There are several ways to solar heat your pool, but solar covers are the most effective way to harness the sun’s energy.
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A recent study shows that Solar Blankets stop 5-times more evaporative heat loss, when compared to Liquid Solar Covers, and Solar Sun Rings.
Solar Cover Selection
For color choices, you can select from our standard Blue solar blankets in 8 or 12 mil, or upgrade to our Blue/Black solar cover in 12 mil, with a dark bottom to trap more heat in the pool. For the most durability and highest heat gain, look at the 16 mil Ultra Clear (opaque actually) blankets. We offer a wide selection of solar covers to meet any budget, and pool heating needs.
8 Mil Solar Cover
12 Mil Solar Cover
16 Mil Solar Cover
How to Compare Pool Solar CoversExtruded or Laminated Material?Air Pocket Design Shape?Reflective Coating?Thickness?Warranty?
Solar blankets are made from a UV-stabilized form of polyethylene or polypropylene material. Larger pool blankets are made from rolls of material that are heat sealed together. The better solar pool covers are made of an extruded one-piece material, rather than a laminated top and bottom, and will be thicker, with longer warranty periods.
Solar Cover Sizing
To determine what size solar pool cover you need, simply measure the longest and widest points of the pool. When the cover is installed, it’s best to completely covers the water surface so there aren’t any gaps for heat to escape. Solar covers are easily cut to fit – freeform or kidney shaped pools use an rectangular size that completely covers the pool, and trim it down to fit the pool shape.
“L” shaped pools or other large pools may find it better to buy two (or more) smaller solar blankets, instead of buying one larger cover and cutting it to size. It may be cheaper overall, in addition to reducing material waste.
For pools with a step section that needs to be covered, don’t worry about purchasing an oversized blanket and cutting to size, just purchase a step section piece. In The Swim offers 4’x8’ pieces of solar blanket for step sections in 12mil and 16mil material.
Custom Solar Covers: If your pool is larger than our largest 30×60 rectangle, 21×41 oval or 33 round, keep in mind that In The Swim can special order larger sizes, custom solar covers, in nearly any square or rectangular size you want. You will still need to trim it if you have a free form pool shape.
Solar Cover Installation
The Bubble Side Faces Down
If your pool is rectangular, round or oval and you were able to find a cover that is your exact pool size, then the job of installing your solar blanket is pretty easy – simply lay the cover on the pool with the bubble side facing down, and the smooth side facing up.
If you have a freeform pool and need to cut the blanket to fit, the best way to do it would be to get a helper to stretch the cover out taut over the pool to pull out the packing wrinkles.
Place some light weights around the cover to hold it in place. Nothing too heavy or sharp of course, you don’t want to damage the cover. Winter cover water tubes would be a good choice. Don’t worry about the cover being drum-tight, it should be floating on the water, and evenly overlapping the pool coping.
Once you have the cover in place, carefully cut two sides of the solar cover around the perimeter of the pool, cutting right up against the coping inside edge, to make sure there won’t be any gaps between the cover and the pool wall when it is lying on the water. When half of the cover is cut, use your pool brush to push the cut sides up against the edge of the pool, and to smooth out the blanket, removing air bubbles beneath.
If you do try this method, you may also want to cut a square flap of solar blanket material to insert into the skimmer. This allows you to use a hose and/or your pool brush to clean the solar cover, directing the debris on top of the cover into the skimmer, before removing the blanket.
Solar Cover Use
Generally speaking, you should have the solar cover on the pool whenever the pool is not being used. During the day, having the cover on the pool helps to prevent water and chemical evaporation in the hot sun and also warms the pool. At night it will help to insulate the water, to retain the heat you have gained throughout the day.
There are times when you should not use a solar cover. Remove the cover during heavy storms and wind events, to prevent damage from flying debris. Remove the cover before shocking a pool, and leave it off until chlorine levels drop below 2.5 ppm. Low pH and alkalinity, and low hardness (soft water) can also damage solar blanket material.
Solar Cover Care
Solar covers are durable as they can be while remaining flexible, but are subject to damage from unbalanced water, and quickly deteriorate with high levels of chlorine. Important to note – as chemical damage is not covered under any warranty.
Chlorine Damaged Solar Blanket
High Chlorine: Solar covers should never be used after shocking or super-chlorinating the pool. Leave a solar cover safely stored in the shade whenever chlorine level is higher than 2.5 ppm.
Low pH: Solar covers will also degrade in acidic pH levels, when pH falls below neutral 7.0.
Low Calcium: Very soft water with calcium hardness levels below 150 ppm, can literally suck the plasticizers directly out of your solar blanket, making it rigid and crispy.
Solar Degradation: When rolled on a solar reel, or folded on the deck, layers of solar blanket material focus and magnify the sun’s rays onto deeper layers, which weakens the material and can discolor the cover with a ‘sun-burn’ (also not covered under warranty).
Cover your cover while on the reel with the Solar Cover Poly Tarp, a long piece of white plastic with Velcro attachments, or for greater protection use the heavy-duty Solar Cover Winter Cover, both available in several sizes to fit your reel perfectly.
Winter Solar Cover Care
During winter, store your solar blanket out of the elements, indoors if possible, as very cold cold temps can cause cold cracking. Do not leave a solar blanket on the pool during winter.
Clean and dry your solar blanket, then fold or roll it up for safe storage. A large Rubbermaid bin or upright drum can be used for maximum protection from sun, dirt and nesting rodents.
If you have no space to store a large solar blanket during the off season, you can keep it rolled up tightly on the solar reel. If stored outside, wrap it up with our Solar Blanket Winter Cover shown above (a winter cover for the summer cover!).
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The US Department of Energy would like pool owners to increase their use of pool covers, to reduce energy demands and pool heater emissions. Do your part by investing in a solar blanket that will save you money and make your swimming pool more enjoyable. Read the full DOE article.
If you have any questions about sizing a solar blanket or you have determined that you need to purchase a larger custom solar pool cover, please give us a call at 1-800-288-7946 – we are here to help!