We all know that time is money. When it comes to pool timers, this is 100% true, as long as you know how to set a swimming pool timer.

Why is that?

Well, if you forget to turn the pool pump off and it continues to operate all day, or simply longer than necessary, your monthly power bill will sky-rocket. I kid you not!

Your pool pump needs to run long enough for your pool water to circulate through the pump and filter system at least once a day. That usually takes about 8 hours, sometimes up to 12 hours. Save energy by installing a pool timer is one way to cut the pool costs.

A swimming pool pump timer will turn the pump on and off at the exact times that you set. You won’t have to do it manually. We’re all forgetful at times but pool timers aren’t.

If you know how to set the pool pump timer, it will keep your pool pump running and your water will circulate from the pool and through the filter. Pool water circulation will help remove all unwanted pool contaminants, including algae and bacteria. The pump is also essential in proper distribution of all the chemicals in your pool water.

How to set a pool pump timer

So, what types of timers are there on the market?

There are mechanical pool pump timers which are simple to use and there are digital swimming pool timers with more programming options than just on and off.

Before setting up your timer, you need to check whether your timer is powerful enough to handle the voltage of the pump you have. Also, single-speed, two-speed and variable-speed pump may require different timers.

You need to know your pump properties so that you can choose the timer accordingly. Consider the voltage, too. Most timers have selectable-voltage switch to enable switching from 120-Volt to 240-Volt. They are grounded for protection and most have a lockable casing for even more high-voltage safety.

Before setting up your timer, think about where you will put it. If it’s going to be outdoors and exposed to bad weather, make sure your timer has a weather-proof casing. This will also help with humid or dusty environments, such as your basement or the garage.

Basic inground pool pump timers, as well as above ground ones, usually have simple ON and OFF functions. They are easy to control and easy to set up, too.

We’ll go over the setting process using a simple but efficient Intermatic T104M timer.

How to set Intermatic pool timer

The Intermatic T104M mechanical timer is often seen regulating different pool pumps because it’s simple to use, reliable and long lasting.

This time switch mechanism is easy to set in just a few simple steps. If you have a different timer, chances are it will be as simple to set as this particular unit.

Intermatic T104M has an excellent horsepower rating of 5HP. It’s a robust and long-lasting timer, but, it won’t be of any help unless you set it to control your pool pump properly.

This is an easy process.

To wire this pool timer, you need to connect your incoming 240-volt wires to terminals #1 and #3.

The next step is to connect the outgoing 240 volts (load) wires to terminals # 2 and #4.

Don’t forget to connect both equipment ground wires (bare or green) to the “GR” terminal.

Do NOT connect anything to the “A” terminal.

To set the timer, simply pull the yellow dial out toward you and turn it as in the photo:

The next photo shows how to move the trip levers:

This timer is designed much like a clock and has similar gears. The silver “arrow pointer” needs to be aligned with the correct time. In this photo, we can see that it is 12 pm.

The trip levers in the picture are aligned to run from 10 am to 6 pm.

How to set the time

  1. To set the time, you need to pull the dial out toward you.
  2. Then turn the dial until the current time is aligned with the silver arrow.
  3. The trip levers are simple and intuitive. Loosen the small set screw and set the time that you want your pump to turn ON or OFF. As simple as that!

So, you need to loosen the “On” and “Off” clips.

Move the “On” clip to the desired start time on the clock dial and tighten the screw. Set the “Off” clip to the time you want the timer to turn off. Tighten its screw again.

NOTE: There is a difference in the trip levers. They cannot be used in place of each other. This means that you can’t substitute a lost “on” trip lever with the “off” lever. If you take a look at the back of the trip levers, you will see that they are configured differently for that purpose.

How to set a pool filter timer on programmable models

For this example, we’ll use Aube by Honeywell TI040/U 7-Day Programmable Timer.

This pool timer can handle loads of 2.0 hp at 240 VAC. Here are the installation instructions:

  1. Cut power at the circuit breaker to avoid electric shock.
  2. Perform the connections as shown on the wiring diagram. (For a 3-way installation, connect a standard single-pole switch to the 3-way terminals of the timer as shown in the wiring diagram above)
  3. Select the proper operating voltage.
  4. Apply power at the circuit breaker.

To power this timer on, follow the next steps:

At power-on, “0:00” will flash. In case it doesn’t, press reset using a paper clip. If the display is still blank, check the power supply.

How to set the clock

NOTE: The switch displays the time in 24-hour format by default or following a reset.

  1. To change to 12-hour format (or vice versa), proceed as follows:
    a) Press the MODE button to ensure the MAN or AUTO indicator is displayed.
    b) Press the MIN and HOUR buttons simultaneou
    sly and briefly (0:00 display = 24-hour, 12:00 display = 12-hour).
  2. Set the time using the HOUR and MIN buttons. If you have selected the 12-hour format, make sure that PM appears on the screen when an afternoon time is displayed.
  3. Set the day by using the DAY button.
  4. Press the MODE button to return to normal operation.

How to select the operating mode

The programmable switch has 2 operating modes: manual (MAN) and automatic (AUTO). To switch mode, press the MODE button for 3 seconds.

Manual Mode

In Manual mode, the timer operates just like a regular switch. Briefly press the MODE button to activate or deactivate the load. (If you have connected a remote switch to the timer for a 3-way installation, the switch can also be used to activate or deactivate the load.) The mode indicator (MAN) and the state (ON or OFF) are displayed.

Automatic Mode

In Automatic mode, the timer follows the programmed schedule (see the following “How to program the timer” section. The mode indicator (AUTO), the state (ON or OFF) and the current program number are displayed.

To temporarily override the programmed schedule, press the MODE button or use the 3-way installation switch (if connected). The new state indicator will flash to show that this state is temporary. The override remains in effect until you press the MODE button (or use the remote switch) or until the beginning of the next program.

How to program the timer

You can set up to 7 programs.

  1. To set a program, you need to enter its start time (ON) and its end time (OFF). 
  2. Press the PGM button to display a program and its On or Off time. For example, when you first press PGM, program number 1 (P1) and its On time (ON) will appear. -:– will appear instead of the time if the program is not set (inactive).
  3. Press the DAY button to select the day to which you want to apply the program. NOTE: If you want to apply the same program to each day of the week, press DAY until all the days are displayed. (This still counts as 1 program, not 7.)
  4. Press the HOUR and MIN buttons to set the ON time (the time when you want the lights to turn on). If you have selected the 12-hour format, ensure that PM appears on the screen when an afternoon time is displayed.
  5. After you have programmed the ON time, press the PGM button to display the OFF time (the time when you want the lights to turn off). s
  6. Repeat steps 3 through 5 to program the OFF time. NOTE: If you have used only one program to set the ON time for all 7 days, the OFF time of that program will automatically apply to all 7 days.
  7. To set another program, repeat steps 2 through 6. Programs that are not set will remain inactive.
  8. Press the MODE button to return to normal operation. Clearing a Program Press the PGM button until the desired program is selected.

Hold the PGM button for 3 seconds. -:– appears when the program is erased.

And that’s all, folks!

Bear in mind that the following examples of how to set pool filter timer above are valid only for these 2 models.

If you have a different timer, make sure to carefully read the installation and user manual. If you have serious doubts about installation and wiring, call a professional.

As for programming, it’s really simple once you get used to it. Remember that timers, mechanical or digital, are designed and engineered for end users – pool owners. So it should be easy enough to have your pool timer up and running in no time!