"Saltwater pool conversion" might sound like there is a lot involved. If you're wondering how you convert to salt, it really doesn't involve any big procedures. In fact, it's very DIY-friendly. If you can use some basic tools (or have a handy friend to help) you can do it yourself in about an hour.
Converting from chlorine to a saltwater pool simply means...Read more
Once you start thinking about the pool again, many pool owners who still use chlorine ask themselves again if they should put a salt system on their pool, but don't know what to think about what they've heard. A very common question that comes up is "I've been thinking about changing my pool to saltwater, but I've just heard so many different things about it. Is it true that...Read more
Converting Your Pool To Saltwater (How to Convert Your Pool from Chlorine Maintenance to Electronic Salt Chlorination in 3 Steps)
Saltwater pools have become the standard way to maintain pools1. Do you currently have a chlorine pool and looking at how to convert to a salt water pool system, but it sounds like a daunting task?
You’ll be happy to learn that saltwater pool conversion is actually a very simple process; for many people in fact, it can be a do-it-yourself (DIY) project that can often be completed in about an hour, requiring only the use of a few basic tools. Some models of salt pool systems are DIY-friendly and can easily be set up in as little as 15 minutes!
What is salt pool conversion?
If you’re not clear on what exactly a “salt pool” is, it just means a pool which uses an electronic chlorine generator (also called a salt chlorine generator, or salt pool system) instead of relying on the manual process of buying and adding conventional chemical chlorine. So, converting from a “chlorine pool” to a “saltwater pool” simply means adding a properly-sized saltwater chlorine generator, which provides your pool system the ability to electronically create a steady supply of pure chlorine in the pool by using a very low-level of ordinary salt in the water. A salt chlorine generator works everyday automatically with your existing pump and filter to keep the pool water consistently clean, clear, and beautiful.
As an added benefit, the process of electronically converting salt to chlorine eliminates the chlorination byproducts (chloramines) that cause the harsh chemical effects in traditional pools (red eyes, dry skin, bleaching, chlorine smell). So in addition to the significant savings in chemical maintenance cost and reduction in hassle, a salt chlorine generator system provides a much more natural swimming experience.
Converting to a saltwater system can sound like there is a lot more involved than there is, but our salt pool conversion guide walks you through the process. Since you’re essentially just adding one more piece of equipment to your existing pool circulation system, there aren’t many concerns about compatibility with your pump or filter, and you don’t have to drain the pool and start over if you’re currently chlorinating the pool the old-fashioned way. There are three main step for salt pool conversion:
- Selecting a salt chlorine generator with a capacity to meet your pool needs,
- Adding the chlorine generator to your pool equipment system
- Adding a specific amount of salt to bring the water to a very low and safe salinity level.
In addition to showing you how to convert your pool to a saltwater system, we'll discuss next steps so you can be sure that your new chlorine generator works automatically whenever your pump system runs, and supplies just the right amount of sanitizer to ensure a consistently beautiful pool!
Before we begin, here you can find answers to the most common questions about salt water pool conversion :
- What are the benefits of converting a pool to salt water?
- Does my water become salty when I convert my pool to salt water?
- Is converting my pool to salt water energy efficient?
- If I convert my pool to salt, is my pool and pool equipment compatible?
Step 1- Selecting the right salt chlorine generator
The first thing you’re going to want to do once you’ve decided to take the plunge into converting your swimming pool into a saltwater pool is picking out a saltwater system that is right for your pool’s size, climate and how often you use it. Fortunately, we’ve developed an easy tool to provide suggests for different chlorine generator models for your pool based on those factors
The goal in getting a right-sized salt chlorine generator is to select a model with plenty of chlorination capacity – and more is better – so that it can eliminate the need to regularly buy chlorine or shock. Your swimming pool’s size is the biggest factor in determining the pool’s chlorination needs, so you’ll see manufacturer’s list chlorine generators by “maximum capacity”: the maximum amount of water they can treat. Since this is a maximum, industry recommendations are that you select a model with a maximum capacity at least 1.5 to 2 times your pool’s actual size. (for example: choosing a 40,000 gallon model for a 20,000 gallon pool).
In addition to pool size, your pool’s climate plays a large role in the pool’s chlorine demand. The warmer the water temperatures and the more sunlight the pool gets, this can greatly increase the amount of chlorine that needs to get added to the water. If you are in a hot, sunny, southern, or arid part of the country, you’ll want to increase the size of chlorine generator that you choose when converting your pool to salt.
Of course, pool usage also matters a great deal when determining a right-sized model. If the pool gets heavy use and/or if it gets used by children, it will certainly need more chlorination than a that pool gets light use and mostly from adults.
So if you get intense summers or serious pool usage, those are factors to consider when thinking about how to convert your pool to salt chlorination. You would likely want to choose a chlorine generator model at the high end of industry recommendations (or more), for example with maximum capacity of at least 2 times the actual pool size. Worried about it being “too big”? Since a salt chlorine generator has adjustable chlorination output and run time, you’re able to make sure that a large capacity model doesn’t over-chlorinate the pool. Instead, having more than enough capacity is preferred and is almost always better. A large capacity model works proportionally less hard to chlorinate the water, so it gets less wear-and-tear and lasts longer, and then it can get “turned up” to a much higher level and create more chlorine more quickly on demand to prevent pool problems from arising. More information on sizing.
Step 2- Installing a salt chlorine generator
After you’ve chosen your system, there are two main parts to install when converting to a salt pool system:
- Connecting the salt chlorine generator to the plumbing
- Mounting and connecting the salt system’s controller to power
For a detailed article, you can see our complete salt chlorine generator installation guide, but for the purpose of understanding what is involved with salt pool conversion, the following will provide a thorough illustration. However, before you jump right in, make sure you have all the tools you will need on hand. Things you will need will be:
- PVC Glue
- PVC Primer
- A cutting tool — pipe cutters or a hacksaw will do just fine
- A measuring tape
- A Sharpie
- A screwdriver and/or drill, and associated hardware.
Note that this should be done by a qualified individual. Be sure to take all safety precautions. Whenever working with electricity, be sure power is disconnected at the source. Follow all manufacturer instructions as well as local code and guidelines.
Connecting the salt chlorine generator to the plumbing
The salt chlorine generator will get plumbed into your pool system, so that the chlorine it creates gets circulated throughout the pool. The component that generates the chlorine is called the salt cell.
During installation, follow the system’s instructions and find the portion of your pool’s return plumbing where it will get connected. This is typically after all of your other existing equipment, so that the water goes through your pump and filter (and heater if present), then through your salt system and back into your pool.
Once the correct portion of the plumbing is located, you’ll make two cuts in your PVC pipe with a hacksaw or pipe cutters in order to create a gap in the piping where the system will go.
Salt chlorine generator cells typically utilize unionized connections. So you’ll slide the female threaded collars over the pipes on either side of the gap, with the threaded side facing inward. Then, you’ll be ready to connect the system’s plumbing unions.
The plumbing unions will get connected to either side of the gap. This means coating the inside of each union and outside of each pipe, one at a time, first with PVC primer and then with glue, and then firmly pushing the union all of the way onto the pipe end. Hold the union in place for a moment until the PVC cement joint cures. Once, each union is glued in place on either side of the cut gap, you’ll use the female threaded collars to connect to the male threads on the cell. Firmly screw the cell into the plumbing, making sure the connections are hand-tight.
Some salt systems may have other plumbing components such as a Flow Switch, which get similarly connected to the plumbing next to the salt cell.
Mounting and connecting the salt system’s controller to power
Depending on the model, the control box usually hangs easily enough on a couple of screws. You may need different hardware to mount the controller on your wall based on what it is made of (wood, brick, stucco, concrete, etc…). Once mounted near your pool equipment, the controller’s power wire is typically connected to the same power source as the pump (so that they turn on and off together).
For many, this is power source is a mechanical timer that turns the pump on and off; putting the controller’s power cable on the same circuit synchronizes their activity. Alternatively, the power source may be a relay on the board of a pool control system which turns the pump on and off. Others however may utilize a variable-speed pump, which has its own built-in progammable controller and is continuously powered. In this case, the salt chlorine generator’s flow switch would be utilized to activate / deactivate its controller in tandem with the programmable pump turning itself on / off. In such cases, a salt chlorine generator can also be connected to a timer or timer-controlled outlet which is set to be powered at the same times as the programmable pump; this provides an extra means of keeping the chlorine generator and pump in sync.
Salt chlorine generator controllers can typically be connected to either 240V or 120V, since they are intended to be on the same circuit as the pump; however, sum models may need to be manually set to the correct voltage configuration before being connected to power (important). Some models, alternatively, automatically work with either voltage. Many controllers will come with an unterminated power cable (ending in bare wires to be connected to a timer or relay), while some will come with male-prongs that can be plugged into a weather safe outlet.
Once installed, you’ve completed most of the work involved in converting the pool to salt, except now the pool water is ready for the salt itself!
Step 3- Adding salt to the swimming pool
Adding salt to the pool is the simplest part, you'll essentially just pour some bags of salt directly into the pool. Purchasing the salt is easy as well. You can purchase the salt at any home improvement store at about $5-10 for a 40 lb bag. To figure out how many bags of salt you’ll need, most models target a salinity level of about 3000 – 3500ppm, for which you’ll need 30 lbs of salt for every 1000 gallons.
The pool won't be salty like the ocean — the salt levels will be extremely low, on the edge of what is still classified as fresh water (<1000ppm) compare to seawater (35000ppm).
Most people don’t even taste the salt in the water — it has a lower salt level ppm, or parts per million, than your tears! In fact, the majority of people can’t taste salt under 4500 ppm, and the water in a pool with a saltwater system is 3000 - 3500 ppm. In comparison, the ocean is 35,000, which is usually what comes to mind when people hear “saltwater”.
Additionally, if you're using chlorine now, your pool water is already completely compatible, it doesn't have to be drained and you can still just toss the salt straight into the water.
Finalizing your pool system setup and next steps
Once the salt chlorine generator has been added to your pool system and salt has been added to the swimming pool at the right level, your pool has been “converted to salt”. You’ll have the benefits chlorine being automatically generated when the pump runs everyday. Not only is this more consistent and reliable, which can dramatically reduce pool maintenance hassle, generating chlorine onsite directly within the pool system is incredible cost-effective. Many industry estimates are that over its lifetime you can save up to 40-50% or more over the equivalent of amount of chlorine that you have had to manually buy and add.
The next steps are to ensure that the system generates just the right amount of chlorine for you pool, not too much or not too little chlorination. Over the first week or so, you’ll typically make a few adjustments to its chlorine output setting. The process can look something like this: start by taking note of the pool’s current free chlorine level, allow the system to run for a day or to, and retest the chlorine level. If its high, turn the output setting down, or if its low, turn the output setting up. After repeating this process a few times, you’ll usually have its output dialed in to meet your pool’s unique needs. At this point, the system’s output setting typically just needs seasonal adjustments as the weather gets warmer or cooler.
Super Simple Salt Pool Conversion!
The main thing to remember is that “salt pool conversion” just means adding and using an electronic salt chlorine generator. You don't need to drain the pool, you don't need to change out your other equipment, and it is not necessary to spend thousands of dollars just for labor to "convert your pool" from chlorine to saltwater.
Most people typically have there systems up and running within about an hour on average (though everyone’s pool system is different). It's can be an easy project to do one afternoon, and a good excuse to invite a friend over to help and check out your latest bit of home improvement. In a short amount of time, you’ll be saving yourself lots of money for years while you enjoy the crystal clear and consistently blue water that salt water pools can provide.
As always, we are here for you when you need us! Just give us at Discount Salt Pool a call and we will be happy to answer any questions you may have.
Common Questions About Converting A Pool To Saltwater
Emphatically, YES! This is what Discount Salt Pool has helped hundreds of thousands of people enjoy - switching from traditional chlorine chemical maintenance to automatic salt chlorination. In other words, you'll simply make an upgrade by adding an electronic chlorine generator to your pool system.
Converting your pool to saltwater essentially just means adding a salt chlorine generator to your pool system. There are three main things to do:
- Select a chlorine generator: Arguably the most important step, you need to choose a chlorine generator with more than enough capacity to meet your pool's chlorination needs.
- Install a chlorine generator: Add the chlorine generator to your existing pool system. The pump and filter do not need to be changed, as chlorine generators are typically able to work with whatever brand or model pool equipment you currently use.
- Add salt to the pool water: The chlorine generator utilizes a very low level of salinity in the pool water in order to generate chlorine electronically. This low salinity level is safe for pool surfaces, equipment, etc... The product manual will allow you to calculate how much salt to add to the water.
You'll plan for these costs to convert the pool to salt water:
- Chlorine Generator: often, a right-sized chlorine generator can cost what a pool may use for chlorine and shock over the course of one or two swim seasons. Depending on type, brand, model, and pool size this can be anywere from $450 - $2000
- Installation: many chlorine generators allow easy DIY-friendly installation, though some opt for professional installation. You may need to plan for the cost of some PVC Fittings, PVC Primer, PVC Glue, and other basic tools like screw driver or hacksaw / pipe cutters. If you opt for professional installation, this cost can vary widely. Many professionals like plumbers, electricians, or handyman services can do this often in about an hour.
- Salt: the amount of salt that you add initially depends on the pool size, but on average this much salt can range from $50 - $150. Remember that the salt does not get used up and doesn't need to be regularly added.
Among others, there are three main benefits to salt pool conversion.
- Lifetime savings: because you are generating pure chlorine your pool on demand as needed, this is significantly more cost effective than buying and adding chlorine that has been manufactured, packaged, marketed, sold, transported, and stored. Comparing the equivalent cost of how much chlorine would have to be purchased to equal a salt chlorine generator, common industry estimates show savings as much as 50% or more.
- Convenience: because you are consistently generating the chlorine needed for the pool, automatically when the pump runs every day, your free chlorine levels are reliable and algae can't get a foothold. Eliminating the process of manually chlorinating the pool eliminates the lion's share of the work of adding chemicals, and eliminates the vicious cycle of shocking the pool to compensate for inconsistent or inadequate chlorination.
- Improved water quality: because of the process of generating pure chlorine in the cell, it eliminates the byproducts of adding traditional chlorine (chloramines) which are the cause of the harsh chemical effects such as red eyes, dry skin, bleaching, chlorine smell, and more. Swimming in a salt pool is a much more natural experience, allowing you to open your eyes underwater, and providing a softer feel to the water.
No, not in the least.
The water in a saltwater swimming pool (about 3,000 ppm salinity) is akin to freshwater (less than 1,000 ppm salinity), and not at all comparable to ocean seawater (about 35,000 ppm salinity).
The salt level in the pool is even less than a human tear (about 9,000 ppm salinity), and well below the typical threshold for human taste (about 4,500 ppm salinity).
This very low salinity level is safe for pool surfaces and equipment.
Since a salt pool is just a swimming pool that using an electronic salt chlorine generator, and a salt chlorine generator on average uses about as much power as a handful of light bulbs, this does not necessarily have a significant impact on energy usage.
However, many people who use traditional chlorination experience so much difficulty that they end up leaving their pool circulation system running 24/7. In this case, converting a pool to salt can significantly reduce energy usage since its chlorination is consistent and effective, and does not require long pump run times.
When you convert your pool to salt water, the salt chlorine generator gets added in addition to your existing pump and filter system. It is not typical to need to replace other components of your pool system if currently working properly. Salt chlorine generators are designed to work along side virtually all types of pumps, filters, and controls for permanently installed pools.
The level of salt required for salt chlorination is so low that it is safe and has been used for decades with virtually all popular types of permanently installed swimming pools.
If you want to dive a little deeper into converting your pool to salt chlorination instead of traditional chlorine chemical maintenance, check out a few of these resources:
- 3 Common Myths About Salt Pools
- How Do You Use A Salt Pool System?
- Saltwater Pool System: How Does It Work?
- Saltwater System Guide: Find Your Perfect Fit
Switch your pool from chlorine to salt: stop buying and adding chlorine, and use the latest technology to generate chlorine naturally and automatically. When it comes to finding the best option for converting your chlorine pool to salt water, Discount Salt Pool is your #1 source. With a wide selection of salt chlorine generator models, you're sure to find the perfect salt pool system to fit your needs.
In addition to the best salt pool conversion options, we also carry a range of products to help you maintain and improve your pool, including variable speed pumps, robotic cleaners, and filters. Plus, if you're looking to have the most modernized pool system, Discount Salt Pool can assist you in taking your pool water to the next level. So whether you're trying to spend less on chemicals or looking to upgrade your entire pool system, Discount Salt Pool has everything you need to use the latest technology to keep your pool in top condition and to maximize convenience and reliability.
Converting your pool to salt just means adding a chlorine generator! Use our intelligent product
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1 According to Pool & Spa News, September 10, 2013: by 2007, nearly 75 percent of new pools in the United States were equipped with saltwater systems.Read more