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Thread: Choosing an Automatic Chlorinator

  1. #1
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    Choosing an Automatic Chlorinator

    Hey folks,

    I've been doing lots of reading on automatic chlorination and have some questions before I make the final decision.

    Automatic Chlorinators that use the Hockey Pucks
    Main disadvantage to these seem to be raising the CYA level, correct? Is there anything else? Do they work well otherwise? Are they pretty much in the "Not Recommended" category because of the CYA issue? Also, what's the difference between these and just putting the pucks in my skimmer basket? Less hardware corrosion?

    Liquidator
    Seems to be a good solution, albeit you may have White Stuff issues that cause it to require regular cleaning. How often is regular? Once every 2 weeks?

    Peristaltic Pumps
    Also seems to be a good solution, but when I called the pump company, they stated that they too develop white stuff that needs to be cleaned regularly. Why would one choose this solution then over the Liquidator when they cost so much more?

    Salt Water Generators
    Seems to be a good solution as well. Higher initial upfront costs, however long term is this the cheapest solution since you don't have to add chlorine? Also, when looking them up in the online stores, I got confused. Do I need to replace a $150 part of it every season? Or once it's installed I'm done and nothing needs replacement (assuming it doesn't break)? Also is there any regular cleaning required?

    Thanks!
    18 X 36 In-Ground Vinyl Pool, Hayward 1 HP SuperPump, Hayward SP270T 350lb Sand Filter, CompuPool CPSC48 Salt Chlorine Generator, Hayward H400FDN 400 BTU Natural Gas Heater, 2 returns, 1 skimmer, No Main Drain

  2. #2
    Administrator JasonLion's Avatar
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    Re: Choosing an Automatic Chlorinator

    The big issue with automatic chlorinators is the CYA constantly going up. Other than that they are very reliable. If you have a high rate of water replacement then they can work, otherwise they work great till the CYA level gets too high, and then there are endless problems till you replace your water. They can hold lots of pucks at once and feed them uniformly over a week or longer, much simpler to use than a puck in the skimmer. Putting trichlor in the skimmer can also cause damage if you don't keep the pump running 24/7.

    Peristaltic pumps work well, but they do require routine maintenance. Their largest advantages vs. the Liquidator is that you can use a much larger bleach tank and you have more control over the feed rate than the Liquidator offers, without any dependence on the pump producing the correct pressure differential (which not all do).

    The white stuff issue is not as severe as it might seem. A few people have had serious problems and more have had minor issues, but most people have been able to go an entire season and then clean the white stuff off over the winter.

    SWGs are the most popular choice among TFP members. The cell does need to be replaced every two to five years. For residential pools the total cost ends up being higher than manually adding bleach, but not by all that much in most cases. Regular cleaning should not be required, though water balance problems can force frequent cleaning in some cases.
    19K gal, vinyl, 1/2 HP WhisperFlo pump, 200 sqft cartridge filter, AutoPilot Digital SWG, Dolphin Dynamic cleaning robot
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  3. #3
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    Re: Choosing an Automatic Chlorinator

    Thanks for the great response!

    If the cell in the SWG were replaced every 5 years, I think I could justify it more. But if it ended up being every 2 years, it could take a long time to get my return on investment, and there's a high initial upfront cost.

    I don't think I don't need as fine control as the Peristaltic pumps provide so I think i might rule that out.

    Sounds like the Liquidator with the 8 gallon tank may be the best solution for me. Although I'm gonna research the SWG's a bit more I think and see if I can find a good one for not that bad a price.
    18 X 36 In-Ground Vinyl Pool, Hayward 1 HP SuperPump, Hayward SP270T 350lb Sand Filter, CompuPool CPSC48 Salt Chlorine Generator, Hayward H400FDN 400 BTU Natural Gas Heater, 2 returns, 1 skimmer, No Main Drain

  4. #4
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    Re: Choosing an Automatic Chlorinator

    Although this thread seems to imply that the Liquidator really doesn't end up cutting down on pool maintenance time...It just redefines the maintenance you need to do.
    does-the-liquidator-s-flow-need-to-be-regulated-regularly-t7397.html

    Maybe an SWG is really the only way to go if you're trying to put your pool on Cruise Control?
    18 X 36 In-Ground Vinyl Pool, Hayward 1 HP SuperPump, Hayward SP270T 350lb Sand Filter, CompuPool CPSC48 Salt Chlorine Generator, Hayward H400FDN 400 BTU Natural Gas Heater, 2 returns, 1 skimmer, No Main Drain

  5. #5
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    Re: Choosing an Automatic Chlorinator

    NONE of these choices will eliminate the need for regular (weekly and/or daily) testing and maintenance!
    They just change the way you introduce chlorine into the pool! (some ways are easier than others but might have other side effects, such as the CYA rising from a chlorintor that uses trichlor, clogged tubing from a liquidator or pump, or rising pH with a SWG)
    Reread this a few times until it sinks in!

  6. #6
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    Re: Choosing an Automatic Chlorinator

    I'm starting to think that the easiest method is once every 2 days you open a 12.5% gallon of chlorine and chuck it in the pool (yes bottle and all). When you go to use the pool...just remove the bottle for your swimming convenience. I'm actually half serious.

    What I hate most about adding chlorine/bleach is that I have to get changed and throw on **** clothes. I've ruined too many shirts/pants by trying to just be careful and not get it on me. This requirement though makes me sometimes go longer than I should without adding bleach. This creates algae that I now have to clean.

    I really don't want to spend $1,000 on an SWG to solve this problem though.


    (18X36 IG Vinyl pool by the way)
    18 X 36 In-Ground Vinyl Pool, Hayward 1 HP SuperPump, Hayward SP270T 350lb Sand Filter, CompuPool CPSC48 Salt Chlorine Generator, Hayward H400FDN 400 BTU Natural Gas Heater, 2 returns, 1 skimmer, No Main Drain

  7. #7
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    Re: Choosing an Automatic Chlorinator

    Quote Originally Posted by NullQwerty
    What I hate most about adding chlorine/bleach is that I have to get changed and throw on **** clothes. I've ruined too many shirts/pants by trying to just be careful and not get it on me. This requirement though makes me sometimes go longer than I should without adding bleach. This creates algae that I now have to clean.

    I really don't want to spend $1,000 on an SWG to solve this problem though.
    A SWG will not change the fact that there will be chlorine in your pool. It just changes the method by which it is added.

    EDIT - Sorry, just realized you were talking about ADDING bleach, not swimming in a pool chlorinated by it.
    10k gal. IG vinyl, 1 hp pump, 200 lb sand filter, solar panels & cover

  8. #8
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    Re: Choosing an Automatic Chlorinator

    I wanted to bring this thread back up because I am looking for the easiest solution for keeping the pool sanitized. With all the things that I have going on, it's becoming more and more difficult to test the pool daily and add chemicals. In addition, picking up large quantities of bleach pretty often is becoming a hassle as well. Can anyone give me more info on the peristaltic pumps? If I can't get this under control I am going to have to convert to the hockey puck still chlorinator due to the ease of use I've seen others have. I would love to go with a SWG but I can't afford the expense right now.
    24,000 G, Sand, IG, Vinyl

  9. #9
    Administrator JasonLion's Avatar
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    Re: Choosing an Automatic Chlorinator

    A SWG is your best choice. Unless you are very into DIY projects, a peristaltic pump is going to cost nearly as much as a SWG. The Liquidator does kind of the same thing and is much more affordable, but neither a peristaltic pump or The Liquidator eliminates carrying bleach.
    19K gal, vinyl, 1/2 HP WhisperFlo pump, 200 sqft cartridge filter, AutoPilot Digital SWG, Dolphin Dynamic cleaning robot
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  10. #10
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    Re: Choosing an Automatic Chlorinator

    Ok, my first post. I have been reading and gathering information on here for awhile, so I thought I might be able to add to this discussion. Disclaimer! - I am not nearly the expert on chemicals and such as those others on this board.

    I use the Sustain system for my pool. It utilizes pucks, but they are not stabelized (I assume that means no CYA). The bucket comes with a cup that you put 2 pucks in a week (for my pool size) and drop in the skimmer basket. Once every week or two I add some of their shock pellets to the skimmer depending on FC levels. Once you get your CYA set and all the other numbers set, that is all you have to do. Every now and then I test to make sure my CYA stays up because I have a sand filter and backwash and we tend to get a lot of splashing, I have to add stabelizer every now and then and test my Ph.

    I am basically lazy, and love my 'almost' maintenance free pool. I have been using this for several years (pool owner for over 20, but just learned of the CYA problems the last few years) and have not had any problems. I can leave for a week of vacation and not worry about the pool once I shock and put the pucks in the basket. If I come home from work and don't want to test or add chlorine, I don't have to. I just lug 2 buckets home at the beginning of the season and I am done lugging stuff around.

    Anyone with more knowledge use the Sustain System? It works for me. Since I have found that it is so easy, I am sure that someone will tell me that it is not as good as I thought.
    28 foot doughboy AGP, dug out to 5 foot, about 18,000 gallons
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  11. #11
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    Re: Choosing an Automatic Chlorinator

    barnyard, welcome to TFP!

    The Sustain system uses cal-hypo in their tablets. Cal-hypo increases the CH level. If you don't do a fair bit of water replacement, eventually your CH level will get too high and you will have calcium scaling problems.
    19K gal, vinyl, 1/2 HP WhisperFlo pump, 200 sqft cartridge filter, AutoPilot Digital SWG, Dolphin Dynamic cleaning robot
    TFP Admin. Creator of PoolMath and Pool Calculator. Other handy links: Support this site, TF Test Kits, Pool School

  12. #12
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    Re: Choosing an Automatic Chlorinator

    Quote Originally Posted by barnyard
    . Since I have found that it is so easy, I am sure that someone will tell me that it is not as good as I thought.

    Quote Originally Posted by JasonLion
    barnyard, welcome to TFP!

    The Sustain system uses cal-hypo in their tablets. Cal-hypo increases the CH level. If you don't do a fair bit of water replacement, eventually your CH level will get too high and you will have calcium scaling problems.
    Yep, they will. Sorry to say there is NO free lunch! Sustain is not a bad system but it does have it's own set of problems!

  13. #13
    Senior Member Water_man's Avatar
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    Re: Choosing an Automatic Chlorinator

    Liquidator's WS seldom compromises the performance. I've had it all season and nothing happened. Post your numbers, water source, pump power and set up - in short - show us what you got, it will be easy to assess your LQ compatibility. IMHO it's a great, inexpensive CL delivery system. Installation requires some DYI skills, but you'd get plenty of support here.
    This is my ticket for Heaven (when all's working..) :
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  14. #14
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    Re: Choosing an Automatic Chlorinator

    Quote Originally Posted by JasonLion
    barnyard, welcome to TFP!

    The Sustain system uses cal-hypo in their tablets. Cal-hypo increases the CH level. If you don't do a fair bit of water replacement, eventually your CH level will get too high and you will have calcium scaling problems.
    See, I knew it was too good to be true! I will make sure to keep an eye on that. What are the symptoms of calcium scaling? Sorry, I don't want to hijack this thread.
    28 foot doughboy AGP, dug out to 5 foot, about 18,000 gallons
    1 1/2 HP pump and 100 lb sand filter
    South Central Pennsylvania

  15. #15
    Senior Member DaveNJ's Avatar
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    Re: Choosing an Automatic Chlorinator

    This link from Pool School should help.
    pool-school/calcium_scaling
    IG 18x36 oval vinyl, Spill over spa, Northstar 2hp-2spd, 2.5" piping, S310T 500lb Sand filter, 400k gas heater, AutoPilot SWCG
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  16. #16
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    Re: Choosing an Automatic Chlorinator

    If you're PH goes above 7.8 you can be at risk for scaling.

    Here's a pic
    http://www.thepooldepotinc.com/PoolRenoGallery/2.jpg

    the white areas are calcium scale.
    Helpful links: Pool School; The Pool Calculator; CYA/Chlorine Chart
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  17. #17
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    Re: Choosing an Automatic Chlorinator

    Thanks. I just came back to edit my post that I did a search and found what I was looking for concerning CH. YOU GUYS ARE FAST!

    Now, back to the original topic.........
    28 foot doughboy AGP, dug out to 5 foot, about 18,000 gallons
    1 1/2 HP pump and 100 lb sand filter
    South Central Pennsylvania

  18. #18
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    Re: Choosing an Automatic Chlorinator

    Immediate impact on budget is also a consideration. I doubt I could covert to a SWG for less than 800-900 considering the SWG, electrical hookup, plumbing, salt, etc.

    I'm not uber excited about the LQ becuase I don't want to order it and then have to modify it in order to work properly.

    Does anyone consider using Cal Hypo tabs with an inline dispenser a good option? I'm not sure how the CH would impact me with a vinyl pool or how long it would take before corrective action via partial drain and fill.

    I just have to simplify things right now.
    24,000 G, Sand, IG, Vinyl

  19. #19
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    Re: Choosing an Automatic Chlorinator

    Trichlor raises CYA by 6 for every 10 ppm of FC. A large but plausible range for CYA is 30 to 80, or 83 ppm of FC, or about 6 weeks (assuming no water replacement). With frequent splashing and filter backwashing you can get a season out of trichlor, and if the chlorine all vanishes over the winter you won't need to replace 70% of your water to start the next season.

    Cal-hypo raises CH by 7 for every 10 ppm of FC. A large but plausible range for CH in a vinyl pool is 50 to 400, or 500 ppm of FC, which is easily a season. The numbers are not nearly as good for a plaster pool, plausible range for CH in a plaster pool is 200 to 400, or 285 ppm of FC, still nearly a season without any water replacement. However, the cal-hypo numbers I just gave require something like a 70+% water replacement each season. With higher than average levels of backwashing, winterizing, and no shocking at all, cal-hypo can just barely be used constantly without any extra backwashing.

    With a cartridge filter and occasional shocking neither approach will work at all well. Also, if you use cal-hypo, and aren't monitoring the CH level and get calcium scaling, it can be very expensive to fix.
    19K gal, vinyl, 1/2 HP WhisperFlo pump, 200 sqft cartridge filter, AutoPilot Digital SWG, Dolphin Dynamic cleaning robot
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  20. #20
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    Re: Choosing an Automatic Chlorinator

    Quote Originally Posted by NullQwerty
    What I hate most about adding chlorine/bleach is that I have to get changed and throw on **** clothes. I've ruined too many shirts/pants by trying to just be careful and not get it on me.
    (18X36 IG Vinyl pool by the way)
    My goodness, may I ask how you put/pour bleach in your pool to get it all over your cloths? I am about as clumsy as one can get and I never had this problem (yet)
    27' Round AG, 17,200 gallons, sand filter

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