When deciding which controls and switches you want for your pool, first consider your lifestyle. If you are attentive to your pool, you may choose simple controls that you turn on and off yourself from day to day. However, many people prefer controls that handle essential tasks—such as pumping water through a filter—automatically.

Manual Timers

These generally operate like an old-fashioned kitchen timer: You twist a knob to turn the function on and indicate how long you want it on. Usually, timers operate up to 60 minutes. A manual timer is good for things that do not have to be operated on a regular basis, such as jets of a spa or certain lights.

Swimming Pool Digital Controls. Photo: Pentair Pool Products

Electronic Timers

A high-end electronic swimming pool control is a timer that handles multiple functions. It can tell the pump to circulate water through the filter, to keep the pool sanitized. It can also inject cleaning chemicals at the right time. It can heat the pool at a preset time so the water will be the right temperature when you jump in. It can also close the cover and turn lights on and off at preset times.

Because of the proximity to water, switches usually do not use electrical wires. “Air” switches send a puff of air through a thin tube to turn things on and off. Wireless controls are now the most popular type. They send a radio signal to the various devices, each on a different frequency. A wireless electronic control, such as the one shown above, uses hardly any energy and can be programmed precisely.

Staying in Touch

An older mechanical timer is programmed by physically moving little metal tabs that align with a rotary dial that represents the 24 hours in a day. Newer electronic timers can be programmed to operate differently on different days. To program it, follow the manufacturer’s instructions and pay attention to the readout.

An electronic timer can be hooked up to your telephone, so while you are away you can call in and change the settings. You may choose, for example, to have the water warmed up, the cover off, and the pump finished with its cleaning work just as you arrive home.

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About Don Vandervort
Don Vandervort has developed his expertise for more than 30 years as a remodeler and builder, Building Editor for Sunset Books, Senior Editor at Home Magazine, author of more than 30 home improvement books, and writer of countless magazine articles. He appeared for 3 seasons on HGTV’s “The Fix,” served as MSN’s home expert for several years, and is featured as Yelp's home improvement expert. Don founded HomeTips in 1996. Read more about Don Vandervort