Long Term Cost to Maintain Salt Water Pools

Salt/chlorine generators are often thought to reduce the storing and handling of chlorine products such as liquid chlorine bleach and chlorine tablets.  However, the use of chemicals is still required to achieve proper pH and chlorine relationships.  The long-term costs for a pool using a salt/chlorine generator is primarily related to its initial cost to purchase and the cost to replace the generator as it wears out over time or to replace the electric plate components within the unit. There may also be significant “hidden” long-term costs related to deterioration, corrosion and shortened life of the swimming pool’s interior finish, decking, pool grout and pool equipment. (14) (16)  Additionally, the use of salt/chlorine generators require significant amounts electricity on a continuing basis and the electric usage will gradually increase over time, as the salt/chlorine generator’s efficiency deteriorates.

The initial cost of a salt/chlorine generator varies greatly depending on its quality and level of sophistication.  Many generators have no monitoring of water quality and simply produce chlorine continuously whenever the pool pump is running; conversely, there are more technically sophisticated generators which monitor chlorine levels and adjust the chlorine levels and the chlorine output as needed.  As with most equipment, cost increases with the quality and level of sophistication of the equipment.

Additionally, the initial cost of the salt/chlorine generator is related to the chlorine production capability of the generator.  The chlorine production requirement of the salt/chlorine generator is therefore related to the size of the swimming pool and chlorine demand of the pool water.

For the long-term cost determination we will assume a pool size of 20,000 gallons over a time frame of ten years

A salt/chlorine generator can range in cost from $1,000 to $2,500 to install.  For this example we will use an initial cost of $1,700.  The electric plate components and control board of the salt/chlorine generator will typically be replaced every 3-7 years.

Typical replacement costs of $700 - $1,100 for the electrical plates and a replacement cost of $500 - $900 for the control board can be expected.  For this example a replacement period of five years will be used at a replacement cost for both components of $1,500.

This cost example assumes the salt level, pH and chlorine levels are at proper levels at the startup of the pool.  Costs for acid or base material for pH correction are a function of many variables and are not included in this example.  The amount of salt required is a function of many factors including chlorine demand and is not included in the example.

Over a ten year period the initial cost to purchase and install the salt/chlorine generator will be $1,700 and two replacement costs for the electric plates and control board is $3,000 which yields a long-term cost of $4,700.  This does not include the cost of salt or electricity (which can be significant), nor does it include costs associated with deterioration, corrosion and shortened life of the swimming pool’s interior finish, decking and pool equipment (14) (16), and special pool construction requirements associated with the use of salt generators (See, “Special Pool Construction Requirements”).

Salt / Chlorine Generators:    Special Construction Requirements       Other Pool Chemicals Needed       Maintenance Requirements

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