What is Pool Ozone?

As a swimming pool owner, you’re all too familiar with the ongoing requirements of chlorine pool maintenance. Your routine may look something like this: test the chemical balance two to three times each week, add chemical when necessary, ensure that the pool interior is clean-kept, and verify that the filtration system is functioning properly.

You often wonder if there is a method whereby you can simplify your pool maintenance while maintaining pool quality. If you have pondered your pool maintenance, it may be time to explore ozone pool systems.

What is Pool Ozone?

A blue-colored gas composed of three oxygen atoms, ozone is both a man-made and naturally occurring gas present in the Earth’s upper and lower atmospheres. An oxidizer, ozone can chemically destroy contaminants present in water, making it a highly effective gas for pool sanitization.

Unlike typical sanitization products, ozone is applied to the water within the circulation system and returns to the pool of water in a very low concentration. Ozone can be dangerous in high concentrations, so it must be produced and dissolved in the water quickly. Because ozone is an unstable gas, it cannot be stored and transported but rather has to be produced on-site using an ozone generator.

How Does a Pool Ozone Generator Work?

Also known as ozonators, ozone generators sanitize pool water as the water travels through the pool’s circulation system. Before returning the sanitized water to the pool, deplete the ozone supply as ozone is unsafe to humans if present in large concentrations.

Ozonators produce ozone by way of two generator types; corona discharge and ultraviolet light. To understand how both function, keep in mind that oxygen contains two oxygen atoms (O2) while ozone contains three (O3).

Corona Discharge

Splitting the air’s oxygen (O2) molecules into singular atoms using a ring of energy produced by high voltage electrical discharge, corona discharge ozonators create an environment that enables ozone to form. The singular oxygen molecules reattach to O2 molecules in the air, forming ozone (O3).

Ultraviolet Light

Using a UV lamp emitting light at 185 nanometers, UV ozone generators split the oxygen molecules that pass over them into singular atoms. In an attempt to stabilize, the singular oxygen atoms reassemble into ozone molecules.

Once either a corona discharge ozonator or an ultraviolet light generator produces ozone, the ozone needs to be dissolved into the water to sanitize and eliminate contaminants like bacteria, viruses, and parasites.

Ozone dissolution is commonly done through a method called venturi injection, whereby pressurized water is used to create a vacuum, pulling the newly created ozone into the pool water as it circulates through the system.

Cost of Ozone Pool Systems

The cost of a swimming pool ozone system depends on various factors, including pool size, ozone concentration and output, generator type, and whether the oxygen supply is dry air or fed through an oxygen-producing system. Pool owners can also opt for a hybrid system that includes salt and chlorination in addition to ozone.

Because there are so many factors to consider, an ozone pool system’s price can range from $1000 to $3000 to purchase and install. As a principle, the larger the pool size, the higher the ozone pool system’s cost.

Ozone Pool vs. Chlorine Pool

There are advantages and drawbacks of both ozone and chlorine pools. Furthermore, it is important to understand that ozone does not maintain residual disinfecting properties, so rather than replacing chlorine, ozone and chlorine can and should work together. A major benefit of using ozone in swimming pools is that it can significantly reduce chlorine concentration.

While these sanitization techniques work harmoniously together, there are still benefits to each that should be understood and acknowledged.

Ozone Pool Pros

  • Easier Pool Maintenance: With the ozone and chlorine teaming up to eliminate harmful contaminants, the pool requires fewer manual cleanings. While the pool owner is still on the hook for fishing out large debris, the ozone pool maintenance is automated and requires less chlorine treatment.
  • Adaptable to Water Types: Often, pools fed from a hard water supply can be difficult to manage as scale can build up on the pool walls and pipe surfaces. Ozone pool systems oxidize the water, preventing the calcium carbonate buildup.
  • Reduced Pool Odor: As ozone effectively kills mildew and masks the smell of chlorine, ozone pools smell fresh and clean rather than overly-chlorinated. Ozone pool systems also require less chlorine substance overall, reducing chemical exposure.

Ozone Pool Cons

  • Requires Chemical Supplementation: As effective as ozone pool systems are, they cannot work alone as ozone does not maintain residual disinfecting properties. As a result, the water needs a chemical supplement like chlorine or bromine.
  • High Upfront Costs: While ozone pool systems allow for less spending on chemical treatment, they require a larger upfront cost for purchase and installation. Additionally, if an ozone generator needs dry air, the ozonator must be situated above ground. If fed through an oxygen-producing system, the ozonator may be installed underground.
  • Ozone Can Be Dangerous: Ozone is unsafe for humans when high exposure occurs, so ozone must be safely contained within the circulation system as intended. It is also worth noting that ozone can build up in covered areas, like beneath a pool cover or in a pool pump room.

Chlorine Pool Pros

  • Affordable Upfront and Maintenance Costs: As chlorine pools don’t require system installation like ozone pools, there are no high upfront costs. Effective and inexpensive, the chlorine or bromine chemicals’ cost remains consistent throughout the pool’s lifespan.
  • Highly Effective Sanitization: The chlorine chemical is highly effective in water, as it releases a weak acid called hypochlorous acid which destroys bacteria and viruses. When used in the appropriate concentration, chlorine is a safe and powerful disinfectant.
  • Safe for Humans and Surrounding Environment: While harmful if swallowed or in contact with eyes, chlorine is a relatively safe pool chemical for humans to interact with. Additionally, if chlorinated water is splashed on clothing, patio furniture, or a pool deck, it poses very little risk of damage.

Chlorine Pool Cons

  • High Maintenance: Chlorine pools require extensive testing and maintenance, conducted on a very regular basis. Chlorine is ineffective at pH levels higher than 7.8, so the pool must frequently undergo testing and chemical adjustments.
  • Requires Careful Handling: Chlorine can be highly toxic in high concentrations, so the chemical must be handled carefully when in its pure, pre-diluted form. As chlorinated pools require consistent maintenance and chemical use, there is an increased risk for overexposure to the chlorine chemical.
  • Strong Odor: Most people are familiar with the pungent scent of chlorine and how it sticks to skin, clothes, and hair long after coming into contact with chlorinated waters. The scent is a result of chlorine interacting with bacteria, altering the chemical to become chloramine and can be overpowering.

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Summary of Ozone Pool Systems

Both ozone and chlorinated pool systems have various benefits, and each may be better suited to different pool maintenance requirements and considerations. Ozone systems may be a better lifestyle fit for someone with an irregular and unpredictable lifestyle, while chlorine pool systems are the clear choice for prioritizing affordability.

While ozone pool systems offer easy and infrequent maintenance, are adaptable to different water types, and reduce odor, they can require costly upfront installation costs, require supplementary chemicals, and ozone can be dangerous. Alternatively, chlorine pools allow for affordable upfront and maintenance costs and highly effective sanitization, but are high maintenance, require careful chemical handling and produce a strong odor.

Questions about pool ozone generators and systems? Let me know.

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