Chlorine generators, or salt water pools, have surpassed the popularity of traditional chlorine methods within the last five years, making them a large portion of the residential and commercial pool market. We'll explore the good reasons for adding a chlorine generator to your pool and take a look at some reasons not to go the salt water pool route.
A chlorine generator makes chlorine through electrolysis. Electrolysis is the process of using an electric current to create a chemical reaction. Residential chlorine generators produce chlorine using a salt solution that is stored in the pool itself. Adding hundreds of pounds of salt to the pool water creates the salt water pool. This chemical reaction takes place in an electrolytic cell that is installed in the swimming pool's circulation system.
The purpose of a chlorine generator is to reduce the level of microorganisms to safe levels. A chlorine generator can add chlorine to your pool in constant amounts 24 hours per day. Pool owners will no longer have to travel to the store to purchase chemicals, or store large quantities of chlorine.
While a chlorine generator can add chlorine to your swimming pool, there are some shortfalls of salt water pools. In swimming pools, chlorine has a dual purpose - to sanitize and oxidize. A chlorine generator can only create chlorine in quantities sufficient for sanitation. Chlorine generators cannot create enough chlorine quickly enough to oxidize contaminants in pool water. Why do we need to oxidize our pool water? Organic contaminants such as sweat, urine, feces, leaves, and debris build up in pool water over time. These contaminants must be broken down. Oxidation will need to be handled through one of two ways - with an ultraviolet disinfection system or super chlorinating with high amounts of traditional chlorine. UV systems are the "strongest oxidizers available to pool operators,” according to the Professional Pool Operators of America. Furthermore, chlorine generators do not include pool controllers that can test and adjust the chorine dispensed into the pool. The absence of a controllermeans that the pool will frequently either have too much chlorine or not enough chlorine. Pool controllers can be added that will both test and adjust the chlorine and pH levels for you.
Unfortunately, no. While chlorine generators do offer some compelling benefits, they are not the magic system that some sellers make them out to be. In the end, they simply create chlorine. The final chlorine product is nearly identical to chlorine that is purchased in a store. Some pool owners add a chlorine generator, hoping that it will eliminate specific problem such as burning eyes, skin irritations, or "chlorine odor.” These problems are caused by chloramines, not chlorine itself. Chloramines are a disinfection by-product that cause about 90% of water chemistry problems. Scientific studies have also linked chloramines and disinfection by-products to asthma, allergies, and even some forms of cancer. Chloramines and by-products may be eliminated with an ultraviolet pool system - a very powerful oxidizer that works well with or without a chlorine generator. According to the World Health Organization, chlorine levels as low as 0.5 ppm are effective when UV is used.
If we were to visit some of the world-famous aquatic centers at Olympic venues or major universities, we would not find a single chlorine generator. Instead, we would find pool automation systems and ultraviolet disinfection systems. Pool automation systems use advanced controllers to test the water and adjust water chemistry 24/7, 365 days a year. This process happens automatically, usually once every minute. Some pool owners are choosing pool systems that allow them to drastically lower chlorine levels.
Today there are options that allow you to make your pool or spa gentler on the environment and your wallet. Today's pool owner can enjoy a pool that uses less water, saves electricity, and requires only a fraction of the chlorine produced by most chlorine generators. Ultraviolet pool systems are quickly becoming the Gold Standard in eco-friendly swimming pool design. Recent news reports have exposed the dangers of swimming in high levels of chemicals, and have sent pool owners searching for alternatives.
For pool owners who choose a salt water pool, we highly recommend adding UV sanitation. Ultraviolet pool systems work well with or without chlorine generators to lower chlorine demand, allow for lower chlorine levels, and make pools safe, healthy, and easy to manage.