What Is a Pool Ionizer?

You are probably here because you have struggled with maintaining the correct pool chemistry levels.

It’s a tedious task to keep track of these chemical products and the proper time schedules to use them. However, there is a sanitation alternative you can consider to make your pool maintenance a bit easier – pool ionizers. The ionizer in the photo above is from XtremepowerUS, a solar powered ionizer. More on those later.

Below, I walk through everything you need to know about them – what are pool ionizers, their effectiveness, benefits, common problems, cost, and more. Let’s get into it.

What Is a Pool Ionizer?

A pool ionizer is a sanitizing product which usually contains silver and copper ions. These elements are effective in neutralizing the effects of impurities such as bacteria and algae. Copper has been a popular anti-microbial substance for hundreds of years and it’s also common in products such as algaecides.

It works well in stopping algae development and silver helps eliminate harmful bacteria. The traditional swimming pool ionizer is an electronic tool that you integrate into your pool’s filter and pump system.

However, the solar pool ionizers are also becoming increasingly popular and are cheaper when compared to the electronic types. In addition, a solar pool ionizer is a bit different because it floats around in the swimming pool during the cleaning process.

A pool ionizer works in the following ways:

  1. First, the ionizer takes water through a suction line, pump, filter, and then heater. Then, the ionizer works to sanitize water before it gets back to the pool through return jets.
  2. These two components sit close to each other, where the water gets back through to the swimming pool. Next, the ionizer runs a low voltage DC to activate the electrodes and trigger their sanitizing capabilities.
  3. It occurs because the flow of electricity causes the silver and copper to lose electrons, converting them into cations. These are ions with a positive charge and a significantly higher number of protons than electrons.
  4. The cations then get to the pool through the water and then get in contact with the ionizer. These elements stay in the water until they come across a substance that has negatively charged ions. These ions have a negative charge as they contain more electrons than protons.
  5. Next, the cations connect to the anionic microorganisms, leading to the breakdown of cell walls. However, while an ionizer helps clean your pool, you still have to use it with a chemical product.

Do Pool Ionizers Work? Effectiveness vs. Traditional Systems

Pool ionizers are reliable solutions you can use to get rid of impurities from water. More specifically, the pool ionizers contain ions that are powerful in eliminating such impurities. However, you might have to use the pool sanitizer along with another cleaning product. Below are some of those shared pool cleaning systems and how they compare to pool ionizers.

  • Saltwater chlorinators: These types convert salt into chlorine by using a specialized generator appliance. You have to pour a specific amount of salt into the pool and let the generator work. However, the generator requires maintenance, and you have to track the pool salt levels regularly.
  • Pool bromine: Bromine functions in the same way as chlorine, and they also come from the same chemical category. However, bromine is costlier and not suitable for areas that experience excessive sunlight. You can learn more about the pros and cons in my full article on bromine vs. chlorine.
  • UV Pool system: UV pool sanitation provides a chemical-free alternative for cleaning your pool. However, it’s only effective for areas with lots of sunlight and does not provide the same cleaning results as chemical-based products.

How Long Do Pool Ionizers Last?

On average, expect pool ionizers to last between 6-12 months. The two rods, which contain silver and copper, degrade gradually over time. It’s because these rods have to release ions into the water, which breaks down their potency.

Eventually, these rods require replacement to ensure optimal cleaning results. A few other helpful factors to consider in the longevity of pool ionizers include:

  • Quality of the silver and copper ions
  • Amount of water requiring filtration
  • Amount of time you want to use the filtration system
  • Quality of pool ionizer installation

Benefits of Pool Ionizers

Once installed correctly in your pool system, a pool ionizer can have a lot of benefits.

Improved Filtration

Most pools get dirty due to impurities and the presence of small particles in water. Usually, these particles are too small to filter and might keep circulating, thus compromising the water quality. The positive silver and copper ions from the ionizer help remove these impurities, which negatively. For example, a charge.

Reduces the Need for Using Chlorine

Pool ionizers work well in removing impurities such as bacteria and algae, which reduces the need for using lots of chlorine in swimming pools. However, this does not mean that you have to stop using chlorine completely.

While the ionizer will work well for removing impurities, you still have to mix it with small amounts of chlorine. The chemical amount required depends on the size of your pool and its water capacity. If you don’t know that number, check out my pool volume calculator.

Easy on Pool Components

Chemicals such as chlorine and bromine have corrosive effects over time, mainly when used as sole pool cleaning products. Such chemical experience might lead to corrosion and chemical reactions that can compromise materials over time.

Any corroding pool components pose a quality threat to the water and your ability to keep the pool clean. So, a pool ionizer reduces the need for using chemicals such as chlorine, which improves the longevity of pool components.

Safe for the Skin and Eyes

Many swimmers often complain of reactions such as rashes, itchy skin, red eyes, and various other issues after swimming in pools filled with chlorine. In addition, people such as professional swimmers or those who like swimming all day might experience itchiness or red eyes due to chlorine.

Chlorine is a potent chemical substance that is a bit irritable for people with sensitivity issues. So, a pool ionizer reduces the need for chlorine and the likelihood of experience such problems.

Common Problems with Pool Ionizers

Pool ionizers have several unique benefits, but you also have to consider their drawbacks.

Pool Stains

Many pool owners often struggle with configuring pool ionizers, which can eventually lead to water staining issues. These staining issues occur because the metals dissolve in the water. Plus, the stains might also be present due to the compromised functions of the pool ionizer. When this happens, you may reconfigure the system and get a suitable metal water filter system.

Hard Water

Pool ionizers are prone to impurities, especially if you have large amounts of hard water. You have to help remove any deposits that might accumulate on the electrodes in your ionizer. Using this approach regularly will ensure your pool ionizer cell lasts longer.

The Results Are Slow

Ionizers often require a lot of time before becoming effective in water. On average, expect the pool ionizer to take up to two weeks before the silver and copper ions can accumulate adequately in the water.

It may also take a few more days for the ionizers to give their full water purification results. Remember that your pool’s size and water capacity are vital for the ionizing products to become fully effective.

Requires a Residual Cleaning Method

While chlorine free pools are technically possible, ionizers typically require another sanitizer to keep your pool clean.

The ionizers are powerful in eliminating bacteria, but they don’t perform oxidation procedures. So, they are not able to stop a significant number of microbial types and organic materials.

Bacterial Resistance

Bacteria often have various ways of evolving genetically, which eventually compromises the ability of pool ionizers to be effective. So, a pool ionizer also poses such risks, and it’s good to be aware of your pool purification needs.

Research has shown that bacteria species such as Pseudomonas are the most commonly resistant types.

Cost of Pool Ionizers

Based on the price listing from popular sites like Amazon and eBay, the cost of pool ionizers averages between $100 and $600 for the small to average-sized pools. However, expect these costs to increase to up to $2000 for large or public swimming pools.

The solar types are the cheapest because they don’t feature the same components as their electrical counterparts.

Plus, various other factors come into play in the cost of pool ionizers, including:

  • The brand of pool ionizer. Some brands put a lot more care and quality materials into their manufacturing process, which is reflected in the price.
  • The functions it can perform. Expect an ionizer with several capabilities to be available at a slightly higher cost than other basic alternatives.
  • The quality of copper and silver ions is vital as this determines their longevity and ability to remove impurities from the water.

Need Some Maintenance Help?

We partner with HomeAdvisor to help you find the best swimming pool maintenance and cleaning services in your area. Compare quotes for free from fully vetted pool professionals.

At the end of the day, a pool ionizer might be perfect for your outdoor pool, but you still have to use it with some chlorine to ensure the best results. The benefit is that the ionizer reduces the need for other sanitizers. Plus, the ionizers have a specific lifespan, and you have to be careful in using them the right way.

For more on maintenance and chemistry, check out my full guides on pool maintenance basics and proper pool water chemistry.

Have a question? Let me know, always happy to lend a hand.

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