Updated May 07, 2019 by Brett Dvoretz

The 8 Best Salt Chlorinators

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This wiki has been updated 21 times since it was first published in April of 2015. Sick of stinging eyes and water that smells like bleach? Tired of messy liquid that can stain decks and clothing? Get rid of that hassle for good while keeping your pool or spa cleaner and softer than ever before with one of these salt chlorinators. They convert the Cl in NaCl to free chlorine in order to sanitize your water in a cost-effective, low-maintenance, and efficient manner. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki. Skip to the best salt chlorinator on Amazon.

8. Pentair IntelliChlor

7. Saltron Mini

6. Hayward Aqua Trol

5. Circupool SJ-40

4. Blue Works BLH30

3. Hayward AquaRite

2. ControlOMatic SmarterSpa

1. Hayward Goldline PL-Plus

Editor's Notes

May 07, 2019:

Chlorine may have once been the go-to option for keeping pool water clean, but these days we have a better choice — salt water chlorinators. Unlike the traditional method, these machines leave your water feeling silky smooth and essentially eliminates the chance of eye or skin irritation. If you have a large pool, between 25,000 and 40,000 gallons, your best options are the Hayward Goldline PL-Plus, Hayward AquaRite, Blue Works BLH30, Circupool SJ-40, and Pentair IntelliChlor. The Hayward Goldline PL-Plus eliminates almost all pool maintenance from your schedule, as it automatically monitors and controls your pH levels too, while both the Blue Works BLH30 and Circupool SJ-40 have an impressive five-year warranty and are some of the most affordably-priced options to handle pools in their respective size ratings. When it comes to ease of installation, there is nothing better than a simple drop-in model, like the Saltron Mini and ControlOMatic SmarterSpa. Be aware though, these are generally for hot tubs and other small bodies of water.

How Salt Water Chlorinators Work

Traditional swimming pools have a combination of FAC and combined available chlorine.

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, which is constantly generated by the saltwater chlorinator. Traditional swimming pools have a combination of FAC and combined available chlorine. CAC is formed as FAC reacts with amines in the pool, and high levels of CAC are 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 up to the surface and are released from the pool, while the acid remains behind to act as a disinfectant.

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.

They are ideal for people with sensitivities to chemicals who often find that other pool types irritate their skin and eyes.

Saltwater pools also require less maintenance than traditional pools, as they clean themselves continuously. You will still need to periodically check the water chemistry to monitor your pH, ppm, and salinity to ensure your 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 as saltwater pools are easier on your skin, they are easier on bathing suits, and won't discolor them or cause their 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.

In addition to your weekly maintenance schedule, you should test your pool's, salt, stabilizer, alkalinity, and calcium levels at least once every month.

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 recalibrated.

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.

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Brett Dvoretz
Last updated on May 07, 2019 by Brett Dvoretz

A wandering writer who spends as much time on the road as in front of a laptop screen, Brett can either be found hacking away furiously at the keyboard or, perhaps, enjoying a whiskey and coke on some exotic beach, sometimes both simultaneously, usually with a four-legged companion by his side. He has been a professional chef, a dog trainer, and a travel correspondent for a well-known Southeast Asian guidebook. He also holds a business degree and has spent more time than he cares to admit in boring office jobs. He has an odd obsession for playing with the latest gadgets and working on motorcycles and old Jeeps. His expertise, honed over years of experience, is in the areas of computers, electronics, travel gear, pet products, and kitchen, office and automotive equipment.


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