We tested the technology and found it works as advertised
By SpaRetailer Staff
We’d discussed writing a story on ConnectedYard’s pHin product for awhile, so when they got in touch and offered to let us test it*, we thought it was the perfect opportunity to see if it lived up to the company’s claims.
Our publisher, David Wood, cares for his pool himself. So at the beginning of the summer, he tossed the device in to see how it worked. While he tested it on his pool only, the results would likely translate to spas as well.
If you aren’t familiar with the premise, pHin floats in the pool or hot tub and measures the water chemistry, teaching and reminding homeowners to keep their water balanced.
“This came out of Silicon Valley,” says Jim Conti, vice president of revenue at pHin. “Justin Miller and Mark Janes, sat in their backyard like almost all pool owners do and said, ‘There’s gotta be a better way to take care of our pool.’ ”
It took about 15 minutes to get the product set up, and there were videos or pictures of the process to check out along the way if you had any questions.
“It was very idiot-proof,” Wood says. “When you drop it in the pool, it says to leave it alone for 24 hours until it has run the full diagnostics of your pool. About six hours later, it sent a full report to my phone.”
Weekly phone alerts reminded him to add chlorine and alerted him to any problems. He could also see how his water was trending so that, for example, he could see how the pool temperature increased over the summer. But he could also see his pH was trending downward and that his free chlorine was trending up.
To make sure the water chemistry readings were accurate, each week he took three water samples to three pool stores to have them tested. The results were nearly always identical.
The version we tested was direct to consumer, so along with the pHin device, we received chemicals and the app told exactly how much to add to keep the water balanced.
The company’s dealer-to-consumer versions are designed to get customers back into the store to buy chemicals. Currently pHin has a partnership with Lonza, so someone can scan a Lonza product with the app and it will tell the user exactly how much to add to the pool or spa water.
“We’re now driving consumer behavior toward putting chlorine in your pool every seven days and shocking your pool every seven days,” Conti says. “How many consumers are doing those types of behaviors? The numbers are shockingly low, then they wonder why their pools aren’t healthy and balanced. So we’re making suggestions and recommendations, and they’re very specific. We can make a generic recommendation and say raise your pH 0.5 or whatever it has to be. Or, you can go scan a Lonza chemical and we’ll give you specific dosing instructions. We’re going to say, now add 25 fluid ounces of this chemical. We show the customer which chemical it is and we drive them back to that store for the advice, the guidance and more chemicals.”
For hot tubs pHin provides specific dosing for the size of the spa, and it recommends bromine instead of chlorine. Conti uses it on his pool and hot tub. “I can see them 24/7, see what’s going on and make sure everything’s OK,” he says. “If you have our kids turn on the hot tub for some reason, there’s also the ability to monitor for temperature. If they were to turn that on and it gets up over 100 degrees, the pHin turns red and says unsafe water.”
pHin provides the service department an inexpensive way to monitor their customers’ tubs. If you provide valet service, for example, a technician can show up to a job knowing exactly which chemicals, and how much, are needed to get everything balanced.
The company recently announced a partnership with Thermospas, where the device is available in Thermospas online store.
Conti believes the company is moving out of the testing phase and into the adoption phase of the product lifecycle.
“And a lot of [industry] folks have said, ‘If this works, it’s a no-brainer. But we’ve got to trial it first.’ ” Conti says. “There’s more of a wait and see, let-me-trial-you-first mentality. Forty years of doing it one way is a difficult paradigm to shift. We went through this period where people said, ‘I like it … but.’ So that period of time between launch and test trial is now coming to this. The curve is trials are going down; adoption is going up. I think 2018 is going to be our breakout year.”
*We were allowed to use pHin on a trial basis for free without any recompense. Opinions on the product are our own.