Considering SWG -- Horror Stories-- Advice?

geno1005

Well-known member
Aug 30, 2015
57
Berea, KY
I have a nearly 20 year old 20,000 gallon vinyl liner inground pool that we have open from around Memorial Day until October 1 (or so) each year. Last year finding a reliable source of chlorine became practically a part time job and I was concerned about running out all season long. Looking at the stores now, looks like everything has switched to 'small gallons'--bottles somewhere between a gallon and half gallons-- it seems to still be expensive--and in some cases there are still limits on how much you can purchase. As a result, I'm considering switching to a SWG system. I don't mind the investment, but there are horror stories about ph, scaling and other problems on YouTube that have me concerned. Looking for some advice here...good or bad? Thanks in advance!
 

Jimrahbe

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Jul 7, 2014
22,243
Bedford, TX
Gene,

The main problem with a SWCG pool, is not the saltwater or the cell, it is the idiots that have no clue how to use them.. Unfortunately, many users think that a saltwater pool is a turn it on and forget it system... :( It is not!!

To have a well operating saltwater pool you need to do two things...

1. Install a cell that is rated for at least 2 x the volume of your pool.. So, if you have a 20K pool, you need a 40K cell. This is because the cell is rated when running at 100% output and 24/7..

2. Just like any pool sanitizing system you have to routinely test and maintain your water balance.

A SWCG system makes maintaining a pool very easy, but it is not a hands off system..

Since you have a single speed pump, the bigger the cell the less you will have to run the pump. A VS pump allows you to run longer for less money.

Thanks,

Jim R.
 

Donldson

TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Jun 12, 2009
4,978
NW Ohio
there are horror stories about ph, scaling and other problems on YouTube
I'm betting a bunch of those stories go a little something like this:
"I took out the tablet feeder and installed an SWG. I turned it on and tested the water the next day. The chlorine looked good but the pH had skyrocketed! I dumped a bunch of pH-down in and got it find. Well this happened again a couple days later! Then I took my weekly sample in to the pool store and my TA had dropped so I had to buy and add some alkalinity-plus. It's been the same story week after week and now I'm dealing with scaling."

Sound familiar? The problem is that the pool owner went from an acidic source of chlorine to a pH neutral/slightly basic source but expected all the other levels to remain stable. You can't do that, removing a source of acid from the pool requires adjusting the target TA to compensate. Using trichlor tablets means a stable pH will likely be found with TA in the 100-120 range, but to have that same stable pH using liquid chlorine or an SWG you typically have to allow the TA to drop down in to the 70-90 range. You won't find that information in many pool stores, but it's the kind of "know why you do the things you do" knowledge that makes it so much easier to manage a pool than aiming for some numbers on a chart.

As for your personal situation: sounds like you are using liquid chlorine? If so then you're likely already got your TA dialed in to something stable for that. In that case switching to an SWG would go fairly smoothly because you're already using a neutral/basic source of chlorine.
 

geno1005

Well-known member
Aug 30, 2015
57
Berea, KY
Great to know...so let me ask this to clarify...I have only used grocery/dollar store bleach for the last 7 or 8 years anyway. Are you saying that the formulation of the chlorine will be the same as what I've been using with the jugs of bleach all along, and only different from the pucks? I couldn't control the run away CYA levels with the pucks so I abandoned them years ago. Thanks so much for the reply...I'm always amazed at all the knowledge here and everyone's willingness to help!
 
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markayash

Gold Supporter
Mar 21, 2016
3,333
Atlanta Ga
I have a horror story..I used to enjoy checking my FC and keeping the water in balance..Now I have been fired, once I got it dialed in every single test was the same 7.0. I may test once a week now

Being silly but its true, took me a few months to get the numbers dialed in but other then adding a little acid every couple of weeks it's great. Water is so much smoother and although we had a very bad rainy year I never had a issue.

Mistake I made were trying to keep FC at the min..Worked for a while until we have pollen and rain and then had to SLAM. Now I just keep it at 7
 
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Newdude

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Jun 16, 2019
9,339
NY
🙋‍♂️ I have a horror story. Last spring I had to open before the air/water temperatures were warm enough for my SWG to work. For the first time in 8 years I had to lug jugs for over a week. OVER. A. WEEK. Like it was 1970. It was horrible. Roughly 9 days in it kicked on and sling shotted me back to the future. I spent the rest of the season petting it once a week like the dog. I didn’t have to do anything to the pool so I petted the SWG instead. Who’s a good boy ??! You !! You’re the good boy !!!
 

geno1005

Well-known member
Aug 30, 2015
57
Berea, KY
Thanks everyone...I suspected as much, but was confident that I would get the correct answer from this forum. I will move forward. Thank you for the tip to purchase at least twice the rated pool capacity....there appear to be dozens of models...anything that I should buy...should NOT buy...features that are important, features that are a waste of money, etc?

It appears that installation involves just a little bit of plumbing to place the unit 'in line' with the circulation system and plugging it in? Since nothing is ever as easy as it looks on YouTube...anything else that I need to know?

Thanks again everyone...much appreciated!
 

markayash

Gold Supporter
Mar 21, 2016
3,333
Atlanta Ga
If you can cut PVC and do basic wiring installation is simple. Circupool even makes the Core the uses an outlet and is one piece.
I have the Edge40 and so far like it a lot.
 
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Bvacchiano

Silver Supporter
Apr 6, 2018
355
Sugar Land, Texas
Horror stories?lol. Here’s mine. I’d rather take this chainsaw to my arm than NOT have an SWG.
I’ve yet to see a SPECK of damage from salt on anything associated with my pool for three years (equipment, travertine coping or decking,etc). These stories are a bunch of bologna made up by pool builders as they don’t want to deal with any “potential” warranty claims. You are talking 3500 ppm concentrations here not 50,000 ppm like the ocean.
 

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ddas

Well-known member
May 21, 2013
131
Los Angeles, CA
Great to know...so let me ask this to clarify...I have only used grocery/dollar store bleach for the last 7 or 8 years anyway. Are you saying that the formulation of the chlorine will be the same as what I've been using with the jugs of bleach all along, and only different from the pucks? I couldn't control the run away CYA levels with the pucks so I abandoned them years ago. Thanks so much for the reply...I'm always amazed at all the knowledge here and everyone's willingness to help!

Grocery store or dollar store bleach is the right idea, however, it's at a fairly low concentration and thus less cost effective. Any hardware store (Lowes/Home Depot/etc.) will carry pool chlorine, which is exactly the same chemical, but at a higher concentration. That's the best bet to chlorinate your pool until you add a SWG.

(And even after, you might occasionally use it. I inherited a pool with a SWG which was older and iffy, so I end up supplementing the SWG with Lowes chlorine when necessary (especially in the summer months when chlorine gets used up much faster).
 

ddas

Well-known member
May 21, 2013
131
Los Angeles, CA
Super basic SWG question...what are some recommendations for the better SWG systems nowadays? Or some not-recommended ones?

I have an aging Aquapure 1400 system, but it's had its problems over the years, with a couple of boards going out, and now my cell's power cable melted down (yikes!) so I need a new cell and new power cable. My local pool repair company hinted to me years ago that next time the SWG fails, it might be more cost-effective to look at a newer system. Any thoughts?
 

mknauss

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
Bronze Supporter
May 3, 2014
42,192
Laughlin, NV
Pool Size
6000
Surface
Fiberglass
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-40
For stand alone systems that are not tied to an automation system, many on the forum use Circupool brand SWCG's. They have varying models. Just be sure you get one rated for at least 30K. RJ versions are well used. Some are now using Edge and/or Core versions.
You do not list a pump in your signature. A VS pump is recommended to reduce your power costs. As you are in California, you can no longer purchase a single speed pool pump motor.
 

markayash

Gold Supporter
Mar 21, 2016
3,333
Atlanta Ga
Super basic SWG question...what are some recommendations for the better SWG systems nowadays? Or some not-recommended ones?

I have an aging Aquapure 1400 system, but it's had its problems over the years, with a couple of boards going out, and now my cell's power cable melted down (yikes!) so I need a new cell and new power cable. My local pool repair company hinted to me years ago that next time the SWG fails, it might be more cost-effective to look at a newer system. Any thoughts?
Lot of us have bought from Discount salt but seems they are tied to Circupool somehow, Not a bad thing just an FYI. They run a "$10 upgrade special so get a smaller size and get the bigger size for $10 more

 
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PopcornSally

Bronze Supporter
Mar 19, 2016
32
Phoenix, AZ
Pool Size
465
Surface
Vinyl
Chlorine
Liquid Chlorine
We had a Hayward Aquarite on our pool from about 2013 until we demolished the pool in 2016. Having the SWCG was nice, but we had some troubles with the digital control panel. I actually had to take it apart once and solder some new piece into it. I'm not normally a soldering kind of person though I'd done it a couple of times before, so that was a bit of a stretch. :p

My husband thinks I'm crazy because I won't just call the "guy" to do it for us. Cheap? I dunno... I like to think of it as self-reliance.

The salt cell required regular maintenance like acid baths to remove calcium, of course, but overall having an SWCG was far superior to manual water balancing. I still had to add liquid chlorine in the summer when temps were over 100 here due to aggressive algae. Fall through spring was super low maintenance, though.

I would still recommend the technology although I'm not sure I would buy that same system again!
 

mknauss

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
Bronze Supporter
May 3, 2014
42,192
Laughlin, NV
Pool Size
6000
Surface
Fiberglass
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-40
With the Aquarite, you most likely had to replace a thermistor.

The calcium build up was due to poor water chemistry control. I have never had to acid clean our SWCG. And we use the same water as Phoenix, Colorado River water. Also, any algae was also due to not following the FC/CYA Chart
 

PopcornSally

Bronze Supporter
Mar 19, 2016
32
Phoenix, AZ
Pool Size
465
Surface
Vinyl
Chlorine
Liquid Chlorine
Managing a whole swimming pool properly was too much for little ol' me.
 
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markayash

Gold Supporter
Mar 21, 2016
3,333
Atlanta Ga
We had a Hayward Aquarite on our pool from about 2013 until we demolished the pool in 2016. Having the SWCG was nice, but we had some troubles with the digital control panel. I actually had to take it apart once and solder some new piece into it. I'm not normally a soldering kind of person though I'd done it a couple of times before, so that was a bit of a stretch. :p

My husband thinks I'm crazy because I won't just call the "guy" to do it for us. Cheap? I dunno... I like to think of it as self-reliance.

The salt cell required regular maintenance like acid baths to remove calcium, of course, but overall having an SWCG was far superior to manual water balancing. I still had to add liquid chlorine in the summer when temps were over 100 here due to aggressive algae. Fall through spring was super low maintenance, though.

I would still recommend the technology although I'm not sure I would buy that same system again!
Smart, pool company would have most likely tossed the system and sold you a new one for big $$$$. I fixed a cold solder joint on a furnace board years ago and the HVAC guy ( who couldn't find the issue ) said he had never seen anybody do that and said that card was $250
 

mguzzy

Gold Supporter
@geno1005 ..so yeah, there are no downsides to a SWG..other than the price of membership. All those YT horror stories are totally unfounded. I've been running mine for 15yrs.. and i wouldn't go back.. sounds like you have the chops to install it yourself.. chime in if you need a hand!
 

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