As a swimming pool owner, you’re all too familiar with the ongoing requirements of chlorine pool maintenance, which can be tedious. You may wonder if there’s a way to simplify pool maintenance while maintaining pool quality. An alternative to a traditional chlorinated pool system is the ozone pool system.
In this article, I will explain in-depth what pool ozone is, how it works, and how it compares to traditional chlorine pools.
- Ozonators or pool ozone generators sanitize the pool water as the water goes through the filtration system.
- Ozone pool systems can cost between $1,000 and $3,000 to buy and install.
- Ozone pools are easier to maintain, have no pool odor, and help reduce chemical exposure.
- Some disadvantages of ozone pools are that they still require a chemical supplement, have high upfront costs, and can be dangerous.
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.
Pool ozone system diagram:
- Pool heater
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. I explain the entire flow in the diagram above. 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 instead 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, it depletes the ozone supply, as ozone is unsafe to humans if present in large concentrations.
Ozonators produce ozone through two generator types: corona discharge and ultraviolet light. To understand how both function, remember that oxygen contains two oxygen atoms (O2) while ozone contains three (O3).
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). I illustrated an example of a corona discharge ozonator above.
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 a corona discharge ozonator or an ultraviolet light generator produces ozone, the ozone must 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, the price of an ozone pool system can range from $1,000 to $3,000 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 to 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. The same can be said for saltwater pools, which I have a complete comparison to ozone pools as well that you can read.
While these sanitization techniques work harmoniously together, each still has benefits 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 of 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 results from chlorine interacting with bacteria, altering the chemical to become chloramine and can be overpowering.
Is Pool Ozone Worth It?
If you can afford the upfront cost, pool ozone might be worth it. It is an effective sanitizer for your pool, and while it does not completely eliminate the need for chlorine or bromine, you do drastically decrease the amount of chemicals in your pool, allowing for a much more pleasant swimming experience overall.
How to Choose the Right Ozone System for Your Pool
If you’re looking to install a pool ozone system, there are a few considerations you should keep in mind to pick the right one.
Of course, the size of your pool plays a major part in what ozone system you should buy. Make sure to buy the correct size generator to efficiently sanitize your pool for safe use.
Another major consideration is simply your budget. As mentioned, ozone systems have a significant upfront cost that ranges from $1,000 to $3,000, so determine exactly how much you are willing to pay. Make sure you take your pool size into consideration, as if you have a larger pool, you’ll likely need to shell out some more money.
You can’t just blindly buy the first pool ozone system that pops up when you search for one in your budget and your pool size. You also need to consider brand reputation and customer reviews. It’s also worthwhile to invest in a system with a warranty in case something happens down the line.
Is your local water high in calcium? How is the water quality in your area? These are important questions to ask yourself when purchasing an ozone system, as you want to ensure you buy one that can handle these elements.
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Frequently Asked Questions
Can Ozone Pools Work on Their Own?
Though technically, ozone pools can work on their own, I do not recommend it. Ozone systems are best used alongside a supplementary sanitizer, such as chlorine and bromine. With that said, with the help of an ozone system, you can significantly lower the amount of chemicals in your pool.
Does Pool Ozone Smell?
Not at all! In fact, one of the major benefits of pool ozone over chlorine pools is that they don’t have a strong odor. Even though you need to have some amount of chlorine in an ozone pool, it will be so small that you won’t be able to smell the chloramines you would usually smell in a traditional chlorine-only pool.
Are Ozone Pools for You?
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. As long as you’re looking at ozone systems, check out my research on AOP pool systems as well.
Questions about pool ozone generators and systems? Let me know.