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Getting a pool installed in your home but confused about the type that will suit you best? If you’re stuck in the debate of salt water pool vs chlorine pool, don’t be. Our article will give you the complete lowdown on both kinds. We have analyzed the two in terms of cost, maintenance, health factor, and storage.

But first, a basic question for a new homeowner or a person who is contemplating a pool resurfacing.

What is the difference between a salt water pool and a chlorine pool?

Basically, both chlorine and salt water pools are inherently similar. Both have chlorine in them, it’s the way in which this chemical is used — that makes them different. While a chlorine pool uses concentrated chlorine in the form of tablets, powders, and liquids, a salt water pool converts the salt present in the water into chlorine through a chlorine generator or salt water chlorinator.

The next obvious question is: which one is better? Interestingly, there is no right and wrong; each one has its own negatives and positives in terms of its usage. Let’s see what they are.

Pool Costs: Which One Is Cheaper?

At the installation stage, a salt water pool may need more investment to begin with. The reason is that a salt water system is more complex than a normal chlorine pool. A salt water generator has to be installed too.

This pool equipment is expensive and processes the salt present in the water to change it into chlorine. But once the setup is complete, such a pool comes out to be cheaper than a chlorine pool in the long run.

How? Let us explain. The installation cost of a salt water pool may range from $600 to $3,000, or more. A top-notch salt water generator might set you back by another $800. Keep in mind that such a machine, how much ever high-tech, will probably serve you for a maximum of six years. Add to it the cost of salt. Initially, you will be requiring a huge amount — as much as 1,000 pounds of salt! No wonder the installation doesn’t come cheap.

The good news is that the annual supply of salt needed is much lesser. So the total cost that you need to spend on a salt water pool is nominal, probably $100 a year. Not much, right?

In the case of chlorine pools, there is a reversal of cost. The installation is much cheaper but the annual cost of sanitizing this kind of pool is more. Concentrated chlorine bought from a local store is much more expensive as compared to salt. If we see the annual expenditure, chlorine pool costs around $300 to $800.

However, a chlorine pool outweighs a salt water one in terms of longevity and maintenance costs. Keep in mind that salt is corrosive in nature. Over a period of time, it may warrant a change of metal fixtures, in some cases even the decking.

Install a salt water pool smartly, you need to ensure that your pool fixtures are salt-water-safe. This kind of foresight will save you dollars in the long run. 

Salt Water Pool Pros and Cons Based on Costs

Pros Cons
Cheaper annual cost Higher initial investment
Uses salt instead of expensive bottled chlorine Uses more electricity
Corrosive in nature
Requires a pool professional for repairs

Pros and Cons of Chlorine Pool Based on Costs

Pros Cons
Less expensive to install Higher annual costs
Uses almost zero electricity

Pool Maintenance: Which One Is Lower?

pool maintenancePexels

When it comes to pool maintenance, both kinds of pools need similar care in terms of:

  • Skimming the bugs and leaves
  • Brushing and cleaning the pool
  • Cleaning the filter
  • Services the pool heater if you have a temperature-control
  • Covering the pool when not in use
  • Emptying the pump basket and skimmer
  • Cleaning the deck area

Most importantly, in both, you will have to balance the chemical content. Ensure that there is perfect level of pH, alkalinity, calcium hardness, and of course chlorine.  

That best part about a salt water pool is that its chlorinator monitors and adjusts chlorine levels on a regular basis. So less work for you! But there is a downside. Chlorine that’s generated through electrolysis tends to fluctuate more, even burn, especially under the sun. It may then not be able to shield you against UV rays. A vital point that concerns every pool owner.

But when there’s a problem, there’s a solution too. You can add a stabilizer and boost chlorine effectiveness.  

As explained earlier, a salt water pool can cause corrosion. It needs regular maintenance. Even structures around it need to be inspected from time to time. Also remember that too much salt or too little, can be detrimental to your pool — and you.   

Our verdict:

Salt water pool 

Pros:

  • Lesser maintenance costs
  • Less frequent repairs
  • No chemical usage

Cons:

  • May damage metal fixtures or decking
  • Repairs require a pool professional
  • Salt water may damage pool fixtures, nearby plants or soil

Chlorine pool

Pros : 

  • DIY repairs; can be easily undertaken at home
  • No damage to pool surface
  • Longlasting
  • Fixture-friendly

Cons:

  • Manual addition of chlorine required
  • More expensive upkeep
  • Dedicated effort required for maintenance

Health Factors: Which One Is Safer?

salt water pool vs chlorine poolPixabay

If there’s one difference between salt water or a chlorine one — it’s how the water feels against your skin. In the case of the former one, the water is gentler and lighter. Chlorine, on the other hand, makes the water harsher.

Those who support a chlorinated pool insist that since the chemical is used to keep harmful bacteria away, a little discomfort can easily be tolerated. The bigger picture of protecting the body from toxins is more important.

There is no denying that the chemical is known to cause dryness and itchy skin. Salt water chlorine is less concentrated and doesn’t dry or irritate the skin as much. It’s safer for clothes too. So less fading and deterioration. 

As far as the typical red-eye effect that a pool has on you, both kinds of pools have been known to cause it. It could be because of the chlorine imbalance, excess chloramines, or simply dirty water. The trick is to keep your water free of all contaminants.

Our verdict:

Salt water pool 

Pros:

  • Less chlorine concentration
  • Gentler on skin, hair, and clothes

Cons:

  • Causes red eye just like in a chlorine pool

Chlorine pool

Pros:

  • Keeps bacteria away
  • Protects body from toxins

Cons:

  • Higher concentration of chlorine
  • May cause skin to itch or dry out

Salt vs Chlorine Storage: Which One Is Easier?

Liquid pool chlorinePhoto by By Maksym Kozlenko – Own work from Wikimedia Commons licensed under CC-By SA 4.0 

This is one question we can answer right away. Salt required for a salt water pool is easy to store. These usually come in big bags and can be stowed away. Just keep them dry. Since they are non-toxic, you need not worry about the safety factor.  

Storing concentrated chlorine is a different story. Read the manufacturer instructions carefully and follow them. The strong chemical lets off toxic odor, especially in humid weather conditions. Store it properly in a safe, dry, vented place. Keep out of reach of children and pets.

Our verdict: Salt is easier to store.

Final Take

Having gone through the article, you must have realized that there is no absolute answer. You have to weigh your options and choose the pool that suits you and your lifestyle. However, do keep in mind the usage of your pool and the number of years you are hoping it will serve you. Till then, do what Dory in Finding Nemo insists upon, “Just keep swimming, just keep swimming.”

Is a full pool renovation what you look for? see our pool remodeling guide to know where to start.

Salt Water Pool vs Chlorine Pool: A Complete Review was last modified: August 23rd, 2019 by Ramona Sinha
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