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Salt Systems: Pros and Cons

Mark Thompson - Monday, June 06, 2016

Are you contemplating on getting a salt system? Heard pros and cons and they have confused you more? Is it worth the expense? Let's see if I can help you with some of these questions for you. We are going to keep things simple to help the majority understand the process. If you're last name is Tesla, Einstein, or Jobs and you want greater information. Please contact us and we will be happy to assist you and get your autograph.


How does a salt generator work? A salt system takes salt, which is sodium chloride (NaCl), and turns it into hydrogen gas and hypochlorous acid (chlorine, to keep it simple) by  electrolysis. Once the chlorine comes in contact with bacteria, it reverts back into salt and repeats the process. (There is a more complex explanation but we are keeping things simple.)


The chlorine is produced by a salt cell which is installed after the pump. The pump moves water through the generator and engages a flow switch. Once that flow switch is engaged, it tells the "brains" of the system, "Hey, we have water moving. Let's make some chlorine." The generator receives power and the magic happens.


Why should I get a salt system? The greatest advantage in my eyes is that it keeps a consistent level of chlorine in the pool. You can set the percentage of chlorine output. Once you get the system producing a consistent level between 2-5 ppm, it will stay there, as long as the pump continues to run a minimum of 8 hours a day. If you have a large party, heavy rain, or other rare events that happen in the pool, you can simply hit a "Boost" or "Superchlorinate" button to revive the chlorine level.


By keeping a consistent level of chlorine in the pool, your odds of having algae, cloudy, or discolored water is greatly reduced...and you didn't have to add chlorine manually! It did it all by itself! This will help eliminate your need for chlorine tablets and greatly reduce your shock by as much as 95%! 


This will also reduce eye irritation and skin dryness as it tends to be much more soothing to most people. Side note: If you are still getting eye and skin irritations, it is probably from a low or high pH (the measure of acidity) level.


If you take care of the pool yourself, the salt system will save you time. It makes the chlorine by itself, keeping you from having to add the chemicals manually. It will also save you money in chemical expenses. Once again, no chlorine tablets and shock reduced by as much as 95%.


What is the downside of a salt system? A salt system's downside is overcome by the upside. However, here are the downsides.


The initial price is costly. If installed properly, the system, labor, initial dose of salt, and miscellaneous things such as a check valve, zinc anode, etc. can cost between $2000-$2500.00. If you are purchasing a salt system and getting it installed between $1500.00-$2000.00, disregard that company and their system. There are good systems and there are bad ones. There are companies that don't know proper installation techniques and those who are certified. There are companies that will tell you all your costs up front and there are companies who won't. Simply stay away from cheaper systems. These will create headaches for you and cost you a great deal more in the long run by expensive repairs to heaters, pumps and other pool equipment.


You may have heard that the electrolysis will discolor light rings, handrails, ladders, and any other metal items. This is caused by improper bonding (An electrical term that helps create an equipotential bond to ground. Don't concern yourself with this detail other than knowing that this is usually easily corrected and is against code to be improperly bonded anyway.) of your pool and the neglect from the installer to put on a zinc anode, which absorbs the electrolysis. If you hire a certified installer, such as the ones from Absolute Pool  & Spa Care, these issues will be eliminated.


You may have also heard that the salt kills flowers and plants and stains deck when it sits on it. Well, so does chlorine. And another novel idea, don't let salt sit on your deck. If you spill some, rinse it off. There is a large body of water next to where the salt was spilled. Problems: rectified.


Is it worth the expense? Now that you know the pros and cons and how it works, that is for you to decide. Does spending less in chemicals each year add value to you? Does having a consistent level of chlorine in the pool, virtually eliminating algae, cloudy, and discolored water a benefit of value for you? Do these pros outweigh the cons? My opinion is that I would not have a pool without a salt system. That's how much I enjoy a swimming pool with a salt system.


Contact us and tell us you read this blog and we will give you a free zinc anode (a $148.00 value) with the purchase of a salt system and installed by Absolute Pool & Spa Care.


Thank you!

Mark A. Thompson