Salt Water Pool System Basic Components For Beginners

If you currently own a chlorinated pool but are considering making the switch to saltwater, don’t worry! It is actually easier that it may seem. With our helpful guides, you can feel confident that you can not only choose the right system for your needs. Most salt water systems are compatible with any pump and filter system you may have, so all you’ll need to do is add a new piece of equipment (the salt system) and some salt! The actual salt system only has two main components, the control module and the salt cell.

The Main Salt Pool System Components:

The Control Module – This is the electronic  part of the salt system. The Control Module controls the output of power to the Salt Cell - so that it generates the right amount of chlorine for your pool’s needs. The control module is designed to be mounted outside just like any other pool equipment. It is typically designed to be powered by the same circuit as your main pump. A salt system’s controller works interchangeably with whatever brand pump or filter you currently have, so there is no need to pick a system that is the same brand as your current pump or filter. To make sure you get a salt system that best fits your needs, we carry a wide variety of different models that can fit into any budget.  If you’re having trouble deciding, we have a handy comparison guide that compares different specs &  features, as well as warranties and other ratings.Many control modules have various different features like reading the salinity of your pool or cell lifespan indicators, which can make things a lot easier on you to keep up with your pool to make sure your pool is ready for use. 

The Salt CellThe salt cell uses a natural electrolytic process to generate a pure form of chlorine from the salt that you put in your water during installation! The salt cell is plumbed right into the return line that comes from your pump and filter back to your pool.  These cells contain  titanium and rare-earth minerals, and usually last around three to eight  years. To make sure you get the most for your money and to make sure you maximize the efficiency and lifespan of your system, you’ll want to make sure you oversize your cell. We also offer clear cells so that you can see exactly how your cell operates and if there's any need for maintenance.

Other Basic Salt System Components:

Aside from the major components in a salt system unit, there are other parts that all of our newer systems have that help make sure you have the best salt water pool experience and the highest quality water.

  • Water Sensor / Flow Switch – A standard feature of a salt system is the ability for it to detect that water is present inside of it - this is needed for it to work and is a protective mechanism.. For many models, this water sensor is present inside of your cell. Alternatively, a salt system may use a  Flow Switch that is also plumbed into the line along with the Salt Cell. A flow switch allows the salt system to actually detect whether or not your pump circulation system is in operation and that water is flowing.  That is extremely useful if you have (or ever plan to upgrade) to a variable speed pump that has its own built-in programmable controls. Some cells have the flow switch built into the cell, though for most it is a separate component plumbed into the line along with the Salt Cell.

Basic Salt System Features You Should Consider:

If you’ve taken a peak at our website, you’ve probably noticed that there are a lot of different options that you can choose from when picking a system. We have made our comparison chart so that you can see what features each system offers. Below are some additional features that you should consider in order to get the most for your money.

  • Warranty: think you found the right system for you? Great! Before you go to checkout, make sure to double check the warranty on the system you are planning to buy. If you plan on installing it yourself, you’ll want to make sure you won’t void your warranty if you install it yourself (some manufacturers’ warranty terms require that you pay for professional installation.) Also, the life of the cell is usually reflected in the amount of time your warranty covers. Most of our systems come with a three to eight year warranty, which generally gives you a good idea of how long your cell will last before you need to buy a replacement. 

  • Boost Mode: Boost mode is great for those of you who live in areas that tend to have heavy rains or for those who sporadically get heavy pool use (a pool party, for example). This is essentially a one-touch “super chlorination” mode that raises the chlorine output to the maximum power for an allotted amount of time to compensate for certain pool situations where you’ll want more sanitation, like after a party or heavy storm. 

  • Clear Cell: A clear cell is exactly what it sounds like- a cell that is clear so you can see any mineral-scale, debris or anything you need to fix or maintain. It is another feature that makes salt pools easier to maintain because you don’t have to guess at what is wrong with your system if something goes wrong, you can just look inside the cell and check it out! Ever been unsure if your system is working properly? With a clear cell, you can also look inside the cell and see it operating. With proper water balance, cells will typically only need maintenance or basic cleaning one or two times per season, but if mineral scale or debris gets inside the cell, you’ll want to clean it out. 

  • PPM Salinity Reading: This is a feature that many pool owners love to have. Many of our high-end systems come with this feature and it is great being able to know what your salinity range is. 

  • Self-Cleaning Function: All modern salt systems have this, and you’ll for sure want your system to be self-cleaning because it minimizes the amount of maintenance and effort you would normally need to put into any other pool. Self-cleaning, or “reverse polarity” reverses the direction of electric flow every so often to help reduce or prevent mineral scaling. This means you can sit back and relax and rest assured that your pool is safe and clean. Without it, older salt systems needed to be cleaned as much as once a week or more; with reverse polarity self-cleaning, salt systems typically only need seasonal cleaning if your pool’s water chemistry is properly balanced.

The Only Thing Left is the Salt Itself:

  • Salt -This step couldn’t be easier! All you will need to do is go to your favorite home improvement store and purchase the right amount of salt for your pool (find more info here) and then dump it directly into your pool! After about twenty-four hours, the salt will be completely dissolved and your pool will be ready for use! Don’t worry though, your pool water will not taste like salt, the resulting salinity level  is so low that most people aren’t able to taste anything at all!  After you’ve waited twenty-four hours, you’re ready to turn on your system. From that moment, the unit will create its own form of pure chlorine through a process that uses electrolysis to separate the chlorine and sodium molecules that pass through the salt cell. You may be thinking that if this water is getting moved through the plumbing and turned into chlorine that you’ll need to replace the salt or always keep adding bags, similar to what you may be experiencing with a chlorine pool. Luckily, with salt pools, that isn’t the case! The salt does not get consumed and even when the water evaporates, the salt still remains. The only time you’ll ever need to replace the salt is when water gets physically removed from the pool by outside means, like: a heavy rain that makes the pool overflow, splash-out during a big party, or if you have to drain your pool. That means a lot of saved money for you and a lot less up-keep than a typical chlorine pool. 

We understand that with all our options, it may be a bit overwhelming at first when you decide to take the plunge into salt water pools but we promise it's a lot easier than it looks. However, if you have any questions or need further help, we are here for you! Just give us a call at 866-766-5243

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Converting your pool to salt just means adding a chlorine generator! Use our intelligent product recommendation system to see what the best choices for you might be. See more now ►

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Ann Piquette

Date 5/27/2018

I currently have an inground 18x36.6 40,000. Gal pool with a DE pool filter. I’m looking into switching over to salt water. My question is can I still use the DE filter for the salt water? And where can I purchase the items I will need to do this? Thank you...

DSP Staff

Date 5/28/2018

Ann, you can still use your filter. The salt system is just going to be added in addition. To pick the best system for you pool, you might like to start looking here:

Henning Ottsen

Date 8/27/2018

I have bought and installed your RJ60-Plus chlorine generator. I am thinking about adding a heater to my pool. Does the heater go before or after the RJ60-Plus in the return line? Thanks.

DSP Staff

Date 8/28/2018

The salt chlorinator is the last thing the water goes through before returning to the pool, so the heater typically goes after the filter and before the salt system.

Jerry Toms

Date 9/8/2018

What is the mid range cost for the complete set up. My pool is 17,850 gal.?

DSP Staff

Date 9/9/2018

ismael vazquez

Date 5/9/2019

i would like to know what i'll need to make my pool saltwater.

DSP Staff

Date 5/10/2019

Paul Hunt

Date 6/18/2019

Is the salt system OK to use with old copper pipes?

DSP Staff

Date 6/20/2019

No, due to its electrical conductivity that is one of the only situations where a salt chlorinator should not be used. Copper pool pipes need to be updated to standard PVC plumbing.

Allison McCormick

Date 5/9/2020

Hello, We are interested in buying our own salt system for this pool: 12x25 4.6 ft deep The pool will be in Pittsburgh PA and generally have 2 people using it but up to 6 on occasion. What is the best system and price you recommend to maximize cleanliness and minimize issues and maintenance? Thank you.

DSP Staff

Date 5/11/2020

Stanley Czarnecki

Date 4/16/2021

15X30 inground pool 3to 6 ft deep

DSP Staff

Date 4/21/2021


Date 2/7/2022

Good article thanks

Tara Elizabeth Lehner

Date 6/3/2023

We have an above ground 3000 gallon plunge pool. What would you recommend for that?

DSP Staff

Date 6/5/2023

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