Over the past few years, saltwater hot tubs have been gaining in popularity, especially as more homeowners are choosing saltwater systems for their swimming pools. Some people prefer them because it makes their skin feel better, however, others can be intimidated by their higher initial cost.
Before you have a saltwater tub installed or have your existing hot tub retrofitted, review these pros and cons to find out what tradeoffs you may need to make, and decide whether this change fits your needs and lifestyle.
What is a saltwater hot tub?
In a traditional chlorine or bromine hot tub, you would add the chemicals to the water in liquid, granule or puck form in order to increase the amount of chemical sanitizer in the water. With a saltwater tub, you would instead be using an electrolytic cell and adding the base ingredient that chemical sanitizer comes from – salt, specifically sodium chloride or sodium bromide. Instead of adding the chemicals to your hot tub, you would, in fact, be generating them naturally within the tub itself.
The electrolytic cell can either be built into a new hot tub or can be added to most existing hot tubs.
Now that you have a basic understanding of the saltwater system, let us break down the pros and cons…
The cons of a saltwater hot tub
1. Costly to install
The most common reason many people choose not to go with a salt water system is that it does carry a higher upfront cost to build. It is also expensive to convert an existing hot tub into a saltwater system. On top of that, the replacement cost of the cells is another expense you will need to factor in. The cells typically last 2-5 years, depending on the quality of the cell, how often you use your hot tub and how well you maintain it.
2. Requires more power
Unlike traditional hot tubs, saltwater tubs must be kept running at all times in order to keep the temperature of the water above 15.5°C otherwise the system may have difficulty producing chlorine. Expect to budget for high utility costs should you choose a saltwater system.
3. Prone to corrosion
Since salt is corrosive to metal, you will need to keep a close eye on your hot tub’s equipment. Saltwater systems have the potential to damage heaters, liners and underwater lighting if they are exposed to excessive salt levels.
This is especially a concern if you have converted an ordinary hot tub as it was not necessarily built to withstand saltwater.
To prevent this, you will need to stay on top of your hot tub’s maintenance and chemical levels.
The pros of a saltwater hot tub
1. Cheaper to maintain
While saltwater systems are more expensive up front, you will notice lower maintenance costs down the line as they do not require as many chemicals to maintain as traditional chlorine or bromine tubs. As an added bonus, that means you also do not have to handle or store harmful chemicals that can be dangerous to children and pets.
2. Gentle on sensitive eyes and skin
If you have sensitive skin or eyes and find soaking in chlorinated water irritating, a saltwater system may be the best option for you. Since chlorine is naturally generated in saltwater hot tubs, chloramines are less likely to build up and irritate your eyes and skin.
3. No strong odour
When chloramines build up they create that distinct chlorine smell that can linger on your hair and skin after a soak. Saltwater systems prevent chlorine from mutating into chloramine. Instead, when the naturally produced chlorine molecules are used up, they simply revert to odourless sodium chloride.
Still not sure if installing a saltwater hot tub is right for you? Book a consultation with us to discuss your options further.
Thinking about getting a saltwater pool instead? Check out our guide comparing saltwater and chlorine systems for swimming pools.