Once upon a time, the mere mention of a swimming pool brought a clear image to our minds: it consisted of sparkling, blue water and that unmistakable scent of bleach—or chlorine, to be exact. And we were actually more than okay with that. In fact to this day, the mere whiff of a chlorinated pool takes a whole generation of people right to their happy place: childhood summers. But in the 21st century, the traditional chlorine pool is not necessarily everyone’s go-to choice, because there are two other nifty residential pool options that are quickly gaining popularity: the saltwater pool and the natural pool (or natural swimming pond). There are a lot of reasons why one may be preferable to another, but at the end of the day, it all comes down to you and your preferences. Does chlorine bother your eyes? Are you a budding environmentalist? All questions that come into play when choosing a pool type.
To help you out, we put together an overview of all three options—take a look and get a feel for which one is right for you.
Chlorine Swimming Pools
Chlorinated pools are the old standard for most U.S. households and if you don’t mind the maintenance and chlorine side effects, they’re still a solid choice for households.
• Chlorine pools are typically less expensive than saltwater pools because you’re not paying for the chlorine generator up front.
• Chlorine continuously kills bacteria while some other systems only kill the bacteria present during a treatment.
• Chlorine is effective and when used properly, it’s very safe
• Chlorine must be regularly and diligently maintained in order to control bacteria and proper PH levels.
• Chlorine can irritate eyes, dry out hair & irritate skin.
• Chlorine tends to fade bathing suit colors
Saltwater Swimming Pools
Saltwater pools are definitely gaining in popularity. They’re gentler on skin, hair and eyes than chlorine and easier to maintain.
• Saltwater pools generate their own chlorine, so there’s no need to buy or handle chlorine
• No drying effects on swimmers’ skin and hair
• No chlorine odor
• Steady flow of chlorine prevents accidentally adding too much
• Arguably keeps pools cleaner than chlorine
• Saltwater pools are more expensive up front, but could save money down the line
• Saltwater filter systems tend to run longer than traditional to generate enough chlorine, resulting in higher energy bills
• Saltwater filter systems corrode copper pipes so plastic pipes would need to be installed
• Chlorine testing is still required on a regular basis
• Plant life near the saltwater filter system can be damaged from the resulting waste water
Natural Swimming Pools
Natural Pools or “ponds” have been all the rage in Europe for years, but it’s only been in the last 7 or 8 years that Americans have been joining in. Working as mini eco systems, plants and aquatic vegetation keep the water clean so there’s zero need for man-made chemicals.
• Completely environmentally friendly
• No chlorine side effects
• Lower maintenance costs
• Much less time consuming to maintain
• Pumps are smaller so energy bills tend to be less
• No pipe erosion
• Installation cost is typically the same per square foot as traditional swimming pools
• Filters still need to be cleaned and emptied
• If you’re squeamish, you may not like that various life forms could make their habitat in your pool
• The “regeneration zone” (plant area of the pool) must be pruned and cared for like any garden
Decisions, decisions. There are definitely arguments for all three pool types depending on your lifestyle and sensitivity to chlorine. Regardless of what you choose…there’s one commonality they all share: they’re our favorite summertime treat!