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Pool Ionizer An In-Depth Breakdown

Pool Ionizer An In-Depth Breakdown

You know that chemical you have to add to your swimming pool to sanitize the water and make it safe to swim in? What’s it called? Oh–chlorine!

What if we told you that there’s a way you can reduce the amount of chlorine needed to maintain the water chemistry of your pool and keep it in those great conditions you want all summer long?

Well, there is a way! And that way is through something called a pool ionizer.

We’re going to take a little trip back to chemistry class in this article to tell you how a pool ionizer works and what it does for your pool, but don’t be alarmed if that sounds a little scary. It’s actually quite simple and you don’t need to be a rocket scientist to understand how it works because we’re here to use our expertise to break it down in a way everyone can understand!

What is a Pool Ionizer?

A pool ionizer is a device added to the pump/filter system that filters debris out of pool water, sanitizes it, and returns it to the pool (we’ll get into the full process later).

The ionizer uses something called an ion, which is an electrically charged atom. However, in this case, an ionizer uses multiple ions to sanitize the pool water. More specifically, an ionizer uses copper and silver ions for these reasons:

  • Silver has properties that allow it to kill bacteria
  • Copper has properties that allow it to prevent the growth of algae in a swimming pool
  • Copper is present in many algaecides and algaestats
  • Silver and copper ions can be produced by electricity


What Does a Pool Ionizer Do?

As we stated, a pool ionizer is a device that can be added to a pump/filter system. To be more specific it is added at the end of the system right before the filtered water re-enters the pool.

It looks something like this:


The purpose of this device is to sanitize the pool water one last time before it returns to the pool, which is accomplished when the following steps are completed:

  • Electrodes made of copper and silver are placed next to each other at the ionizer’s exit point
  • The electrodes are charged using low-voltage DC which activates their sanitization properties
    • Each copper and silver atom loses one electron, converting them each into a cation
    • cation is a positively charged ion (an ion that contains more protons than electrons)
  • Cations transferred into the pool as water returns and floats in the water until they meet a microorganism with negatively charged ions; an anion is an ion with more electrons than protons
  • The anions present in pool water are likely bacteria, which the cations will attach themselves to and destroy; therefore, the cations serve their purpose in sanitizing the water by eliminating bacteria

We do want to note that a pool ionizer won’t sanitize a pool entirely on its own. The addition of such a device is meant to work in tandem with other sanitizing chemicals. Even if you include an ionizer in your pump/filter system, you should check the water chemistry regularly and add chemicals as needed.

Other Benefits of a Pool Ionizer

As a result of a pool ionizer’s sanitization abilities, you’ll reap benefits in other areas that will improve the longevity of your swimming pool.

Softer Water

With a pool ionizer, you can expect the pool water to be smooth and gentle on the human body. What does this mean? Well, you know when your fingers dry up like a prune when you’ve been in the pool a little too long? Water sanitized by an ionizer won’t have the same effect on swimmers.

It shouldn’t irritate skin or hair and should allow you to enjoy the pool safely as long as the water chemistry is balanced.

Pool Equipment Lifespan

Since pool water is softer if sanitized by an ionizer, pool equipment like ladders, stairs, games, toys, etc. will react better to it.

Even though these pieces of equipment are made to withstand the effects of chlorine and other chemicals, an ionizer will take even less of a toll on them. Therefore, it is safe to expect that pool equipment will have a longer lifespan since an ionizer reduces the need for chlorine which can also save you money on equipment replacements or repairs in the future.

Disadvantages of a Pool Ionizer

We’ve really focused on the great things a pool ionizer can do for a swimming pool thus far, but as you know, with advantages come disadvantages.

Future Costs

The nice thing about pool ionizers is that they are mostly a one-time cost. Electric ionizers range from $1,200–$2,700 and solar ionizers range from $500–$750.

Electric ionizers have a small maintenance fee of $170–$400 every few years because the cell will need to be replaced, but other than that you shouldn’t have any other large maintenance costs to factor in on the ionizer side of things.

However, as we stated earlier, a pool ionizer doesn’t sanitize a pool on its own.

You should still expect the need to purchase and use chemicals regularly to balance the water chemistry and keep the pool sanitary for regular use.

Possible Staining

The most common issue that pool wonders have with pool ionizers are surface stains.

When more ions are released into the pool than it can handle, they linger and have nothing to attach to but the surface of the pool. Therefore, when leftover ions attach to the surface and the pool isn’t cleaned manually, they can create stains. If this does happen, be sure to act quickly to remove the stains because waiting too long can make them more difficult to remove.

Speed of Results

Another disadvantage that you should be aware of is the amount of time it takes for pool ionizers to do their job.

In most cases, it can take a few hours for ionizers to sanitize a pool, and don’t forget–the bigger the pool, the longer it will take for sanitization to be completed.

Do You Need a Pool Ionizer?

Now that you’ve learned about what a pool ionizer is and what it can do, you’ll need to decide if it’s something that you actually want or need.

If you are willing and able to do the following things, a pool ionizer may be right for you:

  • Spend time removing stains before they become a serious issue
  • Clean the cell of the ionizer
  • Test copper and silver levels
  • Replace mineral packs or electrodes
  • Accommodate maintenance costs for pool ionizer AND purchase chemicals regularly

If you are not willing and able to do these things, a pool ionizer may not be right for you.

As we said, a pool ionizer isn’t necessary for your swimming pool. However, if you have the means to support it, it can be a nice addition!

If you have any further questions about pool ionizers, give us a call at (219) 322-2797!