Have you had sensitivity issues with your eyes and skin in your pool? Have you considered making the switch to a salt water chlorinating system?
There’s a variety of reasons to choose to operate your pool on a salt water system; the main reason being the gentler chemical makeup of your pool. So, which option on the market is the best salt water pool system?
Each salt water system will function slightly differently, some better than others. We’ve compiled a list of reviews analyzing multiple brands and their options to provide information on the best systems available, like our top choice, the Intex Krystal Clear Sand Filter Pump for Above Ground Pools.
By comparing factors such as pump rate, material construction, ability to oxidize water, etc., we’ve created a comprehensive review of salt water systems, helping you make a conscientious choice when it comes time to purchase.
Top 10 Best Salt Water Pool System Reviews
The Intex Krystal Clear Sand Filter Pump for Above Ground Pools is the best salt water system for an above ground pool. This unit actually filters the pool water with natural sands. This unit is strong and sturdy and is highly effective with its six-function valve control.
One of, if not the best salt water chlorinator for above ground pools, this unit comes with a built-in 24 hour timer. The product is ideal for larger pools, 16′ in diameter and above.
This salt water system is meant to run with relatively little human hands.
Intex is a reputable pool brand with another astonishing product in this sand filter pump.
The next salt water system in review, the Intex Krystal Clear 2150 GPH Sand Filter Pump & Saltwater System with E.C.O. for Above Ground Pools, is one of the best rated salt water pool systems available. E.C.O. stands for electrocatalytic oxidation.
Systems that utilize E.C.O. are best known for their ability to keep pool water extremely clean and safe, while eliminating any harshness associated with chlorine.
This Intex Krystal Clear Sand Filter Pump & Saltwater System with E.C.O. is an efficient pump and is best suited for those looking to shift even more of the water sanitization process to their filters.
This Intex pump has slightly higher horsepower than the unit reviewed at number one, although it serves smaller pools.
Intex proves worthy yet again with this unit as it’s an excellent option for a salt water pool system.
The unit being reviewed at number three may be the best salt water system for an in-ground pool. The first in-ground only salt water system in review, the Hayward Goldline AQR9 AquaRite Electronic Salt Chlorination System for In-Ground Pools is independently certified by the National Sanitation Foundation and produced by a company serving in the industry for over 80 years (Hayward).
This specific model, the T-Cell-9 is fit for 25,000 gallon pools.
The filter pump power is not listed as this product by Hayward is installed into an existing chlorination system. The salt cell provided with this specific unit is fit for pools up to 25,000 gallons, after which point it is inefficient.
The control box that comes as part of the unit is easy to use and allows for full control over the function of the salt cell. The unit is also pre-wired, making it easy to install for most buyers.
Its certification by the National Sanitization Foundation proves it to be a solid and effective option when it comes to salt water systems for in-ground pools. Built by a trusted, longtime running company in Hayward the AquaRite Electronic Salt Chlorination System is sure to get the job done.
Next up in the salt water systems for above ground pool reviews is another Intex product. This unit by Intex, the Krystal Clear Saltwater System with E.C.O. for Above Ground Pools, utilizes E.C.O. as well. E.C.O. allows for the ability to use less chlorine in your pool without degrading its associated safety. Built small and compact.
This Intex Krystal Clear Saltwater System with E.C.O. for Above Ground Pools is a great salt water system for those who are currently satisfied with their filter pumps but wish to get away from chlorine.
Depending who you are, the fact that this system is an add-on piece can either be beneficial or not.
Therefore, if you’re in need of a whole filter system, I would suggest looking at whole salt water system filters.
If you have an above ground pool with a capacity below or up to 15,000 gallons and are looking for a salt water system to add to your current filter infrastructure, this unit is an effective option.
Next in the best salt chlorinator reviews is another Intex salt water system. The Intex Krystal Clear Saltwater System with E.C.O. for Above Ground Pools is very similar in function the Intex system reviewed just previously at number four.
The main difference is in its capacity. This unit by Intex is only suitable for pools up to 7,000 gallons. One of the first systems reviewed for smaller pools, this unit still packs a punch.
Like its counterpart, this Intex Krystal Clear Saltwater System with E.C.O. is only to be installed on a current or purchased filter pump and does not operate on its own. This unit is ideal for those with smaller (below 7,000 gallon) pools who are looking to flip their filters over to salt systems.
If you have a pre-existing filter that is still kicking and getting the job done but wish for a salt water system, this may be your solution.
The next above ground swimming pool salt water system in review is another Hayward product, and it in fact operates very similarly to the unit reviewed at number three. The Hayward Goldline AQ-TROL-RJ AquaTrol Above-Ground Swimming Pool Salt Chlorination System too comes with a cell which is attached to the return jet on the outside of the pool and a control box.
The main difference between the previous Hayward system reviewed and this one is that this unit here is only for above ground pools.
The Hayward Goldline AquaTrol Above-Ground Swimming Pool Salt Chlorination System is perfect for those looking for a high-control salt water system that can be added to their existing pool and filter infrastructure. Easily integrating into your return jet line, the unit can be ready to go within 30 minutes.
The unit allows for some of the most precise control available for your chlorine output settings as well.
This next salt water system, the Pentair IntelliChlor IC40 Salt Chlorine Generator Cell, is the best salt water system for a pool. Like the Hayward models, this product is a chlorine generating cell that is attached to your existing filter infrastructure.
It operates by having water infused with sodium chloride flowing through the cell, where the salt is electrolytically converted to chlorine and exits the cell to go back to the pool.
The chlorine reverts back to salt when it has completed cleaning the water, at which time it repeats the cycle, continuously keeping your water clean.
This Pentair IntelliChlor IC40 Salt Chlorine Generator Cell is an effective salt water cell that is perfect for the quantitative folks looking to track their pool’s and salt water cell’s statistics. The unit is best fit for large pools with a capacity up to 40,000 gallons. The unit is easy to use and does almost all of the work for you.
Solaxx CLG10A Saltron Retro Self Cleaning Salt Chlorine Generator for In-ground and Aboveground Pools
The Solaxx Saltron Retro Self Cleaning Salt Chlorine Generator for In-ground and Aboveground Pools is an effective salt water chlorinator for an in-ground pool. This product is so effective for in-ground pools because it can be hard to retro fit a salt water system onto your existing pool filter infrastructure.
This unit requires no plumbing and does not have to be lined in with your filter pump. The Solaxx Saltron has a salt containing unit that hangs over the edge and into the pool. This unit is attached to an electric source that utilizes E.C.O. to create chlorine.
The Solaxx Saltron is perfect for those looking to make the switch to salt water chlorination without the hassle of retrofitting their pre-existing pool and filter infrastructure. It’s a very simple and easy solution to achieving salt water chlorination for those on a budget or looking to put minimal effort into switching their pool’s chlorination system.
The next one of the best salt water system in our comparison chart is similar to the Solaxx Saltron in that it is situated on the edge of your pool and hangs an electrode chlorinator into the water. The ControlOMatic ChlorMaker Saltwater Chlorine Generation System is fit for pools, hot tubs, or spas and is an easy way to convert your pool to salt chlorination.
While it may be possible to situate the ChlorMaker on an above ground pool, the unit is certainly designed for in-ground pools. The unit has holes through which you can drill and attach it to the ground outside of your pool.
The ControlOMatic ChlorMaker Saltwater Chlorine Generation System is super simple to use and requires no plumbing or messing with your filter system as it stands. The ChlorMaker is the choice for those with small pools who wish to make the switch to a salt chlorinating system without disrupting their current pool infrastructure.
The final unit in review, the Circupool SJ-40 Salt Water Chlorine Generator, is the best chlorine generator for a pool. Much like the Hayward unites previously reviewed, this salt water chlorine generator is a cell that is attached to your existing filter pump setup.
The cell itself is transparent so that you can see the activity inside when it is at work. Additionally, the cell is easy to install. An option for the bold DIY-ers among us.
This Circupool SJ-40 Salt Water Chlorine Generator is another great option for those looking to retrofit their pool filters with salt water chlorinating cells/generators. Labeled to be fit for any brand and filter, the Circupool unit is widely applicable and easy to install for the DIY warriors.
If you’re looking for efficiency without upending your entire pool filter infrastructure, take a good look at this Circupool SJ-40 Salt Water Chlorine Generator.
How Do Salt Water Pools Work?
There’s an incorrect assumption that floats around when it comes to the idea of salt water pools: the assumption is that there is no chlorine in salt water pools. This is incorrect, but it’s understandable why some can come to this conclusion.
Salt water pools are known to be less harsh on the eyes, skin, etc. and this could be the driving factor in the idea that salt water pools lack chlorine.
We’re here to tell you that there is no lack of chlorine, it’s just not as harsh or abundant. All pools need some form of chlorine to remain swimmer safe. In this case, sodium chloride (NaCL – table salt) is the cleaning agent that is used in salt water pools.
This salt undergoes a process called electrolysis by which a cell or generator breaks down the sodium chloride, converting it to working chlorine in your pool water.
After the salt enters the electrolysis cell/generator with the dirty pool water and goes through the conversion process, it is pumped backed to the pool as chlorine filled water. The chlorine does its part decontaminating the pool and when it has reached a certain point, it will convert back to sodium chloride.
At this point, the dirty water containing used chlorine (now reverted back to sodium chloride) enters the cell/generator again, where the process is repeated. This creates an endless cycle of salt to chlorine to salt, back to chlorine, and so forth.
Best Salt Water Pool System: Advantages & Disadvantages
There are both advantages and disadvantages to using a salt water pool system to chlorinate your pool. Depending on your needs, you may find that either the advantages or disadvantages outweigh one another.
First, here are the advantages:
- Gentler pool water: Because of the reduced abundance of a chlorine presence in your pool, salt water systems create a gentler water that doesn’t irritate eyes or skin nearly to the extent that chlorine pools do, if they irritate you at all. The reduced chlorine levels also reduce the nasty odors often associated with pools and swimming.
- Safety factor: Salt water pools are considered by some research to be the safer option for a pool. For one, chemicals like chlorine do not have to be handled and stored. Additionally, research indicates that frequent exposure to heavily chlorinated pools can pose long-term issues and risks.
- Automated chlorination: In comparison to traditional, chlorinated pools, salt water systems only create chlorine as needed, and therefore require less hands on maintenance. It also creates less variability in your water’s chemical balance, which is another aspect tied into your pool’s safety.
- Smoother water: Salt water chlorinating systems are known to create a smooth, silky water in your pool. Many people prefer the way the water can almost feel soft in comparison to traditional chlorinated water.
- Less maintenance: While the pool itself doesn’t require less maintenance, salt water systems typically remove a good portion of that maintenance from the hands of the pool owner. This results in less time maintaining the water and more time enjoying it.
The disadvantages are:
- Initial cost: For new pools, salt water systems are typically heavier on the pocket than normally chlorinated pools, requiring a larger initial investment. (it should be noted that the initial cost justifies itself over time as less later investment and upkeep is required for salt water pools)
- Salt systems are complex: Salt water chlorinating systems are complex and can require the help of a professional technician should a problem arise.
- Salt is damaging: Don’t read too far into this one. However, salt can be damaging to certain materials. This means that with a salt water pool, you have to be more cognizant of the fixtures and parts you buy for your pool, from filter parts to underwater lights.
Maintenance Tips for Salt Water Chlorinator
- Clean scale build up: Scale tends to form on the salt cell’s plates at first. It can remain there undetected until a problem arises. Of course you want to avoid the problem so properly cleaning scale from the cell plates periodically is highly recommended. Excessive scale build up that goes unattended can sharply decrease the lifespan of a salt cell. (Models with reverse polarity, self-cleaning will aid in preventing scale build up in the cell unit)
- Seasonal cleaning: You should clean the cell once a season as a general rule of thumb. Be sure not to over clean it when you do.
- Salt levels: Maintaining salt levels is important for preventing excessive scale build up as well as maintaining proper pool chemistry. You want to shoot to have your salt levels around 2700-3900 ppm.
- Turn off during storms: To prevent damage to the control box and other electro-components of a salt water chlorinator, you should shut it down when there are storms, and specifically during lightning storms. While unlikely that it strikes, it’s an added preventative measure you can take to protect your salt water system.
- Test your pool water: While it’s not a direct maintenance to the salt water unit, testing your pool’s pH levels, for example, can help you to determine which settings to run your salt water chlorinator on. By properly balancing your unit’s output you can prevent chemical imbalances in the water that can contribute to issues such as scale.
- Replace bad cells: If by chance your salt water system cell or generator becomes damaged or inefficient, you should replace it as soon as you can. There is no sense in trying to clean and bring back to life a cell that’s no longer efficiently doing its job. Replacing a bad, or old, cell will ensure your pool gets back to proper functioning.
Tips on Choosing the Best Salt Water Pool System
- Do some research: In addition to these reviews we’ve provided for you, you should do some research on salt water systems. If you’re still not sure how the process of electrolysis works, look into it further. No pool system purchase can be successful without a full understanding of the functionality and operation of the process occurring in the unit. Once you’ve gained an understanding, begin to compare the products by their specs, similar to what we’ve done here. Comparing individual products with one another is the best way to ensure you’re getting value.
- Ask around: If you’re seriously contemplating getting or making the switch to a salt water chlorinator system, you should ask others how they feel about theirs. Getting the honest opinion of consumers is a phenomenal way to gauge a product. If you don’t know anyone personally who owns or has knowledge of salt water pools, you can surely find an online community. Don’t be afraid to ask all the questions you have, because remember – there are no dumb questions.
- Seek professional advice: Sometimes we like to remain independent and figure things out on our own. Well, for pools, it never hurts to get an expert opinion. Asking a certified professional about salt water systems and how you could implement one into your pool could be the easiest way to get some answers. While the DIY options are far and wide, it would be beneficial to know which DIY model you should pursue for your pool and why. A professional can help you figure all of these things out and more.
- Be open minded: Salt water chlorinator systems are complex and some aspects of them can seem confusing or straight up foreign to some of us. The key here is to remain open minded and not to be scared off from a product over something you don’t understand. Like the research tip, take your time to acquaint yourself with the terminology and specifications of the models.
Factors To Consider When Buying The Best Salt Water Pool System
- Type of pool: The type of pool you have carries weight when it comes to the salt water system you choose to buy. Certain salt water systems are designed specifically for above ground pools while others are designed specifically for in-ground pools. Even still, some models are able to be utilized by either in-ground or above ground pools.Whether or not your pool is in or above ground is not the only part of the equation, though. Pool size is a very important factor because salt system generators and cells can only operate up to specific gallon capacities, after which point they become ineffective.
- Do you have a filter?: Another factor to consider when buying a salt water system is whether or not you already have a functioning filter pump or not. There are salt water filter pump systems available for those who are building new pools or those needing to replace old filters. If your filter pump is functioning great and you simply wish it could be a salt water system, there are options like the salt cells available that are able to be retrofitted onto most filter pump brands and models.
- Affordability: The price of a salt water system can be a contributing factor as well. As with many products, there are both expensive and generally inexpensive models available for switching your pool’s chlorination to a salt water system. Keep in mind, you do get what you pay for, and while some models are expensive, they are likely to last the longest and work the most efficiently, paying for itself over time.
- Functionality: The type of salt water system you desire is a factor to consider when buying a system too. As we’ve seen in these reviews, there are full filter pump sets that utilize sands to clean pool water as well as models that utilize electrolysis to create clean water. The electrolysis method is a highly efficient way to achieve clean, salt water pools. However, sand filters do awesome jobs too and are more than viable for above ground pools.
- Power source: A final factor to consider is the power source of salt water units. Some of the models available simply line in with pre-existing power supplies. Other units require new electrical connections, and while they can be done by the owner, they may require additional help. And lastly, there are the units that have plug-in power sources, many of which need to be waterproofed at the source.
In conclusion, the best salt water system is the one that best fits your specific needs. Your pool may not be suitable for some of the models on the market, and that will only make your purchasing process simpler. That’s why knowing what you need and what you are capable of doing is paramount to the searching and purchasing process. We’ve created these salt water chlorinator reviews in the hope that the researching and buying process has been made simpler or easier for you.
Salt water chlorinators are ideal for lessening the harshness of your pool and creating a silky smooth water the whole family can enjoy! Not only is the water more enjoyable, salt water systems remove a handful of maintenance duties from the owner, making owning a pool less burdensome. The swimming season is just about here, so there’s no time to delay. Get your salt water pool system today to kick off an unforgettable season of swimming.