Considering SWG -- Horror Stories-- Advice?

wireform

Silver Supporter
In The Industry
Aug 15, 2017
1,929
Spring Valley, NY
Once you know your pool it becomes a no brainer. Just remember chemistry needs to be upto par before you hit the switch. Although not recommended I have pools that are so dialed in it could be 2 weeks sometimes that I haven't been there and nothing ever changes.
 

SacDave

Well-known member
Jun 8, 2015
137
Rocklin Ca
I have a SWG or as I call it my $1000 dollar thermometer, First year nothing but problems Rep. came out said the cell was bad, Second year worked pretty well Third year nothing but problems they determined the circuit board was bad into the fourth year problems I was over it. Along this journey I heard every excuse why it was not functioning. It's an Aqua Rite I bought quite a few years ago . This year I'm thinking of getting another one or replacing the board and getting a new cell. But also on a cost perspective the SWG are not cheap, a decent unite is going to cost a bit more than $1000. how much chlorine can you buy for $1000? then consider the lifespan of a cell, convenience yes save $$$ not to sure.
 

Jimrahbe

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Jul 7, 2014
20,783
Bedford, TX
Dave,

Thankfully, most saltwater pool owners do not have the problems that you have had...

I have three saltwater pools.. so far I have had to replace two Pentair IC40 cells.. One was almost 9 years old, and the other was over 7 years old. Those cells were about $500 bucks back then, but the replacement costs did go up, they were $700 bucks each.. So not quite the problem that you have seen.. Less than $100 bucks a year..

If I had your experiences, I doubt that I would be a fan of saltwater pools either.. But my experiences have been vastly different, and at this point, I can't envision every not having a saltwater pool.

Thanks,

Jim R.
 

SacDave

Well-known member
Jun 8, 2015
137
Rocklin Ca
Dave,

Thankfully, most saltwater pool owners do not have the problems that you have had...

I have three saltwater pools.. so far I have had to replace two Pentair IC40 cells.. One was almost 9 years old, and the other was over 7 years old. Those cells were about $500 bucks back then, but the replacement costs did go up, they were $700 bucks each.. So not quite the problem that you have seen.. Less than $100 bucks a year..

If I had your experiences, I doubt that I would be a fan of saltwater pools either.. But my experiences have been vastly different, and at this point, I can't envision every not having a saltwater pool.

Thanks,

Jim R.

I realize I'm the lucky one LOL. I'm considering getting another SWG
 

djdonte

Well-known member
Mar 25, 2019
330
Houston, TX
The only horror story about SWG is not having one.. I wish I did it sooner. I went from lugging cases of HD bleach and dosing every other day to literally doing nothing but occasional testing and adding 6oz of acid every week like clockwork to keep the PH balanced. My pool overflowed a little while back from rain and I had to add 120lbs (3 x 10 dollar bags) of salt but other than that the SWG makes life easy. My total investment for the cell, plumbing and salt was right at 1200, so for 40ish bucks a month of HD bleach it will take me a while to recoup my investment. However, its hard to put a price on monthly HD runs, my sore back, the shoes and pants I ruined when a case of bleach broke etc. My pool does taste a bit salty but the water doesn't dry your skin out like it did before the switch.
 
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wireform

Silver Supporter
In The Industry
Aug 15, 2017
1,929
Spring Valley, NY
The only horror story about SWG is not having one.. I wish I did it sooner. I went from lugging cases of HD bleach and dosing every other day to literally doing nothing but occasional testing and adding 6oz of acid every week like clockwork to keep the PH balanced. My pool overflowed a little while back from rain and I had to add 120lbs (3 x 10 dollar bags) of salt but other than that the SWG makes life easy. My total investment for the cell, plumbing and salt was right at 1200, so for 40ish bucks a month of HD bleach it will take me a while to recoup my investment. However, its hard to put a price on monthly HD runs, my sore back, the shoes and pants I ruined when a case of bleach broke etc. My pool does taste a bit salty but the water doesn't dry your skin out like it did before the switch.
It's hard to put a price on more time to enjoy your investment.
 
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monoptn

Bronze Supporter
Dec 7, 2019
94
Clarksville, TN
The only horror story about SWG is not having one.. I wish I did it sooner. I went from lugging cases of HD bleach and dosing every other day to literally doing nothing but occasional testing and adding 6oz of acid every week like clockwork to keep the PH balanced. My pool overflowed a little while back from rain and I had to add 120lbs (3 x 10 dollar bags) of salt but other than that the SWG makes life easy. My total investment for the cell, plumbing and salt was right at 1200, so for 40ish bucks a month of HD bleach it will take me a while to recoup my investment. However, its hard to put a price on monthly HD runs, my sore back, the shoes and pants I ruined when a case of bleach broke etc. My pool does taste a bit salty but the water doesn't dry your skin out like it did before the switch.
My pH doesn't ever change. My pool just thawed out this weekend and I checked the pH for the first time in a month. It was still perfect. I can't remember the last time I added any acid. Maybe June? I bought 2 gallons after I got my pool set up a year ago and I have a gallon and a half left, and most of that has been used by the hot tub.
 
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Liz315

Bronze Supporter
Jul 12, 2020
95
Hammonton, NJ
Pool Size
15000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-40
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.
So I am having a gunite pool built right now. I know I can’t use the salt water generator for the first month so what is the best way to avoid difficulties with the switch? Start with liquid chlorine? Do I insist that with my pool builder for start up? Easy enough to have on hand ready (15,000 gallon pool how much is needed) typically a lot of thing I bring up they tell me isn’t a concern so if they insist on the tablets any advice?
 
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YippeeSkippy

Mod Squad
LifeTime Supporter
Jan 17, 2012
15,455
Evans, Georgia
@geno1005 , one thing I/d like to clarify for you is if your pool water is well established (say a year or two old) you may very well have almost all the salt in your pool that you'll need for the SWG. The chemicals you've used thus far break down and leave a bit of salt behind and it builds up.

Sooooo.... get a salt test kit (K-1766) and test your salt level before you add any more. And double check as to how much your new SWG requires, as they're all different.

Maddie :flower:
 
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mguzzy

Gold Supporter
So I am having a gunite pool built right now. I know I can’t use the salt water generator for the first month so what is the best way to avoid difficulties with the switch? Start with liquid chlorine? Do I insist that with my pool builder for start up? Easy enough to have on hand ready (15,000 gallon pool how much is needed) typically a lot of thing I bring up they tell me isn’t a concern so if they insist on the tablets any advice?
Liz.. you are on the right track.. you will chlorinate with liquid chlorine until it is time to fire up the SWG... Since you will need to add CYA as well, tabs will work for that. but keep and eye on your levels. Start your own thread and we can give you personalized advice! ;)
 

Stoopalini

Gold Supporter
Jun 8, 2020
491
Central Texas
Pool Size
14060
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-40
But also on a cost perspective the SWG are not cheap, a decent unite is going to cost a bit more than $1000. how much chlorine can you buy for $1000? then consider the lifespan of a cell, convenience yes save $$$ not to sure.

I did a cost breakdown when I decided to go SWCG. The IC40 cell cost me $600, and here was my break down, assuming the cell lasts for 5 years. But as you can read in the forum, many last longer if you keep the CSI in check and don't acid clean it regularly.


How much FC can you replenish per day, for 5 years, given $600 of 10% liquid chlorine:

At $4 for a gallon for 10% chlorine, $600 buys you 150 gallons.
Converted to ounces (128:1), that's 19,200 ounces.
Spread across 5 years (1825 days), that's only 10.5 ounces a day.
10.5 ounces of 10% equates to about a 0.56ppm rise in FC for a 14,000 gal pool.


How much would you spend to replenish 2 FC per day, using 10% liquid chlorine, for 5 years:

2 FC equates to 36oz in a 14,000 gal pool
36oz per day, for 5 years (1825 days) is 65,700 ounces
Converted to gallons (128:1), that's 513 gallons
at $4 per gallon, it's a total of $2,052 over the 5 year period.


How long would $600 worth of 10% last with a 2 FC per day requirement:

$600 buys 19,200 ounces at $4 per gallon
19,200 ounces divided by 36oz (amount needed to replenish 2 FC for a 14,000 gal pool) is 533 days
533 days is 1.46 years


Obviously, how big your pool is, and how much FC loss you have due to the sun, swimmer load, organics, etc ... all play a part here. As well as how much liquid chlorine costs if your area ... I just used 14,000 gallons, $4, and 2 FC as the example.
 

Newdude

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Jun 16, 2019
6,138
NY
I did a generic cost analysis a while back with similar results. While all pools/areas may vary, for the average user with an average FC demand, the break even point was around 12k gallons with an appropriately sized unit. The larger pools shine for SWG because the double sized unit only costs 20% more on average. My pool was 35k gallons and it saved me 3X the cost over the life of the unit. It’s true that if I was in a hotter climate I would have used many more runtime hours shortening the life of the unit, but in that same scenario the math still works because I also would have needed a proportionate amount of LC to achieve the same ppm with liquid.

People can easily reduce the cost gap by buying liquid in bulk, but even with a steeply discounted LC cost, their time is a value as well. And the hassle...... don’t even get me started on the hassle. :)

But for those who want to put the effort in and spend the time, seek the deals and stay with liquid, *their* peace of mind also has a value. There is no wrong answer and all of our pools are TFPs in the end.
 

Saturn94

Well-known member
Mar 11, 2015
1,057
SE Virginia
Pool Size
20000
Surface
Vinyl
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Hayward Aqua Rite (T-15)
My SWCG tips to maximize cell life:

1. Maintain proper water chemistry balance. Keeping tight control of water chemistry I have never had to clean my salt cell.

2. Only use the SWCG to maintain FC level. Do not use it to boost FC; use liquid chlorine/bleach to boost FC if needed.

3. Do not allow FC to drop below the ”Target” level per the CYA/FC chart. Treating “Target” as your minimum level will assure you keep algae at bay and minimize FC demand. I’m seen so many posts where people try to keep their FC at the “Minimum” level per the CYA/FC chart and end up with algae/higher FC demand.

For reference, we’ve been using a SWCG since 2004 and wouldn’t have a pool without one. 👍
 
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Bvacchiano

Silver Supporter
Apr 6, 2018
316
Sugar Land, Texas
Let’s be honest here you are paying for CONVENIENCE of the SWG! Not dealing with lugging LC EVERY DAY to put into your pool (here in Houston that’s a given), not having to deal with CYA issues, not having to worry about going on vacation and wondering who will dump LC into your pool, not having to take a shower after getting out of the pool,etc. if you are trying to base buying an SWG on the COST versus using LC then you probably shouldn’t get one. My opinion anyway.
 
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wireform

Silver Supporter
In The Industry
Aug 15, 2017
1,929
Spring Valley, NY
Nice equation but how does one put a price on peace of mind, That's priceless. You know how I know, cuz everyone I know that moved to SWCG says it gives peace of mid they never knew you can have with the pool.
 
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mguzzy

Gold Supporter
I did a cost breakdown when I decided to go SWCG. ...
How much FC can you replenish per day, for 5 years, given $600 of 10% liquid chlorine:
...
How much would you spend to replenish 2 FC per day, using 10% liquid chlorine, for 5 years:
...
How long would $600 worth of 10% last with a 2 FC per day requirement:
...
Your numbers are compelling! So by your calculation if your SWG lasts longer than 5 years.. its free chlorine time from then on! My biggest cost factors, are time! My time is money... and when I factor that in, even at half of my billable rate, I paid my SWG off in the first year.
-Gas costs spent to get chlorine
-Time spent to get chlorine
-Time spent chlorinating daily
-Time spent testing to chlorinate daily
-Time saved when I realize that the automated slow constant chlorination process makes managing all the other chems easier
-Clothing costs to replace chlorine stained clothes from accidental spills
-Hassles to coordinate someone to chlorinate your pool if you decide to go on vacation... did you have to pay them in beer, wine, or swim time in your pool? If you gave them swim time then you have to factor in the FC they consumed while in the pool

And then I discovered TFP.. and now I spend all of my new found time loitering around here. ;)
 

Stoopalini

Gold Supporter
Jun 8, 2020
491
Central Texas
Pool Size
14060
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-40
Your numbers are compelling! So by your calculation if your SWG lasts longer than 5 years.. its free chlorine time from then on!

Actually, the break even point is 1.46 years, assuming a 2 FC consumption per day average, and a $600 purchase price of the SWCG.

How long would $600 worth of 10% last with a 2 FC per day requirement:

$600 buys 19,200 ounces at $4 per gallon
19,200 ounces divided by 36oz (amount needed to replenish 2 FC for a 14,000 gal pool) is 533 days
533 days is 1.46 years
 

jark87

Silver Supporter
Jun 5, 2011
295
Flower Mound, TX
Pool Size
25500
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Jandy Aquapure 1400
While I understand the cost comparison, the convenience factor is the biggest advantage, at least for me. I check chlorine levels frequently during the summer, but they’re almost always the same. I love being able to leave on a multi-week trip and not worry about coming home to an algae infestation, or having to hire a pool guy while gone. Yes, my pH rises a bit each week when the cell is ringing at 30-40%, but a few ounces of acid is so easy to add. I was also given a tip on this site about keeping TA around 50 to help with pH rise. It was right at the end of the season, so my SWCG hasn’t been running much since I brought the TA down, but I haven’t had to add acid in months. Hopefully, that lasts into the summer, too!
 

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