Today, pools come in all shapes and sizes with multiple options and features. That also includes the way pools can be maintained. When it comes to choosing chlorine or saltwater, there are a few major considerations for pool owners including the cost, ease of maintenance, and overall comfort while swimming.
The reality is that chlorine pools and saltwater pools are both good options for keeping your water clean. The main things to consider are understanding how much maintenance it takes to achieve a balanced pool, costs for this and future swim seasons, and the type of water you want to swim in with friends and family.
What is the difference between saltwater and chlorine pools?
The water in traditional chlorine pools must be sampled and balanced with liquid or tablet chlorine. Alkalinity, pH, and calcium hardness must be adjusted as well. Saltwater pools require the same chemicals except for chlorine, although you may need to shock a saltwater pool periodically.
Instead of relying on store-bought chlorine, saltwater pools create their own through electrolysis. Pool salt is added to a chlorine generator. Then the generator runs salty water through two electrically charged plates, converting it to chlorine. The pool water is still sanitized with chlorine, but the process differs from that of a traditional chlorine pool.
Pros: Saltwater versus Chlorine
For saltwater pools, the maintenance costs are cheaper. Typically, pool maintenance can be almost half the cost of traditional chlorine over the lifespan of the pool system. Less cost is a result of less maintenance. Once the chlorine generator is set up and functioning properly, the maintenance becomes minimal. Using less chlorine is also gentler on skin, eyes, swimsuits, hair, and more. Additionally, many people dislike the smell of traditional chlorine pools. Saltwater pools don’t have the same heavy chemical scent. All this plus the softer feel of the water creates a more natural swimming experience.
The main benefits of a traditional chlorine system are that it is a low-cost investment up front. The chlorine itself is relatively inexpensive and very easy to add to a pool. Safe levels of pool cleanliness are achievable if consistently monitored and cared for by utilizing chlorine. There are also some individuals that like the smell of a chlorine pool.
Cons: Saltwater versus Chlorine
For saltwater, the initial equipment cost is more expensive. A salt chlorine generator can be more than you would spend initially for a season’s worth of chlorine. Salt chlorine generators also need to be checked and cleaned regularly. Now, buying salt in bulk is inexpensive, but bags are heavy and might be more difficult to handle. Several hundred pounds of salt are needed when you first install the salt chlorine generator. There is also occasional salt cell cleaning required. This is usually a few times a year. The salt cells will need to be replaced eventually too, usually after 3-8 years. Finally, a salt cell is a consumable part. Exactly how long it lasts depends on the model and how it is utilized. A replacement is typically about half the initial cost of the system.
Chlorine chemical costs stack up fast and keep adding up over the years. Also, the harsh nature of shock and chlorine tablets in the water will create a strong smell and create adverse reactions. This includes dry skin, red eyes, bleached swimwear, and irritated noses, throats, or lungs. Additionally, the handling and storing of strong chemicals are vital for everyone’s safety. Chlorine pools do require diligent and frequent maintenance.
Neither saltwater generation nor traditional chlorine is technically better because both are effective methods of sanitization. But saltwater pools are becoming more popular and well known among people with sensitive skin, allergies, or asthma or those that want a more natural feel when swimming. There are pros and cons to both but understanding your wants from your pool will help you make a final decision once the cost, maintenance, and the type of experience you want to create with your pool have been decided.