How to choose an ionizer for my residential pool?
We have written this detailed guide on how to choose an ionizer, to ensure that the water in your pool is always clean, transparent and free of microorganisms, because pool owners are not currently using chemicals that are harmful to your health, such as chlorine and sodium.
Water ionization equipment becomes a great alternative. We hope this reading is helpful for you.
Before everything… Why are people currently cleaning their pool choosing an ionizer?
When most people think about how they can keep their pools clean they immediately think about chlorine. But in recent years people have discovered how toxic and dangerous chlorine can be.
Overexposure to chlorine can cause a myriad of health conditions and increase the risk of children developing allergies or asthma. Excessive exposure to chlorine can also lead to bladder problems, cancer and heart disease.
So, if chlorine is so bad for people how can they keep their pools clean and beautiful? The answer is water ionizing.
What are the benefits of water ionizing in swimming pools?
There are many advantages to using water ionization instead of chlorine in swimming pools. When you use ionized water in your pool here are a few of the benefits you can expect to enjoy:
- Effectively gets rid and kills bacteria in the pool water, such as listeria, algae, escherichia coli and cryptosporidium.
- It is not hazardous to the lungs and will not cause breathing problems or asthma attacks.
- Healthier for young children and older adults to swim in.
- There are no harmful gases being let off into the air.
- Does not cause problems for the eyes, ionized water will not cause eyes to get red, itchy, puffy or irritated.
- It will not make peoples hair turn green from swimming in the water.
- Does not cause itchy skin, rashes or irritable skin conditions.
- It does not allow infections to occur in the ear, so characteristic of swimmers.
- Cleaning is not altered if the water is too hot or cold.
- The ultraviolet rays (UV) and evaporation does not have any effect on it.
- It utilizes green technology which is better for the Earth and leaves a smaller footprint on the world.
- There are no scum lines along the sides of the pool.
Now that we know the great benefits of ionization, we ask ourselves. How does this technology work?
For centuries, copper and silver have been used to maintain water quality due to the fact that ions from these metals inhibit the growth of bacteria.
Today, the recreational swimming pool, use copper and silver ionizers to perform the same function: release silver and copper ions into the pool or spa water to inhibit bacteria and algae growth.
Like other supplemental devices such as ozonators and UV systems, ionizers help to disinfect, therefore, it allows to use lower concentrations of chlorine or bromine, satisfying the consumer’s common desire to “use the least amount of chemicals”.
Silver ions released into the pool or spa function as a bacteriastat. At the concentration released by ionizers, however, silver ions kill bacteria more slowly than is acceptable for pool and spa applications — thus the need for a sanitizer such as chlorine or bromine.
Silver ions released into the pool or spa function as a bacteriastat, at the concentration released by ionizers, however, silver ions kill bacteria more slowly than is acceptable for pool and spa applications — thus the need for a sanitizer such as chlorine or bromine.
Nevertheless, in the presence of low levels of sanitizers, silver ions produce a bacterial kill rate at least as high as the 1 ppm to 2 ppm of chlorine level found in public pools.
Copper ions, on the other hand, act as an algaecide or algae inhibitor depending on concentration, it also becomes an effective bacteriside, but presents problems with certain bacteria (including several bacterial species such as Pseudomonas), which rapidly develop resistance to copper ions.
Still, low concentrations of copper can help prevent algae growth if the concentrations of chlorine or bromine drop to an insufficient level, a condition that can occur for a variety of reasons.
Just as important as an understanding of the ionizers capabilities is a knowledge of what ionizers can’t do.
As a standalone device, ionizers do not sanitize pool or spa water, thus, they must be used in conjunction with an EPA-registered sanitizer, such as chlorine or bromine.
Electrolytic metal-ion generators have no ability to oxidize, either. You should consult the product manufacturer for list of oxidizers compatible with your ionizer.
Typically, for proper oxidizing, it is necessary to periodically shock or superchlorinate the pool water to destroy any oxidizable contaminants entering the pool from the bather or environment.
On the other hand, the biggest risk with pool ionizers is discoloration of your pool lining from the minerals in the water, nevertheless, this is very rare with modern systems which are computer controlled.
However, it is important to test the mineral level in the water regularly to make sure it is in the recommended range. It is also important to test the pH regularly because when it goes out of the typical range, the minerals collect on surfaces more easily.
6 keys you should know about ionizers
- Silver ions act as a bacteriastat, but the action is slow compared to the action of sanitizers such as chlorine or bromine.
- Copper ions are an effective algaecide.
- Copper/silver ionizers require a sanitizer such as chlorine/bromine for daily sanitation and a supplemental oxidizer to control organics from bathers and the environment.
- Copper/silver ionizers are incapable of oxidizing contaminants.
- The NSF/ANSI Standard 50 for ionizers requires the addition of chlorine or bromine.
- There is an increased probability of staining pool surfaces if the concentrations of copper and/or silver ions are too high.
What effect do the ionizers have on the organic material?
Organic material, including bacteria, enters a pool or spa continuously from the environment, which can accumulate and the pool will first become cloudy and then algae and other problems will develop.
In a chlorinated pool, it is estimated that a large portion of the chlorine consumption is due to oxidation of organics, while the remaining chlorine is utilized controlling bacterial growth.
Therefore, ionizers must be used with recommended levels of oxidizers.
What is ionic behavior?
Dissolved metal ions, such as copper and silver, can be affected by other components in the water. Silver is known to be rendered inactive by protein-like matter, so pool contaminants from bather load and other sources could reduce the efficacy.
Silver can also form insoluble complexes with chloride and most metals will form insoluble complexes with carbonate, this can cause issues with staining and/or efficacy.
The solubility and efficacy behavior of silver can be very complex and hard to predict in a pool environment, because both soluble and insoluble silver chloride species can be formed, and their concentrations and activity will vary due to a number of different factors.
Saltwater chlorination systems are sometimes used with ionizers, and we are unaware of any complaints or problems that have arisen with the combination, however, the user should be made aware that the test kits used to monitor ionizer operation generally only measure copper in the water.
Such tests can provide no assurance of whether or not silver is present at the target concentration or whether it is in a biocidally active form.
Taking into account, this background. Do these alternative pool treatments save money?
Using alternative water treatments for your pool can save you money in the long run.
Pools that use ionized water have clearer water that stay looking nice for longer and easily gets rid of any dead bacteria, thus, since the water is non-corrosive it helps the pool coatings and liners last longer.
It is also gentler on bathing suits and will not bleach them out or wear them down like chlorine does. And if anyone accidentally swallows the water they will not have to worry about harmful side effects to their health.
Using ionized water in your pool will lead to a healthier swimming experience and an overall feeling of well-being and happiness.
Now that you know the benefits, characteristics, pros and cons of the ionizer, what is the next step to incorporate it into your pool?
Costs of incorporating an ionizer to my residential pool
Pool ionizers cost between $337 and $5,590 to set up, depending on the manufacturer.
On a larger pool (above 25,000 gallons), you will have to replace your mineral cell every season. You can get two or more seasons out of a cell on a smaller pool.
The replacement mineral cell costs about $90 to $150.
Mineral pools also require a low residual of chlorine. The amount of chlorine required depends on the size of your pool, usage, sun, rain, etc.
We typically recommend adding one 3” tablet every week or two which is less than half of what you would need without an ionizer.
If you want to convert a chlorine-only pool into a mineral pool, a good rule of thumb is to split the cost of last year’s chlorine by half. You should use less than that, but this is a good estimate.
Equipment, installation and operation
An electrolytic ion generator is usually a watertight container installed in the pool’s return line, though there are exceptions to this arrangement. It always has a pair of electrodes of varying shape, size and composition.
The most common electrodes are alloys containing 90 to 97 percent copper, with the remainder being silver. When a low voltage, direct current (DC) is passed between these electrodes copper ions (Cu+2) and silver ions (Ag+) are released into the water by electrolysis (hence the term “ionizer”).
The source of this low voltage DC is usually a step down-transformer and rectifier reducing alternating current (AC) household voltage to low voltage DC. Solar and galvanometrically generated DC voltages have also been used in systems on the market.
The ionizer should be installed in your pool’s return line, this operation is usually done by a pool professional because it requires moderate plumbing and gluing skills.
The electrical connections of a copper/silver ionizer can only be safely installed by a professional familiar with the equipment. Some types of ionizers will require pipe adapters to go from one size to another.
An ionizer is an electrical device that should be connected to a ground fault interrupter and the safety precautions of the device manufacturer should be reviewed and followed.
Finally, there are ionizers that are easily installed or that float in your pool, using solar panels, which are sold here at Leviapool.
Precautions with the use of the ionizer in the pool
- Health effects: It is important to follow the directions of the device manufacturer as contained in the operating instructions on the device plate and/or in the manual.
If the readings for metal concentration in the pool water exceed the manufacturer’s recommendations, the system should be turned down to a lower setting.
- Supplementary oxidizer: Required as previously stated, ionizers have no ability to oxidize bather contaminants.
Periodic oxidation of pool water, especially when experiencing heavy bather loads, is essential to maintain water quality and clarity.
- Metal staining: Excess metal concentrations will eventually cause precipitation of insoluble metal salts in the residential pool, which can cause surface staining.
In conclusion, pool ionizers release microscopic mineral ions in the water that control bacteria and algae, this allows you to reduce the concentration of chlorine to 0.6ppm, about half of what you would need in a saltwater or chlorine pool traditional.
According to the EPA and Health Canada, ionized pools or “mineral pools” are the only types of pools where the chlorine concentration can be safely reduced.
In addition, since chlorine is related to asthma and other respiratory diseases, this reduction of chlorine is the greatest benefit for pool ionizers.
Mineral pools generally require less maintenance than chlorine or saltwater pools, because minerals are always active in the water controlling algae and bacteria.
The algae in particular is what usually gives the water a cloudy look, nevertheless, pools with ionizers stay crystal clear all summer, even if you forget to add chlorine, because the minerals are always in there working.
Finally, mineral pools usually stay within the typical pH range which means you don’t need to store harmful muriatic acid used for balancing pH.
We hope you have been clear that the best current alternative, to have a transparent pool, clean and without bacteria is with an ionizer and if you are determined to change your old chlorine or salt chlorinators, for this great alternative, we have made a ranking on the 8 best pool ionizers that exist in the market, you can also buy them in Leviapool with free shipping worldwide.
Finally, continue reading about topics that pool owners should know and constantly review our blog, which will always have new guidelines and ranking designed for you.
Check this Ranking: What are the 8 best pool ionizers?
Best regards and we are attentive to your comments.