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    Pool Heating Options

    If you're thinking about having a pool installed, then you should also be thinking about whether or not to heat it. Pools can add so much to your family time and they're great for entertaining, too. However, especially in Victoria, there's a large portion of the year when it's too cold to swim in an unheated pool. Adding a heating system can extend the swimming season by a few months or even to the entire year, depending on your location and the system you choose. A pool is a serious investment. Adding a heating system can help you to get the greatest possible value out of it.

    Solar Pool Heating

    If the startup cost of solar pool heating is within your budget and you don't need to swim all year around, then solar pool heating is a fantastic choice. It harnesses the free energy of the sun to heat your pool.

    Here's how it works. Solar collectors are installed on a north-facing roof, and they occupy approximately the same area as the pool surface. In a conventional system, the collectors are simply pipes for water circulation. Solar pool heating systems are driven by sensors in the pool and on the roof. When the temperature difference is great enough, then the pumps are switched on by a solar controller. Once the pool water reaches the desired temperature, the system automatically shuts down.

    Gas Pool Heating

    Gas pool heaters are the preferred option for people who need a system that will deliver heat 100% predictably and dependably. Similar to the gas water heaters used with radiators for space heating they can be controlled by hand, by timer or by a thermostat, and they work with a pump and a filter to take water from the pool, heat it and return it. High efficiency gas heaters can be a good choice, particularly for small pools on that are located in well-populated areas, near gas distribution pipes. They provide dependable pool heating, usually at a reasonable cost.

    Electric Pool Heating: Heat Pumps

    Heat pumps are electric pool heating systems, and they work a little like backward air conditioners. Some salespeople will say they’re "100% efficient." Electricity is always 100% efficient at the point of use. However, it is not necessarily very efficiently generated and it incurs line losses in its journey through the power grid. Therefore, heat pumps are usually the least efficient choice for pool heating.

    How To Choose a Pool Heating System

    Remember to consider both start-up and long-term energy costs when choosing a heating system for your pool. Energy costs are likely to continue to increase, so a solar system may pay for itself fairly quickly in reduced utility bills. For the ultimate pool heating system, you can add a small gas heater or heat pump as a backup to your main, solar system. Take a look at your gas and electricity provider's web site and at government web sites before making a final choice. Whichever type of pool heating system you choose, select a contractor with a clean record and an established reputation in your community.


    Is a Concrete Pool Right For You?

    If you're thinking about installing a pool on your property, then one of the first things you'll want to decide is whether to pour a custom-designed concrete pool, purchase a prefabricated fibreglass pool or choose a pre-engineered pool. Since concrete pools were the most common choice in Australia for many years and are still popular today, let's take a look at the pros and cons of installing a concrete pool.

    Concrete Pools Have Their Advantages

    Poured concrete offers more design flexibility than any other type of pool construction. Since concrete pools are created onsite from a material that is poured into forms, then hardens, they can be any size and shape. There are many options for the interior finish of concrete pools, from paint to tile to a pebbled surface. Concrete pools are a common choice for lots that require an unusually shaped pool or for families that prefer a large pool with curved edges, for example, a circular or oval pool that's bigger than the standard fibreglass models. The structure of a well engineered, well-built concrete pool can last almost indefinitely if the pool is on a stable site. For some projects, a concrete pool may perhaps be the best choice.

    Pool Formwork
    Source: Wikipedia Commons, Concrete Pool Illustration

    But There Are Associated Costs and Risks

    Poured concrete pools also have a few drawbacks, and they are mostly cost-related. Concrete pools can be very expensive to build, especially if they're complex. If your site isn't straightforward, then your concrete pool may need to be designed by a fully qualified engineer, and that will add expense. The costs don't end with the design and construction of the concrete shell. The interior finish of the pool can cost thousands of dollars to install initially and will generally need to be refreshed, repaired or renovated every two to ten years. Each time the interior finish is renewed, it can cost as much as it did to install it initially. So, a concrete pool is generally more expensive to build and maintain than other types of pools, even when everything goes smoothly.

    When there are issues with the site, then a concrete pool can be very problematic. Because their structure is heavy and rigid, they need to be founded on stable, undisturbed ground. Concrete pools can potentially settle unevenly and even crack if the soil underneath and around them is not stable and consistent.

    There's Another Option: Pre-Engineered Pools

    Pre-engineered pools have been a popular choice in the US and Canada since the mid-twentieth century. They're constructed with a concrete base, and their Aqualux walls are backed by a strong and durable steel framework. The entire Albatross pool structure is engineered from the highest grade of zinc enriched steel available. By utilising the most advanced clinch-lock technology during the manufacturing process, there are no welds resulting in superior strength and durability of the pool structure.

    Pre-engineered Pools

    Aqualux is strong enough to span between the supports in the frame (as shown below), and it also forms a beautiful and durable finish for the inside of the pool. Pre-engineered pools are faster to build and in most cases less expensive than concrete pools. They offer speedy installation similar to that of a fibreglass pool, along with the design flexibility of a concrete pool. They also have lower maintenance costs because the Aqualux interior finish is so non-porus and durable.

    SUV on pool membrane

    Like a concrete pool, a pre-engineered pool can have a very long service life. Indeed, Albatross Pools has been building pre-engineered pools in Melbourne since 1969, and the pools we built early on in our business and have kept track of are still in service after more than 40 years. For many projects, especially large, rectangular pools, pre-engineered pools have the advantages of concrete without the extra cost. For some projects, they are a better choice in every way. For example, pre-engineered pools are more flexible than concrete pools, so they are less likely to be affected by volatile soil conditions.

    Please don't hesitate to call or e-mail with any questions you may have. We can advise you on whether a pre-engineered pool is right for your property, or whether you'll need a custom designed poured concrete pool to meet your needs.


    Small Pools for Entertaining

    As new communities become higher density and lot sizes shrink, we're seeing more demand for small pools. When we work with our clients to design a small pool, we talk to them about how they're going to use it. Will they use it mostly for exercise like water aerobics or lap swimming, or will it be used more often for family fun and for entertaining? Will the pool be used mostly by children, teenagers or adults? How will the pool fit in with the family's everyday life, and how often will it be used for weekend parties and get-togethers? Of course, it's also important to know the size and shape of the yard and the other purposes that it serves.

    Recently, we posted about small pools that will be used primarily for exercise. This week, we'll talk about small pools for entertaining guests and for family fun.

    Plunge Pools

    The term "plunge pool" originally referred to the deep pool that forms under a waterfall. Water plunges from a cliff for centuries and impacts the same spot over and over again. The soil or stone erodes, and the pool keeps getting deeper. The water may flow into a shallower river or lake, but there's a plunge pool underneath the foam and mist of the waterfall. What a beautiful image!

    Today, "plunge pool" is also a term we use in the pool industry to indicate a relatively small pool that's used mostly for cooling off. Sometimes, plunge pools are associated with saunas. They're something that you can jump into to cool down. They're generally from two to seven metres on each side, and they're smaller in plan than a standard pool. Plunge pools can be any depth, although they're sometimes defined as either deep or shallow. The depth really depends on the intended uses and on who will have access to the pool area.

    Wading Pools

    Wading pools are shallow pools that are tailored for young children. Of course, adults can use them to cool off, as well. We're sometimes asked to build a wading pool for the children and a deeper pool for the adults. In the future, when there are no small children to use it, the wading pool can be repurposed into a water feature. Separate wading pools are safer for children than pools that are shallower on one end, but of course they still need to be supervised.

    Wading Pools
    Source: Wikipedia Commons, Small pool with small Jacuzzi

    Large Spas

    A spa is a small pool designed for sitting. Spas are often equipped with air or water jets that give your back a refreshing massage while you soak. They can be independent, or they can be located on one side of a bigger pool. A large spa can double as a small plunge pool.

    Large Spas
    Source: Flickr, Large Spas

    Small pools are not only easier to fit into a small yard, they are also quicker and less expensive to heat and to clean. They have lower maintenance costs than larger pools. Our pre-engineered pools can be any size or depth, and we can equip them with jets, steps and other features. They are a good value both short and long-term, and they look good, too. Get in touch with us today and tell us about the kind of small pool you'd like to enjoy with your family and friends.

    Back to Small Pools for Exercise


    Small Pools for Exercise

    In today's housing market, there is an increasing awareness of the value of higher urban density in creating liveable, walkable neighbourhoods. While living in less space per person can bring us closer together as communities, it does limit our options when it comes to the outdoor amenities we can build on our properties. At Albatross Pools, an increasing number of our customers are asking us to design pools for small yards that impose strict limitations on the size and shape of the pools. These constraints give us an opportunity to work with our clients to help them clarify their priorities. What we've found is that there are two very common reasons to build a pool: for exercise and for entertainment. Many families are interested in both, however, one is usually primary and the other secondary. In this post, we'll focus on pools for fitness, and in a later article, we'll talk more about small pools for entertaining and for pure family fun.

    Water Exercise

    A pool really is a fantastic place to exercise. Water exercise offers cardiovascular intensity combined with zero impact. Unlike running, water exercise is almost completely safe for hips and knees. Unlike biking, water exercise does not involve being unprotected in the midst of vehicular traffic. You can swim, water jog or do water aerobics all your life without worrying about wearing down your joints, getting run over by a hummer or otherwise damaging your body.

    Source: Wikipedia, Natacio

    When it comes to residential pools with limited space, there are three approaches to water exercise: a pool that's designed for lap swimming, a pool for swimming in place and a pool for standing exercise like water jogging or water aerobics. Of course, the same pool can be used for more than one type of activity.

    Lap Pools

    A small lap pool is by nature long and narrow, and it will generally be 1.5 metres to 2.0 metres in depth. Swimming back and fourth is a straightforward way to stay fit, and everyone who swims knows the drill: swim one way, flip against the far wall, swim the other way and repeat. On a small lot, a lap pool might span the length or the width of the back yard or even bisect it diagonally. It has the potential to help shape the geometry of an interesting overall landscape design.

    Lap Pools
    Source: Flickr, Lap Pools

    Modified Plunge Pools and Large Spas

    A plunge pool is a popular choice for families who have a limited amount of space to work with and who use their pools for entertaining guests. However, plunge pools tend to be small and deep, while water aerobics and water jogging are best done in pools where the water is shallow enough to stand. Swimming does not require deep water, either. That's why many people choose a small pool of a little less than 1.5 metres in depth for exercise. Jogging in place and water aerobics do not require a huge amount of width or length. These activities can be done in any pool with enough room to spread out the arms and move around a little. Swimming in place, whether its facilitated by swim jets or a swimming harness, requires a pool that's at least 4.5 metres in length and at least half that in width.

    A swimming harness is an arrangement of resistance bands and pads that will allow you to swim in a stationary position. The Stillswim system is an example of a swimming harness. Swim jets create an artificial current that can be adjusted to match your swimming speed, allowing you to swim in place. Davey Water Products makes swim jets that can be used with pre-engineered pools. Both of these methods can work well for a small pool, however, not everyone finds them comfortable or pleasant. Before installing a pool with the intention of using swim jets or a swimming harness, be sure to try using the method in advance to see if you like it.

    In summary, small pools that are going to used primarily for exercise, if water jogging or water aerobics are part of the plan, should have a depth that allows a person to stand upright. If the pool is only going to be used for swimming, then the depth is not as much of an issue.

    Of course, our customers usually like to use their pools for cooling off, too, and we can build them on almost any type of base, for example, with a variable depth or steps for sitting. At Albatross, we specialise in pre-engineered pools. Our pools can easily be built at any size, and we can build very affordable, very durable small pools for exercise.

    Go check Small Pools for Entertaining

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