Ask the General: What are the Benefits of Automatic Pool Safety Covers?

Automatic Pool Safety Covers Dear General,

We’re in the process of getting a new fiberglass pool installed, and we’re super excited. The only decision we have remaining is what kind of pool cover we should get. Safety is a big concern for me. Can you explain the different kinds of pool covers available and give me some pros and cons for each?


Cover My Pool in Covington


Dear Cover My Pool,

Pool covers are a lifesaver for pool owners, for many reasons. You’ll be delighted at the ways a pool cover will give you ease of maintenance and peace of mind regarding safety. Let’s take a look at the benefits of having a pool cover and talk about the two basic types available.

Why Should You Have a Pool Cover?

  • Safety. Safety is the most important concern for any pool owner. The idea behind a safety pool cover is to make your pool completely inaccessible. In some states, you don’t have to have a fence if you have a pool cover; however, many states and municipalities require a fence whether a pool has a safety cover or not. It’s important to know that YOU are responsible for ensuring safety in your pool area and for ensuring that anyone who uses your pool knows the rules of safe swimming regardless of state and local codes. Keep in mind that a fence only discourages uninvited guests. Kids and pets can still find a way in if the gate isn’t locked. Also, fences don’t stop anyone who’s already inside the house from getting into the pool. Door, gate and pool alarms can alert you, but only a pool cover can really give you peace of mind that the pool area is secured when you’re not out there.
  • Ease of maintenance. The more debris you prevent from getting into your pool, the less time you have to spend cleaning it. What that means for you is more time to actually enjoy the pool. Imagine waking up after a really bad storm to find your pool filled with twigs, dirt and other debris versus rolling back your pool cover and taking a quick dip. You’ll find that a cover will save you hours of cleaning time.
  • Lower operating costs. Plain and simple, pool covers keep your heating costs down. They’ll also help reduce your chemical usage, reduce strain on your pool’s operating systems and keep water from evaporating. All of these savings can mean more money for fun things like tanning ledge loungers, pool floats and parties!

Manual or Automatic?

While there are many styles, types, colors, and operating systems for safety covers, there are two main differentiators. Pool covers are either manual or automatic. Personally, I’m a big fan of automatic. But let’s take a look at both.

Manual pool covers are fine for keeping debris out and heat in, but not all manual covers are safety covers, so you need to check before you buy. 

Manual pool covers

The least expensive option are the fabric covers with grommets that you stretch over your pool like a big fitted sheet. They can take more than one person to put in place. Motorless track covers. These roll out from a track like a big roll of paper towel. They’re a bit easier to maneuver than the fabric ones, but they still take some elbow grease.

Automatic pool covers have a tracking system and a motor and are controlled by touch pads or a key. As far as ease of use AND safety, you can’t beat an automatic safety cover.

Automatic pool safety cover

There are four main types of automatic pool covers:

  1. Deck mounted tracking: The motor and mechanisms are in a box with a slightly raised lid that has tracking installed on top of the pool deck.
  2. Under-track system: The motor and mechanisms are in a box with a flush lid, and the tracking is located in the coping under the deck.
  3. Complete under-track system: A complete custom package of color-matched, under-track coping and a flush lid with recessed polymer deck box, all shipped directly from the factory.
  4. Above-deck motor system: These are typically an after-market renovation on an existing pool. The motor sits inside an enclosed bench on top of the deck with deck mounted tracks.

What’s the takeaway?

I was very fortunate to have consulted on the development of Automatic Pool Covers’ popular under-track design. The innovation improved upon the deck-mounted systems by incorporating the flush lid, which is more aesthetically pleasing. The under-track systems also make it easier to keep the tracking clean. They’re a little more expensive, but in my opinion, they’re worth it.

While rectangular designs are most easily compatible with an automatic pool cover, most pool designs can accommodate one. There are also many colors to choose from. Check with your installer or pool dealer for details about the cover manufacturer, warranties, and maintenance required.  I’m a big believer in making pool ownership safe, easy and fun, and an automatic pool cover will help you do all of those things. They’re a great feature to include when you’re designing your pool.

Well, once again it’s time to grab a float and enjoy the pool.

Until next time…

The General


Who is The General?

The man, the myth, the legend….we just call him The General. His organized, systematic approach to pool installations over the years had his crew members calling him “The General” and it stuck. The General has over 30 years’ experience in the pool and spa industry, working for one of Pool and Spa News’Top 50 Pool Builders.”

Over that time, he designed, sold, project-managed and installed over a thousand inground swimming pools. As a pool owner himself, he’s the perfect authority to give you the inside scoop, with amazing tips and tricks to make pool ownership a breeze!