In an ideal setting, the pool water remains pristine blue and requires very little maintenance for months. Every pool owner dreams this but the reality is far away from this figment of the imagination. When managing a pool, implementing a proper sanitation system is very important to ensure the pool water remains clean and welcoming whenever it is used. There are five major pool systems suggested by most:
- Chlorinated Pool System
- Saltwater Pool System
- UV sanitized Pool System
- Ozone Pool System
- Hydroxyl based AOP Pool System
While the common goal is ensuring clean pool water, each sanitation model has its own pros and cons in providing pleasant pool water. In this article, we conduct a comparison of the two most common water treatment methods i.e., (i) Saltwater Treatment (ii) Chlorinated Treatment
Chlorinated Pool System V/s Salt Water System
In either pool treatment system, the aim is to have a constant presence of chlorine which sanitizes the water. The chlorine kills the microorganisms present in the water by making the water an unfavorable condition for them to thrive. In a chlorinated pool system, chlorine needs to be periodically topped up to maintain the levels of hypochlorous acid and hypochlorite ion.
The free radical chlorine reacts with organic materials such as sweat, skin oils, saliva, and urea to form chloramines. The chloramines give out a distinct stench and cause the eyes to burn. So, to remove the chloramines, additional chemicals need to be added to keep the pool water pH, alkalinity, and calcium levels balanced. In a nutshell, managing a chlorinated pool system is somewhat like playing with a chemistry set.
On the other hand, the saltwater system uses an electrolysis process involving a salt cell and common table salt. The low voltage of the salt cell turns the salt into sodium hypochlorite and hypochlorous acid. Very low chloramines are produced in this system, the stench is very low and the burning sensation is near-extinct. Since the pH is not disturbed nor is any other chemical depleted, you don’t need any additional chemicals.
Direct sunlight causes the chlorine in the water to evaporate quickly and additional chlorine needs to be added to avoid the growth of algae or microorganisms. In chlorinated pool systems, you require a weekly top-up of chlorine as chlorine tablets or sticks. The addition of chlorine tablets needs to be countered with additional chemicals to balance the pH and calcium levels. So, you need to invest in a water testing kit to monitor the levels of different aspects of the pool water treatment. Moreover, the pool needs to be ‘shocked’ with an excess level of chlorine to battle the chloramine formation once every fortnight for optimum performance. The handling and storage of these chemicals need to be done carefully to avoid spillage, wastage, and any chemical reactions.
In the case of saltwater pool systems, the chlorine level is maintained by the addition of additional salt in the salt cell for generating hypochlorous acid. Saltwater pool system can maintain a clean and sanitized pool state for two weeks without any maintenance intervention. Saltwater pools also need to be ‘shocked’ but only in case of heavy rains. The sole maintenance in the saltwater pool system is the salt generator cells need to be inspected, cleaned and replenished once every season.
Pool Water Quality
In the saltwater pool system, the calcium level is not disturbed from pool operation, the water is significantly softer. This means the water is gentle on the eyes, hair, and skin of the swimmer. You don’t need to have a separate shower arrangement for washing off the chlorine from the pool water. The only downside for saltwater pool systems in terms of pool water quality is that the salt present in the water makes the water extremely corrosive to the metal parts of the pool such as ladders, lighting equipment, pool liners, etc.
The pool water quality, by religiously using the pool water testing kit, can be the best pool water to swim in. The challenge lies in the backend efforts to maintain the pool water quality. Any lapse in the pool quality is easily detected as a burning sensation, calcium build-up, change in the pH level, etc.
Cost of Operation
Initially, a huge amount of salt is needed to start the process in a saltwater pool system. The day-to-day operation cost of a saltwater pool system is negligible as the salt used in the salt cell can be replaced with table salt. Salt cells are expensive but they only need to be cleaned seasonally and replaced once every year. The money saved in the table salt is countered in the electricity consumption for turning it into hypochlorous acid. Since the salt level is extremely corrosive for the metal surfaces, the pipes and ladder surfaces need to be buffed periodically and eventually replaced. The overall cost of a saltwater pool is $70-$100 yearly for the salt and chemical cost. The electricity costs can be anywhere between $38-$48.
In a chlorinated pool system, the operation costs are significantly high as you need different chemicals and also require a water test kit for periodically testing the water balance. The initial cost of installation is significantly low.
Ease of Use
Saltwater pools can easily be operated by anyone with basic pool maintenance but the pool system is complicated enough to require a professional for any repairs to be done. The chlorine pool requires you to constantly monitor the chemical levels and with detailed training, repairs can be done by pool owners themselves.
The major difference between Saltwater pool and Chlorine pool system can be boiled down to:
|Saltwater Pool System||Chlorinated Pool System|
|High Initial Cost but lower Operation cost||Low Initial Cost but high operation cost|
|Lower levels of chloramines||Higher levels of chloramines|
|Very less maintenance required but needs to be done by professionals||Weekly maintenance required but can be done by pool owners themselves|
|Higher electricity costs||Lower electricity costs|
|No worries of storing any chemicals||Chemicals need to be carefully stored and used|
|Needs ‘Shocking’ after heavy rains||Needs ‘shocking’ every two weeks|
|Corrosion to the metal surface||Chemicals can etch out pool surface or pool liner|
|Water is comparatively softer||Water needs to be manually made softer|