When it comes to pools on the East End, saline has supplanted chlorine.
Saltwater pools have become an increasingly popular option for luxury vacation homes throughout the Hamptons and the East End. It should come as no surprise; saline is considered healthier, more environmentally friendly, and exceedingly pleasant for swimming.
Over the past decade, Greg Darvin, the owner of Pristine Pools in East Hampton, has seen his business increasingly shift from chlorine to saltwater. Today, 75 percent of the pools his firm installs are saline. Meanwhile, the other 25 percent tend to transition to saltwater systems within the first few years. “The only place we see traditional chlorine is if budget is an issue or if it’s for a spec house,” he says.
Let’s take a look at how these pools work and some of the Hamptons properties that feature them:
How Saltwater Pools Work
In saline pools, generators slowly break down salt—chemically composed of sodium and chloride—using naturally occurring chlorine to keep the pool clean. So yes, somewhat confusingly, there is still chlorine in a saline pool.
“What we’re doing is adding salt to the water, raising the salinity level, and then generating chlorine out of that salt that we’re able to use it over and over again,” Darvin says. “It’s a different version of chlorine that’s milder.”
A Trend with Staying Power
Pool companies aren’t the only ones noticing the trend. “In the last few years, my new construction and renovated listings have all built saline pools,” says Arlene Reckson, a Corcoran associate broker in the Hamptons. “It certainly is an addition to the pro side of a buyer’s list. Customers are seeking the healthiest options for themselves and the environment.” Reckson has previously sold several Hamptons homes that feature saltwater pools.
For Cynthia Kolbenheyer, a Corcoran salesperson in the Hamptons, clients are always thrilled on tours when she points out the pool is saline. “People are becoming savvier about the options,” she says. “A lot of homeowners are putting them in for summer rental tenants or for their own families.”
According to Mary Ann Peluso, a Corcoran salesperson in the Hamptons, the preference for her buyers simply comes down to aesthetics. Yes, for one of her happy homeowners, it’s “the way saltwater leaves your skin feeling silky, not harsh like chlorine.” Another plus: “my blonde highlights don’t turn green!” Hard to argue with that.
An Investment for the Future
When installing a new pool, going the saline route typically costs an additional $5,000. However, that figure can change depending on the size and scope of the pool, according to Darvin. It’s not clear whether savings on chlorine will offset the initial expense. “I encourage people to make the investment based on the quality of water and chemistry of the water versus the overall cost,” Darvin says. For those with existing chlorine pools, his company can retrofit to saline for somewhere between $4,000 and $8,000.
As for drawbacks, salt is corrosive, so decking or tiling around a saline pool may need to be replaced sooner than with a traditional chlorine pool. But most saline pool owners seem quite happy. For Darvin, a lack of feedback is the best sign of all. “I’ve never had someone call back and complain with a saltwater pool,” he says.