Swimming season is upon us. And that means the swim parties are in full swing. But if your pool water’s chilly or you want to save money on your heating bill, you need to find a different solution.
Personally, my choice is a solar pool cover. They help retain heat, keep out debris, and are super easy to use. All around wins.
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How Do Solar Pool Covers Work?
Before we get into how solar pool covers work, it’s important to note that solar covers are not safety covers. Solar covers are designed to help heat retention and work as a pool heater.
Now, onto how solar pool covers work.
Solar energy is drawn from the sunlight and daylight emitted by the sun through infrared and UV rays.
Solar products like pool covers and heaters convert that radiation from the sun into useable energy, or in the case of pool covers, heat.
This heat inside the air pocket between the pool and the cover traps the heat and then transfers from the cover to the water to help keep the pool warm or increase the temperature overall.
Why Use a Solar Pool Cover?
Solar pool covers are designed to float on the surface of a pool. They may be ring-shaped, rectangular, square, or others, but their purpose is primarily three-fold.
1. Solar Pool Covers Help Retain Heat
Any time you cover a body of water — whether that’s a pan of pasta boiling on the stove or a pool in the sun — whatever heat is in the water will be retained somewhat be simply trapping the air beneath a cover. Pool covers do this.
2. Solar Pool Covers Add Heat
Not only do solar covers retain heat, but they actually add it, as well. The cells within the covers are designed specifically to capture solar energy and distribute that warmth into the water of the swimming pool.
3. Solar Pool Covers Keep Out Debris
Finally, solar covers — like all pool covers — are designed to help keep out debris from the pool. This helps to reduce chemicals, cleaning time, et cetera.
How Much Do Solar Covers Heat Up Pool Water?
Typical solar pool covers will increase the temperature of the pool water by up to 10-degrees Fahrenheit.
What Types of Pool Covers Are There?
There are two primary styles of pool covers that use solar energy to heat the water. Bubble pool covers that are the larger ones that look like they’re made of bubble wrap and the smaller solar rings.
The is a third option that’s a bit less well-known at this stage. This is the liquid solar cover. These require a little bit of tracking for, but otherwise, are easy to use. They’re deemed safe to swim in by the various powers that be but may cause eye or skin irritations for some folks with more sensitivities.
Is There Any Difference Between Solar Covers for In-Ground Pools Versus Above Ground Pools?
There’s really no difference in above ground pool covers versus in-ground pool covers. These solar covers sit on the surface of the water and collect solar radiation to warm the water.
The primary issue in finding the right cover for your pool type is dealing with size rather than in-ground vs. above ground. Be sure to make sure the cover(s) you purchase is large enough to heat the pool’s square surface square footage.
What is a Liquid Solar Cover, Are They Safe, and Do They Work?
Our primary focus is on solar covers and solar rings, rather than liquid covers, but they are worth discussing briefly.
Liquid solar covers are made of a chemical combination. The calcium hydroxide works as the carrier and dispersing agent of the cover, while an aliphatic alcohol compound makes up the actual “cover” material within the carrier liquid. The “cover” portion of the liquid mix is the aspect of the compound that is capable of trapping and conducting solar energy into heat in the pool water. The liquid solar cover is a microscopically thin layer that you’re not even going to notice.
These covers have been FDA and EPA approved for use in swimming pools. That means it’s safe to swim with the liquid cover in the water.
Of course, the question is whether or not they work. According to experiments conducted by various folks, they do work, often producing up to 5-degrees warmer water within the experiment.
What’s a Solar Ring, and Are They Any Good?
Solar rings are basically a solar pool cover that floats on the surface of the swimming pool. But instead of covering the entire surface of the pool, solar rings are smaller, usually round floating solar devices that help to heat the pool without fully covering it.
This means you will need multiple solar rings to prevent heat loss or keep the pool warm.
Their effectiveness varies, depending on your climate, the size of the pool, and if you have enough solar rings in place. Large pools will need more rings, obviously, so keep that in mind as you read pool cover reviews that discuss solar rings.
If you have enough solar rings, they do pretty much the same thing that pool covers do save keeping out as much debris.
Generally speaking, solar rings are recommended for warmer climates or indoor pools rather than pools in the far north where a higher heat is needed to make the pool swimmable.
Why Choose a Solar Pool Cover Over Other “Normal” Options?
As mentioned above, solar covers do several things to keep your pool debris-free and warm. But why should you choose a solar option over a standard cover? Let’s take a look at some of the benefits.
What are the Benefits of a Solar Cover?
There are a few strong arguments for solar pool covers over standard ones, besides the “heating” aspect that they provide.
Solar Energy is Eco-Friendly
First off, solar products are eco-friendly. You don’t have to use electricity to power a heater for keeping your water warm. Instead, you use the renewable resource of the sunlight to increase the temperature to something swimmable.
Solar Pool Covers Are Hassle-Free
Some pool covers are troublesome to install, but since solar covers are designed to float on the water, you only have to roll them out and put them on the surface of the water. The covers then heat up the water, reduce water evaporation, and keep out debris on their own.
Are There Any Drawbacks to a Solar Cover?
There are primarily two potential downsides to thermal pool blankets.
1. Top Rated Solar Pool Covers Can Be a Little Pricey
Most thermal pool cover options tend to be at least twice the price of standard covers. This means you’ll pay somewhere between $75 and $300 for a high-quality cover that fits your needs. For what you save in costs for heating your pool in a warm-weather environment, however, the savings are fairly comparable in the first year.
2. Solar Blankets Don’t Always Fit That Well
The other potential issue with solar blankets is that they don’t always fit pools very well. If you have a straight-up rectangular pool, you’re probably okay. Otherwise, you may have to use a couple of covers to fully cover up the water.
How to Choose the Best Solar Covers
Pool owners who want to cut down on your heating costs and still heat up the water temperature, finding the right solar pool cover will do it. Think through these things as your shop for the right swimming pool covers.
Color – Does it Matter?
As you look for rectangle solar covers or round solar rings, you’ll see they come in a few different colors. The most common are blue and clear. We tend to think that darker colors work better when we need to trap heat, but in this case, the color can affect the temperature of your pool for different reasons.
Darker colored pool covers don’t allow the sunlight to pass through them. When the sunlight doesn’t pass through, it gets absorbed into the cover. Obviously, this means black would absorb the most and clear would the least.
But in the case of solar covers, less sunlight absorbed by the cover is better. When the heat passes through the cover into the water, the cover itself isn’t heated up but the water is. With darker colors, some of the heat that has been trapped in the cover is released back into the air instead of the water.
Thickness – Does it Make a Difference?
Most thoughts from real-life users on the thickness of solar covers have noted that this hasn’t seemed to matter in the efficacy of the pool covers. However, some state that 16-millimeter thick pool covers are more durable and do a slightly better job at retaining heat.
Generally speaking, though, the concern is more with color and how much of the pool surface area the items cover.
How We Chose the Covers
There are many popular options out there — Sun2Solar and Blue Wave for example — that we looked into first. After crafting a list to review from these popular choices, we looked into other lesser known brands and options to see how they compared, and which would be the best choices.
The list we started with had about 45 highly-rated options. We culled down the list by simply reading customer reviews and reviewing each of the pool covers ourselves. The list below is the result of what we could learn and understand about the efficiency and quality of the best solar pool covers available.
Reviews of the Best Solar Pool Covers on the Market in 2019
Here are our solar pool cover reviews and buying guide for your convenience. Peruse the list, read the reviews, and find the best swimming pool solar covers around.
Overall Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
One of the absolute most popular options on the market is the Sun2Solar Blue rectangle cover. Many have deemed this the best solar cover for above ground pools. It comes in different sizes – any of which can be trimmed to fit your precise needs – and is incredibly easy to use.
Place the bubble side of the solar blanket down and experience the benefits of the extra warmth brought on by the sun. The blanket helps keep the pool warmer at night and day, meaning your swimming season is extended earlier into spring and later into the fall.
For those who enjoy the attractive blue color, the Sun2Solar Blue is a lightweight option that’s easy to roll up. Many recommend getting a heavy-duty, UV-resistant pool cover reel for making it easier to use, especially on larger pools.
- 7 x 7 to 33 x 33 square
- 12 x 32 to 30 x 50 rectangle
Overall Rating: 4.7 out of 5 stars
Probably the second most popular option we’ve seen for solar pool covers is the In The Swim pool solar blanket. This is one is ideal for the oddly shaped and different types of pools around.
It’s incredibly easy to trim.
It’s another blue cover, but it’s been successful at capturing the sun’s energy and converting it into warmer pool temperatures everywhere. They’re also praised for saving on pool chemicals as they trap in the heat, the water, and generally keep things cleaner and easier to use.
The In The Swim pool cover is super lightweight at about 2-pounds. This means though it might be awkward to maneuver, it’s light enough that most anyone can handle it. Plus, since it’s only 12-millimeters thick and constructed of UV-stabilized resin, it’s easy to keep those tiny bubbles clean.
The tiny air bubbles on the In The Swim solar blanket make this cover ideal for either in-ground swimming pools or above ground — whichever you have. Just find a great pool cover reel to keep it clean and straight when not in use.
This solar blanket is backed by a 7-year warranty from the manufacturer.
This cover comes in 13 dimensions from 12 x 20 up to 30 x 60 feet.
Overall Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
According to the research, clear solar pool covers are best for actually the better choice for warming the pool water, no matter the type of pool. So, though the blue covers seem more popular, we wanted to offer the best clear pool covers.
For that, we chose the Sun2Solar Clear. Like the blue option, this solar pool cover comes in a variety of sizes that can be trimmed and reshaped as needed and is moderately lightweight and manageable. Again, we would recommend a pool cover reel to maintain the integrity of the cover, though.
Most people who’ve used the Sun2Solar Clear Rectangle cover say it’s more effective at trapping heat and keeping their pools warm than other options they’ve tried.
The Sun2Solar Clear comes in dimensions from 12 x 20 to 33 x 33 feet.
Note: This cover has also been deemed the best solar blanket for salt water pools on Amazon.
Overall Rating: 4.4 out of 5 stars
This 5.1-pound solar cover for rectangular frame pools from Intex is a popular option for above ground pools. The cover helps trap heat, keep out debris, and ups the temperature on the water of the swimming pool in any climate.
The cover is made with durable 160-micron material, comes with a convenient carrying bag, and is lightweight and easy to use.
This pool cover is designed for pools measuring 17-feet 8-inches by 8-feet 4-inches.
Overall Rating: 4.2 out of 5 stars
If you’ve got an easy set/frame pool, this solar cover is your best bet. From the trusted Intex brand, the cover uses the technology of the air pockets, bubbles, and solar radiation in combination to create a warmer pool environment.
Customers tell us that the cover does the trick, keeping their pools warmer, by trapping hot air and warming the water up to 10-degrees Fahrenheit. This makes this a great option for anyone living in the sunny south looking to cut heating costs while being eco-friendly.
This round pool cover, like other Intex products, comes with a carrying bag and comes in blue. The cover comes in 10, 12, 15, 16, or 18-foot diameters.
Overall Rating: 4.1 out of 5 stars
For an incredibly durable, 14-millimeter solar blanket that’s expected to heat up your pool water by up to 15-degrees Fahrenheit, the Blue Wave NS510 Clear is a fantastic choice. This cover is designed with inground pools in mind and comes with a 6-year warranty.
The cover is known to minimize heat loss, using thermal bubbles to trap the sun’s heat and keep it in air pockets between the cover and the water, while reducing evaporation up to 95% and drops chemical loss in the process.
The pool cover comes in different sizes: 16 x 32 feet up to 30 x 50 feet.
Overall Rating: 3.8 out of 5 stars
While the Harris Round Solar Cover didn’t quite make it to our top-choice list, the cover is a budget-friendly option that does the trick.
It heats the water up to 15-degrees Fahrenheit, is easy to use and meets all of our other standards for solar pool covers.
Overall Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
For those looking for solar rings instead of a full-on pool cover, the SSRA Solar Sun Rings are a great way to go. Each ring measures 60-inches in diameter and is inflatable. They’re convenient and easy to use and store, and add a punch of color while heating up the pool.
This pack of solar rings comes with 3-rings, meaning you’ll be able to cover a good bit of your pool. Just remember that solar rings do allow some heat to escape, since they don’t cover the entire pool, but they do capture the sun’s heat and release it into the water as viable heat.
These rings are made of two layers of U.V. resistant vinyl, meaning they’re highly durable. They’re also backed by a 2-year warranty.
Cautions: Solar rings are not suitable as flotation devices. It’s also important to avoid over-inflating the rings, as they may burst.
Overall Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
While these aren’t our top choices for getting a pool warm, these decorative pool flowers can add a little bit of fun decor to a pool party. They increase the temperature of the pool by about 5-degrees Fahrenheit and come in blue, black or multi-color packs.
The solar pool flowers are stackable, easy to use, and measure 22-inches in diameter. The design allows them to both float and fill with water, so they stay on the pool surface, even on windy days.
Overall Rating: 4.8 out of 5 stars
While our primary focus for these solar pool cover reviews is the bubble covers and solar rings, we did want to mention this unique, high-quality choice in the “cover free” solar cover category. The Cover Free Liquid Pool Solar Blanket from Natural Chemistry is a highly rated, easy to use option that could be a great choice for someone with mobility issues or conditions like arthritis that make it difficult to fiddle with the awkward blanket style pool covers.
This cover-free liquid blanket uses an advanced mono-layer technology that helps reduce water evaporation up to 85% and heat loss by up to 70%.
The liquid cover gives an invisible barrier that helps trap heat in the pool water, even on cloudy days, and helps to keep your pool in better pH balance.
You use about 4-ounces per 20,000 gallons of water per week. This one comes with 32-ounces. You can calculate how much you need using an online calculator or formula.
Finding the Best Solar Pool Cover for Heating Your Pool
Now that you’ve learned loads on solar covers and you’ve seen our solar pool blankets reviews, you’re ready to go shopping. Take a look at the reviews — both ours and those of every-day consumers — and you’ll be able to narrow down the list and find the best pool solar blanket for your needs. Just be sure to get one that fits your pool’s measurements and has the right color and thickness that you want.