First, we have to clear up one thing. A salt pool is a chlorine pool. Why?
A salt water chlorine generator’s (SWCG) job is to convert salt (sodium chloride) into chlorine (sodium hypochloride) through an electrolysis process. Pretty simple, right?
However, the type of chlorine that is produced with SWCG has a very high pH and raises the pH levels in your pool due to being alkaline. To balance the pH back to a neutral level, you will need to add more muriatic acid which more expensive than chlorine is.
There is also the upfront cost, the maintenance cost, and the repair or replacement costs.
Typically the power center can last several years with little issue. The SWCG cells, however, have a life span of 3-5 years, and the replacement costs can range between $500.00 and $800.00.
I actually did some math that compared the cost of maintaining a pool for 5 years with and without a SWCG. I found that a salt water chlorine generator actually costs slightly more to operate compared to traditional chlorine.
So, why have a SWCG? Well in my humble opinion, they are well worth the cost but you really have to stay on top of them. My reasoning is simple, enhanced bather experience. We all have had experiences with red, burning eyes from high chlorine levels, dry, itchy skin, and that strong chlorine odor.
If you have ever read the ingredients label on a bottle of chlorine you will see that the percentage of sodium hypochloride is 12.5%. The remaining 87.5% is called “inert ingredients”. What’s that? Well, I’m not too sure but Iet’s call it crud. There is really nothing wrong with this type of sanitation and millions of pools are maintained with liquid chlorine perfectly fine. You just have to remember that each time you add a gallon of chlorine to your pool, you are only adding 12.5% of the actual sanitizer and 87.5% crud. This crud, over time, will accumulate and raise your Total Dissolved Solids and Calcium Hardness levels as well as something called chloramines. Chloramines are what actually cause all of those negative chlorine experiences.
The benefits of a salt water chlorine generator are, first of all, the feel. The water feels softer to the skin due to the higher salinity levels. Next, a chlorine generator produces 100% sodium hypochloride in low dosages without the crud. So getting back to the bathing experience, a SWCG pool gives you a more luxurious bathing experience and as we all know, luxury items usually cost more than non-luxury items. So you pay a little more and you get more in return.
So in the end a salt pool is a chlorine pool, it is just a little different.