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Thread: The reliability of SWG's

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    The reliability of SWG's

    As SWG's continue to get an ever-increasing share of the method of chlorination, I wonder just what percentage of them have troublesome issues.....other than the eventual cell replacement.

    This forum is not a good place to judge because no one posts just to say his SWG is "....running just fine, Thanks!"

    That said it does seem to me we get quite a few reports of inaccurate readouts, etc. Is there any site that publishes reliability data? I'm sure the SWG manufactureres have that info but probably don't share it.

    I'm not on a mission.......... I like SWG's and will likely get one in the next year or so but I am curious as to what an owner could reasonably expect in reliability.
    Dave S.
    42k vinyl and concrete pool, 1.5hp pump, 140gpm filter
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    Re: The reliability of SWG's

    Dave-

    I've had 3 different salt systems on my pool, and I am looking for the 4th one! I think I know which one I'll get next, and I have high hopes for it....

    Seems to me that the "bad" readings are very common, and calcification of the cell is always an issue (at least here where the water is hard). I drain my pool every two years to avoid getting my water too hard, and I still was cleaning my salt cells every 6 weeks or so (I use my pressure washer instead of the acid/water mix). Sold 'em all on eBay after getting tired of putting up with them and switched to bleach added manually. It's more work to add the bleach, but I got sick of cleaning the cells so often.

    I'll be interested to see how this thread plays out. I'm not a fan currently of the SWCG's, but I do think they have value when they work!

    Bruce

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    Re: The reliability of SWG's

    This is not a report on longevity... and it seems my pool is a bit of an anomaly here as I've never had algae or CCs above .5 ppm; nor has there ever been the need to clean the Goldline Aqua Cell SWG attached to my system, and I run the main pump a fifth of the time of the average pool owner... so for what it's worth: My AQL-15 connected to a PS-8 controller, though occasionally reporting Low Salt (whereupon I must actually add salt - the inconvenience is staggering!) is, after 27 months, absolutely reliable. Neither the pool nor the make-up water is exceptionally hard, the following measurements being typical on a week to week basis.

    FC Free Chlorine 4.2
    CC Combined Chlorine ≤ 0.2
    TC Total Chlorine 4.4
    pH potenz Hydrogen 7.7
    TA Total Alkalinity CaCO3 75
    CH Calcium Hardness 275
    TH Total Hardness 500
    CYA Cyanuric Acid 50
    NaCl Sodium Chloride 3000
    TDS Total Dissolved Solids 2400


    Date of next report: TBD
    14,555 gal in-ground 16'x29' white plaster Pool w/spa (2007); Goldline Aqua Logic AQL-PS-8 control w/Aqua Cell 15 Salt Water Chlorination (SWCG); Hayward TriStar 1HP (1.85 SF) main / 1.5HP (1.60 SF) spa pumps; Hayward Swimclear cart filter C4025, ColorLogic LED lights; Tankless SP-18-4 electric heater; Polaris 280 cleaner.
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    Re: The reliability of SWG's

    manufacturers would have that info, but yeah i doubt that many would be willing to share it

    i'll see if I can get permission from Autochlor to disclose this info for their units...

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    Re: The reliability of SWG's

    Quote Originally Posted by simicrintz
    Dave-

    I've had 3 different salt systems on my pool, and I am looking for the 4th one! I think I know which one I'll get next, and I have high hopes for it....

    Seems to me that the "bad" readings are very common, and calcification of the cell is always an issue (at least here where the water is hard). I drain my pool every two years to avoid getting my water too hard, and I still was cleaning my salt cells every 6 weeks or so (I use my pressure washer instead of the acid/water mix). Sold 'em all on eBay after getting tired of putting up with them and switched to bleach added manually. It's more work to add the bleach, but I got sick of cleaning the cells so often.

    I'll be interested to see how this thread plays out. I'm not a fan currently of the SWCG's, but I do think they have value when they work!

    Bruce
    Can you name the systems that you have had. Just for comparison purpose.
    Aqua-rite Aqr-x296 T3 15k
    Autopilot Dig-220/Sc-36(replaced)
    Inground pool 8.5k gallons
    Diamond Brite,built 2003
    DE filter

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    Re: The reliability of SWG's

    Going on my fifth year now without a cell replacement. No problems so far.

    Even though I have high TA, PH & calcium fill water which results in a high TA/calcium pool, I haven't had too much of a problem with scale. I have had to clean the cell only a couple times in 4 years. I believe that the acid dispensing system I am now using has helped keep PH & TA fairly stable and the water chemistry out of the scaling region. Before I had to add acid constantly by hand and the PH would have fairly high swings. I would definitely recommend an acid dispensing system for pools with high TA/calcium problems.

    As for the SWG salt level readings, mine seems to be fairly close to the Taylor drop kit readings. I don't trust the strips anymore.
    Mark
    Hydraulics 101; Pump Ed 101; Pump/Pool Spreadsheets; Pump Run Time Study; DIY Acid Dosing; DIY Cover Roller
    18'x36' 20k plaster, MaxFlo SP2303VSP, Aqualogic PS8 SWCG, 420 sq-ft Cartridge, Solar, 6 jet spa, 1 HP jet pump, 400k BTU NG Heater

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    Re: The reliability of SWG's

    Quote Originally Posted by yamilrx

    Can you name the systems that you have had. Just for comparison purpose.
    Let me preface by saying that our water comes out of the tap at 400+ ppm, so we start high and only get higher as time goes on. I understand that hard water is detrimental to these systems, so I take that with a grain of salt (no pun intended!). As I stated earlier, I do try and dump my pool water and introduce new water every 2 years, but hardness is still high from the start.

    That being said, here are the units I have had, in order: Goldline, AutoPilot, IntelliChlor. I have always "oversized" the unit with the larger cell, for whatever that is worth. I also run my pump a minimum of 6 (and most often 8) hours a day, and keep them set somewhere around 60% production (I have a large water feature on my pool, as well as a raised spa, and the pool gets quite a bit of use) during the warm months. Calcification is part of the problem, as are bad reads from the unit itself (possibly caused by the calcification).

    I've also had a Polaris G-1000 Dichlor feeder with the ORP on my pool (slightly off topic!). It requires the two probes to be clean to be accurate, and that had read issues as well.

    Bruce

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    Re: The reliability of SWG's

    http://www.discountsaltpool.com/SG_Specs.htm

    Here is a decent salt system comparison. It carries a few systems but not all.
    Aqua-rite Aqr-x296 T3 15k
    Autopilot Dig-220/Sc-36(replaced)
    Inground pool 8.5k gallons
    Diamond Brite,built 2003
    DE filter

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    Re: The reliability of SWG's

    If i were to develop a chlorine generating product/ company, I don't think i would call it "Saline Generating systems". It don't make sense...

    I saw these guys at the P.I.E. show last week, and pointed out the odd wording to him and he should change the wording. And he looked at the sign for a moment then he said, "your right"!

    Its a Chlorine Generator Guys...
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    Re: The reliability of SWG's

    The return rate is in-house info only, so cannot disclose that. But they are increasing their warranty to 3 years from 2010

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    Re: The reliability of SWG's

    Quote Originally Posted by Pool Clown
    If i were to develop a chlorine generating product/ company, I don't think i would call it "Saline Generating systems". It don't make sense...

    I saw these guys at the P.I.E. show last week, and pointed out the odd wording to him and he should change the wording. And he looked at the sign for a moment then he said, "your right"!

    Its a Chlorine Generator Guys...
    I agree with you 100%. Its a misleading name. Does it look like a good ssytem. They have a better warranty than most of the top brands. I think its 5yrs vrs 3yrs. I am shopping around next week once I sell my autopilot in parts.
    Aqua-rite Aqr-x296 T3 15k
    Autopilot Dig-220/Sc-36(replaced)
    Inground pool 8.5k gallons
    Diamond Brite,built 2003
    DE filter

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    Re: The reliability of SWG's

    Quote Originally Posted by simicrintz
    I've had 3 different salt systems on my pool, and I am looking for the 4th one! I think I know which one I'll get next, and I have high hopes for it....
    Bruce -- Having reported what your prior units were in a recent follow-up post, the last question is: what is the SWG system that you have high hopes for and might get next?
    17,000 gallon in-ground Marsite pool
    Hayward S310T sand filter
    Autopilot Total Control SWG system
    Pentair Whisperflow WFE-24, 1 HP pump
    AquaCal Heatwave Model 120 heat pump
    Jandy Pool Digital Assistant for remote programmed
    control of pool pump, heat pump, light, waterfall

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    Re: The reliability of SWG's

    Quote Originally Posted by Warlord46
    Quote Originally Posted by simicrintz
    I've had 3 different salt systems on my pool, and I am looking for the 4th one! I think I know which one I'll get next, and I have high hopes for it....
    Bruce -- Having reported what your prior units were in a recent follow-up post, the last question is: what is the SWG system that you have high hopes for and might get next?
    The "stupid named one"; SGS! My business partner has it on his pool and is very happy with it. I am currently without any at this time, and don't know if I'll worry about it too much heading into the cooler months. From what I've seen of it the extra spacing on the grid plates is a bonus, as well as the heat sync. I don't see another one out there currently that looks as encouraging as the SGS.

    Bruce

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    Re: The reliability of SWG's

    I wouldn't call extra spacing a "bonus", maybe only in areas with very hard water. I certainly wouldn't clean the cell with the stick as they suggest, only as a last resort if there is no acid within 100 miles and you cannot get it reasonably cleaned with a garden hose.

    Heat sink also is nothing new. All SWGs have heat sinks, and there are quite a few which have the whole back panel as a heat sink.

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    Re: The reliability of SWG's

    Quote Originally Posted by Strannik
    I wouldn't call extra spacing a "bonus", maybe only in areas with very hard water. I certainly wouldn't clean the cell with the stick as they suggest, only as a last resort if there is no acid within 100 miles and you cannot get it reasonably cleaned with a garden hose.

    Heat sink also is nothing new. All SWGs have heat sinks, and there are quite a few which have the whole back panel as a heat sink.
    In my case, as well as Arizona where these are made, hard water is the norm. We come out of the tap at well over 400 ppm, and the cells seem to calcify quickly. The smaller grid spacing on most units just allows the calcium to build up that much faster. The stick also works really well, and since they supply and recommend it, it does not affect the warranty. Using acid is a pain, and oftentimes a garden hose does not have enough pressure and you have to drag out the pressure washer, which I'd still rather do than the acid cleaning.

    While all of the units may have heat syncs, this one is by far the largest that I have ever seen. Seems to work great in AZ, and we can get very hot here as well, so should be a bonus. I'm just tired of spending the time (and money) installing these to have them work intermittently and I spend more time cleaning them than I feel that I should.

    I'm not a product rep, nor do I have any axe to grind with the units I've had, or reason to push the SGS. Just putting up real experiences to try and help those considering which one to purchase for their pool. In the land of hard water, we have issues! Just trying to find a unit that can handle them

    Bruce

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    Re: The reliability of SWG's

    Quote Originally Posted by Strannik
    I certainly wouldn't clean the cell with the stick as they suggest, only as a last resort if there is no acid within 100 miles and you cannot get it reasonably cleaned with a garden hose.
    Why not? Since the acid dissolves away a little layer of the plates protective coating each time, Acid should be the last resort. You could probably clean the cell with the stick in the time it takes to set up for the acid.
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    Re: The reliability of SWG's

    I have had auto pilot almost 6 years, took a while to get used to it but I have had little fuss in the last year. the readout on the chemtrol reads the ORP in the 375 range, I adjusted the set point and safety timer to accommodate this reading. I was reading a post here that has to do with something from the SWG. I have never have had to clean my cell and I run it year round 12 hours a day at 96 degrees. Had a problem with a high phosphate level, called the autopilot company. this is what they said. I went to the pet store got a phosphate kit tested it was high brought that down to a reasonable level with phosphate remover and have never had a problem with chlorine generation ever since. Using Borates has really helped to stabilize most of the chemistry in the pool, being on an automated system is very useful for my business which is dependant on the pool being available at anytime.
    AG 4000 gal.13' round Louisburg(cedar sides,top rails) Vinyl liner commercial Watsu pool
    indoor, 96 degree, AutoPilot digital salt chlorinator, Chemtrol 250 automated controler
    CarefreeClearwater ion generator, Mecomatic acid feed, Whisperflo WFE-4 1 h.p. pump
    Pentair Master temp 250 HD gas heater, Pentair CC200 filter

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    Re: The reliability of SWG's

    Quote Originally Posted by Pool Clown
    Quote Originally Posted by Strannik
    I certainly wouldn't clean the cell with the stick as they suggest, only as a last resort if there is no acid within 100 miles and you cannot get it reasonably cleaned with a garden hose.
    Why not? Since the acid dissolves away a little layer of the plates protective coating each time, Acid should be the last resort. You could probably clean the cell with the stick in the time it takes to set up for the acid.
    it doesn't dissolve it, and it will take you much longer to clean it properly with a stick than with acid
    you probably wouldn't even be able to clean it fully with a stick

    plates are much more prone to damage by scratching than by acid washing. hence why virtually all manufacturers recommend cleaning with acid.

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    Re: The reliability of SWG's

    To add on to what Strannik said, if you scratch the ruthenium coating on your cell, you will compromise the life, without knowing you did damage. Granted this may not happen with a wooden paint stick, but anything metallic or with a sharp edge has the potential to scratch the coating.

    Rule of thumb, if you test and maintain your Saturation Index, you should see very little occurances of scale formation on your cell.

    Idowatsu, which facility do you work with? I would love to add your 6 yr old system to our AutoPilot Commercial Installation List...with your permission of course.
    Sean Assam - Sean@teamhorner.com
    National Accounts and Commercial Products Manager
    AquaCal Heat Pumps www.aquacal.com
    AutoPilot Salt Chlorine Generators www.autopilot.com

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    Re: The reliability of SWG's

    Quote Originally Posted by Poolsean

    Rule of thumb, if you test and maintain your Saturation Index, you should see very little occurances of scale formation on your cell.
    Sean-

    That is true if you have the option of starting with low levels of calcium in the water to start with! Those of us on the left coast (and towards the bottom!) start with a calcium hardness level outside of the range of proper levels, so we are somewhat doomed from the start! If I get water from the tap at about 450 ppm at start up, I tend to get to 1,000 ppm within about 2 years.

    My Auto Pilot unit that I had back when worked very well for quite a while (say 2 years) and then started to calcify quickly (I had changed the water and started over once by then). I tend to think that it was because I did not get the cell fully clean and it became easier for the calcium to attach itself to the plates. IIRC, I had the 60,000 gallon unit (it was given to me by Rob Blake), and worked well on my +/- 25,000 gallon pool. If you would like to send me another one to try on my pool, I'll be happy to install it and give it another run !

    I would love to be able to have as much knowledge as is possibly available on SWCG so that I can present facts to those that I come in contact with. I see alot of people overselling these units by telling people that they are a "set it and forget it" chlorine source. While we know that to be untrue, many unscrupulous salespeople tend to present them that way, and the customer is so hungry for an easier way to maintain their pool that they buy it! The whole industry suffers for it, which is unfortunate.

    I'm very interested in seeing SWCG progress and become a common piece of pool equipment. I just need to find one that works well in our water conditions!

    Bruce

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