Solar Pool Covers: How It Works, How to Use, & Select the Well Suited for Your Home Pool

One of the biggest downsides of having a home pool is the high cost of pool operation. One of which is pool heating. According to a study by the US Department of Energy, the approximate annual costs of pool heating ranges from $1,500 to $2,000.  To cut heating costs, using pool covers is one of …

One of the biggest downsides of having a home pool is the high cost of pool operation. One of which is pool heating. According to a study by the US Department of Energy, the approximate annual costs of pool heating ranges from $1,500 to $2,000. 

To cut heating costs, using pool covers is one of the most effective ways. 

As a summary, find a list of our recommendations for the best solar pool covers.

Best For Round PoolBlue Wave Solar Pool Cover
Best For Rectangular PoolIn The Swim Solar Pool Cover
Best For Warranty CoverageIn The Swim (3 to 8 years warranty)

As we go further into this article, you will know more about solar pool covers: how it works, how to use them, and how to select the best one for your home pool. Let’s get started.

Solar Pool Covers – The Whats, Whys, and Hows

What is a Solar Pool Cover?

As its name implies, a solar pool cover is a heat retention cover for your pool. It is shaped like a flat sheet that can be spread out over the pool like a blanket. That is why solar pool covers are also called solar pool blankets. 

A Solar Pool Cover Used On An Above Ground Pool
Use solar pool covers to save energy and reduce heating costs

You may be wondering if using a huge plastic sheet can be used as a pool cover. Yes, you can use a plastic sheet that you can buy from your local hardware shop. But it will not last long and is hard to handle, especially for those large pools.

It is wise to get a cover that was designed and manufactured to serve as a solar pool cover. A pool cover is usually made from UV-stabilized polyethylene, polypropylene, or vinyl and comes in different colors. These pool covers retain heat in your pool better.

Why use a Solar Pool Cover?

According to the US Department of Energy, an average house with a pool annually spends $1,500 to $2,000 just for heating costs. This cost does not account for the power usage for other operational and maintenance costs of the pool. And this can be quite a financial burden for families that is in a financial crisis right now. 

Also, using gas and electricity to heat the pool is not a good use for our limited energy sources.

Based on the US Department of Energy’s further study, a household can save 50% – 80% of their annual pool heating costs just by using pool covers. So to lessen the consumption of renewable energy and your monthly bills, the best way is to use solar pool covers. 

Rectangular Solar Pool Covers

How Do Solar Pool Covers Work?

It may be surprising for you to imagine that a polymer sheet will be able to retain heat. But covers can retain heat by preventing water evaporation and preventing direct contact between the wind and pool water.

Water evaporation is one of the significant factors as to why the swimming pool water cools down. Because as the water temperature rises, the pool water also releases energy by evaporation to the cold air. You’ve probably noticed this when your swimming pool forms steam or water vapor above the pool surface. 

Also, If you have no cover for your pool, the wind that blows across it will cool down the water at a faster rate. So if you live in a place where the winds are strong, then aside from a cover, it is best to install a windbreaker. 

Another reason why solar pool covers retain heat effectively is that it acts as a layer between the water and the air around it. In heat exchange, having an extra layer between two bodies slows down the rate of heat transfer. You can compare this to a blanket that warms you up during a cold night. This is the reason why pool covers are also called solar blankets.

Solar Pool Cover can retain heat by preventing water evaporation and preventing direct contact between the wind and pool water.

How To Use A Solar Pool Cover?

Using a swimming pool cover is pretty straightforward. You just need to cover your swimming pool with the cover like a blanket.

Straight from the box, you will find the new pool cover rolled. Due to its material and packaging, it can be pretty hard to keep it straight at first. So what you need to do first is unroll it and spread it out into your yard. You can use weights to hold it down.

There are pool covers that include anchors for the solar cover, usually for the vinyl cover types. So while waiting for the blanket to settle, you can take this time to install the cover anchors by the swimming pool.

For the bubble type covers, you need to just put down the cover on the water. Usually, it has no anchors to hold it down. The solar blanket should be spread with the bubbles facing the water. 

A Reel Or Roller For Solar Pool Covers
Use a reel to cover the pool easier

Also, depending on the brand and model of your solar cover, you will have options for using a reel. Using the reel is easy. If you want to cover your pool you just need to remove the locking mechanism of the reel then pull the cover over the pool. If you want to pack it, you’ll just have to crank the reel to roll the cover in. Reels can also be automated if you really want convenience.

What To Look For When Choosing The Best Solar Pool Cover?

Shape

For buying the best pool cover suited for your needs, the first thing you need to check is your pool shape. Usual pool shapes are round and rectangular. For these usual pool shapes, it’s easy to measure the needed dimensions for a pool cover. 

An Irregularly Shaped Swimming Pool
Buy a swimming pool cover that fits your pool shape

Don’t worry if you have an irregularly shaped pool, you can still cover it with rectangular shaped ones. The trick is to measure a rectangularly shaped cover that inscribes your whole pool. 

Thickness

Another thing to look for is the cover thickness. For heat retention, the thicker the blanket the better it is in reducing heat loss. 

The unit of measurement used for solar pool blankets or cover is mil (A mil is a thousandth of an inch). The usual pool blanket or solar cover thickness available in the market ranges from 8 mils to 16 mils.

Opacity

Another factor to consider is solar cover opacity. In the market, you will be faced with two solar cover options: transparent and opaque.

The main advantage of using a transparent solar cover is that it allows most of the sun’s infrared radiation and UV rays to heat up the water in the swimming pool. But this can also be one of its disadvantages; allowing sunlight through the cover can promote the growth of algae and other biological organisms.

A Transparent Solar Pool Cover
Use transparent pool covers to help in heating up the pool

The main advantage of using the opaque cover is that it reduces chemical changes and prevents the growth of organisms in the water when hit by the sunlight. In a recent study, prolonged sunlight exposure of water treated with chlorine can lead to bromate production. Bromate is dangerous for humans since it’s a carcinogenic material. But the downside to an opaque cover is that it prevents heat transmission from the sun.

Material

The type of material used dictates the durability and the insulation capacity of a solar pool cover. There are three usual materials used for pool blankets: polyethylene, polypropylene, and vinyl.

Polyethylene is a plastic-type material and is the most common pool solar cover that you can find. As a material used for solar covers, polyethylene offers good insulation and heavy-duty performance. The polyethylene used for solar covers are UV resistant so it will not change chemically while exposed under the sun.

Polypropylene is a plastic-type material that resembles the properties of polyethylene in many ways. This type of plastic solar cover is the cheapest among the three material options. It is also the least durable among your pool solar cover options.

The last material type that is available is vinyl. Vinyl is the most durable and most resistant to chemicals and the environment. That is why if you want something that will last you fifteen to twenty years, a vinyl solar pool cover is for you.

Take note that all these types of plastic-based (polymer) material are not eco-friendly. So if you want a pool cover that has less environmental impact, there are manufacturers that offer solar covers or solar blankets that are made from recycled plastic or polymers.

Available Solar Pool Covers In The Market

There are many available pool covers in the market, so here are the best solar cover options that you can check out when selecting the best solar pool cover for your home. 

The list below is divided into three categories: round pool, rectangular pool, and inground pool.

Round Pool Covers

Intex Round Solar Cover

Intex is one of the best-known brands when it comes to above-ground pools. They have been in the pool industry for over 40 years, so you can be sure of the quality of their solar cover. 

The Intex Round Solar Cover is made out of a UV resistant PVC vinyl material, so it is very durable. The pool cover thickness is 0.18mm or 7 mils. The Intext solar cover has great heat retaining properties and can reduce evaporation by up to 95 percent.

Available solar cover diameter sizes are:

  • 8 feet
  • 10 feet
  • 12 feet
  • 15 feet
  • 16 feet
  • 18 feet. 

There is no 12 mil solar cover available in the Intex products, only 7 mils.

Crystal Blue Round Solar Cover

The Crystal Blue Solar Cover was designed for round pools and is made up of heavy-duty polyethylene material. 

The thickness of the solar pool cover is 8 mils. The solar cover promises to reduce water evaporation by 90 percent. Its design also has bubbles that help retain heat and keeps it afloat above the water.

Available diameter sizes are:

  • 12 feet
  • 15 feet
  • 18 feet
  • 21 feet
  • 24 feet
  • 28 feet

Bestway Pool Cover

Bestway is one of the popular brands in the pool industry. They have been in the business for over 26 years and is known for their creative and innovative pool and inflatable products. 

The Bestway solar pool blanket is made of durable PVC material. And the Bestway solar cover retains heat to maintain your desired water temperature. It also effectively keeps debris from your pool and prevents algae growth in your pools.

Available cover diameter sizes are:

  • 10 feet
  • 12 feet
  • 15 feet
  • 18 feet 

There is no 12 mil solar cover available in the Bestway products.

In The Swim Standard Solar Blanket (Blue Color)

In The Swim is one of the best and leading pool products company in the world. They have been in the industry for almost 40 years and is still thriving today. 

All the offerings of In The Swim are made up of UV and heat resistant vinyl resin. So expect tough durability and longevity. It can prevent heat loss by preventing evaporation of the water. It also has bubbles or thermal trap cells that focus the sunlight into the pool water. These bubbles also act as floats so it will stay on top of pools.

Available solar cover diameters range from:

  • 12 feet 
  • 15 feet 
  • 18 feet
  • 21 feet
  • 24 feet
  • 28 feet
  • 30 feet
  • 33 feet

The selections for thickness available are 8 mils, 12 mil, and 16 mil solar covers. The warranty coverage for the solar cover is 3 years to 8 years depending on the model of the product.

Blue Wave Solar Pool Cover 

Blue Wave is one of the best-known brands of pool companies. And has been in the pool industry for over 10 years.

The solar pool cover of Bluewave has bubbles or thermal cell traps that can maintain the heat of pools. The material used is UV and heat resistant polymer. It also has bubbles or thermal trap cells that focus the sunlight into the pool water. These bubbles also act as floats so it will stay on top of pools.

Available pool covers’ size ranges from:

  • 12 feet
  • 15 feet
  • 18 feet
  • 21 feet
  • 24 feet
  • 28 feet
  • 30 feet
  • 36 feet

The selections for thickness available are 8 mils, 12 mil, and 14 mil solar covers. The warranty coverage for the solar cover is 3 years to 7 years depending on the model of the product.

Our Recommendation

It was a close fight between Blue Wave and In The Swim. But from the pricing and materials, the winner of the best solar cover for round pools is the Blue Wave Solar Blanket.

Rectangular Pool Covers

Crystal Blue

The rectangular pool covers of Crystal Blue are one of the best solar cover options that you can find in the market. 

To maintain the water temperature, the solar cover reduces evaporation by up to 90 percent. It can also assist to heat up your pool with its clear thermal cells or bubbles. 

Available pool cover sizes are:

  • 16 ft x 32 ft
  • 18 ft x 36 ft
  • 20 ft x 40 ft

There is no indicated thickness for the Crystal Blue covers. 

In The Swim

In The Swim is one of the best and leading pool products company in the world. They have been in the industry for almost 40 years and is still thriving today.

All the offerings of In The Swim are made up of UV and heat resistant vinyl resin. So expect tough durability and longevity. It can prevent heat loss by preventing evaporation of the water. The warranty coverage for the solar cover is 3 years to 8 years depending on the model of the product.

Available pool cover sizes are:

  • 4 feet x 8 feet
  • 12 feet x 20 feet
  • 12 feet x 24 feet
  • 14 feet x 28 feet
  • 16 feet x 32 feet
  • 20 feet x 40 feet 

The selections for thickness available are 8 mils, 12 mil, and 16 mil solar covers. The warranty coverage for the solar cover is 3 years to 8 years depending on the model of the product.

Blue Wave

Blue Wave is one of the best-known brands of pool companies. And has been in the pool industry for over 10 years.

The solar pool cover of Bluewave has bubbles or thermal cell traps that can maintain the heat of pools. The material used is UV and heat resistant polymer. It also has bubbles or thermal trap cells that focus the sunlight into the pool water. These bubbles also act as floats so it will stay on top of pools.

Available pool cover sizes are:

  • 12 feet x 20 feet
  • 12 feet x 24 feet
  • 14 feet x 28 feet
  • 16 feet x 24 feet
  • 16 feet x 32 feet
  • 18 feet x 36 feet
  • 20 feet x 40 feet

The selections for thickness available are 12 mil, and 14 mil solar covers.

Our Recommendation

From the pricing, materials, and size selections, the best solar pool cover to use for rectangular pools is the In The Swim Solar Pool Cover.

Alternatives To Solar Pool Covers 

Liquid Solar Pool Covers

After the introduction of solar covers for pools, some manufacturers have innovated to make solar covers more convenient and easy. And the result of that effort is liquid solar pool covers.

A liquid solar cover is an innovation that aims to create a protective film above the water to reduce evaporation without the need to fold and unfold every time you are not using your pools.

How Does It Work 

The liquid solar pool cover works by creating an invisible layer or barrier above the water. 

This invisible layer is called a mono-molecular film with evaporation inhibiting properties. Typically

So this invisible protective layer retains heat in the pool by reducing the evaporation of pool water.

Is It Safe?

From conducted tests of the liquid solar pool cover, it is safe. The materials used are all biodegradable and have no harmful effects on humans. It also does not affect your pools’ circulation system.

Advantages and Disadvantages

The main advantage of using a liquid solar cover for your pools is the convenience. You don’t need to spend time packing and unpacking a physical cover every time. And probably the best advantage of using liquid covers is that you can use the pool while it is applied.

But of course, there are always advantages. Since the liquid solar cover is a mono-molecular film that sits above the water, it can be blown away by a strong wind. So it will be ineffective for pools situated in windy locations.

How to Use a Liquid Solar Cover?

To keep your pool heated with a liquid solar pool cover, you just need to pour the correct amount in your pool. Straightforward and easy. For the right amount, refer to the product manual included in the package.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do indoor pools still need a pool cover?

Yes, an indoor pool still loses heat due to evaporation. The evaporated water vapor is blown out of the building by the ventilation system.

How to store my solar pool cover properly?

Before storing your solar pool, remove the accumulated dirt, algae, and other debris by scrubbing it with a brush. Rinse, dry, and fold. Then keep your pool blanket in a dry and clean storage space.

What color of the solar pool cover is better?

For letting the light in to heat the pool better, a lighter and more transparent solar cover is better.

But for reducing chemical changes and growth of organisms, a darker and more opaque solar cover is better.

How long should a solar pool cover last?

The lifespan of a solar pool cover depends on its material. Usually, it lasts from 10 to 15 years of service life.

Closing

After the lengthy discussion regarding the best solar pool cover, you are now equipped with accurate information about buying your swimming pool cover. 

So go ahead and invest in one of the best solar pool covers in our recommended list. These best solar pool covers will surprise you by how much savings you’ll have by the end of the year.

Was our guide article helpful? Comment down below and let us know your thoughts.

More Interesting Articles That Will Guide You To Your Pool Journey:

Click here to check the sample prices for Solar Pool Covers for Inground Pools.

Leave a Comment