7 Best Salt Chlorinators | March 2017
- uses standard half-inch attachments
- provides low salt alerts
- replacement cells are affordable
- intuitive user interface
- replenishes chlorine daily
- cycles to prevent calcium buildup
- 10 chlorine generation levels
- easy three-button control panel
- boost mode for after spa use
- reduces pool maintenance
- several installation options
- gives instant salt and temp readings
How Salt Water Chlorinators Work
Many people think saltwater pools don't have any chlorine, but this is simply untrue. They have a perfectly balanced level of free available chlorine (FAC), which is constantly generated by the saltwater chlorinator. Traditional swimming pools have a combination of FAC and combined available chlorine (CAC). CAC is formed as FAC reacts with amines in the pool, and high levels of CAC is associated with skin and eye irritation in swimmers. FAC isn't known to cause any irritations and won't result in that chemical smell found in heavily chlorinated traditional pools.
Salt water chlorinators use a generator to create electrical currents, which are then passed along a cell. This cell is comprised of titanium plates that are coated with either iridium or ruthenium. Electrolysis attracts minerals in the pool water to these plates as the saltwater passes through the circulation system. A low-voltage current running through the plates breaks the salt and water up into hydrogen gas and hypochlorus acid. The hydrogen molecules then bubble to the surface and are released from the pool, while the acid remains behind to be used for disinfection.
This process creates an excess of hydroxyl as it releases the chlorine molecules from the salt. This results in an overly alkaline pool and the leftover hydrochloric acid from the electrolysis process is used to neutralize the alkalinity. This is repeated over and over again, constantly releasing a steady stream of usable chlorine into the pool water.
The salt isn't consumed in the process and is continuously split and reformed as it passes through the titanium plates of the cell. Periodically new salt must be added to saltwater pools, but this is because some is lost from splashing and other activities like backwashing.
Benefits Of Salt Water Chlorination
Saltwater pools have a number of benefits over traditional pools. First and foremost being the reduction of harsh chemicals. As mentioned previously, saltwater pools have chlorine, but there is significantly less that what is found in traditional pools. They are ideal for people with sensitivities to chemicals who often find that other pool types irritate their skin and eyes. Since you won't be adding pure chlorine directly to a saltwater pool, you won't have to deal with handling and storing a toxic chemical either. This makes it safer and more environmentally friendly.
Saltwater pools also require less maintenance than traditional pools as they are cleaning themselves continuously. You will still need to check the water chemistry to monitor your pH, ppm, and salinity periodically to ensure you swimming pool is at optimal levels, but rarely will you have to add anything other than a stabilizer. Unlike traditional pools, which often experience high and low levels of sanitizer, the level in saltwater pools stays constant, which results in less formation of algae.
The initial setup cost of a saltwater pool is higher than a traditional pool, but the yearly maintenance cost is significantly less. This means that over time, you will actually save money by having a saltwater pool. As an added bonus, you may find yourself saving money on swimwear as well if you use your pool constantly. Just like saltwater pools are easier on your skin, they are easier on bathing suits as well and won't discolor them or cause the material to weaken over time.
Maintaining A Saltwater Pool
You can break up your saltwater pool maintenance into three separate categories; weekly maintenance, monthly maintenance, and quarterly maintenance activities.
Every week you should test your pool chemistry to check the pH and amount of free chlorine. As with a traditional pool, you can use a drop test kit or pool dip strips. Ideally your pH should be maintained between 7.2 and 7.6. Your free chlorine should fall somewhere in the 1 to 3 ppm range. You can add muriatic acid to lower pH and sodium bicarbonate to raise it. Free chlorine can be adjusted via the output control on your system's cell or control box.
In addition to your weekly maintenance schedule, you should test your pool's, salt, stabilizer, alkalinity, and calcium levels at least once every month. It is vital that your pool has enough salt as this is directly related to how much free chlorine your system can create. Your stabilizer, calcium, and alkalinity can be tested with the same testing kit you use for your weekly maintenance, and your salinity level is usually displayed somewhere on your chlorinator. It can be good to periodically check your salinity manually, as sometimes chlorinators need to be recalculated.
Your quarterly maintenance should include a physical inspection of your chlorinator system. Open your cell and look for any scale buildup that could affect your system's efficiency. You also need to check the coating on your cell as it can be stripped off if you run your chlorinator for too long without enough salt in your pool. While the cell is open, remove any debris that may have made it past your filter.