Salt chlorine generator systems sanitize swimming pools by converting salt into chlorine, which kills pathogens and bacteria before returning to its former state, salt. The system converts salt to chlorine by passing the dissolved salt in the pool water through a small chamber (salt chlorinator cell) installed along the swimming pool’s water circulation system. These cells contain parallel titanium plates coated with either ruthenium or iridium. The plates are electronically charged to produce hypochlorous acid(HOCl), and sodium hypochlorite (NaClO) from the salt.
Salt water pools are not actually chlorine-free; they use a chlorine generator instead of directly adding liquid chlorine or chlorine tablets to the swimming pool.
With most salt chlorine generator systems, a salt content of around 3,000 ppm (parts per million) is desirable, but this can range from 1,800 to 4,000 ppm, depending on the system requirements. As a reference, ocean water has a salt content of approximately 35,000 ppm and humans generally have a salt taste threshold of around 3,500 – 6,000 ppm.
In theory, there is no need to add salt to a salt chlorine generator system, but in actual practice most swimming pools do need salt added consistently due to splash-out, backwashing, dilution from rainwater, and leaks. Generally, most people swimming in salt water pools feel the water is softer, has a lower chlorine scent, and they have fewer incidences of dry skin and burning eyes.
Although salt chlorine generator systems have many benefits, there are many issues that some pool stores neglect to mention when selling these systems. The following is a list of advantages and disadvantages, along with some practical advice if you already have a salt chlorine generator system.
ADVANTAGES OF A SALT CHLORINE GENERATOR SANITAZTION SYSTEM
- Water feels smoother in a salt water swimming pool.
- Salt water has a lower chlorine scent.
- Salt water pools cause less burning of the eyes and itchy skin.
- No need to buy and store chlorine with a salt water swimming pool.
- Salt water swimming pool sanitation systems can be expensive, between $600 and $1500 to install.
- Salt chlorine generator cells do not last for a long period of time. Generally, you can expect them to last between two and five years, with three years being average.
- Replacement cells for salt chlorine generators cost approximately $500 to $700.
- Cleaning the salt chlorinator cell too often with acid reduces the life of the cell by stripping the coating on the plates.
- Cleaning the salt chlorinator cell with a highly concentrated acid reduces the life of the cell.
- Salt water chlorine generator cells have a tendency to allow Ph to rise. Check the water chemistry regularly.
- Stabilizer is a key component of salt chlorine generator systems and needs to be checked regularly.
- Running the salt chlorine generator for long periods without enough salt in the swimming pool can strip the coating off of the cell.
- There are still occasions where shocking the swimming pool with extra chlorine may be advantageous.
- When swimmers smell more chlorine than normal and have eye irritations, they tend to assume there is too much chlorine in the pool. In fact, what they may be experiencing is organic contamination (chloramines), not chlorine. The remedy is more chlorine, not less.
- Although some salt chlorine generator systems have a “shock” or “boost” button, this does not mean a swimming pool can be shocked by the salt chlorine generator. Salt chlorine generator systems cannot produce enough chlorine over a short period of time to significantly impact algae.