The Best Pool Timers of 2024 - Reviews and Picks by Bob Vila

By Chase Brush | Published Sep 18, 2023 11:39 AM

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The Best Pool Timers of 2024 - Reviews and Picks by Bob Vila

Pool timers are a convenient and efficient way to automate the operation of pool filters, pumps, and other appliances. These devices are essential to a pool’s circulation system, keeping the water clean and bacteria-free, but they can also lead to high energy consumption. Remembering to shut them off manually each day can feel like a chore; the best pool timers can do this automatically, saving time and hassle.

Automatic pool timers come in various designs and types, from electromechanical to programmable digital models. They can be used for above- and inground pools, and some even work with other devices around the yard, including sprinklers and lights. We researched some of the best pool timers on the market to help consumers find the right one for their pool setup.

To find the best pool timers, we examined dozens of user reviews and expert guides and compiled a list of the most popular models on the market. This included electromechanical models, which work with most pool systems and boast the greatest reliability and durability of any kind of timer. It also included digital models, which tend to offer more setting options and can be customized to handle more devices than simple mechanical models. Some digital timers also incorporate smart features such as Wi-Fi, allowing them to be operated from a distance. Among other features, we made sure to consider such factors as affordability, construction, and ease of use.

Using the above criteria, we narrowed down our list of popular pool timers to focus on the best of the best. We included options appropriate for both inground and above-ground pool filters and pumps, as well as models that can be used for other outdoor appliances, such as lights, sprinklers, and fountain/pond filters and pumps. Keep reading to find a pool pump timer that fits your needs and setup.

This Honeywell Home model is a reliable and durable mechanical timer for full-fledged pool systems and setups. It has all the features needed to run a pool pump and filters efficiently and effectively, including multiple programming options, standard voltages, and a lockable metal box. It offers three programming options, including manual, automatic, or temporary bypass, allowing users to override the system without erasing their presets. It’s also programmable for up to 7 days with two daily settings.

The Honeywell isn’t quite as feature rich as some other models, but it makes up for that in reliability and durability. The timer is housed in a rugged weatherproof box that can be locked for security. It’s also protected against power outages, saving any programming for up to 30 days if the electricity goes out due to a storm. A dual-voltage switch allows users to choose between 120 and 240 volts (V), ensuring compatibility with most pool appliances.

Get the Honeywell Home pool timer at Amazon or Walmart.

Analog timers may offer more reliability and capacity than their digital counterparts, but when it comes to customization and programmability, models like the Woods 50015WD are hard to beat. This popular digital timer is perfect for pool owners who want greater control over their pool system schedule, or who want to manage other outdoor appliances. It comes with three timer settings—digital, random, and countdown—and accepts 20 different settings per day for 7 days, including for both weekends and weekdays. A simple digital screen with six buttons makes it easy to operate.

While not the most powerful model, the Woods timer accepts 125V and 15 amps, making it suitable for smaller above-ground pool filters and pumps or even outdoor fountains or holiday lighting. The weatherproof housing keeps it shielded from the elements, while the self-charging backup battery means settings are preserved even in the event of a power outage.

Get the Woods pool timer at Amazon or Walmart.

The bigger the pool, the more expensive it often is to maintain—and the more important it is to have a timer to manage that maintenance. This mechanical timer from Suraielec makes it easy to set time schedules for filters and pumps, particularly in larger pools that consume a lot of energy. With 40 amps and 120V, 240V, and 227V AC power (VAC) ratings, it boasts a higher capacity than many other timers on the market, making it ideal for heavy-duty appliances. It also takes the fuss out of managing them thanks to Wi-Fi and smart-home device compatibility.

Suraielec also offers a variety of timer functions, including program, countdown, random, and repeat. These functions can be easily set through the free Tuya Smart Life app, which boasts an intuitive interface and works with almost any smartphone. Users can even share the settings with friends and family members or link up the timer to smart devices like Amazon Alexa and Google Home to operate it by voice command.

Get the Suraielec pool timer at Amazon.

For above-ground pools that require only light circulating and filtering, this BN-Link multisocket timer is a great option. The simple mechanical timer boasts 15 amps and up to 125V, which should be adequate to run most smaller filters and pumps. It should also be enough to power any other outdoor appliances around the house, and it can run them all at the same time thanks to its six separate outlets.

While far from the most powerful or feature-rich option out there, the BN-Link’s simplicity can be an advantage for anyone who wants to avoid complicated installation and operation. Just stake the timer in the ground, plug in appliances, and use the built-in dial to set a schedule. The timer can accommodate up to 24 on/off programs per day, with intervals as small as 15 minutes, and will repeat them every 24 hours.

Get the BN-Link pool timer at Amazon, Walmart, or BN-Link.

While pool timers can take much of the hassle out of managing pumps and filters, they still require users to manually set and reset their schedules every now and again. Digital timers, like the Tessan smart outlet switch, minimize this requirement by allowing users to control them at a distance, often through Wi-Fi and smart-home devices. This particular model supports 15 amp, 125V, and 2 horsepower appliances, making it compatible with most standard pool pumps and filters.

Another benefit of the Tessan smart outlet that many other digital timers don’t offer is the inclusion of two outlets, each of which can be individually programmed. That allows users to run outdoor appliances on a separate schedule, such as a sprinkler that activates in the morning, a pool pump that runs in the afternoon, and lights that turn on in the evening. You can edit each program in the Smart Life app, which also includes handy features like a Smart Switch that will automatically turn the appliance on at dawn and off at dusk.

Get the Tessan pool timer at Amazon.

In order to stay clean and clear, large above-ground or inground pools must incorporate suitably powerful pumps and filters in their circulation systems. That in turn calls for a powerful timer, such as this one from GE Outdoor. Featuring two connections that can support 120 to 277VAC loads up to 40 amps, the timer is capable of managing everything from pool pumps and heaters to AC units. You can program schedules with 30-minute intervals on a 24-hour cycle using the built-in override switch to bypass settings if needed.

In addition to capacity, the GE Outdoor stands out for its rugged, durable construction. The timer is housed in a weatherproof metal case that can be wall mounted and locked for security, so you don’t have to worry about children or anyone else tampering with its settings. Sturdy block terminals also allow for easy wiring while still keeping those wires firmly connected and in place.

Get the GE Outdoor pool timer at Amazon or Walmart.

Intermatic is a popular line of pool timers and equipment that comes recommended by professional technicians and pool owners alike. The T104R is one of its most popular offerings, featuring a durable mechanical timer housed with a rugged outdoor case. The timer is one of the most powerful on the market, capable of supporting high horsepower appliances with up to 40 amps, making it ideal not only for residential but also commercial applications.

With this Intermatic, users can set up to 12 on/off operations, each with a minimum interval of 1 hour. That is a bit longer than some other timers on the market, which may feel limiting for users who wish to set schedules for smaller appliances, such as compact above-ground pool equipment or sprinklers and house lighting. But for large inground pools, the programming options and capacity ratings are more than enough to keep everything running with minimum hassle.

Get the Intermatic pool timer at Amazon, Walmart, or Intermatic.

Before picking a pool timer, it’s important to consider the setup of the particular pool. Sizeable inground pools will require timers that can handle large electrical loads and more powerful appliances, while smaller above-ground pools can work with lighter-duty devices. Some pool owners may also prefer the reliability of mechanical timers over the convenience of digital ones.

Different size pools require different size filters and pumps, which in turn requires pool timers of different capacities. The primary way to measure these capacities is through voltage (V) and current (amp) ratings. Generally, most pumps and filters will run on standard 110V or 240V loads. Larger pumps and filters will boast higher amp ratings, from 30 to 50 amps, while smaller appliances may have lower ratings, such as 15 amps.

It’s important to choose a timer rated equal to or higher than your pump’s voltage or amp rating; otherwise, a more powerful pump may destroy a less powerful timer. To determine a pump’s voltage and amperage rating, check the details on the device itself or with the manufacturer.

When it comes to design, pool timers come in two basic varieties: analog and digital. Analog timers feature mechanical and electrical components such as wires and gears that trigger the device at preset times. Digital timers, on the other hand, consist of small computers that can be programmed to perform one or more functions.

The unique designs of both mechanical and digital timers present their own advantages and drawbacks. Because they feature simpler designs and fewer parts, mechanical timers are often more durable, dependable, and can handle larger loads than digital timers. In contrast, digital timers are more compact and customizable, capable of handling multiple presets at the same time and sometimes offering other smart features, including remote operation.

One deciding factor when shopping for pool timers is programmability. While all timers allow for the creation of an on/off preset for at least one time range in a given day, some models can accept multiple presets and offer other programmable settings as well. Some models may allow for up to 7-day scheduling, with a different schedule for each day, while others may only operate on 24-hour cycles, repeating the same schedule each day. Another programming feature is the timer’s minimum interval: Some models require that operations run for a minimum of 60 minutes, while others allow for intervals down to as little as 15 minutes.

Some timers may also offer timing features that go beyond programming daily and weekly time schedules. Specifically, many digital models today offer Wi-Fi compatibility, allowing users to control the device and set schedules from their smartphone or laptop. Some even work with smart-home devices, such as Amazon Alexa and Google Home, enabling you to set schedules using voice command alone.

Pool timers are available with various casing options that are tailored to different installation and weather conditions. Choosing the right casing is important since it can significantly influence the durability and functionality of the timer itself. More affordable timers will often feature plastic casings, which are cheaper to produce but will still give the timer some basic protection from the elements. More expensive timers as well as most mechanical timers will often come with metal casings, which offer maximum protection against wind, rain, and rust. Some metal casings will even accept locks to make them tamperproof.

Before selecting a case, think about where the timer will be located. If inside, the timer may need only the basic protection provided by a plastic cover. If outside, the timer should have a sturdy metal case capable of withstanding wind and rain. If metal, it’s also important to consider the cases’ construction quality, which can vary from basic steel to aluminum. The strongest metal will carry a rating by NEMA, ensuring it can withstand extreme conditions from rain, sleet, snow, and ice.

Figuring out how to operate a pool timer can be a daunting task, so here are answers to some commonly asked questions about these devices. We’ve also included important intel about proper pool maintenance in general.

The best pool running schedule depends on the size of your pool as well as your own setup. Generally, the pump should run long enough to turn the pool water over once a day, a process that may take anywhere from a few to 12 hours, depending on its size.

Turning your pool off at night can help conserve energy, which is not only economically beneficial but also environmentally friendly. A pool timer can help save you from having to remember to turn off the pump at the end of each day and back on again in the morning.

The kind of timer depends on the size of your pump and your own particular needs. Digital timers offer greater programmability, but mechanical pumps are often more powerful and reliable for managing larger pools. Additionally, you will want to consider the voltage, amperage, and horsepower of your pump, and choose a timer that is compatible.

How often a pool timer needs to be set depends again on the specific timer and your own needs. Some timers come with more programming options than others, allowing you to set multiple daily schedules, sometimes for more than one appliance at once. Other timers may need to be set more regularly.

Running the pump briefly after heavy rain helps prevent chemical imbalances, but it’s not needed during light rain. You can always use a pool test kit to determine water quality.

Bob Vila has been America’s Handyman since 1979. As the host of beloved and groundbreaking TV series including “This Old House” and “Bob Vila’s Home Again,” he popularized and became synonymous with “do-it-yourself” home improvement.

Over the course of his decades-long career, Bob Vila has helped millions of people build, renovate, repair, and live better each day—a tradition that continues today with expert yet accessible home advice. The Bob Vila team distills need-to-know information into project tutorials, maintenance guides, tool 101s, and more. These home and garden experts then thoroughly research, vet, and recommend products that support homeowners, renters, DIYers, and professionals in their to-do lists.

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The Best Pool Timers of 2024 - Reviews and Picks by Bob Vila

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