These brand-new pool goodies will help you keep things spiffy

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When it comes to keeping your pool clean, you have two choices: Hire a pro or do it yourself. Either way, the work and expense involved could be enough to make a person rethink pool ownership.

So, of course, products that aim to make cleaning less of a chore were hits at the International Pool and Spa Expo, an industry trade show at the Orange County Convention Center in November.

Among them were the Aquabroom and the Catfish, a pair of portable pool vacuums in the Pool Blaster line from Water Tech.

Water Tech Corp. president Guy Erlich called them "DustBusters for the pool" as he demonstrated how the Catfish sucked up debris from a tank at his booth at the trade show.

More than 13,000 people attended the event, according to show organizers. Participants came from all segments of the "backyard-living" industry, including pool and spa builders, retailers, service technicians, distributors and landscape architects and design firms, from 50 states and 66 countries.

Water Tech's hand-held Catfish, which also can be attached to a long pole, weighs about 6.5 pounds and has an 8.4-volt rechargeable battery that provides about an hour's worth of cleaning time.

Erlich enumerated the advantages: no hooking it up to hoses or skimmer plates, no struggling to submerge the hose and no tired arms from trying to maneuver a heavy machine.

Trapping leaves, silt, sand and other dirty stuff in a microfilter bag, Pool Blasters reach all parts of the pool and can be used for quick pick-ups or full-scale cleanings.

The Aquabroom, a smaller model that runs on D-cell batteries, makes quick work of spa and kiddie-pool cleanup. It retails for $49. The Catfish, which can be used in aboveground or inflatable pools as well as in-ground models, is sold for $99 to $119. The Pool Blaster Max is $199.

Pool Blasters are available from major pool and spa retailers, big-box stores, buying clubs and watertechcorp.com.

Other pool cleaners on display at the expo included the Blue Devil line of automatic cleaners from Valterra.

Chemical imbalance?Keeping the pool clear is just as important as keeping it clean — and balancing the chemicals can be complex.

Among the companies displaying automatic chemical dispensers was Acu-Trol, a division of Pentair Pool and Spa.

The AquaPC OnPoint from Pentair regulates the pool more efficiently by adding small amounts of chemicals at a time, said Bob Hedrick, territory sales manager.

Designed to work with salt chlorination systems, it also has a visual indicator that shows unsafe water conditions.

The AquaPC sells for $1,800 to $1,900 and is available at Pinch A Penny and other pool retailers.

Advanced Control Logix also offers an automatic controller that requires a wireless Internet connection to control the system, as well as a line of noncorrosive acid and base products for pH control.

Bye-bye bacteriaAs long as you're cleaning, you might as well deal with the stuff that could make you sick.

BioLab UV uses UV light technology to "disrupt the DNA of bacteria, algae and viruses," said Scott Newton, brand manager for parent company BioGuard.

It's designed to assist your primary sanitizer — or as Newton put it, "it's an extra layer of protection against some very evil little critters."

It doesn't irritate skin, hair or eyes and also frees up chlorine to attack bacteria more effectively.

The LC10 model contains a single UV lamp and is recommended for chlorinated pools. It sells for $1,400 to $1,600 and is available from stores such as Swim 'N Fun. Dealers also can be found at aclogix.net.

Walking on glass is good!Some of the new products at the show were less serious in nature.

"Jellybean" glass is what American Specialty Glass Inc. calls its latest aggregate product for pool decks and patios. The jellybeans are small, irregularly shaped glass nuggets made of recycled glass.

When set into decking material, "it feels good on your toes," said company president Berkeley Booth.

Jellybean glass comes in a range of colors and retails for $3 a pound. The easiest way to order it is at AmericanSpecial tyGlass.com; then have your patio or decking contractor install it.

Cool water might be refreshing on a hot day, but that doesn't mean you want to shower in it. Outdoor solar showers were hot items at the pool expo.

Several manufacturers, including Home Heating Products Inc., produce them, but they work basically the same way: Water is introduced into a black cylinder or PVC pipe and allowed to warm in the sun for a couple of hours.

When you're ready for a shower, a garden hose is hooked up to the apparatus. The warm and cool water mix — and you have some control of the temperature — giving you five to 10 minutes of warm water to rinse off after swimming.

The solar tube in Home Heating's model holds 5.5 gallons of water, which can reach 130 degrees after a couple of hours in the sun.

Some showers can be assembled when you need them; others can be installed permanently.

Prices vary, but solar showers sell for $60 to $200 and are available online and at many pool-supply retailers.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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