One of the toughest decisions for pool owners now days is whether to have a chlorine pool or a salt pool. A lot of them are wondering what the difference is and which is more expensive. The main difference between the two is that a chlorine pool uses chlorine tables to sanitize the pool and prevent algae growth where the salt water pool uses a process that converts regular salt into chlorine providing a gentle, low chlorine level.
In a saltwater pool, a Salt Chlorine Generator is used to convert regular salt into chlorine. This machine is simple and easy to install and use therefore there is no need for a pool service company to maintain your pool. Although salt water chlorine generators are expensive to install and get running, in the long run you will save money by not having to purchase chemicals for the pool throughout the year. Once the system is purchased and installed, you will only add occasional doses of salt and minimal amounts of pool chemicals.
Often misunderstood, salt water pools are not as salty as the ocean water and have only 10% of the salinity. Salt water pools are technically not chlorine free as they make their own chlorine through electrolysis. Salt water chlorination is the process that uses dissolved salt as a store for the Chlorination system. The chlorine generator uses electrolysis in the presence of dissolved salt (NaCl) to produce hypochlorous acid (hclo) and sodium hypochlorite (naclo) which are the sanitizing agents already commonly used in swimming pools.
Chloramines are responsible for the “chlorine smell” of pools, as well as skin and eye irritation. These problems are the result of insufficient levels of free available chlorine and indicate a pool that must be shocked by the addition of 5-10 times the normal amount of chlorine. In salt water pools, the generator uses electrolysis to continuously produce free chlorine. It also burns off chloramines in the same manner as traditional shock. As with traditionally chlorinated pools, salt water pools must be monitored in order to maintain proper water chemistry.
The chlorinator cell consists of parallel titanium plates coated with ruthenium and sometimes iridium. Older models make use of perforated plates rather than solid plates. Electrolysis naturally attracts calcium and other minerals to the plates. Thus, depending on water chemistry and magnitude of use, the cell will require periodic cleaning in a mild acid solution which will remove the calcium buildup.
Excessive buildup can reduce the effectiveness of the cell. Running the chlorinator for long periods with not enough salt in the pool can strip the coating of the cell which then requires an expensive replacement as can using a too strong acid wash. Saltwater pools can also require stabilizer to help stop the suns UV rays from breaking down free chlorine in the pool. You should test and monitor your available chlorine on a weekly basis.
You can reduce your free chlorine by lowering the output setting on your generator. Also, consider increasing the pump runtime if you cannot maintain a high enough free chlorine.