Supplement Feature - May 2020
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Aquatic Pros Talk Equipment

Aquatic Systems & Mechanical Design Considerations

By Joe Bush

Much like the wizard behind the curtain who controls the fabulous city of Oz, the equipment that makes aquatic areas fun, safe and energy-efficient is hidden while it creates the magic enjoyed by so many.

The pump room houses heaters and chlorination systems, secondary infection treatment and yes, pumps. These are essential, but for swimmers, exercisers and instructors, their presence is better unseen and unheard. Like a good sports official, aquatic equipment is working well when you don't notice it.

Decision-makers, operators, facility managers and maintenance folks do have to know about this technology: what to choose for a new facility; what to choose when it's time to replace; how much energy can be saved; how air and water can stop making the public sick; and what are the latest developments.

Two manufacturer executives and a certified service technician recently shared their thoughts on what facility professionals should know about pumps, heaters, chlorination systems, secondary disinfection, efficiency, sustainability and safety of water and air. Mike Fowler is commercial manager of a Cary, N.C.-based manufacturer of pool products and solutions for filtration, water treatment, maintenance and more; Charlie Luecker is director of commercial sales for a California-based manufacturer of commercial pool equipment; and Steve White is president of a pool company and a certified instructor and technician.

How has commercial pool equipment changed in the past decade?

White: Environmental concerns, in general, and concerns for energy alternatives, in particular, keep pools running with less energy cost—these are all changes that have happened over the past decade or two. Variable speed pumps can be adjusted to make required turnover rates while also saving energy. The goal is conservation of energy, water, chemicals, etc. What is good for business is also good for the environment.

Fowler: With more people focusing on health issues and climate change, the pool industry has moved in that direction in making sure aquatic facilities are running as smooth as possible and as clean and healthy as possible for all swimmers, whether competitive or leisure. More and more products have also become much more efficient, and at the same time automated, so it's made operating a facility a little easier than before.

What should aquatic operators know about pool pumps?

White: Pool pumps have changed drastically over the last few years. Technological advances are now making it possible for pool pumps to be more energy-efficient by adding variable frequency drives to the pool pumps or by changing out older single-speed pool pumps for new variable speed pool pumps. In either case, aquatic facilities use less energy to obtain the required turnover rate of the pool water and by using less energy they are also able to reduce their operating costs. So, facilities need to be made aware of the many benefits both in cost savings, improved filtration and ultimately additional savings in chemicals as well as improved water quality.

Luecker: Most jurisdictions now require dual speed pumps for energy efficiency. Having the ability to ramp down the speed of your pool circulation pump improves your facility's energy efficiency. Additionally, there are also variable frequency drives (VFDs) that allow the adjustment of the power supplied to the pump and adjustment to the pump scheduling to reduce operating costs. Some new pumps up to 5 horsepower are designed to include a frequency drive along with high-efficiency motors that can help reduce pump operating costs up to 90%.

Fowler: [They should] know how to size them correctly, know what's needed for installation, know what proper maintenance is for the pump.