Many considering a new pool for a house, or even those with an existing pool, sometimes ask the question, what are the benefits of salt water over chlorine pools? For example, maybe you have a chlorine pool and heard about you friends place with a salt pool and the “health benefits”. Which type of pool you choose is really down to personal choice, budget and type and size of pool.
Traditional chlorine pools have been used for hundreds of years and the water is kept sanitary and clear by maintaining the chlorine and pH levels. Regularly checked, they seldom have a problem and for the average property, are very cost effective.
Salt water pools also use chlorine, but generate this on-site through an extra device known as a chlorinator. This is really just a microchip controlled electrolysis machine that separates the chlorine from sodium chloride (salt), or bromine from sodium bromide, a substitute for sodium chloride. Similarly to chlorine pools cyanuric acid (CYA) still has to be added to protect the generated chlorine from UV degradation.
The benefits of a chlorine pool
- More control over the sanitising capability of the pool
- Performs better in large households or heavy pool use as sanitisation can be increased immediately.
- Cheaper to install and usually cheaper to maintain
The drawbacks of a chlorine pool
- Chlorine levels must be checked frequently
- Risk of chlorine levels dropping low when not monitored resulting in algae blooms
- When chemicals are imbalanced or have an abnormality it can become tiresome to maintain without a professional on hand
- Chlorine irritation to skin, nose and eyes if sensitive or if not maintained properly
The benefits of a salt water pool
- More pleasant to swim in and kinder to sensitive skin and hair due to water softness.
- The salt levels are very mild and usually more health benefits according to some experts.
- Set up correctly, very little chemical maintenance is required and chlorine is generated automatically. Green algae blooms are rare with salt pools.
- Makes pool water “twinkle” due to salt characteristics.
The drawbacks of a salt pool
- Can cause corrosion especially if chemistry is not monitored.
- Action of salt chlorinators cause pool pH to rise faster than usual and addition of muriatic acid is more common to counter this.
- If pH is not kept in check this can erode hard pool surfaces and concrete through excessive salt corrosion action.
- Salt levels must be kept in the range 2800 and 4200 ppm. Just for comparison, sea-water is 35,000+ ppm.
- Chlorination cells wear out over time and have to be replaced every few years.
Can you Convert a standard pool to salt system?
Yes, it is easy to convert a traditional chlorine pool to a salt water system but requires extra equipment installing and chemicals purchased. The chlorinator system has to be sized correctly for the pool size and flow but modern systems are very compact. Hire an expert to inspect, advise and install a salt system.
There is very little cost difference between chlorine only or salt pools.
The health benefits and enjoyment of salt pools is higher and kinder to swimmers especially those with sensitive skin. The water is not salty to taste and touch and only a fraction of the salinity of sea water.
The chlorine levels in both pools are similar but salt water is softer.
Both pools have to be monitored in different ways.
Salt pools are more damaging to installations if not kept in check.
Salt pool chlorinators are expensive to fix if they malfunction or a new salt cell is required.
Salt water pools rarely have algae blooms as the chlorine is kept at a constant level and evenly distributed.
It is easy to convert a traditional pool to salt water but may be expensive.