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Review: The CopperFlo Pool Ionizer

CopperFlo Pool Ionizer - 500 Wide.jpg

Everybody with a swimming pool knows that the price of the canonical 3″ chlorine tablets went through the roof over the past year. We can’t blame it on teh viris this time–an explosion and damage at the Louisiana plant that makes most of the tabs was the culprit. Supply is no longer a problem, but the price is still a lot higher than it was a year or two ago.

Enter the solar-powered pool ionizer. I had never heard of pool ionizers until a couple of weeks ago, while I was severely low-energy and just caroming around the Web looking for anything interesting. What I discovered was a whole new way to sanitize your pool. How they work is pretty simple: A small solar array provides a voltage across two metallic elements, a copper rod surrounded by a steel helix that has a silver coating. The voltage creates metallic cations. The cations kill bacteria and algae on contact.

The device is about a foot in diameter. The drawing below shows what’s inside:

CopperFlo-Solar-Pool-Ionizer-1.jpg

In truth, there’s not a lot of there there. The one I bought was from NoMoreGreen Technologies and is called CopperFlo. It was $179.98 on Amazon. It comes with a bottle of test strips to measure the ion concentration in the pool water, plus a little brush to scrape calcium scale off the copper electrode once in a while. No batteries, no moving parts.

I set it down on the surface of the pool, where it just drifts around. Any reasonable light on the solar array will generate some ions, and full Arizona sun will generate a lot of ions, hence the test strips. I let the chlorine tablets shrink down until there was only one tablet in one floater. The pool did not turn green. I’ve dealt with green pools a time or two, and I know that keeping the chlorine levels up is crucial. To me, seeing a sparkly clean pool with only one tab in a floater is borderline miraculous, especially when it’s still an Arizona summer and the water is between 86 and 88 degrees F. Supposedly you only need one sixth of the chlorine tabs to keep the water clean as you would absent the ionizer.

Besides the fact that in one summer it will save me enough in chlorine tablets to pay for itself, it’s a cool concept. It’s only been in the pool for twelve days. It’ll be interesting to see how it performs long-haul.

6 Comments

  1. James R Strickland says:

    So is it releasing copper ions or silver ions? We used to sanitize our hot tub with silver ion cartridges. I know copper salts are pretty toxic to a lot of stuff, so I could see them being toxic to pool algae. I guess the question I have is, couldn’t you close the cover and kill everything living in it (possibly boil the water) in a day or two? Probably not practical, but…

    1. I’m pretty sure copper ions do the heavy lifting here. The copper anode is an inch in diameter and several inches long, which is a great deal of copper. The helix is steel, and I think the silver coating is there to make it a better conductor. I haven’t put a voltmeter across the anode and cathode yet, but when I pull it out of the pool to put the cover down, I’ll open it up and have a closer look.

      The pool’s still warm enough to swim in (for us, that’s over 80) and I don’t expect to have to put the cover on it for another week or so, which is typical. When the Sun can’t keep the water over 80 degrees, we put the cover on it. When the cover can’t keep the water over 80, we take it off, dry it out, fold it up, and put it in the shed.

      Last year, the cover allowed us to use the pool through the first week of November. Obviously the weather matters a great deal, but the weather in Arizona is way more consistent year-to-year than Colorado Springs, or, God help us, Chicago.

      1. Bill Buhler says:

        Hi Jeff, I’m just curious how the end of pool season went with this? Did it remain effective?

        1. Brilliantly. Now, keep in mind that the pool water temp is now down in the 50s. You can use less chlorine when the water is cold than when it’s in the mid-high 80s. What boggles is how little chlorine I’m actually using. There’s one tab in the floater, as there’s been for a couple of months now. And the water is still sparkly clean.

          I’ve cleaned the ionizer twice now. It doesn’t take a lot of work, and most of that is brushing the copper anode to get the calcium scale off of it. Our water is very hard here, so lime is an issue almost everywhere water is used, from toilet bowls to showers to swimming pools. The anode has lost about 3/16 of an inch of copper so far. There’s plenty left. And the anode replacement kit, which I may not need for another year and a half, is $50. I’ve already saved well over that in chlorine tabs alone. When pool season comes back, it’ll be interesting to see how well things go in the hottest parts of the year.

          In short: It’s a big, big win.

  2. Lisa Colancecco says:

    Hello Jeff,
    What form of chlorine tablet are you using in your floater in conjunction with the solar ionizer? I am reading conflicting input from others of using non-stabilized, while others are using stabilized. Since you are having great results, I would love to know what you are using. If I can cut down on my chlorine use by 50% and have beautiful and safe pool water, I would be elated.

    1. I use stabilized chlorine tablets, the same tablets (bought from the same pool store) that we’ve been using since we retired to Phoenix in 2015.

      One warning: Our ionizer worked for two years and then stopped working. I bought another, but you should know that they don’t last forever.

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