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The Pros and Cons of Saltwater Pools
Hazardous to handle and store, chlorine can irritate the skin and the eyes. It’s no wonder, then, that many people opt for saltwater pools, which offer some advantages over traditionally chlorinated swimming pools. Saltwater pools do have some downsides you need to consider before purchasing one, however. To decide which type of pool might be right for you, consider the pros and cons of each.
Saltwater Systems vs. Traditional Chlorinated Pools
If you don’t know much about saltwater filters and pools, the facts may surprise you. First, they aren’t anywhere close to being as salty as seawater. They have only about one-tenth the salinity. Second, they aren’t chlorine-free. Instead, the system uses a process called electrolysis to create chlorine, which disinfects the water.
What are the Pros and Cons of a Saltwater Pool?
Saltwater Pool Advantages
- Because they have lower chlorine levels, saltwater pools are gentler on the eyes and skin.
- Research indicates that saltwater systems may be safer than chlorine pools, which require pool owners to store and handle harsh chemicals.
- Saltwater pools produce softer-feeling water, which many find desirable.
- Because the salt cells in a saltwater system only produce chlorine as needed, the pools require less maintenance when compared to traditionally chlorinated swimming pools.
Disadvantages of Saltwater Pools
- Saltwater pools require a higher initial investment, making them more expensive than traditional pools.
- More complex than traditional pools, they often require experienced technicians even for minor problems.
- Salt can cause damage to some materials, so you may have to avoid using specific types of heaters, fixtures, underwater lighting, liners, and even some types of masonry work.
What is a Salt Chlorine Generator?
The primary piece of machinery in a saltwater pool is the salt chlorine generator. Using electrolysis, the generator breaks dissolved salt into hypochlorous acid and sodium hypochlorite, two sanitizing agents used in chlorine-based swimming pools. The continuous process also prevents the buildup of chloramines.
A salt chlorine generator is often incorrectly called a saltwater filter. This is inaccurate, as the generator does not filter pool water. A separate saltwater filter removes debris from the pool.
What Kind of Salt Does a Salt Chlorine Generator Use?
Three types of salt are used with salt chlorine generators: solar salt, mechanically evaporated salt and mined salt.
- Solar salt is derived from seawater evaporated by the sun and contains impurities such as dead brine shrimp and bacteria. Impurities make the salt generator (and the saltwater filter) work harder.
- Mechanically evaporated salt is also made from seawater, but generated heat is used to evaporate the water instead of sunlight, which burns organic matter. Mechanically evaporated salt may, however, include pool-damaging minerals.
- Mined salt is dug from the ground and is considered the purest form of salt.
How Much Salt Does My Pool Need?
The amount of salt your pool requires depends on the level of salt needed for your salt chlorine generator to function properly. Check the owner’s manual to find this amount–it usually ranges from 3,000 to 4,000 ppm (parts per million).
The number of gallons in your pool and its current salt levels determine how much salt to add. Use a saltwater test kit to determine the pool’s current salt level, then calculate how much salt you need based on the pool’s size in gallons with a salt table, subtracting the current salt level (your generator manual should contain a salt table).
As an example, a 20,000-gallon pool with a current salt level of 500 Ppm would require 501 lbs. of salt.
How Much Does a Salt Generator Cost?
A salt chlorine generator can usually be purchased for $500 to $600. Bear in mind the generator is only one part of the saltwater pool system. With a saltwater filter and other components, a saltwater chlorination system costs between $1,500 to $2,500.
How Long Does a Salt Chlorine Generator Last?
The salt cells used in most residential saltwater pools are good for 10,000 hours of operation, or approximately three to five years. The life of a generator depends on multiple factors, including the frequency of pool maintenance, salt level, water chemistry, and other factors.
Making a Decision
If you can afford the extra cost, a saltwater pool can offer significant benefits you don’t get from traditionally chlorinated pools. When it comes to making a choice, however, you should consider how often you and your family will use your pool, especially if you live in a region that enjoys fewer warm weather days.
The information on this website has not been reviewed by the FDA. Products offered for sale herein are not intended to treat, cure or prevent any disease or health condition. No medical claims are being made or implied. Contaminants mentioned are not necessarily in your water.