In the same way a smart video doorbell keeps a watchful eye over your home, a smart pool water monitor can help keep tabs on the quality of your precious pool water. It may seem like a trivial gadget to add to your home, but if you’ve spent any time schlepping water from your pool to the pool store every week, you know how time-consuming it can be.
And, during a pandemic-riddled summer when social distancing is still in effect, taking matters into your own hands may just be the way to go. I’ve tried all sorts of smart gadgets before but nothing like the pHin smart pool water monitor. Here’s how it went.
What is pHin?
PHin is a smart pool water monitoring system that keeps tabs on the chemical make-up of your pool water. The tear-drop shaped device also tracks water temperature and can be tethered to a pool stair rail or float around in the water while it tests the pool water over 1,000 times per week.
It retails for $349, comes with a one-year warranty and includes everything you need to get started, like a wireless bridge, calibration kit, tether, and user manual. The monitor comes with a one-year warranty, however, a pHin monitoring subscription is recommended to access all of the features. The first year is included with your purchase and is $99 each year after. (Seasonal pricing is also available.)
The subscription also includes a full replacement of the monitor for any reason. The average battery life is about two years, but pHin will send out a new one when the battery needs to be replaced.
The water monitoring gadget can be used in chlorine, bromine, and salt water-based pools, and also in hot tubs and swim spas. I tested the device in a chlorinated pool, where it was out of sight and out of mind while my kids and I went for a dip.
What we like
I’ve set up plenty of smart doorbells and other smart products before, but for some reason, I felt intimidated by pHin before I opened the box. However, my initial gut feeling couldn’t have been more wrong. Upon downloading the pHin app, I was met with detailed visual instructions that made the entire setup a breeze.
I created an account, logged in, and began answering questions about how the water is normally sanitized and whether the device will be used in a pool, hot tub, or swim spa. I tested the monitor in my parents’ 30,000-gallon Florida swimming pool.
The bridge doesn’t take much effort to set up, either, and is included in the easy-to-understand instructions within the pHin app. I scanned the barcode on the back of the bridge, plugged it in, and connected it to WiFi. Next, I used one of the testing strips to sample the pool water before uploading the image in the pHin app to get the latest stats on my water. Overall, while the process is fairly involved, I didn’t run into any problems during the 20 minutes or so it took to complete.
Amazon Alexa approved
While the pHin smart pool water monitor isn’t compatible with Apple’s Siri or Google Assistant (bummer), it works like a charm when paired with Amazon Alexa via the pHin Alexa skill. Setting this up requires you to link your pHin account within the Alexa app, but again, this was a painless process and I appreciated the two-step verification method to ensure my account is securely connected to Alexa.
I asked Alexa questions like, “Alexa, ask my water monitor if I can swim in my pool?” and she replied, “Your pool needs attention,” if the chemicals were unbalanced. You can also ask her to tell you about the current water temperature. One thing to note, though, is that you need an active pHin subscription in order to use the Alexa feature. (That’s how they get you.)
You don’t need an Amazon Echo speaker to access the Alexa control, as you can download the Amazon Alexa app to your iOS or Android device. But I found it was more natural to call out to my Echo smart speaker when I wanted to check in on the pool water rather than opening up the Alexa app on my iPhone.
Despite the seamless Alexa integration, I found myself relying more on the insightful pHin app and less on Alexa to get the latest stats about the water’s chemistry and temperature.
The pHin app is where this device really shines. Within the well-designed app are color-coded line graphs that clearly display the varying levels of the water’s pH and sanitizer. It also tracks the temperature of the pool water, which is displayed in the same style chart.
The graphs show up to 90 days of history, with other options to view in smaller increments like days, weeks, and one month. When viewing down to the day, you can check the pool water’s chemistry and temperature level hour by hour. I had more fun than I probably should’ve keeping tabs on the pool’s temperature, which reached as high as 90 degrees during mid July.
While the device does all of the work for you, telling you what to add and when, the graphs serve as a nice visual representation when it comes to monitoring the overall health of the pool water.
One-stop pool shop
The pHin app also sends notifications when the water is out of balance or needs attention and helped me know when it was time to treat the pool. Another thing I liked about the app is the ability to scan in your own pool products from popular brands, like sanitizer or non-chlorine shock, which gets stored in the mobile app’s pool chemical inventory. The app also gives dosing instructions, so it’s easy to see how much of what product to add.
What we don’t like
No integration with other smart assistants
The pHin water monitor works with Amazon Alexa only. While it’s a shame that it’s not compatible with Google Assistant or Siri, I wouldn’t let that prevent you from purchasing the pHin monitor. The Alexa integration is a nice touch, but the pHin app works well and gives all of the same insights as Alexa can, plus some very visually appealing graphs. Plus, the Alexa app is a free and simple addition to your app collection.
Is it worth it?
There’s no getting around it—maintaining a pool is a lot of work and can get expensive very quickly. While the upfront cost of $349 pHin may be hard to swallow, it’s a relatively low price to pay considering weekly professional maintenance can range anywhere from $100 to $150. The pHin subscription ($99 renewal) doesn’t include the cost of chemicals that may be needed to keep your pool water in check, but you can order them from the app and even schedule a pool tech to come out if you need pro-level assistance.
Overall, the pHin smart pool water monitor is a good investment for any pool owner looking for a smart and simple way to take pool maintenance and care into their own hands.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.