Although it would be nice if we could all keep our pool pumps going nonstop, it can get really expensive to do so. This means turning your filter on and off at different times of the day… manually.
So unless you have a lot of time on your hands to sit around turning switches on and off during off-peak times (and maybe overnight)… finding the best pool timer is going to be a lifesaver.
Top Picks for Pool Timers
|Aube by Honeywell TI040/U 7-Day Programmable Timer||$79.00||Buy on Amazon|
|Intermatic P1121 Heavy Duty Outdoor Timer 15 Amp/1...||$29.41||Buy on Amazon|
|Intermatic T104M Mechanical Time Switch Mechanism...||$51.68||Buy on Amazon|
|BN-LINK Compact Outdoor Mechanical Timer, 24 Hour...||$14.99||Buy on Amazon|
|Intermatic T104R 208-277-Volt DPST 24 Hour...||$80.36||Buy on Amazon|
|GE Z-Wave Plus 40-Amp Indoor/Outdoor Metal Box...||$141.36||Buy on Amazon|
What is a Pool Timer?
A pool timer is a device that allows you to turn your pool filter on and off at certain times, without you having to do it manually. Pool timers not only automate a mundane activity in your life but can actually end up saving you a lot of money in the long run.
A pool timer becomes a sort of middle-man between your pool pump and the electrical socket. You can set the timer to go on and off at certain times of the day or night. When the clock reaches the preset shutoff time, the timer cuts off the power to the pump and reconnects when you’ve programmed it to come back on.
Even the best-intentioned pool owner can forget to turn the filter on and off. Using a swimming pool pump timer automates this process and takes this task off of your plate. This way, you can actually decrease your energy bill, increase the lifespan of your pool pump motor, and keep your pool water clean and properly filtered—all while taking steps that benefit the environment.
Note: Most variable speed pool pumps have an in-built timer, so if you have one of those, it’s unlikely you’ll need a pool timer unless it’s paired with a saltwater generator.
What Types of Pool Timers Can You Buy?
Mechanical Timers (Analog/Manual)
When you think of a mechanical pool pump timer, think of a grandfather clock or your grandfather’s wristwatch. It’s full of springs and gears and will run (practically) forever if left alone. A mechanical pool pump timer uses the same principle — the dial you set will hit the on/off tabs and either disrupt or reconnect the power source.
Do you just want something simple to turn your pool on and off each day? If so, a mechanical timer will do the trick. These are a bit bulky and not exactly pretty, but are fairly inexpensive and will last you a long time.
If you’re a DIY guru, the wiring for a mechanical timer is easier to manage than the digital version, making installation a breeze for anyone to do. If anything breaks, a mechanical switch is super easy to replace and won’t require replacing the whole electrical system (or hiring a professional to do it for you).
Digital Timers (Programmable & Smart)
If a mechanical pool pump timer is a clock with gears, a digital timer is basically a smartwatch. Digital timers have gotten pretty fancy over the years and now can even be integrated with smart home technology. They can control many systems at once, such as lighting, fountains, and music too.
Digital pool pump timers can range from anything from an LED display to a full smart system that gives you full control over your pool (and other backyard appliances) from anywhere in the world. With features such as Bluetooth and wireless control, multiple programmable functions, smart house integrations, and smartphone apps, these offer the most high-tech options for your backyard oasis.
Although digital timers offer a high-level of customization and a plethora of options, the digital downside is the complexity. If any part fails, you’re looking at a higher price tag and hiring professionals to fix the system. The tradeoff is control and functionality at a higher cost.
Which Type is Best?
The type of pool pump timer you choose will depend on the size and type of your pool, as well as the equipment and accessories you have in your pool. Pool timers come with many different features
- Mechanical (Analog) timers are cheaper, easier to use, and invulnerable to power surges.
- Digital (Programmable or Smart) timers are more expensive but offer lots of extra features and customizability.
Deciding which pool pump timer is best for your pool really comes down to what kind of pool you have and what you want to control with your timer. The simplicity or complexity of the timer is just a matter of personal preference.
What to Consider When Buying a Pool Timer
Match the Timer to Your Pool Pump’s Electrical Specs
Before you go shopping for a pool pump timer, make sure you get the lowdown on your pump’s electrical specifications. If the pool timer and your pump aren’t compatible, electrically-speaking, neither will do the job they’re meant to do.
Some timers are built to handle different voltages (usually 120 and 240 volts) and can be swapped back and forth as needed. If your pool pump only runs at one speed, however, you’re not going to need a variable speed timer.
What Do You Want To Control With the Timer?
You may just want a simple on/off switch for your pool pump, but there are actually pool timers (both analog and digital) that can control all of your backyard appliances such as your pool lights, water fountains, yard or pool lighting, signs, fans, and music systems.
Some things to consider:
- Do you want different presets for each appliance?
- Do you want the timer to switch on and off multiple times throughout the day?
- Do you want remote access to these controls?
- Do you live in a cold place where you may need freeze-protection for your pool and pump?
- Do you need to control your pool’s heating systems as well as the filter pump?
The mechanical versions can control multiple systems but are limited to one on-time and one off-time per day. The more complex your needs, the more functionality your pool timer needs to have. Luckily, there are many options for all types of pools and pool owners out there.
A two-speed timer runs on 120 to 240 volts and allows you to run your pump on low and high speeds as well as giving you on/off capabilities.
The lower speed saves energy and is good for general circulation, whereas the higher speed option works for pool cleaners and maintenance. Ideally, you’ll want to use this timer with a 3HP (horsepower) pool pump.
What Kind of Pool Do You Have? (Above Ground or In-Ground)
Above-ground timers are used specifically for above-ground pools and spas. (No, there’s not an underground version, in case you were wondering.) This particular type of timer is best suited for a 1.5HP (horsepower) pool pump.
An in-ground timer is for an in-ground pool and works for a 1.5HP or 3HP (horsepower) pool pump, based on the size of the swimming pool. Many of these kinds of timers come with a twist-lock plug or a 3-prong plug so make sure you know what your system is set up for in order to get the correct connection.
Extras & Add-Ons
Pool pump timers come in a variety of shapes and sizes, some with extra features for weather protection and safety. You may live somewhere that gets lots of rain. In that case, a weatherproof or water-resistant case for your timer is a must. If you have small children, you may want to look into a timer with a lockable case to keep tiny hands away from electrical components.
How Long Do You Want Your Pool Pump to Run?
A pool pump should run for as long as necessary to circulate all of the water through the pool filter. This process can take between 6 to 12 hours (and sometimes longer) depending on the size of your pool.
With some pool timers, you may actually have the option to run the pump for shorter increments at multiple times during the night or day. If you live in a place that offers off-peak hours for energy consumption, this may be a great choice for you. Check out the timing features to make sure the timer you choose fits your lifestyle best.
Best Pool Timer Reviews
#1. Aube 7-Day Programmable Pool Timer
The Aube by Honeywell is a powerful 7-day programmable timer that allows you to choose between 120-Volt or 240-Volt settings with 3 settings (manual, automatic, and temporary bypass). It has a heavy-duty weatherproof casing that makes it ideal for outdoor use.
- It is very easy to program and can set for 7 days with up to 14-settings
- The built-in battery maintains the time during power outages
- Installation is quick and easy
- No LED display makes it hard to change programs at night
- The plastic case is a bit brittle and may crack
- The knockouts are a little difficult to remove
#2. Intermatic Heavy Duty Outdoor Pool Timer
The Intermatic P1121 Heavy Duty Outdoor Timer is specifically designed to control outdoor decorations, lighting, and the filter pumps for above-ground pools. Easily programmable with 2 green tabs and 2 red tabs for twice-daily cycling as well as a manual override option.
- Installing this timer is quick and easy, without the need for a professional
- It is a cost-effective option with 2 on/off settings per day
- It can control multiple outdoor appliances
- The case is not completely waterproof and may need to be covered during heavy rains
- It is not the most durable timer
#3. Intermatic Mechanical Pool Time Switch (Mechanism Only)
The Intermatic Mechanical Pool Time Switch is a replacement mechanism for Intermatic T104, T104R, and T104P models.
- Installing the timer is very simple
- It is an inexpensive drop-in upgrade from an older version
- The timer allows for 1 to 12 on/off operations daily
- The mechanism is extremely durable
- Lower-power motors may not be strong enough to trip a mechanical switch
- It may not work well with frequent power surges
#4. BN-LINK Compact Outdoor Mechanical Pool Timer
The BN-LINK Compact Outdoor Mechanical Pool Timer is perfect for your outdoor lights, pool pumps, fountains, and any other electric devices in your yard. It saves energy and money with an automatic shutoff and manual override.
- This timer can be set for multiple time increments within a day
- It is extremely well-constructed and weatherproof
- The electrical cord is quite short so it needs to be close to an outlet (within 6 inches)
- The outer cover can be a bit difficult to open
#5. Intermatic Electromechanical Pool Timer
The Intermatic Electromechanical Pool Timer is a heavy-duty mechanical time switch, designed for industrial, commercial and residential applications with a 208/277-volt time switch, a steel case, and 1-12 on/off operations each day.
- This timer comes with a metal rain-tight enclosure
- Its straightforward wiring provides easy setup
- The solid mechanism is very durable and lasts a long time
- The outer case may rust with longterm weather exposure
- The on/off tabs may come loose over time
#6. GE Enbrighten Z-Wave Plus Smart Switch Pool Timer
The Enbrighten Z-Wave Plus Smart Switch Pool Timer from GE enables wireless control of on/off functions for large-load, hard-wired applications such as landscape lighting, spas, pool pumps, and heaters. Integrates with Alexa too!
- Easy-to-read LED lights indicate power and on/off status
- It is weather-resistant in extreme conditions
- Gives you wireless control of timer functions
- The Z-Wave radio signal is sometimes weak
- The wireless functionality works only at close range
So there you have it. With an automatic pool timer, you’ll never forget to turn your pool pump on or off again. A pool timer ensures that you can go on vacation worry-free, knowing your pool will be sparkling and clean when you return and your energy bill won’t be through-the-roof.
Additionally, you can rest assured knowing that you’re saving your pool motor in the long run and preventing freeze damage to your equipment if you live in a cold environment.
With a pool pump timer, you won’t have to check the time. All you’ll need to do is set the timer once then relax and enjoy your pool while saving money on bills at the same time.