Sunday, November 17, 2013

Who Makes the Best Pool Equipment -Pentair, Hayward, Jandy or Off Brands?

An old Brass Pump
Here is a question I get a lot on my YouTube Channel and one that can't be answered by just stating that one company is the best. The truth is they all make pretty comparable products with a few distinctions. First, they don't make pool equipment like they used to. If you are in the industry you will find a lot of old American Product filters and pumps still working fine in customers backyards along with old Purex/ Triton pumps. I hate to say it but the newer equipment is not made nearly as well. Pretty obvious when a 20 year old pump is outlasting a newly installed 5 year old pump. But I think that is a problem across the board as manufacturer switch to cheaper regions to make products which is a grip for another Blog.  Suffice to say that there is only a small distinction now between the companies. Here is a real world review of each brand from working off and on in the Pool Industry since 1988.

Pentair doesn't openly advertise this but they also own STA-RITE and Rainbow Pool Products
which makes them the largest manufacturer by far. Pentair makes the best filters of all the brands and in each category. They make the best D.E.. Cartridge and Sand Filters. I rate this based on quality of the fiber glass filter tanks themselves which are very reliable as well as the internal parts such as cartridges, filter elements and manifolds. They are made just a little bit better than the other manufacturers.  The only problem I have is that the backwash valve on the FNS Plus has been changed back to the old American Products (Pentair bought that company also)  style which is kinda blah - it tends to snap off and break since it is made of thinner plastic.

They also make the best and most reliable Salt Chlorine System: The Intellichlor IC40 or IC20. These Salt units just have fewer problems and are super reliable. I also like the fact that all the electronics are built into the cell so when you replace the cell you get basically a whole new unit.

Their regular pool pumps are on par with other brands. There isn't much difference between the Pentair Wisperflow and say the Hayward Super II pump. So as far as pumps go it is a pretty even playing field. Lately, the Wisperflow motors have been burning out faster than in the past, but so has every other pump motor brand...

But their Variable Speed and Dual Speed Pumps are the best in the industry. By far they are the easiest to program and operate as well as being very reliable. They were the first to come up with these pump types and are always improving and updating their tech. So Pentair is my 1st choice for a Variable/ Dual Speed Pump.

Their Heaters are also very good and somewhat reliable. As heaters go regardless of manufacturer they are always failing. I would say the Hayward Heaters are slightly more reliable but there really isn't a heater out there that will not break down on you every season or every other season. It is just how it goes.

The Automated systems IntelliTouch and Easy Touch are good. They are not quite as good as the Jandy Aqualink which was first in the business and is still the best and most reliable. The Pentair Valve actuators (the device that turns the valves automatically form say Pool to Spa) are sub par. . The gears and motor were redesigned a few years ago and they are constantly not turning correctly. I would recommend any other brand Valve Actuator over the Pentair one. Jandy Valve Actuators are the best.  But the automated system itself is easy to operate and reliable.

Here is an update on Pentair for 2017:

Pentair is holding steady by making quality equipment, although there is some grumbling ffrom the Warranty Techs who seem to have to fight Pentair more and more to get a Warranty repair cleared - just one money saving move by Pentair that is not good. But their Intelliflo pumps are still super reliable and their new ScreenLogic App allows you to control their Automated systems with your Smart Phone or Device for a small upgrade cost of $400, Their salt systems are still the best, although they did some cost saving work on the Power Unit - making it much harder to replace the fuse. Basically Pentair is going through some cost saving moves which might degrade their overall number one standing. Their Valve Actuators are still below par and still need improvement.

Filters: 10 out of 10 stars
Salt System: 10 out of 10 stars
Standard Pumps & Motors: 8 out of 10 stars
Variable & Dual Speed Pumps: 10 out of 10 stars
Heaters: 7 out of 10 stars
Automated Systems: 9 out of 10 stars


Jandy makes good products but they are still not as good as Pentair, but in the past year they have made considerable strides to be number one. See my update for 2017 below for the details. I will just touch on a few things that Jandy does well and bad.

Their automated system, AquaLink is still the best in the business. That are super reliable and have multiple platforms to access your pool equipment. I just like the AquaLink because the menu, interface and components are the best in the industry. Their Jandy Valve actuators are also the most reliable. It is just a great system.

Their filters need some work as the internal parts seem to crack and are not made as well as other brands. I like their pumps as they are quite and reliable.

Their heater are based on the old Ray-Pak brands which leads them to be unreliable at best. The heaters are getting better but are still not as good as the other brands.

The worst product they make is their AquaPure Salt System. It is the most unreliable salt system you can buy. Lots of error codes will make the stop working and if you can get it to stay working through one season you would be lucky. It is pretty bad.

Here is an update on Jandy for 2017:

They have come out with two new salt system to replace their unreliable AquaPure System. These two new systems are simpler and much more reliable- TrueClear and AquaPure Ei. They have a new heater based on a completely new compact 2 ft by 2 ft design - JXi. And last, their VS pumps have made considerable strides with the iQPUMP01 they are now the easiest Varaible speed pumps to program. Their New  VSPlusHP has a better flow rate then Pentairs IntelliFlo pump. So maybe in a year or two Jandy will pass Pentair in quality and innovation.

Jandy  Rating:
Filters: 8 out of 10 stars
Salt System: 7 out of 10 stars
Standard Pumps & Motors: 8 out of 10 stars
Variable & Dual Speed Pumps: 9 out of 10 stars
Heaters: 8 out of 10 stars
Automated Systems: 10 out of 10 stars


Hayward is not as big as Pentair and doesn't have the same marketing budget but they make good products also. Defaulting to Hayward is not a bad thing at all.

Their filters are on par with Pentair as far as reliability, design and ease of use (cleaning). I just prefer Pentair as they are still slightly better made. But if you can get a Hayward filter on the cheap verses Pentair don't hesitate to go with Hayward. It is a good product.

Their Aqua Rite Salt System is also a very good. I just think the Pentair Intellichlor is a better model but that is a debatable. Some people prefer the Aqua-Rite system and it is indeed a very good system. It is very reliable and easy to maintain. The salt cells are also very well made and long lasting. A very good system.

Their pumps are very well made and they make some models with gigantic pump basket areas (TriStar) which is nice if your pool gets lots of debris. I still prefer their Super II pumps over the others they make but all of their pumps are reliable.

The variable speed pumps by Hayward are good but the controls for them are a little hard to navigate and aren't as easy to program and operate as the Pentair models.

Hayward makes the most reliable heaters that have the fewest errors. They are also virtually rat proof so if you have problems with rodents in your area the Hayward Heater is for you. I've had rats living in my Pentair Heater just because it is a warm place and they can crawl through the heater panels easily.

The Hayward Goldline automated system is good. They work with little problems and are easy to program. The valve actuators are also very reliable and won't cause any issues. I think that Jandy & Pentair still makes a superior product in automation.

Update for Hayward for 2017:

The quality of the Hayward products have not changed much from the initial publish date of this article. When talking to warranty techs their main complaint is that Hayward is also going through some cost cutting moves, making for more warranty calls over Pentair and Jandy. But they still make good overall equipment. They have a new automated system that should compete well now with Pentair and Jandy. But their VS pumps are not on par with Pentair nor have they made strides to improve like Jandy. I would hope for greater innovations from Hayward in the next year to stay competitive.

Hayward Rating:
Filters: 9 out of 10 stars
Salt System: 9 out of 10 stars
Standard Pumps & Motors: 8 out of 10 stars
Variable & Dual Speed Pumps: 7 out of 10 stars
Heaters: 8 out of 10 stars
Automated Systems: 8 out of 10 stars


Waterway Filter & Pump Combo
There are a few independent smaller manufacturers like Waterway which is probably the biggest one out there at the moment. They make very good products and if the price is right there is no issue with buying a Waterway pump or filter. NexaPure makes a very good Salt Water System and you will find a scattering of these smaller companies that make good products. But there are a lot of other small companies that make substandard products so it is best to go with a larger well known brand like Pentair or Hayward. You really can't go wrong with the big brands as they are big because they make good products. So the bottom line is to shop around for the best price but to also keep in mind who makes the best equipment.

Off brand equipment update for 2017:

I would still steer away from the off brand equipment. There really is no reasdon not to go with Pentair, Jandy or Hayward at this point. Stick with the known brands and known products for best overall equipment results,

If you have any questions feel free to contact me.

Friday, November 1, 2013

So You Wanna Have a Swimming Pool Built, Eh? - By Raymond Chandler

It was on of those typical California Mornings. Already hot enough to cook an egg and make you sweat for just breathing. I couldn't afford to sweat today or any day at that.

So I sat inside smoking and turned the air on to a crisp 60 degrees. I sat and waited which I am good at. The doorbell rang 10 minutes ahead of schedule. This could be good or bad and I was about to find out which. I opened the door and there stood the first mark. He wasn't much to look at. I could have picked him up and tossed him across the room without breaking a sweat. He was dressed fine like afterwards he was going to his sister's Wedding.

We shook hands, as I expected he tried too hard to grip me and it felt like A Butterfly kissing my hand. He introduced himself in a squeaky voice, "Hi, I'm Eugene Stanton from Sky Blue Pools. Nice to meet you."
"Same to you" I said. Eugene, huh? Too bad. I didn't like anyone named Eugene so that was strike one against Mr. Stanton. I took him out back and we got down to business.

I asked him if he was packing lead and he says, "Just in my pencils sir." So he was a smart guy, eh. Out back it was even hotter. You could now fry 2 eggs plus some bacon. I showed him where I wanted the pool dug and told him that area was likely safe, no bodies would come up when they dug there. Eugene laughed as if I was joking. I was dead serious. We went back in on account that Eugene was starting to sweat like he was already digging the pool up. It was a hot one for sure.

He reached into his briefcase, I told him to be careful what he pulled out of there. Again he laughs. This guy must think I am a regular riot act. He pulls out a few sketches to show me. The first sketch has more curves than the waitress down at the corner Diner. I told Eugene I like curves but only on the Dames. He shows me some other ideas which turned out better for him. I liked the last one he showed me so we settled on that one. Eugene then gives me the latest scoop, "You see sir in this business everything needs to be strictly in writing and very detailed at that. If it is not in the contract then it is not going to be in the backyard when the job is done. Everything you want needs to be detailed in this paper right here. Once you sign the contract it is binding after 72 hours. Here in California you have 72 hours called the cooling off period to change your mind. After that you are stuck with me, ha, ha."

I told him that in my business we never write anything down in case the Coppers get a hold of it. So I asked him to run that by me again so I got it straight. He says sure,

"Let's say you insist on some particular equipment. You lay it out for the sales guy. The sales guy says okay and  tells you that you are getting a 520 sq ft Pentair cartridge filter, a 2 Hp Wisperflow Pump and a 400 BTU MasterTemp Heater you want," I tell him to keep talking but it was all Greek to me, "but he doesn't write it into the contract as you said it. He just writes in Pentair Filter, Pentair Pump and Heater. Chances are Bub that what you asked for will not materialize in your backyard. It's gotta be written down specific like." I ask him if these Pentair guys are from Chicago cause I don't deal with anyone from Chicago. He tells me he doesn't think so. He shows me some pictures of the equipment and I ask if it comes in anny other colors besides Tan. He says no. I don't like Tan on account of Eddie LaBlanc. Not sure where he got that name from since he was about as French as the Czar of Russia. But good old Eddie wore them Tan suits all the time. No matter the job he was dressed in Tan. The boss got so fed up that he sent Eddie on a job in his Tan suit that we all knew he wouldn't be back from. So I wasn't to hot for Tan.

So I wanted to loosen Eugene up for my next question. I offer him a cigar or smoke and he says he doesn't smoke anymore. Strike two against Eugene. I say to him, "Suppose you start digging the pool and I don't like the exact location no more. Or it doesn't look like how I wanted it in the drawing over here, what happens?" He starts to shake his head and I know already I'm not gonna like the answer.
"You see sir, the contract is a legal binding document. Any changes at that point is at our discretion. If you feel like you still want the changes or don't like how the job is moving along then you will need to initiate Arbitration." I say to him, "You mean go to the Law and get them involved?"
"Not exactly. It is just a process through the courts where contract disputes are settled. It is extremely time consuming, I must warn you, so it is best to pick a reputable builder like ourselves and stick to what is in the contract to the letter." I ask him what does he mean a long process. "Well, if we start to dig and you don't like it, maybe you will be looking at the hole in the ground for six months or so."
 " What do you mean, I can't just get another guy to finish the job?"
"No sir. The contract is binding. No other company would dare do any work until the court releases you or we release you from the contract. Once you sign this contract you are bond by the terms." Well I wasn't signing no contract anytime soon, I was pretty spooked by what Eugene was telling me, although you couldn't tell.

I though I would drop one more line onto poor Eugene before I asked him to hit the pavement. "I was on the three W's last night." He stops me and asks what the Three W's was. I guess Eugene wasn't too sharp after all. "I mean the computer. the World Wide Web." He says he is familiar with the internet, a real wise guy. "I was on this forum and they were saying that the pool Start-up was pretty important. Should I get that in writing also?"  I show him the link:

He says most certainly. You don't want the builder finishing the job and then having to Start-up the pool on your own. He says that his company will send a guy by everyday for one week to brush and test the water. Again, his was a reputable company he says.

He asks me if I plan on financing the pool. I point to the briefcase on the counter and tell him there is 40 Grand in there so that should cover it. He laughs again. I would have opened the briefcase and shown him the dough but things could have gotten ugly at that point. I tell him, "Finance? A good friend of mine in Tennessee says if you don't have the dough then you shouldn't buy it. Why would I want to pay $250 a month for the next 10 years  for something I am only going to use maybe 20 times each year. Plus according to the Three W's it cost a lot of money just to keep the pool running without adding extra to it each month. The guys who finance everything find themselves in the Pudding sooner or later when their luck drys up. " Cash only for me. He says that is fine. The payment is structured in phases as the construction proceeds so it won't be all up front, maybe four or five payments. I tell him do I look like a guy who would give him the money up front. He doesn't answer which is smart for him.

I tell Eugene that it is time to hit the road. I liked the guy. I wouldn't want him in the box in court though. All the D.A. had do do was ask his name and Eugene would have spilled the beans all over the place. But his information was helpful. I told him I had four more guys like him lined up today and I would get back to him. He says I am smart to get other bids. Of course it is smart I tell him, do I look like a Dummy? He also says I could stop by and see his companies work or talk with previous clients. I liked that. Too bad for the kid his Mama named him Eugene. If he was named George or Henry maybe he could have gone somewhere in life. Maybe even President of the US. People like to vote for guys with normal sounding names and all.

But Eugene gave me a lot to think about. This job wasn't going to be the a piece of cake after all. I got out the Whiskey and poured myself a double shot. This was going to be a long day. I was pretty sure one of these guys would show up in a tan suit.

Here Is a pool by a builder in my area that is respectable: