Made by AquaCal, a St. Petersburg, Florida–based manufacturer of swimming pool and spa heat pumps, TropiCool Water Chillers are designed to lower the temperatures of pool water. It was created several years ago when the market was asking for a reliable chiller, says Kim Guerra, marketing director of Team Horner, a swimming pool and spa company that counts AquaCal among its brands.
“We saw enough demand for it,” Guerra says. “The pools get so warm they’re not comfortable to swim in, so obviously cooling the pool was something people were looking for.”
Guerra believes the call largely came from places like Texas, Arizona and Nevada, where extreme heat is evermore common. She adds that other cooling products on the market were not reliable or effective, and were working off evaporation, unlike the TropiCool. According to Guerra, AquaCal already had the technology to create a water chiller due to its HeatWave Super Quiet pump, which both heats and cools water.
“We said there is a need to have a chiller version of the heat pump, as opposed to doing a ‘heat and cool,’ ” says Guerra. “Because some people, that’s all they’re gonna want it for, is the cooling.”
While they already had the technology, they would be using it differently this time: cooling pools instead of heating them up.
This meant figuring out how to create a chiller that factors in the size of a swimming pool, because the larger the body of water, the harder the device would need to work to cool it.
Josh Ulfers, owner of Salt Pool Guys in Metairie, Louisiana, which sells TropiCool, says size and color of a pool are major factors in determining its temperature.
“Pools that are 5 or 6 feet deep are warmer than a 10- or 12-foot-deep pool,” he says. “Darker pools, like dark blue, gray and black, attract more heat.”
To address this, AquaCal created three TropiCool units for different sized pools: TC500, TC1000 and TC1500, built for a cold plunge up to 2,000 gallons, 3,000 gallons and 4,000 gallons, respectively. Each unit also comes with specific water flow and fuse sizes, so the user would be able to cool their pool in accordance with its depth and color.
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The chiller is designed to work like a refrigerant system, with the fan pulling heat from the water. Its installment involves a 2-inch unit going in and out that attaches to the plumbing line. Pool retailers who deal with AquaCal say the TropiCool chiller can be installed either before or after a new pool is built.
“Eighty percent of the time, we install it to the initial build,” says Joshua Buzzell, the CEO of Regal Pools just outside Houston. “Twenty percent of the time, we come back and add them once [customers] realize how hot pools can get here in Houston. Our water temps can touch the high 90s. Insane.”
Buzzell says that in case they receive a call asking for a chiller at a later date, his installers build out a “chiller pad” connected to the pool’s equipment pad so it’s easy to come back and add later. And if they don’t use it, they can use it to store pool toys or whatever else, he adds. Buzzell’s company highly recommends the TropiCool chiller to their clients.
“We love the product,” he says. “It also works well with little to no issues. You can set it and forget it.”
Ulfers says AquaCal’s chiller is a very regional product and although there is nationwide interest, buyers from “the hottest parts of the country” are the ones getting the product the most. With new heat records being broken every year, however, Ulfers believes the demand for it will keep growing.
“Once it’s hot outside,” he adds, “it’s good to have on hand.”
This year alone many states have recorded temperatures of more than 100 degrees, making equipment like the TropiCool Water Chiller more than a regional novelty, but possibly a necessity going forward.
February 2022: In California, record-breaking temperatures impacted San Francisco, Sacramento, San Diego and Los Angeles, with heat rising to more than 75 degrees during the winter month.
May 2022: The first major heatwave of 2022 impacted the U.S. when New York City’s temperature rose to 90 degrees, Memphis reached 91 degrees, Washington D.C., saw a temperature of 92 degrees, and both Baltimore and Philadelphia reached 95 degrees.
June 2022: Yet another scorching heatwave struck, impacting the Midwest and Southeast of the U.S. Phoenix tied its last record high temperature at 114 degrees. That same month, North Platte, Nebraska, also reached a record high at 108 degrees, and in Odessa, Texas, thousands of residents were without water while coping with a high of 105 degrees.