Salt water system for pool – Inground and Above Ground Pools

The popularity of salt water pools is at an all-time high. It’s easy to understand why.

A salt water pool sanitation system utilizes less chemicals and is often gentler on your skin, hair, and eyes than a chlorine pool sanitation system.

Chlorine is still used in a “saltwater pool” to keep algae and other undesired creatures out of the water. Saltwater pools, on the other hand, use salt chlorine generators (also known as salt chlorinators) to convert pure salt to chlorine with the salt pool systems.

In chemistry-nerd speak, pure salt is a crystalline form of the chemical sodium chloride, or NaCl. The sodium component of the chemical equation is more responsible for that salty flavor that humans crave. In salt chlorinator systems, the chloride component of pure salt is the principal contributor to the chlorine conversion process.

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Does a salt water pool have chlorine?

Saltwater pools have traditionally been popular because they consume fewer chemicals and provide a more enjoyable swimming experience. Recent issues at a few big chlorine factories, however, have made pool-grade chlorine more expensive and difficult to come by than it has been in many years.

Many pool owners have chosen that instead of paying exorbitant fees for chlorine treatments, they’d rather convert their pools to salt water systems and risk not being able to adequately treat their pools at all.

Whether you’re planning to build a new pool from the ground up with a salt chlorine generator or convert your current chlorine pool to a saltwater pool, you’re sure to have the same question: “which salt water system is the best choice for my pool’s chlorine production?”

You’ve arrived to the right location! Let’s look at the most popular and well-reviewed salt chlorinators for different sorts of pools. There are a variety of methods to pick from, but some will make more sense for certain pools than others. Take a look at this list to discover what your best options are for a pool chlorine generator…

Salt System For Pools – swimming pool salt water system

Spas (or extremely small pools) should use: SmarterSpa by ControlOMatic

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Calimar Salt System

Price range: $429-$499
  • 4.4 out of 5 stars from customers
  • Capacity of treatment: 1,000 gallons
  • 30 grams of chlorine (chlorine levels) per day is the maximum amount of chlorine that can be produced.
  • Cycle of treatment: automated cycle
  • No plumbing or pumps are required (plug and play)
  • Salt cells have a 7,000-hour lifetime.
  • The cell cost of a new salt cell is $219.

Sometimes you don’t need to treat as much water as you think. ControlOMatic manufactures a number of salt chlorinator systems for spas, the largest of which can treat 1,000 gallons of water. ControlOMatic’s SmarterSpa salt chlorine generator is a more automated solution, with an incorporated detector that can trigger an automatic chlorinating cycle if the amount of chlorine in your spa falls too low.

SmarterSpa could also be used in a tiny above-ground pool, although it would have to be quite small. To give you an idea of how much watery space the SmarterSpa can handle, our two spa add-ons, the RS08 and SS08, have 800- and 890-gallon capacity, respectively.

Intex Krystal Klear is the best affordable systems for above ground pools.

The price ranges from $209 to $499.

  • 4.3 out of 5 stars from customers
  • 4,500 to 15,000 gallons of treatment capacity
  • 6 to 11 grams of chlorine per hour is the maximum production rate.
  • 6 / 10 / 14 hour treatment cycle
  • Plumbing and pumps are required: the filter pump must be connected.
  • Salt cells have a two-year lifetime (warrantied)
  • Cost of a new salt cell is unknown.

Krystal Klear saltwater pool systems from Intex are available for above-ground pools of various sizes. The cheap salt water pool system model, which can treat up to 4,500 gallons, is less expensive than most replacement salt cells. For above-ground pools up to 15,000 gallons, the high-end Krystal Klear saltwater system uses a combination of salt chlorination and ozonation effects.

The standard Krystal Klear system attaches to your existing pool filter pump, but Intex also offers two Krystal Klear combination systems that combine both the pump and the saltwater system in one convenient package. The smaller of the two combo systems can manage above-ground pools up to 8,500 gallons, while the larger one can handle pools up to 15,000 gallons. The cost of these combo systems ranges from $659 to $775. If you wanted to, you could utilize Intex goods for your entire above-ground pool setup, as the company offers a variety of above-ground pool kits and accessories.

For larger above-ground pools, this is the best option: Hayward Goldline is located in Hayward, California. AquaTrol

Price: $899 to $1,699 (range)

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars from customers (get it on Amazon)
  • 18,000 gallons of treatment capacity
  • 0.75 pounds of chlorine per day is the maximum amount that can be produced.
  • 24 hour timer for the treatment cycle
  • Connect to current filtration system with plumbing and pumps.
  • The lifespan of a salt cell is one year (warrantied)
  • The cost of a new salt cell is $619.

Hayward manufactures salt chlorinators for both above-ground and in-ground pools. Its AquaTrol line is intended for use above ground and emphasizes ease of installation. It’s said to take only 30 minutes to connect an AquaTrol unit to your current filter’s return jet fitting, and no additional flow switches are required. You can also use the AquaTrol’s super-chlorinate option to shock your pool.

Are you undecided about whether you want an above-ground or in-ground pool? Still undecided about whether to go with concrete, vinyl, or fiberglass for your pool project? In just a few clicks, you can obtain some answers with our Pool Type Selector quiz! To get started, click the button below:

Salt water inground pool system – Best budget option: BLUE WORKS

The price ranges from $679 to $969.

  • 15,000 to 40,000 gallons of treatment capacity
  • The maximum amount of chlorine produced has not been documented.
  • The user controls the treatment cycle (salinity-based)
  • Connect to current filtration system with plumbing and pumps.
  • Salt cells have a two-year lifetime (warrantied)
  • The cost of a new salt cell ranges from $259 to $419.

BLUE WORKS makes little attempt to conceal the fact that it’s a working clone of the Hayward Aqua Rite system, right down to the identical three volume settings (15,000, 25,000, and 40,000 gallons). Other Hayward salt chlorinators are compatible with BLUE WORKS, and you may even use a BLUE WORKS salt cell in place of a Hayward-branded cell in various Hayward salt chlorine generators.

Hundreds of reviewers complimented BLUE WORKS saltwater systems for offering the same pool sanitization solutions as Hayward models at a significant savings. Although BLUE WORKS does not disclose information on its chlorine output, assuming it is a true Hayward clone, the BLUE WORKS models are expected to produce the same amount of chlorine as identical Hayward systems. It also has a warranty that is twice as long as Hayward’s, making BLUE WORKS an even more appealing budget alternative.

Circupool is best for bigger inground pools (all models)

The price ranges from $969 to $1,899

  • Customer feedback ranges from 4.6 to 4.9 stars on average
  • 30,000 to 60,000 gallons of treatment capacity
  • Maximum chlorine generation ranges between 1.25 and 3.1 pounds per day.
  • The user controls the treatment cycle.
  • Connect to current filtration system with plumbing and pumps.
  • Life expectancy of salt cells ranges from 4 to 8 years (warrantied)
  • Cost of a replacement salt cell ranges from $449 to $799.

Circupool isn’t a “cheap” saltwater system in the traditional sense. Circupool, on the other hand, more than makes up for its somewhat higher-than-BLUE-WORKS costs with warranties that last up to eight years and are still competitive with most of the top salt chlorinator brands.

The Universal25, the smallest and least priced Circupool system, can handle up to 30,000 gallons and comes with a four-year warranty, even if you install it yourself. Circupool’s top-of-the-line CORE55 model has an eight-year full-system limited warranty and can treat up to 55,000 gallons of pool water. The RJ60, Circupool’s highest-volume model, can treat up to 60,000 gallons and comes with a seven-year warranty.

Because the smallest currently available type is the 30,000-gallon Universal25, Circupool systems are probably best suited for extra-large custom-built pools. However, if you’re going all out with your pool installation, you might as well purchase the salt water system with the most comprehensive manufacturer warranties. No other salt chlorinator manufacturer comes close to Circupool’s warranty coverage, as far as we can discover.

Many Circupool models are also interchangeable with Hayward salt systems and may be readily installed onto existing filter tubing as an extra bonus.

Pentair Intellichlor is the professional’s option for salt water pools.

Price: $1,399 to $1,799 (range)

  • 4.6 out of 5 stars from customers (Amazon — power center only)
  • 20,000 to 60,000 gallons of treatment capacity
  • The maximum amount of chlorine produced has not been documented.
  • The user controls the treatment cycle (salinity-based)
  • Connect to current filtration system with plumbing and pumps.
  • Salt cells have an 8,000-hour lifetime.
  • Cost of a replacement salt cell ranges from $699 to $1,399

Many pool builders prefer to deal with specific systems and will install a salt chlorinator as part of the overall installation operation if you request it ahead of time. Installing a salt chlorine system with your pool allows you to include the cost of the system in the overall project cost, which means you may never have to pay retail for these systems until they break down after the warranty period has expired.

Pentair salt water systems are installed solely by River Pools. The Intellichlor series has a lot of support, is simple to set up with most pumps and filters, and is (usually) widely accessible. Most fiberglass pools are well-suited for the Intellichlor IC20, which can treat up to 20,000 gallons.

We’ll use the IC40, which is rated for pools up to 40,000 gallons, instead of our largest pool, the T40, which contains roughly 24,000 gallons. Salt cells from Pentair can be pricey, but there are many of copycat manufacturers to choose from. BLUE WORKS manufactures less priced Intellichlor-compatible replacement cells, but they don’t have particularly positive Amazon reviews, so you might want to stick with the actual stuff.

Is it time to invest in a salt water pool?

Salt water systems appeal to a wide spectrum of people for a variety of reasons. Perhaps the salt makes you think of the sea. Perhaps your body is sensitive to chlorine and you’d like to spend more time in the pool without harming your skin or hair. Many pool owners prefer the relative ease of upkeep compared to traditional chlorine treatments.

Keep in mind that while salt water systems are low-maintenance, they aren’t maintenance-free; an incorrectly utilized salt chlorinator can harm your pool, especially if it’s made of concrete. The impact of running your system too often or adding too much salt to your water can be detrimental to your pool’s surfaces.

What Is The Best Salt System For Your Pool?

There are a few things you must know before purchasing a new salt system for your pool. You’ll learn how to choose the right salt system for your pool in this post.

If you’ve looked around our website, you’ll notice there are a lot of wonderful models and sizes to choose from, which we understand might be intimidating. So, the goal of this essay is to make you feel confident that you’re getting the best system for your pool.
A Strong System
The most important thing you can do is invest in a STRONG system. A higher “chlorine output” standard and a higher specified maximum capacity equals more power.

Don’t know how big your pool should be? Here’s what you need to know first to figure out what size you need:

  • The size of your actual pool
  • Use of the pool
  • The setting of the pool
  • Compatibility
  • Maintenance

Factors in choosing a complete salt water pool system

Pool Dimensions (Pool Size):

This is perhaps the most significant factor to consider because the size of the pool is directly proportional to the amount of sanitation required. A salt chlorinator system with more than enough power to keep your pool clean is what you’re looking for.

A salt chlorinator with 1.5x to 2x the maximum capacity of your actual pool is the industry standard. “It’s wise to oversize,” as we like to say around here.

The most important aspect of choosing a system is to ensure that you get enough sanitation capacity for your pool’s needs, because this ensures that you have enough power in reserve to clear up pool problems if they arise, and the system will not normally have to work near its maximum capacity in the meantime. That means it’ll be easy to keep the pool clean, and your system will last much longer.

For example, if you have a 20k gallon pool, you should purchase a unit that is 1.5 to 2 times the capacity of your pool—a 30K-40k gallon system would be the best option. If you have a 20k pool, you don’t want to overwork your system by getting one that is MAXIMUM 20k. We have sizes for spas and hot tubs, as well as small, medium, and big pools.

Check the Chlorine Output-Pro Tip
Check out the spec that says “chlorine output,” or, in other words, the salt system’s true sanitation power, which is measured in lbs/day, if you really want to dig deeper and get the most for your money. This is the true power rating, indicating how much chlorine it can produce on demand. When you’re looking at all of our pool alternatives, this can be really useful.

To continue with our example, if you’ve chosen on a 40k gallon system and look at all of our alternatives, you’ll notice that the chlorine output power ratings of different systems differ, so just attempt to get the one with the highest advertised chlorine output; you’ll be pleased you did! Consider this: you can always reduce the amount of sanitation as needed (resulting in less wear and tear on the system), but you can’t keep turning it up after a certain point when you need to clear the water after a storm or in the heat of summer.

Pool use

This simply means that you must consider the activities you perform in your pool as well as the number of people who utilize it. If your property is always the center of attention and you host pool parties frequently, you may need to invest in a more powerful system. Or do you live in a large house with a lot of people who all utilize the pool? That’s also something to think about since if there are more people using it and if you have a lot of visitors, you’ll want to make sure the pool stays clean and invest in a stronger system. This is one situation when having the option to increase sanitation on demand comes in useful!

Pool environment

If you live in a hot area, you’ll want to invest in a more powerful system, especially if your pool is used frequently during the summer. A more demanding pool will require a larger system if there are a lot of leaves and weeds that fall into the water. If you live in a location where heavy rain and storms occur frequently, you should upgrade your salt system (and possibly check the salinity of your system on a regular basis).

Think you have to acquire a salt system that’s the same brand as your existing one? That is a typical misunderstanding! You are not required to purchase the same brand, which gives you a wider range of possibilities. But don’t let it deter you; choosing the proper one is a lot easier than you would imagine. Whatever system you choose, it will operate in conjunction with your pump, regardless of brand! So don’t feel obligated to stick with a single brand and instead choose what works best for you.


Despite the fact that they require a fraction of the maintenance of a chlorine system, you will still need to clean the cell from time to time and eventually replace it. In terms of cleaning, if the water chemistry is good, it will only need to be cleaned one to two times every season. When determining where you want your salt system to go, make sure it’s somewhere you’ll have easy access to it.

Look For a System That Will Last A Long Time

Obviously, you’ll want a system that will endure a long time. Salt systems can last a long time if used properly, but keep in mind that the “cell” of the system is a wearable item, which means the titanium plates will eventually wear out and need to be replaced.

This doesn’t mean you’ll have to spend a lot of money to replace the cell!

Instead, look for a system with a long warranty, since this is usually a good sign of how long the cell will survive, as well as the fact that if anything goes wrong within the guarantee’s time frame, you can count on it to cover the cost of replacement.

Cell titanium plates have a standard projected life of three to eight years, depending on quality, therefore expect warranties to match those figures. Even if the cell needs to be replaced, it will be a fraction of the cost of the entire system, and still substantially less expensive than the same number of chlorine tablets!

Also, if you’re like most individuals who plan to install their new salt system alone, double-check the terms of your warranty.

Some warranties may be voided if you handle the installation yourself. Feel free to install it yourself as long as you make sure it will not breach your warranty. On average, it takes roughly an hour.


As previously stated, your present pool equipment system will nearly always be compatible with any salt system you choose. However, there are a few things you should double-check to ensure that your system is completely compatible.

Don’t worry; the majority of these situations are quite rare, which is why we say that all systems are generally compatible.

The Water in the Pool

You’re good to go if you’re using basic chlorine in your pool. Your pool does not need to be drained, and your system is compatible. If you’re using a chlorine alternative called as a Biguanide, such as “Soft Swim” or “Baquacil,” you’ll simply want to wait until the chemical levels are low enough in the winter before converting.

Materials and Equipment for the Pool

The majority of the equipment is suitable, although older pools may have some challenges. Extremely old pools with iron or copper pipes are usually incompatible, however those pipes are uncommon and unfit for use.

Most pools are made of salt-compatible materials such as concrete, plaster, tile, stone, vinyl, fiberglass, and other similar materials, but if your pool is made of an unusual material, contact your pool builder to ensure that the material you used is salt-compatible. Most materials, however, are safe in salt systems.

Contrasting various salt system models

If you’ve previously looked around our website, you’ll notice that we have an online comparison chart that allows you to compare the specifications and features of all of the models we have available. We provide a wide range of systems, including well-known brands like Autopilot, Circupool, Hayward, and Pentair, and we understand that having so many options might be intimidating.

Fortunately, we’ve already done the legwork for you, so you can quickly determine which system is best for you. Check it out here if you haven’t already! A large chart with everything from value scores, price, warranties, and more can be found! This will substantially reduce the time it takes to make a decision.

Making the final decision

So, those are the three most important elements of salt systems to consider when choosing one for your pool, but there are a few more considerations that some people make when deciding which salt system is best for them.

Not sure the features and specifications you want in yours?

Fortunately, all new systems are self-cleaning and have water sensors, although a flow switch is suggested if you have a low or variable speed pump. Some systems incorporate digital sensors that display information and communicate via a user-friendly LED screen or LED indicators.

Another feature that pool owners prefer is the option to check the salinity of their pool. Your PPM salinity reading will be displayed on some salt systems. (For salt pools, you’ll want to keep your ppm around 3500 ppm.)

There’s also a feature called a clear cell that does exactly what it says on the tin: it’s a clear cell that allows you to watch your cell in action! If you want to make sure your cell is free of obstructions and dirt, this is a great tool to have.

Finally, there’s a feature called Boost Mode, or super-chlorination mode, which momentarily boosts the chlorine output to maximum power so you can handle pool scenarios like after a big rain or a pool party with ease.

Making the Change

If you’re ready to begin your search for the ideal system for you, we’re here to help! Just make sure you purchase a system with plenty of power, which is the most critical feature to look for in any system.

check out our article on pool heaters for a salt water pool

Additional Research Topics as you begin your journey

saltwater chlorine generationelectronic chlorine generatorgeneration chlorinating
filter cartridgeschemical feedersinground pool salt system
salt system for inground poolinground pool salt cellsalt water pool machine

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Mike Hunter

Mike is the owner of the local pool shop. He's been in the business for over 20 years and knows everything there is to know about pools. He's always happy to help his customers with whatever they need, whether it's advice on pool maintenance or choosing the right chemicals. He's also a bit of a pool expert, and is always happy to share his knowledge with anyone who's interested.

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