The Boston Diaries

The ongoing saga of a programmer who doesn't live in Boston, nor does he even like Boston, but yet named his weblog/journal “The Boston Diaries.”

Go figure.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Chlorinate your pool without chlorine

Mark was eager to show me his latest toy that was just installed at his house—a chlorinator. I'm sure his having a hand in the development lead to part of his enthusiam for the Saltron™.

[The very latest in computer controlled chlorinators][Analog circuitry to drive the converter][The computer controller for the device]

I'll admit, never having seen one of these units before, it's quite cool how it works. It's hooked inline with the pool pump, and converts ordinary salt (sodium chloride—the stuff you put on food) that is dumped into the water into chlorine.

[Cheaper than chlorine]
[You dump in the salt]
[Salt water comes in, chlorinated water comes out]
[Leaving your pool looking this nice]

The process uses an electrochemical process to extract the chlorine from the salt. The unit where the conversion takes place does get dirty over time, but it's designed to be removed and cleaned using an acid bath to remove the scales that build up over time. The computer controller that Mark helped develop reverses the polarity of the device every four hours since the scales develop on the negatively charged end—this is to keep the deposit buildup fairly consistent over the entire device making it last longer between cleanings (or replacements).

The unit is still being tested and Mark has one of the 50 prototype units, and apparently, the company that makes them is still looking for more testers. If anyone reading this is interested, I can forward your request to Mark.

Updates on October 20th, 2009

I posted a link to this entry on MyFaceSpaceBook and got a few comments back. One from my friend Mike Maurer:

From a pool guy … Saltwater pools do have disadvantages! Pools that use chlorine tablets (tri chlor), and pools that use salt (sodium chloride) are very similar. The first thing to understand is that both use chlorine. Both systems require sodium bicarbonate, calcium chloride, and muriatic acid to make chemistry adjustments. Salt chlorine systems require the addition of stabilizer (cyanuric acid) and salt which tablet pools do not. Stabilizer holds chlorine in the water. Chlorine tablets have this chemical in them already. The average pool in Orlando Florida (18,000 gallons) uses 400 pounds of salt and 60 pounds of stabilizer a year. These chemicals again, are not required in a tablet pool. Salt systems have a metal cell and an electronic control panel that cost about $1,000. The cell on average lasts for three years and costs $350 to replace. $1,350 would pay for all of your pool chemicals for an average pool for 10 years. Does anyone have a water fall? Salt builds up on any surface that gets wet and then dries just like going to a mild beach. The chemical to keep the salt from building (jacks magic) runs 21 dollars a month. As a pool retailer I hope that all pools will convert to salt, because we don't make any money on chlorine tablets. The prices have been consistent for 20 years. Salt and stabilizer though can be priced at my discretion because mass merchants don't carry them. Selling the cell is also great: Whereas a $5-chlorine tablet floater will last for ten years, the cell only lasts for three.

Mark likes the salt system because it's less work for him overall—just dump in a bunch of salt every couple of months and in a few years, wash or replace the cell.

That, and I think he got his chlorinator for free, from working on it.

The other comment, from Chris Monahan:

Yes—just got done with a revamp on my pool. I was intrigued by the salt option. My pool contractor said the salt option works pretty well but had problems associated with keeping acid balance and chem levels. He also said the salt will tend to make the edges higher maintenance—though my understanding is that the salt is very low … Read Moreconcentration. He suggested I go with an ozonater—something I had previous used in fish ponds and loved—always wondered why they were not big on pools. Its basically kills everything in the water by passing it through a strong UV light, creating a small amount of O3 as it does—which works to sterilize your pool. You can go without chlorine, but he recommended keeping low levels of chlorine. From my experience with my fish pond I will likely use very small amounts of algacide as well to ensure that nothing gets a foothold. The water is largely toxic chemical free—enough that I could probably let fish live in it (of course that would introduce way more probs). I plan to keep a single chlorine tab in my autochlorinator and give it a quarter-dose of all-in-one once every three or four months. Its too new for me to tell you how well this works—give me a couple of months and I will let anyone interested know how well it works if they ask. My pool is 22K gal in north Fla.

Interesting …

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