Not Sure What I'm Doing

If you had a chance to do it all over again, what kind of system would you put in your inground pool

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Aug 6, 2007
I am in the process of trying to decide if I want an inground pool or not. We have two bids currently and both builders are using the salt system. I've read a lot about Ecosmarte, ozone, chlorine, ionization, etc. systems, but don't know which is best. It seems that all systems have their good points and bad points, and that there is no agreement between anyone on which is the best and easiest and healthiest system to use. So I'm still on the hunt for the perfect system for me. Any insights you might have would be greatly appreciated.



I suggest you look through the forum. You will find some answers there. Chlorine is the safest santizier for an outdoor pool. Copper/silver/zinc ionizer systems (including ecosmarte) are NOT primary sanitizers, no matter what the marketing hype surrounding them says.
Ozone and UV are not primary sanitizers either.

IMHO, a salt system is the way to go. It is a chlorine system but it greatly simplifies pool maintenance.

Here is something that I posted in another thread but I think it bears repeating!

There are only 3 EPA approved sanitzers--chlorine, bromine, and biguanide (Baqua, SoftSwim, Revacil, etc.) ALL OTHER sytems are supplimental and MUST be used with a residual sanitizer (usually chlorine or bromine).

As far as biguanide, it has more drawbacks than advantages and most people that use it end up converting to chlorine after a few years once the pink slime and white water mold takes hold. It can also attack and destroy certain plastics and at least one major spa manufacuter is now telling it's customers not to use it for this reason.

Bromine has no advantages for an outdoor pool since it cannot be stabilized againt UV light like chlorine can. It is also a known sensitizer and many people develop an allergic reaction to it. It does have some usefulness in indoor pools and in spas that do not receive sunlight.

That leaves chlorine, which is the best choice for an outdoor pool.

There are supplimental systems that claim they can reduce the amount of residual chlorine in the water. Most are metal based (copper, silver, and zinc). However, the low residual chlorine levels (usually .5 ppm) are NOT enough to insure that the water is sanitized. They will prevent algae growth but the kill times fo metals are very slow and a minimum 2 ppm free chlorine should really be used with these systems, IMHO. One of the biggest drawbacks to these systems is staining of pools and people (copper is what causes green hair). Many of them need to be run at a much lower pH than is commonly used to help prevent the staining but this can be aggresive to the plaster finish of a pool.

Ozone and UV light provide NO residual sanitation and must be used with a residual santizer. Ozone and chlorine tend to destroy each other so chlorine usage is usually higher in a system that also uses ozone. Ozone tends to work better with bromine but does cause bromates to form in the water. Bromates are a suspected carcinogen in drinking water.

There are some companies that make some very dubious claims about their products that just don't stand up under scientific scrutiny such as breaking water apart into 'radicals', etc. This is pure snake oil!

EDIT: Ecosmarte is a prime example. Check out this website and read the second box under "Other electrolytic processes, completely off-the-wall" where they talk about Ecosmarte and debunk some of the pseudoscience claims that they make!

Intersting read!

Getting back to metals--they are often marketed as 'mineral' systems. If you consider copper sulfate and silver nitrate minerals then perhaps they are. Minerals sound more spa like and healtly than metals, don't they? It is interesting that in Canada these systems can only be registered as algaecides and not as sanitizers and in Australia they are required to be used with normal and not reduced sanitizer levels to provide quick kill times and proper sanitation. If only our own EPA was so dilligent at protecting our welfare (but that's a whole other can of worms, isn't it?)

There is a lot of negative press about chlorine but much of it has to do with chlorine used to santize drinking water. Some of it IS applicable to chlorine in INDOOR pools since some of the disinfection byproducts such as the TMHs do collect in the air but this is not really a problem for OUTDOOR pools since UV light breaks them down and they cannot concentrate in the air as they do in an enclosed indoor pool.

Hydrogen Peroxide, Potassium Monopersulfate and Sodium Percarbonate are oxidizers and NOT sanitizers and will not keep the water sanitized by themselves. They are usefule when used in conjucntion with one of the three EPA approved sanitizers as an oxidizer but they do present their own sets of problems.

Where does this leave us---with chlorine!

I am curious why you are looking for a low chlorine system. If you have a true chlorine allergy then biguanide is your only real alternative and you will have to live with it's shortcomings.

Chorine is actually the safest and easiest santizer to use in an outdoor pool. If you have an indoor pool it does present a few problems but they can be overcome (such as using potassium monopersulfate as an oxidizer instead of 'shocking' with chlorine) or bromine is also a viable alternative.
Aug 6, 2007
Here's an article about salt water systems

Thanks for your response to my question. I found this article. Let me know what you think about this article on salt water systems. This was found on WikiAnswers.


What are advantages and disadvantages of a salt water swimming pool?

Please do NOT use a Salt System! Yes a salt system will affect the hardness of your water and suck the calcium from your grouting! And salt or Chlorine do not sanitize your pool...they try...but...OH MY! Why is swimming in chemicals such an excepted practice? Chlorine, Salt Generated Chlorine, Shock, Stabalizers, where does it stop? You add one chemical you need to add two more to balance the pool. Then jump on in! Technology has moved well beyond chemical addition! Look into UV (Ultraviolet)systems...not Ozone generated by UV, strait UV technology will Kill algae, not just put it to sleep like chlorine does, and so much more. UV destroys more bacteria..which is why you use chemicals - than any other system including and especially salt systems. Read the World Health Organization - Healthy Pool Guidelines! Read what the Centers For Disease Control and the scientific community says about swimming pools and your health. Read about cryptosporidium in your pool and your kids! Read about THM's and HAA's! Read about reproductive and developmental problems associated with Chlorine Disinfection By Products (DBP's)in pools! Then you will quit using shock, salt, stabalizers, acids,yellow treat, green treat, and use a light bulb instead! Technology is a beautiful thing!

Jon La

Some good Alternatives is...

Saltwater vs. Chlorine
Some advantages and disadvantages:

Salt water is expense when it is installed, but after that you do not have to add chlorine as salt makes chlorine. This saves you $60.00 for every bucket you buy.

Salt is softer on your skin.

The new salt systems are great, as they monitor and clean themselves.

You also do not have the obnoxious little floater in your pool all the time with salt.

Both systems generate Disinfection By Products (DBP). Both systems are very climate dependent and also vary based on pool usage.
Here is more advice:

I am using a saline system and it is wonderful. I do not run the clormatic(cell) 24/7. I only use it during the hours that the pool is open, but I do run my filters 24/7. You still need to shock your pools with some sort of chlorine agent, I use cal hypo. It is not very cheap to get started but it is in the long run. It is easier to get and hold the targeted chlorine levels w/salt. When I perform my shock (weekly) I also add the needed salt. When adding salt the cell must be off for approx 8 hours(depending on turn over rate).

As a builder of high end inground swimming pools we have not built a pool without a chlorine generator for the last 9 years or so. As the owner I wouldn't be without one myself. Many customers ask me, How can they justify owning a chlorine generator for their pool? To help them, answer that question, I ask them, "Whats important to you?" Inevitably the answer is, "Everything is important." My pool owners are successful enough to buy any chlorine system. They always buy a chlorine generator because they demand perfection in everything they do.

Disadvantages of Salt

The only time that I am aware of that having a salt system on your pool can harm the equipment is in a "runaway chlorine" environment which can be common if the unit isn't operated properly or if water isn't tested and balanced regularly. In a runaway chlorine environment, the chlorine created by the salt system could potential dissolve the heat exchanger in a heater in a couple of days. I recommend you research the product independent of the sales environment prior to making your decision to convert to salt.

The only disadvantage, as noted above, is if the equipment isn't used properly. My pool is a salt water pool and it requires less manual maintenance and maintenance expense than the traditional chlorine pools our neighbors have (same conditions, same size). Replacing parts/equipment is the same as that for a traditional chlorine pool, although replacement prices are a bit higher. In the long run though, the prices are about even. I recommend talking to several different pool supply stores for more opinions.

Yes, depending on the amount of calcium in your water you may find that scaling will appear on your pool surface if you have a plaster pool. A saltsystem attracts calcium to the titanium plates and then can discharge it back into the water. This excess calcium can result in a buildup on the pool surface. I have found this to be most common in self cleaning salt systems.

The salt content in a salt water pool is about the same as the salt content in the human body. It definitely does not harm pool equipment. Here are some of the advantages of having a saltwater pool: No toxic chemicals to buy, store and handle; No stinging eyes and no chlorine smell; Lower maintenance. The main disadvantage of salt water pools is that it reduces the revenue generated by pool chemical sales.

I just installed one for my pool this past summer. At first, during the high heat days, I had a tough time keeping up with the chlorine required despite the fact that I set the output to 100% with 11 hrs of pump time. I went to my local pool store and learned that Alkalinity level, which I think was directly related to PH level, is critical with salt water pools. After lowering the Alkalinity level, everything worked fine and I was able to reduce my pump time to only 6 hrs and my output level to 7. With salt water, your ph level goes up fast, so you need to check it more often. Also, when asked for opinions about salt water, don't go to a pool store. Their answers will depend on if they sell the generators or not. Don't take your sample water to Leslie's to check for salt level. I added salt based on their salt reading and ended up draining my pool of 20" of water before the unit worked right. They don't sell chlorine generators so they don't have the right equipment to test the salt level. In general, it's not cheaper than chlorine but your water does feel quite different.

Salt water pools do have disadvantages! Pools that use chlorine tablets (tri chlor), and pools that use salt(sodium chloride) are very similar. The first thing to understand is that both use chlorine. Both systems require sodium bicarbonate, calcium chloride, and muriatic acid to make chemistry adjustments. Salt chlorine systems require the addition of stabilizer (cyaniric acid) and salt which tablet pools do not. stabilizer holds chlorine in the water. Chlorine tablets have this chemical in them already. The average pool in orlando florida(18000 gallons) uses 400 pounds of salt and 60 pounds of stabilizer a year. These chemicals again, are not required in a tablet pool. Salt systems have a metal cell and an electronic controll panel that cost about 1000 dollars. The cell on average lasts for three years and costs 350 dollars to replace. 1350 dollars would pay for all of your pool chemicals for an average pool for 10 years. Does anyone have a water fall? Salt builds up on any surface that gets wet and then dries just like going to a mild beach. The chemical to keep the salt from building (jacks magic) runs 21 dollars a month. As a pool retailer i hope that all pools will convert to salt because we dont make any money on chlorine tablets. The prices have been consistent for 20 years. Salt and stabilizer though can be priced at my discretion because mass merchants don't carry them. Selling the cell is also great because while a 5 dollar chlorine tablet floater will last for ten years, the cell only lasts for three.

Fluctuations in PH cause eye irritation not chlorine which you have in your salt pool anyway.

In RESPONSE to the answer that states that salt water pools use "400 pounds of salt and 60 pounds of stabilizer a year". First: the salt never leaves your pool by evaporation NOR is it ever used up. The only way that salt water leaves your pool is through backwashing, leaks, and splashout. The same is true for cyanuric acid. While it is true that a brand new 18,000 gallon pool uses only 450lbs of salt (3000 ppm, or about 50lbs per 2000 gallons). It is NOT true that it uses this amount of salt every year. In order for a salt water pool to use 400lbs each year would mean that 16,000 gallons of water was added to compensate for splashout, backwashing, and leaks alone (no evaporation because evaporation leaves the salt behind). To prove that no salt leaves due to evaporation, consider how salt is made in some countries by leaving trays of saltwater to evaporate in the sun. Also, consider the purification method for saltwater by using distillers. Both of these leave salt behind due to evaporation. Second: You would NEVER want this level of cyanuric acid in your pool. Obviously this retailer has been misinformed by the propaganda laid out by the chemical companies. Yes, cynauric acid helps in SMALL quantities. But as cyanuric acid increases, the effectiveness of chlorine decreses, which in turn requires more chlorine to achieve the desired effect. The tablets (unfortunately) contain MORE cyanuric acid, which now puts us in a dangerous cycle of adding more cyanuric acid with each tablet...and having to add more chlorine to keep up with the increased levels of chlorine. The chemical companies do not tell you this as it translates to more profits for them.

The disadvantages, yes you may see some salt dried up on a splashed area, big deal wash it off, very easy. You will not have to remember to get more chlorine, so find another way to exercise your mind. Bottom line they work and have worked for the past 25 years, difference now is they are very reliable thanks to hi-tech electronics and hi-tech metals. These units are the best kept secret in our pool industry.

I agree with 2 answers up with the exception that in most and I emphasize most cases the amount of Cyanuric acid in either Di-chlor or Tri-chlor tablets will not bring the levels up beyond 50-70PPm causing your chlorine to become less effective. You could also say that it benefits the chemical companies to use salt because you are creating a higher ph chlorine then you are with Di-chlor and they get to sell Ph reducers. Look it all comes down to what your comfortable with. Salt water pools are chlorine pools with a softer feel. Personally I hate softeners used on showers. You are going to pay $ to maintain a pool and always comes out to about the same. I personally believe that in more filtration time and and a little less chemicals but I would pay for it with electricity. Chlorine when used properly and being educated on the base chemicals (Ph, Alk, and Calcium) should be easy and irritation free. Also all this changes when we start talking about indoor pools. Salt would be the preference. The only true disadvantage to using salt systems is with chemical automation systems. It is possible, but has to be looked at carefully as the generator can distort the sensor readings. I don't agree that it is the best kept seceret in the Pool industry. How many things have been the next best thing: Ozone, UV, Ions, Baquacil, and the list goes on. All have good purposes but in general are not the answer to replacing chlorine. All these things are still getting compared to chlorine after all these years. I guess time will tell.


Bottom line is this. SWGs are NOT new technology, they have been around since the 60's. They were originally developed in Australia and are now in use in over 80% of the pools there. They have only become popular in the US in the past 10 years. If they did not work as claimed the technology would NOT have lasted as long as it has. There are some localized issues with damage to some natural decorative stone used in pools (in parts of Texas and Arizona) but these definitely seem to be regional and are, IMHO, because of improper selecton of building materials. There have been some cost comparisons of SWGs and manual chlorination and SWGs actually come out better.

There is a lot of misinformation in your last post. The talk about calcium scaling has nothing to do with salt. High calcium levels cause scaling, period. That is why water balancing and maintaing proper pH is important in any kind of pool.

Comparing a pool on trichlor to a salt pool is comparing apples to oranges. It would be more accurate to compare a salt pool to a pool on chlorine gas or liquid chlorine since this is what is actually being generated by the cell. Stabilized chlorine is a whole different animal and requires different maintenance methods and has more drawbacks than a salt pool or a pool using unstabilzed chlorine sources. Just ask anyone who has ever had to drain and refill their pool becuase it became overstabilized from exclusive use of trichlor and/or dichlor! I have seen pools on trichlor go from 0 ppm CYA to over 100 ppm CYA in less than a year, especially with cartridge filters that have become almost the norm in new pool installs these days.