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Automatic Pool Chlorinators: The Complete Guide

By Matt Giovanisci | Updated: February 2, 2021

When you go on vacation you don’t worry about leaving the stove on. You worry about not having added enough chlorine to your pool, and coming home to a swampy mess. Using a chlorinator can take the worry out of your vacation, and a lot of time out of your pool maintenance schedule.

What is a Chlorinator?

Also called a pool chlorinator, automatic chlorinator, or automatic pool chlorinator, it’s a piece of equipment that automatically dispenses chlorine into your pool.

Using liquid chlorine or granules requires you to measure the chemical, pour into the water, and then wait for it to be evenly distributed throughout the pool.

With a chlorinator, you can set it to dispense chlorine at a specific rate dependent upon your pool’s volume, and it will automatically keep the water chlorinated at a consistent rate. Then you can forget about it, at least for a while, until it’s time to add more chlorine.

But you won’t need to add chlorine to a pool chlorinator as often as you’d need to add liquid chlorine, so it does take quite a bit of the work out of sanitizing your pool.

Note: A pool chlorinator is not the same thing as a chlorine generator. Usually called a salt chlorine generator, it’s used to actually create—not just dispense—chlorine in a salt water pool.

How Does a Pool Chlorinator Work?

One of the best things about an automatic chlorinator is that it doesn’t take up any space in your pool the way a floating dispenser does.

Important: Some automatic pool chlorinators can be used with both inground and above ground pools, while other models are specific to one or the other.

Automatic Chlorinator Types

Aside from choosing the right one for the type of pool you have, you’ll also need to select an automatic chlorinator that will fit into your filtration system.

Inline Pool Chlorinator

The chlorinator is connected directly to the filtration system, usually at the end of it, just before the water is returned to the pool.

This helps protect pool equipment from corrosion since the water that exits the pool and enters the filter it isn’t as strongly chlorinated as the water that enters the pool.

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Offline Pool Chlorinator

It may be that you don’t have the space to add a chlorinator at the end of the filtration system, but you do have space beside it. You can connect the chlorinator to the filtration system, bypassing the rest of the equipment.

Important: Some chlorinators are for inline setups, while others are for offline. Make sure you choose the right type for your filtration system.

How to Set the Chlorination Rate

Just like any other chemical, the amount of chlorine you add to your pool will depend on your pool’s volume. You’ll need to know this before you can set the chlorinator’s dispensation rate.

You’ll also need to make sure the chlorinator you get can accommodate your pool’s volume. Some are made to sanitize 10,000-gallon pools, and others will sanitize up to 40,000 gallons.

Important: If you get a chlorinator that’s too small for your pool, the water won’t be completely sanitized, so be sure you choose an appropriate size.

If you don’t already know your pool’s volume, you can use a pool calculator to figure it out.

Pool Volume Calculator Choose the shape of your pool first.
rectangle pool Rectangle
rectangle pool Round

Once you know the volume, follow the chlorinator’s manufacturer’s instructions to set the dispensation rate.

What Type of Chlorine to Use in a Pool Chlorinator

This one’s easy. It’s most likely any chlorinator you get will use chlorine tablets. They last longer than liquid or granules, giving you more time between chemical additions.

Automatically Get More Time in Your Day

Installing an automatic chlorinator may cost you more up front than using liquid chlorine or granules. But it will make up for that increased cost in the long run because you won’t have to add chlorine as often.

It will also save you a lot of maintenance time, which means you spend more time enjoying your pool.

Happy Swimming!

Matt Giovanisci is the founder of Swim University® and has been in the pool and spa industry since 1995. Since then, his mission is to make pool and hot tub care easy for everyone. And each year, he continues to help more people with water chemistry, cleaning, and troubleshooting.
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