Hydraulic Pool Cover: Pros/Cons + Alternatives

hydraulic pool cover half way closed over a backyard inground pool

If you are shopping for a new pool, you may be considering an automatic cover.  While shopping for automatic covers you’ve probably heard manufacturer’s names like Coverpools, Coverstar, and Aquamatic.  These are the big three of automatic cover companies. Each of these manufacturers have a wide range of offerings. You’ve also likely heard a pool contractor discussing a hydraulic pool cover. Furthermore, you’ve potentially heard them discussing an electric pool cover. You may be wondering what is the difference between an electric pool cover and a hydraulic pool cover?

Hydraulic Pool Cover vs. Electric Pool Cover

Automatic pool covers are usually installed on rectangular pools and most are electrically operated.  Coverstar and Coverpools primarily provide electrically powered automatic cover systems.  With these covers, there is an electric motor which turns the roll tube where the cover fabric rolls up.  Also, this motor turns the reels for the ropes which control the leading edge bar.  The power required to turn the roll tube and reel in the ropes is a direct wired electric motor located at one end of the automatic cover housing.

Alternatively, there is a hydraulic pool cover like those provided by Aquamatic. There will still be an electric motor. However, it usually is installed at the pool equipment pad next to your pump and filter.  From this pool cover pump, there are two hydraulic lines which run to the automatic cover housing.  These operate a hydraulic mechanism which provide the same turning motion as the electrical motors, without the electrical motor being installed at the cover housing.  

inground pool with a hydraulic pool cover closed half way across the pool in backyard with brown patio and green grass

Hydraulic Pool Cover Pros And Cons

In the past, the hydraulic motor versions were sold as being safer and less liable to faults and service problems.  The issues of the past have largely gone away. Nowadays we would recommend an electric automatic cover motor right along side a hydraulic motor

It’s still true that the hydraulic pool cover has the remote motor location. Therefore, there’s little chance of shorting if the cover vault were to flood. Although, there is still the issue of a blown hydraulic line which will occur eventually if you don’t replace them.  This is the same problem which plagues excavators and other hydraulically powered heavy equipment. If you don’t replace the hydraulic lines on schedule, you can run into problems.  If you lose your hydraulic lines, you cannot operate your cover.

The same problem exists with an electric motor. If you lose the ability to operate the motor, your pool is either open or closed indefinitely until you can have repairs made.  This can be a safety hazard if you are relying on your cover for safety. After all, a major benefit of any pool cover is its ability to provide a barrier for small children or pets.  Whenever a cover is disabled, it prevents you from using your pool like you normally would.  If it’s stuck closed, it can ruin pool party plans and holiday plans if you can’t get it serviced in time.


With either an electrically operated or a hydraulic cover, you will have similar issues when things start to break. The ropes and pulleys are the same with either type of cover. Likewise is the buildup of leaves and debris in the cover housing.  A lack of maintenance with either cover system is a recipe for some real frustration when things go wrong.  However, the safety aspect and peace of mind of being able to lock the pool closed is paramount to many buyers of automatic pool covers.  It is one of the only ways you can feel secure knowing your pool is safely closed.