Saltw..." /> Saltwater Chlorine Generators (SWG): Pros, Cons and Maintenance Tips

Reviews Saltwater Chlorine Generators

Published on July 30th, 2020 | by Roger Corbinetti


Saltwater Chlorine Generators (SWG): Pros, Cons and Maintenance Tips

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Saltwater Chlorine Generator (SWG) uses electricity to convert salt to chlorine. As the chlorine gets used up, it turns back to salt, ready to be reused. With an SWG, you are yet using chlorine; the SWG simply helps to add the chlorine for you.

The salt levels vary between models. They are approximately 3,000 ppm. These levels are much lower than ocean water, which is around 35,000 ppm. Folks will be just able to taste the salt. Most individuals will only be barely able to taste the salt. In addition to letting the SWG work, adding salt also develops the subjective quality of the water.

SWGs are intended to produce modest quantities of chlorine continuously. This is ideal for daily use and enables you to use a bit lower FC levels than you require when adding chlorine manually.

Adding salt into the pool does a little bit to increase the chance of corrosion. Rarely any SWG owners encounter difficulty with corrosion. There has been debate in the industry regarding the use of SWGs because dangers for some of the substances are not well understood.

The two most frequent situations where harm has occurred are in indoor pools, where the FC level was allowed to get far too high. If you have one of the milder types of natural stone (limestone, sandstone, etc.) over the waterline, and the stone gets splashed frequently, such as in a waterfall. In both of these scenarios, problems are rare.

Advantages (vs. bleach)

  • Convenience — no carrying bottles of bleach
  • Missing a day is not a problem
  • less inclined to have issues which require SLAMing the pool
  • Improved water texture (from salt, which is used with no SWG)

Disadvantages (vs. bleach)

  • Most of the cost is paid upfront to get the unit
  • It is harder to SLAM the pool because of the higher CYA level
  • In rare cases, you may have to run the pump more, or at a higher rate, to generate enough chlorine
  • A few people object to the taste of salt in the water

How Salt Chlorine Generators Work

It’s essential to be aware that salt chlorinators do not make a chlorine-free pool. They use dissolved salt to produce chlorine to clean the pool.

Saltwater chlorinator makes hypochlorous acid (HClO) using sodium chloride (NaCl) or table salt and electrolysis. The saltwater moves through an electric current producing chlorine gas (Cl2), but you are also forming sodium hydroxide (NaOH) and hydrogen gas (h2).

With electrolysis, dissolved salt is converted to sodium hypochlorite and hypochlorous acid (HClO), the sanitizing agents, used to remove the water of dirt and germs.

Anatomy of a Salt Chlorine Generator

Hayward W3AQR15 AquaRite Electronic Salt Chlorination System for In-Ground Pools, 40,000-Gallon Cell

Now that we know how the basic chemical process works let us have a more in-depth look at the fundamental parts of a salt generator.

The Cell

The cell is the section of the salt generator that turns salt into chlorine. Water crosses through the cell and above with iridium or ruthenium coated solid plates. These naturally occurring metals are charged from the control board turn the salt to chlorine through electrolysis.

The Control Board

The control center of the system, its primary purpose is to give electricity to the salt chlorine generator for the transformation process. Additionally, it lets you control the quantity of power sent to the mobile, thus allowing you to increase or reduce the amount of chlorine in the pool.

Water Balance

It is essential best to keep your pool’s chemical balance used with an SWG.

Setting the Percentage

Most SWGs give a percentage setting that regulates how much chlorine they produce. The percent of the time chlorine is pumped, is controlled by the setting.

To generate more chlorine, the percentage decreases to create less chlorine. Since the setting is a proportion of the pump run time, you’ll have to readjust the percent if you change the pump run time. In rare circumstances, you might have to raise the pump run time to have the ability to create enough chlorine.

To discover the right SWG percentage setting:

  1. Know the appropriate FC level for your CYA degree. This is seen at the “SWG Pools” table in the Chlorine/CYA Chart.
  2. Quantify the pool’s FC level in the evening and compare this to the appropriate SWG FC degree for your CYA level.
  3. Raise the proportion if the FC amount is too low. Reduce the ratio if the FC amount is too high.
  4. Wait a few days if you had to make an alteration, return to step 2 and repeat the steps from there until your FC degree is in the right variety.

Chlorine need will vary with the seasons and depend on how many people are swimming in the pool.

You must test your FC level weekly to see if you will need to adjust the percentage setting. It could be possible to test a bit less often as you gain familiarity with your pool.

Storms, pool parties, and hot weather may need to manually add some chlorine to strengthen the chlorine produced by the SWG.

Solving Problems

If the FC Level falls even though the SWG appears to be functioning, there are a few things to check. Confirm the CYA level. The SWG might be unable to keep up if your CYA level is becoming too low. You might have algae. A pool with an SWG may have algae even when the water is clear. Third, there may be some issues with the SWG, but this is much less likely than the first two possibilities.

SWGs aren’t Good at SLAMing (or shocking) the pool since SLAMing is dependent upon the FC level going up fast, and an SWG only adds chlorine gradually. If you’re slamming the pool, you need to manually add chlorine.

An SWG can help keep the FC level during SLAMing, but the first addition of chlorine to shock level must be done manually.


Hayward W3AQR15 AquaRite Electronic Salt Chlorination System for In-Ground Pools, 40,000-Gallon Cell

You should clean the SWG cell once per season or when there in an issue. The cell ought to be clear of debris, and the plates must appear either metallic or black.

If some of the plates have flaky buildup or white crusty on it, clean the cell according to the instructions included.

Cleaning involves soaking the cell in a dilute muriatic acid solution. Thin white flakes of calcium reaching the pool or white buildup on the cell plates mean a water balance issue that must be corrected.

The SWG cell should work for about three to five years. The cell lifetime will vary based on how much you use it and how well you keep the water balance. In nearly all models, the cell is changeable without replacing the complete unit.


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About the Author

I’ve owned a pool for over 20 years. During that time, I have owned and reviewed dozens of pool cleaners, especially robotic pool cleaners. I created RoboticPoolCleanersCompared to help other home owners leverage my experience to select the right pool cleaner, pool heater, pool cover and modern pool appliance for their needs & budget.

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