Exterior Pools & Water Features

Saltwater Pool vs. Chlorine Pool Cost: Which Type of Pool Best Fits Your Budget?

For homeowners interested in less upkeep and avoiding the irritation of chemical chlorine, a saltwater pool might be the answer. Comparing saltwater pool vs. chlorine pool cost is the first step to making an informed decision.
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For homeowners, there’s no shortage of choices to be made, and choosing the right type of swimming pool is no exception. For many homeowners, selecting a pool comes down to cost, and deciding between a saltwater pool system and a conventional chlorinated pool is a common decision. Some may be surprised to learn that chlorine is still used in saltwater pools—it’s just not added in the same way as using the best pool chlorine tablets. The main difference is that a saltwater swimming pool generates its own chlorine through a process called electrolysis, while traditional chlorine pools need the addition of chlorine on a regular basis. 

When comparing saltwater pool vs. chlorine cost, it’s important to consider the initial installation expenses, ongoing maintenance costs, and the overall lifespan of each type of pool. While saltwater swimming pools have a higher up-front cost due to the specialized saltwater system equipment, they typically need less maintenance over time. Traditional chlorine pools will cost less to install. However, they can be more expensive to maintain over time due to the amount of chlorine needed to keep the pH levels balanced and the steps required to prevent any type of algae growth. 

By looking over all the expenses associated with installing and maintaining a saltwater system pool and a traditional chlorine pool, homeowners can make an informed decision that will work the best for them and their family. 

Thinking about building a pool?
A pro can help you decide between a saltwater pool and a chlorine pool based on your budget. Talk to a top-rated local pro today.

1. Saltwater pools have a higher up-front cost than chlorine pools.

Saltwater pools have become more popular in recent years since they provide a natural and gentler way to keep a pool clean and sanitized. One common misconception about saltwater pools is that they are significantly more expensive to maintain than a traditional chlorine pool. While it’s true that a salted pool costs more to install, the long-term benefits and cost savings often outweigh the higher up-front cost. As far as the overall installation costs go, the cost of an inground pool, regardless of type, is relatively the same. The price differences are apparent with the equipment. Saltwater pools need a chlorine generator, corrosion inhibitors, and an additional pump. It’s recommended that homeowners get in touch with the best pool installation companies to get ideas and accurate quotes for their pool installation project. 

One of the main reasons saltwater pools cost more to install is because of the equipment required to run the system. This includes a chlorinator, pump, and plumbing, and can cost from $3,000 to $15,000, depending on the size and type of pool. There can also be the expense of additional plumbing work to consider, especially if a homeowner is interested in converting a pool to saltwater. The cost to convert from a standard chlorine pool to a saltwater option ranges between $1,500 and $10,000. 

Another reason for the higher up-front cost of saltwater pools is the cost of the salt itself. This can run from $100 to $300 per year. While salt is relatively inexpensive, the amount of salt that’s required for a pool to maintain the proper salinity levels can add up, especially for a larger pool. Traditional chlorine pools are less expensive to install since they don’t require the installation of specialized saltwater equipment. Instead, chlorine pools rely on the addition of pool chlorinating tablets or liquid chlorine to maintain the proper levels. The cost of the weekly chemicals, such as chlorine and the best pool stabilizers, can range from $400 to $800 per year. 

A close up of a solution being poured into a pool.
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2. However, saltwater pools require less maintenance than chlorine pools, which decreases the long-term costs.

Saltwater pools require less maintenance because the saltwater itself acts as a natural sanitizer, reducing the need for additional chemicals like chlorine. This means that pool owners do not have to constantly monitor and adjust the chemical levels in the pool, which can save time and money. Saltwater pools also don’t have the strong chemical smell that is often associated with chlorine pools, nor do they cause skin and eye irritation. 

Saltwater pools also don’t require as much cleaning as a traditional pool. For traditional chlorine pools, homeowners can hire one of the best pool cleaning services to keep the water crystal clear. For saltwater pools, the salt in the water helps to block algae growth, reducing the need for regular scrubbing and vacuuming. This means that homeowners can spend less time and money on saltwater pool maintenance and more time enjoying their pool. Saltwater pools use a salt chlorine generator to produce chlorine from the salt in the water. This eliminates the need to manually add liquid chlorine or chlorine tablets for pool maintenance. Because this process helps to maintain consistent levels, it reduces the time and cost to maintain a pool. The chlorine generator will need to be replaced about every 5 to 8 years at a cost from $500 to $1,500. 

3. Saltwater pools use more electricity than chlorine pools, so homeowners can expect a higher utility bill.

When comparing the pros and cons of saltwater pools, it’s important for homeowners to remember that saltwater pools actually use more electricity to run the saltwater equipment needed to convert the salt into chlorine. This process needs a constant flow of electricity to keep the generator running, resulting in higher energy costs. The added electricity costs average between $36 to $48 more per year, in addition to the cost of running the pool pump and any other electrical features. 

A close up of a person putting a chemical in a pool.
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4. Repairs for chlorine pools cost less than for saltwater pools.

One reason repairs for chlorine pools are cheaper is because of the simplicity of the pool system. Chlorine pools rely on the addition of chlorine to sanitize the water, while saltwater pools use a salt chlorine generator to convert salt into chlorine. If the generator breaks or malfunctions, the issue can be much more complex and expensive to repair. With a chlorine pool, it’s common for a homeowner to remedy many issues with one of the best pool home testing kits and the right mix of chemicals. 

Thinking about building a pool?
A pro can help you decide between a saltwater pool and a chlorine pool based on your budget. Talk to a top-rated local pro today.

5. Saltwater is gentler on swimwear than chlorine, so homeowners may save money on gear.

While it’s effective at its job, chlorine can also have negative effects on fabrics, including swimwear. Chlorine can cause colors to fade, fibers to break down, and elasticity to deteriorate. This means that swimsuits worn in chlorinated pools may need to be replaced more frequently, leading to additional expenses for homeowners. Saltwater is much gentler on fabrics and can help extend the life of swimwear. 

Although saltwater pools use a salt chlorination system to produce chlorine from salt, the concentration of chlorine is much lower than in traditional chlorinated pools. This means that the damaging effects of chlorine on swimwear are significantly reduced, allowing swimsuits to last longer and saving homeowners money in the process.

In addition to being gentler on swimwear, there are other saltwater pool benefits, such as the water being less harsh on the skin and eyes, not to mention having a more natural feel. While saltwater pools may require a higher up-front investment in terms of installation and maintenance, the long-term savings on swim gear and the overall experience can make them a worthwhile investment for many homeowners.

6. Chlorine pools are more durable than saltwater pools, which can make them a better long-term investment.

If the pH balance of a saltwater pool isn’t correct and a corrosion inhibitor (like a sacrificial anode, which is used to take the sacrifice of corrosion off the rest of the system) isn’t maintained properly, the saltwater can erode the metallic parts of the pool, including heaters, panels, and filters. A concrete pool that’s been converted to a saltwater system will most likely need to be resurfaced sooner since the salt can damage the surface of the pool material. The surfaces and fixtures in a pool are more vulnerable to wear and tear from saltwater, especially if there is a leak or a seal isn’t working properly. 

Because chlorine pools have long been the go-to option and have a track record of longevity, people tend to view them as durable. Repairs and replacements are often easy since the materials and equipment used in chlorinated pools, such as pumps, filters, and surface materials, are readily available. 

Saltwater pools can also be durable when properly maintained. While saltwater systems have more complex components, such as salt chlorine generators, modern advancements in technology have made them increasingly reliable and long lasting. With routine maintenance and upkeep, saltwater pools can provide many years of enjoyment. 

In the end, the durability of a pool depends on the quality of materials and equipment, the level of maintenance, and environmental factors. If homeowners take the time and effort necessary for proper upkeep, both types of pools can be durable for years to come. 

A view of a pool, two lounge chairs, and an umbrella by a beautiful modern house.
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7. A saltwater pool may have a higher return on investment than a chlorine pool when it’s time to sell the home.

One major advantage of a saltwater pool is its potential for a higher return on investment when it comes time to sell a home. This is because saltwater pools are becoming more popular with home buyers due to their lower maintenance and cost-saving benefits. A homeowner might be able to recover their original investment faster with a saltwater pool than with a traditional chlorine pool when it’s time to sell their home. Compared with the average cost to maintain a pool, saltwater pools have lower overall maintenance costs. For many potential home buyers, a saltwater pool is a much more desirable feature than a traditional chlorinated pool, and they may be more willing to pay extra for a saltwater option. 

Overall, the lower maintenance costs and improved swimming experience can make a saltwater pool a desirable feature for potential home buyers. This can increase the value of the home and potentially attract more buyers when it’s time to sell. 

Thinking about building a pool?
A pro can help you decide between a saltwater pool and a chlorine pool based on your budget. Talk to a top-rated local pro today.

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