Pool Equipment

The Best Salt Water Chlorinators in 2021

Rather of using chemical chlorine to sanitize your pool, salt chlorine generators operate by transforming common salt into chlorine – it’s as plain as that! 

By Allen Hayward

In recent years, an increasing number of pool owners are turning to salt chlorine generators as a suitable way to clean their pool water. This is due to the growing trend of “anti-chemical” people who want to keep their pools as naturally clean as possible. There are also people who just want to make cleaning their pools a much easier thing to do. In these cases, they turn to salt chlorine generators.

How Pool Salt System Works

Don’t expect salt chlorinators to eliminate chlorine from your pool. These are actually dissolved salts which produce chlorine in the water. First, electrolysis and sodium chloride are used by the chlorinator to produce hypochlorous acid. When the saltwater is exposed to an electric current, it produces chlorine gas, sodium hydroxide, and hydrogen gas.

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Anatomy of the Pool Chlorinator

You understand the chemical process now. Next, we will discuss the anatomy of a salt-chlorine generator.

Salt Cell

Salt is converted into chlorine by the cell of the chlorinator. When water flow reaches the cell, it passes on top of solid plates. These plates have an iridium or ruthenium coating on them. The control board electrically charges these metals, causing the salt conversion into chlorine. This is the process known as electrolysis.

The Control Board

The control board manages all the functions of the system. Basically, it initiates the conversion process by allowing you to send an electrical charge to the cell. You can manage how much electricity gets transferred to it. The more electricity which gets sent, the more chlorine gets produced in the pool water.

Tips for Salt Chlorine Generator Maintenance

You must frequently perform maintenance on your salt chlorine generator if you want it to last for a long time. Here are some maintenance tips for your consideration:

Keep the salt level of the water anywhere from 2,700 ppm (parts per million) to 3,400 ppm. The most recommended level is 3,200 ppm.

The cell should be cleaned a minimum of one time per season.

Deactivate the chlorinator if there is a lightning storm. This reduces the chance of power surges, which can easily cause damage to the control board.

Low calcium levels in your pool water are ideal when using a salt-chlorine generator.

Reverse polarity must be included with your salt chlorinator. This lowers the buildup of scales on the cell.

The Lifespan of a Salt Water Chlorinator

If you take care of your salt chlorine generator properly, there is no reason why you can’t get at least three years out of it. But you’ll probably get as much as seven years if you stay dedicated to the maintenance. When the control board or cell needs to be replaced, that’ll probably cost you between $500 and $1,100. It all depends on which type of system you have, and which part requires a replacement.

However, if you fail to clean the cell regularly, or you clean it too much, then that’ll shorten its lifespan considerably. But, with the circuit board, you never know how long that’ll last. Some circuit boards stay strong for several years while others burn out after a few years. The best thing to do is to keep the system covered and deactivated if there’s an electrical storm outside. That’ll reduce the chance of a burnout.

The Price of a Salt Chlorine Generator

Salt chlorine generators are less expensive to maintain than most filtration systems. Unfortunately, the price tag to purchase the salt chlorine generator is a lot higher too. Convenience costs more anyway, so this shouldn’t be a surprise.

Salt chlorine generator installations require you to pay a lot for the setup costs and the equipment itself. And since the control board and cell have a limited lifespan, you’ll eventually have to pay to replace them when the time comes. But if you care about easy maintenance and saving time, then this upfront investment may be worth it for you.

To purchase the actual salt chlorine generator unit, you can expect to pay anywhere from $800 to $1,000. The brand really determines the price here. As for the salt, you won’t need to pay too much for that. But the amount of salt required will depend on the size of your pool. If you have an Olympic size pool, then expect to purchase several huge bags of salt each year. At least you won’t need to purchase chlorine, though.


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The Top Benefits of Converting Salt into Chlorine

Whether you own a swimming pool already or are planning to build a new one, here are the benefits of using a salt-chlorine generator for it.

Requires Less Chlorine

If you don’t use a salt-chlorine generator, then you’re forced to clean your pool water with chlorine tablets or liquid chlorine. Even though these sanitizing methods are effective, it is not so pleasant to purchase, transport, and store these chlorine solutions. As an example, liquid chlorine is very hazardous to handle and loses its potency fast. If liquid chlorine gets on your skin or eyes, then it will burn them. You’ll also have breathing difficulties too.

The chlorine levels of a saltwater pool may need some manual adjustments every now and then, but this can easily be done with chlorine granules or tablets. Liquid chlorine is not necessary to use ever.

Save Money

Salt produces chlorine when you use a salt-chlorine generator. You don’t need to spend a lot of money on chlorine or other sanitizing chemicals. Salt also stays in the water for a long time too, which means you don’t need to keep adding more of it like you would with other chemicals that dissolve faster.

During the warmer season, one or two bags of salt should be enough for the salt chlorine generator. You’ll want to maintain the salt level within the 3,200-ppm range. By the next season, only one or two bags of salt are needed too.

Salt Water is Less Irritating to People

Saltwater is friendly to your eyes and skin. Chlorine chemicals, on the other hand, can cause dry skin, itchy skin, itchy eyes, and red eyes. Some of your bathing suits may even get bleached by the chlorine as well. Saltwater pools are better because they’ll prevent these symptoms from occurring.

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No Chlorine Odor

Chlorinated pools give off a nasty chlorine odor. This comes from the chloramine accumulation in the chlorinated water. But if you use salt water in your pool, you won’t smell this chlorine odor.

Fewer Chemicals Needed

You won’t need to spend as much time maintaining the water chemistry balance of your pool. The saltwater of the chlorinator generator will practically automate the maintenance for you. Things like alkalinity level, pH level, and calcium hardness level do not need to be regulated.

The automation factor of chlorine production is gradual and steady. This causes less pH and alkalinity level fluctuations. That is why it is easier to control and balance the chemistry of the water.


Therefore, if you’re ready to spend more money upfront on a salt-chlorine generator, then you can enjoy an easy time maintaining your pool and saving money in the long run. Most importantly, the swimmers of your pool won’t feel any irritating symptoms from the water.

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