There can be considerable expense involved in the heating of both above ground and inground pools. Even if you are using just the sun or solar coils to heat a pool, it is economically advantageous and environmentally responsible to find the best way to capture the heat and keep your pool warmer for a longer period. The United States Department of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy reports that surface water absorbs up to 85% of the sun’s radiated thermal energy. Unfortunately, it does not stay there. This article reviews solar pool covers that will keep the sun’s heat in, keep your heating bill down, and keep your environmental conscience satisfied.
Solar covers are effective for all types of pools including fiberglass pools, concrete inground pools, and pools with pool liners in them. Pool covers help keep the pool clean, so they are effectively helping the pool filters and automatic pool cleaners with part of their workload. There are several pool accessories that help keep pool costs down, but the solar pool cover is one of the best.
It is important to understand briefly how swimming pool solar covers work. They are generally made of polypropylene or other similar materials, which are flexible and resemble sturdy bubble wrap. These materials are found in many swimming pool accessories. They come in large sheets without seams if possible, are custom-cut to the shape of your specific pool, and are meant to adhere directly to the water’s skin for the best complete surface area coverage. They are both effective insulators and producers of heat. While regular swimming pool covers merely trap heat from a pool that has been exposed to the sun’s rays all day, solar pool covers are capable of producing heat as well. First, the “bubbles” in the wrap lock in heat energy from the sun. The bubbles lay directly on the surface of the water and transmit that heat into the water by diffusing the thermal energy of ultraviolet rays downward. In addition to the absorption and refraction of the sun’s energy, a solar pool cover also traps the heat that is already in the water, slowing the rate at which heat is lost to the atmosphere. Evaporation requires a significant amount of energy to change the state of a water molecule from liquid to vapor, and that process rapidly decreases the temperature of the remaining water. The swimming pool solar cover slows the rate of natural evaporation by completely covering the water’s surface and eliminating the heat that is lost when evaporation occurs.
Solar covers are useful in a number of different applications. They are practical methods for trapping heat in hot tubs and saunas, indoor and outdoor pools, and even above ground pools. There is an assumption that an above ground swimming pool solar cover is not effective; however, that assumption is not true. Above ground, pools lose even more energy through their sidewalls than inground swimming pools, so the ability of the pool to maintain heat becomes even more critical. Most above ground covers encase the top and wrap around the sides, sealing in heat and increasing the potential for thermal transmission. Likewise, while evaporation may not seem like an initial concern for an indoor pool, the addition of a cover will decrease the moisture trapped at an indoor pool facility, and reduce the chlorine smell because less of the chemical will evaporate into the air.
Solar covers for pools offer a significant list of benefits at a relatively low cost. Solar covers can provide you with a prolonged comfortable night swim temperature, which would otherwise be impossible to achieve in an unheated pool. The primary advantage for a heated pool is obviously the ability to keep heat in, which gives you a warmer pool for a longer period and potentially reduces your pool’s heating requirements. This contributes to a lower bill for you and greater energy conservation for the planet. You may even be eligible for a tax incentive for installing energy efficient mechanisms, so check with your state or local government offices to inquire. In addition, you will conserve water and the sometimes significant cost of swimming pool chemicals. Evaporation causes the chemical makeup of water to change, and you are required to monitor the pH and acid levels of your water constantly in order to keep it free of contaminants and not too chlorinated for your swimmers. Less evaporation requires less monitoring, and in turn requires less chemical additives for your pool. It will prolong the “life” of your water, which can become chemical-saturated and need replenishing from time to time. You will also reduce your cleaning time and effort if you keep the cover in place, since it will easily catch debris and leaves blown into your pool area, which can be cleaned when the pool cover is rolled up or gathered during pool use.
The easiest way to remove a pool cover is to invest in a solar pool cover reel. Removing covers manually can be very cumbersome and dangerous because of the weight of the material. It can also damage the surface of the cover as it scrapes on the poolside, and can get dirty when removed and laid on the deck, which will return dirt and debris into your pool when it is replaced on the water. The reel is a relatively simple but sturdy device that will greatly save the wear and tear of a pool cover. Most models remain in place at one end of the pool, and the cover is tethered to the reel or inserted into a slotted panel that runs the distance of the rod. Electric versions roll up easily, but can be less reliable than their mechanical counterparts. There are single and double-handled reels, though the double-handled versions, which require two people on either end, are easiest to use and provide the straightest rotation onto the rod. Smaller sauna, hot tub, or above ground pool solar covers can be managed much easier without concern, and can be stowed away from debris by hanging them in an above-ground sling. These can be purchased for minimal cost at pool supply stores.
Websites like epinions.com and consumerreports.com conduct solar pool covers reviews and list a number of available products. The current top two listings on opinions are for an Intex solar pool cover for above ground pools, which touted as being both durable and affordable. It is preferred over other brands because it is designed to have holes throughout the liner, which allow rainwater to flow into the pool instead of accumulating on the surface of the cover, weighing it down.
At a cost ranging from $30 to $100 the addition of a solar pool covers appears to be well worth the price. The longevity of the product means that the product has the ability to pay for itself over time, and the long list of benefits will undoubtedly increase your swimming quality of life for many years to come.