How to Use a Solar Pool Cover

Solar pool covers are a very popular way to help heat swimming pool water.  They are made to use on any pool and are reasonably priced.  You can use your solar cover year-round or just to extend your swimming season.

What is a Solar Cover?

Solar covers are also known as solar blankets.  This is because they are designed to bring warmth to your swimming pool water.  They are designed, using the sun’s rays, to help naturally heat your swimming pool.  This heating can help keep the water more comfortable for swimmers.  These covers not only trap heat from escaping, but draw heat into the water.  An added bonus?  They help keep dirt and debris out of your swimming pool.

Solar covers are made of layers of UV resistant plastic that are lightweight.  One side is smooth while the other side has tiny bubbles that make the entire thing look kind of like the bubble wrap you would find in a package.  

How to Size Your Solar Cover

Solar covers typically come in rectangular, round and even oval shapes.  There are standard sizes that they come in.  You’ll want to figure out the surface area of your swimming pool.  Do this by measuring the longest part and the widest part.  Unless you pool is exactly the specifications of a prefabricated cover, you’ll most likely be doing some cutting.  You always want to go a size larger than your swimming pool.

Should I Cover My Entire Swimming Pool?

In a perfect world, a swimming pool cover fits nicely inside your swimming pool, gently touching each inside edge.  This can be difficult to do.  Some people go for a larger cover and just hang the excess material onto the deck, either weighted down with something or not.

Another reason to cover your entire pool is to get the entire benefit of the solar blanket.  This can be a double edged sword.  The better the cover works, the warmer the water gets.  The warmer the water gets, the more likely you are to get algae IF your water chemistry and circulation are not on point.  I have many swimming pool owner’s who cover their entire pool and do not get algae.  I also have many that do get algae.  It all depends on the quality of your swimming pool maintenance.

Do the Bubbles Go Up or Down?

This is an excellent question and one I get asked a lot.  If you are trying to add heat  your swimming pool, the bubbles should face down.  If you were trying to cool down the water, then you would put the bubbles facing up.  Bet you didn’t even know this was an option, huh?

How Long Does it Take to Heat My Pool?

Generally you will notice the full effect of your solar cover, which is 10-15 degrees of heat, after three consecutive days of sunny weather.  On any given sunny day, one will experience an increase in temperature in as little as six hours.

What Accessories Can I Use with My Solar Cover?

It is perfectly fine to connect your automatic pool cleaner and place the cover over it.  In fact, it is advisable.  We still need to do everything possible to keep our pool debris and algae free.

A tablet floater, however, gets mixed reviews.  It is ok to float your chlorine tablet floater underneath your solar cover, but keep in mind that it can become trapped in one spot and cause discoloration to your solar cover and in rare cases, your swimming pool’s surface.  This is because of the accumulation of chlorine that can tend to gather under a “trapped” floater.

Can I Cut My Solar Cover?

Absolutely!  In fact, you will most likely need to to properly size it.  A lot of people, especially those with larger swimming pools, find removing the cover as one large piece to be arduous.  They decide to cut it into manageable strips so that they can more easily get it on and off.  This also stops one solid piece from becoming as much of a drowning hazard because if someone were to fall in, the large cover would billow around them and could make it difficult to reach the surface of the swimming pool.

Cutting your swimming pool solar cover does not void the warranty.  The warranty is against the plastic seals that make up your cover from separating due to a manufacturer’s defect.  It does NOT cover the bubbles falling off, as this is related to water chemistry and storage.

How Should I Store My Solar Cover?

Some people invest in what is known as a “solar reel”.  This reel sits at the base of your pool and you use a lever to roll up your one-piece cover.  They come in different types of materials with the heavy duty material costing more.  Either way they are not cheap and could run you more than the cost of your solar cover.  People scoff at the eyesore the reel can bring, while others rant about the ease of removal and application.  To each his own.

When storing away your cover for good, make sure to properly rinse both sides of the cover with fresh water.  They sell solar cover plastic bags for the solid piece covers.  All you really need is a clean, airtight, container to put your cover in.  See you poolside!

The proper way to operate a pool cover pump is explained in this article. In addition, find out here if pool cover pumps are submersible.