To Salt or Not To Salt…That is the Question!

Written by alaglaspools

May 21, 2020

Alaglas Pools woman in lounger

 Salt Generation System or Chlorine System… is one better than the other?

We’re glad you asked!!

First, let’s identify what a salt system is and does.

Salt gen systems are also called chlorine generators. That’s right, both salt and chlorine systems have chlorine in them!

While chlorine systems use concentrated chlorine, salt gen systems pass salt (NaCl) and water (H2O) through an electrical charge which splits the molecules and creates hypochlorous acid (HOCl) – a pure, safe and effective chlorine.

Which one is best for you? Alaglas Pools are designed for either system so let’s look at some other variables that may determine which system is best for you.

PLEASE NOTE: Costs cited in this article are current as of the publication date and may vary due to availability and market values.

Variable 1: Initial System Cost

Chlorine systems are generally included in the purchase price of the pool while a Salt Generator system will be an add-on expenditure.

Now, if you are going to spend the extra money to put this system in, make it a good one… do not cheap out on this! It’s worth it in the long term! Depending on the size of your pool, you can plan to spend in the range of $1,000 to $3,000 additional for the Salt System.

With either system, you will need to purchase your initial chemicals. With a chlorine system, you will purchase chlorine, with a salt system you will need to purchase a lot of salt – again, depending on the size of your pool. So, be prepared for that expense.

Variable 2: Maintenance Cost

With either system you will need to keep your water balanced. Talk to your local pool pro for advice on which chemicals are the best option for your pool.

For a traditional chlorine system, expect to spend between $350 – $1500 on chlorine per year.

Salt may cost anywhere between $150 – $500 per year. Additionally, the generator uses electricity so factor some electricity costs into the comparison.

You may need to replace the salt cells every few years. Current cell replacement costs fall anywhere between $300 – $1200 but remember, this should not be a yearly expense.

Even with factoring in the electricity and cell replacement, salt systems are generally less expensive per year to maintain.

Variable 3: Ease of Care

Salt systems can go for longer periods of time (up to 2 weeks, depending on weather and usage) before needing salt replacement. The cells will require cleaning every few months to ensure optimum functionality.

You’ll need to shock your pool occasionally but, discuss that with your local pool pro as they know the water quality in your area.

Chlorine systems will need to be monitored carefully on a regular basis and generally, that’s weekly but, it may be more frequent depending on weather and usage.

You’ll also need to check filters and add shock to the water more often than with saltwater.

Variable 4: Health

With chlorine, you can control when you add the chemicals to the water. You’ll want to do this at low usage times because chlorine can cause dry itchy skin. It can also irritate eyes and possibly change hair color to some unusual shades.

Take precautions to store chlorine carefully, in original containers, in cool, dry, and well-vented areas away from the pool as the fumes can be harmful.

With a salt system the generator monitors the levels of your water continually so there are no restrictions on swim times… unless you want some private time in your pool… well then, that’s a personal decision.

You will need to have dry storage for the salt but there are little to no toxic fumes from the salt itself. Just remember, a salt gen system is still a chlorine-generating system so it will produce a low level of chlorine in your pool.

We’re often asked the question, “Will the pool water be briny with a salt system?” As a comparison, ocean salinity or ‘salty-ness’ is between 33 – 37 ppt, human tears are around 9ppt while a pool salinity is usually around 3 – 4 ppt.

So, to answer the question… clearly, NO! 

Variable 5: Equipment

Both systems require the same basic equipment, such as pumps and filters, which are readily available and easy to use. Talk to your local pool pro to determine the best system for your size pool and usage patterns.

If you opt for a salt gen system, you will need to add a salt generator to your equipment package and you will need to upgrade your pump and filtration systems to non-corrosive, salt-resistant materials.

A wonderful benefit of salt systems is automation. Salt is added to pool water automatically through the generator but, you still need to make sure the generator is always stocked with salt.

Chlorine systems work with standard pump and filtration equipment so no need for upgrading. If you want to make your life a bit easier, you can opt to add chemical controllers that automate adding chemicals to your pool and may save you money, time, and angst.

  • Both systems are great for maintaining clean, clear pool water and choosing which system to use depends on your preferences.
  • Alaglas Pools are designed to work beautifully with either system but proper maintenance and care of your pool is required.
  • Salt systems will cost more initially but maintenance costs are less over time.
  • Salt water feels softer and swimmers may experience less discomfort from chemicals.
  • Chlorine systems are generally built into the initial cost of the pool but may be more costly over time.
  • Swimmers may occaionally experience skin irritation which could be due to improper chemical levels or poor maintenance.
  • Talk to your local pool professional to determine which system is best for you and your active livestyle.
  • Happy Swimming!

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