A Guide to Above Ground Saltwater Pool Systems

If you’re in the market for a new above ground pool or you have an existing pool and are thinking of making a change from costly traditional chlorine, you’ve probably read about the benefits of a salt pool, or heard from a neighbor or friend about how much they are enjoying their own. 

If you’re wondering if and how a salt water system works for your above ground pool, or you’re wondering if a saltwater pool is right for you, we’ve got you covered.

What is a Salt Pool?

Salt pools have become one of the most popular ways to keep your pool sanitized. For those new to salt pools and are curious about the differences and benefits, a saltwater pool is  simply just a pool that uses a saltwater chlorinator (sometimes also referred to as a salt system or salt chlorine generator) on your pool instead of relying on traditional manual chemical maintenance that uses conventional chlorine. 

The salt chlorinator just creates free chlorine using a low salinity level in the pool water- so low you do not taste salt- and it keeps your salt water backyard pool clean and safe to enjoy all year. This process of generating free chlorine is a typically significantly less costly and more natural process of adding chlorine to your pool. 

Can A Saltwater Pool Be Used on an Above Ground Pool?

If you’re wondering if a saltwater generator can be used for an above ground pool, the answer is- absolutely! Many people have above ground saltwater pools, especially as salt water pools slowly become the norm. 

Whether you've decided that you'll install a brand new pool and use a salt system or you're looking to convert, an above ground pool can handle  a salt generator- there are just certain things to look for and remember when you're in the market for an above ground salt pool.

Shape and Size

The first thing you'll want to do is determine your pool’s size and if you don’t already have an existing above ground pool, you’ll want to figure out the size and shape of your pool before purchasing your saltwater generator. 

If you’re purchasing a new pool and are going to use a saltwater generator, make sure you're all set up for an above ground pool first so you can accurately determine the size. Figuring out some aspects of what you’re wanting or can fit in your property, like what you’ll want around your pool. 

For example, decks, landscaping and child-proof fences to keep your kids protected, will all take up space- you'll need to know how much space you have to work with because picking the size and shape of your pool is crucial to picking the correct size salt generator to make sure you pick one that will keep your pool at safe salinity levels.

The size of your pool directly impacts the capacity of the chlorine generator that you will need to get for your above ground pool, so make sure you measure it correctly so you get the right amount of sanitation. Many above ground pool manufacturers will directly provide the capacity of water the pool holds, for example: 10,000 gallons.

The industry rule is to get a salt chlorinator with 1.5x to 2x the maximum capacity of your actual pool, and don’t be afraid to oversize- this just means you’ll for sure have enough free chlorine to keep your pool properly sanitized, without having to overwork your pool equipment.

When determining a size, it’s always important to keep in mind:

  • Your actual pool size

  • Pool use- how much you’ll be using your pool, how many people  and for what purpose.

  • Pool environment-  lots of heavy storms, lots of leaves and the like are all important to consider 

  • Compatibility- salt systems are compatible with any current pool equipment (pump & filter system) you may have

  • Maintenance- make sure you put your system in a place that is easily accessible for regular maintenance so it's easier and faster to do maintenance when needed.


These few factors are important because you need to keep them in mind in order to make sure you get the right system for your pool to maintain proper sanitation. So when you’ve decided on what size and shape of your saltwater pool you want, you'll need to check the measurements of it and match it to the right specs.

Type of Material to Use for an Above Ground Saltwater Pool

Another thing you'll need to remember when shopping for an above ground salt pool- if you’re going to use a saltwater chlorine generator, you need to make sure the material used in your pool is compatible and works well with saltwater systems. Newer-style resin frame pools are very popular.

Most salt water backyard pool materials, for chlorine and saltwater pools, should not be too different, but double check with your pool manufacturer to make sure you won’t run into any problems.

When you have more than two metals in the water, corrosion is just something that occurs naturally in any pool, but above ground pools are more prone to it because the pools tend to have more metal components touching the water. 

This is called galvanic corrosion. Galvanic corrosion is when two different materials/ metals are coupled in a corrosive electrolyte and are brought into electrical contact underwater. This is a normal occurrence in any pool, and salt water could slightly speed up the process. 

A great addition to any above ground pool is an  inexpensive, zinc sacrificial anode. A sacrificial anode is and does exactly what it sounds like- it takes the blow for the nuts and bolts instead so they stay safe and uncorroded. It is just simply added to your plumbing or skimmer.

The addition of a sacrificial anode is a great idea because the anode gives the electrons that cause galvanic reactions somewhere to go so the anodes take the brunt of the oxidation.

How to Maintain Your Above Ground Salt Pool

So you’ve picked your size shape and materials- now what do you do? 

After you've purchased and installed your system and followed all the proper steps to get your pool up and running, you’ll  be all set to enjoy your pool! But you’ll still need to know how to maintain your pool so that you can always have proper sanitation and a crystal clear pool.

A saltwater pool has a lot less maintenance than regular chlorine pools but it does need the occasional maintenance.

The biggest thing you'll need to do is set your salt chlorinator so that it maintains the proper free chlorine level, and keep up with your salinity and pH levels as time goes on. This is what keeps your pool clean and safe for swimming.

Be sure to consult a local pool store or pool chemistry professional to make sure these levels and all other supplementary chemical levels are kept in proper guidelines. Using high quality test strips or digital testers (link to SafeDip), you can quickly learn about the chemistry levels of your pool and adjust accordingly.

There are many types of salt chlorinators, and many of them have digital warnings that will alert you when the salinity levels are off.

You’ll also just want to make sure you’re regularly checking your pool for any debris or dirt that could make its way into the water. Foreign objects like leaves, pet fur and other things that can be found floating in pools can cause issues to your pool system or even invite in algae and bacteria, so you’ll want to always make sure your pool is clean.

Also, although there isn't too much maintenance for salt water systems needed comparatively, nothing is indestructible. The salt cell, while long lasting, will need replacements every three to eight years, depending on the brand and model.

Luckily, the installation for any replacement cell is fairly fast and simple to do, and doesn’t require a professional- it’s a very DIY friendly procedure and it allows you to keep saving big over conventional chlorine chemicals.

Read more

dorothea M gerbing

Date 5/5/2021

Installing new above ground resin pool 27' x 54". Will be using a Hayward matrix pump and Hayward perplex de filter. Would like recommendation and quote for salt water system. I live in beautiful but very hot Southeast Florida

DSP Staff

Date 5/15/2021

Gary Hamrick

Date 3/15/2022

Good Afternoon, I have a 28ft diameter circle above ground pool with a 52" depth. We are planning to convert our pool this season to a saltwater pool when we open it back up. I installed and maintained our pool for 3 years myself with little to no issues. What type of equipment and investment would I be looking at to convert our pool?

DSP Staff

Date 3/15/2022

That calculates to roughly 21,000 gallons, so to put it simply you would just want to purchase a salt chlorinator that is rated to handle at least 1.5x to 2x that pool size. Give us a call at 866-766-5243 and we'd be happy to recommend a model based on your pool's needs. If you'd like more sizing details, take a look here: https://www.discountsaltpool.com/what-size-salt-pool-system-is-right-for-me


Date 3/18/2022

I am thinking about converting our old soft side hot tub to a salt pool it's 6ft around and 3ft deep. What do suggest?

DSP Staff

Date 3/19/2022

That might be a good fit for one of these salt systems made for hot tubs: https://www.discountsaltpool.com/saltwater-chlorinators-for-spas-hot-tubs-and-swim-spas

Joani Rogers

Date 4/25/2022

I have a 18’x33’ above ground pool and was wanting to convert it to a salt water pool. What do I need?

DSP Staff

Date 4/25/2022

That calculates to roughly 18,000 gallons, so to put it simply you would just want to purchase a salt chlorinator that is rated to handle at least 1.5x to 2x that pool size - a model marked for 25-30 max gallons, for example. You can find many of those on this page: https://www.discountsaltpool.com/salt-water-chlorine-generators-for-medium-pools Give us a call at 866-766-5243 and we'd be happy to recommend a model based on your pool's needs. If you'd like more sizing details, take a look here: https://www.discountsaltpool.com/what-size-salt-pool-system-is-right-for-me

Carrie Carter

Date 5/2/2022

I'm putting in a 10' diameter stock tank pool that will come in at a whopping 1,100 gallons. Would a hot tub salt system be best for this size?

DSP Staff

Date 5/2/2022

Suzette Abshire

Date 6/1/2022

Just purchased a 18x48 summer waves elite above ground pool from Walmart . It’s arriving this week . I wanted to make it a saltwater pool from the start . Never owned a pool and just needed some tips and direction of what o need

DSP Staff

Date 6/6/2022


Date 6/5/2022

I'm putting in a 20 x 48 steel above ground pool. What would you suggest?

DSP Staff

Date 6/6/2022


Date 6/13/2022

I have a round 31’ above ground pool. What size would I need to convert to a salt water system? My current pump went out so it’s a good time to change I figure.

DSP Staff

Date 6/13/2022

Corey Stauffacher

Date 7/12/2022

I’m buying an Intex 10 ft by 30 in pool. It does not come with any pump/filter, etc. could you tell me everything else I’d need to purchase to make it saltwater? Thanks!

DSP Staff

Date 7/12/2022


Date 11/2/2022

We have a 15' round pool (litehouse 15x54-pinnacle-pool-package) with a gas pool heater and have been thinking about salt water system. I have one hell of a time trying to keep chlorine in range. Could you advise what I would need to convert? Thank you!

DSP Staff

Date 11/8/2022

Mike, we're happy to go over your pool's if you call 866-766-5243 and you might like our online product-finder: https://www.discountsaltpool.com/wizard.html Essentially, you want a salt chlorinator with at least 1.5x to 2x the actual capacity of your pool so that it can easily generate all the chlorine your pool needs even during hot times and heavy pool use.

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