Jumping into a frigid swimming pool is not nearly as fun as relaxing in warm water, but how do you keep your pool water at comfortable temperatures? There are a lot of supplies and pool tools on the market designed to help with heating pool water, some of which are far more effective than others.
Knowing how these tools work and the benefits you get from them can help you make a suitable investment to protect your swimming pool. In addition, different types of pool covers have different purposes.
You will often see traditional covers, security covers, and solar pool covers, and you are probably wondering how solar pool covers work and do they actually serve their intended purpose. We explain everything you need to know below.
What Does a Solar Pool Cover Actually Do?
A solar pool cover (sometimes called a solar pool blanket) uses the sun’s energy to warm up your swimming pool water. Solar pool covers act like a large solar blanket, working to trap the sun’s heat and keep the water warmer throughout the day.
They can often protect the water from temperature loss due to cooler air or wind at night. Does warmer water warrant the investment into a solar pool cover, and if so, how do you choose one? Keep reading for answers.
What Are They Made Of?
Whether you are looking for solar pool covers for inground or above-ground pools, you will have a lot of choices. They come in different shapes and sizes to accommodate all types of pools and have different colors and designs from which to choose. Such variety in merchandise can make it harder to determine which option is best for you.
When choosing a solar pool cover, material, thickness, design, and color are the most significant factors to examine. The design and style of solar pool covers contribute to their effectiveness and ease of use, so consider these factors when looking for solar pool covers.
Solar covers are generally made from one of three materials:
- Vinyl: A durable material that is resistant to tears or sun damage; this is a good option for pool owners who want quick removal of the pool cover.
- Polyethylene: Lightweight and affordable while still effectively transferring heat, these covers, especially those with a thickness of 12 mils or less, can be more prone to tearing.
- Polypropylene: Thicker and less flexible than polyethylene, these are durable and block more UV radiation but are known to be more challenging to fold and unroll.
The thicker the solar pool cover, the more heat it should absorb from the sun. The thickness is measured in mils, where one mil equals 0.0001 inches.
On average, solar pool covers range from 6 to 16 mils. Thicker pool covers can be heavier and harder to manipulate. It depends on how much time you want to spend handling the cover.
The color of a solar pool cover also affects its usefulness. Clear solar covers allow sunlight to pass through to the water and retain heat at night, but they do not block UV rays, which reduces free chlorine. Blue solar covers are better for blocking UV rays to prevent dechlorination, but also block more light energy that allows heat in. The darker the blue, the more this happens.
A clear pool solar cover provides the most heat gain, while a dark blue solar cover is best for heat retention. The most popular pool solar cover is light blue, offering a good balance of heat absorption and retention, and the most bang for your buck.
Another factor to consider is whether or not the solar pool cover has air bubbles. Solar covers without air bubbles can trap and transfer heat, but not as efficiently as those with them.
Pool covers that resemble bubble wrap are more effective at trapping heat and radiating it into the water. Thicker air bubbles are also better at insulating the pool at night.
If chlorine loss is an issue, you may also consider how a solar pool cover can help. Solar covers that are clear, lightweight, and thin will typically have low UV resistance. Solar covers that provide medium UV resistance are the most common on the market and range from 10 to 14 mils in thickness.
They are typically translucent blue or gray in color. Higher UV-resistant solar covers may come with or without bubbles. At 14 to 16 mils, they are thick, translucent, or clear on top with a darker underside and are typically made from polypropylene or vinyl.
The solar covers without bubbles will be thin but darker to absorb the sun’s heat. While they block a lot of UV radiation, they are not as effective at transferring heat as other types of covers.
How Do They Actually Work?
Pool covers work to keep your water warmer in three direct ways.
- As it floats on the surface of your swimming pool’s water, the solar cover allows the sun to enter the pool and directly heat up the water.
- The solar blanket effect insulates the water at night to reduce heat loss.
- As a cover, it reduces evaporation, which is a leading cause of temperature loss for pool water.
Pros of Solar Pool Covers
A quick recap will show several pros of using a pool cover, many of which will help you save money on pool costs. They are as follows.
- Warmer Temperatures: The transfer and retaining of heat can keep your pool water warmer and more comfortable.
- Lower Energy Costs: Using a solar pool cover can reduce the time you run your pool heater, lowering your energy expenses.
- Reduced Water Loss: Evaporation is the leading cause of energy loss in a pool; reducing evaporation and water loss can also help your water bill.
- Extended Swimming Season: If you can warm your water up sooner in the spring or longer into the fall, you can increase your swimming season.
- Protects Your Pool’s Chemistry: If you use a pool cover that is more effective at blocking UV rays, it lessens the breakdown of chlorine. With a solar pool cover, you can save on pool chemical costs and potentially keep your pool balanced more easily.
Cons of Solar Pool Covers
Nearly everything comes with a con or two that you must weigh against the pros, so let’s explore the potential disadvantages of solar pool covers.
- There will be an initial investment for the solar pool cover and roller.
- Even under the best conditions, it will need to be replaced periodically.
- There will be a bit of extra work before swimming or when putting the cover back on the pool.
- Some solar covers are not as effective at blocking UV rays.
- Solar pool covers do not have the added protection that a safety cover would have.
How Effective Are They?
When it comes down to it, you want to know how effective solar pool covers are, and with good reason. Solar pool covers that cover the entire pool are more effective than smaller covers or solar rings.
On average, a covered pool can help your water gain between 10 to 15 degrees within six hours on a clear, sunny day. Pools may lose a few degrees overnight without a solar cover, but the drop will not be as noticeable during the warmer seasons. Still, the right cover can help maintain an appropriate temperature.
So, Are Solar Pool Covers Worth It?
The value of an investment into quality pool equipment is somewhat subjective, based on each pool owner’s needs and budget. However, weighing the pros and cons can help solidify your decision of whether or not to use a solar pool cover. Regardless, if you choose to use a solar pool cover, learning to use it as part of your ongoing pool care routine will help you maximize its benefits and increase its worth.
A Solar Pool Cover Might Be a Good Option for You
A solar pool cover can offer many benefits, including the comfortable, warm water you desire to make swimming more enjoyable. If you live in a region with noticeably cooler or windy nights, a solar pool cover can trap daytime heat and help prevent evaporation.
You’ll also notice less debris clogging up your pool’s system. It may also help you extend your swimming season, making your pool feel like a better overall investment.
At ProTuff Products, investing in quality pool tools that make it easier to enjoy your swimming pool is usually worth it. We have a lifetime warranty on our pool cleaning tools because we believe you deserve the best.
If you have questions about our pool tools or how to use them effectively to simplify your pool routine, feel free to contact us for more information. We are happy to discuss all things pool care with you.
Disclaimer: Pool ownership and maintenance is very complicated, and we know every situation is unique. While we’ve done our best to cover the best practices here, we encourage you to reach out to ProTuff directly at firstname.lastname@example.org with any specific questions you may have.