This year I plan to install a Pentair IC-60 for my pool. I've read a lot of threads and obviously the Salt Water Balance page .
Aggregating information from various threads, I came up with the following list:
Step 1. Balance pool water normally following TFP methodology
Please see the Pool School pages for more details. If algae is present or you have not passed an over night chlorine test (ONCT), then you need to continue to SLAM until you do so. Before proceeding any further, your pool should be at the recommended levels for non-SWG as per this page.
Step 2. Measure your salt levels of your existing non-SWG pool water
Your pool's water, whether it comes from your well or your public utility or a mix of both, may have already some residual salt in it. Therefore it is a good idea to first measure that salt so you can determine how much salt you want to add in the next step.
Step 3. Add your SWG's recommended amount of salt around the perimeter of the pool
Most SWG's want approximately 3000ppm of salt in the water give or take. You will need to figure out how much salt to add based on the number you found in step 2 as well as how many gallons of water is in your pool to reach your SWG's optimal level (e.g. the Pentair IC-60 considers 3400ppm optimal). There are many calculators on the web to give you an idea of how many pounds of salt you'll need based on these two parameters.
When you do add salt, make sure the pump is running. If you want to accelerate the process even further, stir the salt around after pouring it in so it dissolves faster. Usually 1-2 hours is enough to get the salt fully dissolved.
Step 4. Measure the salt level and verify you are at the right level
If you are not at your target for your specific SWG, add more salt or backwash to remove some of it. Again, continue to do this until you reach the optimal level.
Step 5. Turn on SWG but make sure percentage is set to zero (0%)
The SWG should be turned on now but you don't want to generate any chlorine just yet. Verify your SWG's cell salinity reading with your test kit/strip readings and make sure your unit is operating nominally (i.e. no error codes on the unit).
Step 6. Adjust the CYA, FC, pH, CH, and TA to optimum SWG levels
Please read the Water Balance for SWG article as well as the optimum FC/CYA charts for the optimum levels of these parameters.
Generally speaking, you'll want your CYA to hover around 70 and your FC to be around 5. TA around 60-80 and a pH in the upper 7's (7.6-7.8). CH depends on what type of pool you have. Again, read the articles above for details.
Step 7. Raise percentage of your SWG to start generating chlorine
You are now a GO! Depending on your SWG, you'll want to start with a high enough percentage to generate enough FC to maintain your pool and prevent an algae outbreak. A lot of folks seem to start with 40%, wait a few hours, and then retest their FC/CC chlorine levels. Your optimal time to test is in the late afternoon/evening when the sun is down so you can get a FC measure that is less effected by the sun and/or evaporation. Your goal here is to see if the SWG is maintaining enough FC throughout the day so you never dip below your target number (again around 5 with a CYA at 70). If you are dipping too low then you need to raise the percentage on the SWG; too low, then you need reduce the percentage on your SWG.
Please be aware that you now may have to run your pump longer to cycle the water through the SWG to manitain levels. So if you were running your pump say 6 hours a day, depending on your SWG that may now jump to 8 or even 12 hours a day depending on your pool size. On bigger pools, you may be running your pump 12 hours or more depending on how much FC your SWG makes. Some folks invest in a variable speed pump to mitigate the added energy costs because of this fact. Again, it all depends on your pool's size and particular SWG model.
Step 8. Check, check, and double check your pool's chemistry
Since this is your first install using SWG, you want to make sure there are no problems with your pool's chemistry after you are up and running. At least initially, once a day you want to test your FC/CC count as well as your TA and pH levels to ensure they are maintaining their nominal targets. It is imperative that you get this right to prevent problems down the road. Once the pool seems stabilized over a week or two, you can begin to back off testing every other day or however you feel is appropriate. Finally, you want to pay attention to your SWG's salt meter as well as do additional salt level tests throughout the season, especially if you get a lot of heavy rains. After a while you'll get a feel of how much adjusting/testing you'll need throughout the seasons based on ambient temperature and the size of your pool.
I'd really appreciate if some of the experts could confirm the list above. I also think a list like this should be a sticky (and I can volunteer to write it after confirming and cleaning up the above).