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Saltwater Vs Chlorine-Based Swimming Pool: Which is the Best?

Updated on June 11, 2017
Barack James profile image

Barack is a chemical engineer with a knack for pool chemistry. He has been in the pool maintenance industry for 8 years.

Why Choose Saltwater Pool System
Why Choose Saltwater Pool System | Source

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Why Choose Saltwater Pool

Here is my short story why I converted to saltwater pool system: I have an outdoor swimming pool in a locality where the sun is always the order of the day: You can imagine how this is cumbersome when it comes to shocking your swimming pool.

Free chlorine was being used up in an abnormal way and I had to purchase stabilizers and chlorine in bulks and put in my store; ready to shock my pool on a daily basis in the evenings: This got me tired and was expensive too, and I considered buying a saltwater chlorine generator for the first time, which is Hayward AQR15 AquaRite Salt Chlorination System that has really helped me by cutting down pool maitenance cost by over 50%.

Maybe you intend to build a home or commercial swimming pool, and you are divided between saltwater and regular chlorine-based swimming pool: Or maybe; you are weighing whether converting your chlorine based pool into a saltwater pool system is a good idea.

Basically, there is no special difference in the general design of saltwater pool and regular chlorine based pool: Rather, in saltwater pool, chlorine generator is added in the system somewhere near the power source so that chlorine can be auto-generated and released into the pool, saving you from adding any chlorine shocks for pool sanitization.

Precisely; when you consider chlorine-based pool maintenance and cost associated with it and health issues, which may arise due to excess use of harsh chlorine like the ones used for shocking pools, then we shall say a saltwater pool is better.

Ever since I converted my pool from chlorine-based to a saltwater pool system; I spend much time swimming and less time monitoring my pool’s sanitation, the chlorine generator does it all for me.

However, it is very important to let you know that both saltwater and chlorine pools use chlorine as a sanitizer to kill harmful bacteria and organisms thriving in the pool water. The only difference is that saltwater pools use a special chlorine generator to produce chlorine through electrolysis, and then injects the required amount of chlorine automatically into the pool - a chlorine that is less harsh.

I guess you have already liked a saltwater pool on the fact that they are easy to maintain as compared to nonsaltwater pools, and that is why I converted to saltwater pool system too.

A saltwater chlorine generator is very easy to use; and nearly everyone can successfully maintain a swimming pool using the SWCG system, including a novice.

However, just maintenance alone cannot add up to choose saltwater over chlorine-based pool either for home or commercial purposes; and this post includes all the benefits of saltwater over the nonsaltwater swimming pool in relation to maintenance, cost, and health issues among others.

Reduced Chemicals Usage

A perfect swimming pool chemistry is always the blood life of pool maintenance, whether a salwater or nonsaltwater pool: The more chemicals you use in your pool, the more pool maintenance becomes difficult.

Ideally; Saltwater pools require minimal usage of chemicals as compared to chlorine based swimming pools.

Firstly; since chlorine level in the saltwater pool is measured by Salt Water Chlorine Generator (SWCG) and added automatically, you don’t need to buy and add free chlorine into your pool on a regular basis like is needed for nonsaltwater pools.

Still on the positive side; the process of producing chlorine is recycling and you don’t need to add more salt medium (sodium chloride) on a regular basis for chlorine to be produced.

Due to the ever stable level of chlorine in saltwater pools; you don’t need to use chlorine stabilizer such as Cyanuric acid to prevent excess chlorine consumption by UV light from the sun.

There is an added advantage of not using too much stabilizer in the pool: When added in excess, the stabilizer will reduce the effectiveness of chlorine and chances of algae thriving in the pool will be very high.

Reduced Health Issues

Health issues should have been the first to consider here, yea?: Chlorine based pools have a number of health issues due to the harshness of manually added chlorine in form of a bleach.

Firstly; chlorine bleach used in a non saltwater pool has been associated with skin and lung cancers resulting when chlorine is absorbed through the skin or inhaled through the lung.

Moreover, the byproducts of chlorine are even more dangerous that chlorine itself; and this brings an extra cost of oxidizing the pool to remove the harmful byproducts of added chlorine.

Also, commercial chlorine used in pools cause a lot of discomfort including; red and itchy eyes, irritation on the skin, and hair discoloration among others.

On the other hand; chlorine stabilizer Cyanuric acid used in a chlorine based pool has been associated with the irritation swimmers complain about; which is not the case with saltwater pools.

Cost Effective

The initial cost of installing saltwater is not very high: however, you might consider the initial cost of putting up a saltwater chlorine generator system; the cost will definitely be offset with time since you will not have to buy chlorine on a regular basis to shock your pool.

Moreover, sodium chloride or salt medium used in the saltwater generator pool system is only put once and lasts for a time before thinking of adding more salt, this is because it recycles the salt.

Sodium chloride; which is the same stuff you use on the table is cheaper and locally available as compared to all chlorine shocks and bleach you will use in the nonsaltwater pool.


Talking of comfort; saltwater pools have the highest level of comfort compared to regular harsh chlorine based pools.

Salt or sodium chloride used in SWCGs is very soft and tender to the skin and are most preferred for children’s swimming pools than the chlorine based pools; which are harsh to the skin and causes red and itchy eyes, itchy skin, and discolored hair.

Moreover, chlorine bleach also causes damage to swimming pool equipments, and usually results in fading away colors from swimming suits and others pool equipments

Easy Maintenance

Maintenance of saltwater pool is very easy as the most important chemical in the swimming pool; which is chlorine that is automatically added as required in a standard pool.

Having pool algae in a saltwater pool is very difficult as compared to a chlorine based pool; which may breed algae anytime when free chlorine goes down; resulting in a green, yellow, or black swap in the name of a pool.

On the other hand, a cloudy pool water is also common on pools without saltwater chlorine generators since chloramines or combined chlorine is very common.

As such; to maintain a nonsaltwater pool, you need to frequently do DTP test in the pool water to establish free chlorine and combined chlorine levels and ensure that they always balanced in the to prevent pool algae and a cloudy pool water.

How to Convert into Saltwater Pool System

To convert your pool to saltwater pool system; you don’t need to alter any device such as filter, pump, and heater in your current pool. Rather, all that you need to do is to get and install a saltwater chlorine generator in the appropriate location and add some sodium chloride (same stuff you use on the table).

If you prefer more complex SWCG system that will need lots of plumbing and electrical work, it is advisable to hire a swimming pool specialist to install the chlorine generator for you if you can’t do it properly.

The one I use; Hayward AQR15 AquaRite Salt Chlorination System for in-ground pools is very easy to install and use and nearly anyone can follow directions and use it successfully.

The appropriate location to install the saltwater chlorine generator is always near the power source and after pool filters, pumps, and heaters to ensure that water that passes through the SWCG system is clean and will not course damage to the system: Here is a step by step do it yourself guide on how to convert to saltwater pool system.

Converting to Saltwater Pool


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