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Simply, salt water chlorinators produce two gases by means of the electrolysis of salt water. Chlorine gas is produced on one set of plates and Hydrogen gas on the other set of plates. The chlorine gas reacts with water to form hypochlorous acid which is the sanitising agent that everyone calls chlorine. The hydrogen gas mostly bubbles out of the pool. The salt levels in the pool remain the same as once the hypochlorous acid has done its job, chloride ions are returned to the pool. You will only lose salt when the salt actually leaves the pool as in backwashing the filters or dumping water after rain. If you salt losses are high, then you are well advised to test for a leak.

By means of a power supply, electrons are passed from one sets of plates to another which result in the formation of the two gases. Older style chlorinators needed regular cleaning because the flow direction of the electrons remained the same which resulted in calcium build up on one set of plates. With more recent technology the direction of the electron flow is changed at regular intervals which prevents the excessive build-up of calcium on the plates. Calcium is put on and then removed when the flow direction is changed. These latter chlorinators are referred to as RP (reverse polarity) or self-cleaning chlorinators.

Manual chlorinator cells (set of plates) are far less expensive than the self-cleaning cells and last a lot longer. If you have the time and other uses for your money, then manual cleaning chlorinators are still a viable option but not on a rental property.



As pool equipment goes, chlorinators have made pool care easy. When you look at the cost of running a chlorinator compared to the cost of cleaning up a green pool, you would be crazy not to add this item to your pool equipment range. If you rent out a property without a quality chlorinator you are begging for trouble.

Older Technology Type Chlorinators

These units use a basic power transformer (either E&I for the really old type or a Toroid), which results in a heavy control box. They run at about 65% to 68% efficiency, as the heat loss is quite high, but they do have the advantage of handling the harsh environment and will run for many years. The repair costs for these units are quite reasonable.

A 30 amp chlorinator on a 50,000 litre pool draws about 1 amp per hour which is 240 watts. If the chlorinator is run at full output for 8 hours a day the annual cost of power would be $199 (calculated as 0.24 kilowatts x 0.28479 dollars x 8 hours x 365 days) on tariff 11. If the system is run on tariff 33 (off-peak power) the power usage would be 61% of the $199, being $121. During the cooler months chlorine production should be turned down and many systems are run for less than 8 hours per day, further reducing the power consumption.

Care needs to be taken not to put too much salt in the pool as the excess salt will only result in more heat production which will damage the transformer especially if the control box area is not well ventilated.

On the other hand insufficient salt will damage the cell. Care needs to be taken when we experience days of heavy rain as the fresh water tends to sit on the top which is then drawn into your system, plus the fact that you are probably dumping water without considering the salt you are also dumping.

Switch Mode Chlorinators

These units use switching transformers (like those used in a computer) which are a lot smaller and lighter. They run at about 93% to 97% efficiency, so they use about 2/3 of the power (a saving of about 2 cents an hour for an average size pool) that the older units use to get the same result. They can be prone to damage from insects. The repair costs for these units can be quite high.

They will operate under high levels of salt without causing any problems, however low salt levels will damage the cell.



Chlrinator Cells, the’re all the same, right?   Wrong, wrong, wrong.

Years ago a bloke plonked a cell on the shop bench on a busy Saturday morning. I was quite concerned at what I was looking at and asked him where he found it. I was relieved (which is really not normal for a retailer) to learn that his son had purchased it on the internet. It didn’t come off our shelves. I was relieved because, while it looked genuine, the plates were clearly rubbish. He didn’t know that, and why should he, after all he hadn’t seen hundreds of them.

It’s not the cell, it’s not what it looks like, it’s the cell material that we concern ourselves with.  (To be continued)



If the pH of a pool is not controlled then you cannot expect the documented promises of a manufacturer to be met.

When adding a chlorinator to your pool equipment we take into account

  • pool volume
  • pool usage during the summer months during which time we can expect severe weather conditions that will also increase the demand for chlorine
  • filtration running times
  • water turnover rate
  • maintenance frequency
  • the debris load on the pool
  • whether or not there will be diligence in adjusting the pH and that’s rare.

While this might result in the over-sizing of a chlorinator for most of the year, it will also result in a longer life for the cell. The cells don’t go from 100% to 0% overnight. An over-sized chlorinator cell can deteriorate quite some way past the warranty period  before it needs replacing, especially during the winter months. That is, it will still produce sufficient chlorine if the chlorine demand isn’t high. If you feel your chlorinator has been a little shaky towards the end of summer, then it will probable get you through winter, but be prepared to have it checked when the weather warms up again.



Self Cleaning or Reverse Polarity

H2flo Salt Chlorinator

15 to 75 gram
“These chlorinators are manufactured in Queensland by a business where the principal and his father before him have a long history with the development of salt water chlorinators in Australia. We chose to support this product because previous products (that go back over 10 years) produced by them, while not commonly seen in the field, were proving to be very good. We prefer the older style transformers they use. These chlorinators come with a four year warranty on the control box plus, a four year or 10,000 hour warranty (whichever comes first) on the cell for all sites including commercial. We have started replacing cells on the predecessor to this model, the Puraflo. The cells for both units are the same. Those cells are getting around 18,000 hours before they need replacing, but a lot of that is due to our over-sizing of the chlorinators (to ensure sufficient chlorination during the middle of a nasty weather summer).”


Arrange an Onsite Meeting

Let us know the volume (or dimensions) of your pool and we will bring out our preferred chlorinator suitable for your pool. We will install right away if you are happy with our installed quote.

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