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Thread: Converting from chlorine to salt?

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    Converting from chlorine to salt?

    Hey folks,

    Going into my 2nd year as a pool owner. Inherited it with the home... had to put money into it already as equipment was original (late 90s).ABout to buy a gas heater now..

    Thinking about salt these days. What's involved in converting? Is it worth it? Expensive? Can someone enlighten me please!

    Thank you!

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    Re: Converting from chlorine to salt?

    Be prepared to be barraged by a lot of opinions!

    Me? Just liquid. I am at home during swim season so a SWG (salt water generator) is not cost effective.

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    Re: Converting from chlorine to salt?

    Much bigger upfront cost, obviously, and probably costs more over the years than liquid chlorine, but it is so worth the time saved maintaining the pool (and hauling bottles of chlorine from the store). I can go 3 or more weeks easily without changing anything, and when I do have to change something, it's just increasing or decreasing the SWG output some.

    I have a pool with a SWG and a rather large separate spa that uses bleach. Even though I've automated bleach addition to the spa (using a Stenner pump), it's still more labor intensive vs. the pool. I would convert the spa to a SWG in a heartbeat if it weren't for the fact that there are a bunch of water features made of flagstone.
    15k gunite pool. Intelliflo VF. Autopilot SWG.
    2k separate spa with waterfall (ie: pain in the rear maintaining a separate body of water). 2HP Hayward Tristar pump.

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    Mod Squad tim5055's Avatar
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    Re: Converting from chlorine to salt?

    Simplified - Salt is chlorine. To convert your pool you add a device in the water line going back to the pool called a salt water chlorine generator (SWCG or SWG). Using electrical current this device creates a chemical reaction in the pool water flowing through it which turns the salt you add to the water into chlorine, the same chlorine you would get out of a bleach bottle.

    You have an up front cost to purchase the SWCG and have it installed. From then on as long as you keep the salt levels correct you get your chlorine free. But, the SWCG has a finite lifespan. When it dies you toss it and buy a new one.

    Through the years several folks have run the numbers and it seems to be about the same cost for a SWCG (high upfront cost, then lees money spent) as it is for using liquid chlorine (no upfront cost, just ongoing purchases).
    TFP Moderator 39 X 18 23,000(ish) freeform gunite; built 2007ish; Pentair Triton II TR100 600lb Sand filter; 2 HP Pentair pump with 2.2 HP AO Smith single speed motor; 2 skimmers, 1 main drain, 4 returns w/waterfall, Stenner 45MHP2 3GPD running@ 60% - 15 gal Tank; heated by the sun CYA 200+ when I started - 50 now. Dolphin Supreme M5 Pool Cleaner. Hot Springs SX Spa, 285 gallon

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    Re: Converting from chlorine to salt?

    when it comes down to it, it all costs just about the same... I have gone to SWG on the pool and hot tub and will never be without a SWG again.. it is just so easy... You will still need to add Chlorine at times when you need to raise the level fast but other than that just testing and swimming
    Pool: Intex 16x32 15000 gal, 2 speed 340042, Pentair CC320 Filter, CircuPool SJ45 Salt System, Intermatic PE653RC; Hot Tub: 650 Gal SWG Megachlor
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    Mod Squad pooldv's Avatar
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    Re: Converting from chlorine to salt?

    I am a big fan of saltwater pools, there is no easier way to put chlorine in a pool. I use bleach in my hot tub and often consider converting that too. One thing to keep in mind is that SWGs do not make chlorine in cold water, usually below 60f for most units. When my water drops below 70f or so I turn off the SWG and use bleach in my pool.
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    2012 build and pics, 20k gal gunite, black onyx pebblesheen, OK flagstone, IntellifoVS, cart filter w/Pleatco, IC40 SWG, Solartouch, 5 12'x4' solar panels, HP50HA heat pump, 8mil solar cover, borates, TF-100 test kit, SONOS, Doheny's Discovery Robot, hot tub on bleach

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    Re: Converting from chlorine to salt?

    Please update your signature line with your pool info. It helps us to know what kind of equipment you have and what type of pool surfaces you are dealing with. Salt water chlorine generators are pretty flexible and can be installed in a lot of different types of pools but there are caveats and exceptions. Without knowing anything about your pool, it's hard to help you get a definitive answer beyond the "ask a hundred people and you'll get a hundred different opinions" stage.

    SWG's, over their lifespan, will cost roughly the same as using liquid chlorine over the same time period. So, as long as you have the money to spend upfront on an installation, then cost is really not an issue. This is why we need to know about your pool and equipment because there are situations where an SWG might not work with a particular pool setup.
    Matt
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    Re: Converting from chlorine to salt?

    My pool is an unground 32 x 16 lagoon shape. I am new to pools.. Limited knowledge. Someone I know who has a salt pool suggested I convert... not sure I will - just exploring. I have spent money already on the pool so not sure will bother. Just about to instal a repack after installing a new sand filter last year!

    Not sure if that's enough infer for you. What else can I provide?

    thanks

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    Mod Squad kimkats's Avatar
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    Re: Converting from chlorine to salt?

    HI there! You have come to the right place to SAVE money and make your life with a pool even easier! Two wonderful things in my life-------saving money and time!

    We can help you sort out your pool and help you decide what you want to do with it in the future. Let me ask so some simple questions so we know where we stand.

    When you say "instal a repack after installing a new sand filter" what do you mean by repack?

    Lets start with that.

    Kim
    TFP Moderator 33x52 round AG 25,600 gals Sand Filter 1.5hp Pump - 2 Speed, SLAM, Pool School, Recommended Levels, Recommended Chemicals, Pool Math, Chlorine/CYA Chart, TF-100 Test Kit

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    Re: Converting from chlorine to salt?

    I meant to state RAYPACK gas heater...

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    Re: Converting from chlorine to salt?

    Kim is right, as usual!

    Also, please update your "signature" by clicking on settings at the top-right of this page, then click edit signature on the left column. Then enter your pool info and save. Your signature will then appear whenever you post which helps us a ton! Include what kind of testkit you are using.

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    Re: Converting from chlorine to salt?

    SWG is the easiest and (in my opinion) the cheapest way to chlorinate a pool. There are two factors that need consideration though. One is the upfront cost of the equipment. I'm using the Hayward AquRite AQR15 (40k rated) unit. Upfront cost $800-1200. So allow approx $1000 for equipment. Once the unit is in place the cell is the expendable, ongoing operating cost. The cell will only produce a finite amount of chlorine before its exhausted and must be replaced.

    In my case the cell produced chlorine for 7+ years before I had to replace it at a cost of $300. So my ongoing operating cost for chlorine in a 20,000 gallon pool that is open year-round works out to about $57 per year. I don't know of any cheaper way to chlorinate a pool. This also means no liquid, powdered of chlorine tablets. To control the chlorine level, I simply turn a dial. The SWG turns salt into chlorine, and when the chlorine has done its job it's just recombined back into salt in the pool. So I almost never need to add more salt.

    The other consideration has to do with the fact that salt can damage natural stone. This seems to be a problem confined primarily to western areas of the US with low rainfall and softer more porous types of stone. Your location is listed as ON which I'm guessing is Ontario, so that shouldn't be an issue.
    chiefwej
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    Re: Converting from chlorine to salt?

    The $57 is for your salt, Chief?

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    Re: Converting from chlorine to salt?

    Quote Originally Posted by MarianParoo View Post
    The $57 is for your salt, Chief?
    No, the salt stays in the pool, unless water is drained. The $57 is the cost of the SWG generating cell ($300) divided by its lifespan (7+ years) plus an allowance for the power to operate it.
    chiefwej
    Tucson, AZ
    16x36 rectangular (19k) Pebble Tec play pool/spa, Pentair Intelliflo VS 011018, Super II 2hp (spa), Aqua Rite T-15 SWG, Pro Grid 60 DE, Hayward H400 & Heliocol Solar heating, A&A infloor system, fill water w/high CH and TA, 50 ppm borates,TF-100 test kit

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    Re: Converting from chlorine to salt?

    Thanks. That's around what I spend on chlorine each year in MY climate. The up-front cost of the SWG for me would not be recovered.

    As OP is in Canada, I think he needs to evaluate how often he will be out of town and his willingness to test and dose frequently. Maybe I'm wrong; they're just my thoughts.

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    Re: Converting from chlorine to salt?

    Hey Ontario, I'm a former BC'er.

    Some people like the physical feeling of saltwater (some say silky) and the extra buoyancy. Don't get fooled that you need a SWG to get this. You can just add salt to your pool for the nice feeling and higher buoyancy. That's a $200 reversible decision vs. $1200 with the SWG.

    My SWG needs 4,000 ppm and the pool builder said you won't even be able to taste the salt. That might be true at 3,000 ppm for different chlorinators, and I think this does vary by person, but I can definitely taste it, albeit not objectionable in any way.

    We have an SWG and like it, and I'm happy to share my decision-making experience including a bit of advice I got from a poolie I play golf with, not to mention that with incredibly high residential pool ownership here, most adult Australians know what an SWG is and have an opinion on it!

    We don't have any water features with natural stone, so that's no issue for us. Another family member has a natural stone water feature that they leave turned off because of 1) noise, 2) evaporation and 3) salt deposits on the stone that have to be hosed and rubbed off. Salt corrosion of stone paving doesn't come up, and if you ask, people look at you like you're from outer space. That said, people have stopped using the local sandstone as much, and prefer harder imported stuff. Lots of salt pools have limestone and travertine. I agree this is very regional - e.g. we don't have to think about freeze-thaw - but why wouldn't you rinse everything down before winter, salt or not? Anti-salt people talk about the stone wearing out prematurely, but they're talking 10 or 20 years. I think we'll be sick of our beautiful limestone paving and putting down iPhone paving or some such by then.

    With respect to convenience, without the SWG I'd be lugging ~660 lbs (300 kg) per year of 12.5% pool chlorine, one way or another. We still keep a jug of chlorine on hand and dump a bit in before any kids parties (KimKats advice) along with a cup or two after.

    My wife loves saltwater, and it's the normal market-dominant way to do chlorination here in Aus, so we have an SWG (pool builder throws it in, and no credit if we leave it out - I think PBs buy them pretty cheap.) Without it, I would have found or figured out an adjustable metered liquid chlorinator. My poolie mate talked me out of sensor style automation because fixing/replacing those is the sugar on his donut profit-wise. (that and the fancy chems he sells to the posers who haven't discovered TFPC.) I was just looking for simple (SWG fits that), low-cost (he agrees cost is a toss-up), and not putting chlorine in my car is a bonus. We have the pool light switches inside by a window that looks out onto the pool, so that feels automated to us! He also said that if you like tinkering with network/iPhone/ipad stuff, then buy it as a luxury.

    Marian mentioned season-length, and it makes sense that the economics would change for that. If you use it less it lasts longer in terms of years, but probability would say that if you own it longer, failure becomes more likely (e.g. lightning, sub-standard component, bad luck!). The cell erodes based on usage, wearing out based on how much chlorine is produced. The easiest way to think about the cost aspect (IMHO) is to accept it's a toss-up, so you can make your decision on other more interesting factors .

    My friend's view is that SWG automation is adequately solid, though he's not a fan of all brands, so DYOR. He did say that any controller can get fried by things like lightning and bugs nesting inside, and the $400 replaceable part (the cell) can burn out prematurely from low flow over the cell (people running VS pumps too slow, plugged skimmers, etc.), poor choice of brand, or failure to clean the cell when needed. All models we looked at have reverse-polarity cleaning, so the cleaning of the cell is less frequent than it once was. Mine has not a skerrick of calcium on it after nearly two months.

    On my own, I would have stuck with fresh water, but my reason is just plain weird! I love letting all the air out of my lungs and seeing how long I can sit on the bottom! Can't do that in saltwater, cause I just float up no matter how much I empty my lungs in any saltwater pool I've been in.

    I also learned here (after my decision) that the SWG usually adds to upward pH creep, so you're likely to be adding more acid than you would if using liquid chlorine. I'm currently adding a bit under a quart (litre) per week or 110 lbs (50 kg) per year, but as I learn from the experts here, my trend is down. If I had listened to the pool store, it would be at least double that because of their much higher recommended total alkalinity. I'm far from qualified to comment on this topic. I'm just a new-to-salt person who is starting to get it. I'm hoping I can get my acid down to a couple of cups (500 ml) a week. I've learned here that this will vary by pool, but if you're using acid now, expect it to go up a bit.

    I only offer this for what it's worth. I'm not experienced enough to recommend anything. Go read pool school and stuff. The team here has boiled it down so it's not a huge read, and it's real straight talk. You'll get good answers very quickly. If you don't believe it or want references, you can dig as deep as you want on this forum. You'll find balanced answers with honest representation of unknowns and healthy respect for debate and skepticism. And when they say "Stay out of the pool store," they're right!
    12k IG salt; glass beads in plaster; K-2006C, K-1766, CCL, and Aussie 4in1 (HTH); Pentair Eco800 1.2HP VS; Zodiac SWC 1.3 lb/day (25 g/hr); 25" filter recycled glass; OKU solar panels; 1/2 HP solar pump; Rebel (Warrior) pool cleaner; FlowViz; prior pool AG 10k | Read Before Posting to get the best possible advice | ... and this helped me a lot!: TFPC for Beginners

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    needsajet's Avatar
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    Re: Converting from chlorine to salt?

    sorry 'bout the length of that!!! And I forgot to mention, with extra salt in the water, splash-out/runoff can damage your lawn and garden due to salt buildup in the soil. Can't believe I forgot that, considering I was putting in a perimeter drain to protect the lawn this morning!
    12k IG salt; glass beads in plaster; K-2006C, K-1766, CCL, and Aussie 4in1 (HTH); Pentair Eco800 1.2HP VS; Zodiac SWC 1.3 lb/day (25 g/hr); 25" filter recycled glass; OKU solar panels; 1/2 HP solar pump; Rebel (Warrior) pool cleaner; FlowViz; prior pool AG 10k | Read Before Posting to get the best possible advice | ... and this helped me a lot!: TFPC for Beginners

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    Mod Squad kimkats's Avatar
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    Re: Converting from chlorine to salt?

    Well Chief and Jet covered it in ways I could only hope to do! Well done and THANKS!

    Read what they said and let us know what you decide to do.

    It does sound like you have already put quite a bit of money into the pool with the new sand filter and adding the heater.

    How is your water looking?

    How have you been testing the water?

    Kim
    TFP Moderator 33x52 round AG 25,600 gals Sand Filter 1.5hp Pump - 2 Speed, SLAM, Pool School, Recommended Levels, Recommended Chemicals, Pool Math, Chlorine/CYA Chart, TF-100 Test Kit

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    Re: Converting from chlorine to salt?

    Quote Originally Posted by kimkats View Post
    Well Chief and Jet covered it in ways I could only hope to do! Well done and THANKS!

    Read what they said and let us know what you decide to do.

    It does sound like you have already put quite a bit of money into the pool with the new sand filter and adding the heater.

    How is your water looking?

    How have you been testing the water?

    Kim
    I'm in Canada! Won't be opening the pool for another 3.5 months! I might be putting off any decisions for this year as the costs are adding...still trying to absorb all of the info posted by needsajet

    thanks folks! will let you know!

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    Re: Converting from chlorine to salt?

    Running too little water can ruin the SWCG? I have more to learn still it appears.

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