Just about everyone agrees that automatic pool covers are awesome. They allow you to cover and uncover your pool with the flip of a switch, giving you safety and efficiency benefits without hampering your swimming fun in the slightest. Sure, they may not be the prettiest pool feature and they don’t easily fit all pool shapes. But given everything else they offer, why would anyone build an inground pool without one of these wondrous systems installed?
If you said “price,” give yourself a pat on the back. An automatic cover is one of the most expensive optional features you can install with your pool. Exactly how much does an automatic pool cover cost? As with most pool features, pricing is all over the map. However, you can generally expect to pay between $10,000 and $20,000, depending on the size of the pool, the type of system, and the difficulty of the installation.
That’s obviously a huge chunk of change. Still, a lot of pool owners find it to be worth the price for the safety benefits alone. Automatic covers also come with money saving benefits that make the initial cost a little easier to justify.
Automatic covers offer the same advantages as other pool covers. The difference is that automatic covers are much easier to use, so you can expect to reap the benefits more consistently.
Safety. While not built to the standards of a true safety pool cover, an automatic cover will generally support the weight of a pet, child, or even an adult. It’s one more layer of security for your pool, and a darn good one at that.
Energy Efficiency. All pool covers help keep the water warm by slowing evaporation, which can save you money on heating and/or allow you to keep your pool open longer. For residential indoor pools, a pool cover also means you don’t have to work the dehumidifier as hard.
Less Pool Maintenance. Finally, pool covers keep leaves and other debris out of your pool. This keeps your pump and filter running efficiently and reduces the amount of time you have to spend cleaning up.
Weighing the Investment
Clearly the biggest strike against automatic covers is the impact they have on your budget. Manufacturers often argue that they “pay for themselves” over time, but this claim is a little iffy for the following reasons:
If you wouldn’t normally heat your pool, you’re not saving much at all. Claims of major cost savings are based on scenarios where the owner is regularly using a pool heater. If that’s not you, you won’t see the biggest savings. A pool cover can save you money in other ways, but not enough to “pay for itself.”
Automatic pool covers cost money to maintain. Like any other piece of machinery, an automatic cover can break down, requiring expensive repairs. At some point, probably within the first 6-8 years of operation, you’ll likely get slapped with a big bill to replace the motor or the cover’s fabric (or both!). Picking a quality product and taking good care of it will reduce the amount you have to spend on maintenance, but plain old luck is also a big factor.
You don’t have to use an automatic cover to get the money saving benefits. Any pool cover will do the same job, provided that you’re diligent about using it. In fact, a solar pool cover (aka solar blanket) is a cheaper option that’s specially designed to keep your pool warm.
Most people get an automatic swimming pool cover for safety reasons – and that’s really all the justification you need to buy one. The cost saving benefits are more of a sweetener. Under the right circumstances, you could eventually offset the purchase price and end up saving money. However, if cost is your only concern, there are ways to save even more money on pool heating without the huge upfront investment.