Several ways are applicable when heating water in a hot tub. These include; the use of electricity, solar, heat pumps, and external heat change. Looking at it from a narrow perspective, it is practical to use electricity to heat portable hot tubs. With this, there is no need to consider other alternatives. From a broader perspective, when it comes to inbuilt concrete tubs, common in health spas and resorts, the situation is different. It holds large volumes of water, meaning it is uneconomical and impractical to heat the water using electricity. This paves the way for the use of fossils fuels, which are an alternative source.
The dominance of electric heaters
Electric heaters are convenient and dominant with portable tubs. Brian Koops, Vice President of Engineering and Technical Services for Jacuzzi, states that all his company vessels use electricity. This is because it is reliable and compact, hence placed in a central cabinet. Only one heater is necessary to run all the machines in the spa.
John Milligan, CEO of NESPA, a manufacturer of prefabricated custom spas, agrees with this notion. Electric heaters are preferable because they are clean, easy to use, and maintain. Electricity eases so many technical parts of life. In the same way, electric heaters speed up the manufacturing and installation processes. In case of a fault, all that’s required is a replacement. All operations are back to normal in minutes. When it comes to other sources of energy, they do not bear the same benefits.
Professionals in the spa industry don’t dispute the benefits brought by electric heaters. They believe that more focus should be on improving existing electric heaters. The same old models of heaters have been in place for a long time, and engineers should consider improving the standards. The material used to make the heaters is prone to corrosion, giving users a hard time dealing with it. The use of friendly material is preferable in the evolvement of the heaters.
As stated earlier, electric heaters heat water fast, though it’s indisputable that gas heaters are faster. Approximately, in an hour, electric heaters raise the temperature of water by 4-6 degrees Celsius. This is in consideration of the volume of water and the size of the heaters.
The main concern is how effective the electric heater is in meeting the needs of the client. Hales states that to increase the temperature of the water that is 60 degrees to 100 degrees by evening, it will require the use of different heaters or a different way to operate the system to maintain the high temperature. Clients choose how they want to operate their spas. They can use the five and a half kilowatts heaters that are really fast but costly. They can also opt for a 4 kilowatt, which is slow and maintains temperatures at a certain level without using excess energy.
California Energy Commission dictates the energy consumption and standard efficiency in portable spas. They require spas in the Golden States to meet the set requirements for yearly energy consumption. These standards are not compulsory, but if one wishes to sell these services within California, they will be bound by this law. This statute has been adopted by other states as well.
Koops, states that the systems are made in a way that it is directly connected to water so that all the energy passes to the water. This, however, does not guarantee 100% effectiveness. It is possible to lose heat from the water. When the electrodes are transferred to water, energy has no other place to go; therefore, heat is lost to the atmosphere. Due to this, usage and maintenance of water is part of the system efficiency. Managing the systems so that there is no heat loss is a huge challenge to the constructors. Hales explains that foam insulators are useful in coating heaters to prevent heat loss, exempting the area in contact with water.
The area of the hose is also foam-coated instead of the use of pipes to prevent the cooling of water.
Hydraulic efficiency is also important to improve the general efficiency of the spa. This gives way for a smooth flow of water delivered to consumers for therapy. These are just a few ways to improve spa Efficiency. Constructors have to look into the functioning of the whole spa systems and energy efficiency as well as to update these areas.
Usage of high efficiency insulated cover, insulation in the cabinets, and on-board software all play an important part in improving spa efficiency.
Determining the energy source
Milligan prefers the use of both gas and electricity for his prefabricated custom spas, which are bigger than portable spas. Consumers don’t necessarily know exactly how hot tubs work, but they purchase these vessels with expectations. It is important to explain to clients clearly when choosing the type of energy source required. The cost, the temperature desired, how to get to the desired temperature, and maintenance are factors to consider.
If you want your water to heat faster, the gas would be a better option. If you wouldn’t mind waiting for the water to heat and maintained at that temperature, then electric energy will be appropriate. The cost depends on the cost of the energy source chosen. Insulation is also a factor when choosing the type of energy. It is mandatory for vessel insulation when using electric energy. The issue arises when the vessel is more than 100 inches wide. Subtract 5 inches on each side to sit on, 90 inches remain. If the vessels are bigger than this, there is no other alternative than to switch to gas energy. It is a common problem in freeform vessels, and opting for rectilinear is a convenient design. At the end of the day, these factors are important for customer satisfaction.
BioLab Plant Reopening Will Impact Chlorine Prices for 2023
The news of BioLab’s plant burning to the ground during Hurricane Laura in 2020 had a ripple effect on chlorine prices that has lasted for the past two years. We first reported that BioLab was rebuilding the plant back in July of 2021. A recent announcement that construction is completed and in time for summer production has pool industry analysts optimistic. “We are delighted to reopen our BioLab facility in time to support the 2023 pool season,” said Michael Sload, CEO of KIK Consumer Products.
BioLab is the nation’s second-largest manufacturer of dry chlorine products. An announcement that the Westlake, Louisiana facility is fully operational means that one of the driving factors for the initial spike we saw on the price of chlorine has been removed. Prices for dry chlorine products soared in 2021 due to concerns about shortages and remained high through the summer of 2022.
Understanding The Correlation Between BioLab & Price Increases
The conditions for a sudden surge in the price for chlorine stemmed partly from the fact that BioLab was out of commission. The main factor that was driving prices to explode during the past two years was largely due to the pandemic in general.
A large percentage of the population was quarantined, which meant more people than ever before, were at home and using their swimming pool. This put a much higher glut on demand than anticipated. With the pandemic shutting many plants down, and logistical delays plaguing distributors throughout most of 2021, these conditions as well as rising inflation in 2022 kept prices high through the summer.
The reopening of the BioLab facility will certainly impact the supply chain in a positive way. “BioLab will be actively supplying the pool market for the 2023 season which should provide some relief,” said plant manager Donald Brunette.
Prices are predicted to begin dropping a bit in light of that fact but will certainly not sink lower than they were prior to the pandemic. As the population starts to adjust to a post-Covid world, the surge we saw for swimming pools has already begun to recalibrate to pre-pandemic levels. The only remaining catalyst for keeping chlorine prices from truly resetting back to 2020 is the cumulative rate of inflation is roughly 14.7% higher than in 2020.
While this should certainly factor into the equation, most experts agree that with this news, the chlorine shortage is finally over and a bucket of chlorine tablets should cost substantially less next summer than it has in previous years. This comes as welcome news for both consumers and pool professionals.
Ultimate Water Taps Jeff Jones for Sales of Chlorine Genie
Ultimate Water, whose flagship product is the Chlorine Genie, is pleased to announce the addition of industry veteran Jeff Jones as the new Regional Sales Manager and Buying Group Liaison for the company’s residential and commercial divisions. Based out of Texas, Jones has been in the swimming pool industry for over 40 years spanning a broad range of roles including the VP of Sales for DEL Ozone, National Sales Manager for Letro Products, as well as work in construction management and sales for Blue Haven and Riverbend Pools. Most recently Jones managed buying group sales for Florida Water Products.
“We are very pleased to have Jeff join our team,” says Thomas Vessiere, National Sales Director for Ultimate Water. “Jeff brings deep experience, industry knowledge, and strong relationships that will be especially helpful as the demand for the Chlorine Genie grows exponentially in our industry.”
Having sold and designed pool water sanitation systems for many years, Jones is very enthusiastic about being a part of the growing success of the Chlorine Genie. “The design and functionality of the Chlorine Genie makes it an ideal product for our industry and is especially welcome right now as builders, retailers and service professionals grapple with the most efficient way to continuously produce chlorine safely, cost effectively and immediately for their customers,” explains Jones.
Jones will be at the AQUALive Show booth # 416 and can be reached directly at [email protected] or by calling 214-415-2510.
More information about the Chlorine Genie can be found at:
San Diego, CA
A Borates Shortage is Looming on The Horizon
One of the specialty chemicals being talked about a lot in light of the chlorine shortages and rising prices are borates. As strong proponents of borates, it troubles us to say that our go-to sanitzer supplement may soon be facing the same shortages and rising costs that we’ve been seeing on the trichlor side.
What The Boron Shortage Means For The Pool Industry
If you’re in the pool business you already know, borates are becoming increasingly difficult to find. What inventory is available is vastly more expensive than in previous years. We’re already knee-deep into the dog days of summer and prices for chlorine have skyrocketed well past analysts’ projections.
A lot of pool service professionals have been turning to borates as the savior during this time of inflation and rising prices. Many technicians already use borates as a buffer against upwards shifting pH. When your pH level rises above what is deemed “normal” (about 7.8), using borates achieves optimum results.
Why Pool Professionals Are Turning To Borates
Bacteria can thrive in water with a high pH level. When this happens it makes chlorine less effective. Pool professionals use borates to alleviate the issue, because it works to keep pH from drifting upward. In addition, there are other positive aspects to using borates in your pool. For one, it keeps the pool clear of algae and calcium scaling. Pool equipment repair specialists will be the first ones to recommend borates. When it comes to maintaining ideal water chemistry for your pool equipment, borates does an amazing job.
For the past few years, the adoption of borates by pool pros has steadily increased season after season. The concern now is that we may have hit maximum capacity as demand has increased well beyond available inventory.
Dwindling Boron Supplies Driving Prices Higher
The global boron market shortage is driving prices higher this season. For those who’ve been thinking of switching to using borates, this definitely is something to consider. When it comes to getting trichlor at affordable rates, it already feels that pool pros are a lower priority as far as it goes to maintaining pricing structures. Now, it appears the same thing has begun happening with borates.
Although borates and boric acid are near synonymous with pools, the swimming pool industry itself is actually a lower priority in terms of its consumption of boron. The industrial glass industry is the largest consumer of boron, roughly 48%, followed by the ceramics industry (15%) and agricultural industry (15%); the cleaning industry of which the pool industry represents a fraction consumes roughly 2% of the world’s boron.
You’ll find boron in everything from industrial fertilizers to high-end ceramics and solar panels. Boron also has medical applications which improve wound healing and boosts the body’s usage of estrogen, testosterone, and vitamin D. It improves magnesium absorption, reduces inflammation, increases antioxidants, and boosts brain electrical activity in both cognitive performance as well as short-term memory.
What is absolutely certain is that we (the pool industry) didn’t cause a borates shortage. Clearly, demand is higher in these other industries which are causing prices to surge. Right now the boron supply chain is very weak. Over 60% of the material comes from mines located in Turkey which is the top producer, followed by Russia, South America and the United States.
For the time being, production is gradually declining. As existing boron reserves deplete, we’re seeing demand far exceed supplies, resulting in higher prices such as $1,250 per ton, far exceeding analysts’ predictions for $739 per ton.
While the demand in the U.S. by pool professionals may be high, the top consumer of boron is China, followed by India and Japan. Boron is produced domestically only in the State of California and it appears very little of it is earmarked towards maintaining supply chains for borates.
The story isn’t all doom and gloom for pool professionals who want to switch to borates. Fortunately, folks like Natural Chemistry, Brenntag, and others are still intent on keeping inventory on the shelves so you should still be able to find their products through distribution. If they don’t have borates available, demand that they replenish their stock. This may be the only way to guarantee the pool industry remains a priority at all.
Listen to our entire discussion on the Talking Pools podcast.
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