The debate between saltwater and traditionally chlorinated pools sparks curiosity among pool enthusiasts seeking the best swimming experience. To understand the dynamics, in this blog post, we delve into the workings of saltwater pools and explore their pros and cons.
How do saltwater pools work?
Before delving into the details that follow, let's begin by understanding the functioning of a saltwater pool.
A saltwater pool uses a saltwater generator, also known as a salt chlorine generator, to sanitize the pool water. Using a process called electrolysis, this salt chlorine generator transforms added salt into chlorine, maintaining the salt pool as a chlorine-based system. Rather than directly introducing chlorine into salt pools, pool-grade salt is added, undergoing conversion into chlorine.
Unlike typical pool chemicals, salt remains in the pool water without evaporating, requiring salt additions only once or twice a year. The salt chlorine generator efficiently recycles the salt during operation, ensuring continual chlorine production. It's important to note that saltwater swimming pools are not chlorine-free but use salt in a distinct process to create chlorine.
Additionally, saltwater systems actively monitor chlorine output, preventing fluctuations in levels and ensuring consistent water sanitation. This proactive approach helps prevent bacteria growth, algae formation, and the development of chloramines, the unpleasant byproduct of spent chlorine. Once the salt water system is introduced to swimming pools and the salt chlorine generator is in operation, chlorine levels remain stable, contributing to less maintenance and a consistently sanitized pool environment.
Pros with a salt water pool
1. No chlorine tablets needed:
The use of pool-grade salt eliminates the need for handling traditional chlorine tablets or granules, offering a safer and more convenient alternative. Pool salt is cost-effective and generally requires a one-time addition at the start of the season or after water dilution, reducing the frequency of chemical interactions compared to traditional chlorinated pools.
2. Stable Chlorine Levels:
The salt chlorine generator ensures a steady release of chlorine, promoting consistent chlorine levels. This stability minimizes common pool issues such as algae growth and cloudy water. Additionally, the avoidance of drastic fluctuations in chlorine levels results in fewer chloramines, the byproducts responsible for the unpleasant chlorine scent often associated with traditional pools.
3. Gentle on Skin and Eyes:
Saltwater swimming pools provide a smoother, silkier feel to the water, creating a more comfortable swimming experience. The gradual and steady release of chlorine contributes to a gentler environment, making it an excellent choice for individuals with sensitive skin or eyes who may experience irritation in traditional chlorine pools.
Cons with salt water pools
1. High Initial Cost:
Converting a traditional chlorine pool to a saltwater system involves a significant upfront investment. This includes the purchase of a salt chlorine generator and the labour for its installation. While long-term savings may be realized by not purchasing chlorine regularly, the initial conversion cost of salt chlorine generators can be a deterrent.
At Stern's Pools, we provide a specialised pool designed to withstand saltwater conditions, featuring exceptional resistance to corrosion and tailored for optimal performance in saltwater environments.
2. Complex Maintenance:
The maintenance of a saltwater pool involves regular cleaning and eventual replacement of the salt cell. Additionally, since it's an electronic system, professional assistance might be required for major repairs or maintenance. While it eliminates the need for constant purchase of chlorine tablets or granules, the saltwater generator does contribute to increased electricity consumption.
3.Chemical Level Fluctuations:
Despite the absence of manual chlorine additions, saltwater pool owners need to regularly test and balance water chemistry. pH levels, for example, tend to rise as the saltwater generator runs, requiring attention to prevent issues such as skin irritation, burning eyes, or equipment scaling.
4. Temperature Limitations:
The saltwater pool system ceases chlorine production in colder temperatures. If the water temperature drops below 15.5 degrees Celsius, common in colder climates without pool heaters, the chlorine production stops.
5. Corrosion Risks:
Prolonged exposure to salt water poses risks to certain pool components. Items like automatic pool covers, pool liners, metal pool equipment, and even natural stonework or landscaping near the pool can erode with excessive exposure to salt water.
So how much salt do you need and how often do you need to refill?
Ensuring your pool's salt concentration falls within the recommended range of 2,700 to 3,400 PPM (parts per million), with 3,200 PPM as the ideal target, is crucial. Always refer to your saltwater generator owner's manual for specific guidance on salt level.
In the saltwater vs. traditional chlorine pool debate, each option presents a unique set of advantages and challenges. Saltwater pools eliminate the need for chlorine tablets, provide stable chlorine levels, and offer a smoother swimming experience.
However, the initial investment, complex maintenance, chemical fluctuations, temperature limitations, and corrosion risks pose considerations. Assessing personal priorities, maintenance willingness, and budget constraints will guide the choice, ensuring an informed decision for a pool experience that aligns with individual preferences.