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What Are The 5 Best Pool Covers Or Blankets?

Pool covers are commonly used in most swimming pools. But the truth is, no matter the season, they can survive without one.

However, the year-round benefits they offer far outweigh life without a cover. From added safety, to protecting the pool’s finish, and keeping pollutants from invading your water, it’s basically a no-brainer to use a cover on your pool.

With so many different types available, what’s the best pool cover for you?

Our Picks For Best Pool Covers

We looked high and low for the best pool blankets across numerous categories, narrowing it down to just a select few.

Best Safety Pool Cover

Happybuy Pool Safety Cover Fits...
Happybuy Pool Safety Cover Fits...
  • 【Good Material】- Soft and tough PP material,...
  • 【Reasonable Size】- Suitable for 16x30 ft...
  • 【Easy to install】- Comes with installation...
Blue Wave 16-ft x 32-ft Rectangular...
Blue Wave 16-ft x 32-ft Rectangular...
  • Select cover based on your pool size. Actual cover...
  • Comes complete with all hardware to install on...
  • Includes: brass anchors, stainless-steel springs,...

Best Winter Pool Cover

Robelle 352040R Super Winter Pool...
Robelle 352040R Super Winter Pool...
  • Winter pool cover to be used with in-ground...
  • Solid material will not let water pass through
  • Pool Size: 20 x 40 Foot Rectangle - Cover Size: 25...

Best Solar Pool Cover

Blue Wave NS520 14-Mil Solar...
Blue Wave NS520 14-Mil Solar...
  • Conserves energy – this 14-mil blanket covers...
  • Minimizes heat loss: our insulating thermal...
  • Superior durability - this Rectangular 14-mil...

Best Above Ground Pool Cover

Robelle 3524-4 Winter Round...
Robelle 3524-4 Winter Round...
  • Winter pool cover to be used with traditional...
  • Solid material will not let water pass through
  • Pool Size: 24 Foot Round - Cover Size: 28 Feet...

Types Of Swimming Pool Covers

When it comes to selecting the best cover for your pool, there are a few different styles you can choose from. Each one brings their own unique qualities to the table.

Safety Pool Covers

Happybuy Pool Safety Cover Fits...
Happybuy Pool Safety Cover Fits...
  • 【Good Material】- Soft and tough PP material,...
  • 【Reasonable Size】- Suitable for 16x30 ft...
  • 【Easy to install】- Comes with installation...

Safety pool covers (or security covers) are designed for, you guessed it, safety.

Their main purpose is to prevent a horrible outcome if someone accidentally falls into the pool. As such, they’re made to withstand a person’s full weight, so you can literally walk on them (although this isn’t advised).

They come in 2 variations, a heavy, solid vinyl cover, or a lightweight, fine mesh cover. Both of these fit snugly over the pool and are connected to the pool deck using multiple straps.

Safety covers can also be used year round which makes using a dedicated winter cover (see below) obsolete.

Pros:

  • Comes in two variations
  • Provides a safety net (duh!)
  • Keeps pool water warm (to a degree)
  • Prevents debris from entering the pool
  • Mesh covers are lightweight (easy to put on and off the pool)
  • 10 year lifespan (depending on use, exposure and maintenance)
  • Most versatile cover (can double up as a winter cover)

Cons:

  • Most expensive manual cover (between $1,000 and $3,000)
  • Requires anchors be installed in your pool deck
  • Water (snow/rain) will pass through a mesh cover (upsets the water chemistry and requires frequent testing to rebalance)
  • Solid covers can be too heavy for some people to use
  • Solid covers require a pool cover pump to keep water off of it (prevents damage to the cover and eliminates it as a breeding ground)

Note: If safety is your biggest concern, you might want to consider installing a pool fence and pool alarm system as well – especially for occasions when the safety cover isn’t in use.

Winter Pool Covers

Robelle 352040R Super Winter Pool...
Robelle 352040R Super Winter Pool...
  • Winter pool cover to be used with in-ground...
  • Solid material will not let water pass through
  • Pool Size: 20 x 40 Foot Rectangle - Cover Size: 25...

Winter pool covers are essentially a tarp that’s placed over the pool during the cold months, and are weighed down using water bags to prevent it from blowing away.

Unfortunately, the material these tarps are made of is not what it used to be.

Many people are familiar with winter pool covers from 20 and 30 years ago. Back then, the tarp material was a more robust vinyl than the material of today’s winter covers. 

Modern winter covers also lack rugged durability, which makes them easily susceptible to punctures by even the smallest of twigs and only last a few seasons (if that).

Still, if you need a pool cover for the winter months, and don’t have the budget to spend on an expensive safety cover, winter pool covers will do the trick.

Pros:

  • Keeps debris and snow of the pool during the cold months
  • Prevents the water chemistry from being bombed with pollutants – making it easier to set up when opening the pool
  • Keeps sunlight out of the pool to combat fading of the pool finish – especially helpful if you have a plaster, aggregate, or a vinyl liner finish
  • Relatively easy to install
  • Cheap to buy – costing between $75 and $250

Cons:

  • Prone to damage due to inferior quality material
  • Requires a pool cover pump to move water off the tarp so there are no areas where water can become stagnant
  • Requires water bags to weigh it down on the edges
  • Doesn’t add any level of safety to the pool
  • Will last only 1 to 3 seasons on average

Automatic Pool Covers

Automatic pool covers are a spooled cover that’s built into the deck of your pool, offering constant protection and daily benefits.

These covers are designed for quick deployment in under a minute, and only require the flip of a switch.

Rectangular in design, they fit rectangular pools perfectly, and are installed at the coping level for a clean, contemporary look. If your pool is any other shape, a track will need to be installed on the deck so the entire pool is covered.

Automatic pool covers should last between 5 and 7 years before they need replacing, although this depends on how well they’re maintained.

Their price starts around $8,000, but closer to $12,000 is what you should expect to pay for a standard model. Specialized tracking and seamless design into your decking can spike it to over $20,000.

Pros:

Cons:

  • Most expensive cover (average price of $12,000)
  • Expensive on repair costs  – the motor and track will both break down as salt water and chlorinated water eat through them over time
  • Non-rectangular pools require a track installed on the pool deck which can be an eyesore, and may also be a trip hazard
  • Pool deck will need to be redone if retrofitting an automatic cover to an existing pool

There’s a healthy debate on whether or not you should use an automatic cover as your winter cover. It can work as long as you take necessary steps to winterize the pool, but you should be aware that exposing an automatic cover to the extreme cold can damage it and shorten its lifespan. To winterize, you’ll need a pump to move off any snow and rain water from the cover. You’ll also need to maintain the proper level of water in the pool. This is done by plugging the return jets, drains, and skimmer so the pool doesn’t lose water and the plumbing system doesn’t get damaged.

Solar Pool Covers

Blue Wave NS520 14-Mil Solar...
Blue Wave NS520 14-Mil Solar...
  • Conserves energy – this 14-mil blanket covers...
  • Minimizes heat loss: our insulating thermal...
  • Superior durability - this Rectangular 14-mil...

Solar pool covers are probably the most common pool cover you’ll find, especially in areas of the world where using the pool is a seasonal occurrence.

Resembling a large piece of bubble wrap, a solar pool cover floats on the surface of the water and works by keeping heat from escaping. Warming of the pool can be done with a heater, but the sun alone can also provide warmth that a solar cover can lock in.

Solar pool covers are also available as solar rings. These use the same technology, but are individual rings that magnetically interlock to cover the surface of the pool. 

Additionally, there’s also liquid solar cover, which is a chemical additive for the pool that creates an invisible barrier on the surface of the water, replicating the benefits of a physical solar cover.

Pros:

  • Traps heat in the water to save money on constantly running your pool pump and heater
  • Consistent use can raise water temperature using only sunlight
  • Inexpensive cover costing anywhere from $75 up to $500 if on a reel/spool
 
  • Helps keep the pool free of backyard debris like dirt and leaves
  • Saves money by reducing chemical consumption

Cons:

  • Provides no safety to the pool in case someone falls in
  • Not designed for use as a winter cover
  • Is a rectangular cover – so you’ll have to cut out / shape the cover for custom pool shapes

Note: A related but far less common alternative are thermal covers, which are made of thick solid foam. They are heavier and more expensive than solar covers, and they also only retain heat – but they do tend to last longer as well.

Above Ground Pool Covers

Robelle 3524-4 Winter Round...
Robelle 3524-4 Winter Round...
  • Winter pool cover to be used with traditional...
  • Solid material will not let water pass through
  • Pool Size: 24 Foot Round - Cover Size: 28 Feet...

As above ground pools don’t sit at ground level, there is very little hazard when it comes to people falling into them. The exception to this is if a raised deck is built around the pool. In these cases, a safety cover would be a good option. 

But for the most part, solar covers are used on standalone above ground pools during the summer months, and a special above ground pool cover is used during the winter months.

The above ground pool cover is a tarp-like material, and depending on the style, it’s secured by either anchoring it to the ground, or to the structural columns on the exterior of the pool’s shell.

The main thing you want to be aware of with these is purchasing the proper size, as the thickness of your above ground pool’s top rails can add extra inches that need to be accounted for so the cover fits properly.

Pros:

  • Inexpensive cover costing under $200
  • Protects the pool and water from winter conditions as well as dirt and leaves
  • Keeps sunlight out of the pool during the winter months (which can fade the vinyl liner)

Cons:

  • Can’t be used as a safety cover
  • Sizing and securing the cover can be troublesome
  • Requires a cover pump to move water off the tarp so it doesn’t sag or pool water

Other Things To Consider

Consider the following when figuring out which cover will work best on your pool.

Do You Need A Leaf Net Cover?

Rongbo Deep-Bag Pool Rake &...
Rongbo Deep-Bag Pool Rake &...
  • WHAT YOU WILL GET: 1x Deep-Bag Pool Rake,MAKING IT...
  • POND LEAF & DEBRIS REMOVER: Designed with a sturdy...
  • FITS MOST STANDARD POOL POLE: Compatible with most...

A leaf cover is a lightweight mesh cover that is designed to catch leaves.

They’re primarily used on top of a winter cover, and provide an easy way to clean up the leaves that have covered the pool during the winter months.

Do You Need A Pool Cover Pump?

Little Giant 577301 APCP-1700...
Little Giant 577301 APCP-1700...
  • EASY CLEAN with its removable intake screen for...
  • EASY ACCESS to pump float for cleaning requires no...
  • ERGONOMIC BUILT for portability and ease of...

Some, but not all pool covers will come with a cover pump. This pump can be either manual or automatic, and is used to move water off the cover as it’s subjected to snow and rain during the cooler months.

This will keep the cover from being damaged due to sagging/tearing, and also keep mosquitoes from breeding in the stagnant water.

Do You Need A Pool Cover Reel?

VINGLI Pool Cover Reel Set 18 Feet...
VINGLI Pool Cover Reel Set 18 Feet...
  • NOTE:Item ship in more than one box and may arrive...
  • DURABLE, MAINTENANCE-FREE, RUST-FREE CONSTRUCTION....
  • FIT IN ALL SHAPE POOL: Adjustment for width. This...

A pool cover reel (or spool), allows you to deploy your cover quickly, and to remove it without having a jumbled mess of a cover to deal with.

Automatic covers are already installed on a reel, and the only other cover that can be used with a reel is a solar cover. But for its convenience, using a solar cover on a reel will be highly beneficial.

Do You Need A Pool Air Pillow?

Swimline 4x4 Feet Winterizing Air...
Swimline 4x4 Feet Winterizing Air...
  • Includes 3 pillows
  • 4 x 4 feet big
  • For above-ground pools

If you have an above ground pool, you’ll want to consider using a pool air pillow with a winter cover – especially if you live in a colder climate.

The air-inflated pillow lifts your cover in the middle of your swimming pool, where it would otherwise sink without constant tightening. The pillow absorbs pressure from expanding ice as your water freezes over.

Do You Have An Indoor Pool?

If you have an indoor pool, the only cover you may want to invest in is a safety cover so people can’t accidentally fall into the pool.

But for the benefits of keeping water warm, and debris/leaves out of the pool, the indoor location of the pool will be sufficient and a cover won’t be needed.

Our Top Pick

Happybuy Pool Safety Cover Fits...
Happybuy Pool Safety Cover Fits...
  • 【Good Material】- Soft and tough PP material,...
  • 【Reasonable Size】- Suitable for 16x30 ft...
  • 【Easy to install】- Comes with installation...

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