Pros: saves time
lowers chemical use and cost
Cons: Initial cost
having to keep Floatron in your pool
If you have any doubt about the effectiveness of this product, you can just forget it! The Floatron is a non-intrusive, floating, solar-powered mineral dispenser which protects against microorganism invasion and prevents algae growth. The minerals are dispensed by the slow dissolving of a sacrificial electrode which must be replaced when completely dissolved (an event which I have not yet experienced). I bought two Floatrons from Smarthome.com ($289 and $269 with $20coupon) in 2009 to save money on chemicals. It is clear to me after using them for over a year that they will not only do that, but they will save me considerable time. Now I don't have to keep such a keen eye on the chlorine level, which only has to be barely detectable. In fact, I feel that the only chemical maintenance I need to do (besides the pH and total alkalinity every few weeks) is check the copper level every couple of weeks, clean the electrodes on the Floatron(s) once a week while in use, and keep a chlorine tablet in the skimmer. All I buy for my pool now in the way of chemicals is chlorine tablets (30lbs./summer), baking soda (1 $15 bag/yr. sold by the name of bicarbonate of soda in bulk form from the farmer's co-op), hardness increaser and a few pounds of shock (only because we don't maintain our pool very well during the winter (we don't even cover it) and it turns green with algae).
Pool water testing for minerals produced by the Floatron (which include "several specific metals") is done indirectly by testing for the level of copper. Testing the copper level only takes 3-4 minutes. You match the color of the test solution to one of the five shades of blue(corresponding to five levels of ion concentration) on a laminated paper card which conveniently provides instructions on the back. You will have algae-fighting power even with low levels of ions in the pool.
I checked my chlorine level periodically in 2009, and kept it so it was barely detectable (around 0.5ppm or less) and had clear water and not a single outbreak of algae. This summer I have not even bothered to check the chlorine level regularly and still have had no algae. Even with multiple storms bringing in record amounts of rain in 2009 and the record-breaking heat of summer 2010 I have not had any algae problems. At the end of the 2009 summer I allowed the chlorine to drop to 0 for a couple of weeks, and visible algae still never grew. If you have struggled to keep your pool free of algae, there is no doubt you should own a floatron. I don't plan to buy algaecide or clarifiers ever again, and plan to use shock only at the end of the summer if I've run out of tablets and don't want to buy another large container (I only buy in bulk!) or in the spring when I first open the pool.
The reason I own two Floatrons is that I have a 36,000 gallon pool and the Floatron is advertised for use in pools up to only 30,000 gallons. After two summers of use, I now know that I definitely would have been fine with only one unit. The minerals build up in the pool and are not depleted unless you get rid of the water and replace it with fresh water (such as you might do when backwashing). My pool is in direct sunlight for all but about the last three hours of the day, and therefore it is easy for me to maintain an effective level of minerals. If you have less sunlight shining on your Floatron your results may be different.
I am amazed by the freedom I now enjoy during the summer to do things other than pool maintenance. Even vaccuming is much less now that the only thing I vaccum is debris that falls or blows into the pool rather than dead algae from shock treatment. I have not had to use algaecide since I have been using a Floatron. In fact, the company warns against using algaecide since it counteracts the minerals that the Floatron provides.
I didn't enjoy cleaning the electrodes on the Floatron the first summer because it can be messy if you want to get every last bit of blue corrosion off with the included wire brush. Now I usually just blast it off with the high pressure nozzle on my water hose and just use the wire brush occasionally. Once or twice a year I clean the electrodes and the plastic mesh basket by exposing them to vinegar for a few minutes and washing them off. This eliminates the blue stains on the basket and helps remove some of the corrosion that you might not get with the wire brush. The white and blue color surfaces of the floatron will discolor if you get the electrode debris on them during cleaning, and the color will not wash off, but if you rub the white plastic off gently with a paper towel it comes off easily. The solar panel on the top surface of the Floatron is encircled with a blue rubber bumper which make it safe to turn the Floatron upside-down on a hard surface without scratching it - a nice feature.
A reviewer at another site stated he had trouble with the big plastic thumbscrew that holds the mesh basket in place. For me, removing the plastic mesh basket is not difficult, and I have had no problems with the thumb-screw fitting inside the electrode.
I am completely satisfied with my Floatrons, and encourage anyone to seriously consider purchasing one. I found out about the Floatron from a freind with an above-ground pool. I was hesitant to lay out nearly $300 for one, but it was the best pool-related purchase I have ever made. I wish I had known about it years ago. Instead of being hassled with the maintenance issues of a chlorine-intensive water sanitation system, I am now enjoying the peace of mind of a continually crystal-clear mineral-water pool in which chlorine is only a minor ingredient.