10 Best Salt Water Chlorinator for Pools 2023 – Reviews & Top Picks
Choosing a salt water chlorinator for your pool can be overwhelming, which is why we got our experts to test out the top salt water chlorinators on the market and give us their unbiased reviews.
We’ve found 10 of the best, and we discuss in depth which ones are worth your money, and which may not be worth your time.
Keep reading to find out which salt water chlorinator is best for you and your pool.
A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites in 2023
|Best Overall||Pentair IntelliChlor Salt Chlorine Generator||
|Best Value||NeXa Chlor Pool Salt Chlorine Generator||
|Premium Choice||Hayward Electronic Salt Chlorination System||
|Solaxx Saltron Retro Self Cleaning Salt Chlorine Generator||
|ControlOMatic DO Saltwater Chlorine Generation System||
The 10 Best Salt Water Chlorinator for Pools
1. Pentair 520555 IntelliChlor Salt Chlorine Generator – Best Overall
At the top of our list is the Pentair 520555 IntelliChlor Salt Chlorine Generator. If you happen to follow our reviews, you will start to recognize that Pentair makes it into a lot of the top spots. The Pentair products are generally reasonably priced, high quality, and hold up over time. This Pentair Salt Chlorine Generator is no exception.
On the top of the unit, there is an easy-to-read display that allows you to quickly check the salt levels, see if it is time to clean the cell, and check on the water flow as well. If you need to adjust anything as far as chlorine production is concerned, you can quickly press a few buttons, and the chlorinator will adjust for you.
In addition to being able to adjust the salt levels quickly, you can also set the hours of operation and set cell cleaning cycles to help yourself remember when it is time to service the equipment.
The downside of this cell is that you will need to get the Intellichlor Power Center that is sold separately. With this feature, you can check on real-time data as the cell works to clean your pool.
You will see as we go through these reviews that salt water chlorinators are not cheap. It is one of the more expensive factors of having a salt water pool. When you spend money on the chlorinator, you will save it on chlorine. Overall, we think that this is the best salt water chlorinator on the market today.
2. NeXa Chlor Pool Salt Chlorine Generator – Best Value
If the Pentair option is more than you would like to spend and you’re just looking for a low-cost way to generate chlorine in your salt water pool, the NeXa Chlor is an interesting and affordable choice. This NeXa Chlor will function a bit differently than the Pentair, and the setup is effortless.
With the NeXa Chlor you simply plug the unit into a standard GFCI outlet and place the cell over the edge of the pool. It does not need to be installed in your pump or filter system. It is a stand-alone unit that is used to help generate chlorine in a salt water pool.
This is an energy-efficient model, and it does come with a one-year warranty from the manufacturer. Although this is a great option when it comes to above ground pools and smaller in-ground pools, if you have a very large salt water pool, it is highly unlikely that this machine will keep up with the required chlorine production. The NeXa Chlor would also be a good choice for a spa, as it works fine in warmer temperatures as well.
3. Hayward W3AQR15 Electronic Salt Chlorination System – Premium Choice
Are you surprised that the Hayward model is our premium choice? There is no question that Hayward knows how to make some really great pool equipment; they just charge a lot for it. This Hayward W3AQR15 is an excellent salt chlorination system that comes with some key benefits.
The Hayward W3AQR15 is sold as a set, so you will get the salt water cell and the information system that allows you to set it, change operating times, check on cleanliness of the cell, and salt production.
This particular chlorinator claims to cut chlorine costs by up to about fifty percent. We would agree that it will absolutely help to save you some money and time having to replace the chlorine in the pool regularly.
We do love that this unit comes in a variety of sizes, so you will save a bit of money if you have a smaller pool. The only downside to the Hayward system that keeps it out of the top spot, is the pricing.
4. Solaxx CLG10A Saltron Retro Self Cleaning Salt Chlorine Generator
We are back down to reality now on the pricing with this Solaxx CLG10A. Right off the bat, we will tell you that this salt water chlorine generator is only going to work for a pool of up to 20,000 gallons. If you have a larger pool, you can move right along to the next review.
This is a self-contained unit similar to the NeXa Chlor option. You will not have to do any plumbing to install this unit, as it just hangs over the side of your pool.
The Solaxx has a programmable timer, and it will help to maintain a constant chlorine level in your pool. If you have been wanting to switch to a salt water pool and don’t want the hassle of completely reworking your pool system, this chlorine generator could do the trick.
The problem we have seen pool owners have with this salt water chlorinator is that it tends not to hold up long term. If you have a pool in a warm climate and will be using this every day for the entire year, you may want to look into a different option. For a seasonal pool chlorine generator, it should be fine.
5. ControlOMatic DO Saltwater Chlorine Generation System
Right in the middle of our list is the ControlOMatic DO Saltwater Chlorine Generation System. This is a great option for a smaller pool or a spa. There are two sizes of units—one is just for 1,000 gallons of water, and the other is for up to 17,000. This ControlOMatic is a bit more expensive than some of the stand-alone units, but it is still a fair value.
This salt water chlorinator will work around the clock, and it has 10 built-in power levels. Luckily, you can just plug this unit in, and it will be up and running; there is no need for any additional plumbing. The ControlOMatic can generate up to 30 grams of chlorine per day and features built-in cleaning technology.
6. Circupool Universal40 Saltwater Chlorinator
Next up is the Circupool Universal40 Saltwater Chlorinator. This is a complete system that does require some plumbing and a place to plug in the main controller as well. This salt water cell has a view-through window that allows you to see the most important information without opening the door to the control panel.
Many pool owners use this unit as a replacement for a Hayward or Aqua Rite salt water cell. The Circupool comes with a four-year limited warranty, and there is no penalty for installing the unit yourself. This is a lower-priced unit that is guaranteed to fit into your system as a replacement.
There are a few things that users experience with this chlorinator that are worth mentioning. A few customers said that you need to install an extra timer if you want to make sure the chlorinator turns on and off at the correct times. The unit had trouble shutting down when the pump shuts down. Another issue that came up was the light coming on, saying the cell needed cleaning, but it didn’t. Those cleaning indicator lights can be a bit sensitive, and you will see through the years that they will become less accurate on many of the salt water chlorinators that we reviewed.
7. BLUE WORKS BLH40 Pool Chlorine Generator Chlorinator
Coming in seventh place is the Blue Works BLH40 Pool Chlorine Generator, this model is generally considered a replacement model for many of the Hayward and AquaRite models. This is a complete unit that comes with the control board and the salt cell for a very fair price. You can adjust the chlorine output with the touch of a button.
Like most of the chlorine generators that we reviewed, the Blue Works has a clear cell, so that you can easily inspect and make sure it is working for you. One of the really nice things about the Blue Works model is that you won’t need to clean the cell. It has a reverse polarity system that cleans it for you.
The reason that this model ended up so far down on our list is that it seems to cause issues after a short time. Most users mentioned that they had no trouble with this chlorinator initially, and then as they used it, they started to notice it was not registering the correct amounts of chlorine. When testing the chlorine, the pool actually did have enough chlorine in it. Not being able to trust the numbers on your salt water chlorinator tends to be a long-term problem.
8. Saltron CLG02A-2TR Saltwater Chlorine Generator
The Saltron CLG02A is not on the bottom of the list because of its results or quality, but simply because this is more for a spa than a pool. The Saltron will work to clean up to 2,000 gallons of water. It is a stand-alone unit that does not need to be worked into the plumbing system of your hot tub or spa.
This unit can be up and running in just a few minutes and is very energy-friendly. You can use the built-in timer to make sure you run the Saltron for just the right amount of time each day. The cell for the Saltron Saltwater Chlorine Generator is Titanium, which is the best option out there.
9. Zodiac APURE35 Electronic Salt Water Chlorine Generator
In the second to last spot, we have the Zodiac Apure35 Electronic Salt Water Chlorine Generator. This model is designed to support a pool of up to 35,000 gallons of water. It is a hard-wired system that will also need to be reworked into the plumbing of your pool.
The good thing about this unit is that it has automatic reversing polarity that helps to reduce calcium buildup, you will not need to clean this cell all that often. The programming for the Zodiac is also quite simple and won’t take up too much of your time.
The main problem is that this Zodiac AP does not hold up well over time. Most pool owners report having a good two to three years when issues start to arise. Three or four years is simply not enough time for a piece of pool equipment that is this expensive. With all of the other options we have put together for you, this option really doesn’t make as much sense.
10. AutoPilot DN2 Salt Chlorine Generator
Last on our list is the AutoPilot DN2 Salt Chlorine Generator. The AutoPilot made it to the bottom of the list because of the inconsistencies. Some users have no trouble with this unit, but most experience several issues.
The installation of the AutoPilot seems to be more complicated than other units we have discussed, especially our top three. Some people experienced a problem with the control panel on the unit, but mostly, we noticed the inconsistent chlorine production. Sometimes, the AutoPilot takes the term auto-pilot a bit too seriously and starts producing way more chlorine than it needs to.
Buyer’s Guide – Purchasing the Best Salt Water Chlorinator for Pools
Now that you have more information about salt water chlorinators than you ever thought you needed, you will have to choose which one of these will work best for you. We can help narrow things down for you a little bit by letting you know the key factors that must be considered before purchasing a salt water chlorinator.
Not all pool salt water chlorinators are created equal. Some units are made just for a hot tub or spa, and others can work on large commercial pools. Usually, the larger your pool, the more expensive the chlorinator will be. If you have a 30,000-gallon pool, do not buy a unit that is rated for pools up to 25,000 gallons. The cell will not be able to produce enough chlorine to keep the pool clear and safe for swimming. The whole idea of having a saltwater pool is to make things easier on yourself, purchasing the wrong size cell to save a few dollars will only make your life more complicated.
Type of Unit
Salt water chlorinators come in two basic types. One is going to be a stand-alone unit that you plug in and put over the side of your pool. Another option is going to be the cell that gets placed into your current pool plumbing system. The stand-alone units are easier to install, but they are generally only recommended for smaller pools and spas. They don’t have enough power or water flow to chlorinate a large 40,000-gallon pool properly.
Why Salt Water?
If you are thinking of switching to a saltwater pool, but are wondering if it is the right choice for you, here are a few positives to owning a saltwater pool:
- Lower chlorine levels
- Easier on skin and eyes
- Less exposure for pool owners to chlorine and handling of chemicals
- Water feels softer
- Less overall maintenance
These are the top reasons to switch to a saltwater pool. Just like anything in the pool ownership world, there are some downsides to the saltwater pool as well. The major disadvantage of the salt water system is that it is expensive for the initial costs of the system. Salt water can also be very harsh on some materials and some other pool equipment. You have to be sure that your other pool equipment is compatible with a salt water system before switching.
There is no ideal system; you have to choose what works best for you. The majority of pool owners would most likely say that the salt water system was easier to manage overall, but there is undoubtedly a learning curve involved.
There are so many choices out there, and they all claim to be the best. Once you decide which type of unit you want, we suggest taking another look at our top 10.
The Pentair is such a great unit that is both long-lasting and easy to use; the one downside to it is that you will need to buy the control panel for it as well. The initial investment in the Pentair unit will pay off in the amount of chlorine you use and the amount of time you spend continually adding chlorine to your pool.
If the Pentair is a bit more than you would like to spend, then you may need to look at a stand-alone unit that works without being tied into your current pool plumbing system. The NeXa Chlor is a very affordable stand-alone pool chlorinator that is more than capable of adequately chlorinating a smaller pool for a very low price.
Whatever option you choose, make sure you purchase a chlorinator that is the correct size for your pool.