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With pool openings just around the corner and continued economic headwinds, here are products that offer the most bang for the buck along with added safety and ease of maintenance.
March 15, 2023
As homeowners begin thinking about opening their pool for the new season, now is the ideal time for pool and spa pros to start thinking about adds on they can sell customers.
While demand remains high, inflationary pressures and economic headwinds may make it necessary to steer the conversation toward more budget-friendly options.
“You want to show them the value of why they should use certain products or upgrade,” said Dan Lenz, vice president of All Seasons Pools, Spas & Outdoor Living.
Here are four budget-friendly upgrades that offer a lot of bang for the buck:
1. LED lighting. Two factors are driving this upgrade. The first is that electricity prices jumped 14.3 % in 2022—double the overall rise in other prices, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The second is that the Department of Energy now mandates LED lighting for all pools and no longer allows the sale of incandescent pool lighting.
Given that a typical 500-watt pool light can cost around $50 per month to operate, along with the DOE mandate, it’s easy to show the value and efficacy of making this upgrade, said Jason Davies, owner and manager of Pool Envy LLC. He said upgrading to LEDs typically costs between $1,000 to $2,000.
“A little bit spent on lighting is going to be big savings,” he said. “In addition, LEDs have a 50,000-hour run time.” He added that the cost of LEDs is just cents a day.
In addition to saving money, many LEDs also offer color options that give pools, spas and backyards a different ambiance.
“It’s a fairly inexpensive upgrade that can change the whole backyard,” Lenz said.
2. Robotic pool cleaners. Many pool owners are still using pressure side pool cleaners with booster pumps that require regular pool cleaning and use a lot of energy. These systems can be replaced with robotic cleaners that are much more energy efficient and often eliminate the need for additional cleanings.
“They honestly do a much better job cleaning the pool than pressure side cleaners,” Lenz said.
“And you’d be surprised how easy they are to sell.”
Lenz said his teams bring robotic cleaners with them as their opening pools to educate homeowners on their benefits, which is a great way to sell the upgrade. He said the best robotic cleaners start around $1,000.
As an added bonus, the robotic cleaners free his maintenance workers up to do more high-dollar work.
3. Safety vacuum release systems. How do you put a price on the value of safety? For around $700, single main drain pools can be safe from the tragedy of suction entrapment thanks to suction vacuum release systems, which shut down pumps when blockages are sensed.
“Those are exceptionally popular with my customers,” Davies said.
Although pumps can come with built-in SVRS, many of Davies’ existing customers opt to add on a system to an existing pump to get both the savings and the peace of mind. Once customers understand what’s at stake, the systems almost sell themselves, he said.
4. Salt chlorination systems. Chlorine is still at an all-time high price of around $10 per pound thanks to ongoing supply chain issues, Lenz said. Those prices make this a perfect time to sell homeowners on a salt chlorination system that generates its own chlorine.
“Even before chlorine got so ridiculously expensive, I could show someone how spending $2,000 on a salt system could pay for itself in two seasons,” Lenz said. “It’s easy to extrapolate out—even with replacement cell costs—and show the cost savings.”
In addition to those savings, the systems take the guess work out of adding chlorine to the pool. “Most water chemistry problems happen because people simply forget their pool needs chlorine,” Lenz explained. “When you have a salt system, you don’t have that, ‘Oops, I forgot, now I have to spend time and money to get my pool back up and running.”
Gary Thill is an independent writer and editor with an extensive background in the residential and commercial construction sectors. He served as editor of the Replacement Contractor newsletter for five years and has contributed regularly to Remodeling and other construction-focused publications for several decades. He lives and works in Portland, Oregon.
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