We won't pretend we weren't excited to be asked to review a swimming pool: namely, Bestway's Power Steel Rectangular Pool Set. It's up there with the hot tub review we did a few months ago, frankly, and we actually felt useful doing it, with staycations on the cards for many of us this year. Who are we kidding? We're totally over paddling pools that go ankle deep and totally into giving over half the garden to something (anything) that will keep the kids (and adults) happy during a spring and summer in lockdown.
So, what does a swimming pool review require? Well, swimming obviously, but we left it to a range of over-excited kids (aged six to 17) to put the pool through its paces (or rather, give it a right old bashing), while we focussed on the important adult questions: how easy it was to put the pool together; how it stood up to said bashing; how well the filter works; how much water it uses; how big your garden really has to be to squeeze it in and – finally – whether it's worth the cost. Read on to find the answers...
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How easy is it to put the Bestway pool up?
First things first: the pool was delivered to the house in a box weighing 76kg. It comes in a tall, thin box that will easily fit through a door, but it's a two-person job to bring it through the house to the garden. And when we say 'two-person' we mean two big strong people. Or, do as we did and unpack the box in the hallway and carry it through in separate pieces.
As for setting up the pool: it's incredibly easy. It took around an hour and a half for five people to get it up and in position, around six hours to fill it and another hour or so to figure out how the filter worked and get that up and running.
Let's talk you through the pool's set up. There is an instruction DVD and a manual but we were far too impatient to even think about watching it, relying on the manual instead. That said, it is pretty self-explanatory. You can see the pool's shell laid out on the lawn, above. All you do is thread straight and U-shaped frame parts through shell's pockets and click them together and you're done. No tools required! That bit was quick – the pool's shell was up and ready within about 40 minutes with three of us working on it.
It was the pool's ladder that was harder to put together. Again, there is a manual with pictures, but there are lots of parts, and the two friends we roped into assembling it took a good hour to complete it (we rewarded them afterwards with a cooling Pimm's).
Filling the pool with took about about six hours (plus the rain lent a helping hand). It DOES take a lot of water – capacity is 8,124 litres – so if you're on a water meter or there's a hosepipe ban looming, you may want to think carefully. That said, our pool came with a chemical kit, and of course, there's the filter, so refilling it isn't going to be as regular a job as it would be with a paddling pool. So far, it's been used every day since it went up, and we've been keeping it extra clean with a fishing net but we think it will be some time before it needs emptying and refilling.
The pool doesn't feel overly sturdy without water, but once filled, it's rock solid.
Where to set up a Bestway swimming pool
The pool does need to be placed on a reasonably level area of ground (our garden has a very shallow slope which has given us a slightly deeper and a shallower end, but be aware that anything much steeper than that be tricky. Ideally, it should be on a flat surface.
The ground beneath the pool also needs to be solid, in other words on grass or a solid patio, but it's way to heavy when filled to go on a deck, for example. You also need to position the pool somewhere where you can easily drain the water out (you'll do this with a hose to a drain, ideally, rather than on to the garden). The flow control drain valve means draining and disassembly is made that much easier. You can also attach a hose with the included adaptor to direct and drain the water away.
How big is the Bestway swimming pool?
The pool we tested measures 4.12m x 2.01m x 1.22m, which is big enough for kids to do lengths in and for adults to lounge about on lilos. There is a range of sizes available, including much larger ones, but we tested this one in a small-ish London garden and it's the only size that would fit. Filled, it comes to waist level on an average-sized adults.
What's included with the Bestway pool?
The Bestway Power Steel Pool we tested comes as a complete set with a, 530 gallon filter pump with filter, ChemConnect chlorine dispenser (for cleaning purposes), safety ladder and a repair patch included.
Made with Bestway's trademarked Tri-Tech™ construction, this material features a three-ply reinforced layering system; a polyester mesh core encased in two layers of heavy gauge PVC, offering the utmost strength and durability. Built to withstand large water volume weight, harsh ultraviolet rays and chlorine, too. That's the science.
We've been using a fishing net to clean out our pool (tell kids it's a game, works a treat), but you can buy a pool vacuum separately; we also bought a huge piece of tarpaulin to cover the pool and keep the heat from the sun in it.
Let's talk a bit more about the pump (shown below).
The pump is the feature that sets this pool apart from a paddling pool. It is attached at two points to the side of the pool to circulate water and to filter small particles out; you also add the chemicals that are in the ChemConnect kit into it. The filter pump needs to be plugged into the mains, you either need an external socket or electrical point, which is the ideal, or to attach it to a extension cord and trail it indoors (really, not ideal). The pump cannot be used while people are in the pool, so you will need to turn it on and off.
That leads us neatly (excuse the pun) to how easy it is to clean the pool. The manual recommends that you clean the PVC liner (the pool walls) regularly and check the filter cartridge to replace dirty ones. However, this shouldn't be too much hassle and you shouldn't need to do it too often (two weeks in, we haven't had to do either yet), but it is important to make sure you get the pH of the water just right. Again, there are very specific instructions on how to do this.
What else? The pool comes with a two-year warranty and free delivery; there are 30 days for returns.
What didn't we like about the Bestway pool?
The ladder is a little wobbly when very excited children are launching themselves off it. That's not its purpose, admittedly, and we've had a stern word.
We completely love this pool, especially during the coronavirus summer. It really felt like something really fun for the kids to enjoy when the sun was out – and when it wasn't (so far, it's been wetsuits all the way). While the pool wouldn't be ideal for an adult who is expecting to be able to be swimming lengths, it is a brilliant way to cool off, it's great for playing pool games, relaxing on on a lilo or a much needed break from tanning (if and when the sun shines).
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