Initially setting up the chlorine output on your saltwater generator or saltwater system can be complicated once you turn it on and realize that there are so many factors that affect the chlorine output of a SWG. To make it easy I will refer to the salt system going forward as the SWG. I will go over each factor for you here so that you get a better idea of how to set your chlorine output for that ideal range of 3-5 ppm.
How large your pool is or specifically how many gallons of water are in it is a big factor. If your pool is 8,000 gallons the SWG will have an easier time producing chlorine. The larger the pool the larger the Salt Cell rating is needed and the longer the run time.
Salt Cell Size:
Each SWG has different salt cell sizes. For example, the Intellichor 40 and Hayward T-Cell 15 are rated for a pool up to 40,000 gallons. The Ichlor 30 and Jandy TruClear are rated for pools up to 30,000. The Intellichlor IC20 for a pool up to 20,000. Your salt cell should be rated for your pool size to be effective. If you put an IC20 in a 25,000-gallon pool it will need to run 24/7 just to be partially effective. An IC40 in a 15,000-gallon pool would be ideal with plenty of margin.
Salt Cell Output Setting:
A SWG will allow you to change the chlorine output on your salt cell. You can run your salt cell at 100% output which means as long as the pump is on the SWG will be making chlorine. If you set it at 50% that means that during a one hour period when the pump is on it will be off for 30 minutes and on for 30 minutes. It will only produce ½ the chlorine at 50% output. The output % is another factor.
Pump Run Time:
The longer you run your pool pump the more chlorine the SWG will produce. If you run your pump for 20 hours the SWG set at 100% will be producing more chlorine than a pool running for 10 hours at 100% output. If you have a Variable Speed Pump running it at 3000 RPM for 8 hours will produce more chlorine than running it at 2400 RPM for 8 hours. Note that the max speed of a pump is calculated at 3450 RPM which is the speed of a standard single-speed non-variable speed pump.
Cyanuric Acid Level (CYA):
Like any other form of chlorine, the SWG is producing chlorine that needs to be protected from the harsh UV rays of the sun. Ideally, your CYA level should be 30-50 ppm but if you notice the chlorine level is still not holding you can increase the CYA to 80 ppm. If the CYA is below 30 ppm chances are your SWG will be producing chlorine at a rate that is less than the burn off from the UV rays. Check to make sure the CYA is at alt least 30 ppm.
Overall Water Quality:
Phosphates, nitrates, contaminants like suntan lotion, body oil, pets swimming all effect how the chlorine produced by your SWG is used up. If you have a Phosphate level over 500 ppb chances are the chlorine generated won’t hold day to day. If the pool has a very high bather load every day chances are the SWG can’t keep up with the usage. Treat these issues to ensure the SWG can produce enough chlorine each day. If you have a high bather load increase the pump run time and set the SWG to 100% output.
The colder the water the less effective the SWG production will be. SWG works poorly in colder water and most of them stop generating chlorine when the water temperature is in the 60-degree range.
Dirty Salt Cell: if the salt cell has calcium build up on the cell plates it will produce less chlorine even set at 100% output. Make sure you inspect your salt system regularly to see if there are any warning lights on the controller indicating a dirty salt cell (calcium build up on the plates).
If the salt level is below 3000 ppm most SWG will work at a reduced output or won’t work at all. Make sure to check the pool’s salinity level or salt level so that it is at the manufacturer’s recommended level.
To set your SWG output you will need to combine some of these factors to get the 3-5 ppm chlorine output. If you notice your chlorine is at 1 ppm and your pool’s runtime is good but the SWG is set to only 40%, simply increase the output. If your output is at 100% put your pump is not running long enough, simply increase your pump run time. Doing a combination of these factors will allow you to set the correct chlorine output level.
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