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For people who love to swim regularly and want to lower the amount of chlorine they use as well as the amount of maintenance their pool needs, a saltwater pool is a great alternative. When it comes to building the pool itself, there are few differences between a chlorine 1 and saltwater pool. The difference is really in the addition of a salt chlorine generator and the fact that a few materials used around these pools may not hold up as well.
Therefore, the average cost to install a salt water pool ranges from $40,000-$60,000, with the average homeowner spending around $50,000 on a 12x24 foot vinyl inground pool.
|Salt Water Pool Installation Costs|
|National average cost||$50,000|
Owning a salt water pool can save you money on maintenance, but the cost to have one put in depends on the size. Just like chlorine 1 pools, larger pools require more materials so the price goes up as you increase the size you want. Additions that you choose, above ground or inground pools, and land preparation requirements increase the cost as well. Some popular inground pool sizes include:
For current pool 2 owners, converting your pool to a salt water pool is often a good option. Salt water is less irritating than chlorine 1 and costs less to maintain. Any type of liner 3 works with a salt water pool so vinyl 4, concrete, or fiberglass 5 pools cost the same to convert. Vinyl can become torn or pull away, however, if the metal parts attaching it to the shell become corroded.
The main difference in salt water pool conversion is the chlorinator 1 and the salt versus chemicals. Each type of pool has the same conversion process: balance the water to remove the chlorine, add the required amount of salt for your size pool, and wait about 24 hours. Then the chlorinator will be installed and wired to the existing plumbing. This may sound like a simple process, but requires knowledge about both plumbing and electrical wiring.
|Type of chlorine pool||Salt water pool conversion cost|
|Above ground chlorine pool||$400-$1,000|
|Inground chlorine pool||$800-$2,500|
Above ground chlorine 1 pools may be easier to convert, but if you have lots of metal parts, you may experience rusting of these parts. Resin pools are a better option for converting to avoid ongoing metal parts replacement issues. The cost to make your above ground pool into a salt water pool is $400-$1,000.
Inground chlorine pools typically require a little more work to convert to salt water because the plumbing is in the ground. Cost to convert is $800-$2,500.
The cost of pool types varies greatly. While above ground salt water pools are less expensive, they do not last as long as inground salt water pools. Some typical pricing for average sizes is included in the information below.
|Type/Average Size of pool||Cost|
|Above ground salt water pool||$3,000-$7,500|
|Inground salt water pool||$23,000-$30,000|
|Salt water lap pool||$50,000-$75,000|
|Salt water infinity pool||$50,000-$140,000|
|Indoor salt water pool||$156,000-$200,000|
While above ground pools are less expensive, the life expectancy is much lower and there is no return on investment if you sell your home. An above ground salt water pool costs $3,000-$7,500 for a 12 x 20 ft pool.
Inground pools are traditionally much more expensive than above ground pools. Inground salt water pools are no different, pricewise. To install an inground salt water pool, you can expect to pay $23,000-$30,000 for a 12 x 20 ft pool.
Lap pools are normally long pools specifically made for swimming laps. An above ground salt water lap pool runs $5,000-$30,000 while an inground salt water lap pool ranges from $50,000-$75,000. Lap pools are usually 82 feet long.
An infinity pool is designed to appear to have no edge around it. These pools are quite expensive, at around $50,000-$140,000 for a 12 x 20 ft pool and require special terrain on a slope.
Although indoor salt water pools have many advantages, the cost to build one can be prohibitive. The pool itself costs about the same as other inground pools ($16,000-$60,000) but the enclosure, as well as the need for a dehumidification system, will bring the total price to around $156,000-$200,000 for a 12 x 20 ft. pool.
Next to size and type, the largest contributing factor to a saltwater pool is the material that it is made from. Like chlorinated 1 pools, saltwater pools can be made of a variety of materials, each having positive and negative attributes:
($10,000 - $25,000)
Maintains color well
Lower electricity costs
Resists algae growth
Shape and size are limited
Can be slippery
($35,000 - $65,000)
Can be formed in any shape
Not as durable
Some types of walls cannot be used with salt waterLiner needs regular replacement
($49,500 - $100,000)
Lots of design versatility
Takes a long time to install
Costs more to run
($50,000 - $100,000)
Lots of design versatility
Highly aestheticFaster installation than gunite
Not as durable
Fiberglass salt water pool material is more resistant to algae and maintains its coloring well. The shell comes already made so installation is quick. However, buyers are limited on the size and shape of a fiberglass 5 pool and may experience a more slippery pool bottom. The maintenance of a fiberglass salt water pool is easy. The main thing you have to do is make sure it has enough salt to keep the levels right. A fiberglass salt water pool cost is $10,000-$25,000.
A salt water vinyl 4 pool liner 3 is the least expensive. They are easy and quick to install and consumers can choose from a variety of colors, sizes, and shapes. Vinyl liners tend to be less durable than other types of materials and will need to be replaced more often. You can expect to pay around $35,000-$65,000.
A salt water concrete pool (gunite 6) is probably the most versatile of all of the pools. There are many designs to choose from and you can expect your pool to be long-lasting. These pools are very aesthetically pleasing which makes them popular. The drawbacks are that they are expensive and take a longer time to install. Expenses to operate these pools are higher and walking in the pool is rougher than on other materials. A salt water concrete pool costs $49,500-$100,000.
A salt water shotcrete pool comes in at the highest cost of $50,000-$100,000. These pools boast as pleasing to look at, but are not as durable as other materials. Buyers can choose from a wide variety of designs and installation is quicker than a gunite pool. They are prone to cracking, however, so are not as practical in areas at risk for deep freezes or earthquakes.
The installation of a salt water pool is identical to a chlorinated 1 1 pool, with the exception of the salt chlorine generator being added at the end of the install.
For the installation of a fiberglass 5 pool, which is one of the more common materials used with salt water, the process involves excavating and hauling away the dirt from the yard.Then the leveling and sloping of the surrounding area will be done. If the property is fairly level 7 and has little to no rocks or trees to remove, the cost is on the lower end of the spectrum at $1,500. However, when cleaning up and preparing property that is more rocky or has clay soil, the homeowner could end up spending as much as $5,000. Tree removal can increase costs considerably at a cost of $300-$700 per tree. Additional items that may need to be done include building retaining walls at a cost of $4,500-$6,000, or septic tank relocation with costs in a range of $2,000-$4,500.
After the ground is prepared, the single-piece shell is installed. The stairs, filters, pumps 8, salt chlorine generator, and decking are installed last before the pool is filled and the salt and other chemicals added. The entire process takes about 2 weeks.
Fiberglass 5 pool shells are made off-site, while gunite 6 and shotcrete are applied on site in the shape of the pool. Vinyl is a combination of the two methods, with part of the pool made off-site and then applied on location. Other labor costs include the installation of the equipment and finishing of the deck.
Most contractors will charge a flat rate for the clean up, leveling, and any excavation required. However, the general cost per hour for land clearing will run about $110-$245 per hour. Land preparation for above ground salt water pools costs the same amount per hour, as costs are based on the condition of the property and what has to be done to install the pool.
Consumers will save money on chemical costs with a salt water pool but the electricity cost is slightly higher. The increase should only be about $40-$60 more per year than a chlorine 1 swimming pool. Pool owners can take steps to save energy by using a solar pool blanket at $50-$200, turn down the temperature on the heater when the pool isn’t in use and trimming trees that hang over the pool. The trees will shade the pool rather than allowing the natural sun to warm the pool. Taking these steps will also cut back on the amount of cleaning needed.
The amount of salt needed for your salt water pool is based on the size of the pool, whether you are filling it for the first time, if you are converting it from a chlorine pool, and/or the annual usage amounts. Your chlorinator should come with a chart showing the amount to add in order to reach the proper measurement according to the situation.
The levels should be checked before adding salt to an already prepared salt water pool. Levels should measure 2700-3400 parts per million 9 or ppm. A brand new salt water pool will initially need about 200 pounds of salt.
|Pool’s size||Pounds of salt needed to reach 3200 ppm|
While the name of the pool is called “salt water” and requires a lot of salt to run, this does not mean that the pool is devoid of chlorine. Instead, a salt chlorine generator turns the salt into chlorine 1, so the eventual levels of salt in the pool are around 3,000 parts per million(ppm) of dissolved salt. At 3,500 ppm is where most people begin to taste salt, which makes a salt water pool around 1/10 of the salt found in the ocean, closer to the amount found in human tears. So, the amount of salt cannot be tasted or felt.
Initially, about 200 pounds of pool salt is added to the water. A salt chlorine 1 generator, which costs between $500 and $2,500 for an inground pool, converts the salt to chlorine, filtering the pool. You still need other pool chemicals and to test the water, but the amount of chemicals and maintenance is far less because the generator controls the bulk of the job.
Salt water pools have some definite advantages over chlorine pools. However, there are some disadvantages as well. Most people find that the advantages of a salt water pool outweigh any potential negatives. Salt water pool pros and cons include:
Soft, silky feel to the water
Less drying to skin
Does not burn eyes
Uses fewer chemicals
Salt is inexpensive
Only need to add salt a few times a year
Corrosive to metals and stone
If not properly maintained, chlorine level can become too high
Parts may need to be replaced more often
Vinyl liners may rip apart due
to corroded parts
Cells in chlorinator need to be
replaced every few years
After the pool is built, it needs to be filled. Depending on your water supply, you may do it yourself with a hose for around $65, or you may need to hire a company to deliver the water. This can cost as much as $1,250 depending on how much water you need and how far it needs to travel to reach your property.
Just like a chlorine pool, a salt water pool has certain equipment that is necessary to its proper operation and maintenance. These items won’t last forever so knowing what to expect as far as replacement cost is important.
Although a pool heater is not a necessity, many people enjoy their pool more when they have one. The cost of adding one to your salt water pool is between $1,450 and $9,500 installed. Pool owners who live in areas where the temperatures get cold at night, but warm up significantly during the day, will want to have a pool heater. Keep in mind that a pool heater will increase your electric bill by $50-$200 a month, unless you purchase a gas- or solar-powered heater. There are several different choices in pool heaters. If your pool is smaller, you may want to purchase a tankless water heater.
When choosing salt water pool pumps 8, it is wise to consider one that has maintenance help capabilities such as telling you when the salt is low, self-cleans, has temperature detection, monitors water flow, and more. To buy a salt water pool pump for an above ground pool, you should expect to pay $475 and up. Inground pool pumps range from $700-$900.
Salt water pool filter systems use sand 10 to filter pool water and make it sparkling clean. A salt water pool filter system for an above ground pool is $200-$300 while an inground pool filter system is about $450-$1,500.
The maintenance of a salt water pool is generally considered to be lower than that of a chlorine 1 pool. salt water pools maintain themselves better, resulting in fewer chemicals, less algae, and less scale. It is common to spend around $100 in chemicals and salt per season as opposed to the $300 in supplies needed for a chlorine pool. Professional pool maintenance costs are also usually lower, closer to $500 for the entire season.
There are tasks that a pool owner will need to do on a regular basis to maintain the pool. Testing the water about once a week for free chlorine 1, stabilizer, or cyanuric acid and ph levels will help to know when the pool requires attention.
Monthly maintenance testing should be done as well. Using a testing kit, pool owners should check the salinity, alkalinity, calcium hardness, and total dissolved solids. You will also want to test for copper, iron, and manganese as these items should not be present in your water at all.
Doing yearly maintenance on your salt water pool will be easier if the weekly and monthly maintenance have been kept up. Pool owners should inspect the salt cells of the chlorinator to make sure they do not have any calcium build-up. With proper care, the cells should last 4-6 years, or slightly longer with diligent pool cleaning and correct chemistry balance. Every 3-6 years the salt cell will need to be replaced at a cost of $500-$800. If the salt cell fails and is not immediately replaced, chlorine cannot be created and your pool will become unsafe for swimming. Keeping the salt cell clean from salt build-up may extend the life of it.
The cost to maintain and clean a salt water pool on your own is about $40 a month or $480 annually. If you hire a professional, you can expect to pay $75-$125 a month or $900-$1,500 a year.
Salt water pool cleaning helps to keep your pool crystal clear and ready for swimming. In addition to skimming leaves, bugs and other debris, pool owners will need to remove debris from the skimmer, pump 8 baskets, and the automatic pool cleaner. Also, the pool will need to be vacuumed and the walls brushed with a stiff brush. The filter will need backwashing and salt cells should be routinely cleaned to avoid build-up.
Regarding the construction of the pool itself, there is little difference between a chlorine and salt water pool. The biggest differences come from the maintenance of the pool, how much it costs to run, how many chemicals you use, and how the water feels.
Chlorine 1 must be added weekly and the smell is in the air regardless of what you do. This adds up to an annual cost of $275-$975. It is also more irritating to the skin and eyes as well as changes the color and texture of human hair. Chlorine pool owners have to store dangerous chemicals. Safe storage is a vital part of chlorine as the fumes themselves are harmful if inhaled. Another concern is that chlorine pools need to be shocked more often.
On the other hand, salt water pools use a chlorinator to create chlorine from the salt. This device does use electricity so you may see an increase in your electric bill, but it shouldn’t be a significant amount. The chlorinator will most likely need cells replaced every few years at a cost of $500-$800 Maintenance consists of adding salt on occasion at a cost of $100-$400 annually.
As more and more people are becoming aware of the advantages of converting a chlorine 1 pool to a salt water pool, some are considering making their hot tub into a salt water hot tub. The benefits are the same as a salt water pool and the cost is about $500-$5,000. An additional consideration is the fact that hot tubs are much smaller than a pool. Two to four people in a tinier space emit more sweat, body oils and bacteria. This means that the salt levels may not maintain a sanitized environment as effectively.
If you want to lower the amount of maintenance you do on your chlorinator 1, consider investing in a self-cleaning system. Salt water pools have positively-charged calcium that lives in the water. The calcium is attracted to the negatively-charged electrode plates. A self cleaning salt water chlorinator uses reverse polarity to periodically change the charge of the electrodes to a positive charge, thus the calcium does not build as quickly. Although you will still need to clean the cells, the self cleaning chlorinator will eliminate much of the work. They cost between $500 and $2,000 on average.
It is common to have a pool deck installed around your pool for drainage and provide a non-slip surface. Typical decks cost around $7,000, although some may be included in the total cost of the pool.
Lights can be built into the sides of your pool for between $150 to $300 per light. You may also want to consider deck lights for around the same cost.
Your pool will likely require a cover if you plan on closing it at the end of the season. Covers come in several styles and cost between $75 for a traditional cover up to $15,000 for an automatic one.
In addition, you may consider a solar blanket 11 pool cover. These covers are a favorite due to the ability to contain 99% of water evaporation and to keep the balance of the water intact while covered. They are very easy to install and act like a solar heater, heating the water by up to 8 degrees. The best solar blanket for a salt water pool costs $50-$200.
Some pools have ladders included in the price, while others need it added on. Diving boards are usually an extra cost, although not recommended for fiberglass 5 pools because they are not deep enough to use safely. Ladders cost around $70 to $200 each, while diving boards run around $400.
Water features such as waterfalls ($450-$15,000) are aesthetically pleasing to add to the design. You can also add features such as fire ($100-$1,000), fountain bubblers ($50-$300), hot tubs ($10,000-$25,000), and grottos ($5,000-$10,000).
Preparing your pool for winter is a vital part of pool ownership. Harsh winter weather can cause pipes to freeze and crack. In addition, concrete or fiberglass 5 pools can crack in cold weather. The cost for closing or winterizing is $150-$300.
Landscaping rocks can add texture and beauty to your salt water pool. These are usually not real rocks as it can be problematic to obtain the amount needed and shipping heavy rocks is prohibitive. Hollow rocks run about $85 for a 21”x 21” size.
An accessible lift can be installed for those who are wheelchair-bound or who do not have full use of the legs or arms. This makes the pool usable by everyone. You can expect to pay around $3,000.
Saltwater pools are less irritating to the skin and eyes and are usually lower in maintenance and related costs.
Saltwater pools cost marginally more in some instances, depending on the type of pool and salt chlorine 1 generator involved. They typically cost less to run, however.
To convert an existing pool to a saltwater pool costs around $2,500 on average.
In most cases, yes, a saltwater pool is easier to maintain, requires fewer chemicals, and less cleaning.