Pros: Easy setup and tear down, inexpensive, all inclusive
Cons: kills grass underneath when you put it up for storage
My family has had a lot of fun with this pool! We actually have a 16' pool, but this 15' was the closest size shown on Epinions. We tried a 12 footer last year and loved it. I stored it away neatly with the intent of using it again this year. But I saw this 16 footer on clearance out in the lawn and garden center in mid-December or so. At only $125 I could not resist getting a bigger one. Our kids were 4 and 6 when we used the 12 footer and our older one was just starting to swim a little. We figured a few extra feet of space and a little deeper water would help, plus it makes it a little nicer for us to join the kids and float around a bit. We're debating on using this one again next year or getting a 48" deep one at 18 or 20 feet.
It's amazing that you can get a whole kit like this for less then you can take the whole family to a water park just a couple of times per summer.
As you've probably seen elsewhere, this package includes the pool, cover, ladder, pump, setup video, ground tarp and cleaning kit. The 16 foot one comes with both a manual skimmer on a pole and one that hooks to the pump intake in the pool and floats on the surface. I'm not sure about the 15 foot pool. In either case, the pole is used for both the manual skimmer attachment and the sweeper.
Setup is pretty easy. Just spread out the tarp, then unfold the pool on top. Be sure the ground is perfectly level though! Buy a bunch of sand and spread it out. This will make for a softer bottom, and make it easier to push/pull out wrinkles as you fill the pool. You can even put some extra at one end if you're not quite level. Inflate the ring and start adding water. As it fills, crawl around on the inside and work wrinkles to the outside. It helps to have someone else on the outside grabbing the edges and pulling the wrinkles as you push them near the edge. Hook up the pump, assemble the skimmer and ladder and you're ready to go! Both years I spend just a few hours from getting it all set up, then I'd take a break and let it finish filling for a few more hours.
Note that the sweeper in the cleaning kit is not a "real" pool sweeper like you'd use on a "real" pool. Real ones typically have a hose that hooks to the intake for the pump and they suck the stuff from the bottom of the pool as you sweep and pull in into the filter/pump. The Easy Set pools however have an attachment that goes on the end of the pole that you hook your garden hose to. The attachment connects to the pole, to the garden hose, and to a little cloth bag that's supposed to catch the junk you sweep up. The water from the hose is directed through the sweeper attachment in such a way as to create a bit of suction, although not much. In the end, it does an okay job, at least for a little pool like this. I found though that if you use the cover regularly, you hardly ever have to sweep. I only did it every 4 weeks or so this summer. I think that it's so small that with kids in there all the time is stirs dirt up off the bottom and into the water where the pump and filter catch it. We had an in-ground pool when I was growing up and we had to sweep it quite regularly. No so with these.
CHEMICALS and FILTERS:
The pump and filter that comes with the Easy Set pool takes paper cartridge filters. They recommend replacing every two weeks, but I found that if you remove it and give it a good cleaning with the garden hose you can use it two or three times. Sometimes you can get a clue that it's time to clean when you notice the water coming out into the pool from the pump doesn't have much velocity. They filters are only a few dollars each though, so it's not a big deal.
Since the pools are fairly small, you don't need a lot of chemicals. I think we ended up putting in something like a 1/4 cup of Shock Plus every three or four days or so. If you use 1" stabilizer tablets, you won't need to put the shock in too often. Be sure to get a bottle of the little test strips. Both years I found the ph level very low and had to get a big bottle of ph increaser. But once you get it to the right level it pretty much stays there. Just use the little strips and add what you need to. It's not that big of a deal.
Tear down for the season is not too bad. There's a plug at the bottom of the pool near the edge. Just screw off the cap and hook up your garden hose. They give you a little adapter to screw onto the end of your hose that pushes into the pool to open the cap on the inside. Just run the hose to a drain or ditch or somewhere you don't mind dumping a lot of chlorinated pool water (it can kill grass).
I was pleased that this pool had the tarp to put under it, unlike the 12 footer I had last year. The bottom of the pool last year was a muddy, grassy mess that smelled terrible, making cleaning up and folding the pool for storage a pain. I just took down the pool for this year and with the tarp under it, I had a much easier and more pleasant time. If you read this review but end up getting a smaller pool that doesn't come with a tarp, get one or use plastic or something instead.
EXTRA: If you really want to indulge, you can find a large inflatable slide called the Six Flags Banzai slide that will fit over the edge and dump into the pool. It works with any 42" or 48" deep Easy Set pool. Most of the ones you find, like at Wal-Mart, don't work with this pool, but are stand-alone. Toys-R-Us carries the ones that attach to the pool though. They were difficult to find in stock though. What a blast! Be warned though, unlike the pool, the slides are over priced. Ours was a gift. I'll review it if they ever add it to epinions.