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Thread: SWG disadvantages?

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    SWG disadvantages?

    Hi all,
    Great site here!
    I'm currently sanitizing with chlorine (pucks in an in-line and CalHypo for shocking) but am seriously considering SWG conversion. Trying to do as much research as I can regarding the pros and cons and have come up with a list on both sides. So far for me, SWG seems to make sense but I'm not convinced the sources I've been using are completely unbiased since they are usually selling one system or the other. So, I'd like to ask actual users: What problems/issues/disadvantages have you seen with SWG vs. chlorine? (equip damage, cost, etc.)

    I've been in this house that came with a pool for a year and this is my first exposure to pool maintenance (all last season). I also inherited a supply of chemicals so thought I'd give it a try for awhile before thinking about converting. I have not had any problems with my current method, but the idea of not having to deal with the chemicals is my main motivator for considering a switch to SWG. It is 15x35 IG vinyl pool.

    Any comments would be appreciated.
    24000 gal vinyl IG; CPSC36 SWG, TA-60 Sand Filter

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    JasonLion's Avatar
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    Re: SWG disadvantages?

    Welcome to TFP!

    The largest problem is that when the SWG has a problem it often takes a little while to figure out what is going on. Problems aren't common, but when they do happen they are annoying. We regularly get people with problems where it might be cell scaling, low salt levels, worn out cell, burned out main board, and so on. These topics go back and forth for a while and then eventually they figure it out, it is just that sometimes that takes a while. Again, problems like these are rare.
    19K gal, vinyl, 1/2 HP WhisperFlo pump, 200 sqft cartridge filter, AutoPilot Digital SWG, Dolphin Dynamic cleaning robot
    Creator of PoolMath and Pool Calculator. Other handy links: Support this site, TF Test Kits, Pool School

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    Re: SWG disadvantages?

    IMHO...

    SWCG:
    -as JasonLion says, complexity and it takes a little time getting comfortable with it.
    -still have to mess with chemicals - muriatic acid addition from time to time (minimum once a week in my case)
    -higher initial cost, and must replace cell every 3-7yrs
    -SWCG does burn some additional electricity (never seen this factored into a cost analysis)

    Chlorine:
    -Easy to use a Liquidator, cheap & available bleach for chlorine
    -Liquidator is cheaper than SWCG
    -somewhat simpler chemistry (probably minor)
    -mess with acid less often or never
    -can still add salt, borates to get nice water feel and algae resistance

    My salt-water system was on the pool when I bought the house. I like the water feel and so forth. But if/when it dies, I will be very tempted to plug a $200 Liquidator inline instead of a $400cell or replacement $800+ SWCG system. Either one just adds chlorine to the pool, that's all it does
    33k Gunite, CompuPool CPSC48 SWG, Sta-Rite System 3 DE, 2.25hp dual-speed, POOLVERGNUEGEN Pressure-side

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    Re: SWG disadvantages?

    I have had two pools one with salt and one chlorine. In my experience the SWG is a cheaper solution overall. $7 bags of salt put in my pool 2 - 3 times per year is much less than the weekly chlorine I used to use. The initial cost is a bit higher but the return is better.

    And it is not to complicated to convert it yourself.

    Also I agree with acroy- the water just feels better.
    16 x 32 Grecian Vinyl. Salt-Aqua Plus PS-4, Hayward Pro Series Sand Filter, Hayward Ecostar SP34000vsp, Gulfstream HE-125-T-A Heat/Cool heat Pump

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    Re: SWG disadvantages?

    Quote Originally Posted by acroy
    -SWCG does burn some additional electricity (never seen this factored into a cost analysis)
    if you follow a link in my signature, you will find that it's factored in

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    Re: SWG disadvantages?

    Thanks for the quick replies!

    Cost is not my main motivation, although it seems SWG has lower operating costs after the initial investment.

    Acroy, thanks for the info on Ph creeping up; I seemed to have missed this in my research. Can you tell me what causes this Ph rise in salt systems? Also, in practice, what is your testing/dosing regimen? How often do you test and how much acid do you usually need to dose? Any other params you regularly correct?

    I am not familiar with liquidators (told you guys I was new to this) but see a forum section on that so headed over there now to browse. I'm assuming the concept is similar to SWG; small doses of bleach (chlorine) added continuously rather than larger additions every few days like BBB.
    24000 gal vinyl IG; CPSC36 SWG, TA-60 Sand Filter

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    JasonLion's Avatar
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    Re: SWG disadvantages?

    High TA levels combined with aeration causes CO2 outgassing, which increases the PH. A SWG provides aeration, because the cell produces hydrogen gas bubbles. Most people keep their TA too high, so the PH tends to increase with a SWG. This can be eliminated, or at least greatly minimized, by keeping the TA fairly low. I've gone an entire season adding acid only once. People who keep their TA too high often have to add acid far more frequently.
    19K gal, vinyl, 1/2 HP WhisperFlo pump, 200 sqft cartridge filter, AutoPilot Digital SWG, Dolphin Dynamic cleaning robot
    Creator of PoolMath and Pool Calculator. Other handy links: Support this site, TF Test Kits, Pool School

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    Re: SWG disadvantages?

    Jason, how low ? As opposed to the suggested 60-90 ?

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    Re: SWG disadvantages?

    The majority of the world seems to think that TA should be somewhere around 100 to 150 and they are the people having most of the problems with PH drift.

    How low you need to take the TA depends on the pool. Normally TA around 60 to 70 does it, but some pools require additional steps. To take TA below 60 you should first add borates to help stabilize the PH, after which you can lower TA into the 40 to 50 range, which pretty much always takes care of it.
    19K gal, vinyl, 1/2 HP WhisperFlo pump, 200 sqft cartridge filter, AutoPilot Digital SWG, Dolphin Dynamic cleaning robot
    Creator of PoolMath and Pool Calculator. Other handy links: Support this site, TF Test Kits, Pool School

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    Re: SWG disadvantages?

    PH Automation is something you could look into as well to help manage it. Also, as I understand it, PH Automation is also part of some SWG systems. Jason, Susa don't you to have some kind of PH automation? What are your feelings about those systems?
    19,600 gal, Vinyl, Grecian L, StaRite Dura-Glas 1 HP pump, 3/4hp booster, Pentair Clean and Clear 420 Cartridge filter
    The Pool Cleaner 4x, PoolSkim

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    Re: SWG disadvantages?

    Quote Originally Posted by acroy
    Either one just adds chlorine to the pool, that's all it does
    Not really. the SWG gives you 'almost' free chlorine. The Liquidator requires chlorine. Which becomes less effective if the Liquidator is in the sun during summer and the heat breaks down the chlorine so you in turn need more chlorine.

    BIG price difference in the operating costs.

    Add up how much 3 years worth of chlorine costs, compared to the $400 cell. Many times cells will last longer than 3 years and that makes it even cheaper.
    24' x 52" AGP = 13.5k gallons
    Dynamo 2.0 HP pump,Sand Dollar sand filter
    Polaris 65 vacuum (good when there are a ton of leaves on bottom), Pool Rover Jr. (LOVE it, but power box dead right now), AquaCritter (an excellent suction side cleaner)

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    Re: SWG disadvantages?

    The price of a SWG and using chlorine tend to come out about even in the long run. Depending on details it might be better one way or the other, but there isn't any clear price advantage either way for a typical residential pool.

    I have an AutoPilot Total Control system. I love AutoPilot but I'm giving up on the Total Control part of it. Fortunately, the unit can be configured to be the same as their Digital system, which is what I started doing last year. This year, with all the re-plumbing I'm having done, I'm not even connecting the PH/ORP sensor section to the plumbing.

    ORP/chlorine automation didn't work at all for me and isn't really needed anyway as simple percentage based automation works wonderfully in an outdoor pool.

    The PH automation was very handy the first two years, but then I figured out how to balance the water so the PH never changes, and I stopped using it. PH automation is very nice when you have very high TA fill water, but for most people I don't think it is even close to worth the added complexity.
    19K gal, vinyl, 1/2 HP WhisperFlo pump, 200 sqft cartridge filter, AutoPilot Digital SWG, Dolphin Dynamic cleaning robot
    Creator of PoolMath and Pool Calculator. Other handy links: Support this site, TF Test Kits, Pool School

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    Re: SWG disadvantages?

    Quote Originally Posted by JasonLion
    The price of a SWG and using chlorine tend to come out about even in the long run. Depending on details it might be better one way or the other, but there isn't any clear price advantage either way for a typical residential pool..
    this is not necessarily true. it highly depends on your pool's chlorine consumption, the price of chlorine and electricity in your local area and which SWG unit you buy as some cost twice as much as the others.

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    Re: SWG disadvantages?

    If you make a specific comparison between brand X SWG from a specific store at a specific price, and brand Y bleach from a specific store at a specific price, both for use with a specific pool than one or the other will win the price comparison. But if you look at every possible comparison of that form, every available SWG vs every source of bleach on every possible pool, then bleach wins about the same percentage of the time that SWGs win. Neither one is consistently better than the other across the range of possible residential pools.

    To put that another way, one or the other might be better for me, and one or the other might be better for you, but averaged across all people viewing TFP they come out about even.
    19K gal, vinyl, 1/2 HP WhisperFlo pump, 200 sqft cartridge filter, AutoPilot Digital SWG, Dolphin Dynamic cleaning robot
    Creator of PoolMath and Pool Calculator. Other handy links: Support this site, TF Test Kits, Pool School

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    Re: SWG disadvantages?

    You need to remember to match your turn over rate with the SWG that will deliver enough Chlorine to support your pool during your hours of operation. If you don't you may have to run your pump longer to get the necessary Chlorine which would increase your electrical cost. Most
    SWG's state they deleiver enough chlorine in one day to sanitize your pool. Is that an 8 hour day or 24 hour day?
    35K IG Vinyl 20 x 40 self built pool, Hayward Pro Series High-Rate Sand Filter 31" 98gal/min, Hayward TriStar 1.85hp, Hayward 400btu heater, BBB method w/Hypo, Jazz light w/matching fiber optic rope lighting around coping w/syncronized color wheels. Concrete Paver deck.

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    JasonLion's Avatar
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    Re: SWG disadvantages?

    It varies from manufacturer to manufacturer. Some of them base their max pool size on fairly long pump run times, others use somewhat shorter pump run times.
    19K gal, vinyl, 1/2 HP WhisperFlo pump, 200 sqft cartridge filter, AutoPilot Digital SWG, Dolphin Dynamic cleaning robot
    Creator of PoolMath and Pool Calculator. Other handy links: Support this site, TF Test Kits, Pool School

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    Re: SWG disadvantages?

    Hmmm.... well I stand corrected and can see that the cost to operate is more complicated than I thought
    24' x 52" AGP = 13.5k gallons
    Dynamo 2.0 HP pump,Sand Dollar sand filter
    Polaris 65 vacuum (good when there are a ton of leaves on bottom), Pool Rover Jr. (LOVE it, but power box dead right now), AquaCritter (an excellent suction side cleaner)

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    Re: SWG disadvantages?

    Puffin wrote:
    >> .. some kind of PH automation? What are your feelings about those systems?

    unable to compare to anything besides Simpool (link in sig) but it's been running since Nov'10 and maintains very steady 7.4-7.6 based on how I dial it and have calibrated it every 6 weeks.

    well worth the 200 investment in that all I have to do is about every 3 to 3.5 weeks open a new bottle of MA from Home Depot and insert feeding tube.

    Gas is generated via SWCG only during a 5 hour runtime in early mornings so that is the only time I can observe it pumping very small amounts and in short durations, remaining runtime late in the evening keeps the SWCG off and Simpool is also off as it's wired to IntelliChlor transformer.

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    Re: SWG disadvantages?

    Other than cost, for me there have been no disadvantages. As far as I'm converned, the conveniences that far outweigh the cost. I have a seldom used pool so pucks are out of the question. I found this website looking for a solution to a runaway CYA problem. I switched to bleach and that worked great but work is the operative word. Keeping a supply of bleach on hand and adding it daily was too much work for me (yes, I know I'm lazy.) I went SWG and now I wish I would have done it long ago. My pool has never looked better. Since adding borates my pH hardly moves. If I ever have another pool, it will either have a SWG or I'm putting one in without delay.

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    Re: SWG disadvantages?

    I also joined this website last year because of an off the charts CYA level( as well as other problems). Dumping endless amounts of chlorine with no apparent effect on the green color. I gave up and completely drained the pool last November. I have learned a lot since then and I am ready to fill and start again with an Autopilot SWG system. Hopefully with my home test kit I will have a much easier time this year and going forward. I am sure I will have questions and maybe one day will be able to give some advice back to this forum.

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