When it comes to pool safety, there’s no such thing as over-preparedness.
“In the pool industry, you’ll often hear the term “layers of protection,” explains Mark Smith, Autocover senior product manager at Latham Pool Products. “This is the idea of using multiple safety devices around a swimming pool to help keep children and pets safe. This can include things like cameras, alarms, fences with self-closing and latching gates, as well as safety covers.”
While an automatic pool cover’s most important function is keeping children safe, the benefits don’t stop there. An autocover also helps keep your pool warmer, while keeping dirt and leaves out. And the speed and convenience with which an autocover deploys adds a cherry on top.
“An autocover can be removed or deployed in less than a minute,” says Smith, “providing peace of mind that your loved ones are safe, and money isn’t being wasted on unnecessary pool upkeep expenses.”
Let’s get into some of the details. When the pool is open, the cover retracts onto a reel that’s stored either mounted on top of the pool deck, inside a bench, or down in a pit covered with a lid. A simpler autocover system may be stored in a pit with an aluminum lid, although a pool owner with a larger budget may opt for an attractive stone lid that matches the coping around the pool.
Between how the autocover is stored, the shape of your pool, the material of the autocover (aluminum, or more durable stainless steel), plus transportation costs to wherever you may live, the cost of the cover can vary greatly, but usually falls somewhere in the $10,000 to $20,000 range.
Latham offers both Coverstar and Pool Cover Specialists autocovers, but one cover option stands out from the pack. “The Eclipse [by Coverstar] is by far the best autocover system on the market,” says Smith. Its stainless-steel gears and bracketry plus its strong drive train and large pulleys make it phenomenally durable and long-lasting. Other Coverstar selections include patented heat-sealed webbing on the covers, extending the life of the cover fabric. All Pool Cover Specialists models come with electronic stops and a reversible drive gear.
Coverstar’s patented process for heat-sealing the webbing (the part of the cover that runs in the tracks) to the cover fabric makes for a stronger, more durable cover than what most other autocover companies offer, that’ll last longer before it needs replacement.
All autocovers eventually need replacement, though that replacement time varies depending on the pool’s climate and maintenance level. The pulleys and sliders in the tracks, if cleaned out often, can last for up to seven years. The cover fabric can also last eight years or more, depending mostly on the environment. “They tend to last the longest in cool, wet locations like the Pacific Northwest,” says Smith, “and the shortest in hot, dry places like the Southwest.”
Homeowners in snowy climates, keep in mind that your autocover may require frequent snow removal in the winter months. Although an autocover can easily bear the weight of a human (or several), too much snow accumulation can result in damage to your cover.
Something else to keep in mind: an autocover in constant use will hold chlorine in, so you should keep your chlorine levels to a bare minimum when you’re using an autocover.
When choosing whether or not to install an automatic pool cover, consider factors like cost and climate. But the bottom line is that an autocover, activated whenever your pool isn’t in use, is one of the best measures to prevent against accidental drowning and keep your loved ones safe.
“The automatic safety cover provides all of the best benefits of simpler bubble covers and the safety of a manual safety cover,” says Smith. Your pool will stay cleaner, warmer, and, most importantly, safer, “at the touch of a button.”