ControlOMatic: There’s an App for That

SmarterSpa+ allows access worldwide

As wellness evolves from a trend to a lifestyle for many, spas are playing an increasing role because of their health benefits like pain relief, improved sleep and increased cardiovascular health.           

Mindful consumers interested in a more natural sanitization option for their spa may opt for a salt system. Though saltwater systems still generate chlorine through the separation of sodium chloride, this method is safer and more gentle than traditional chemical chlorine because of the consistency of chlorine levels, says Elyssa Kohnke, senior software engineer for ControlOMatic, a family-run manufacturer in Grass Valley, California.

“A salt system automates the process, steadily adding chlorine throughout the day, allowing the spa to spend a significantly higher percentage of its time in that ‘Goldilocks zone’ of not too much and not too little chlorine — just right,” she explains. “Plus, with our chlorine detection, the salt system can automatically adjust to changes in chlorine demand, producing more chlorine as needed and less chlorine when left unused, further homing in on that consistency.”

Keeping saltwater spas operating at optimal, natural chlorine levels has been the company’s focus since 2005, when it was the first in the industry to offer a chlorine generator specifically for hot tubs. In 2015, ControlOMatic debuted SmarterSpa, a chlorine generator with built-in chlorine detection technology. Seven years later, the company released SmarterSpa+, which “includes all of the features of the SmarterSpa, plus the app, pun intended,” Elyssa says. 

By the 2022 release, many products had become “smart”: smartphones, smart plugs and even smart barbecues. 

ControlOMatic SmarterSpa+

“We thought, ‘Why not do the same with our product and give our customers information about their spas right at their fingertips?’ ” Elyssa says. “We looked around, and nobody else had made a saltwater chlorine generator with both chlorine detection and an app. So, we saw an open market and filled it.”

Getting the SmarterSpa+ to market was a challenge because of the chip shortage, says Melinda Kohnke, business development manager. Then, last fall, ControlOMatic was finally able to secure all the necessary parts and move forward. 

“It’s in stock and readily available,” she says, and the manufacturing company has dealers representing them across the U.S. and Canada, though ControlOMatic is looking to expand its reach.

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Installation is easy, Elyssa says. Like the original SmarterSpa, SmarterSpa+ requires no spa modification. All that’s needed for a drape-over of the existing plumbing is to “plug the power supply into the wall and place the electrode in the main body of water — it’s completely plug and play,” she says. An in-line version is also available.

Because of its lower salt requirement than other salt systems on the market, both models can be used for existing saltwater spas or to convert a traditional chlorine model to saltwater, since the amount of salt is low enough to avoid causing corrosion to the spa itself. Despite using less salt, “our production is as much as three times better than the competition, which means we’re making the right amount of chlorine faster and better,” Melinda says.

For the average customer, Elyssa likes to mention a familiar scenario: “Imagine you’re at the airport after a long trip, and you’re thinking about relaxing in your hot tub with your family as soon as you get home. Using your SmarterSpa+ app, you let your spa know to execute extra chlorine as there will be an increasing demand.” 

You get home, and your hot tub is ready and waiting for all to enjoy. That’s the beauty and benefit of this new ControlOMatic product, she says.

How Built-In Chlorine Detection Technology Works

Both ControlOMatic’s app-compatible SmarterSpa+ and SmarterSpa’s chlorine detection technology were developed by founder Scott Lenney. According to Elyssa Kohnke, senior software engineer for the manufacturing company, there are two main features of these industry-leading units: Power Level and Zero Point.

  • The Power Level is adjusted based on spa size to indicate how much chlorine to produce whenever the chlorine detection sensor tells it to turn on.
  • The Zero Point is the threshold for that sensor when there is little-to-no chlorine left. When the reading drops below the Zero Point value, that’s the signal for the unit to turn on and produce more chlorine.

Both of these settings are user-adjustable, with default recommendations listed in the manual, so customers can match the settings to the specific needs of their spas, up to 2,000 gallons.