If you're new to the idea of a saltwater pool, the most important thing to know from the start is that salt systems have become the standard in pool care. A saltwater pool is just a regular pool with a "salt chlorinator" installed on it; a salt system eliminates the need to buy and add chlorine to the pool (saves a lot of money), makes it so you don't have to micromanage your pool chemistry (saves a lot of maintenance), and eliminates the "chlorine smell" and other unhealthy qualities of traditional pools (makes the water a lot nicer).
Chlorine Generator Sizing Factors
Smartly sizing your pool system is the key to success. You'll run your equipment less, save money, and have fewer headaches. The general guidelines for sizing a salt chlorine generator might seem complicated, but they can be summed up fairly simply:
- Choose More Capacity: In the pool industry, salt chlorine generators are given maximum capacity ratings, like "for 40,000 gallons". Its important to know that these are maximum limits, not guarantees! This rating basically says that is the most water that the system might be able to treat if it runs constantly at full power - but that's not how anyone wants to actually run their pool system. So the industry rule of thumb is to choose a salt chlorine generator with a maximum capacity of at least 1.5x to 2x your actual pool size. For example, this might mean choosing a "40,000 gallon model" for a pool of 20-25,000 gallons.
- Choose More Power: Beyond the gallon rating, a better spec to look at is the system's "chlorine output", which indicates how many pounds per day of chlorine the system can possibly generate. Looking at this specification helps you compare between models to see how within one "size range" of models that have a similar capacity rating, in order to better choose one with more power to do the job. Having the highest chlorine output rating for your budget will ensure that your salt chlorine generator doesn't have to work as hard to chlorinate the everyday, which helps maximize its lifespan and ensures you have plenty of power in reserve. That way should pool problems arise after heavy pool usage, hot summer weather, or storms, you'll be confident that your chlorine generator will be able to compensate without having to buy and add supplemental chlorine or shock.
How your location impacts your pool system needs
Additionally, there are some factors that are an important part of the sizing equation which can differ depending on where you live:
Northern or Southern Climate / Temperate or Tropical
As a general guidline, if you live in a climate that gets more sun, hotter summers, and more months of warm weather, you're going to want to get a pool system with much more sanitation power when compared to the same size pool in a more temperate region.
Areas with more trees or agriculture
The more pollen and leaves blown into your pool, the more you have decomposing organic matter in the pool. That means algae can thrive because it has plenty of food. The more agricultural areas nearby (even within 30-50 miles), the more fertilizer-laden dust will accumulate in the pool. Fertilizer is super-food for algae! When algae can thrive the pool requires more sanitation power.
Areas with more landscaping or gardening
As mentioned above, fertilizer allows micro-organisms like algae to thrive and rapidly multiply. The more fertilized lawns and gardens there are nearby, the easier it is for water run-off to bring that fertilizer into the pool. Or just as likely, fertilizer may get directly introduced into the pool during lawn & garden maintenance (not good!). All good reasons to get a more powerful pool sanitation system.
Choosing the right size salt chlorine generator
If you live in an area with factors that increase the chlorine demand of your water, such as high heat and lots of sun, you'll want to choose a chlorine generator size on the high end of the spectrum. Can you choose too big of a chlorine generator? Within reason that would be hard to do. Chlorine generators have adjustable outputs, and you control how long your pool system runs each day. These to factors give you a wide range of control to ensure even with an over-sized chlorine generator, your pool gets just the right amount of chlorination in order to keep the water clear and blue, without over-chlorinating the pool. Remember, the less hard the chlorine generator has to work, the less wear-and-tear it gets so the longer it can last!
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