Switch It Up with a Spa Side Switch


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Switch It Up with a Spa Side Switch

You remember the days when you had to walk over to the heater and twist the knob to change the pool or spa temperature? Next came the miraculous invention of the panel mounted above the heater followed by the panel inside your house. Those were all convenient improvements at the time, but nothing matches a spa side switch that allows you to turn on the jets, change the temperature, turn on spa lights, and more – all from the convenience of in your nice and warm spa.

So, What is a Spa Side Switch?

Have you ever been enjoying your hot spa during the cold winter and wanted to change the temperature but dreaded getting out to face the cold? A spa side switch will fix that problem as you can control everything right from inside your spa. A spa side switch is a little panel that mounts right on the top of your spa. It has buttons that allow you to easily turn on the heater, spa lights, jets, and more depending on your desires. Thus, with a spa side switch you can have complete control over your spa without ever actually leaving the hot water.

We Use Two Types of Spa Side Switches

SunsetBlog - Switch It Up with a Spa Side Switch 1SpaCommand Spa-Side Remote

The SpaCommand remote is more expensive than the iS4, but this cost has its rewards as you have more control. With more than 10 buttons, you are able to control things like air temperature, water temperature, pump speed, yard lights, and more. This remote lets you set the temperature exactly and read it on a digital screen rather than just being able to turn on and off the heater. So if you are seeking convenience and complete control over your spa from inside your spa then the SpaCommand remote might be right for you.


The iS4 is the less expensive of the two options because it has less buttons and therefore less control. However, don’t let this fool you as the four buttons allow you to turn on the heater, jets, water feature, and lights. These four controls are basically all that is necessary, but you will not be able to fine tune temperature and lights as you can with the SpaCommand remote. So if you are looking for a cheaper alternative and do not care about fine details when controlling your spa then the iS4 remote might be right for you.

Regardless of your decision, a spa side switch is the next improvement in spa technologies and is necessary for any spa. We can’t overstate how convenient and awesome it is to control your spa from inside your spa.

Cheers, JZ

Solar Pool Blankets Results – They Work!

Solar Pool Blankets don’t have to cover the entire pool!

Recently we wrote about an idea of partial solar pool blankets and their many advantages. This was brought to my attention by a pool remodel client in an email which we have included for you to read.

Customer Email – Solar Pool Blankets Theory


I don’t know the physics of it, but from observation, deduction and just plain guessing, I have a theory.

First, let’s start with something we’re familiar with – the car.  Park your car outside on a mild, but fully sunny day.  Say its noon and about 65 degrees.  If you leave your windows open, your car will be relatively cool when you return in an hour.  A few surfaces in the direct sun may be quite hot depending on their color, but the general air temperature will be cool.  However, if your windows are closed, the air temperature in the car upon your return will be considerably hotter than 65.  If you leave a window cracked a bit, it will still be hotter than the ambient temperature, but not as much.

Observation/deduction/guess:  Infrared radiation passes through the glass once, but apparently loses enough energy doing so that it doesn’t pass back out.  This causes the inside to heat up above the ambient air temperature.

Application to Pool:  Full cover – infrared goes in, but it can’t get out (like a roach motel).  OK, but with a partial cover, shouldn’t the infrared escape like it does when your car windows are down?

  1. Perhaps pool water plus the darker bottom is enough to stop some of the infrared from bouncing back out.  In that case, perhaps the partial covers merely insulate the pool from losing its heat to the ambient air temperature.

However, the pool temperature with the partial pool covers often exceeds the ambient air temperature.  Also, if we get lazy and leave the covers off, the pool does not warm up as fast or much during the day.  Therefore, number 1 can’t be the whole story.

  1. Perhaps only some of the infrared escapes through the uncovered portions, as with a car that has the windows only cracked and not down all the way.  This would explain the record temperature of 97 degrees with the full cover and the mid to high 80’s achieved with partial covers.
  1. I think it’s a combination of several factors – reduction of heat loss, trapping of infrared at a higher rate than with just water and plaster color alone and reduction of evaporation.

JZ’s Approach

I felt inclined to flush out the idea.
 I carefully read and thought through the information. Then I purchased solar pool blankets of my own. I purchased 3 for the pool and 1 for the spa. I started logging water and air temperatures 3 times per day. To follow is observations, data and conclusions from the experiment. Please enjoy the information.

JZ’s Observation

After several weeks of careful monitoring the partial solar pool blankets on my pool I came to very similar conclusions! A small problem was I started the test in late April and now concluded in early June. As we all know this is not always the sunniest time of the year but there were obvious trends. I started with the cover on for a week and a half, then took the covers off for a week. Finally, back on the final week plus. I did take a vacation so there is a gap in the data. (Full Data Set)

JZ’s Conclusion

  • poolblanketsThere is definitely an effect that traps heat in the water. The increase is often 5 to 7 degrees higher than the ambient air temperature.This is very impressive to me with a max temp I got of 89 degrees on a day with air temp high of 82 degrees.
  • Insulation factor exists as well to have less loss of heat over night. The morning water temps all started out higher with the covers on.
  • There was definitely less evaporation with the covers on. I calculated that my 3 covers on the pool covered 75% of the water surface area and the spa is completely covered. I have an electronic auto fill that typically adds about a one-minute blast of water every other day. With the covers on it cut that back by 75% to a one-minute blast every week. 
  • The time to remove and put back the covers has shortened with each time I do the process. It’s to the point that I feel the benefit well out weighs any unsightliness and inconvenience.

Save Water, Save Gas and Save Time with Partial Solar Pool Blankets!!!

Thanks for the tip Tim!!!

Solar Pool Covers for Heating Your Pool – Part 1

I am fascinated with an email that I received from a customer and close friend about Solar Pool Covers.

We typically think of complete coverage which has several advantages but also several disadvantages; too big, too hard to remove and put back and too expensive. I was so intrigued by this customers idea of partial solar pool covers that I have purchased 3 round covers for my pool and 1 for my spa. I have started to conduct a test of 3 temperature readings a day of both air and water temps. Once I collect my data, I will report back to you and share the theory offered by my client. Either way, I see a benefit in less water loss and increase in water temp, two things all pool owners desire.

Please read the email from our customer below.

Stay tuned for the results of my observations of Solar Pool Covers on my pool and to share the Theory of our customer.



I have probably mentioned this to you before, but perhaps not comprehensively. You might find our experiences with solar pool covers valuable for your other customers.

Before you remodeled our pool, we would buy a full sized solar pool cover every two years or so. Back in the 90’s when we were doing this they cost a little over $100. We would cut the cover to size for the whole pool. As far as heating and water conservation, the cover worked great. In those days we did not have a pool heater, yet our record temperature with the cover alone was 97 degrees! The downsides were having to drag the cover off when we wanted to use the pool, determine where to put it when it was off, and drag it back on when we were done swimming and how ugly it looked.

When you remodeled the pool in 2001, we decided that we weren’t going to cover up our beautiful new pool with an ugly cover. As a compromise, I bought two round solar pool covers. I think they are ten feet in diameter, but size will be dependent on pool width and length. At first we bought the standard blue, then tried black and finally settled on clear covers. Although logic suggests that darker covers work better, my research and experience indicates that the clear covers actually work significantly better. Although the darker covers heat up more rapidly, it is the infrared going through the covers and getting trapped in the water that really heats the pool. Also, clear covers are far less obvious to the eyes, and the inevitable scaling does not show as much on them. Experience has also shown that 16 mil thick covers work the best and are, overall, easier to handle, although somewhat heavier. The 12 mil covers last two good years, and we usually got a third year out of them. The 16 mil covers are now going on four years old and may even go five years or more. I buy the covers online when needed and have them shipped. The price varies and deals are sometimes available.

In the last several years we have saved our oldest cover and cut it in half so that we now use two and a half covers on the pool. Altogether, they cover about 70% of the pool surface and keep the pool at around ~ 87 degrees in the summer. When we swim, we fold and stack them in a corner of the pool. They take up a space about three feet wide. When we have parties, I remove them entirely and put them in the side yard. As far as evaporation goes, I would guess that since the covers are on % of the surface, they reduce evaporation by approximately 70%. We have a pool heater now, thanks to your remodel job, but only use it on cool days to supplement the covers. When the sun begins getting low in the sky in the fall the covers don’t do much anymore. We remove, clean and store them in the shed until late spring.

I don’t know the physics of it, but from observation, deduction and just plain guessing, I have a theory…