Founded in 1994 in Richfield, Minnesota, ECOsmarte strives to offer environmentally friendly products, eliminating harsh chemicals from swimming pools and the environment through copper ionization.
The founders of ECOsmarte were familiar with copper ionization from its use by NASA in the late 1960s, says marketing manager Mike Dewar. “(NASA) knew they couldn’t send chlorine up in the rocket ships, so Honeywell developed the copper ionization for the program,” he explains. “ECOsmarte combines that copper ionization with oxidation to provide a completely chlorine-free swimming experience.”
ECOsmarte offers a Standard or Small Pool System (10,000 gallons), Standard Turbo Pool System (50,000 gallons) and its Automated Digital Programmable Pool System (50,000 gallons with an optional extra cell).
Chlorine options exist in abundance and at a potentially lower price. However, Dewar says ionization systems make up for that cost discrepancy in the long run. “Besides eliminating chlorine and salt, which are corrosive to many materials in the pools and surrounding environment, we also convert minerals like calcium to a bicarbonate state,” Dewar says. “This means when there is evaporation, scale will not form. We simply reduce calcium to a powder that will not stick or scale up the surfaces.”
Dewar says ECOsmarte products stand out due to their ability to not only ionize pool water, but also to provide the oxidation necessary to eliminate, instead of reduce, the need for chlorine. “There are a variety of chlorine reduction systems available in the market, which are all a step in the right direction, but we take it all the way,” Dewar says.
John Bouwens of ECOsmarte Florida says other ionization products in the marketplace are usually a copper/silver combination, and all require some level of chlorine as an additional sanitizer.*
“Many advertise that they eliminate chemicals, but the fine print always indicates that low levels of chlorine may be required,” Bouwens says. “Through ECOsmarte’s provision of free oxygen, which, when combined with water, makes low levels of hydrogen peroxide, no chlorine is needed. Also, since we only use pure copper, the problem with staining caused by copper/silver ionization is greatly reduced.”
Jeff Henneforth, owner of Triton Water Renewal in Poway, California, operates a reverse osmosis trailer, so he has seen many clients turn to ionization. Salt pools typically need to be drained in transitioning to ion-sanitization, but Triton Water Renewal uses reverse osmosis to lower TDS (total dissolved solids) to acceptable levels for ionization.
Henneforth has also witnessed the benefits of ionization firsthand. “My wife suffers from a number of autoimmune diseases, and one of them affects her skin,” he says. “Since we have started using ECOsmarte, she is able to enjoy the pool longer and without irritation.”
Bouwens says other benefits include no corrosion, equipment and pools lasting longer, minimal maintenance and reduced cost once the product is correctly calibrated. Bouwens says no salt or chlorine means reduced health risks, no need to rinse off after swimming and no goggles in the water. Additionally, copper does not evaporate and should be unaffected by UV rays.
Dewars touts ECOsmarte’s Pool Turbo, a push-button controlled, fully programmable system. “Besides providing automation, it has the ability to connect CO2 injection for pH control, which will significantly lower the acid use on the pool,” he says. Bouwens adds that ECOsmarte’s programmable system can be costly but gives users a nearly hands-free pool.
Sanitizing pool water through ionization requires a sand filter; it does not work with a cartridge filter, Bouwens says. However, he estimates users can quickly recoup upfront costs due to the reduction in chemical use. Electrical costs are another selling point, he adds, because the ECOsmarte system uses 4 to 6 volts of electricity, compared with 300 to 400 volts for a salt cell.
Installation of ECOsmarte products requires replacement of 11 inches of the return line into the pool. The chamber glues into the existing PVC plumbing. Bouwens says the system often replaces chlorine chambers or salt cells. Once the controller is mounted and wires are hooked up, adjustments are made for hardness and pH.
While chlorine remains a popular option worldwide, ionization has made an impact as well. ECOsmarte products alone have been installed in all 50 states and over 130 countries, with resellers in 40 countries. The company features a dealer direct model: Dealers gain access to wholesale pricing with an initial purchase of six systems if at least one of them is ECOsmarte’s programmable pool product. Dealer inquiries can be made through ECOsmarte’s website or over the phone.
Henneforth says he appreciates the abundance of sanitizing options for pool owners, whether ionization, chlorine, salt or ozone, each with pros and cons.
Henneforth adds: “What people need to know is that there is a zero-chlorine option available to them.”