What is the Difference between a Chlorine Pool and Saltwater Pool?

a blue bottom tile pool at a resort
a blue bottom tile pool at a resort

Everyone loves a pool! Especially in the summer! It is such a fun place for people to gather and relax and have fun. When you are ready to add a pool to your home you are looking forward to years of enjoyment and an increase in the value of your home. 

Don’t get us wrong, a pool is a large investment into your home, but odds are you have probably taken into consideration the costs and maintenance required to own a pool, at this point, it’s all about the type of pool to install: a chlorine pool or saltwater pool? These two pool systems are popular amongst pool users. Both types of pools are the optimal choices for safety, usability, maintenance, and investment. The choice comes down to an individual. To make the best choice for you and your home, you need to weigh your options – consider price, repairs, and maintenance.

Salt vs Chlorine Pool Installation Prices

Price is a huge factor for anyone looking to install a pool, the initial investment to install a pool is obviously a factor for any homeowner looking to invest in their property. Understanding your upfront costs can be a huge determining factor in which pool installation you choose to move forward with. Expect to pay $11,000-$36,000 regardless of which pool you pick.

Chlorine Pool Installation Price

Installation price: $11,000 – $40,000.

The average cost to build a chlorine pool is $26,000. These costs typically vary so much for a few reasons. The installation is going to cost less upfront. 

  • Compliance with City Ordinance – some cities have restrictions on how or what needs to be built around your pool (for example patio or fence). Check your local city ordinances before you begin your pool installation to know what you might be on the hook for building. 
  • Size of the pool – Pools come in all shapes and sizes, your desired pool shape, width, length, and depth all have an impact on your price. Make sure to get quotes from contractors to help you come up with a plan that fits your desired look and budget.
  • Construction material – You can build your pool with concrete, fiberglass, or vinyl. All have their pros and cons and prices.
  • System Setup Costs – To properly set up the system for a chlorine pool you are looking at an additional cost of around $100.
  • Equipment Costs – Range from the chlorine pump all the way to the concrete used to pour the initial structure.
  • Labor & Expertise – it takes professionals to build out a chlorine pool that meets with compliance restrictions and functions properly. You will need to employ constructions experts to help you build your pool.

Saltwater Pool Installation Price

Installation price: $16,000 – $200,000.

The average cost to build a saltwater pool is $37,000. These costs typically vary so much for a few reasons – 

  • Compliance with City Ordinance – a lot of cities require you also build a deck, patio, or fence around the pool area.
  • Size of the pool – square footage plays a role in your pool installation.
  • Construction material – you have multiple choices in materials to build your pool with including concrete, fiberglass, and vinyl. Each one comes with its own advantages and disadvantages and its own price.
  • System Setup Costs – $2500 is a good estimate of a setup cost given that it requires more pricey additions like a salt generator. 
  • Equipment Costs – if you are building a pool from scratch you will need to purchase all the needed equipment to make sure your pool functions properly.
  • Labor & Expertise – costs for your construction team to complete the installation.

The majority of the cost difference from saltwater to chlorine comes with the initial equipment costs and labor for installation. After they’re set up, it’s way cheaper since your annual supply of salt is also cheaper. Think about your budget right now: are you willing to spend a significant chunk of your budget right now, and can you afford it?

Cost of Your Pool Equipment

While the above speaks specifically to all the costs you will incur to install an inground pool, it is just as important to understand some of the costs of your equipment that is being installed. These pieces are integral to the pool not only at installation but for repair and maintenance. You might have to repair or replace any one of these parts during the pool’s lifetime so understanding the costs upfront can save you down the line. 

Chlorine Pool Equipment

The main equipment your chlorine pool will require and will likely require at some point include – 

  • Pump ($700-1300)
  • Filter ($500-$2000) 
  • Chemicals ($160 annually)

This sums it up to a total of $3460 on the high end.

Saltwater Pool Equipment

Some of the equipment is essentially the same, with the main differences coming in with the costs of chemicals and the saltwater generator. 

  • Pump ($700-1300)
  • Filter ($500-$2000)
  • Chemicals/Saltwater cells for 3-6 yrs ($200) 
  • Saltwater generator ($400 to $1,800)

Add all of that into account, and the amount on the high end will equal $5300.

Pool Maintenance: Differences Between Saltwater and Chlorine

Both saltwater and chlorine pools use the same ingredient – chlorine – to kill all the bacteria, gunk, algae, and disease that you don’t want in your pool; however, the way both of these pools generate chlorine differs. Now at this point, you may be asking yourself, “How is it the same, and how does saltwater pool involve chlorine?” Let’s break it down -Here, we break down the details of each pool’s maintenance processes before revealing their pros and cons. 

Chlorine Pool Maintenance Is More Manual

Chlorine pools are chlorinated by inserting either chlorinated versions of tablets, liquids, or powders into pools. The general consensus is that it’s best to insert 1 to 3 ppm (parts per million) of chlorine every 3 days to a week, regardless of which form it takes.

Pros of Maintaining a Chlorine Pool: 

  • They have minimal equipment maintenance. Mostly it comes down to putting the right amount of chlorine into your pool on schedule.
  • Chlorinated water will not damage the pool and surrounding area so long as you understand the limit an average pool can take.A chlorine pool is less difficult to chlorinate than a saltwater system, and no wonder – it doesn’t come with the same technological bells and whistles that a saltwater system does just to maintain the right levels. 

Cons of Maintaining a Chlorine Pool:

  • Chlorine can irritate the skin and hair, particularly if you’re sensitive. In some rare cases, you can even contract respiratory problems.
  • Chlorine pools are more expensive than saltwater pools. The cost of the chlorine that you may have to invest in may amount to around $300-$800 per year.
  • If stored improperly, your chlorine can start emitting toxic fumes.  

Saltwater Pools Have More Technical Maintenance 

The salt in your pool needs to undergo a special process to turn into chlorine. The process is relatively simple; put a certain amount of salt into a chlorine generator in the pool (3200-3400 ppm), and electrolysis will do the rest. 

Pros of Maintaining a Saltwater Pool: 

  • You can adjust the salt levels, which gives you a better reading of the number of chemicals in your pool. 
  • It costs less over the years than a chlorine pool. You’ll need about $70-$120 worth of salt per year to maintain it.
  • It doesn’t take up a lot of storage space. 

Cons of Maintaining a Saltwater Pool: 

  • You need more equipment maintenance. You still need to clean out the saltwater cells at least twice a year, and you still need to continue shocking the pool – relying on the salt generator alone isn’t enough as it will cause the motor to break down faster. 
  • The salt can cause your pH to fluctuate and become more unpredictable. It can burn in the water during particularly hot weather. In addition, the amount of salt can easily affect your generator; too little will cause it to shut down, and too much will cause corrosion. 
  • Compared to chemical chlorine, it’s easier for saltwater to damage the surrounding pool ground. You will need constant vigilance to avoid future repairs

Other than maintaining your pool’s chemical levels, saltwater and chlorine pools require other similar maintenance including – regularly cleaning out pool skimmers, running the pool pump, cleaning the pool surface, and winterizing your pool.

What’s More Popular With Pool Buyers?

According to Homeadvisor.com, the saltwater pool seems more popular because it doesn’t have as many chemicals and it doesn’t feel as harsh on the body and hair. This gives saltwater pools a bit of an advantage when it comes to increasing your property value. 

Pool & Patio Can Build Your Pool!

No matter what pool you decide to move forward with, having a Pool Maintenance company on hand can help you maintain your pool and avoid costly repairs down the road.

When you need pool maintenance in Kansas City, you need our pool experts at Pool & Patio KC. Based in Overland Park,  we are professional servicemen and pool cleaners who specialize in ongoing maintenance, pool repair, pool winterizing, pool opening, and more. We have specialists that work on both chlorine and saltwater pools and we even own a local retail store for all the equipment you need. We know the ins and outs it takes to keep your pool fresh, beautiful, and usable. Make sure your new investment continues to work year in and year out with our team of pool experts here at Pool & Patio KC.

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