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Heating a swimming pool can cost a fortune. Fortunately, there are quite a few simple things you can do to reduce water heating costs – and at the top of the list is getting a solar pool cover.
Solar pool covers (also called solar blankets) prevent evaporation and insulate the pool from cooler air, while simultaneously trapping heat from the sun. While there are a few different varieties of solar covers – including solar pool rings and liquid solar covers – by far the most popular type is the one that resembles bubble wrap. These covers are fitted to the exact shape of an inground or above ground pool, and float on the water (bubble side down) when the pool is not in use.
With all the expensive pool features out there, you’ll be glad to hear that solar covers are relatively cheap – especially compared to the amount of money they can save you in energy costs. The big savings comes from the fact that they can raise water temperature by 15 degrees or more, leaving a lot less work for your pool heater. In fact, using a solar cover could allow you to get by with a smaller heater, a solar heater, or no heater at all.
That said, not all solar covers are created equal. A quick perusal of customer reviews makes it clear that a few stand out from the rest.
Top 3 Solar Pool Covers
You might think that with something as basic as a bubble solar cover, there wouldn’t be a big difference between the different options. You’d be wrong. While it might be tough to point to the best solar pool cover on the market, it’s a safe bet that the title belongs to one of the following three:
1. Blue Wave Rectangular Solar Blanket
There’s some debate about whether clear or tinted solar covers are better (see the next section for more on this). If you’re in the “clear” camp, this solar pool cover from Blue Wave Products deserves serious consideration. It’s lightweight and comes in rectangular sheets of various sizes.
2. In the Swim Solar Cover
When it comes to tinted solar covers, blue is the most popular color. This highly rated cover from In the Swim comes in rectangular 18 x 36 foot sheets.
3. Splash Pools Oval Solar Cover
While you can always trim a solar cover, it’s more convenient and economical to buy one that’s already a close fit. Therefore, if you have an oval-shaped pool, this popular cover from Splash Pools might be the best possible choice.
What to Look For in a Solar Pool Cover
High ratings are important, but they aren’t the only things to look for when shopping for a solar cover. Here are some other qualities to think about.
Size and Shape
You don’t need to find a cover that fits your pool exactly. Instead, look for one that covers your pool at its longest and widest points, then use scissors to trim it to the right size and shape. If you have a larger pool, consider cutting the cover into multiple pieces that are easier to get on and off. This is also a good option if you’re worried about the water getting too hot, as it gives you the option to only cover part of the pool.
Tinted vs. Clear
A lot of pool pros say that transparent solar covers are more effective than tinted ones, as they allow sunlight to penetrate and warm more of the water. Others insist that darker covers are better because they absorb more heat. But for a lot of people, the choice between tinted and clear is all about looks.
Thicker covers generally do a better job of insulating the pool, but they’re also heavier and harder to move around. For this reason, many pool owners prefer lightweight covers. The worst thing you can do is get a pool cover that’s so unwieldy that you never use it.
Solar Pool Cover Reels
Speaking of ease of use, picking up a reel can make it much more convenient roll up and store your pool cover when it’s not in use. You can find pool cover reels in a variety of styles and sizes. Just make sure the reel works with the dimensions (including thickness) of your pool cover.
As you can see, choosing the best solar pool cover is far from simple. The pool covers listed above all get top marks, but there are plenty of other factors to weigh when you’re shopping for the right pool cover for your pool. Considering how much solar covers can lower your pool maintenance costs, it’s worth wading through all the options.