If you own your own pool, you know it can be a joy to use but a nightmare to maintain. That’s why backyard pool maintenance is such a hot industry and explains why there are so many vendors hawking pool solar covers on the Internet.
How do you decide if you need a solar pool cover and if so, what to consider before you purchase?
Hopefully this guide will be helpful in your research.
First of all, what are pool solar covers exactly?
These are pool covers that protect your swimming pool from the elements–be it leaves, bugs, dust, or even curious toddlers.
What is so special about a pool cover that is solar?
A solar pool cover adds an extra element of heating to your pool. With special construction materials, these covers act as passive pool solar heaters, harnessing the energy and heat from the sun to increase the temperature of the water in your pool.
Why would you want to do this?
If you’re like most people, you probably work during the day when the hours are light and the pool water is warm. By the time you get home, however, the sun has disappeared and your pool will be much cooler.
So, what happens if you want to go for a relaxing swim after a hard day’s work?
You could, but you would have to endure the cold water.
With pool solar covers, however, your pool will still be nearly as warm as it was during the day during prime usage hours and you will be able to enjoy the water much more so.
An added bonus of solar covers for inground pools is the energy efficiency. The best solar pool covers use absolutely no energy to heat the pool, unlike an electric or gas heater.
While there are several pool solar heating systems available, these fancy gadgets actually use solar panels to collect and store energy and are thus much more expensive. Pool solar covers, on the other hand, are much cheaper to make and therefore to afford. And you won’t have to add on any extra maintenance on the very thing that you were using to maintain your pool!
For cold climate users who still enjoy swimming in their backyards, pool solar covers are an absolute must.
Even with the sun out it can be quite cool temperature-wise, and a solar pool blanket will prevent the wind from chilling the water, and trap in any heat that attempts to escape. On of your best investments you could make for your pool are in solar covers.
Most of the best rated solar pool covers are much cheaper than traditional and fancy heating systems that require energy, and instead work passively to harness energy from the sun.
They can keep your pool warm throughout the day so you can enjoy it even when the sun has set. At the same time, you will be able to lower your pool maintenance costs with a protective pool cover and also extend the usage period of your pool.
Pool solar covers are easily one of the better investments you can make.
My wife and I bought an Intex Easy Set inflatable above-ground solar pool cover this summer and it’s been a blast!
It’s only 15′ round by 42″ deep, but it’s still fun to play in and we love it.
In addition, I’ve made some modifications to the pool that I thought some others might enjoy seeing (or doing themselves) so I put up this page. But first a few helpful tips on setting up this pool:
Setting up an Intex East Set Solar Pool Cover
- Make sure the ground is level. At least around the perimeter of the pool. If it’s not, you risk a seam popping due to uneven loading. Take the time to level the ground, it’s much harder to do later if you don’t.
- Very carefully go over the ground looking for any nails, rocks, sticks, etc. Take the extra time to do it now, you’ll be very glad you did later. We even took off our shoes and walked around barefoot trying to feel for any rocks.
- Really… that’s about it. Everything else was easy and the pool filled in about 4 hours without any trouble at all.
Okay, our modifications:
First thing I did was buy a solar blanket for the pool. The cover that comes from Intex is fine enough, but it doesn’t really hold in the heat like a solar blanket does. The solar blanket raised the temperature of the pool by over 15 degrees F!
Next, I bought a KD floating pool skimmer. The Intex does not have one, and so you have to constantly use the hand skimmer to get the junk off the top of the water. If you don’t have any trees around, it’s not a big deal, but we have a huge pine tree with all those little needles and so it was important for us to get them out.
The Intex filter and pump are very nice and quiet, but being the man I am, I wanted more. So I bought a 25 square foot cartridge filter and 1/2hp pump to “really clean it.” Works great!
Bought a floating hammock and mesh lounge. Really nice!
Bought a Hayward AquaBug automatic pool cleaner. This works great, except for the fact that the 1/2hp pump just didn’t have the power to keep it going consistently.
So I upgraded to a 3/4hp pump.
After doing that, the Aquabug runs like a champ! Boy does it go! I can’t believe such an inexpensive automatic pool cleaner works so well, but it does. In just an hour, the whole bottom of the pool is perfectly clean.
However, when I went to the bigger pump for the pool cleaner, it now had too much suction for the skimmer and so it was constantly overskimming, which allowed all the caught stuff to get free.
So what I did was tap in to the drain fitting on the opposite side of the pool and piped it over to the new 3/4hp pump via a T and valve. This way, when the AquaBug is running, I close the valve and the AquaBug gets full suction.
When I’m not using the AquaBug, I open the valve so that some of the suction force of the 3/4hp pump is now diverted to the drain and the skimmer works perfect again. 😉
Well that’s about it. This was our first above ground pool and the Intex is a blast. In fact, we had so much fun this year that next year we are going to get a bigger one and build a deck around it!
Why Get a Solar Pool Cover
Why you should invest in the best solar pool covers...
You can often find discount deals on good quality pool solar covers near the end of the swimming pool season, which usually coincides with the end of summer or fall depending on your location.
Swimming pool solar covers are an excellent addition to any pool as they provide an environmentally friendly solution to retain and possibly even increase water temperature for comfortable swimming.
Though you may hear stories of how solar covers may be as much hassle themselves as maintaining a swimming pool, the benefits far outweigh the negatives.
A common complaint, especially for larger inground pools, is the tedious process of covering and uncovering. Larger swimming pools will require at least two people to do the job and can become quite tedious when performed every day before and after pool use.
Solar Cover Reels
However, a great solution to this problem is to buy swimming pool reels.
Swimming pool reels are designed to augment pool covers by providing a hassle free flip-of-a-switch automation to cover and uncover your pool.
Reels can automatically retract in minutes and save you from being overburdened so you can quickly enjoy your heated pool. There are reel solutions for above ground pools as well.
Depending on your swimming pool configuration, you need to choose the proper pool cover reel to match.
A traditional inground pool must be matched to a cover reel that sits low to the ground. Such reels are widely available and usually sit on wheels or coasters so you can easily move them around.
If you have an above-ground pool, you will need a swimming pool reel system that attaches to the edges of your pool. These will not have wheels on them, instead they will come with a latching system so you can secure them on the pool rails.
Another variation in solar reels that makes them quite handy are electric powered ones.
An electric pool cover reel system is usually costlier and requires more work to set up due to electrical safety requirements. However, these pool cover reels provide the most painless solution to solar blanket folding and unfolding
A manual reel is great for smaller pools since it won’t take much time at all to unreel and you will be doing your part to reduce your energy consumption and Carbon footprint.
Factors to consider when buying the best solar pool covers
When shopping for solar pool covers, be sure to pay attention to the quality of construction. The difference between a good and bad material can affect the life of the cover as well as a large difference in heat retention. This would possibly mean the difference of a few degrees heat in your pool.
The color is a big indicator of whether the manufacturer has designed the solar cover to trap heat well.
Darker colors tend to protect against heat better than light or even opaque, but get it too dark and it may have the opposite effect and actually keep your pool cooler. This is why the most popular solution by far are semi-transparent covers.
The best semi-transparent solar pool covers allow the sun’s rays to pass through the cover into the water. The blanket then prevents any evaporation of heat off the surface of the pool.
Preventing evaporation not only keeps the water temperature warm, it also acts as a water retainer so you will be saving water as well as energy at the same time.
The thickness of the best pool solar covers is another point to check for when you shop among discount quality manufacturers.
Leaders like Intex have designed solar covers that are thicker and as a result are better at what they do. They also last much longer.
However, the trade off is usually an increase in price as it uses more material and therefore costs more to produce.
If you closely inspect the design, you will notice varying shapes and patterns in the solar blanket.
Common designs include standard bubble wrap-like bubbles, hexagons, and even diamonds.
Though the sizes vary and manufacturers may claim higher effectiveness with their design, there is usually no attributable difference to shape so be sure not to get sold on this “premium” when you shop.