What is a Solar Pool Cover and Do You Need One?

As swimming pool owners, we know there are many “accessories”,  pieces of equipment and tools we can get for our pools.  Some of them may not be right for us, while some of them are a must.  Here we will talk about solar pool covers.

What is a Solar Cover?

A solar cover is also referred to as a solar blanket. Think about what a blanket does.  It keeps you warm, right?  Solar covers work on in-ground and above ground pools and even some spas.  They come traditionally in blue, silver or clear.  They kind of look like bubble wrap that you would see in a package.  They are designed to help heat your pool using solar rays, which are naturally occurring from the sun.  They not only help the heat that is escaping from your swimming pool’s surface, but draw in the rays from the sun, helping to keep the pool water at a more comfortable level.  A solar cover, with 3 consecutive days of sunlight, can heat your swimming pool 7-10 degrees. They are a great way to extend the swimming season.

When Should I Use My Solar Cover?

Basically, any time you are not swimming.  You’ll want to take it off before using the pool and on your pool service day.  This helps maintain your water level.  Yup.  Solar covers help with evaporation as well.  Leaving them on will help you get the most out of your pool cover.  This is especially true at night when our temperatures get cooler.  It is said that solar covers can reduce heat loss and evaporation by up to 95%!

Does a Solar Cover Have to Cover My Whole Pool?

I get mixed bag answers on this question.  One one hand, we want the entire swimming pool covered to get the maximum heat retention.  On the other hand, we may want to only cover 80-90 percent of the pool to allow air to circulate, which has been said to aid with algae growth.  I have customers that cover their whole pool and still do not get algae. I also have customers that cover 90% of their pools and still get up to and over 10 degrees of additional heat.  This is one of those “ask 5 different pool guys, get 5 different answers” questions.  No one is right or wrong.  I would say try to get a cover that is closest to your swimming pool size.

What about Solar Sun Rings?

These come in round or square shapes.  They are inflatable around the edges and contain magnets that help them stick together as they float along the swimming pool’s surface.  They are a little more aesthetic because they usually have a nice palm tree design.  They are safer than a traditional pool cover because if someone were to fall into the swimming pool, they wouldn’t have a billowing cover around them.  They are approximately 5 feet in diameter and easily removable.  The trouble is, you cannot stack them on top of each other when not in use because they act like a giant magnifying glass and will turn black in the sun.  The other downside is they are a bit more expensive than traditional swimming pool covers.

Are Solar Covers Worth It

If you are looking to reduce evaporation, energy loss and extend your pool season you may be a good candidate for one of these babies.  Keep in mind, they are extremely cumbersome.  Imagine trying to pull off a wet, leaf-covered solar blanket by yourself and dragging it off of the pool.  Even if you have help, where do you put it?  It usually ends up in an unsightly heap around the pool or in the backyard.

They do make reels to roll up your cover, but these sit at the base of your pool and are an eyesore in and of themselves.  They are also quite expensive.  Possibly more than you even paid for the cover itself.

Solar Cover Warranties

We don’t want you to be naive when choosing a cover.  Solar covers come with different thicknesses that typically accompany a different warranty length.  The warranty is against manufacturer’s defects only.  This means the solar layers delamination and separation.  It does NOT cover the bubbles coming off.  The bubbles coming off are directly related to water chemistry.  This is why it is ok to cut your swimming pool cover into manageable strips without voiding the warranty.

If you do have a warranty issue, usually the company will just request a piece of the damaged cover and they will offer a prorated replacement cover.  Ask about warranty issues when you purchase your solar cover.  

If you have a heater, I say a solar blanket is a must to avoid losing all that heat you paid good money for escaping off of the surface.  If you never want Summer to end, like me, you’ll want to get a cover.  If you are a big fat chicken, like me, when it comes to getting into cold pool water, you’ll want a cover.  If none of these apply or appeal to you then save your money as pool covers, depending on size, are around $100-$400.  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.