A bit like marmite, salt chlorination is a love it or loathe it concept for the UK pool and spa trades. While an estimated 90% of all Australian residential pools and half of new domestic pools in France and North America favour salt water chlorination, the British market share languishes at a mere one per cent. Salt chlorination was first introduced to the UK pool trade during the late Seventies as industry expert, Chris Carr, of CC Filtration Services, recalls: “Sales of salt chlorinators in those days were based on their simplicity of operation and cost saving over traditional chemicals. “But although these devices operate on a relatively simple basis, there was a serious lack of understanding by some installers and owners alike,” Chris explains. “Pre-internet of course, there were very few places to learn about salt chlorination at that time,” Chris points out. “As a consequence a few problems were seen, the most memorable being the occasional disintegration of stainless steel pool ladders. Most likely this was due to incorrect pH or poor quality materials.
Nevertheless the salt chlorinator usually got the blame.” He adds: “Back then, most salt chlorinators did not have a ‘self clean’ facility for the cell, meaning an extra-messy cleaning job would be periodically required. As you might imagine, it didn’t take long for the ‘nothing but trouble’ whispers to get round the pool trade and before long promoters of salt chlorinators became a rare breed here in the UK.” Plastica sales manager, Steve Smith, says his company resisted the temptation of selling salt chlorinators for many years. “Plastica’s philosophy has always been to sell products that have either zero or very low failure rates,” says Steve. “Our experience indicated that the early salt chlorinators did not fit into this category. “Without question the technology, build quality and reliability of salt systems has improved over the past few years and most salt systems are now highly reliable.”
Steve continues: “The pool trade seems to be split into two camps; those that have embraced the technology and those that remain unconvinced. The fact is, all pool water sanitisers have their pros and cons. “For every salt chlorinator that you install, there’s one less customer who will be regularly buying chlorine from you,” Steve says. “There’s not much profit to be made in supplying salt. In terms of ongoing consumable sales, installing a salt chlorinator is a bit like a turkey voting for Xmas.” Salt can be corrosive, even at the low levels required for swimming pools (typically 3000ppm). Unless the pool equipment, ie heater, circulation pump, ladder and so on, are suitable, then corrosion is a distinct possibility. Equipment needs to be checked for compatibility before installing a salt chlorinator as pool water treated with salt chlorination have a tendency to increase in pH.
CC Filtration Services