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Hayward Industries pHin Brings “Hi Tech” to Pool Care

by July 05, 2020
pHin Smart Water Monitor

pHin Smart Water Monitor

  • Product Name: pHin Smart Water Monitor
  • Manufacturer: Hayward Industries
  • Performance Rating: StarStarStarStarStar
  • Value Rating: StarStarStarStar
  • Review Date: July 05, 2020 05:00
  • MSRP: $ 350 plus $99/year optional monitoring subscription after the first year
  • Buy Now

Pros

  • Super simple setup
  • Monitors water chemistry 1,000 times a week
  • Takes the guesswork out of pool care

Cons

  • Expensive to purchase plus optional $99 basic subscription per year (following the first free year)

 

I pHinside.jpgknow the theme of Audioholics is audio. I mean it’s right in the name, but we are an eclectic bunch, pandering more towards the technical side of everyday life. So, when Hayward Industries contacted me and asked if I would like to try out their pHin smart water chemistry monitor I figured “what can I lose”. The pHin measures pH, sanitizer (chlorine, bromine, and salt systems), and temperature 1,000 times a week and sends the data to an app on your smartphone. I just put the finishing touches on the pavers, low voltage lighting, and landscaping. Now, where is that outdoor entertainment system going…

I was sent the new and improved model of the pHin (pronounced “fin”) which is just being released by Hayward Industries. The newest model includes a refreshed app experience and an expanded database of compatible chemicals that you can scan or select to be ready for pickup at your neighborhood pool store.

The height of the swim season is here, and families need to know that their water is safe for everything from a morning swim, to relaxation, and fun and games. We designed pHin to take the guesswork out of maintenance, and we’ve continued to evolve the pHin experience to reduce the time spent on pool and hot tub care. With increased reliability and more compatible chemicals, pHin’s algorithm and intelligence is the easiest way to maintain safe swimming water this year.

--pHin Co-Founder Justin Miller

My pHin was shipped via FedEx, but the pHin website had clear instructions on where to find a preferred retailer in your area. I found a company within 15 miles of my house.

I talked to my local Leslies pool store about the pHin and they had heard of it and thought it was a great tool for the pool industry but they are not yet carrying it.

Though the pHin can be used solely by the pool or hot tub owner by providing them with readings and a shopping list of chemicals to pick-up from their preferred pool store, it can also be used in cooperation with pool technicians through the partner portal.

The partner portal lets technicians see the status of their customer’s water through the pHin app, so they can manage their schedule and see who’s pool/hot tub needs attention and allows them to proactively offer solutions to reoccurring or persistent issues. Pool and hot tub owners still get the same functionality and alerts with their pHin app, but their technician can also use the data, too, to help manage their water.

wall-e.jpg   pHinbox3.jpg

Inside the FedEx box was the smaller pHin package wrapped in clear cellophane. Opening the pHin box reveals the gently nestled cute little flattened egg-shaped pHin looking so much like one of EVA’s fins from WALL-E. 

No instructions. Just the pHin, a box with a plug and a sign that reads “Bridge” and a small kit that reads “pHin calibration kit and tether”. What to do now…

 
pHingetstarted.jpg


Luckily, I noticed on the side of the packaging a note prominently displaying “Get started by downloading the pHin App”.  Yes, I felt like I was in an episode of AMC’s “Dispatches From Elsewhere” but this was way more exciting.

Setup

pHinapp.jpg  pHinapp2.jpg


I downloaded the app and followed the instructions on my iPhone. I had to register my account through email and then scanned the wireless bridge to help set up the connection between the pHin, the bridge, and my iPhone. Once everything was connected and communicating properly with each other I could go ahead and set up the pHin to monitor the pool. The pHin connects to your phone and WIFI bridge through Bluetooth which then connects to pHin’s servers through WIFI allowing you to receive alerts and monitor your water chemistry even while not at home.

Note: I found it humorous that Hayward Industries, a company known for manufacturing pool equipment and makes the pHin monitor, had the easiest WIFI setup I’ve ever experienced connecting the pHin bridge to my wireless router.

pHinapp5.jpg pHinteststrip.jpg  pHinteststrip2.jpg


The app asked quepHinapp8.jpgstions like the size and type of sanitizer my pool used: Bromine, chlorine, salt chlorinated, etc. I was then instructed to dip one of the supplied test strips in the pool to check chlorine, pH, hardness (calcium), total alkalinity, and cyanuric acid. You hold the strip against a marked testing card, take a picture, and the app will analyze the chemistry of your pool based on the results of the strip against the testing card which will then calibrate the pHin. You get 25 test strips with the purchase of the pHin. At once a month that’s over two years’ worth of test strips. The app has you test with the strips once a month to make sure the pHin is calibrated and to check hardness, total alkalinity, and cyanuric acid which are not checked with the probes from the pHin. If you need more test strips after two years (or if you decide to check every 2 two weeks), you can order another package of 25 test strips through pHin for $18.

Within a few seconds, the pHin was already checking temperature, sanitizer levels, and pH. Since I had just come from the pool store that morning, I knew what my readings were for my pool chemistry.

I could say that my pool chemistry levels were the same as the readout I was getting from the pHin, but that is not entirely true. The pHin doesn’t give you a number per se, but a chart of where the levels are throughout the testing cycle.

pHinsanitizer.jpg


The chart above shows the sanitizer levels in the pool. You can see that you don’t get a number, but a graph of the change in sanitizer levels throughout the day or week.

Electronic sensors cannot directly measure chlorine or bromine concentrations. Instead, they measure a more important number, the oxidation-reduction potential (ORP) of your water. ORP is measured in millivolts and cannot be converted directly to the parts-per-million of chlorine or bromine. Many government water safety guidelines are being rewritten to use ORP.

--pHin

pHinpH.jpg


The chart above shows pH levels in the pool over the course of a week. I decided to add pH down to get my levels down around 7.5 and this is where the pHin really shows it’s worth. The app instructed me to scan the product I normally would use to bring my pH down to the proper level. I scanned the UPC of my bottle of Leslie’s Dry Acid. Unfortunately, I received a message stating that the product I scanned wasn’t in their database and to please try another product.

pHin error.PNG     pHinpHdown.jpg

I emailed support ([email protected]) and told them of the situation. Within a day Leslie’s Dry Acid was automatically added to my app and detailed dosing instructions showed me how much dry acid I needed to add to my pool. Pretty cool.

My local pool store informed me that it would very difficult with a saltwater pool to get the pH down below 7.5 and that the levels were fine. I talked to pHin tech support about this issue and they were receptive to the idea of tailoring the levels to an owner's needs.

Customer Feedback

We had a few people over to see the new pool. Stay outside, social distancing. Each time someone asked about the pHin I obliged and give them the full rundown. They were impressed with the app and the ease of dosing instructions.

“You can find the pHin on Amazon for around $350 plus the cost of the basic subscription which is $99/year after the first year which is free.”

Silence…

I can understand their trepidation. These are uncertain times. $350 plus $99 a year is not a serious chunk of change, but as many of them said, they could go down to their local pool store and they’ll test it for free.

It’s important to note that the monitoring service is not required to use pHin. However, without it, you don’t benefit from the lifetime warranty and most of the app features including historical charts.

The pHin monitoring service has several different options for subscriptions. The basic plan free for the first year and then $99/year after that. This includes accessing your data tables on your phone and having the pHin tell you when your pool chemistry is out of balance. Additionally, the $99 plan also tells you how much of your chemicals to add to fix the problem AND warranties the pHin for that year. If you do not have a pool retailer nearby or have a pool technician come to your home, there is a chemical subscription option for both pools and hot tubs that ships chemicals to your home as you need them.

I reached out to pHin to ask what the life span was. Here is their response:

"The latest version of pHin has an expected life of 24 months. However, as long as the customer is a paying subscriber, we will replace their unit free of charge once the battery dies or is close to dying. We actually monitor battery life and are able to proactively send a replacement unit out without you ever reaching out."

--pHin

Conclusion

pHinbox.jpgThe more time I spend with the pHin in my pool, the more I see the benefits. The customer service itself was extraordinary. Most of the time they got back to me the same day – and I had a LOT of questions for them.

Before the new model came out you could find the pHin at a retailer or on Amazon for $300, for some this might be a more palatable price. Most people I talked to said they would have liked to see ONE of the costs come down, either the initial investment or the basic optional subscription.

The last time I walked out of the pool store before I received the pHin and going by their tests I dropped $130 in chemicals. For me the basic package is fine. I have a pool store right down the road and the chemicals are now integrated into my pHin app so it tells me how much to add and when. Considering a good 5-way test kit will set you back $50 a year if you want to test everything yourself, the $99/ year subscription doesn’t seem so out of line.

Now I CAN focus on that outdoor entertainment system and not worry about whether or not my pool chemicals are in balance.

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About the author:

Tony is our resident expert for lifestyle and wireless products including soundbars. He does most of the reviews for wireless and streaming loudspeakers and often compares soundbars in round ups and helps us cover the trade shows.

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