You might be asking yourself how beneficial it is to have a pool pump timer. It’s possible to go out and manually turn the pump on and off each time you need to run it. So why would you spend the extra money of buying a timer and installing it? Keep reading to find out the benefits of a timer and see if it’s a good fit for your pool.
What is a Pool Pump Timer?
A pool pump timer is used to automate the time that your pool pump turns on and off. It allows you to control when the pump turns on and how long it stays on. This allows you to make sure you’re consistently running the pump, even if you’re not home.
Why is a Pool Pump Timer Important?
Running your pool pump and filter every day, other than adding chlorine, is the single most important thing that needs to be done to maintain your pool. The pool pump provides circulation and also the filtration that is needed to keep the water clean.
Algae and cloudy water are common side effects in pools when the filter isn’t being run regularly or long enough.
Timers keep you on a schedule. Your pump can run at the same time every day and for the same amount of time each day. A timer gives you peace of mind that the pool is getting filtered regularly. It permits the pump to get a break at regular intervals and controls the amount of electricity you are using.
With a pool pump timer in place, you don’t have to worry about whether you remembered to turn the pump on or off. You aren’t having to go outside in the heat, dark, or rain to manually turn it on or off. A timer eliminates worrying about what your pool will look like if you go out of town for a few days because the pump cycles still happen even though you’re not there.
If you want clear water and less hassle, a timer is an essential piece of equipment for your pool.
Pros of a Timer
Here are some benefits of using a pool timer:
- The pool receives regular cleaning even if you’re not home
- Saves energy by not being run continuously
- Lower energy usage means lower costs too
- You can choose run times so they don’t interfere with pool usage
- Keeps pump on for the same amount of time each day
- Removes stress/hassle of having to remember to turn it on and off each day
Cons of a Timer
While there are a lot of benefits, there can be a few downsides like:
- Timers can need to be reset after power outages
- Parts of the timer can break (like gears or switches) and the timer won’t work
- It costs extra to buy and install
Related Reading: Mechanical Vs. Digital Pool Timers: Which is Better?
How Do You Install a Pool Pump Timer?
Here are the steps to install a pool pump timer. It’s always a good idea to read the timer manual for specific directions.
Working with electricity is dangerous and can kill. Consult an electrician if you’re unsure or uncomfortable with these steps.
1. Turn Off the Electricity
This is important! You need to make sure your pump is turned off at the circuit breaker so that no electricity is flowing to your pool pump.
2. Connect the Timer to the Electrical Source
There are two main types of timers:
- Plug in (plug and play)
- Hard Wired
Plug In – this timer is a stand-alone unit and can be plugged directly into an existing receptacle (outlet). The pump then plugs into the timer. No electrician is required for these. The downside is they’re only suitable for small pumps that do not draw a high amount of current (amps).
These are more often used with above-ground and semi-permanent pools.
If you’re considering one of these, check the current rating on your pump and buy a timer that will accommodate this rating.
Hard Wired – all inground and permanent pools will use a hard-wired timer. This type of timer needs to be directly connected to the circuit. It is not plugged in. These timers are suitable for all pool pumps.
You’ll need an electrician to install one of these timers as you’ll be working with the wiring.
3. Restore Power and Program Your Timer
Following the directions outlined in your timer manual, program the timer. You should set the timer to run for at least 5-6 hours per day in winter and 8-12 hours per day in summer. This will ensure you’re cleaning the water adequately.
Pro tip: Consider running your pump during off-peak hours (like early morning or late evening) to reduce electricity costs.
How Much Do Pool Timers Cost?
Prices of pool timers can vary depending on the type of timer you get.
Timers can range anywhere from $15 to several hundred dollars depending on the type of timer (mechanical or digital), the number of different settings it has, and the number of devices it can control.
Some timers even have Wi-Fi and automation. These will be on the more expensive end.
What to Look for When Buying a Pool Pump Timer
Here are the things you should consider when looking for a timer:
If you’re on a budget, then cost is definitely a consideration when choosing a timer. Don’t forget to consider the costs of installation if you do not feel comfortable installing the timer yourself.
Mechanical or Digital
Both mechanical and digital timers can turn a pump on and off.
Mechanical timers tend to be larger, metal box structures that may not be hidden as easily as a smaller digital timer.
However, mechanical timers tend to be able to handle more electrical loads and have a longer life than other digital timers.
Digital timers can be smaller and less of an eyesore than other mechanical timers. They are easier to read and can be more accurate than mechanical timers. Additionally, some can be controlled through WiFi and more complex programs can be set up.
e.g. You may want the timer to run the pump for 4 hours in the morning and 4 hours in the evening. Most mechanical timers can’t do this.
How Many Things It Can Control
Some timers can only control one thing at a time. Others can manage multiple items at one time. So if you have a pool and want to also control lighting or water features, you might want to consider a timer that can control both devices. Or you can use two separate timers.
Technical Specs (Electrical Current and Voltage Ratings)
It’s important to make sure that the timer you choose can handle the voltage needed for your pump. There should be a label on your pump with the voltage and current (amps) required. If you can’t find it, you can also consult your pool pump manual or the manufacturer’s website.
Some timers simply control turning the pump on and off. This may be the only function you need.
But there are pool owners who want the ability to set the pump schedule at different times throughout the week or turn on lights, and jets, and heat the pool. You’ll need to think about how you want to use the timer so that you can choose one that has all the features you need.
When you purchase a new timer, it will come with instructions showing you how to install it. Usually, there aren’t a lot of special tools required. You just need a multimeter to check that the voltage is at the right level.
If you don’t feel comfortable installing a timer yourself, you could pay to have it installed by a professional.
Is a Pool Pump Timer Worth It?
It is recommended that you get a timer for your pool pump. It’s a relatively small investment to help maintain your pool and equipment. It will save you time in having to do it manually each day.
It also helps control your electricity costs and can also save on pool chemical maintenance costs.
Related Reading: 7 of the Best Pool Timers for Above-Ground Pools
Recommended Pool Pump Timers
This is a top seller because of its ease of use and durability. It’s been around for many years and thousands of pools have these installed.
Enclosed in a steel casing, it’s meant to handle the outdoor elements. It works in 1-hour intervals for on/off and can handle up to 12 operations per day. It will control one pump and take a load of up to 40 amps at 115V AC.
You can create up to 3 different settings with this timer. It has 15-minute time intervals for your on/off functions. Settings will repeat daily.
The T104 can control two pieces of pool equipment. This timer can be set between 1-23 hour time intervals and handle up to 12 on/off cycles per day. There is also a manual override switch if you need to make a single adjustment without resetting all your other time intervals.
It’s suitable for pumps that are rated for 220-240V AC at a current of up to 40 amps. Pretty much all consumer pool pumps are in this current rating.
Related Reading: Which Intermatic Timer for Pool Pump? T101 or T103 or T104
This digital timer allows for 8 on/off programs with time intervals as short as 1 minute. With 2 grounded outlets, you can control 2 different devices simultaneously. It comes with a “random” setting to provide additional security while you’re gone by giving the appearance that you’re home at different times.
There is also a weatherproof cover so it’s suitable for outdoor use and shouldn’t be impacted by rain or pool water.
If you need the ability to vary your run times each day, then this 7-day programmable timer is a great option. It has a countdown timer, a programmable setting, and a random function. It has plugs to run 2 devices simultaneously and is heavy-duty for large equipment such as pool pumps. The Woods timer also has a self-charging backup feature so your settings won’t be lost in the event of a power outage.
This timer can also control 2 devices at the same time. It can run up to 20 on/off settings per week. The backup battery can store settings for up to 3 months in case of a power outage. The Dewenwils timer has a random mode as well as a setting for Daylight Savings Time. You can also create a manual override if you need a one-time setting change.
The Suraielec Wifi Timer can be operated through voice controls (Alexa, Google) or through their phone app (Smart Life App). Settings can be shared with family members so they aren’t guessing about how long to run the equipment.
Timers include random, repeat, countdown, or program to meet whatever needs you may have. It comes with a lockable box cover to help from moisture or dust and to prevent anyone from tampering with your settings.
The Tessan Wifi Outlet can control 2 devices independently. You can use voice controls with Google or Alexa, or use the Tessan app from your smartphone. This outlet only works on the 2.4G wifi band, so if you have a 5G or dual-band wifi, you’ll need to have a separate 2.4G band for this outlet.
Still not sure what type of time you should get? Check out this article that dives deeper into the difference between mechanical and digital timers.