Pool Ionizer vs. Salt Chlorinator: Cost, Pros and Cons

There is a myth- the saltwater pool is a healthier alternative option to a chlorine-treated swimming pool. But the truth is- a salt water pool uses salt chlorinator, which also produces the same chlorine to sanitize your pool. 

On the other hand, a pool ionizer uses ions to disinfect your pool by killing bacteria & algae. Indeed, you don’t need to use a lot of chlorine to keep the pool crystal clear. 

In short, both pool ionizers and salt chlorinators have upsides and downsides. And this comparison guide on the Pool Ionizer Vs. Salt Chlorinator will help the pool owners compare both systems and let you pick the right one. 

Pool Ionizer

A Pool Ionizer is an electric device that uses copper and silver ions to sanitize your swimming pool by killing bacteria & algae. Silver ions are effective to get rid of bacteria, while copper ions work like a charm to control algae. You can find two types of ionizers- electric and solar. An electric ionizer requires you to connect it with the pump and filter system. On the other hand, a solar ionizer can float on the water and works as a floating chlorine dispenser. 

How Does A Pool Ionizer Work


Water goes out of your swimming pool into the suction line. Then, it travels through the pump, filter, and pool heater (if you have one). You need to place the ionizer next to the heater, and water goes through the ionizer and gets sanitized when traveling through it. 

The pool ionizer electrodes use copper and silver as their construction material. It uses low-voltage DC current to energize electrodes and maximizes the sanitizing properties to disinfect the pool water. 

Pool Ionizer Pros and Cons

Pool ionizers have both upsides and downsides. And this chapter will let you know what advantages you will enjoy if you get a pool ionizer. Also, you will get an idea about the minorities of the pool ionizer system. 


  • You will get softer water and never experience eye & skin irritation. 
  • As the ionizer makes the water soft & silky, it also doesn’t damage the pool equipment by corroding or rusting. 
  • You don’t need to invest extra money in chemicals.
  • Affordable to operate
  • Less need for chlorine


  • Still, it requires you to add chlorine. 
  • It may stain the pool surface.

Salt Chlorinator

Saltwater pools use salt chlorinator to convert salt into liquid chlorine. A salt chlorinator or salt generator is an electric device that uses salt and converts the salt cell into chlorine to sanitize your pool. There is a myth that salt chlorinators don’t use chlorine to disinfect water. But the truth is- it produces chlorine to purify your swimming pool.

In real life, saltwater pools have just as much chlorine as pools treated with direct chlorination in chlorine pools, which is usually between 1.0 ppm and 3.0 ppm.

How Does A Salt Chlorinator Work

The salt chlorinator or generator uses the electrolysis process. And the electrolysis process helps to break down the salt and generate chlorine by charging saltwater electrically and splitting the salt (NaCl) molecule into chlorine(Cl). And this chlorine will help to disinfect the saltwater pools.

A salt generator contains a cell and a control board. The cell part converts the salt (Sodium Chloride) often known as table salt into chlorine. The control board provides electricity to do the electrolysis process.

Indeed, it requires you not to add chlorine to your pool directly. In other words, the salt chlorinator produces chlorine in an eco-friendly way to sanitize the water.

Furthermore, magnesium chloride and potassium chloride may be converted into chlorine through electrolysis instead of sodium chloride.

Salt Chlorinator Pros and Cons

In this chapter, we will highlight what advantages and disadvantages a salt chlorinator has. 


  • The salt generator makes the pool water soft. It means you will never suffer from eye and skin irritation. 
  • Require no or little maintenance 
  • You don’t need to buy chlorine which saves money.


  • Installation cost is a bit expensive
  • Muriatic acid is required to clean salt cells. 
  • The chlorine it produces may damage pool equipment.

Pool Ionizer Vs Salt Chlorinator: Which Is The Best?

Now, it’s time to discover what the difference lies between the pool ionizer and salt chlorinator. 

Sanitizing Efficiency

When it comes to sanitizing efficiency, a salt chlorinator performs the best than an ionizer. The salt generator uses salt and converts it to chlorine. And you know how chlorine is effective at killing algae and bacteria. 

On the other hand, a pool ionizer system works slowly and takes a lot of time to be effective. Therefore, it requires adding chemicals, aka chlorine, to the swimming pool to sanitize the water. 


In terms of maintenance, pool ionizers are the winner. They require less cleaning workflow. You just need to shock the mineral pools often. However, the mineral cells of the pool ionizer may get scaled up if you have hard water. 

In contrast, maintaining the salt chlorinator is a bit challenging. You need to clean the salt cells of your salt generator regularly. Therefore, you should balance the water regularly as it may boost the chlorine level in your pool.  


The initial cost of getting a salt generator is a bit expensive. You should spend between $500-$2500 or more to get a reliable salt chlorinator. Salt chlorinators that come from Hayward or Pentair may cost you a leg and arm. Also, you might need some additional cost to get it installed professionally. However, it requires a low amount of money to operate. 

In contrast, you will get a pool ionizer at $300-$2000. In short, it’s affordable compared to a salt chlorine generator. The replacement cost of pool ionizer systems is also low. However, the operating cost is a bit high as you need to buy chlorine additionally. 


How long does a salt chlorinator last? Well, it will serve you for 3-7 years if you maintain it properly. On the other hand, a pool ionizer will last only for 6-12 months. The silver and copper rods of it will degrade over time and can break down easily. 


Both salt chlorinator and pool ionizer have advantages and disadvantages. A salt chlorinator will produce chlorine in an eco-friendly way and disinfect the pool water optimally. 

On the other hand, a pool ionizer works slowly to be effective and sanitize water. But it makes the pool water more soft and silky than the salt chlorinator. 

If we were you, we would go with the salt chlorinator though its initial price is high. But in the long run, it will serve you better as it’s durable, requires less money to operate, and sanitizes the pool optimally. 

However, you can also go for the pool ionizer if you are on a budget.

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