Saltwater Pool vs. Chlorine Pool

By: Jennifer Merrigan | Affiliate Disclosure

Chlorine pools have been around for over 50 years and have been the traditional pool for homes and communities alike, but saltwater pools are quickly growing in popularity and availability, and they’re becoming a great choice for families sensitive to chlorine. Keep reading to learn more about the similarities and differences between chlorine and saltwater pools.

Pros and cons of a saltwater pool

A saltwater pool is a pool that uses significantly less chlorine to sanitize the water through a system called a salt chlorine generator, also known as a salt cell or salt chlorinator. There is a common misconception between a saltwater pool and a true seawater pool, which uses special pool equipment and has enough salt to replicate the briny taste and texture of the ocean.

A saltwater pool requires a saltwater generator to convert salt into chlorine, and basic equipment like pumps and filters. It has so little salt that it doesn’t leave a strong, salty taste or salt residue on your mouth or body. Additionally, the lower concentration of chlorine accommodates those with a sensitivity to chlorine while also keeping the water sanitary.

Pros

  • The lower chlorine levels in a saltwater pool are easier on the skin and eyes and won’t produce toxic fumes.
  • The chlorine levels can disinfect the water and won’t fade swimwear.
  • There’s less opportunity for algae growth with the low chlorine levels.
  • Saltwater pools require fewer chemicals and less maintenance than a chlorine pool.

Cons

  • Saltwater pools are significantly more expensive than chlorinated pools and usually require a higher upfront investment.
  • While a saltwater pool requires less regular maintenance, the repairs on the pool can be costly and may require help from a saltwater pool specialist. Additionally, you may need to clean or replace your salt cell periodically depending on pool usage.
  • Saltwater can cause damage to ill-equipped fixtures, so you’ll need to make sure all your pool features, like underwater lighting, heaters, and pool liners, are installed specifically for a saltwater pool.

How much does a saltwater pool cost?

Installing and maintaining a saltwater pool can be more costly than a traditional chlorine pool. A saltwater pool, including the elaborate saltwater chlorination system and installation, costs an average of $25,000 to build. The saltwater system on its own can cost between $500 and $2,500.

Saltwater pool maintenance

One of the greatest benefits to a saltwater pool owner is the low maintenance that comes with having this type of pool. Typically, most saltwater pools can remain clean for up to two weeks without any maintenance while traditional, chlorinated pools require weekly maintenance with chlorine tablets. It’s recommended that you still check the chlorine levels of your saltwater pool at least once a week.

To maintain your pool, you can expect to pay less than $100 a year for the salt and chemicals required to keep the pool in good condition. There will be added costs over time, such as an additional $200 to $700 every three to five years to cover salt cell repair or replacement costs. To run your saltwater system, you can expect to pay an extra $35 to $50 a year on your electricity bill.

Pros and cons of a chlorine pool

Chlorine pools are the most popular style of pool to date (they’ve been around for over 50 years) and are cheaper to install and easier to maintain than saltwater pools. Chlorine is the main component found in a chlorine pool and is used to keep the pool clean and void of any bacteria.

Pros

  • The initial investment of a chlorine pool is much less than that of a saltwater pool.
  • While a saltwater pool needs a full salt-chlorine system to sanitize the water, a chlorine pool needs only a pump and cleaning equipment.
  • Chlorine pools use less electricity to be maintained. 
  • You don’t need to install special pool equipment for a chlorine pool.
  • Overall maintenance and repairs can be done on your own and usually won’t require a specialist.

Cons

  • While the chemicals in a chlorine pool are considered harmless, some people may have an allergic reaction to them and experience skin and eye irritation. People who use the pool regularly should use apple cider vinegar or a chlorine removal moisturizing shampoo to remove chlorine from their hair and body.
  • Chlorine pools require constant maintenance, cleaning, and monitoring to ensure the chlorine levels are high enough to kill bacteria but low enough to not be considered toxic. Other chemicals, like balancing agents, also need to be administered regularly. Between the manual labor and the cost for the chemicals, the maintenance is more costly than the maintenance of a saltwater pool.
  • Chlorine has to be stored properly and may require a special area void of moisture to keep the chlorine components alive.

How much does a chlorine pool cost?

The initial investment of a chlorine pool is pretty small, as you’ll only need chlorine tablets and testing equipment. The cost of a chlorine pool installation can cost about $23,000, which is less than a saltwater pool but not by much. For both pools, the price can go up depending on any additional features you would like included with your pool, such as special paving around the pool deck or light fixtures.

Chlorine pool maintenance

Typical maintenance for a chlorine pool includes adding chlorine tablets to the pool on a weekly basis, checking the chlorine and pH levels every week, and periodic shocks of more concentrated chlorine to prevent algae growth. Unlike a saltwater pool, a chlorine pool won’t require electricity or equipment maintenance.

The average cost to maintain your chlorine pool can range from $80 to $150 a month. Combining maintenance, repairs, and electricity, the yearly cost to maintain your pool can be between $3,000 and $5,000.

Which pool is right for me?

Chlorine pools to this day are considered the most popular choice for home pools. However, if you can afford the initial investment of a saltwater pool, you might want to opt for that choice, as they’re considered a cleaner and lower maintenance alternative. If you’re on the fence about which swimming pool to choose, here are some factors that may help make your decision a little easier.

Why choose a saltwater pool?

A saltwater pool may be a good option for you if...

  • You already have an upfront investment prepared for the pool.
  • You have children or family members who are sensitive to chlorine.
  • Spending less time, energy, and money maintaining a pool is a big decision-making factor.

Why choose a chlorine pool?

A chlorine pool may be a good option for you if…

  • You would like a pool now, but don’t have the funds to pay for extensive upfront costs.
  • You don’t want to be limited to specialized pool equipment or aesthetic features.
  • You want to be able to maintain your pool on your own without having to rely on a specialist.

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