A salt water chlorine generator or more simply put, a ‘salt chlorinator’, is a system that creates chlorine from sodium chloride (Salt – NaCI). This generator eliminates the hassle of constant trips to the store to purchase chemicals.
To be more specific, as salt water enters the swimming pool’s circulation system, it flows through the salt chlorine generator and passes through a salt cell. A low-voltage direct current is applied to a series of flat, rectangular plates and as the salt water moves through the cell, the salt and water separate into two compounds known as hydrogen gas and hypochlorous acid. This process is known as electrolysis. The hydrogen gas then exits the pool water in the form of bubbles. The hypochlorous acid sanitizes the swimming pool water and then converts back into salt. This process is continuous and cyclical.
Now, let’s take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of this system.
- Lower seasonal maintenance costs – As mentioned above, salt chlorine generators eliminate the need for a majority of swimming pool chemical maintenance, which means lower upkeep costs.
- One and done – Most sanitizers have extremely low pH levels. Sanitizers, when used enough, can significantly lower the pH of the entire swimming pool. However, salt chlorine generators rarely need any additional chemicals, as they produce nearly perfect pH levels.
- Better swimming experience – When you use a salt chlorine generator, all the chlorine your pool needs is produced in a contained system without the need for traditional harsh chemicals. This allows for a better swimming experience with less eye and skin irritation.
- Higher initial costs when compared to traditional chlorine treatment methods.
- Higher salt cell replacement costs –When maintenance on the units is required, costs can be significant.
- Corrosion – One of the most problematic effects of having a salt water generator is their adverse effect on swimming pool equipment. If salt levels increase in excess of 6,000 ppm, it can contribute to the breakdown of handrails, lighting systems, swimming pool liners and other pool equipment. Extra care must be taken when using a salt water generator. This includes rinsing down handrails, lights etc.