Salt Water Chlorine Generators – How Long Should They Last?

Salt water chlorine generators are very important in a pool for they reduce maintenance work for a pool owner. The generators dispense chlorine at a constant rate thereby maintaining the optimum levels in the pool. However, many people are confused over how long their salt water chlorine generators should last in a swimming pool.  However, if you understand how these equipments work, you will be able to determine how long they should last.

How salt water chlorine generators work

To understand how a salt water chlorine generator works, it is important to look at its two main parts.

The Cell

This is the part that converts salt into chlorine. This happens when Salt water passes over iridium coated titanium plates. The control board then sends electrical charge to the plate causing electrolysis separates sodium and chlorine atoms in the salt. Over time, this coating erodes and the plates have to be replaced. A well maintained salt water chlorine generator will last up to 7 years and the cost for replacing the plate’s average about $900.

Factors affecting the life of the cell

In its normal operation, scale develops on the metal grids thereby reducing its performance. Therefore, pool owners are required to clean the plates so that they can regain their optimum operations.  This is done by immersing the parts in a mild acid solution (usually 1 part acid, 15 parts water). The acid corrodes the scale until the metallic surfaces are exposed.

There are two factors that affect the longevity of the cells.  If you clean the plates too frequently, they will wear out fast.  On the other hand, using an acid solution that is too concentrated can corrode and shorten the lifespan of the plates.

However, when the cells are worn, some pool owners choose to replace their entire unit. This is because the whole unit is a couple of dollars more expensive than the cells.

The control board

The primary role of the control board is to regulate and provide electric charge to the cells.  Users can control the amount of electricity going to the cell thereby regulating the amount of chlorine going to their pools. This unit is basically made up of a control circuit.

Since the circuit board is made of electronics, its lifespan is unpredictable. But typically, the circuit can last up to 7 years where it is replaced for $500 to $900.

How to make a salt water chlorine generator last long

Although a salt water chlorine generator has a limited life span, you can make it last longer by following the right maintenance tips. This will not only reduce wear and tear but also, make your unit last longer. The tips include:

  1. maintain the right salt level of 2700 to 3900 ppm
  2. clean the cells only once every season
  3. do not clean the cells too often
  4. turn all electrical equipments off during a storm
  5. Maintain low calcium levels in the pool.
  6. Get a unit with a reverse polarity to reduce scale build up.