Swimming pool in sunshine

A Complete Guide to Solar Pool Covers

In Canada, our swimming season is disappointingly short. During the hot days at the beginning of the summer, the weather is perfect for a swim – but your water will take some time to catch up, especially if you don’t have a heater. Over time, the summer sun will begin to warm your water, but it can take weeks off of your swimming season. Solar pool covers offer an effective and affordable way to use the sun to heat your swimming pool more quickly.

A solar pool cover can help you to quickly add a few degrees to your pool water, and to prevent heat loss during chilly nights. A solar pool cover is an excellent investment for your swimming pool whether or not you have a heater installed already. With the right solar cover in place, you can run your heater less often, while enjoying warm and comfortable water.

But, the key to ensuring your solar heater will be effective in warming your pool (and keeping it warm) is choosing the right blanket. This guide will help you to make the right solar blanket choice for your pool, and how to use it for best results.

How effective are solar pool covers?

A solar pool cover can be incredibly effective if you use it properly. A solar cover won’t instantly or magically warm your swimming pool water, but can provide an incredible difference in temperature if you use it consistently.

When your pool is not in use during the daylight, a solar cover will help to retain heat, and will use the warmth of your pool to continue to heat up the water. By leaving a solar heater on your pool at night, it acts as an insulating cover that prevents heat loss when the temperature dips. This is especially helpful in the early and late days of the swimming season, when evening temperatures can get very low.

When the weather is sunny and optimal, and your pool has good sun exposure, a solar blanket can help to boost the temperature in your pool by up to 17 degrees.

Choosing the right solar cover for your pool

Solar covers are made up of thousands of tiny bubbles that work together to trap and magnify heat from the sun. When you invest in a new solar cover, there are a few important things to keep in mind to get the most from your investment.

Pool surroundings

Solar blankets are most effective if your swimming pool receives a lot of direct sun during the day. The sun will be able to heat your pool and cover much more quickly and effectively. If your swimming pool is partially or totally shaded, your solar cover will not be able to create or retain quite as much heat. But, a solar cover can still keep your shaded pool warmer during the hours it is shaded, and overnight.

Solar cover thickness

When choosing a solar cover, it is important that you consider the thickness of the cover in your decision. You will have the option of choosing a cover that is 8mm or 12mm thick. Where a thicker cover will provide more heat retention and warmth for your pool, they can also become very heavy and unwieldy when you are moving the cover on and off your pool. People with larger pools need to consider which gauge they should use, and whether they will be able to effectively use it on their pool.

If you have a large pool, you can choose a cover with a thicker gauge and more heat retention capabilities. But, if you opt for a large and thick cover, you will need to invest in a blanket handler, so you can easily move your cover on and off the pool.

Solar cover sizing

Part of the function of a solar heater is to trap heat in your water (functioning almost as a thermos does). It is very important that you select a solar cover that is large enough to cover the entire surface area of your pool. If your cover leaves parts of your pool exposed, you risk heat loss, and miss the opportunity for heat amplification during the summer. Be sure you purchase a solar cover that is large enough for your swimming pool for the most effective heating.

The right fit for your pool: It is also important that you make sure that your solar cover is cut to fit the shape of your swimming pool. While you do want to be able to cover the entire surface area of your pool, cover overhang can allow for heat loss, and wear on your cover.

Most swimming pool solar covers come standard in round or rectangle shapes. If your pool is custom-made or is a shape that isn’t entirely standard, you don’t need to worry. It is very simple to purchase a solar cover, and cut it down to the right shape and size.

Caring for your solar pool cover

A solar pool cover can extend your swimming pool season by weeks, or even months. These handy covers can help you to warm the pool, and prevent leaves from entering the water. But, like most pool equipment, solar covers exist in a very harsh environment. Constant exposure to chlorine and the sun can wear out your solar blanket much faster than you might hope.

Solar covers are just like all of your other pool accessories. With the right care and maintenance schedule, you can keep your solar cover in great shape, and make sure it stays effective for a few seasons.

Protect from the sun when possible

When your solar blanket is sitting on your pool, it is fully exposed to sunlight during the daytime, but, this exposure is helped by the moist and cooling environment of the water. When you remove your solar cover from the pool, exposure to sunlight becomes much more destructive. A solar cover that is left out to bake in the sun is unlikely to last even one season. Be sure to store your cover in a cool, safe area when you take it off of your pool

Avoid high temperatures

Temperatures that get too high can be destructive to your solar pool cover, whether on or off of your swimming pool. Your solar pool cover can start to degrade in high temperatures. If your water is over 32 degrees, you’ll need to remove your cover temporarily to avoid damage and breakdown. But, it is also important that you store your cover in a place that is under 45 degrees

Avoid freezing temperatures

Freezing can compromise how effective your solar blanket is, and leave you with a brittle and broken cover in the springtime. When storing your solar blanket for the winter, try to keep it in a place where it is unlikely to freeze – like the basement.

Move your cover carefully

Moving your solar cover on and off the swimming pool can lead to wear and tear if you don’t have the right system in place. It is always recommended that you use a solar reel to deal with your blanket. This will help you to distribute weight, avoid tears, and avoid dragging your cover over rough concrete or decking.

Clean your cover before storing it

If you are planning to have your cover off of your pool for more than a day or two, you should take the time to clean and dry it properly. This is pretty easy to do. Simply rinse both sides of your cover with hose water to remove chlorine, then lay flat to dry. Once the cover is dry, you can roll it up for safe storage out of the sun. With a clean cover, you won’t need to worry about long-term chlorine damage.

Safety and solar pool covers

A solar cover can add so much to your swimming season, but can also pose a risk to swimmers. If you have a solar cover on your pool, it is essential that no one ever swims in the water until the cover is removed. Swimmers can become trapped underneath a solar cover. The large, floating weight means trapped swimmers are unable to break surface tension and escape.

Though this may seem like common sense to you, many people have run into trouble because of playing around a solar cover. This is especially true for children. If you choose to add a cover to your pool, be sure to tell every member of your family about drowning dangers. We recommend that you create a house rule that no one can ever swim with a solar cover on the pool.

Making the most of the swimming season

Caring for a swimming pool is expensive and time-consuming, and it is wise to make the most of it. Getting the right solar pool cover (and accessories) for your pool can help you to enjoy a warmer and more comfortable swimming pool. Use this guide to make the right choice for your solar cover, and enjoy a longer swimming season this year!