and have a target Daily cl level well below 10, personally I think a test strip daily or twice a day supplemented by periodic drop testing with the expensive kit won’t hurt you too much.

But the problem comes, and it comes quick, when all of a sudden you have green and then you need to slam and you can’t measure tc or fc accurately near 10ppm and beyond - at that point you can’t really follow tfp methods without the recommended kits.

So I would get one of the recommended kits to always have on hand (you will eventually need it) and use your best judgment and let your own experience guide you on what kind of testing routine works best for you.
 
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Dirk

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Nov 12, 2017
6,904
Central California
I have both a k2006 and aquachek strips. I use both. While the results are not always exact they are close and I have never had a reading from the strip that was so far off that it would have dictated a different chemical approach.

If you manage your cya from the start, use the correct chemicals and stay on top of your levels, and have a target Daily cl level well below 10, personally I think a test strip daily or twice a day supplemented by periodic drop testing with the expensive kit won’t hurt you too much.
If "won't hurt you too much" is the criteria you're shooting for... We always say, "It's your pool, you can take care of it as you wish." I just want to point out that the use of test strips is not the TFP-recommended method for testing your pool water. It's very possible that outpost has a set of strips that are tracking well with his test kit. "Even a broken watch is right twice day." It's just as possible that the next set of strips he buys, or some other brand, will be wildly different from his kit. And that's the problem. From brand to brand, and batch to batch, they have proven themselves to be unreliable. Some will work, some won't. The kits we recommend have proven themselves to be VERY reliable, all the time. So decide for yourself which is best for you. We're just sharing our experience and the collected experience of thousands of others...
 
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markayash

Gold Supporter
Mar 21, 2016
2,527
Atlanta Ga
I compared strips to my kit last week. Taylor 7 strips FC 3. I use them to make sure I have chlorine :)
CYA on strips was the same Color when my CYA was 40 And 80 :)
 

outpost

Well-known member
Jun 1, 2020
52
Long Island
If "won't hurt you too much" is the criteria you're shooting for...
"It won't hurt" was obviously not the point of what I was trying to say or the criteria I believe someone should shoot for. I suggested flat out he get a TFP recommended kit (left that paragraph out of the quote) and told him he will definitely need it, and said any test strip use should be in conjunction with the kit. If I go out in my garage and look at my tools, I have a lot of different screwdrivers, a lot of different wrenches, etc. They are all useful for something, some get used more than others, and each has their place. I should probably have been clearer that while I've never had a test strip that had a result that was so far off as to alter or override my plan of action for pool treatment, I would never use the reading of a strip just by itself to calculate chemical amounts for remediation, or believe that I know for sure what my pool numbers are by using strips alone.

I like to test my water every morning and evening. While I have only had this particular pool a few months I have owned / cared for many pools in my lifetime and that is just my own preference as staying on top of any changes and reacting to them quickly has proven to be a recipe for success. TFP has given me a deeper understanding of what different chemicals do and their interaction with one another and it is a great protocol to follow. It can't be done without an accurate test kit. That said, a strip dunk takes 10 seconds. It allows me to get visibility into how my water is doing very quickly and conveniently and that means I (or my family members) will do it more often and be less likely to skip a day. If you know your values using a proper kit, and know what those values translate to in a color on a strip .. using them between full kit tests has its benefits, Sacrilegious viewpoint. I know, I'll go back to keeping it to myself.
 

Bvacchiano

Silver Supporter
Apr 6, 2018
277
Sugar Land, Texas
When you get one of the recommended test kits here due a full test with both the strips and the recommended test kits and compare then you will see the difference. Ive done it and to me the strips are garbage and very inaccurate. If you have inaccurate results it’s pretty difficult to follow the principles of TFP. TFP works. Their is no disputing that. I have buddies in my neighborhood who rely either on test strips or pool store testing. When I see their water and interior trust me I see the difference!
 
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markayash

Gold Supporter
Mar 21, 2016
2,527
Atlanta Ga
Every since getting a SWG my FC with the taylor 2006 is consistently between 7 and 7.5. I had one time when I left the levels too low it went to zero due to algae

Now I use Strips for " chlorine good?" Yep I have some :) then use the DPD about 3 times a week.
 
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Dirk

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Nov 12, 2017
6,904
Central California
"It won't hurt" was obviously not the point of what I was trying to say or the criteria I believe someone should shoot for. I suggested flat out he get a TFP recommended kit (left that paragraph out of the quote) and told him he will definitely need it, and said any test strip use should be in conjunction with the kit. If I go out in my garage and look at my tools, I have a lot of different screwdrivers, a lot of different wrenches, etc. They are all useful for something, some get used more than others, and each has their place. I should probably have been clearer that while I've never had a test strip that had a result that was so far off as to alter or override my plan of action for pool treatment, I would never use the reading of a strip just by itself to calculate chemical amounts for remediation, or believe that I know for sure what my pool numbers are by using strips alone.

I like to test my water every morning and evening. While I have only had this particular pool a few months I have owned / cared for many pools in my lifetime and that is just my own preference as staying on top of any changes and reacting to them quickly has proven to be a recipe for success. TFP has given me a deeper understanding of what different chemicals do and their interaction with one another and it is a great protocol to follow. It can't be done without an accurate test kit. That said, a strip dunk takes 10 seconds. It allows me to get visibility into how my water is doing very quickly and conveniently and that means I (or my family members) will do it more often and be less likely to skip a day. If you know your values using a proper kit, and know what those values translate to in a color on a strip .. using them between full kit tests has its benefits, Sacrilegious viewpoint. I know, I'll go back to keeping it to myself.
Yes, obviously I cherry-picked your original post, but only to make a point. And yes you do also test with a proper kit. I got that. We recommend the kit, not the strips, and NOT a combo program of some kit / some strips. When you suggest a method of pool care that contradicts what we teach here, you're likely going to get a little push back. I might have done that better, my bad. I'm still not doing it all that well! ;) We don't recommend the use of strips. If I may, your system of pool care is flawed. That is a fact. If there is a valid reason to test your water, then you need to do so using a valid method. It's as simple as that. Of course test strips are faster, but their results are completely untrustworthy. Testing FC with FAS-DPD can be done in about one minute. Let's call in two. So what if your strips only take 10 seconds. That's not 110 seconds saved, that's 10 seconds wasted. If your goal is to determine that your water is safe, then you have to spend the two minutes... Otherwise, you're just fooling yourself... Which, of course you are free to do. And even free to describe it here. Just not to try and convince others here that that is OK...
 
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markayash

Gold Supporter
Mar 21, 2016
2,527
Atlanta Ga
Yes, obviously I cherry-picked your original post, but only to make a point. And yes you do also test with a proper kit. I got that. We recommend the kit, not the strips, and NOT a combo program of some kit / some strips. When you suggest a method of pool care that contradicts what we teach here, you're likely going to get a little push back. I might have done that better, my bad. I'm still not doing it all that well! ;) We don't recommend the use of strips. If I may, your system of pool care is flawed. That is a fact. If there is a valid reason to test your water, then you need to do so using a valid method. It's as simple as that. Of course test strips are faster, but their results are completely untrustworthy. Testing FC with FAS-DPD can be done in about one minute. Let's call in two. So what if your strips only take 10 seconds. That's not 110 seconds saved, that's 10 seconds wasted. If your goal is to determine that your water is safe, then you have to spend the two minutes... Otherwise, you're just fooling yourself... Which, of course you are free to do. And even free to describe it here. Just not to try and convince others here that that is OK...
You forget some of us ( me ) are lazy sometimes :)
I do agree They are guess strips and can't be used for balancing water. Strip CYA level is a joke..Never even close
I bought some strip to compare and they were way off but amazon said " just keep them" when I went to return..
 

Dirk

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Nov 12, 2017
6,904
Central California
OK, rather than just "preach," here's some real world:

I've been doing great with my pool since learning TFP. Over two years without a spec of scale or algae, though I was plagued by both before I found TFP. I lost my perfect-record status a month ago when, due to a few perfect-storm type conditions, my FC dropped to 2.5. For the previous years I'd often gotten into the 3s and 4s, no problem. But 0.5 less... ALGAE! No more bragging rights! Granted, there were some adverse conditions. One of which was the fact that I skipped a test. My Taylor kit would have caught that had I tested. Had I been tempted to check with a strip instead, because I was being lazy, the strip might have said 3 or 4 or 5, whatever. I would have walked away thinking "Great, got chlorine." And then gotten the algae anyway. That's what I meant by "valid." I had a valid reason to test after the pool get-together, I should have used a valid test, and I would have avoided a problem. In that scenario, testing with a strip would likely have given me the same result as not testing at all.

Using a strip to make yourself feel OK about your water when your water is fine is all that you're doing. Relying on a strip to check to see if your water might be "right on the edge" won't always work.
 
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Donldson

TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Jun 12, 2009
4,586
NW Ohio
The more someone knows about test strips: how they are made, what affects their accuracy, and the cost of good quality lab grade strips versus what you get for pools, the more unlikely someone is to use them. I don't mean "rely on them", I mean use them at all.
 
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markayash

Gold Supporter
Mar 21, 2016
2,527
Atlanta Ga
Lazy? Wanna talk lazy? I can be lazy and yet never had algae.

Thru testing and awareness of my pool water I can just *look* at the water and know when something is off. That comes with time admittedly. Then test to confirm and act on results.

Maddie
That’s a very good point, I can also tell when something isn’t right by organic stains on the bottom from leaves and sticks
 
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