While sometimes smart home products can come off as lazy, but I know for me the goal is to simplify things to free up time for activities that I enjoy. As a homeowner with a pool, starting in the spring I have a long list of things to get done to open up the pool. Once I get all of that done I then have to stay on top of things to keep it clean and clear which even if you run a chlorinator or use tablets with a floaty you should still be keeping a close eye on your levels. You might be able to find a remote temperature gauge, but checking your FC and PH on the other hand you will need to be there. But I recently came across the WaterGuru SENSE which claims to be able to do just that and I’m interested in finding out how well it would work for me and today I’m going to check it out and see what the WaterGuru Sense is all about.

Product Name: WaterGuru SENSE

Review Sample Provided by: WaterGuru

Written by: Wes Compton

Amazon Affiliate Link: HERE

 

Specifications

Dimensions

9” diameter plus lab unit

Connectivity

Bluetooth Smart aka Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) 802.11 b/g/n (2.4 GHz) Wi-Fit

Color & Materials

White Plastic

Power

4 “C” Cell Alkaline Batteries (From our testing, Energizer or Duracell brands highly recommended)

Security

128-bit AES with unique-per-device PSK Automatic over-the-air updates

What’s in the box

- Skimmer cover plate with batteries and communication connectivity

- 4 batteries

- Connected/cabled Lab unit that sits in the skimmer water to take measurements

- Lab measurement cartridge/cassette

- Quick start guide

- Square skimmer adapter and mounting adapter ring for 9″ skimmers sold separately

Requirements

- 8″ to 9″ round operational skimmer

- Requires iOS 12.0 later, or Android 9 or later

- 802.11 b/g/n (2.4 GHz) Wi-Fi with RSSI -75 or better at skimmer (-65 or better preferred)

- Requires WPA/WPA2 Wi-Fi security (the older standards: WEP and 802.1X are not supported)

- Optional Wi-Fi extender may be used

Warranty

45-day money back guarantee and one-year replacement that starts from the date of purchase.

 

 


Photos and Features

So WaterGuru ships the Sense directly in its box which I would normally not be a big fan of because of theft but the box design is relatively discrete. They have “Enjoy hassle-free pool” on the front in white and a small WaterGuru Sense logo in the middle. Then on the end, the description lets you know that you get dosing advice in the palm of your hand so not too much to give away what is inside. Of course, if you were looking at this in a retail store you also wouldn’t have a picture of what is inside, specifications, or information on what the Sense so that is the trade-off.

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Once you cut the tap you can open the box up and on the underside of the flap they give you a few steps to download the app, mail in your test, a coupon code for chemicals, and then you should have a headache-free experience and a clean pool. Also up on top, they have the quick start guide as well as two mailing labels sitting in a cutout tray. The labels are for the two included full pool tests where you mail in your water and they test everything for you. Then the guide breaks down setting up the sense as well as doing your water test including what the mail-in test covers. There is also a small paper that lets you not the Sense is a class B digital device with all of the legal information for that.

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Once you take the top layer of cardboard off under that you have the actual WaterGuru Sense which sits in its own cardboard tray. Along with that, there is a small box with the C batteries that it needs to run. Then in the other opening in the cardboard, you have two small test vials for shipping your water samples back and the filter bag that keeps the Sense safe.

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So the WaterGuru is one device made of two halves with a wire connected between the two. The bottom half is the sensor itself which has a large slot in it for the consumable cartridge which supports 8 weeks of daily tests. On the front, there is an exposed sensor set in resin from the looks of it. There isn’t any information on exactly what sensor this is but given that the WaterGuru Sense detects temperature, water flow, FC (Free Chlorine), and PH I would guess that this is the temperature sensor. The raised area next to that has a filter on it. There are vents on the sides as well and a small pinhole at the bottom of the sensor housing each with its own filters. On the cartridge side, there is also another vent as well.

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The top half of the WaterGuru Sense is designed to replace the top of your skimmer or in the case of in-ground pools replace the cover over the top of the cover on top of your skimmer. Officially it supports an 8-inch hole but they also make and sell an adapter which is for adapting to skimmers “other than the 8-inch diameter”. I do wish that was a little more descriptive as it does make it hard to know when shopping if you need the adapter or not and what the adapter will help you fit. Beyond that, the top portion of the Sense has a slightly bubbled shape and is bright white. It has two holes in the top which help you grab it and the WaterGuru name and logo embossed on the top. There is also a small bump which has a status LED hiding behind it. The top housing does come apart though it is hard to pull apart. Inside you have the serial number and information on the Sense as well as the tray which the included four C batteries all go into.

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So along with the WaterGuru Sense, it does also come with one of its cartridges. Having looked at things on the WaterGuru website first I was surprised that the cartridge was black when the pictures of them to buy are white. I don’t know if they have changed at some point or if the one included with the Sense is different from what is available when you buy replacements. The color doesn’t matter as this will be inside of your skimmer anyhow but I was curious about the change. The bottom has a sticker with the UPC and part and serial numbers so that if there are issues they can be tracked down. Then on the end that slides into the Sense, there is a small hole with an impeller which I assume is how they pull in water. The cartridge reminds me of a VHS tape or old 110 film because there is a plastic strip that seems to have the different tests attached to it which is a cool way to do what is normally a manual task.

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Setup and Performance

Before putting the WaterGuru Sense to the test I did need to get it set up and installed in our pool. For reference, we have a 22-foot above-ground pool with a relatively standard Hayward 1.5 HP pump and a sand filter. For the skimmer which the WaterGuru Sense goes in we have a Hayward Dyna-Skim wide mouth skimmer model number SP1091WM. To get things ready before going outside I installed the cartridge which comes almost installed and I put the Sense in its protective bag. I also installed the batteries into the top hat of the Sense as well.

Once outside at the pool with the Sense, I took the cover off of our skimmer. I made sure the basket was cleaned out and then dropped the sensor end of the Sense down into the basket. Now with my initial research on the Sense, I didn’t come across any size requirements but I did find that the top hat for the Sense is larger than the opening for our above-ground pool skimmer. I was able to still get it situated where I wasn’t worried about it falling off but as you can see in the pictures below it doesn’t fit. When I found later after digging was that the Sense is designed for skimmers as small as 8 inches, but the inside of the opening for ours is just under 7 and a half inches. From what I can tell the SP1091WM that we have is in line with other above-ground pool skimmers for sizing, so it seems the Sense is designed more to fit in ground skimmers and above ground when using a deck opening above the skimmer. The Sense does also take up a lot of the space in this skimmer where some in-ground designs are deeper and more accommodating for its size.

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While it wasn’t a perfect fit, I was still able to get the WaterGuru Sense installed. With that done I needed to install the app on my phone and get things set up. The app itself guides you through the physical installation with videos on adding the batteries, a video on the mesh bag, and everything else.

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From there they ask you to set up a new pool or if you have already put your pool information in you can replace the pool you already have. Setting your pool up will ask for information most pool owners will already know. But if you haven’t been the one maintaining your pool you may want to get ready ahead of time with information like the estimated number of gallons in your pool which you can figure out using calculators online, what your pool is made of, if it is in-ground or above ground and if it is inside or outside, what kind of filter you have, if you use tablets, bleach, salt water, or cal-hypo, your bleach concentration, type of acid you use, and if you have and use a pool cover. Like I said it is a lot to take in if you don’t know anything about your pool but most things you should be able to figure out.

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With all of that information in the app, it will now want to connect to the Sense using Bluetooth so you need to be as close as you can be. Then it will prompt you to put in your wireless information. After that, it will let you know it is connected and for you to wait for the Sense to check in. A word of warning, I went through these steps too many times to count and of course, it happened to be the hottest day of the year so my patients were wearing thin. For one, don’t leave and go inside while you are waiting for it to check-in. The other advice is to make sure you have a wireless network that the Sense is going to like. Most people won’t run into this, but for our home, we have changed up some of our wireless security by running what we can on WPA3 and hiding our SSIDs. What I found is that the Sense doesn’t like either of those things, you also need to make sure your network supports 2.4GHz, if you are forcing 5GHz it isn’t going to connect as well.

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Once connected to the wireless correctly the Sense is going to want to test your water right away so you want to make sure your pool pump is running at this time if you have it on a timer.

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With your initial setup, you might as well also use one of your two included water tests to get it sent out and started. They make this easy with the included vial. You select the WaterGuru Test on the app and it will ask if you have a kit. If you do which you should because two come with the Sense it will ask you to scan the QR code on the label which will attach it to your account. From there you just ship it out via the post office.

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With the WaterGuru Sense up and running I just had to wait for it to run its initial test to get our first look at how it performed. To go with this I did also bust out our Taylor K-2006C test kit to start double checking the readings. My first set of readings was 1.0 for the Free Chlorine or FC which is very low, 6.6 for the PH which is extremely low, and the water temp was 82 degrees and the Sense considered our water flow to be “normal” there isn’t a number for that one. For this test our K-2006C tests came out with an FC of 1.0 and the PH was 6.8 which is the bottom of the range that the Taylor kit will go. The Sense was spot on for the FC and for the PH it is very possible the PH was lower than 6.8 but the Taylor kit just doesn’t go that low. I gave our pool some borax to bump the PH up and a big kick of bleach to go on top of the trichlor tablet in the floater as well. We typically do liquid chlorine only but the goal this year is to be able to have it be a little more hands-free while trying to not add too much CYA from the trichlor tablets. The next day when I tested the Sense came in at 1.5 for the FC and 7.2 for the PH and the Taylor kit was spot on with both readings. I did find that our normal pool thermometer shows cooler, but I expected that because I run it much lower in the pool to get a reading below the top layer that the sun warms up.

With a few readings in the book, I decided to trust the Sense for a while and just went off of its readings. Of course, I was fighting with just opening our pool and trying to find a balance between our new tab and liquid mix. On top of that, I am used to liquid chlorine that I rarely have to fight with the PH but trichlor tabs in addition to raising your CYA levels also drop your PH so you can see below where raised it too high and then dropping each day.

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Now I’ve been using the troublefreepool method for 4+ years and with that their calculators and love that they do a great job of showing you how much you need to add. WaterGuru has a similar setup here where they take the chlorine method you are using and once you get your daily readings you get instructions on exactly what you need to do to get things under control. If you are new to this, these instructions are huge.

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Even beyond that, they have guides for when you run into problems. If you have algae, cloudiness, staining, or just questions about your chlorine demand they have a pool problems page that you can go to. Each page has more information on what is going on and how to handle them. The only problem here is some of the pages I had issues with images just not loading no matter when I check them. The information is still there as are other pictures, but when the first picture doesn’t load you don’t have any indication that you should scroll down.

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The app also lets you order more supplies. There is a page of Sense supplies that includes the cassette in a single or 3 pack or the manual test kit that you send out. But beyond that even they have their own branded chemicals as well which if simplicity is your goal can be nice. You get your readings and you can just order what you need. But like with the pool store or even big box store supplies if you do your research there are standard options that are cheaper. PH for example can be raised with Borax or Soda Ash which are both at all grocery stores. PH can be dropped with muriatic acid. None of their prices look to be out of line with a pool store and like I said the convenience alone would be worth it for some people.

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So if you aren’t running your pump all of the time and have a timer like I do or even if you have a variable speed pump the Sense is going to want to run its test when there is good water flow. When you first set the Sense up or if you press the rescan pump button it is going to keep an eye on your water flow all day with an hourly test from the looks of it. This is the only place where they have any number indication of what the flow is with this page showing gallons per minute. Sense then uses this information at the end of the test to automatically set a measurement time. Without this, if you don’t have flow when it goes to run the test it will just not run the test.

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This is one area where I would love it if the Sense didn’t need to run on batteries because I know that they only do tests like the flow test and temperature test at the same time as the FC and PH tests. But having more information on your pool temperature hour by hour for example would be nice to see and could even give you a better idea of when the best time to get in the pool is. For people running a heater, you would be able to see if you left the heater on, if there was a problem with the heater, or if you need to turn it on. Then for the flow, once the app has an idea of your pump schedule if it was testing hourly all of the time it could let you know if your skimmer is starting to fill up which would be huge for near the fall when leaves start to fall and we still have the pool open or when the cottonwood fuzzies hit and instantly clog our filter and skimmer. Speaking of blowing flow, that is another downside with the Sense being in your skimmer basket. That is the area with the best flow, but it is also limiting the flow of your pool itself. Especially with my skimmer being smaller, the Sense barely fits in the basket and underwater. I even had one time where the cord got hung up on the weir in our skimmer and wouldn’t let it open.

Now I did go back to testing between the Sense and the Taylor kit eventually and I haven’t run into any situations where the PH reading was more than 0.1 off or the FC was more than 0.5 off and a majority of our tests both results came out the same. The Sense readout makes things easy in the daily view as well as showing you where your result stands with the red, yellow, and blue bars to show you the overall range. When any of your readings are out of range the app and the phone notification let you know using red and yellow to indicate the severity as well.

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As far as supplies go the Sense cartridges have a total life of 8 weeks which is 56 tests in total. For where I live in northern Ohio that is nearly the entire usable range of our pool frankly but at most I would only need two per year which isn’t too expensive. If you are buying one at a time, before shipping, that would be just under 36 cents per day/test or 30 cents per if you buy the three packs. The app lets you keep track of this as well as the battery life as well.

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You can also access most of the same information on the WaterGuru website by logging in to it. This is where I initially set up our pool settings. The only downside to using the website is you can only see back to a week of results.

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As for the lab test that is included with the WaterGuru Sense, I sent ours out and it took a little over two and a half weeks to hear back. Sadly the result was that there wasn’t enough water which was full when we sent it so it must have been damaged in shipping. So I can’t say how well that works sadly.

 


Overall and Final Verdict

Most people imagine owning a pool to be fun summers with your family and they are, but the other side of that coin is that someone has to stay on top of keeping things clean, testing, and keeping your chemicals in line. Even with slow-release tablets (which have their own downsides), you need to keep an eye on things daily. WaterGuru has come up with a system that can do just that, the Sense tests your FC, PH, flow, and temperature every day and with that, you can feel confident when away from home or if you skip a few days and don’t go out and check things because you know where your levels are. Beyond that, with the app, they guide you with customized instructions on what you need to do to make adjustments as you go from the Sense readouts combined with their lab tests which 2 come with the purchase of the Sense. They make it easy for someone with no experience or idea of what there are doing to keep their pool in line. My biggest concern when going in was that the tests wouldn’t be accurate so for testing I did comparisons between the WaterGuru Sense and the Taylor 2006C kit that we normally test with which is often what your pool store would use to test your water with as well. What I found was our results were right in line with the Taylor results, at least when testing at the lower detail. If you do larger samples with the Taylor FAS-DPD test for Free Chlorine tests you can get down to .2 ppm vs the .5 that the 10ml test and the Sense can do but in my experience that accuracy isn’t needed.

WaterGuru also lets you buy your replacement cartridges and a lot of your pool supplies through their app which offers extra convenience for those would who would want to do that as well. The end goal of everything is to cut down on the amount of time that you have to deal with the downsides of owning a pool so you can enjoy the upsides. If money wasn’t an object you could just pay for someone to come out and handle everything of course, but if you are in my boat where that isn’t in the budget it is nice to know there are at least options to find a middle ground.

Now I did run into a few issues with the Sense as well, it wasn’t perfect. For starters, like a lot of smart devices, it was extra picky when it came to the wireless network. It wouldn’t work with a newer and more secure WPA3 network at all. It also won’t work with anything but a 2.4Ghz network but frankly, most smart devices have those same requirements but I was surprised that it also needed the SSID to be visible not hidden when isn’t a problem with our other smart devices. With our above-ground pool, I did have issues with the Sense being too large to fit our skimmer. WaterGuru does have adapters but none look to help with going to a smaller-sized skimmer which is a bummer because our skimmer is what I would consider to be the “standard’ for above-ground pool skimmers. The skimmer size also means that the Sense takes up a lot of room in the skimmer which can cause some flow issues or if your water level gets low it leaves less of a reserve in the skimmer and can have your pump suck in air. I would love to see a design that hangs over the edge of an above-ground pool and avoids the skimmer altogether. Another improvement that I think could help with the experience would be getting flow and temperature readouts all of the time or at least for the temperature it would be nice to be able to have it check without needing to use up your consumables on a full test. You can check remotely to know if the pool temperature is good enough for you to go out.

Overall I do like what WaterGuru has going on with their design and it has made dealing with our pool maintenance more tolerable. The price of gaining that help is going to run you $295 and it will also mean replacement cassettes for consumables every 8 weeks your pool is open as well. This isn’t cheap and frankly is more than I spend on chemicals for the full year. But pools are expensive and it is even more expensive if you want someone else to handle the work and that is what the Sense is doing. It’s also a LOT cheaper than paying for a pool service. So is it perfect? Not at all, but I know I’m going to keep using it and it combined with a security camera that helps us keep an eye on the pool will cause less stress when we go on vacation this year.

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Live Pricing: HERE

**UPDATE**

So the WaterGuru app updated for me the day I published this coverage and they have now added support for temperature readouts throughout the day which was one of the areas that I thought it could improve. Props for WaterGuru staying on top of things and reading my mind as well! Here is a look at the update
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Author Bio
garfi3ld
Author: garfi3ldWebsite: https://lanoc.org
Editor-in-chief
You might call him obsessed or just a hardcore geek. Wes's obsession with gaming hardware and gadgets isn't anything new, he could be found taking things apart even as a child. When not poking around in PC's he can be found playing League of Legends, Awesomenauts, or Civilization 5 or watching a wide variety of TV shows and Movies. A car guy at heart, the same things that draw him into tweaking cars apply when building good looking fast computers. If you are interested in writing for Wes here at LanOC you can reach out to him directly using our contact form.

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