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How to Add an Automatic Cover to a Pool

By Team Royal - Updated On: 09/20/23

Oftentimes, when people think of automatic pool covers, they think of the type built-in to the swimming pool and assume that since they didn't add an automatic cover when first installing their pool, they can't add one later. The good news is that most inground pools can add an automatic pool cover at any time, meaning it's not too late for your inground pool to enjoy all the added benefits an automatic pool cover provides.

And guess, what? Adding an automatic pool cover to your existing pool is easier than you might think!

In this article, we'll touch on the following aspects of automatic pool covers. Click on any topic to jump to that section:

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Why Add an Automatic Pool Cover?

Under-Coping Auto Cover

Pool Safety at the Press of a Button

While traditional safety covers do an excellent job protecting your pool as well as helping ensure no one accidentally falls into the pool and gets injured, they require quite a bit of work to put on to or remove from a swimming pool. For this reason, they are generally only used when closing the pool for an extended period of time. Automatic pool covers add another dimension of safety to your pool, acting as a safety cover that you can easily open and close as needed. 

But in addition to the the safety benefits, automatic pool covers offer many other advantages, such as:

A Cleaner Pool

By adding an automatic cover to your pool, you're adding the ability to instantly seal the pool off from dirt and contaminants.

Have a storm coming? Close up the pool and you'll keep all the leaves, rain, and everything else that gets caught in the air and rain (like pollen, dirt, insects, etc.) from falling into the pool. Even simply closing the pool overnight can help avoid any need to get out your skimmer net in the morning, as none of the bugs that tend to end up in your pool while you're sleeping will be able to find their way in.

And since automatic safety covers are made of solid material, they also block sunlight from entering your water ... and without sunlight, algae can't grow.

By keeping your pool covered when you're not using it, you're eliminating the vast majority of what can dirty up your pool - cutting your pool cleaning time to nearly nothing.

Less Chemical Usage

Many of the biggest reasons you have to add chemicals to your pool can be solved through the benefits of an automatic pool cover, including:

  • Reduced Evaporation: As your water evaporates, so do a lot of your chemicals. By keeping the pool covered, you stifle evaporation, which in turn means you'll be adding fewer chemicals to your pool.
  • Less Sunlight: Sunlight is one of the main causes of chlorine level depletion. Just two hours of sunlight on a sunny day can reduce your pool's chlorine level by as much as 90 percent!
  • Less Rainwater: Rainwater can wreak havoc on keeping your pool's chemicals balanced. Since an automatic pool cover stops the rain from entering the pool, and the included cover pump can pump that water away from the cover to someplace other than the pool, your chemicals will no longer be thrown into chaos every time it rains.

Reduced Energy Costs

Using an automatic pool safety cover can reduce heating costs by 50-70%!

If you're heating your pool, adding an automatic cover can pay for itself in a few years due to the money you'll save on energy costs. An automatic cover greatly reduces evaporation, which is a major cause of heat loss. The less heat lost, the less your heater will have to work ... which means less energy usage and cost.

Reduced Water Costs

Water can evaporate at a rate of 2-4 inches a week without a cover. That means you'll be adding 2-4 inches of new water per week just to keep your water levels stable. And, unless it rains constantly, that water comes at a cost. By adding an automatic cover you'll reduce the amount of water you have to add (saving time and money).

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Automatic Pool Cover Options

Automatic pool covers come in a variety of forms and options, but regardless of which automatic cover you choose, they all provide the same set of benefits. Which type you select for your pool is largely a matter of personal preference, budget, pool design, and pool construction stage.

Manual vs. Electric-Powered Automatic Pool Covers

When it comes to automatic covers, the key aspect is that they are built to be easy to take on and off of the pool. But this doesn't mean that they have to be powered by electric power - manually operated options exist as well.

Manual Automatic Pool Cover

Manual Automatic Pool Covers:

The manual automatic cover system is designed for small to medium-sized pools and features a low-profile on-deck mounted track. The cover is retracted with a "hand crank" and extended over the pool by pulling a rope connected to a handle.

These are great entry-level automatic covers with the option to upgrade to fully motorized automatic at a later time.

By adding a manual retractable safety pool cover, you'll enjoy the majority of the benefits of an automatic cover-without having to run electrical power. A definite bonus for those looking for a simple DIY way to add an automatic cover to their swimming pool.

pool essentials COVERS (option 3)Electric-Powered Automatic Pool Covers

These automatic covers operate via a rope-and-pully system similar to those used in "hand-crank" automatic pool covers, but the hand-crank mechanism is replaced with an electrical motor.

With these systems, opening and closing your pool is as easy as pushing a button, though some electrical work is required to run the necessary power to the motor mechanism.



On-Deck Tracks vs. Under-Coping / Hidden Tracks

On-Deck Track Auto CoverOn-Deck Tracks

An on-deck track is, as the name implies, installed onto your pool deck. A set of low-profile tracks run the length of your pool, with the cover reel at one of the ends. Since the track sits on the deck, on-deck track automatic pool covers allow for installation on any shape pool, unlike under-coping tracks, which require a rectangular pool.

As the tracks, reel and crank mechanism exist as a separate addition to the swimming pool, on-deck track automatic pool covers can be added to an inground swimming pool at any time - perfect for an existing pool.

Just pick the size that's right for your pool, install the tracks, cover and reel, and you have an automatic safety cover!


pool essentials COVERS (option 2)-2Under-Coping / Hidden Tracks

If you want to completely hide the track and cover of your swimming pool, an under-coping automatic pool cover offers what you need. These automatic covers open and close following tracks that are built-in to your pool, between the pool frame and the coping. In most instances, the reel itself also is hidden, installed in the deck. This allows for a very clean installation, but can only be installed on rectangle pools and is not recommended for existing pools.

As the coping must be set at a specific height above the cover's encapsulation, and the reel and motor are generally hidden under the deck, adding an under-coping automatic pool cover to an existing pool requires tearing out some of your existing decking. For this reason, we recommend on-deck track automatic covers when adding a safety cover to an existing swimming pool.

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The Best Automatic Cover for Existing Pools

As discussed earlier, when adding an automatic cover to an existing pool, your best option will be one of the on-deck track automatic pool covers. Adding one is a fairly straightforward process, as it is mounted on top of your pool, and won't require any changes to your existing deck (provided your deck is large enough to accommodate the track and housing).

The one aspect where you'll have to make a decision is in budget and operation. 

manualauto2Our Recommended Economical Option

A manual automatic pool cover is less expensive and does not require any electrical power to be run. You will, however, have to manually crank the handle on the reel to open and close the cover. It's a simple process, and can be done by one person. But still, requires more work than simply pushing a button.

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ondecktrack6Our Recommended Deluxe Option

An electric-powered fully-automatic pool cover replaces the hand-crank with an electric motor, making opening and closing as simple as pressing a button. As these covers require a motor, they are more expensive up-front, and will also cost a bit more to install as you will need to have electrical power to the motor.

The housing for the motor, cover reel, and rolled up cover all lives inside a deck-mounted bench, meaning no changes will be needed to your deck.

This makes these on-deck automatic covers the best possible solution for those looking to add a fully-automatic pool cover to an existing pool.

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When it comes to the pool ownership experience, there is an amazing feeling that comes with flipping a switch to reveal clear, swimmer-ready water.

No leaves.

No insects.

No need to haul out the pool net and vacuum for half an hour while your children constantly ask if they can get in yet.

When your pool has an automatic safety cover, you not only have safety ... but you also have a warm, clean pool at a moment’s notice.

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