The Hayward T-Cell 15 (up to 40K gallon pools) is the most common sized TurboCell in the Hayward series of salt cells that people buy for their pool. You’re probably reading this because you either need a replacement or you want to know more about Hayward’s salt chlorination systems. If you don’t know, there are less expensive alternative brands that can replace your Hayward T-Cell-15, like the Blue Works cell. I also discuss this in the first section of the article.
In addition, we answer some common questions about this series of T-15 salt cells, such as : When do you know it’s time to replace your Hayward T-Cell? Maybe you just need a cleaning (see the videos in this article).
This article will address everything you want to know about the Hayward T-Cell, including where to buy a replacement — That’s easy to answer : Buy the T-Cell 15 from Amazon (Quick & Easy).
Note : Hayward T-Cell 15, 9 and 3 are compatible with the following Hayward salt chlorination systems : Goldline AquaRite, AquaRite Pro, SwimPure Plus and Hayward AquaPlus, ProLogic and OmniLogic automation systems.
Blue Works — Alternative Brand / Compatible with Hayward T-Cell-15
Note : The Blue Works BLW1T15H, is NOT made by Hayward. They’re an independent company who makes their own T-Cell-15 replacement. It’s not compatible with Hayward automation systems.
In 2022, I’ve noticed a lot more newer brands have entered the pool supply market to compete with reputable big brands like Hayward and Pentair. Personally, I recommend buying the original part recommended by the manufacturer. I always choose a known brand over a new brand, and the reason is simple : If the product is defective, what brand do I trust to be around in 9 months and provide the proper support? A lot of customers are satisfied with their purchase from Blue Works, but I’ve read a few complaints about their customer support. Reality is, no company is perfect. I recommend calling the company before you buy any expensive product, and determine for yourself the level of competence from their support department.
Ultimately, the choice is yours. I feel it’s important that you know you have options, especially if money is tight.
Hayward T-Cell 15 Replacement
Make sure you buy genuine Hayward replacement cells. Here’s a message from Hayward :
Other salt chlorination cells may talk a good game, but what they don’t say will cost you. With replacement cells such as CompuPool, you get what you pay for : lower quality, shorter life, non-certification.
- World’s #1 Salt Chlorination Cell
- Reliable performance – delivered only by a genuine Hayward TurboCell
- Independently tested – proven to deliver longer life
- Huge savings – 50% or more over conventional chlorine
- Best value : T-CELL-15 delivers twice as much chlorine than non-genuine Hayward salt cells
- Independently tested and proven by the National Sanitation Foundation (NSF)
available in three sizes – 40,000, 25,000 and 15,000 gallons
If you’re looking to replace your old Hayward TurboCell, you’ve come to the right place. In this article, we’ll discuss one of the most popular replacement salt cell platforms currently available — the Hayward T-Cell lineup which consists of 3 products :
- T- Cell 3 (Pools up to 15,000 gallons in volume) : INSTALLATION GUIDE
- T- Cell 9 (Pools up to 25,000 gallons in volume) : INSTALLATION GUIDE
- T- Cell 15 (Pools up to 40,000 gallons in volume)
Note : All three look similar, so the only to differentiate between them visually is by reading the model number printed on the side.
VIDEO | How to Replace your Hayward T-Cell 15
Even if you don’t already own a salt water pool system, we have plenty of useful information that will help you in deciding if you should make the conversion. And with over a million pools in the U.S. using Hayward’s salt chlorination systems, you can’t go wrong with the T- Cell series. Don’t worry too much about the risks of running a salt water system in the pool. If you take the proper precautions such as sealing the rocks and tiles, using the right kind of salt, balancing pool chemistry, installing sacrificial anodes, etc. a saltwater pool offers several advantages over a traditional chlorine based pool.
For pool owners looking to make the conversion, we have reviewed a complete salt water chlorine generation system — the Hayward Goldline AquaRite AQR15. This is a complete package, which lets you generate pure and fresh chlorine from the salt in your pool. It contains a multi-function control board along with sensors that monitor flow rate, temperature, salt and chlorine levels, etc. so you always know what is going on with your pool’s salt system.
If you’re not sure which TurboCell is right for you visit the Hayward site and use their TurboCell Calculator to determine the exact model for you, based on a variety of factors such as the type of chlorine you use.
Benefits | Hayward T- Cell 15 TurboCell
The Goldline series of pool sanitization products from Hayward is designed to deliver industry leading performance along with superior reliability. Compared to the competition from Pentair, Jandy, Solaxx, etc. you will find that the Hayward TurboCell chlorinators are capable of pumping out more chlorine in the same amount of time and have longer lifespans due to the use of higher quality materials. But first, let us discuss the benefits of owning a salt water chlorinator system and how it differs from manually adding chlorine sanitizer to your pool in tablet or liquid form.
While chlorine has been used to kill bacteria and other microbes in residential and commercial water bodies for a very long time, its use has always resulted in certain unwanted side effects. These problems include :
- Skin and eye irritation
- Foul odor
- Increased frequency of pool maintenance
- High cost because you purchase chlorine tablets from the store every other week
The first two issues can be explained very easily, if you take some time to understand how chlorine works to clean your pool water and keep it free from algae/ bacteria. Normally, you purchase chlorine in one of two forms :
- Liquid chlorine: Sodium Hypochlorite solution
- Solid chlorine (tablets/ granular): Calcium Hypochlorite
Why can’t we just use chlorine in its natural gaseous state? Well, you see- chlorine is a very volatile element and when exposed to sunlight it will decompose into HCL (hydrochloric acid) and oxygen. To facilitate the storage of chlorine we combine it with other elements, creating compounds that react with water to produce HOCL (hypochlorous acid, this is the stuff that actually kills bacteria in your pool). Ultraviolet rays can reduce chlorine concentrations by up to 90 percent in just 2 hours, and since bacteria thrive in warmer conditions you end up requiring more chlorine even though it is already decomposing at an accelerated rate thanks to the sunlight. Cyanuric acid acts as a “stabilizer”, shielding chlorine molecules from UV rays and increasing the amount of time it takes for the chlorine to decompose.
VIDEO | How to Clean your Hayward T-Cell
Too much chlorine can irritate your skin and eyes, but too little chlorine can have a similar effect as well. When you hear about pool owners complaining that they are getting red eyes and itchy skin after a quick dip in the pool, it is often not an issue of too much chlorine but rather too little. Confused? Well here is how it works- at any given time in the pool, we can measure chlorine content by dividing it into two types-
- Free Available Chlorine (FAC)
- Combined Available Chlorine (CAC)
Free chlorine is simply the amount of chlorine that is available to disinfect the water and kill bacteria, viruses, protozoans, algae, etc. When this free chlorine combines with organic matter such as bacteria, sweat, saliva, and urea from swimmers, it reacts with the nitrogen and ammonia molecules within these organic waste particles. The result is a combined chlorine compound called “chloramine”. This is what irritates your eyes and skin, and it also gives off a foul odor. In order to fix the foul odor and low free chlorine content, people often “shock” their pools with a large quantity of chlorine tablets. So, when your eyes burn, the solution is to raise the chlorine levels by 10 times the normal amount to achieve “breakpoint chlorination” threshold which will destroy the chloramine bonds.
A salt cell takes care of the nasty chloramines by delivering a steady supply of free chlorine as long as it is turned on, this ensures that there are no peaks or drop-offs in chlorine concentration, as is the case when you manually add chlorine to the pool in the form of bleach or tablets. A salt cell prevents chloramines from forming by delivering a constant supply of Free Available Chlorine (FAC) which oxidizes the chloramines, burning them off before they cause foul odor or eye irritation. Which means, you enjoy cleaner water that is free from foul odor and it is completely safe for your eyes and skin! No more red eyes or itchy skin, no more disgusting smell of chloramines.
And that’s not all — the salt water actually feels great to swim in. Remember that the concentration of salt is much lower compared to sea water, about 10 times lower. The average salt water pool has a salinity level of 2700 to 4000ppm (parts per million) whereas ocean water has 35000+ parts of salt per million parts of water. Did you know that your tears contain 3500ppm of salt? So basically, it is like swimming in a pool of your own tears. Ok, that didn’t sound very enticing, but you get the point — water in a saltwater pool is no more saline than the tears produced by your eyes. Or the solution in which you keep your contact lenses.
You’ll barely taste the salt when you take a swim. And, the water feels smoother on your skin. Velvety soft, because of the tiny salt content. You don’t have to mess around with chlorine tablets every other week. No more trips to the pool shop or handling dangerous chemicals. Just fill the pool with some salt bags annually, and you’re good to go.
✓ Learn more by reading our indepth article : Salt Water Pool vs Chlorine Swimming Pool : What’s the Difference?
When to replace your Hayward T-Cell 15?
Most salt cell generators last between 3 to 5 years, depending on the conditions such as- size of your pool, how long you run them each day, water temperatures, pool chemistry, etc. Just like an automobile, your salt cell is going to last longer if you take proper care of it and make sure to clean it while maintaining correct pool chemistry. Eventually it will need to be replaced, and Hayward salt cells can last upwards of 7 years in the right conditions. On average, expect your T-Cell 15 to last about 5 years before you have to replace it. And how can you tell if the T- 15 needs to be replaced? Well, there are some telltale signs that a salt cell is getting too old and these are universal across all makes and models of salt cells.
Here are the main signs that your salt cell is failing :
- Blue/ green soapy discharge
- Mineral salt deposits building up within the cell
- The salt cell is unable to maintain steady chlorine levels, resulting in unbalanced pool chemistry
It is often advised that you oversize your salt chlorine generator, because it will last longer. For a given pool size (in gallons of water), the larger salt cell will have to work less hard and as a result it will also have a longer lifespan. Every 3 to 5 years you will have to replace the salt cell, but sometimes your control board may develop issues which will require a very expensive repair. If both the control board and salt cell need replacing, you might as well invest in a new salt chlorinator system. Despite what the pool guy might tell you, a salt cell DOES require some level of maintenance. Scale buildup is one of the biggest concerns when it comes to salt cells.
Over time, minerals such as calcium will deposit over the plates of the Electrolytic Chlorine Generator (ECG). This buildup is hard to notice from the outside unless you remove the salt cell from the plumbing and inspect the internals. Scale is caused by two factors-
- Heat: Warmer temperatures facilitate the separation of calcium ions from water, resulting in a mineral deposit on the ECG plates which generate heat while performing the electrolytic reaction which separates chlorine from salt water. Same reason calcium buildup happens in pool heaters.
- High pH: NaOH or sodium hydroxide is a byproduct of the electrolytic reaction which converts salt water into chlorine (more on this process in the forthcoming section). NaOH being basic, is going to raise the pH of the water (since it is a hydroxide). Higher pH levels will prevent chlorine from doing its job, since chlorine works optimally at a pH level of around 5 (similar to strong black coffee). The lower the pH, the more acidic your pool water. Higher pH means the water is basic (alkaline). At a pH of 7.2 the chlorine is still active enough to act as a sanitizer/ anti bacterial agent, but once you go beyond 8.2 the chlorine becomes 90% inactive.
When there is too much scale buildup in the salt cell, the digital sensor readouts for salinity levels can be deceiving. Use a salt strip in the pool water to manually determine salt levels. Or, you can purchase a salt meter. If there is a significant disparity between the readout on your control board and salt meter/ strip, it is time to remove and inspect the salt cell because it might need to be replaced. Modern salt water chlorinator systems such as the AquaRite AQR15 have built in sensors to detect chlorine and salt levels, so they will display error codes and remind you to change the salt cell every 500 working hours through flashing warning lights.
What is the lifespan of a T-Cell 15?
As we explained earlier, the lifespan of a salt cell will depend on various factors- how hard the water is in your pool (calcium content), the temperature of the water, how big your pool is, etc. Many people install a device called the ozonator, which produces ozone gas killing a lot of the disease causing pathogens. This relieves some of the organic load from your salt cell, so it doesn’t have to produce as much chlorine as it normally would and hence runs at a lower load capacity which extends its life. However, this method isn’t very popular, because it adds complexity to your pool system along with an additional point of potential failure in the future.
Despite the name, ozonators don’t add ozone gas to the pool water, rather they add it to the water in the pipes and make sure no ozone ever reaches the pool because it is poisonous. Ozone does everything chlorine does, with better efficiency. But it has a short half life and is hard to store. It is therefore used as a secondary sanitizer along with the chlorinator, mainly to extend the life of the chlorinator itself.
For the customers who already own an AquaRite AQR15 chlorinator system and are looking to replace their old T- Cell 15, you might want to check out the brand new T- Cell 15LL “Extended Life” salt cell. It is designed to deliver everything the original T- Cell 15 already does, but with an additional 25% lifespan. While both the T- Cell 15 and the T- Cell 15LL can support pools up to 40,000 gallons in size, the regular T- Cell 15 is designed to produce around 580lbs of chlorine throughout its life before it needs to be replaced. The T- Cell 15LL on the other hand, can handle up to 725lbs of chlorine and comes with a 3- year warranty.
Which T-Cell should you use in your pool? T- Cell 3, 9, or 15
Hayward makes 3 different models of replacement salt cells for their residential pool chlorination systems :
- The TurboCell 3, up to a 15000 gallon pool
- The TurboCell 9, up to a 25000 gallon pool
- The TurboCell 15 up to a 40000 gallon pool
Before we decide which T- Cell model is right for you, let us first calculate the volume of your pool in gallons. To do that, we need the shape of your pool and its dimensions. There are 3 common pool shapes-
- Rectangular/ Square:
Volume in gallons= Length x Width x Average Depth x 7.5
Say you have a rectangular pool that is 20 x 40 feet, but the first 20 feet of the length is 4 feet deep while the next 20 feet is 6 feet deep. The formula for this type of pool is- Length x Width x Average Depth x 7.5. Here average depth is the sum of depth A and depth B. divided by 2. So, our volume would be 20 x 40 x ((4+6)/2) x 7.5 = 30,000 gallons. The T- Cell 15 would be a perfect fit, since we want a salt cell that is slightly oversized for the pool. Running a salt cell at 100 percent load will drastically reduce its lifespan.
Volume in gallons= π x r2 x d x 7.5, where π is pie with a value of 3.14 and r is radius (width/2), d is the average depth.
So, for a circular pool that is 25 feet wide and 4.5 feet deep, our volume would be 3.14 x (25/2)2 x 4.5 x 7.5 = 16,558 gallons which means we are going to select the T- Cell 9
- Kidney Shaped:
For a kidney shaped pool, we need two measurements- width A, width B, and length L. A is the diameter of the smaller circle while B is the diameter of the larger circle.
Volume in gallons = 0.45 x (A + B) x L x average depth x 7.5
Once you have calculated volume of your pool, selecting the appropriate T- Cell should be easy. Remember that oversizing your salt cell is always a good idea, because chlorine requirements can spike up suddenly depending on how many bathers are in the pool, whether it rained, etc. And your salt cell may not be able to handle that sudden spike in chlorine demand, especially if you live in a hot area like California, Texas, Arizona, or Florida (higher temperatures cause faster chlorine decomposition).
Chart for Pool Volume
How Does a salt cell work?
Contrary to what some people believe, a salt cell is NOT an alternative to chlorine. In fact, it is meant to generate chlorine by using the salt water in your pool. The advantage of a salt cell over standard chlorination is the fact that you never run out of chlorine, because you are creating your own chlorine through the process of electrolysis. What happens in that ECG (electrolytic chlorine generator) is salt water from the pool passes through in-between parallel titanium plates which are coated with ruthenium or iridium. Some old salt cells may use mesh (perforated) plates instead of solid ones. When a potential difference or voltage is applied across the plates, the salt water passing in-between them acts as a conductor.
The two parallel metal plates act as electrodes and attract ions of the opposite charge. The following chemical reaction takes place-
2 NaCl + 2 H2O → 2 NaOH + H2 + Cl2
Chlorine atoms are separated from the Sodium atoms, releasing pure chlorine in its gaseous state into your pool. This chlorine combines with water molecules to form hypochlorous acid which is what kills the microbes. Sodium hydroxide is formed as a byproduct, which is alkaline in nature and raise the pH. People often add cyanuric acid as a stabilizer to prolong the half life of the free chlorine, and it also brings the pH down by counteracting the alkaline action of NaOH. We need at least 2ppm of free available chlorine to effectively kill microbes.
Cleaning your T-Cell 15
- Turn off the power from the pool panel and deactivate the pump, make sure you flip the breaker or use the time clock
- Unplug the salt cell, while making sure not to get water inside the plug at the end of the cord
- Loosen up the unions on either end of the salt cell and remove it from the pipe. Make sure the O- rings haven’t fallen off.
- Inspect the plates for calcification. Use a garden hose to clean off the debris around the inlets and outlet, as well as inside the cell.
- If you have the Hayward GLX CELLSTAND for the T-Cell 15, now is the time to mount the salt cell on the stand with the cord side pointing up. If you don’t have this proprietary cleaning stand, we highly recommend you purchase it as it will make the cleaning process much easier.
- Take a 1:4 solution of muriatic acid (Hydrochloric acid or HCL) and pour it into the top end of the salt cell such that the solution comes up to just over the logo inside the salt cell. It should completely cover the electrode plates. Remember to wear rubber gloves and eye protection so you don’t get any of the vapors in your eyes. Pour the water FIRST and acid AFTER. This is very important, as any of us who have been to chemistry lab can confirm that pouring water into acid can result in a nasty explosion. For every 1 part of HCL, add 4 parts of water. Don’t get any acid solution on the cord.
- Let the solution sit for 10- 15 minutes, or until you notice that the bubbling has stopped. After its done, pour the acid solution into a plastic bucket. Take off the cleaning stand while holding the TurboCell above an empty bucket, making sure not to spill acid solution anywhere. Now rinse off the remaining acid solution with a garden hose.
- Before remounting the T- Cell apply a thin coat of silicone lubricant to the O rings, then mount the TurboCell and hand tighten the unions on either side. Orientation of the T- Cell 15 doesn’t matter. Reconnect the power cord to the control board. Restart the pool pump, check the controller display for salt ppm which should be between 2700 and 3400.
REVIEW : Hayward Goldline AquaRite AQR15
Complete Salt Chlorination System
- Top-selling salt chlorination system in the world with over 1 million installations globally
Provides consistent sanitization, delivering water that won’t irritate eyes, dry skin or cause fabrics to fade
- Eliminates harsh chlorine odors while creating unbelievably soft water
- Automatically converts dissolved salt into chlorine, drastically reducing maintenance time, and avoiding the constant mixing and measuring of factory produced liquid or tablet chlorine chemicals and Cut your chlorine costs over the years by 50% or more
- AQR15 does not come with a power cord/plug in. It’s hard wired
This is what you need to purchase if you’re making the switch to a saltwater pool system. It is compatible with all modern pumps and filters, so don’t worry about installation problems. The AquaRite AQR15 is an automatic chlorine generation system for your pool or spa, it operates off saltwater in your pool and uses electrolysis to generate a steady supply of chlorine. The AQR15 package doesn’t come with a T- Cell 15 so you have to purchase the replacement salt cell separately. What you get in this package is the control panel for the salt cell system which lets you monitor and adjust salt or chlorine levels in your pool.
On the control box, you will find 5 things :
- Mode selector switch
- Output % dial
- Diagnostics button
- LCD display
- Notification LEDs
Find out how to operate your AquaRite control panel in this educational video below :
VIDEO | AquaRite Salt Chlorinator : Common Questions
The AQR15 has various notification LEDs which let you know when it is time to clean or replace your salt cell. It also has a “super chlorinate” function which works like shock treatment, it will run the unit at maximum load for 24 hours or as long as the filter pump is working. This option is to be used when there are more bathers than usual, or if it rained recently. An inspect cell indicator flashes if the AQR15 detects reduced cell efficiency, or if the scheduled 500 working hours are up which means it is time for cell inspection. The salt cell will also automatically shut down if temperatures get too low (below 60°F), and chlorine production will halt. The AQR15 supports pool automation systems such as Hayward Pro Logic, Pentair Intellitouch, Polaris Eos, etc.
What type of salt should you use in the pool?
It is recommended that you use salt which is at least 99% pure sodium chloride (NaCl). You have 3 options :
- Solar Salt
- Mechanically evaporated salt
- Mined salt
Don’t use rock salt or table salt as they contain minerals and other additives/ impurities which will mess with the chemistry of your pool water. There is specially designated pool salt available for this purpose, it is non iodized and granular in nature, so it dissolves well. Still, don’t pour the bags of salt directly into the strainer basket or else you might short the ECG (salt cell). More salt means higher conductivity of water, which lowers resistance and that in turn increases current (Ohm’s law- I= V/ R where I is current, V is voltage, and R is resistance). Instead, pour the bags of salt along the steps of the pool or near the deck. Use a brush to mix the salt along the edges of the pool, this will accelerate the process and prevent lumps of salt from forming around the pool.
Learn more by visiting the Hayward site on salt chlorination.