It has become all the rage, in recent years, to add salt water systems to pools and now: hot tubs! Customers and clients ask about them all the time. Personally, I enjoy them on a swimming pool and have had a lot of people tell me they love them. Less maintenance, worry free, etc.
When it comes to hot tubs, however, I would NOT encourage ANYONE to use a salt water system. For one thing, think about what salt does. Most of you reading this are in Iowa or surrounding areas … why do you try to wash your car so often in the winter? What are we protecting the metals of our car from? The corrosive power of the salt that gets put on our road! Hot salt water in your spa will do the same thing – it's just what salt does!
Problem # 1: The metal components of your pumps, your heater, even even your jets can be affected by corrosion caused by salt. You may not notice it for a year, or even two, but I am quite certain that you'll be needing replacements and repairs before long. If you're lucky, they will still be covered under your warranty, but who wants to waste the time with repairs and the risks of them being needed during the winter?
Problem # 2: If you have any other extras on your hot tub, sometimes a stereo system or television, expect extra corrosion on the wires and connections with a salt water system, also. Often times, these electronic components (stereos, TVs) only have one year warranties, and there is a reason for that!
There are not a LOT of different problems with these systems, but they are catastrophic problems. Why would you want to put yourself at risk of needing to completely replace heaters, pumps, wiring, etc, for a system that really does, essentially, use chlorine or bromine, just like many other chemical systems? Sure, it's salt water, but salt is sodium chloride, NaCl. The generator separates it into salt and chlorine, simple as that. When used up, the cycle starts again. The equipment in your spa should last you many, many years with regular maintenance. With a salt water system, it may last as little as 2-3 years.
Far less maintenance … until you have to start replacing things, and replacing things, and replacing things …
If you want low maintenance, there are a lot of great options out there, including Sundance's SunPurity system, UV systems, Ozone, and more!