Chlorine isn’t your only option when it comes to pool sanitation, and in recent years, pool owners have been migrating towards these sanitation methods, such as ozone and saltwater.
In this article, I will compare ozone and saltwater pools. So, if you’re considering switching to either but need to know more about both systems, I’ll discuss the pros and cons of each option to help you decide. Let’s dive in!
- Ozone pools have powerful sanitation properties and will allow you to reduce your chemical usage, but they have a higher initial cost than saltwater pools.
- Saltwater pools have a soft water feel and reduce skin and eye irritation, but the salt may corrode pool equipment.
- The main differences between ozone and saltwater pools are the water cleaning method, chlorine level, maintenance requirements, and cost.
- You can use both methods, combining an ozone and a saltwater pool.
So how do ozone pools work? Ozone pools primarily rely on ozone gas to sanitize the water instead of traditional chlorine or bromine. Ozone is a highly reactive form of oxygen that eliminates bacteria, viruses, and other contaminants in the water—making it an excellent method to provide a safe and clean swimming environment. The most attractive thing about ozone is that while it has powerful oxidizing properties, it is still gentle on the skin and eyes. Ozone is, unfortunately, not powerful enough to effectively sanitize your pool on its own, so it must be used with smaller amounts of chlorine or bromine.
- Powerful disinfection: Ozone is an oxidizer capable of disinfecting your pool, killing bacteria, viruses, and other unwanted microorganisms in the water.
- Reduced chemical usage: Ozone pools require fewer chemicals, which makes them the perfect choice if you have sensitive skin.
- No harmful byproducts: Ozone breaks down into oxygen, leaving no harmful residues or byproducts.
- No odor: Ozone pools do not produce the strong smell or taste often associated with chlorine pools.
- Initial cost: Installing an ozone system can be more expensive than traditional chlorine pools, as it requires an ozone generator and professional installation.
- Maintenance needs: You’ll need to regularly monitor and maintain your ozone system to ensure they are operating correctly. You’ll need to consistently check the ozone levels, maintain the ozone generator, and adjust the pool’s chemical balance.
- Limited residual disinfection: Unlike chlorine, which provides long periods of residual disinfection, ozone quickly dissipates from the water. This means continuous ozone production is necessary to maintain water quality. And this is why you’ll still need a residual amount of chlorine in an ozone pool (0.5 ppm). But don’t worry—that’s much less than a traditional chlorine pool!
Saltwater pools are another popular alternative to a traditional chlorine pool. This type of pool uses a salt chlorine generator to produce chlorine from salt dissolved in the water. The generator applies a small electrical charge to magically convert the salt into chlorine. And if you think a saltwater pool will feel drying on the skin like the ocean, think twice! The salt concentration in saltwater pools is much lower than that of seawater, around ten times less.
In fact, saltwater pools are known to feel softer and gentler on the skin and eyes compared to traditional chlorine pools. Saltwater pools are a more natural and environmentally friendly alternative, as the chlorine produced from salt is continuously recycled, reducing the chemicals you’ll need to add to the pool.
- Softer water: Saltwater pools have a more soothing water feel that is gentler on the skin and hair.
- Less maintenance: Saltwater pools require less frequent monitoring and fewer chemicals for sanitation. Once you’ve adjusted the salt cell correctly, it continuously produces chlorine.
- Eco-friendly: If you have a saltwater pool, you no longer need to store and handle chlorine (except for a few shock treatments per year when your pool gets REALLY dirty).
- Initial cost: Saltwater pools tend to have higher initial costs than traditional chlorine pools. But the initial cost is slightly less than ozone pools.
- Salt corrosion: The salt in the water might corrode certain pool materials and equipment, including metal fixtures, ladders, pool liners, pumps, heaters, and filters.
Main Differences Between Ozone and Saltwater Pools
There are a few primary differences between saltwater and ozone swimming pools. Let’s run through them.
Ozone and saltwater pools have entirely different methods for disinfecting your pool water.
Ozone pools use ozone gas (O3) as the primary disinfectant and a powerful oxidizer that kills bacteria, viruses, and other nasty contaminants you definitely don’t want in the water.
On the other hand, saltwater pools use a salt chlorine generator to convert salt to chlorine, which then tackles all these unwanted contaminants.
While ozone pools don’t require nearly as much chlorine as other sanitation systems, you will still need to add some chlorine to ensure the ozone system can adequately sanitize the pool. Specifically, an ozone pool generally needs around 0.5 to 1 parts per million (ppm). In comparison, chlorine pools generally require between 1 to 3 ppm. So, it’s much less chlorine and perfect if your eyes and skin sting in high chlorine water.
On the other hand, saltwater pools produce chlorine continuously through the salt chlorine generator. On average, the chlorine level of your saltwater pool should read between 1 to 3 ppm.
Ozone systems require quite a bit of monitoring to keep them running effectively. The ozone system maintenance requirements include checking and adjusting ozone levels, maintaining ozone generators, and ensuring proper water chemistry balance.
When it comes to the maintenance requirements for saltwater pools, besides your usual cleaning of the pool, you’ll also need to periodically monitor and adjust the pH, alkalinity, and salt levels. Additionally, the salt cell will need regular inspection and maintenance.
In general, the water in swimming pools with more chlorine has a starchy feel and can have a chemical smell and taste (especially if the water is unbalanced).
Ozone pools are odorless and tasteless because they contain much less chlorine than your traditional chlorine pool. So, that classic chlorine smell that you may associate with poorly maintained swimming pools just isn’t a thing with ozone systems. Plus, the treated water is less harsh on the skin and feels very soft, making for a much more pleasant swimming experience.
Saltwater pools also have softer water than traditional chlorine pools and are less irritating for the skin, hair, and eyes. But compared to ozone pools, saltwater pools contain more chlorine, so they are more likely to irritate your skin.
Both saltwater and ozone pools cost more to set up initially than traditional chlorine pools as they require more equipment to get started. Generally, a salt chlorine generator will cost between $600 to $2,500, while an ozone system can set you back between $1,000 to $3,000.
I know what you are thinking, these costs are no joke, but the good news is that both types of pools have lower ongoing costs than traditional chlorine pools. So, you may spend more to purchase the equipment, but your chemical and maintenance costs will likely be reduced.
Saltwater pools will have lower annual chemical and maintenance costs than chlorine pools, but ozone has even lower ongoing costs on average.
|Differences||Ozone Pools||Saltwater Pools|
|Sanitation Method||Ozone gas||Saltwater generator|
|Chlorine Levels||0.5 to 1 ppm||1 to 3 ppm|
|Maintenance Requirements||Check and adjust ozone levels, maintain ozone generator, balance water chemistry||Balance water chemistry, including salt, salt cell maintenance|
|Water Sensation||Soft on skin||Softer than chlorine, but not as soft as ozone|
|Cost||More expensive to install and set up but lower ongoing costs||Less expensive to install and set up, but higher ongoing costs|
Ozone Pool or Saltwater Pool: Which is Better for You?
Both ozone and saltwater pools are good alternatives for pool owners looking for something different than a traditional chlorine system. The decision between an ozone pool and a saltwater pool ultimately depends on your preferences.
If you prefer softer water and want to minimize the amount of chlorine in your pool, an ozone pool may be the best fit. The lower chlorine concentrations in ozone pools can provide a gentler swimming experience with less irritation.
You should also evaluate your budget and the cost considerations. Ozone systems tend to have higher initial installation costs, while saltwater pools may have higher ongoing costs between the two. Consider the long-term costs of chemicals, maintenance, and potential equipment repairs or replacements.
Ultimately, there is no one-size-fits-all “better” option for everyone—it all depends on your priorities and preferences. If you’re still unsure, send me a message, and I’ll be happy to help you decide. And if you can’t choose between the two? You can simply combine them! More on that below.
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Frequently Asked Questions
Can you use ozone in a saltwater pool?
Yes, ozone can be used in a saltwater pool. Ozone can be used as an additional sanitization method to enhance the water quality in a saltwater pool. While saltwater pools already use the salt chlorination system to produce chlorine, ozone provides an extra layer of disinfection and oxidation, further reducing the reliance on chlorine and enhancing water clarity and purity. What more could you ask for?
Can you shock an ozone pool?
Yes, shocking any pool is necessary—even if you have an ozone system. To make the best of your ozone pool, a residual chlorine level of 0.5 is recommended, and periodic shocking is an absolute must! That is unless you like green pool water.
Is an ozone pool better than saltwater?
Well, the answer depends on your specific needs and preferences since both pool types have pros and cons. In some cases, a combination of the two would be the best option, as it would offer a very low-chemical, odorless pool with silky, gentle water free of those unwanted contaminants.
Ready to Choose How You Sanitize?
Choosing between an ozone pool and a saltwater pool depends on your budget and needs. Ozone pools offer powerful disinfection, reduced chemical usage, and an odorless experience, but they come with higher initial costs and some maintenance (but what pool doesn’t?). On the other hand, saltwater pools provide softer water and reduce skin and eye irritation, but they may corrode pool equipment. Ultimately, what you decide is up to you and you alone!
If you are still unsure whether ozone or a saltwater pool is best for you, shoot me a message, and we can review your situation so I can give you a personalized suggestion.