Salt water pool systems are growing in popularity, as people try to minimize exposure to harsh chemicals. However, what’s easily lost in the salt water pools vs chlorine pools debate is that both types of pools use chlorine. The difference is that salt water pools use a chlorine generator (also known as a pool chlorinator) to create the chlorine on-site, so you don’t have to transport and add it yourself.
Instead, chlorine generators only require the addition of salt, which is less expensive than chlorine. The question is, does a chlorine generator ultimately pay for itself and save you money?
A Big Fat Maybe
With a chlorinator, you do gradually save money over time. However, whether the unit pays for itself or not depends on how much you pay for the system vs. how much chlorine your pool requires. A chlorine generator can cost anywhere from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand. At the upper end, you’re going to be hard-pressed to make up for the cost of the system through your savings on chlorine tablets.
For less expensive chlorinators, it really depends on how much chlorine your pool requires. Generally the warmer your climate, the more chlorine your pool needs to fend off algae – and thus the greater the chance of you getting your money’s worth out of a salt water pool system.
There’s an additional complication, though.
The Trouble with Chlorinators
Most chlorine generators require you to add salt directly to the water. The amount of sodium is minuscule – nothing like sea water, and certainly nothing that can irritate your eyes or skin (provided you follow instructions, that is). However, this salt water can potentially corrode fixtures and pool equipment if it’s not designed for salt water use, or if you fail to maintain the right sodium concentration.
There are other things that can go wrong with your system, too. If you don’t keep the chlorinator cell free of mineral deposits, the system might not function properly. And as with any piece of equipment, it can simply break down. If the repairs aren’t under warranty, that’s an additional cost that you don’t face with straight chlorine application.
Reasons to Get a Chlorine Generator
While the picture is murky with respect to cost, there are many other reasons to get a chlorine generator. The chief one is not having to deal with chlorine, which can be hazardous to your health if not handled properly. Many people who are sensitive to chlorine also find that a salt water pool is much less likely to cause red eyes and skin irritation.
Water containing sodium also feels “softer” to the touch, just as if it were treated by a water softener. A lot of pool owners like this feeling, though there are others who dislike the slippery quality of the water.
Obviously, people are finding plenty of compelling reasons to get a salt water pools, as they continue to grow in popularity. However, whether cost is one of those reasons really depends on your particular circumstances.