The Complete Guide to Converting Your Hot Tub to Salt Water

If you’re tired of constantly maintaining your hot tub’s chlorine levels and dealing with the harsh chemical smell, switching to a saltwater system may be the perfect solution for you. Saltwater hot tubs are becoming increasingly popular due to their easier maintenance and more pleasant bathing experience.

In this guide, we will walk you through the process of converting your hot tub to a saltwater system, including the benefits and drawbacks of making the switch, the necessary equipment and materials, and step-by-step instructions.

Whether you’re a hot tub enthusiast or a first-time hot tub owner, this guide will provide you with all the information you need to make an informed decision about converting your hot tub to salt water. Let’s get started!

Can Any Hot Tub Be Converted to Salt Water?

It is possible to convert almost any hot tub to a saltwater system, but it is important to consult with the manufacturer of your hot tub before making any changes to the sanitization system. Some hot tubs may not be compatible with saltwater systems or may have specific requirements for the type of salt or generator that is used.

It is always best to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations to ensure that your hot tub is properly sanitized and to avoid any potential damage or problems. Additionally, you must follow the instructions provided with your saltwater generator carefully to ensure that it is installed and used properly.

Do You Want a Chlorine or Bromine Generator or Both?

When it comes to converting your hot tub to a saltwater system, you’ll need to decide whether to use a chlorine generator or a bromine generator. Chlorine generators are generally more popular due to their lower price point, but bromine generators do exist and may be a good option in certain situations.

The process of producing chlorine from salt is typically less expensive and more energy-efficient than the process of producing bromine from salt. As a result, saltwater chlorine generators are often more affordable than bromine generators.

Of course, the specific price of a particular generator may vary based on a variety of factors, such as the size of the generator and the features it offers, but in general, saltwater chlorine generators tend to be less expensive than bromine generators.

When it comes to choosing between bromine and chlorine for your saltwater hot tub, there is no one-size-fits-all answer. Both options have their own pros and cons, and the best choice for you will depend on your personal preferences and needs.

Some people may prefer bromine for its longer-lasting properties, while others may opt for chlorine due to its lower cost and easier availability. If you’re still unsure which option is right for you, consider purchasing a salt system that allows you to use both types of salt and try them out for yourself. This can help you get a feel for which option works better for your specific hot tub and needs.

Drop-in vs In-Line: What’s the Best Saltwater Generator for Your Hot Tub?

When it comes to converting your hot tub to a saltwater system, you’ll need to decide which type of device to use: a drop-in saltwater generator or an in-line saltwater generator.

Drop-in generators

Drop-in generators are designed to be simple to install and use. All you need to do is submerge the cell in the hot tub water to get it working.

These generators typically consist of two main parts: a control panel and an electrolytic cell. The control panel is used to adjust the intensity and amount of chlorine or bromine extraction, as well as to set a timer and access other functions depending on the model.

The electrolytic cell is responsible for producing chlorine or bromine and is typically made of corrosion-resistant titanium. Some models, such as the Saltron Mini, even come equipped with a cell holder for added convenience.

In-line generators

In-line saltwater generators are another option for converting your hot tub to a saltwater system. These generators work on the same principle as drop-in generators, but the cell is installed directly in the hot tub’s plumbing rather than being submerged in the water.

Like drop-in generators, in-line generators consist of a control panel and an electrolytic cell. The control panel allows you to adjust the intensity and amount of chlorine or bromine extraction, set a timer, and access other functions depending on the model. The electrolytic cell is installed in the hot tub’s plumbing and is responsible for producing chlorine or bromine.

In-line generators tend to be more expensive and require more installation work than drop-in generators, as they need to be connected to the hot tub’s plumbing. They are commonly designed for large pools with a volume of 15,000 gallons or more, but they can also be used in hot tubs.

One advantage of in-line generators is that they don’t have visible wires, but they do require professional installation and are usually more expensive than drop-in generators. Overall, drop-in generators are typically the better choice for hot tubs due to their simplicity and lower cost.

Essential Equipment for Converting Your Hot Tub to Saltwater

Before converting your hot tub to a saltwater system, there are a few things you’ll need to buy. First, you’ll need to decide which type of saltwater system is right for you and purchase one accordingly.

Saltwater system

Two popular options are the Saltron Mini Salt System Drop-In Saltwater Chlorine Generator and the ControlOMatic SmarterSpa Saltwater Smart Chlorine Generation System.

High-purity salt

You’ll also need to purchase high-purity pool/hot tub salt (NaCl) to use in your saltwater system. It is important to use pool-grade or hot tub-grade salt in your hot tub or spa to avoid introducing contaminants and impurities into the water.

Table salt, rock salt, Epsom salt, and some natural salts like pink Himalayan salt should not be used in hot tubs as they can negatively impact water chemistry and potentially damage the spa, potentially voiding the warranty.

Test kits

You’ll also need test strips or a test kit to test the pH, alkalinity, calcium hardness, and chlorine levels in your hot tub water. Salinity test strips and saltwater test strips can also be useful.

New filters

You may also need to change your hot tub filter before starting a saltwater system, so be sure to have a new filter on hand. If your filter isn’t due for a change, you should place it in a filter soak to rid it of any contaminants.

Inline pre-filter

You’ll also need a hose with an inline pre-filter to refill your hot tub with fresh water. Finally, you should install a GFCI electrical outlet with a cover if one isn’t already available near your spa.

Step-by-Step Guide to Converting Your Hot Tub to a Saltwater System

1. Drain and clean

Before transitioning to a new method of sanitizing your hot tub, it’s crucial to thoroughly remove all traces of residual sanitizer and any contaminants. One way to do this is by using a spa line flush, which can help clear out any biofilm that may have built up in the lines.

If you’re not sure how to use a line flush, you should check out my complete guide to biofilm removal. Once you’ve used the line flush, it’s time to drain the hot tub using a hose or sump pump. After draining, take the opportunity to give the hot tub a thorough cleaning using a specialist hot tub cleaner.

Be sure to rinse everything thoroughly, removing all traces or the rinse water. Finally, replace or wash the filter to ensure that your hot tub is fresh and ready for its new sanitizing system.

2. Refill

Once your hot tub is drained and cleaned, it’s time to refill it with fresh water. To ensure that the water is as pure and clean as possible, consider attaching an inline hose filter to your garden hose.

This simple device can help remove minerals and metals from the water before it enters your spa, leaving you with a more pleasant and healthy soaking experience. Simply attach the filter to your hose and use it to refill your hot tub. It’s a quick and easy way to improve the quality of the water in your spa.

3. Add salt

Before adding any chemicals or other substances to the fresh water in your hot tub, it’s a good idea to test the salinity. Tap water naturally contains a small amount of salt, so it’s important to be aware of this when adding more salt to the water.

To test the salinity, you can use a test strip or a digital salinity tester. Once you have a sense of the current level of salt in the water, you can follow the instructions for your saltwater sanitation system to determine how much additional salt to add.

In general, you’ll need about 2 lbs of salt per 100 gallons (2.5kg per 100 liters) of water to achieve the proper saline level of 2,000 to 3,000 parts per million. Keep in mind that the exact amount of salt you’ll need may vary depending on the specific product you’re using and the size of your hot tub.

It can be helpful to start by adding 75% of the recommended amount of salt and then testing the water to make sure the salinity is correct. It is recommended to add the salt to warm water, as this will help it dissolve faster.

4. Test the water

Now it’s time to test the pH, alkalinity, and calcium hardness levels. These levels should be within the range recommended in your chlorinator (or brominator) manual. If any of the levels are not within the recommended range, you will need to adjust them.

5. Mount your drop-in chlorinator (or brominator)

Installing a drop-in saltwater system for a hot tub is a simple process that can be completed in a few easy steps. To install a chlorinator conversion kit for a hot tub, you will need to gather all of the necessary components of the kit, including the control panel and mounting hardware.

Begin by finding a suitable location for the control panel and cell holder (if provided). Choose a location for the control panel that is close to the hot tub and has easy access to a GFCI (ground-fault circuit interrupter) outlet.

These components should be mounted on the spa wall or in a nearby location that is protected from rain, moisture, and direct sunlight. This will help ensure that the system is not damaged by the elements and will function properly.

Follow the instructions provided with the kit to mount the control panel and connect the power supply cable and chlorinator cell. Once everything is properly installed, you can follow the instructions provided in the kit to set up and use the chlorinator.

Warning: Do not plug the power cord into an outlet until all connections have been made and checked for proper function. This will help ensure that the chlorinator is set up safely and is ready for use when needed.

In-line models should be fitted by a professional

Installing an in-line saltwater generator can be a complex process that is best done by professionals. The cell for the generator should be installed in the plumbing of the spa, after the filter and heater.

This ensures that the water flows through the cell in the correct direction and that the concentrated chlorine produced by the generator does not pass through any other equipment and potentially cause damage.

It is important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully when installing an in-line saltwater generator to ensure proper function and avoid any potential issues.

6. Add cell to water

To properly use a chlorinator in a hot tub, the supply cord should be draped over the side of the spa and the chlorinator should be placed in the deepest part of the hot tub. This helps ensure that the sanitizer is distributed evenly throughout the water.

It is important to place the chlorinator as low as possible for maximum effectiveness. However, avoid placing the cell in the filter area, as this can cause damage to the system. Once the cell is properly positioned, the installation is complete.

7. Plug in

You can now plug your saltwater generator into your GFCI outlet. Once the power is connected, you can turn on the chlorinator and follow the manufacturer’s instructions to program the generator.

Joshua Milton

Joshua Milton is a seasoned hot tub enthusiast. With many years of experience in the industry, he offers valuable insights on hot tub maintenance, health benefits, and relaxation techniques.

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