When selecting automation components, some companies choose to shave a little off the cost by installing switches for waterfeatures on the side of the spa.

Though these switches provide helpful automation, they’re also vulnerable to the elements.

“In my experience, they tend to fail after a year or so, because they get wet and sit out in the sun,” says Gary Minor, vice president of operations at California Pools & Spas Inc. in West Covina, Calif., a Pool & Spa News Top Builder.

“Eventually, their surfaces become so degraded that you can’t read them anymore.”

To get around this problem, Minor recommends springing for a portable battery-operated switch, which customers can keep inside the house. Because these switches can be stored indoors and protected from the elements, they often outlast the outdoor switches by several years. Thus, they tend to represent a better investment.

Portable switches are also a plus in terms of convenience. “In winter, if you’re entertaining, you don’t want to go lean on your spa coping to turn a waterfeature on,” says Rick Legnon, president of Advanced Pools in Rancho Cordova, Calif. “You want to sit at your barbecue and play a game of cards with your friends, and turn it on from there.”

For both of these reasons, Minor says, battery-operated switches are the preferable option whenever possible.