Chlorine pools are notorious for irritating the eyes and skin, and they do no favors for your hair. Salt chlorination systems offer better, gentler way to sanitize your swimming pool. With a saltwater system, you can enjoy clean water all summer long without the harsh side effects that come with heavy chlorine exposure.
What Are Salt Chlorination Systems?
In traditional swimming pools, chlorine is added to the water, and the concentration level is quite high. A salt system hooks up to a pool’s plumbing, putting chlorine in the water. However, the chlorine-production process is natural. Therefore, the pool’s water doesn’t put off an overpowering chemical smell, and the swimming pool stays hygienic.
How Do Salt Chlorinators Work?
Salt chlorinators operate in a cyclic manner. Once salt is added to the pool, the chlorinator is connected and the pool pump is turned on, the saltwater enters the cell chamber of the chlorinator. Then, the chlorinator separates the sodium and the chloride by employing a low-voltage current. Electrolysis is used to turn the chloride into chlorine gas.
The chlorine gas runs through the swimming pool’s plumbing system in order to destroy algae and bacteria. After the water is sanitized, the chlorinator converts the chlorine gas to chloride and combines it with the sodium, so it once again becomes salt.
What Kind of Salt Do Chlorinators Use?
Salt can be categorized by whether or not it’s iodized. Non-iodized salt is naturally found in the ground and in ocean water, and it has a high sodium chloride content. On the other hand, iodized salt is made by adding iodine, which prevents goiters and other medical problems.
Salt chlorinator systems only use non-iodized salt, which isn’t as coarse as iodized salt. This means non-iodized salt dissolves better and faster. Plus, it doesn’t contain additives that may damage a chlorinator.
Can You Taste the Salt?
The answer to this question depends on if you have heightened taste buds. Chlorinators produce an ultra-low level of saltwater – usually between 2,500 to 3,500 parts per million. In other words, one teaspoon per gallon.
In comparison to tears and ocean water, the salt concentration in a swimming pool is much lower with tears containing almost 10,000 parts per million of salt and ocean water having an upwards of 30,000 parts per million.
Although most people cannot taste the salt in a pool, some people may get a hint of it if they accidentally swallow the water. Many chlorinators are equipped with an indicator that tells you if the salt ratio is too low or high, so you can adjust the water to the proper level.
How Much Do They Cost to Supply and Operate?
After you purchase a salt chlorination system, there are only two ongoing costs directly involved with the chlorinator. One cost is the supply of salt you’ll need. Even though the chlorinator recycles the existing salt, there are occasions when you need to add salt to your swimming pool, such as after draining or backwashing the pool. Fortunately, pool salt only costs about a dollar per pound.
The other ongoing cost is the electricity. Salt chlorination systems only run when the pool pump is in operation, and most people only run their pump about half the day. When the chlorinator is working, it only uses as much electricity as an outdoor light bulb, so the additional electricity is negligible.
How Much Maintenance Do Chlorinators Require?
To keep your chlorinator working at maximum efficiency, you must perform routine maintenance, but it won’t be time-consuming. Make it a point to check the salt level about once a month. Also, adjust the chlorine production if the water turns cloudy or after a lot of people use the pool.
In addition, you should look for signs of calcium buildup at the beginning and end of swim season. You’ll be able to spot calcium deposits easily – It looks like a white, powdery substance. Of course, you should maintain the pool’s pH, alkaline and hardness levels.
Is It Easy to Convert a Pool to a Saltwater System?
Actually, it’s surprisingly simple to turn your chemically chlorinated swimming pool into a saltwater system. After installing the chlorinator, test the water to determine how much salt should be added to the water. Let the water circulate for a full day and test the water again. You don’t have to drain the water first or make expensive alterations to your pool’s plumbing and electrical systems.
The Top Five Salt Chlorination Systems of 2020
Are you ready to make the switch to a saltwater pool? To help you narrow down your choices, we compiled a list of the latest high-quality salt chlorination systems currently available.
5 Circupool RJ30 Complete Salt Water Chlorination System
Made of impact-resistant aluminum, the Circupool RJ30 is built to last. The universal titanium cell is surrounded by a translucent cover, so you can monitor its performance. This self-cleaning chlorinator is robust enough to pump out 1.5 pounds of chlorine each day in a 30,000-gallon pool.
From the control pad, you can view status alerts and the salt level in real-time. There is also a super-chlorinate mode and a winterize mode.
4 Hayward Goldline AQR9 AquaRite Electronic Salt Chlorination System
The Hayward Goldline AquaRite streamlines the installation process. Hayward pre-wires the AquaRite chlorinator, saving you time and hassle. It comes with a flow tee, a gauge and a t-cell union kit, and you can plug it into any 120-volt outlet.
This mid-size salt chlorinator is suitable for use in pools with a 25,000-gallon capacity. Over the lifespan of the chlorinator’s cell, it generates a whopping 210 pounds of chlorine.
3 Hayward Goldline AQ-TROL-RJ AquaTrol Above-Ground Swimming Pool Salt Chlorination System
This Hayward chlorinator is designed for above-ground pools with an 18,000-gallon capacity. You can install it in just a half-hour by connecting it to your pool’s return jet. The 24-hour timer makes it easier to control the swimming pool’s pump, and the automatic-clean function makes maintenance a breeze.
When needed, you can active super-chlorinate mode. There are multiple diagnostic indicators, and the switch allows you to shut off the chlorinator in an instant.
2 Hayward Goldline PL-PLUS AquaPlus All-in-One Conrol and Salt Chlorination System
With its chlorine booster, self-cleaning cell and freeze-protection mode, this Hayward Goldline is definitely a souped-up chlorination system. The easy-to-use control pad also has a programmable timer, and you can operate it from your smartphone with the AquaConnect app.
The chlorinator is able to detect oxidizing particles and measure chlorine and pH levels. Thanks to the addition of Hayward’s TurboCell, the chlorinator works in pools as big as 40,000 gallons.
1 Hayward Goldline AQR15 AquaRite Electronic Salt Chlorination System
To get this salt chlorination system up and running, you’ll need to hardwire it to the pool’s existing electrical wiring. Since the TurboCell is the longest lasting cell Hayward makes, the extra installation work is worth it.
In fact, the cell is able to push out 580 pounds of chlorine throughout its lifetime. Like the AquaPlus, the AquaRite AQR15 is also rated for 40,000-gallon swimming pools.
A Salt Chlorination System Buying Guide
If you’re new to the world of saltwater swimming pools, you’re going to love it. Here are the most important features to consider when picking out your salt chlorination system.
The cell is where all the action happens, putting it on the top of the features list. Look for a well-constructed cell made of durable metal. You should also pay attention to the cell’s gallon rating as this will tell you what size pool the chlorinator can accommodate. Don’t forget to check whether it’s compatible with your pool’s pump.
Some models come with a control pad while others must be purchased separately. Either way, you’ll need one. When looking at the control pad for the chlorinator, the main aspect to consider is its usability. Is it user-friendly? Are the buttons labeled for quick navigation? If you want to control the chlorinator when you’re not at home, look for a model that’s enabled with Wi-Fi.
Salt chlorination systems that monitor your swimming pool’s chemical levels also reduces maintenance time. Instead of strip testing the water, you can let the chlorinator do the job for you. Many models measure the pH and chlorine levels. There are also some that monitor the alkaline and hardness levels.
Another common feature is a timer. If you have a salt chlorinator with a timer, you don’t have to bother turning your pool’s pump on and off – the timer will automate this chore. Depending on the control pad, the timer may be set with a simple turn dial or numerical/arrow keys.
Taking care of a swimming pool is enough work on its own without adding extra maintenance tasks to the mix. Salt chlorination systems with an auto-clean function remove the drudgery of soaking and cleaning the cell to get rid of calcium deposits. Instead, the chlorinator reverses the polarity to clean the cell. Even better, you don’t have to press a single button to engage this function.
The most deluxe salt chlorination systems go beyond the basics to bring you certain conveniences. One feature that’s great to have in a chlorinator is a winterize mode, which protects the chlorination system from freezing temperatures. Another feature you’ll appreciate is chlorine-boost mode. When you activate this mode, the system releases extra chlorine into the water.