Most Saltwater Chlorine Generators come in several “sizes” meaning that they are designed to handle different capacity pools. Unfortunately, not everybody chooses the most appropriately-sized system when they initially purchase their equipment - sometimes you learn that your pool was bigger than you thought, and sometimes your pool usage changes over the years. Or, you might be just taking the opportunity to do a little research before you replace your cell to see if there is a better solution.
If you’ve found yourself in this situation, the obvious question arises as to whether you can, or should, buy a different replacement cell. The first issue is whether a change is even possible. Then, assuming that you can change cell sizes, it becomes a very different question if you want to switch to a larger cell than if your plan is to downsize.
Can You Switch Cells?
The ability to switch to a different sized cell is pretty common, but many models have been designed with internal parts tailored specifically for their original cell capacity. Generally, this means that the owner can opt for a smaller cell, but can’t use the larger cell. Think of this like an engine and transmission combination where the transmission is robust enough to handle the original, or a less powerful, engine but the transmission isn’t tough enough to handle a more powerful engine.
For other models, the control modules are built to a standard specification that can handle any cell available for that model series. Clearly in this circumstance, you can move up or down in cell size from the smallest to the largest without any problems.
If you’re considering replacement cell options for your CircuPool chlorine generator, your options are listed below. Note: model of original system (control module) followed by compatible cell(s).
Is Changing Cell Size a Good Idea?
Knowing that you are able to change cells, should you? As mentioned earlier, upsizing and downsizing a cell are quite different stories.
Upsizing a cell is pretty much a win/win situation. A larger cell gives you spare capacity for pool situations that call for extra chlorine. In addition, higher capacity cells, operating at a lower output level, consume fewer hours of their estimated lifespan which translates into longer life.
In addition to being a better long term value, larger cells can be a better initial value because they are typically priced so that the additional chlorine they can generate well exceeds their additional purchase price. For example, a cell that produces 33% more chlorine might only cost 13% more than the smaller cell.
Upsizing a cell is pretty much a win/win situation.
Downsizing your salt cell usually doesn’t make sense. In particular, when choosing a smaller cell you still want to make sure you have enough chlorination power in reserve by following the rule of thumb of 1 1/2 - 2 times oversizing that is considered the baseline for sizing a salt system.
Everything advantageous about oversizing works against you when you downsize - the unit cost of chlorine is higher, the cell will not last as long, and you have less surplus capacity to handle weather events or periods of heavy use.
Of course if your budget requires that the importance of spending less at a particular time outweighs the savings and flexibility garnered from staying with (or upgrading to) a larger replacement cell, then you make the financial choice that fits your needs.
Hopefully, it’s clear that if you can go larger, then do so by all means. It’s a great way to save money over the life of the equipment, have more flexibility and spare capacity, and maximize the lifespan of the replacement cell.
A smaller replacement cell should be an act of necessity. If the added cost of maintaining your same cell size is the most important factor to you, then go ahead and downsize. Otherwise, it’s not recommended.
Remember, whatever choice you make, you should always maintain the necessary 1 1/2 - 2 times oversizing of a salt system relative to the pool size.