This serene backyard sanctuary gives no hint of high-tech energy-efficient components supporting it all.
For many, it might have been enough to design and build a new backyard retreat – when the plans included a new in-ground vinyl-lined pool, large patio area, outdoor kitchen, outdoor shower, fire pit, two streams and two waterfalls. However, add in an automatic pool cover that is very difficult to attach to the desired pool style and shape, and making the clients completely happy becomes quite a challenge. In fact, before they came to us, the homeowners of this backyard oasis had been told what they wanted wasn’t possible. We were glad to assure them that we could bring together all the expertise necessary and design and build it all.
The clients also asked that we incorporate high-efficiency technology throughout the project, with all the mechanics of it well hidden in beautiful settings. This particular request fit right into our wheelhouse. Incorporating the latest technology, beautifully hidden in natural surroundings, is one of our trademarks.
Outdoor shower stands at base of stepping stone pathway (right) that leads up to pool equipment.
High-tech pool equipment is well hidden behind berm, at end of stepping stone path.
Automated Pool Cover
The homeowners had chosen a free-form vinyl pool for its padding and softness, as well as for its beauty. The challenging part was they also wanted an automatic pool cover that, when closed, would support their young children should they somehow walk on it unsupervised. This particular ‘rigid slated plastic’ pool cover, however, had never been fitted to this type of pool in this part of the world before.
Challenge: Free-form vinyl pools need to match a vinyl covering to a concrete foundation. In order to secure what is otherwise a “floating” pool cover, measurements for a special pool edge to grip the cover must be exact, requiring several manufacturers’ construction efforts to fit perfectly. We work with only the best companies, whose measurements, and computerization follow-through, are flawless.
Rigid-slated plastic pool cover, shown here closed, is automated and can support weight of two adults and one child.
Our biggest challenge was creating four-inch ledge around pool which secures closed pool cover.
Because automated pool cover is so easy to use, it is more likely to be closed when not in use — increasing safety and energy-efficiency.
The pool cover is not just for safety. Closing it on a regular basis reduces the amount of energy needed to maintain the pool. We worked with the owners to find energy-efficient solutions for the whole project. There are many ways to increase efficiency:
Pool Covers, Heating Pumps
Pool covers reduce the evaporation of water thereby reducing the chemical usage required. This is because the chemicals do not evaporate or burn off. To heat the pool mentioned in this story, we added a hybrid system that uses both a gas heater and an electric heat pump. The heat pump acts like a reverse air conditioner, pulling in warmth from the air and transferring it into the pool. This design not only adds heat taken from the air — and not from electricity — but the gas heater can act as back up when the air temperature is very low or when creating heat more quickly is required.
Swimming Pool Pumps
The “variable speed pump” is an extremely efficient pump that allows low energy use by slowing down the motor dramatically. It decreases the amount of energy the pump uses. It can run twenty-four-seven much more efficiently than others pumps that are used only a few hours a day.
Today a computer can be programmed to raise and lower the speed of the pump, controlling when it turns on and off. It will also monitor the chemical levels in the pool and decrease or increase them as required.
The water in a pool is often around 85 or 90 degrees, while the surrounding soil is considerably cooler. Adding insulation around the outside of the pool wall, as we did for this project, creates a thermal break between the warm water and the soil that really saves energy by helping the pool water to retain its warmth.
The gentle sounds of two streams leading to two separate waterfalls, as well as the splash of jet sprays, screen out any sounds from high-tech pool equipment, says Deck and Patio outdoor living expert.
Deck and Patio designed and built the streams and waterfalls (left) to flow through berm with moss rock; outdoor kitchen includes ample work area, barbecue, sink, refrigerator and eating bar with bar stools.