Come on in, the water’s perfect — in fact, crystal clear. Splash around, swim a few laps, suntan on a floating mattress and play with the kids, until you find yourself saying, “Golly, my eyes sting; must be a lot of chlorine.”
“That’s a very common misconception,” says Todd Edwards, director of sales and business development at Genco Pools & Spas of Simpsonville, which now sells the world’s first wireless, internet-based water-quality controller a Hayward® CAT series.
Think back to high school chemistry. Now picture a pool as a ginormous beaker. You need chemicals such as chlorine or bromine to sanitize the water and muriatic acid to balance its pH — that is, the acidity or alkalinity.
Turns out, Edwards says, it’s not the chlorine but pH that causes your eyes to burn and your swimmers ear.
Here’s where the five CAT devices come in. The CAT 1000 through CAT 6000 constantly measure and adjust those levels. The devices, which were developed in the late 1990s with advanced microprocessor-based technology, look like a cross between a home-alarm box and an aquarium-filtering system.
Nowadays, of course, we live in an interconnected world, so you’d expect the pool’s high-tech chemist to communicate with the user. The Hayward® PoolComm® does just that. The app provides data about the water’s quality and lets the user print charts and graphs, customize settings, and receive notifications via email or text messages.
Troy McGinty helped develop the system. He joined the Rockville, Maryland-based company right out of college in 2003 — right when it was time for the company to update those analog systems “with dials and knobs similar to a thermostat,” he says, and move online, even interfacing with satellites.
The CAT 4000 was the first controller that could “basically warn you that there was something wrong with the pool chemistry prior to you even knowing,” says McGinty, who is now global product manager for commercial products.
And, as Hayward’s website says, the device “provides picture-perfect water quality (and) on-site and remote monitoring via the internet or web-enabled mobile device from anywhere in the world.”
Priced from $2,500 to $7,000 installed, CATs are used almost exclusively in commercial pools, such as those at hotels, aquatics centers and public parks.
“In a typical residential pool, water chemistry doesn’t change as dramatically as a commercial pool simply because you have such a low bather load,” McGinty says.
Edwards also points out that South Carolina’s Department of Health and Environmental Control regulates commercial pools and Genco has plenty of experience navigating those regulations. Projects include an installation at the massive Camperdown project in downtown Greenville, the upcoming completely renovated High Hampton Resort in Cashiers, N.C. and a rooftop pool at the Hub at Columbia.