Salt Water Pools
Pros and Cons of a Salt Water Pool "Part 2":
In my last post, I discussed “The Pros and Cons of a Salt Water Pool” compared to a traditional chlorine swimming pool. This is a continuation of that post, and to be totally honest, I had really intended to get this posted a few weeks ago, but then…life happened and suddenly it was May.
So, here we are, and today I’m going to tell you about a third alternative which provides a cost-effective alternative to a salt system and overcomes some of the disadvantages of a conventional pool that I discussed in my previous post.
To be clear, when I refer to a “traditional chlorine pool” I’m referring to a pool that lacks any sort of mechanical chlorine creation or injection system. These are the pools that most people have, the ones that require you (or your pool guy) to add chlorine manually. This can be liquid chlorine, tablets, or a combination of the two.
Today, I’m going to discuss Automatic Chlorine Injectors (aka chlorine pumps) and compare them to Salt Cells.
You’ll recall from my previous post that the biggest advantage of a salt cell (salt-chlorine generator) is that they generate chlorine continuously at a set rate. As such, you avoid the peaks and valleys which result from intermittent additions of liquid chlorine, or tablets that dissolve at irregular and uncontrolled rates. Salt-chlorine generators keep your chlorine levels fairly consistent as long as usage doesn’t change.
Drawbacks to a salt system include: 1. Cost - they are expensive in install and the grids need to be replaced every few years at a cost of approximately $300-$700. 2. Salt systems require periodic cleaning, which is a messy job. 3. Salt cells are a relatively complex piece of equipment. 4. Salt is corrosive and can damage certain types of fixtures and materials and can make draining a pool more problematic 5. pH tends to run high on salt pools and will require more balancing.
So, how does an automatic chlorine injector stack up compared to a salt cell?
Cost. An automatic chlorine injector is less expensive – about $450 installed versus upwards from $1500 for a salt system.
Additionally, a chlorine injector is a lower-tech solution, which means that it’s easier to work on and when parts do need to be replaced, they tend to be much less expensive. Maintenance costs for chlorine injectors will generally be about $25-$30/year (to replace and/or lubricate tubes and bearings). There are no salt cells to clean, however periodic cleaning of tubes will likely be necessary.
Using a chlorine injector, like a salt cell, facilitates stable chlorine concentrations in your pool and eliminates chlorine highs and lows that you get with intermittent/manual chlorine addition. Like a salt generator, you may need to adjust the flow of chlorine to compensate for changes in demand seasonally or when use changes. Neither of these systems monitor the actual chlorine concentration so they will not automatically adjust chlorine output accordingly. You or your pool tech still need to do that manually.
Less pH balancing is required with a chlorine injection system compared to a salt system.
Both salt systems and chlorine injections systems continuously replace chlorine so less CYA stabilizer is needed. This makes it easier to balance your pool.
Draining the pool is no problem. Simply wait for the chlorine levels to drop and drain. Salt, on the other hand, does not dissipate like chlorine does and you need to drain a salt pool into the city water system if draining is required.
On the other hand:
You will have a large volume of chlorine to handle and store (2.5 – 5 gal), which is arguably more toxic than salt. Spilling a little salt on yourself won’t ruin your cloths. This may not be an issue for you if you use a pool service company.
Some people like the softer feel of a salt water pool. That said, there is no reason that you couldn’t add a small amount of salt to your pool if that was something that you noticed and it was important to you.
So, there you have it. A chlorine injection system is a lower-tech and lower-cost alternative to a salt system that provides almost all of the advantages of a salt-chlorine generator with virtually none of the drawbacks.
If you’re interested in getting a quote on a chlorine injection system for your pool, or if you just have some general questions, please give us a call. We’d be happy to speak to you.
In the interest of completeness, there are systems out there that will monitor chlorine concentration and pH. They are called ORP systems (Oxidation-Reduction Potential) measures the oxidizing properties of any sanitizer present in the water, In our case that would be free chlorine. An ORP system starts at $1500 plus installation and the probes require regular monitoring to ensure they are working correctly.
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