Every once in a while, an innovation comes along that threatens to disrupt the usual order of things in a given industry. And pool ionizers might be on that list.
Today, we’re jumping into the deep end and discussing everything to do with water ionization — even getting into a little science. So put your lab coat on over your swim shorts, and let’s go.
Basically, water ionization sanitizes a swimming pool using mineral ions. Instead of only relying on chemicals like chlorine and bromine, water ionization adds a little more science to the mix by pumping copper and silver ions into the pool’s water too.
As a pool service professional, you need to be aware of pool ionizers’ specific benefits and drawbacks, so you can help your customers decide if it’s the right product for their pool.
How Does Water Ionization Work?
Ions are molecules with a net negative charge, and they work in this application by attracting molecules with a positive charge.
Effectively, the electrolysis process pulls undesirable stuff like bacteria and algae from a pool in the filtration process, and it allows a smaller amount of chlorine to be used while retaining the system’s ability to purify.
The ionizer works by creating copper and silver ions by electrolysis. Silver ions remove bacteria, and copper ions prevent algae. The process takes time and is nothing like shocking the pool with chemicals. Ionizers work slowly over time as the water supply flows through the system and is cleaned.
Since the component molecules within a pool’s water are separated at the electrically charged plates of the ionizer and held there, this piece of hardware does require regular cleaning and maintenance.
Pros for You
Pool ionizers are a relatively new item, so customers may not know they have this option. Consider it an opportunity to inform them of “a better way” to keep their pools swimmer-ready while using lower doses of harsh chemicals.
Of course, any time you install a new piece of hardware on a customer’s system that benefits them, it will usually benefit you. Pool ionizers allow you a little profit at installation, but they are also another item to add to your maintenance package because they require regular cleaning.
Additionally, the ionizer’s cell will need to be replaced every few years on average. So you will be able to expect regular opportunities to deliver outstanding products and services in this category.
Advantages for Your Customers
One of the biggest pluses for your customers is going to be the fact that they can use less chlorine with an ionizer system, which will cost them less year after year and allow for a more enjoyable experience during their swims.
And since ionizers are “mineral sanitizers,” a great side-benefit to ionizing pool water is that it will feel softer — maybe even silky — and all because the mineral content has been transformed.
Additionally, ions don’t produce chemical byproducts like chloramines and are not corrosive.
Some studies show that when used with low chlorine levels, ionizers worked more effectively to sanitize pools than just using shock alone. Also, copper and silver ions seem to have residual disinfecting properties even when traditional chemicals begin to lose efficacy, so when one begins to fade, the other method is still going strong.
There are a few options for water ionization, and it will depend on your customers’ individual needs to determine which one is best. It will also depend on how they use their pool, their budget, and even what the weather is like.
This type of ionizer is plumbed into the pool’s filtration system and connected to the main power, and it works in concert with the whole system to do its thing. These are typically quite a bit more expensive (around $700 and up) than the second type of ionizer.
Since these are smaller and less involved installation-wise (they just float in the pool), they can cost as little as $70, but beware. They aren’t as effective as an inline ionizer. If the sky clouds over, this ionizer doesn’t work well at all. Even if it is decently cheap, it’s either a waste or a gimmick in most applications.
Pool owners with hard water might be an especially hard sell. In order to work well, the ionizer’s electrodes must be clear of the scale that hard water can deposit. It has to be worth it for these owners, because they may not be okay with doubling or tripling the number of services required just to keep their pool at its best.
Additionally, ionizers can leave nasty stains on pool surfaces — especially fiberglass. These are easily eliminated when caught early, but you’ll have both a little extra work and a little explaining to do if left for a long time.
Customers can’t reasonably expect to be able to completely eliminate chlorine from their pool’s maintenance schedule. An ionizer simply cannot keep up on its own and needs help from both chlorine and an oxidizer (for organic contaminants).
Most test kits that measure ionizer performance only measure copper, so it’s important to ensure you get the full picture with the right tools for the job.
The Bottom Line
Are water ionizers right for your business? Are they right for your customers? It all depends. As you look into new ways to service your accounts and add revenue to your business, ionizers might be a great fit.
They are a potential source of revenue at installation and throughout the product life cycle, but they come with a hefty investment regarding client education. It can be difficult and time consuming to try and convince people that water ionizers are a good choice for their pool.
Customers seeking to reduce the amount of pool chemicals they use or upgrade their swim experience with a pool that just “feels awesome” may be your first and best opportunity to explore this segment.
Water ionization is a trend to take note of. Who knows how it could develop in the years to come?