The great heating debate, a hot topic at SPLASH!

This SPLASH! Pool & Spa Trade Show, there will be two major debates – panel discussions on important topics for the industry, featuring leaders in particular fields.

One is Hot Topic – Raising a Standard, examining issues surrounding residential swimming pool heating, including the impact of new standards on the industry and the best choices for particular consumer applications.

Panelists include Callum Ross, Managing Director Boss Solar; Tim Martin, EvoHeat General Manager; Rob Sterland, Pentair Product Manager; Colin Mauger, Supreme Heating Director; and Tom Boadle, General Manager Sunbather. The mediator will be SPASA CIO Luke Daly.

Below is an overview of presentations from some of the panelists.

Callum Ross, Sun Boss

The new heating standards

I am pleased with the increase in the recommended minimum coverage for solar thermal swimming pool heating. I believe we should be customer focused in everything we do. This type of change will drive customer results in a positive direction, delighting more and more pool owners, which in turn increases buyer defense. It also establishes consistency between the standard, theory and practice, removing any ambiguity that could confuse potential buyers and create mistrust.

How do you choose the right heater for the right job?

When advising a client on heating solutions, it is essential that we first seek to understand the clients’ expectations and the desired use of the pool. Are they recreational users? Is the pool meant to complement their fitness program? Or is the pool maybe for rehabilitation or hydrotherapy? These applications all have different heating requirements. Understanding the application is key to ensuring that the customer enjoys the pool for years to come and that the heating solution meets both the intended use and expectations. Location and installation requirements should also be considered.

Our industry must avoid directing pool owners towards a decision that corresponds to a program. We must listen to them and offer them a solution that best meets their individual needs.

How should data be presented to consumers regarding their heating needs and expected results?

As an industry, we need to present data in a standardized and consistent way that allows the pool owner to compare apples to apples. This data should also be clear, simple and free of jargon or asterisks.

The information provided to customers must be complete, including all options. Too often, consumers discover alternative options after the fact and are disappointed. As trusted advisors, we must act as such.

What should our industry know/do that it may not know right now to help us all improve?

We must consider the future sustainability of our industry. We need to consider things beyond short-term satisfactions and ease of installation. Listening to our customers’ needs rather than our own will ensure pool owners are satisfied not just in the initial excitement phase when the pool is a shiny new toy, but five years, 10 years and 20 years from now. We need new and existing pool owners to have an ongoing affinity with their pool, ensuring buyer advocacy and positive promotion of our industry.

Tim Martin, EvoHeat

The last 10 years have seen a massive increase in heating technologies and suppliers on the market. Having accurate heating standards in place will help our industry and pool owners make more informed decisions about their heating needs.

A pool is a big investment, and without proper temperature control, pool owners can only use it for less than 20% of the year. Better education on pool heating solutions and setting standards will help reduce the amount of false and misleading information passed on to the industry and to pool owners.

The industry always talks about heating, but it’s not just about heating. As an industry, we should be talking about temperature control – it delivers year-round results in all weather conditions and environments.

Last year, nearly 20% of our pool heating inquiries were from pool owners looking to upgrade their existing heating technology because it didn’t meet their heating needs. One of the most common problems we encounter in the industry is the wrong solution or wrong size heater installed.

Many factors must be considered to determine the right solution for pool owners – pool size, desired temperature, swimming season, daily use, weather conditions, shading, use of covers and solar power capacity. These are all important factors that should be considered when recommending the right heating solution.

Robert Sterland, Pentair

The new heating standards

The new AS5352 heat pump standard aims to ensure that the consumer gets the right product for the application. Across the industry, we see disgruntled consumers end up with an uncomfortable pool, simply because they were sold a heat pump that was too small or improperly installed.

The new standard standardizes performance testing and ratings, so consumers can compare apples to apples and marketers can’t inflate performance numbers to boost sales with an inadequate product to the detriment of our industry. . It also describes in detail how to calculate the size of heater required for a particular application, so that the consumer is sold the right product for their pool.

In addition to this, the standard also details best practices for installing heat pumps so that pool builders and installers have a consistent baseline and heat pumps perform as intended. This standardization of best practices raises the bar and contributes to the professionalization of our industry.

How do you choose the right heater for the right job?

Listen to customer wants and needs. When do they want to swim? Summer, spring/autumn, all year round? What temperature would they like the pool? Look at the space available for equipment, including roof space. Ask the customer if they would like to install PV in the future, if they are not already doing so. This will guide the heating type selection. Gas heaters are small and have incredible heat output, ideal for on-demand heating and cold weather heating. Heat pumps are very efficient and will provide heat output in all seasons, but in cold climates larger units are required, increasing initial costs. For the cost of running a circulation pump, solar energy provides free thermal energy from the sun, but it depends on the glare of the sun and takes up roof space. Often more than one type of heater is required to meet customer needs.

How should data be presented to consumers regarding their heating needs and expected results?

First, use the standard as the basis for these calculations, then at least the consumer gets science-based information. Second, explain that performance and efficiency are always influenced by the environment, so you can expect some variability in unusual weather conditions.

What should our industry know/do that it may not know right now (to help us all improve)?

Embrace the new normal. Provide heat pump ratings at specified test points.

Colin Mauger, Supreme Heater

Our pools are mostly outdoors and are used seasonally, usually on the hottest and sunniest days.

Traditional solar pool heating solutions have in most cases more than met customer expectations. The energy is free and ensures that the overall cost of owning and operating a pool is minimized.

The market has moved with a wave of popularity towards heat pumps. From our position – at the retail level around Australia, 80% of our sales are solar and 20% are heat pumps. At the commercial level, it is the opposite.

The perceived value for the pool owner lies in and around low operating costs and sustainable/responsible heating solutions.

The value perceived at the point of sale of the pool is controlled by the pool provider and on the convenience of the package (ease and control of sizing and installation).

So what is the right choice? Are we improving consumer advocacy to ensure continued industry growth, and will we have government support?

Inverter heat pumps rely heavily on the pool owner to constantly maintain pool coverage. This does not happen and presents problems for the pool cover and shell. Trade and consumer need better education – fact sheets – running costs – solar PV requirements to run a heat pump – recovery costs when cover is left overnight etc.

The energy used to run a heat pump unnecessarily undermines the purpose of solar photovoltaic panels and the government’s investment in its rebate program.

Embodied carbon energy is worth discussing – why build a renewable photovoltaic system, deliver and install to run a fossil fuel heat pump when a proven renewable solar system was available? We are far from supporting net zero emissions.

Heat pumps can provide a suitable solution for spas, daily bathers and sites that do not allow solar installation (roof difficulties, shade, roof access, attic and aesthetics).

Pool builders, consultants and suppliers must be responsible and able to demonstrate responsible heating solutions based on individual sites. We should explore the possibility of having to submit a projected operating cost for the pool as a requirement of SPASA.

The hierarchy of consideration should be – solar – heat pump – gas. With a pool cover used whenever possible.

Register now

Be sure to come along to see the big debate in person and enjoy the lively discussions at SPLASH! June 22-23, 2022 at the Gold Coast Convention & Exhibition Center Broadbeach, Queensland.

Legend: What are the best heating options for backyard pools? Picture: EvoHeat

Jessica C. Bell