Have you ever wondered if traditional chlorine treatments are really the best way to treat your pool?
What about salt chlorine generators (SCGs)? Are they more convenient, and do they work as well? Let’s take a look at salt chlorine generators and see what advantages they might offer you over conventional chlorine treatments.
Actually, there are several reasons replace traditional chlorine treatments with a salt chlorine generator. But first, you should realize that SCGs still treat your pool with chorine it is just in a different form. So why convert? Most pool owners who convert to a SCG to maintain their pool water do so because of the convenience it offers. Further, there are economic advantages, as well as water quality benefits.
Here are three aspects of SCG systems to consider:
Maintenance – Pool treatments fall into one of the following categories: Sodium Hypochlorite (Liquid), Tri-Chlor (Tablets), or Calcium Hypochlorite (Granular Cal Hypo), as a primary type of chlorination. Each has its advantages and disadvantages, as we will now see.
Liquid is readily available and can be found at low cost. Regular laundry bleach at approximately 5% strength can be used, or you can get liquid chlorine from your local pool store in strengths of 10-13%. Periodic additions can maintain proper levels of chlorination. Liquid is high in pH, so adding a pH reducer is necessary. The most popular forms of liquid treatment is Liquid Muriatic (Sulfuric Acid), which is corrosive. Most pool owners have a habit of picking up and adding liquid weekly, which has the following disadvantages:
1) Liquid chlorine can spill and cause damage to your vehicle floor mats or carpet. Also, you must be careful not to allow it to splash in your eyes, on your skin, or on your clothing when adding it to your pool.
2) Adding liquid chlorine, weekly, spikes your chlorine level for the first few days, then the level tapers off.
3) If you happen to miss your weekly treatment, algae can appear quickly (more so in Sun Belt states).
4) If you use laundry bleach, you have multiple jugs to dispose of, which is bad for the environment.
5) The accidental mixing of chlorine with other chemicals can create deadly chlorine gas.
Tablets are longer lasting, contain stabilizer, and are simply added to a canister that slowly releases the eroded tablets as the pump is running. Tablets can be purchased in large quantities and stored for the season or until you run out. Feeders allow you to adjust a feed rate dial to control your chlorine level.
Some of the disadvantages of tablets are:
1) Tablets are very low in pH, which makes them corrosive.
2) You must handle and store tablets in bulk.
3) The opening and handling of tablets exposes you to inhalation and skin-contact issues.
4) Removing the canister lid can create respiratory hazards.
5) When the pump is off, there is still water in the canister, eroding the tablets. This causes a higher concentration of chlorine and low pH conditions when the pump is restarted.
6) The canister uses fittings and tubing that are easily damaged by weed eaters, pets, and by tripping over them, causing chlorinated water to leak into your pool equipment area.
5) Continual use of tablets increases stabilizer levels, and, if not diluted periodically, will create problems with chlorine efficacy.
Calcium Hypochlorite is usually available in granular pouches, but is used primarily as a shock treatment, rather than daily chlorine treatment. However, there are some Cal Hypo pellet feeders, mostly used in commercial pool applications, which provide daily treatment. Cal Hypo is also available in large buckets and uses a feeder similar those used by tablets. It is high in pH so, like liquid chlorine, the addition of a pH reducer is needed. Some hazards of Cal Hypo are:
1) Exposure to Cal Hypo is hazardous. It is highly reactive to most liquids, including soda, oils, etc., and can react violently.
2) Pellet forms must be purchased in bulk sizes (50 lb or larger buckets), which requires storage space at commercial facilities. Further, the buckets must be properly disposed of.
3) Cal Hypo is costly.
Benefits of Salt Chlorine Generators
There are cost savings in generating chlorine with a SCG, compared to the cost of an equivalent amount of traditional chlorine. Consider that the SCG will produce a fixed amount of chlorine over the usable life of the generator cell. When you consider the electrical cost and replacement cell cost, you will pay less per pound to make your own chlorine than purchasing the same amount of liquid, tablets, or cal hypo.
The SCG operates daily and provides continual chlorination. The chlorine level remains more stable with continual chlorination, rather than fluctuating wildly. The concentration of chlorine within the generator cell is at super chlorination levels, which means that the water passing through the cell is continually treated to maintain and control “combined chlorine”—often recognized by the strong chlorine smell. Super chlorination also helps you pool to have a higher level of Free Available Chlorine, making it more effective in treating the contaminants that end up in your pool. SCG also introduces chlorine at a more neutral pH level, which requires fewer chemicals to maintain your pH. Continual chlorination also allows you to take your weekend trips, annual vacations, or miss a weekend of traditional chlorine maintenance, without having to worry about your pool turning green.
Salt chorine, as produced by a SCG, also makes your pool water more comfortable. Often described as the “soft water feel,” the water feels better because it matches your body’s normal pH level. Your skin and hair feel less dry when you get out, you can open your eyes underwater with less eye irritation, bathing suits are less affected by premature fading and deterioration, and overall water chemistry and maintenance are easier to control.
You may find switching to a salt chlorine generator a huge benefit. If you are like most SCG owners, you will never use traditional chlorine treatments again!