Expert Pool Care Tips and Advice

Harnessing the Sun: Solar Pool Covers Emerge as Game-Changers in Residential Pool Care

I’m going to answer the question, “Do solar pool covers work?” 

Yes they do. If you live in areas with somewhat prolonged droughts due to arid climates and water scarcity issues, solar pool covers prevent evaporation because there’s not a lot of water to air contact with the pool cover on. And if you live in an area where you don’t get a lot of sun heating your pool up, you’re still going to get the insulation at night. 

Well, it’s not exactly that easy.

They do work.

However, there are some nuances. We’re going to be going over most of the pros and cons of solar pool covers today.

Does a Solar Pool Cover Work? And are they right for you?

Remember, don’t go ahead and just buy one because it might not be right for your situation.

Let’s look at the pros of a solar pool cover, first.

Then we’re going to talk about the cons of a solar pool cover and this is coming from my experience with my 7000 gallon above ground pool as well as the in ground pool that I grew up with.

For a better perspective, we’re now on year five of our above ground pool and every year I’ve put on a pool cover and that’s because growing up, I always had a pool cover.

This year, I just replaced our pool cover with a new one because these things do not last forever.

Also Read: The Best Pool Covers for Above Ground Pools

But let’s talk about the reasons why I use a pool cover.

Pros and Cons of Solar Pool Covers

Pros of Solar Pool Covers

1. Inadequate heating

Now, the first and the biggest reason I use a pool cover is because this pool does not have a hot water heater on it.

So, if I want the water higher than air temperature, this is the only way to do it.

Now, if I just put it on overnight and the pool is sitting at 61 degrees and I will get a couple of degrees a day out of this solar pool cover.

Even if the air temperature outside is only in the mid seventies (70’s), I can bring this thing up about 10 degrees to 15 degrees a week.

But the great thing is it’ll hold it there.

So it doesn’t lose temperature overnight because this pool cover makes an insulation layer. You can see there’s a little bubbles.

This is just like that, that packing material that they use is just a lot thicker. So bubbles, I mean air is actually a great insulator.

This actually does keep the heat in the pool at night. I won’t lose heat at night with this thing on or very little.

Now, what I have noticed is that if I take it off, I’ll actually lose 5 to 6 degrees in one night in this pool.

And part of that’s because it is an above ground pool and it’s not very big. In fact, the temperature can drop really fast if I don’t put the cover on.

Also Read: The Best Solar Cover Reel for Inground Pool

2. Prevent Evaporation

The second reason I like to use these is because living in areas such as Arizona, Nevada, and New Mexico to name a few where there you often face prolonged droughts due to arid climates and water scarcity issues – these solar pool covers prevent evaporation because there’s not a lot of water to air contact with the pool cover on.

I can leave this cover on, go away for a week on vacation, come back and my water level really hasn’t changed.

But if I leave the cover off this thing when it’s very hot, we’re in the, you know, mild desert out here.

When it’s really hot out, I can lose an inch of water a day without the cover on.

So I’m dumping a lot of water in it.

Now, on top of that, as the water evaporates all the minerals and deposits and whatnot from the water are staying in there.

So the more water evaporates, the more you add, the faster you get hard water in your pool, which makes it harder to clean.

So it’s saving water, but it’s also saving me time and money on the cleaning efforts.

3. Saves time and money

And the third reason why I love my solar cover is it saves me time and money on chemicals because I don’t have a lot of water to air transfer.

I don’t lose chlorine as quickly and the pool tends to stay a little bit more balanced.

Now, chlorine does break down with UV.

That’s why you put that conditioner in the water when you set your pool up.

So you are still going to lose some, but this does form a little bit of a UV barrier and an air to water barrier. So you’re not losing chemicals nearly as fast.

If I leave my pool cover on, I usually don’t have to deal with chemicals except for maybe once a week I go out and check them and I keep the float going.

It does keep the pool a little bit more stable and it makes the chemicals a lot easier to deal with.

So those are the positives.

It all sounds great, right!

Let’s go buy a cover, but there are some negatives to a cover too.

So let’s talk about those.

Cons of Solar Pool Covers

The first is you need sunlight.

1. Sunlight

So if you live in an area where you don’t get a lot of sun, maybe you’re up in Seattle, Portland – Oregon, the Pacific Northwest or Juneau, Alaska, etc…

Let’s say you live in London which is known for its frequent overcast skies and drizzly weather throughout the year. It experiences a temperate maritime climate with relatively mild temperatures but limited sunshine. 

Or maybe your pool is underneath the shade of a tree.

You’re not going to get that great effect from the sun hitting the pool and heating your pool up.

You are still going to get the insulation at night. 

So there is that positive of having a suitable solar pool cover.

2. Size of Solar Pool Covers

The next negative to a pool cover is that they’re big and you got a storm somewhere.

So first, they’re kind of a pain to take off.

In our situation, we have the pool cover cut in two sections so you can roll the thing up when you’re taking it off the pool at night for instance.

In fact, the pool that I grew up with, it was actually cut into four sections because the size of the pool is so big.

So it’s usually a two person operation to take this on and off the pool.

We usually take it off the pool when we’re getting ready to swim and we throw it back on before we go to bed at night.

So we don’t lose temperature at night.

But the other thing is you do need to find a place to store it when it’s not on the pool.

You don’t want to put it in the sun.

When it’s on the pool, the water keeps the cover cool.

It’s never going to get warmer than the cover.

But if I took the thing off and I put it over there next to my house, it’s going to get blasted with the sun.

So I have to find a shady spot like somewhere around the back of the pool to store this thing.

So that might be an issue for you.

We’ve also at times taken the pool cover off and then thrown a white tarp over it when it’s not in use.

If it gets blasted by the sun and gets heated up too much, these covers  do start breaking down over time and then you have to replace your pool cover kind of prematurely.

And you don’t want that.

The other issue that I’ve heard and I’m not a pool guy so I can’t really speak to this.

I mean, I don’t install pools professionally. I guess older plaster pools have a problem with the cover and the gas is building up underneath the cover.

So you do want to make sure that a solar cover is right for your pool and it is something that won’t damage the plaster of your pool.

Mine is an above ground pool, so I don’t have that problem, but check and make sure before you buy one that won’t damage your pool.

3. Don’t last Forever

I don’t really know if this is straight up negative but the issue is that these don’t last forever.

You do have to replace them. At least someday in the future.

And as they start getting old, the little bubbles, the little tops will start popping off and you’ll find them in your pool filter, which is kind of a bummer to clean up, but they don’t last forever.

For instance, wit the cheap ones, the thin ones you’ll get about one season out of.

But I like my pool covers like I like my metal.

So these ones, if you get the extra heavy ones, I’ve noticed I get two and sometimes I’ve managed to get a third season out of them.

My last cover, I got three seasons out of them and I just got this one.

I’m hoping to get three out of this one, but they don’t last forever.

You do have to replace them and when you get them, they usually come in generic sizes.

So you will have to cut it to fit your pool.

So if you throw out your old cover, don’t throw it out until you buy your new one, you can use it as a template.

Also Read: The Best Pool Cover Pump

FAQs on Solar Pool Covers

Do Solar Pool Covers Work on Cloudy Days?

Yes, solar pool covers are effective even on cloudy days. Although their primary function is to harness solar energy to heat the pool, they also provide excellent insulation. This means that on cloudy days, the heat retained in the pool is conserved, preventing temperature drops. However, the rate of temperature increase may be slower compared to sunny days.

Does a Solar Pool Cover Work in the Shade?

Solar pool covers can still be beneficial in shaded areas. While they may not be as efficient in heating the water as in direct sunlight, they play a crucial role in maintaining the existing temperature by reducing heat loss and evaporation. They also prevent debris from entering the pool and reduce chemical consumption.

Do Solar Pool Blankets Work?

Solar pool blankets, often used interchangeably with solar pool covers, are effective in several ways. They help to heat the pool by trapping solar energy, reduce evaporation, and maintain the pool’s chemical balance. This makes them a valuable addition to pool maintenance, especially in areas with varying climates.

Do Solar Pool Blankets Work?

Solar pool blankets, often used interchangeably with solar pool covers, are effective in several ways. They help to heat the pool by trapping solar energy, reduce evaporation, and maintain the pool’s chemical balance. This makes them a valuable addition to pool maintenance, especially in areas with varying climates.

Does a Solar Pool Cover Really Work?

Absolutely. Solar pool covers are designed to retain heat, minimize evaporation, and save on chemicals and cleaning time. They effectively increase and maintain water temperature, making the pool more comfortable and extending the swimming season. Their effectiveness is influenced by factors like climate, pool size, and cover quality.

How Fast Do Solar Pool Covers Work?

The speed at which solar pool covers work depends on several factors including the initial water temperature, air temperature, and the amount of sunlight the cover receives. Generally, a solar pool cover can increase the water temperature by 10 to 15 degrees over a week under ideal conditions. They also quickly reduce heat loss and evaporation once in place.

There you have…

Now, I’ve got a link down in the description for the kind of solar cover we use. You can check that out, but I’ve also got a link for a solar pool heater that I recommend.

So if all this seems like a little bit too much of a hassle or you want to get a little extra heat in your pool. Let me know what your experience has been with pool covers.

Maybe you have some other advice for other readers and you all can help each other out in the comments. Next, read:

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