Regular Inground Pool or one with an Automatic Cover

prh1976

New member
Aug 17, 2010
1
Hi,

I'm in the process of installing a new inground pool this fall. I've narrowed it down to two installers. One has proposed a typical steel wall pool, with heat pump, salt water generator, and looploc. The other is proposing a poured concrete wall pool with an automatic cover - but no heat pump or looploc because he claims that the automatic cover will provide enough heat (e.g. Solar Cover), that you wouldn't need the heat pump. The price difference on an apples to apples basis is $7,600 - the automatic cover pool being more expensive. The automatic cover installer claims that the $7,600 we pay itself back in a few years due to lower utility costs (no heat pump), less maintenance and the requirement for fewer chemicals. I live in Southern New York (Long Island). Does anyone have any advice? I leaning towards the steel wall installer (who's been around for 42 years), and the lower price - but I'm not sure if I'm missing something. I find it hard to believe that the automatic cover will provide enough heat to offset the need for a heater.

Many thanks
 

X-PertPool

TFP Expert
In The Industry
Jun 12, 2009
1,385
Exeter, PA
I have a customer who has a heat pump and an automatic cover, but uses a safety cover for the winter. Auto-cover's aren't the best winter covers
 

bk406

Well-known member
Dec 3, 2009
2,690
Central Massachusetts
I really dont think the auto cover will give you that much heat where you are. I'm not too far north of you in massachusetts and I use a heat pump and plain solar cover. And, as X-pertpool said, an auto cover will not work for a winter safety cover. You would still need a real winter cover like a loop-loc or a solid tarp. A retractable cover is not that practicle in our area where we can get significant snow. They are a nice subtitute for a solar cover in conjunction with a heater, but not cost effective. My 2 cents, save your money and go with the traditional set up.
 

mnb

Well-known member
Feb 18, 2009
75
NW Chicago Suburb, IL
I use my auto cover as my winter cover with no issues at all. It may be because I have a fiberglass pool and I don't drain any water. The auto cover needs to have the water to give it the proper support.

I'm really glad to have the cover. It definately helps with keeping my pool clean and helps keep the heat in. I do have a heater as well.
 

PoolGuyNJ

TFP Expert
May 20, 2007
3,192
South Central NJ
I happen to agree with X-Pert 100%. It's been my experience that auto-cover fabric life is dramatically shortened when used as a winter cover. It also severely beats on the tracks when a snow load exists. Both of those are repairs than can cost as much as good safety cover.

The guy pitching the auto-cover is, IMHO, either a liar, doesn't know what he's talking about, or both. He was hired because he sounds convincing. I suspect he came from the used car sales or Wall Street type boiler room environment.

Scott
 

sandybeach

In The Industry
Apr 8, 2009
25
I have had a swim safe auto cover for 4 years and use it as my winter cover with no problem. I don't understand why people think you shouldn't, mine shows no sign of wear or fading , not to mention the safety [6 grand kids ] . as far as holding in heat , it doesn't , we have a natural gas heater. we live in minnesota ,so the evening can get chilly. The cover also controls evaporation, leaves, rainwater, dirt, and ease of water conditioning, pool always looks great [ credit my wife ]and the t 100 test kit. Our pool is a 20' x 40 ' 24000gal steel wall vinyl liner under mount coping.
 

PoolGuyNJ

TFP Expert
May 20, 2007
3,192
South Central NJ
Sandy, most of the heat lost with a pool comes by way of evaporation. Having a cover on makes a major difference. If you have 2 nights with similar low temps, note the temp of the pool with a thermometer each morning where the only change you do is one night with and another without the cover extended over night. I guarentee you will see a significant difference in lost heat when the cover is spooled.

A quality safety cover will last about 10-12 years if it's properly cared for, sometimes more. Having seen what Winter does to auto-covers over the same period will become something you will experience soon enough. Protecting it extends the fabric's life and the rails too.

Scott
 

chem geek

TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Mar 28, 2007
12,082
San Rafael, CA USA
I have an automatic electric safety cover, but don't live in a place with freezing winters so the pool isn't closed/drained and we don't get snow. As Scott noted, even a thin cover will virtually eliminate evaporation which is responsible for a significant portion of heat loss. In my own pool, it cuts the overnight temperature drop in half compared to no cover. A better insulating bubble-type cover would likely lose about half as much heat as a thin safety cover so would cut the temperature drop to 1/4th that compared to no cover.

A cover that is somewhat clear (or light blue) will let sunlight heat the pool during the day. For a mostly opaque cover, a dark cover will heat the pool a little if the circulation pump is running. When we changed from a light tan cover to a dark blue cover, we noticed that the pool would heat up from the sun on the cover (when the solar system was off, of course). Because the cover is mostly opaque, it does significantly cut down chlorine loss. My pool has a daily chlorine usage of around 1 ppm FC per day with the pool used 1-2 hours every day during the week and longer on weekends and being a warm 88ºF pool.

My electric safety cover doesn't last more than about 4 years before getting holes near some edges where there are folds and it's not cheap to replace. After around 7 years, some of the hardware needed to be replaced such as some pulleys and the main roller that holds the cover. When they replaced it, they said it is now made of a material that should last longer. We'll see.
 

h2ctpdjl

LifeTime Supporter
Jul 12, 2008
251
Indiana
I have the automatic electric pool cover (4th season) and absolutely love it! It didn't matter what the cost, it was something I insisted on when the pool was installed; my grandchildren were little and I would not take any chances. When we get cool evenings during the summer (like this weekend), I close the cover to help retain the heat. Keeping the cover closed during very warm/hot days will heat the water up as well, and a closed cover also reduces the bleach consumption by the sun. I still have a natural gass heater - extends our swim time - early May and into mid October. The covere sure does keep out all those "nasties" that fall off the trees in early spring and those pesky leaves in the falls. I think its great!!!!
 

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