10 Best Salt Water Pool Systems

Pools September 6, 2019
Amy

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10 Best Salt Water Pool Systems

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10 Best Salt Water Pool Systems

Salt water pool systems popularity have grown rapidly in recent years. This maybe because it is healthier than chlorine, in many ways, and is considerably less in upkeep.

With a salt water pool system, you no longer need chlorine tablets, liquid chlorine or shock because the salt water system will be creating all of your chlorine. The chlorine that it produces is of higher quality and reduces the negative effects of traditional chlorine like the strong smell, itchy skin and red eyes.

If you are researching your salt water pool system options, here is what we found for the best salt water systems along with their advantages and disadvantages.

How We Researched Salt Water Pool Systems

Last year we bought a house with a pool and immediately considered converting from a traditional chlorine system to a salt water system, but knew very little about them. After a lot of time and research, it became clear there are many debates about which system is better. What we learned is it all depends on your budget, pool type, preferences and priorities. Here is what we found:

  • Low Maintenance – Installing a salt water pool system means that you will spend less time maintaining your pool because these systems kill bacteria and algae without the need of adding chlorine tablets and powders.
  • Low Salt Levels – The amount of salt the system releases into your pool is similar to that found in human tears. Therefore, there is no eye irritation while swimming and its not salty like the ocean.
  • No More Chlorine – Because a salt water system manufactures natural chlorine, you will no longer be buying chlorine tablets, shock or liquid chlorine. This means no more touching chemicals, storing chemicals or dragging big buckets of chlorine tablets around. It also means saving money in the long run.
  • No More Adding Chlorine Manually – On a salt system your chlorine production is selected by you on a dial.  This is a huge time saver over traditional chlorine where you are required to add chlorine to the pool each week. It is great for those times you go on vacation and don’t have to worry about coming home to a green pool.
  • No More Chlorine Smell – This may not bother a lot of pool owners but is another benefit, if it does. Salt water has no smell or toxic fumes.
  • Softer Water – Chlorine produced by salt water pool systems does not have chloramines. That means the harsh side effects of traditional chlorine are eliminated. You will not only find you no longer suffer from red eyes but your skin will be softer in and out of the pool.
  • No More Repository Problems – If you have respiratory problems, like asthma or allergic rhinitis, your symptoms may intensify when swimming in a traditional chlorine pool.
  • No More Allergic Reactions – Similar to above, traditional chlorine can cause some people to develop an allergy or sensitivity to the chemical. If you already have a sensitivity to it, swimming in a chlorine pool can cause rashes, hives, and itchy skin.
  • No More Green Hair – If you or anyone using your pool is a blonde, you may have experienced green hair  after swimming in a traditional chlorine pool. Salt water pool systems do not contain the same levels of chemicals and minerals and are less likely to turn your hair green.

The Negatives

While there are many advantages to having a salt water system, there are a few disadvantages. Here is what we found to help you weigh your options before deciding on a salt water pool system.

  • High Calcium and Ph Build-Up – With a salt water system your pH levels need to be monitored due to calcium scaling in your pool and your salt cell. This is done by testing your pH levels weekly and adding muriatic acid to lower it when needed.
  • Salt Cell Replacement – You will need to replace your salt cell every 3 to 7 years, which can cost anywhere from $200 to $700.
  • More Parts – Salt water systems do have more parts which can become faulty, like the circuit board, salt cell, flow sensor or flow switch.
  • Corrosive – There were many different opinions on this one but some believe the shaft seal on your pool pump may fail a little quicker with salt water, but is an inexpensive fix. If you have a heated pool you may consider a cupro nickel heater which holds up better to salt. Other items that are said to be damaged by salt water are; metal ladders, diving boards, pool decks, metal fences and live grass.

Best Rated Salt Water Pool System Comparison Chart

IMAGE PRODUCT
  • 40,000 gallon capacity
  • Easy read digital display
  • Comes in 3 sizes
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  • 40,000 gallon capacity
  • Easy view display
  • Automatic reverse cycling
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  • 2,600 to 8,500 gallon capacity
  • Electro catalytic oxidation
  • Uses sand filters
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  • 18,000 gallon capacity
  • Can also be used on hot tubs and spas
  • Timer controlled pump
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  • 7,000 to 150,00 gallon capacity
  • Electro catalytic oxidation
  • Easy to use digital control panel
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The 10 Best Rated Salt Water Pool Systems

 

#1 Hayward Goldline T-Cell-15 TurboCell

Product Specifications:

  • Capacity: 40,000 gallons
  • Chlorine Output: 1.45 lbs per 24 hours
  • Dimensions: 18.2 x 14.5 x 8.2 inches
  • Pool Type: In ground
  • Warranty: 3 years from date of purchase

Hayward is a well known brand when it comes to swimming pool products. The Hayward T-CELL-15 TurbiCell has the ability to convert table salt into chlorine automatically, to reduce maintenance time. It chlorinates up to 40,000 gallons of water and is perfect for in ground swimming pools. The digital display provides easy read outs of salt levels as well as 8 LED status indicators.

The Hayward cells come in three sizes; 40,000, 25,000 and 15,000-Gallon. These sizes allow you to right-size your pool for the most-efficient and cost-effective chlorination possible.

The Hayward W3T-Cell 15 comes equipped with a 15′ cord and is versatile enough to be installed vertically or horizontally to accommodate your existing equipment set up. This cell works with most other Hayward systems for in ground pools.

 

#2 Pentair IntelliChlor IC40 Salt Chlorine Generator Cell

Product Specifications:

  • Capacity: 40,000 gallons
  • Chlorine Output:  Up to 2 pounds of chlorine every 24 hours depending on capacity
  • Dimensions: 7 x 17 x 7 inches
  • Pool Type: In ground
  • Warranty: 1 year limited warranty on workmanship

The IntelliChlor Salt Chlorine Generator uses table salt to produce chlorine for your pool, safely and effectively. Unlike conventional chlorine systems that require you to add chemicals, the salt is recycled continuously to reduce pool maintenance. This system also keeps itself clean with an automatic reverse cycling feature that helps prevent scale build-up for longer cell life.

This system comes with an easy-to-view display that allows you to check the salt levels, water flow, sanitizer output, and cell cleanliness. It also comes with various settings that provide you with important performance data like, chlorine output, hours of operation, cell cleaning cycles, and production settings.

The IntelliChlor Salt Chlorine Generator has a feature that provides the remaining hours of cell life. It also has an automatic shut-off that protects the unit and prolongs the cell life when the water temperature is low. It does require the 520556 Intellichlor Power Center for operation, which is sold separately.

#3 Intex Krystal Clear 1500 GPH Sand Filter Pump & Saltwater System with E.C.O.

Product Specifications:

  • Capacity: 2,600 to 8,500 gallons
  • Chlorine Output:  1500 gallons of chlorine every hour
  • Dimensions: 17.1 x 17.5 x 34.4 inches
  • Pool Type: Above ground
  • Warranty: 2 year warranty on sand filter pump and salt water system

Intex Krystal Clear Saltwater System has electro catalytic oxidation which is known for the ability to keep pool water clean and safe, while eliminating the harshness of traditional chlorine. This system has a pump that accommodates pools that range from 2,600 to 8,500 gallons capacity.

This system uses sand filters which are one of the most desirable methods to keep your pool clean. Not only does the all-natural, inexpensive sand do a nice job of filtering the water, it only needs to be replaced once every five years.

Included with it, for easy installation, is an easy to follow DVD. This system also uses a 110-120 volt power supply, which is standard in most states.

 

#4 Hayward Goldline AQ-TROL-RJ AquaTrol Above-Ground Pool Salt Chlorination System

Product Specifications:

  • Capacity: Up to 18,000 gallons
  • Chlorine Output:  Adjustable
  • Dimensions: 19 x 15 x 9 inches
  • Pool Type: Above ground
  • Warranty: 1 year warranty on workmanship

The Goldline AQ-TROL-RJ, AquaTrol Above-Ground Chlorinator system is specially designed for above ground pools up to 18,000 gallons.  The Aqua Trol also has an integral time clock on the pool filtration pump giving you the power to select the chlorine output as well as a digital salt display and 7 diagnostic indicators.

Because many above ground pools have a single electrical outlet for the filter pump, the Aqua Trol is designed with an outlet that is timer controlled, for the filter pump to plug into. This model can also be used with hot tubs and spas to provide luxuriously soft, clean, and clear water.

The Aqua Trol system is easy to install, and is very easy to operate. This model is equipped with a return jet fitting, featuring a straight blade line cord and outlet.

 

#5 Intex Krystal Clear Saltwater System with E.C.O.

Product Specifications:

  • Capacity: 7,000 to 150,00 gallons
  • Chlorine Output: 700 to 3000 gallons per hour
  • Dimensions: 13.7 x 16.8 x 11.5 inches
  • Pool Type: Above ground
  • Warranty: 1 year against manufacturing defects

This Intex Krystal Clear Salt Water System uses titanium electrolytic cells making it an environmentally friendly natural salt creating chlorine for your pool. This systems exclusive technology allows you to sanitize your swimming pool with electro catalytic oxidation that splits water molecules into highly powerful oxidants that destroy organic contaminants, such as bacteria and algae.

The digital control panel is on this system is compact and easy to use. This system is for use in above ground pools and can be used in hot tubs as well.

Installation is simple and quick. It does require a pump with a flow rate between 700 and 3000 gallons per hour.

Other Salt Water Pool Systems We Reviewed

#6 Circupool SJ-20 Complete Salt Water Chlorination System

Product Specifications:

  • Capacity: 20,000 gallons
  • Chlorine Output:  .87 pounds a day
  • Dimensions: 20.5 x 20.5 x 11 inches
  • Pool Type: In ground
  • Warranty: 5 year limited warranty with pro-rated terms

The Circupool SJ-20 Complete Saltwater Chlorination System is made for pools with up to 20,000 gallons of water. Since it is made in the USA, you can be sure that it’s a durable product that will offer the required service. This system has a self-cleaning feature that ensures that you need not worry about maintaining it.

The cell on this system is made of a high-quality titanium material which is clear allowing you to see through it. The manufacturer states that this systems cell life will last 25% longer than other brands.

The installation of this system is easy enough to do it yourself and self installation will not effect the 5 year limited warranty.

 

#7 Circupool SJ-40 Salt Water Pool Chlorine Generator

Product Specifications:

  • Capacity: 40,000 gallons
  • Chlorine Output:  1.6 pounds per day
  • Dimensions: 20.5 x 20.5 x 10.5 inches
  • Pool Type: In ground
  • Warranty: 5 year limited warranty with pro-rated terms

The CircuPool SJ-Series Electronic Chlorine Generator automatically keeps your pool clean while completely eliminating the need for chlorine, shock, and algaecide. It is able to monitor the salinity level and the performance to ensure that the table salt provides the required chlorine as well as kill bacteria, algae, and other contaminants in your pool.

The manufacturer guarantees this system will out-perform and out-last systems that cost much more. It also is able to clean itself, thanks to the self-cleaning feature that reverses polarity.

This system works on both 110 and 220 volt power outlets. You can get an easy do-it-yourself Hayward or Pentair Adapter kit for simple conversion if needed.

#8 Saltron Mini Salt System Drop-In Saltwater Chlorine Generator

Product Specifications:

  • Capacity: 2,000 gallons
  • Chlorine Output:  Adjustable
  • Dimensions: 12 x 8.5 x 3 inches
  • Pool Type: Above ground
  • Warranty: 1 year warranty on workmanship

The Saltron Mini Salt System Drop-In Saltwater Chlorine Generator is a multi purpose model and works for above ground pools, spas, and hot tubs. It also features reverse polarity that works to cleans the system. This system needs no plumbing to get it up and running.

This system produces a pure form of chlorine sanitizer by electrolysis of natural salt which is converted to chlorine and kills bacteria. The chlorine then recycles back to salt. The concentration of salt needed is so small that it is equal to tears.

Set up is so simple that all you need to do is plug and activate the model, then add salt. It connects to the standard power outlet and generates user-friendly chlorine.

#9 Solaxx CLG10A Saltron Retro Self Cleaning Salt Chlorine Generator

Product Specifications:

  • Capacity: Up to 20,000 gallons
  • Chlorine Output:  8 grams of chlorine every hour
  • Dimensions: 3.5 x 9 x 23.2 inches
  • Pool Type: Above and in ground
  • Warranty: 1 year warranty on workmanship

This is a salt chlorinator for above ground and in-ground swimming pools of up to 20,000 gallons. The model doesn’t require electrical or plumbing contracting when installing it.

When cleaning your pool, pure chlorine is released from the normal table salt to sanitize your swimming pool. It uses less salt to kill algae and bacteria and leave the water feeling silky.

The model also has a programmable digital timer that allows you to set when the chlorine will be produced. You will not want to use this system on an above ground pool with top air rings.

#10 ControlOMatic ChlorMaker Saltwater Chlorine Generation System

Product Specifications:

  • Capacity: up to 1000 gallons
  • Chlorine Output:  30 grams per day
  • Dimensions: 4 x 11 x 6 inches
  • Pool Type: Above ground
  • Warranty: 1 year limited warranty on workmanship

The ControlOMatic features 10 built-in power levels and no external timers are needed. It has a self-cleaning system to reduce the time you spend worrying about maintenance. The control panel has 3 buttons for adjusting the chlorine production and 4 indicator lights to let you know when it is making chlorine or if you need to check the cell.

The ControlOMatic doesn’t have a timed cycle and will automatically start making chlorine when needed. After it has finished a chlorine production cycle, it may be hours or even days until it turns on again.

This plug-and-play system does not require plumbing or mechanical alternations. Simply attach the panel to the outside of your pool and lower the electrode into the water. Once it’s in, add salt. This system can be used in above ground pools and hot tubs.

Important Features to Consider

  • Pool Size – Salt systems can range from pools 10,000 gallons to 100,000 gallons and smaller for hot tub and above ground systems. You will want to choose the best system based on your pool or hot tub size. A larger system in a small pool will work too. This allows you to run the salt system for shorter periods of time and give you salt cell more life.
  • Price – Choose a system that is both priced within your budget, but of the best quality you can afford. They can range from a few hundred up to a thousand dollars. A less expensive system doesn’t necessarily mean poor quality, but consider the lifespan and future replacement costs.
  • Features – Salt water systems offer many different features. Some features to consider include: salt readout, self cleaning, self diagnostics, digital readout, warranty terms, above ground or in ground and the ability to control pool equipment.
  • Replacement Cost – This is the part many people overlook. Your salt cell will need to be replaced every 3 to 5 years. Replacement salt cells range from $200 to $700.
  • Installation – Many salt water systems are plug in and go type installation. For those systems that are not, you may need a few tools or may consider hiring a pool company to install the system. If you go the pool company route, it may cost you $300 to $500 for an installation.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a salt water pool system?

Salt water pool systems generate chlorine by drawing on dissolved salt in the water. The salt cell or generator applies a process called electrolysis to break down or separate the salt (sodium chloride) in the water.

The chemical reaction created by electrolysis produces chlorine in the form of sodium hypochlorite and hypochlorous acid. These agents are the same as traditional chlorine used in swimming pools in solid and powdered form. A saltwater pool is not actually chlorine free but utilizes a chlorine generator instead of being dependent on chlorine added manually.

How much does a salt water pool system cost?

Converting your existing pool to a salt water pool system can cost between $700 and $2,000. If you are installing a new salt water pool, it may cost between $25,000 and $80,000. Although long-term maintenance costs will differ, you will spend the same amount for a salt water pool as on a traditional chlorine pool.

How do I install salt water system for a pool?

First you need to decide if you are going to hire a pool company to install the salt water system or do it yourself.  If you choose a pool company, then you are looking at $300 to $500 for installation. Many pool owners decide to try this DIY project themselves and it’s usually a 3-6 hour job depending on the type of system you buy. Above ground pool systems are a little easier to install yourself.

You will be working with water and electricity, so proceed with caution. If you’re not confident working with electrical wires, basic hand tools, and cutting and gluing PVC pipes, you may want to hire a pool company.

Are salt water pools better than chlorine systems?

A salt water pool is not better or worse than a chlorine pool because it is a chlorine pool. A salt water pool system is basically the same thing but uses a salt water chlorinator rather than adding traditional chlorine.  Salt water pool systems electrically convert the pool salt into chlorine. It’s the chlorine that keeps the pool water clean just like the chlorine you buy in buckets

How does a salt water pool system work?

Salt water pool systems use a chlorination system that creates chlorine from sodium chloride (salt). Before a salt chlorine generator can operate, the swimming pool water must have a salt concentration of 3,000 parts per million.

As salt water travels through the swimming pool’s circulation system, it enters the salt chlorine generator and passes through a salt cell. As the salt water flows through the cell, a low-voltage direct current is applied to flat, rectangular plates inside the cell, initiating electrolysis.

Through electrolysis, salt and water break up into hydrogen gas and hypochlorous acid. The hydrogen gas leaves the swimming pool water in the form of small bubbles. The hypochlorous acid sanitizes the swimming pool water and ultimately reverts back into salt, and the process repeats.

Conclusion

A salt water system pool conversion is much easier than most pool owners think. Adding a salt water system to naturally generate chlorine will transform your traditional chlorine pool into one with soft and luxurious water.

And while traditional chlorine systems have been around for more than five decades, the choice depends on your needs. In the end, traditional chlorine pools need more commitment, while salt water pools require more investment up front.

Amy

Amy is a writer and editor who loves the outdoors, landscape design, and home improvement. She has been remodeling homes since 2013 and is an avid do-it-yourselfer. In her spare time, you can find her hiking, gardening or working on DIY projects.
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