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Thread: Switching to Salt Water Need lots of help and advise, hardware selection

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    Tukes2's Avatar
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    Question Switching to Salt Water Need lots of help and advise, hardware selection

    Sorry this post is so long, but I have a lot to lay out and I have been building up to this post for some time.

    I have an in-ground 16x32 vinyl pool in Northern New Jersey, roughly 22,000 gallons. It is a typical setup with chlorine tablet dispenser, a Sta-Rite cartridge filter, a Polaris 280 vacuum with booster pump, 1.5HP main pump, and an oversized automatic GoldLine solar heater on the roof that keeps the pool in the low to mid-90s. I also have a natural gas heater, but it has died and is connected but not in use. And I have a Nature2 copper and silver ion dispenser, but I have stopped using it because my wifes blond hair is now green I dont want any more copper in my water, no more algaecides.

    I maintain the pool myself with 3 chlorine pucks in the dispenser, bags of chlorine for shock treatments and trips to the local pool store for testing and other chemicals as needed (pH adjustments, stabilizer, calcium, algaecide, clarifier, etc.). I have done this all with very little knowledge of how a pool works and a lot of trust in the pool store. That is over.

    Every year in late summer, the pool turns green and I never seem to be able to get it clear again. I have very recently learned this is the result of the CYA buildup over the summer, which is rendering my chlorine ineffective.

    I finally have learned quite a bit about how a pool actually works (HUGE THANKS TO TFP AND THE CONTRIBUTORS HERE!!) and I have ordered a proper test kit (T-100 on its way). I have drained half the pool and refilled it to decrease my CYA levels and am in the middle of SLAMing the pool.

    But
    I want to change my setup and am looking for advise. I want to move to a saltwater pool for numerous reasons, and I am thinking about the following elements with my requirements and notes below each.

    SWG:
    - Can functionally and effectively shock the pool when needed (powerful superchlorination mode)
    - Can operate at the lowest possible salt PPM (to not taste the salt would be wonderful)
    - Has a see-through cell, as I understand this can be helpful for assessing the cells condition
    - Full and high-end digital monitoring and control (current Free Chlorine, current salt, specifically how much salt needs to be added, CYA, temp, pH, etc.)
    - Monitor pH and ability to control a Muriatic Acid pump to dose as needed
    - Lowest possible cell replacement cost / longest cell life possible

    Muriatic Acid pump:
    - If the SWG cannot monitor and control the pump, Id like one that can do that itself (monitor pH and add acid on demand as needed automatically, which I understand will be more necessary with a SWG).

    Boric Acid:
    - I intend to dose the pool with Boric Acid (55 lbs arriving here in a few days) to help control pH and also due to other benefits I have read such as reduced algae troubles and an overall cleaner pool with good water feel and sparkle.

    Zink Anode
    - I think incorporating a zinc anode would be a good idea based on some reading on this site, I think mostly due to SWG pH issues. Seems like a cheap and easy insurance policy. But Im unclear specifically how to incorporate this (can it just hang off the ladder in the pool or does it need to be in the plumbing with a ground wire connected to it?).
    - Is this something I should include? Any downsides?

    Ozonator?
    - Do I need this or is this overkill?

    UV Sanitizer?
    - Again, do I need this or is it overkill?

    I do have an in-ground vinyl pool as I noted, and I believe it has steel walls. How concerned should I be about salt destroying those walls? I have read this is a concern, but is this a big deal? Is this likely to be a problem? Do my steel walls mean I should not move to salt? My liner is not new, but it is in pretty good shape.

    I know this would not be a fully self-sufficient pool, which is impossible, and it would still require maintenance. But Im looking to have a setup that is as self-sufficient as possible, requiring the least attention and taking care of itself as much as is possible with the fewest chemicals. I dont see a way I can continue with my current setup without having a green pool at the end of every July, and I dont want to constantly buy gallons and gallons of bleach and dose the pool that way. I like the idea of a machine making on demand the exact right amount of chlorine I need no more, no less.

    Im looking for advise on three fronts:
    1) What do you think about the above plan and any advise on the execution?
    2) Specifically what hardware do you recommend (SWG, Acid Pump, etc.)?
    3) What else? What am I not considering? What else should I incorporate? What have I overlooked? Where am I wrong?

    And lastly, I am not a millionaire. I need to do this all cost effectively. I realize this equipment is not cheap, but I dont have money to burn. But I am quite handy and have no problems at all making things, rigging things and doing the complete install myself. So I can save money there. But still, I dont have a trust fund.

    Thank you so much in advance to any and all who can help me. It is very much appreciated.

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    Re: Switching to Salt Water Need lots of help and advise, hardware selection

    Welcome to TFP

    I can't answer ALL of you questions like the ones on and acid pump so I'll take a stab at the SWG q's

    An SWG won't produce enough chlorine to get you throug a slam

    You won't notice the difference in salinity and it's better to keep your salt at or near the reccomended levels from manufacturer

    I do not know about a see through one

    The digital readout for chemicals ...ph...etc isn't something I would ever rely on over my TF-100.

    And on the MA. You may find that your PH doesn't rise once you get PH and TA in the right places. I'm on year 5 of my SWG and I haven't added ANY muratic acid this year.....I've rarely had to but I keep my TA low which helps.

    I usually find the need to test the water once a week to make sure SWG Is doing its job.
    Welcome again
    18*36*23 true "L" vinyl IG 29,000 gallons. SWG. TF-100 test kit.
    http://tftestkits.net/splash-page.html

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    Re: Switching to Salt Water Need lots of help and advise, hardware selection

    The zinc anode does not go into the pool. As you have noticed, metal in the pool is not a good thing. Many electrodes have clear bodies - CircuPool does, for example. Once you get your pool in balance, especially with borates, life will become much easier. I agree with AimeeH, an acid injector shouldn't be necessary. Now that you have escaped the pool store's clutches and start learning your pool you will be able to make an intelligent choice on what to add...or not. SWG, borates and a TF-100 will reduce your work, deliver a sparkling pool and soon you will forget the green water.
    16X32 AB, Pentair SD filter, 3/4hp Pentair Optiflo, CircuPool RJ30+ swg, TF 100

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    Re: Switching to Salt Water Need lots of help and advise, hardware selection

    You will appreciate the TF-100 kit, and getting away from relying on the pool store. The pucks are definitely your CYA problem. We purchased a home with a 18x36 vinyl IG pool last year. The first thing I realized was that my filter was way under-sized, and that I could realize a cleaner pool and savings by replacing my 1.5hp pump with a VS pump ($850) and replacing my 160 filter with a 420 filter. I did that first, and switched to the TFP method minus the borates. Like you I had to dump 60% of my water to correct the CYA from the pucks. The TFP method alone made the water quality so much nicer than any pool we have previously used. I could have stopped there, maybe added some water softer NaCl, but I chose to purchase the Pentair IC-40 bundled with the EasyTouch automation panel (around $1150). We have been using the SWG for the past two weeks, of course I am enjoying not adding Bleach manually, but that is the only benefit. If I were you, I would assess all your other systems, spend $$ on them first (pump, filter, plumbing upgrades) then purchase a SWG bundled with a control panel.
    18x36 in-ground, ~29k gallons, Pentair 3HP VS, Pentair CC+ 420, IC-40, EasyTouch Panel, In-ground cover, 100% DIY-reworked pad (thanks to help from this forum), TFP Test Kit, Near-antique heat pump...

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    JoyfulNoise's Avatar
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    Re: Switching to Salt Water Need lots of help and advise, hardware selection

    See my comments here about zinc anodes -
    Plumbing a Zinc Anode - worthwhile on SWG Retrofits?

    They are effectively useless. Don't bother with them. Metal corrosion in pools is entirely dominated by pH. When you learn to properly control your pool water chemistry, i.e. stop listening to pool store advice, corrosion becomes a non-issue.
    Matt
    16k IG PebbleTec pool, 650gal spa, spillway and waterfall, 3HP IntelliFlo VS / 1.5HP WhisperFlo, Pentair QuadDE-100 filter, IC40 SWCG, MasterTemp 400k BTU/hr NG heater, KreepyKrauly suction-side cleaner Dolphin S300i robot, EasyTouch controls, city water, K-1001, K-2006 and K-1766 test kits, Mannitol test for borates

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    Re: Switching to Salt Water Need lots of help and advise, hardware selection

    I can only add you need to think your project through before starting: equipment is expensive and manufacturers want you to get locked into their brand by using proprietary control centers which wouldn't 'talk' to the components made by others. If you can sacrifice convenience and bragging rights of being able to remotely read your salt level or adjust your SWG output or pump speed from iPhone then these 'compatibility' issues become easier and you can buy equipment from different makers. So if money are tight you need to have a really good plan.
    44k plaster pool, Pentair 011018 pump, DE6020 filter, LED lights, K2006 test kit

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    JoyfulNoise's Avatar
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    Switching to Salt Water Need lots of help and advise, hardware selection

    With regard to your steel pool walls, you might check in with the pool builder that installed your pool. There may be warranty restrictions against you using salt. If that's not an issue you care about, then don't bother.

    Problem with steel walls is, unless you know what grade of steel they used and if they connected them with salt compatible materials, it's somewhat impossible to say if salt will cause you problems. Most pool installers that use metal walls don't bother installing sacrificial anodes and there's no good way to do it after the fact because the large surface areas would require several sacrificial anodes or an impressed cathodic-current protection (ICCP) system. That's not typically done in residential pool construction.

    So if you use salt, it's up to you to deal with any enhanced corrosion of the pool walls.

    As for automation involving pH and chlorine readings, that's a complexity that will cost you lots of money and, very likely, lots of frustration because the systems simply are unnecessary in residential pools. pH control and readout is somewhat easy to do but chlorine control relies on ORP which is inherently unreliable with outdoor pools because of the presence of cyanuric acid (CYA) in the water. ORP control only works when you drastically lower CYA levels but then you have to sacrifice your SWG because it will run a lot more to compensate for higher FC loss. This says nothing about the regular calibrations you will have to perform on the pH and ORP probes as well as cleaning and replacing them. The systems are simply over-complicated and unnecessary.

    Finally, I think your goals are too lofty. There is no such thing as a low maintenance pool. All pools, from 10ft Intex soft side pools all the way up to the 50,000 gallon diving pools, need regular daily maintenance by a human being and a constant eye on testing and dosing. Some automation can make pools easier to manage but computerized chemical control is a pipe dream in residential pools. Even the biggest players in the equipment market have control and automation systems that use very crude and rudimentary hardware, technology that is circa late-1990's. They've managed to add some layers of human/computer interfaces into them (ScreenLogic, OmniLogic, etc) but the underlying technology is still fairly crude. So my suggestion is you start off by narrowing your focus a bit to one aspect of your pool, such as getting the SWG installed and running and build up from there. That will be the best way to control costs and keep things simple and easy to use.
    Matt
    16k IG PebbleTec pool, 650gal spa, spillway and waterfall, 3HP IntelliFlo VS / 1.5HP WhisperFlo, Pentair QuadDE-100 filter, IC40 SWCG, MasterTemp 400k BTU/hr NG heater, KreepyKrauly suction-side cleaner Dolphin S300i robot, EasyTouch controls, city water, K-1001, K-2006 and K-1766 test kits, Mannitol test for borates

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    Re: Switching to Salt Water Need lots of help and advise, hardware selection

    I agree that the control system is unnecessary and might cause more problems than it solves. My piece of advice is to get the chemistry of your pool right first, then add a SWG that is "too big" for your pool.

    SWGs are great, and I think I will always have one. As long as you monitor your Ph and inspect the cells regularly, they are a great work-saver. If you're lucky and get your Ph stable, you can even take an occasional vacation.
    50,000 gallon plaster in-ground salt pool with two 60 sq ft DE filters, two Intellichlor IC60 SWGs, two Intelliflo VS pumps, two Whisperflo pumps, two Pentair 400K BTU NG heaters, PCC2000 in-floor cleaning system...two everything.

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    needsajet's Avatar
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    Re: Switching to Salt Water Need lots of help and advise, hardware selection

    Lots of good advice above. If you like brushing the pool and do it regularly, this advice doesn't apply, but I would spend money on a robot before I'd spend it on glitzy automation.

    The economics of SWC favors the largest unit you can afford. Circupool has a clear cell housing and there was "next size-up" discount/special on earlier in the year. I would avoid having a clear cell housing if your equipment pad gets direct sun. A big chlorinator leaves you the flexibility to run shorter pump run times, further adding to the improved economics of a large cell. Once you have your water right, the cell may never scale up, so the clear cell housing too big a thing. I like it on mine because I get a kick out of seeing my little chlorine factory working, but mine is out of the sun as well.

    To get the best value from an SWC, you want to own the pool for around 4 years or more, longer for a bigger one.

    But if you do think you'll buy all the automation / iPhone / wifi etc. bells and whistles, pick a brand that also has a large SWC and then plan around that. Some people here also suggest that you can mix brands, but it takes more fiddling to get the interfaces right. Although I suppose it's fair to mention that if your SWC didn't match your controller, you might not be able to change the % setting from your local watering hole, if ever that was a necessity
    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: Switching to Salt Water Need lots of help and advise, hardware selection

    Forgot to mention, some people, especially kids, do notice the taste of salt at 3000/3500 ppm.

    You can try it by adding 1/8 of a teaspoon of salt to 1 cup of water. People who notice it generally don't find it objectionable. Seawater is a bit over a full teaspoon per cup.
    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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    Re: Switching to Salt Water Need lots of help and advise, hardware selection

    We notice the slight taste of salt at 3800ppm, it's not offensive, and it does not irritate our eyes. I like the IC40 + Easy Touch combo because it is like getting the easy touch for $250 which also serves as a sub panel and quick disconnect if mounted at the pool pad. The IC40 Power supply is also built-in, and it allows fine control over the IC40 Cl production 1%-100%. The quality of the sub panel is outstanding. I have not upgraded the Easy Touch with the Wifi and remote accessories, but may in the future.
    18x36 in-ground, ~29k gallons, Pentair 3HP VS, Pentair CC+ 420, IC-40, EasyTouch Panel, In-ground cover, 100% DIY-reworked pad (thanks to help from this forum), TFP Test Kit, Near-antique heat pump...

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