When September draws near and the days grow shorter, most homeowners will be closing up their pools, but you can extend your season with a solar pool cover. Of course, the time of the year to make use of your pool, without additional heating, depends largely on where you live. Yet regardless of your location, a solar-powered pool cover will extend pool season and offer additional benefits too.
If, for instance, you own an outdoor pool in California or Florida, these covers can help you extend its use throughout the year. No, you still won’t be able to swim comfortably during mid-winter, but you will be able to start pool season early, say, in late March, and end it as late as midway through November.
A solar-powered pool cover or blanket is a large piece of material that can be placed on top of the water in your pool in order to both preserve existing heat and increase the water temperature. It usually presents two faces, one that absorbs sunlight and converts it into heat and one that transfers heat into the water while preventing evaporation.
The most significant difference between solar covers and other types of pool covers is that the former can not only maintain, but also increase the water temperature. As such, it can be used in combination with a pool heating system or even on its own in order to prolong pool season by up to two months and reduce maintenance costs at the same time. Additionally, using a solar pool blanket like these below will help you to avoid the costly evaporation of your water and pool chemicals. Read on to find out more about the perfect solar cover for your pool.
Pool Mate Deluxe Solar Blanket
Sun2Solar Solar Pool Cover
Intex Round Solar Cover for Pool
- 1 Best Solar Pool Covers – Top Reviews of 2020
- 2 Why Use Solar Pool Covers?
- 3 Are There Different Types of Solar Pool Covers?
- 4 Before You Buy a Solar Cover for Your Pool
- 5 How to Use and Maintain a Solar Pool Cover?
- 6 The Best Solar Pool Cover: Takeaway
Best Solar Pool Covers – Top Reviews of 2020
New to the idea of solar pool blankets? No problem. We’ve put together the best solar cover assessments to help you make an optimal choice. Included below are covers of rectangular, round, or oval shapes, suitable for all budgets. You’ll find the best solar pool cover for inground pools, but also a number of great solar covers for above ground pools.
1. Pool Mate Deluxe Solar Blanket
One of the best covers currently on the market, this blanket by Pool Mate functions as an aluminium heat shield in order to prevent heat from leaving the pool. One of its faces is made of heavy-duty aluminium to attract and absorb sunlight, while the other is dotted with thousands of diamond-shaped bubbles that retain heat from the sun and increase the temperature of the pool water.
When the pool is not in use, this solar cover floats on top of it to permit the accumulation of otherwise wasted heat. The blanket is extra thin, which makes it very easy to use and store, and it’s also highly resistant to UV light, which means it takes longer to deteriorate from exposure to the sun.
These covers from Pool Mate come in all shapes and sizes. You can buy one for a rectangular, oval, or round pool, which makes it our best solar cover for inground pools, as well as a suitable solar cover for above ground pools. There are various sizes to choose from for each of the three shapes so it’s likely that you’ll find the right dimensions for your pool in order to avoid trimming.
- Heavy-duty aluminium side absorbs more sunlight during the day
- Diamond-shaped bubbles retain and transfer heat, while also preventing heat loss
- Extra thin very easy to use and to fold/store
- May tear if not handled properly
- Slightly more expensive than other options
2. Sun2Solar Solar Pool Cover
Rectangular solar covers by Sun2Solar may cost a bit more than similar options, but they easily make up for the initial investment in durability and reliability. Made from durable resin materials, these blankets will find their way into most reviews because they are simply the highest standard the industry has to offer.
Pool covers by Sun2Solar are very similar to bubble wrapping paper, but much more resistant to UV light and long-term exposure to the sun. Although you can also buy them in blue, their clear color allows sunlight to reach deeper into the pool, which provides even more heat than the bubbles alone.
Considered by many to be the best solar pool cover for inground pools, this blanket can also work as a solar pool cover for above ground pools. In addition, it comes in several dozen sizes to ensure a perfect fit. If your pool is largely rectangular but has an irregular shape, Sun2Solar advises that you trim the cover for your specific needs. The manufacturer’s 10-year warranty is not voided by the trim, which is a big plus compared to other brands.
Sun covers by Sun2Solar are also much sturdier than other options. They are thicker than most other blankets and they are reinforced for long-term resistance to wear and tear.
- Heavy-duty, durable resin material lasts longer in harsh weather
- Highly resistant to UV light
- Clear color permits even more heating than the bubbles alone
- More expensive than other options
- Thicker than other options, which makes the cover slightly bulkier to pack and store
3. Intex Round Solar Cover for Pool
If you’re in the market for a solar cover for above ground pools, these units by Intex offer one of the best heat retention solutions for round shapes. Although they are made of plastic, the blankets are more than able to handle intense UV light while helping you keep your pool warmer during cool days.
These covers are largely made up of thousands of small bubbles that expand when exposed to sunlight. They transfer heat to the pool water through contact. These blankets are popular not only because they offer a high standard of quality, but also because they come at an advantageous price. In fact, several affordable units can even be used together as lily pads to cover wider areas and still retain some heat.
For round, above-ground pools, these covers come in five convenient sizes that can be trimmed further for a perfect fit. The blankets are thinner and lighter than other options, which makes them very easy to place, pack, and store. You won’t have to wrestle these blankets to pick them up because each one includes a reusable carry bag for convenient storage.
- Can handle intense UV light and convert it into heat for your pool
- Very advantageous price to quality ratio
- Can be used as lily pads to cover areas that are not necessarily round
- Made of plastic and, as such, prone to tears if not handled properly
- Can be blown away by powerful winds if not attached properly to the pool
4. Midwest Diamond Solar Cover
Less frequent in such reviews, this blanket by MidWest Canvas is nevertheless an excellent choice in terms of its quality-to-cost ratio. Made up of durable resin material, it comes in an oval shape and eight different sizes in order to fit most similarly shaped in-ground or above-ground pools.
The diamond-shaped bubbles are designed in such dimensions and disposed of in such a manner as to maximize the use of surface and increase heat retention even further. During the day, the bubbles absorb sunlight and transfer heat to the pool water. During the night, the cover prevents heat loss and more than 90% of water and chemical evaporation.
With a 16mm thickness, these pool blankets are sturdy enough to resist long-term wear and tear, but not thick enough to make packing and unpacking a burden. They are furthermore quite light, which means that you won’t encounter difficulties when placing them atop the water or removing them for storage. These covers come with a generous 10-year warranty that is not voided if you choose to trim them for an optimal fit.
- Durable resin material able to handle long-term exposure to UV light
- Prevents more than 90% of water and chemical evaporation during the night
- Fairly thick and therefore resistant to wear and tear
- Slightly more expensive than other options
- Slightly thicker than most options, which makes it more durable, but also slightly bulkier
5. Thermo-Tex Sun Cover for Your Pool
These covers by Thermo-Tex keep up with other options on most solar pool blankets reviews, but they’re much more suitable for a tight budget. Featuring the same bubble heating technology, they are made with UV-stabilized polymers that ensure durability through long-term exposure to both sunlight and pool chemicals.
Rectangular in shape, this unit by Thermo-Tex is not necessarily the best solar cover for inground pools, but it certainly comes in as a close second or third place. Furthermore, it can work perfectly as a solar cover for above ground pools, especially since it’s large enough to fit most sizes and can be trimmed down for a perfect fit.
The dark blue color of the pool cover blends in with the water nicely and it also helps increase the amount of sunlight that is absorbed throughout the day. For this blanket, the manufacturer offers a decent 3-year warranty in the United States, which is a plus for products in a similar price range. Thermo-Tex’s product is very thin compared to other options, which does not affect its ability to retain heat, but does present other advantages and disadvantages. The blanket is very easy to unfold, use, and store, but can be torn if not handled with care.
- Thin and very light
- Very affordable compared to other options
- Easy to put on and take off the pool, as well as to store
- Prone to tears if not handled properly
- Shorter warranty than with other options
Why Use Solar Pool Covers?
As many pool blanket reviews will tell you, solar covers come with several noteworthy advantages. These include:
- The best covers reduce the evaporation of water and chemicals by up to 95%. In the long run, this means that you can worry less about refilling the pool and spend less on chemicals required to achieve optimal water chemistry. Maintenance costs are also decreased in the process.
- If you use them correctly, solar pool blankets (similar in concept to solar liquid blankets) maintain the temperature of water overnight or during cold days. In addition, when the sun is shining, these covers can increase the water temperature by up to 10 degrees Celsius for free, using only the power of UV light. This further decreases your maintenance costs, particularly since you won’t have to heat up the pool as often in order to enjoy your swim.
- Unlike automatic covers that must be installed with the help of a professional and usually come with a solar cover reel, solar pool covers are very easy to put in place and remove. Depending on their size and thickness, they can be set afloat or folded in no more than 10 minutes at a time. Furthermore, they can be cut into a shape that perfectly fits your pool using only a marker and a pair of scissors.
- Many of the best solar covers are for inground pools, but some are designed for above-ground use, and still look fantastic on the water. Their color is either clear or dark blue, which blends in well with the rest of the pool and, unlike automatic covers, they do not require the installation of unsightly tracks above ground.
- They work with and alongside solar water heaters.
- They don’t interfere with solar pool skimmers as they’re easily removed.
Are There Different Types of Solar Pool Covers?
Yes there are different types of covers. In addition to the fact that these pool covers vary according to shape and size, there are a few distinct types in terms of composition as well:
- Covers made of straight line vinyl are made of a single vinyl sheet designed to float on the water’s surface in order to prevent evaporation.
- Insulated vinyl covers feature several layers of vinyl with pockets between them, which not only prevent evaporation but also maintain the temperature of the pool by stopping heat transfer between the water and the air.
- All the covers we’ve reviewed above are pool bubble covers, which are the most popular on the market today. They resemble bubble wrapping paper (hence the name) and they absorb heat in more than a thousand small chambers facing down into the water. Unlike other types of blankets, they both increase the water temperature during daylight and prevent the heat from escaping during nighttime or cold weather.
Before You Buy a Solar Cover for Your Pool
You’ve read a number of solar pool blanket reviews, but you still can’t decide which is the best solar cover for your specific needs. Here are a few additional things to consider before you make your purchase.
Size and Shape
This first question is obvious, but nonetheless essential. What shape and size is your pool and how do you intend to cover it? Ideally, you’ll want a solar pool blanket that fits your pool perfectly, leaving no margins uncovered. However, you can also choose to cover only parts of the pool (with the lily pad method, for instance) and still obtain a similar effect. Although, as you’ve already noticed, most blankets come in many different sizes, it’s unlikely that you’ll find one that fits if the shape of your pool is irregular. If this is the case for you, then you’ll likely need to trim the cover using scissors, so make sure the manufacturer allows you to do so without voiding the warranty.
The thickness of a solar pool blanket is a double-edged sword, so to speak. On the one hand, if the cover is thicker, it is more likely to resist long-term wear and tear, as well as retain heat more effectively. On the other hand, a thicker blanket is more difficult to maneuver and can take longer to put on and take off the pool. You should choose this dimension of your cover according to your priorities. If you value durability and efficiency above convenience, go for a thicker cover. Otherwise, a thinner blanket is likely more suitable for you.
Color: Dark or Semi-Transparent
In most cases, you’ll find covers that are either dark blue or clear (semi-transparent). There are advantages and disadvantages to both. For instance, a dark blue cover might absorb more sunlight, but it prevents light from passing through, which results in the formation of a layer of warm water just under the surface. A clear blanket, on the other hand, is less absorbent, but allows the light to pass deeper into the water for a more uniform increase in temperature. Both dark blue and clear covers are usually treated to resist degradation by UV radiation, yet while the former is expected to last up to 6 years, the latter can go for as long as 10 years. The difference is especially important when the product is combined with solar floating pool lights, as the aesthetics can be pretty dramatic.
Warranty and Cost
Of course, you’ll have to consider how much you’re willing to spend for a new pool cover and whether the quality-to-price ratio of the product you have in mind is convenient. In addition, make sure that the manufacturer you buy from provides at least several years of warranty and is trustworthy enough to ensure that the warranty is bankable.
How to Use and Maintain a Solar Pool Cover?
A solar pool cover is not a safety cover and should never be used as such. It also doesn’t act as a solar pool ionizer. Although such a blanket can stop the heat from escaping the pool, it will not stop a child or a pet from falling in. Its purpose is to maintain a comfortable temperature and, if you choose a cover that’s thick enough, it will prevent leaves and other small foreign objects from falling into the water.
To ensure maximum and efficient solar heating, you’ll want to cover the entire surface of your pool using the blanket. If you own an irregularly shaped pool, then you’ll likely have to trim the cover in order to make it fit. Remember to always use a pair of scissors and not a razor blade to do this, as the latter will irreparably damage the material and render the cover useless.
When you do not use the blanket to cover the pool, it’s important to store it away from the sun. Consider that most of these materials are designed to endure prolonged exposure to UV light, but only when they are directly touching the water in the pool. The water functions as a cooling mechanism to help stop deterioration, but if you leave your cover sitting on the patio in the hot sun, it won’t be able to cool properly and deterioration will be quicker.
The Best Solar Pool Cover: Takeaway
The sun pool covers might be easy to install and use, but given the variety of options available on the market, it can be tricky to make the optimal choice. To get familiar with what the best cover should look like, it’s a good idea to sift through reviews and compare the specifications against your list of priorities.
Generally speaking, so long as you opt for a blanket that’s large enough to cover your pool even after trimming, you should be able to enjoy most of the benefits of these handy materials. At any rate, if anything goes wrong, rest assured that generous warranties are common in the case of solar pool covers and you can always exchange your product for something better. (Looking for even more fun solar products? Take a look at our favorite solar pool showers!)