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What Are The 7 Best Solar Pool Covers?

Solar pool covers are a great option for not only raising the temperature of your pool water, but also preventing massive heat loss throughout the night by reducing water evaporation.

Let’s talk about the best solar pool covers available right now, and how to pick one that works for you.

Our Picks For Best Solar Pool Covers

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

Best Overall (Recommended)

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...
Pool Mate 1836RS-8SBD BOXPM Deluxe...
Pool Mate 1836RS-8SBD BOXPM Deluxe...
  • Unique aluminum heat shield that traps otherwise...
  • Material is highly resistant to ultraviolet rays...
  • 14.6% greater heat retention

Best On A Budget

Crystal Blue 4X8RS-8 Box-CB Solar...
Crystal Blue 4X8RS-8 Box-CB Solar...
  • Extends Swimming Season
  • Increases Pool Water Temperature By Up To 10...
  • Cuts Evaporation By Up To 90%

Best For Above Ground Pools

Blue Wave Bronze 8-Year 24-ft Round...
Blue Wave Bronze 8-Year 24-ft Round...
  • Pool size: 24 feet
  • Cover size: 28 feet
  • Protects against sun, snow, ice and wind

Best For Intex Pools

Intex Solar Cover for 12ft Diameter...
Intex Solar Cover for 12ft Diameter...
  • Solar-heat-retaining cover for 12-foot round pools
  • Reduces evaporation by 95%; retains heat
  • Drain holes to prevent water accumulation

Best Solar Sun Rings

SSR SSRA-100 Solar Sun Rings Pool...
SSR SSRA-100 Solar Sun Rings Pool...
  • Solar Sun Rings are passive solar swimming pool...
  • The upper clear layer directs the suns rays onto...
  • The remaining sunlight filters through the ring...

Best Liquid Solar Cover

LO-CHLOR Aqua Blanket 1 Quart (32...
LO-CHLOR Aqua Blanket 1 Quart (32...
  • Protects pool with an invisible barricade that...
  • Saves money and extends chemicals use
  • Compatible with all sanitizer types, as well as...

What Is A Solar Pool Cover?

Solar pool covers, otherwise called solar blankets, are basically a sheet of heavy-duty plastic that keep everything from leaves, pollen, sand, insects, and animals from getting into your water.

But, unlike regular pool covers or safety pool covers, solar covers also serve to heat your water, achieving a heat increase anywhere from a few degrees to a respectable 10 degrees Fahrenheit.

Most solar pool covers have bubble wrap-like qualities, mimicking a giant magnifying glass by converting the sun’s UV rays into heat, before transferring that heat directly to your pool water.

More importantly, solar covers have high heat retention. This means they retain heat by creating a physical barrier against water, blocking the outside world and slowing down the rate of chemical evaporation – almost like the lid on a pot of water.

Types Of Solar Pool Covers

A few different types of solar pool covers exist, so it’s important to know what they are and how they differ.

Regular Solar Covers

Crystal Blue 4X8RS-8 Box-CB Solar...
Crystal Blue 4X8RS-8 Box-CB Solar...
  • Extends Swimming Season
  • Increases Pool Water Temperature By Up To 10...
  • Cuts Evaporation By Up To 90%

When referring to a solar pool cover or solar blanket, the “bubble cover” is the standard type, and by far the most widely used.

As mentioned, the air bubbles in the pool cover magnify the UV light from the sun during the day and act as an insulator once night falls. These covers are designed to withstand the hard sunlight all summer while remaining light and easy to handle.

If you’re looking for the most affordable way to heat your swimming pool, and one that requires very little skill to install and use, this is the go-to.

Note: This is the type we will be referring to throughout the rest of this article, as it’s the one we recommend for most pool owners.

Solar Rings (Sun Rings)

SSR SSRA-100 Solar Sun Rings Pool...
SSR SSRA-100 Solar Sun Rings Pool...
  • Solar Sun Rings are passive solar swimming pool...
  • The upper clear layer directs the suns rays onto...
  • The remaining sunlight filters through the ring...

A smaller alternative to the bigger solar blanket, solar sun rings are smaller covers you can use to heat your pool, which look a little like a series of lily pads.

In addition to coming in a wide variety of shapes and sizes (these are highly decorative), they’re also functional, with many models using magnets in the rim to ensure the rings stick together without any overlap.

They also rely on UV rays, but because the entire surface of the pool isn’t covered, they are not quite as effective as the other options. They are much easier to remove if you want to manually vacuum or skim your pool, though.

Liquid Solar Covers

LO-CHLOR Aqua Blanket 1 Quart (32...
LO-CHLOR Aqua Blanket 1 Quart (32...
  • Protects pool with an invisible barricade that...
  • Saves money and extends chemicals use
  • Compatible with all sanitizer types, as well as...

Using a chemical reaction, liquid solar pool covers are an additive you can pour into your pool to create a barrier for water evaporation and heat gain.

It creates a microscopic film on the surface of your pool, both heating and insulating your pool in the same way regular solar pool covers do, with a pool temperature increase almost akin to a regular solar cover.

It’s completely safe for both swimmers and your pool equipment, but it can only be used in chlorine-free pools (chlorine interferes with the chemical process). It also breaks down over time so you will need to continue adding the liquid concentrate to replenish the protective cover.

Are Solar Pool Covers Worth It?

Whether you use a pool heater, heat pump or solar panels to heat your pool, most pool owners would agree that the standard solar pool covers are well worth the additional investment.

But as is often the case when it comes to pool equipment, they aren’t ideal for every pool or every scenario.

Pros:

  • They are especially good at heat retention
  • They supplement other heating methods well (reduce costs)
  • They work with inground, above ground pools and intex pools
  • They stop the sun gobbling up chlorine or pool stabilizer
  • They save on pool chemicals by reducing evaporation
  • They stop leaves and other junk blowing into your pool
  • They prevent water loss via evaporation (by up to 95%)
  • They’re relatively cheap to buy
  • They’re free to use (after the initial outlay)

Cons

  • They need long exposure to sunlight to work properly
  • They don’t heat your pool all that much (better at retention)
  • They may need to be cut to fit your pool size/shape (DIY job)
  • They need to be stored properly when not in use
  • They need to be placed on and off your pool frequently
  • They don’t look particularly nice when in use
  • They don’t last super long (often 2-3 years)

What You Need To Consider

Now let’s talk about the most important aspects and features to consider when it comes to choosing a solar pool cover for your swimming pool.

What Size And Shape Do You Need?

For a solar pool cover to be completely effective, it has to cover your entire pool. If there are gaps, that’s where water and heat will escape.

Before buying a solar pool cover, measure your pool and invest in a cover that’s a little larger than the size of your pool. Leaving a few inches either side helps you to “tuck in” the cover or secure it in place so it won’t blow away as soon as the wind picks up.

You also don’t want a round cover for a square pool, rectangular pool or oval pool, and vice versa. Most solar pool covers come in two shapes, circular and rectangular. This ensures they fit the majority of swimming pools.

But if you’ve got a weirdly shaped pool, that’s also fine. Just find a cover that will reach across the widest and longest points of your pool, mark the lines, and use a pair of sharp scissors to trim it down to the right size and shape.

What Thickness Do You Need?

In general, the thicker your pool cover is, the better insulator it will be, and the better heat retention it will have.

Most solar pool covers come in a range from 8mm to 12mm and more, but as you get thicker, it also bumps up the price. Plus, thicker covers are heavier and more cumbersome to move around.

Most people opt for the middle ground, choosing a lightweight cover around the 12mm mark. The last thing you want is a solar cover that’s so difficult to use you leave it boxed up in your garage all summer.

Does Color Make A Difference?

Color is a bit of a contested topic, but the general consensus is that clear solar covers tend to allow more sunlight through compared to colored variants.

You don’t need to be a Solar Physicist to know that the more sunlight passing through your cover, the more heat transfer takes place.

The not-so-obvious drawback to this, however, is that it burns through more of your chlorine. Of course, if you don’t mind topping up your sanitizer slightly more often in exchange for warmer water, that will be a welcome trade-off.

Ultimately, the difference here is going to be minimal, so our advice is to go for a clear cover if the option is available, otherwise don’t stress on it.

Will You Use A Solar Cover Reel?

Solar pool cover reels are a great way to simplify the constant process of putting on and taking off your pool cover, and some covers even come bundled with one.

They essentially work like a toilet roll holder with a handle. You place the reel at one end of your pool (whether inground, above ground or intex), and rotate the handle to unravel your solar cover sheet over your pool.

Most traditional solar pool covers will work with a reel, but some thinner, more fragile covers can crumple under themselves when extending them across your pool. Just keep that in mind when looking at thickness.

Do You Need A Cover With “Drain Holes”?

You might see drain holes listed as a feature of some solar pool covers, which are designed to allow rainwater to filter through and prevent your cover from sinking under weight, which would otherwise require a pool cover pump to offload.

The reality is, most covers aren’t a perfect fit-to-size, and the gaps that exist on the edges, or near the pool steps and ladders will be enough to level out the water regardless of any intentional holes, or be taken care of by your deck drains.

In the worst case scenario, if you find that rain is a problem for your cover, you can always poke a few holes in it yourself. No big deal.

Should You Worry About Quality?

Sometimes you can get away with buying a cheaper product for more or less the same end result, but not so much here.

Solar pool covers spend a lot of time in direct sunlight, and even though they’re designed for prolonged exposure, it’s no secret that cheaper covers will begin to disintegrate into little pieces within the first year or two.

This can result in tiny pieces of plastic getting caught in your skimmers, skimmer baskets, and ultimately your filtration system, causing all sorts of problems that could have been avoided with a better quality cover.

Thickness is a decent indicator of quality, but it’s also not uncommon to see thinner covers outlast their thicker siblings. Most are labelled as “UV resistant” too, so that doesn’t tell you much.

The only reliable way to know is to check the reviews beforehand, of which there are plenty.

How To Use A Solar Pool Cover

Solar covers are fairly intuitive products that rarely require a training manual to use properly. With that being said, let’s go over it anyway.

Lay It Bubble Side Down

Solar pool covers need to be laid a specific way up to effectively transfer heat to your pool from the sunlight.

Make sure the bubbles (the bubble-wrap looking side) is face down in the water, covering as much of the pool as possible, even if that means parts of the cover extend the edges of the pool.

Make Sure It’s Secured

Assuming there aren’t any large gaps, the cover itself should rest firmly on the surface without any assistance – even with light wind.

If keeping it secured to your inground pool is a problem, however, you can use a slightly oversized cover and tuck in the excess to help keep it in place, as suggested previously.

Another method is to place heavy objects, like bricks, on the extended edges of the cover. If you have an above ground pool or an intex pool, heavy-duty clips can be used in a similar fashion.

Take It Off Before Use

You can use your cover in the daytime if you want to warm the water, and at night if you simply want to retain the heat.

Of course, doing both will give you the most benefit, but this means constantly putting on and taking off your cover before use since swimming with a solar cover on is a pretty stupid idea, and even a potential safety risk.

The best solution to this is either to cut your pool solar pool cover into smaller, more manageable pieces, or invest in a solar cover reel.

HydroTools by Swimline Above-Ground...
HydroTools by Swimline Above-Ground...
  • Above-ground pool cover reel system
  • Includes straps and hardware to attach to the...
  • This item fits perfectly with Swimline pole item...

Store It Properly

If you don’t have a solar cover reel, you will end up with your solar pool cover stored nearby, most likely somewhere on your pool deck when the pool is in use.

All that’s fine during the pool season, but you will need to fold and store it away properly during the winter months. Many covers will come with a case for this exact purpose, otherwise you may need to pick one up separately.

If you do have a solar cover reel, you could invest in a reel cover and store everything away in one piece, which is a much easier approach.

COLIBROX Swimming Pool Solar Reel...
COLIBROX Swimming Pool Solar Reel...
  • EASY TO INSTALL: Ground Swimming Pool Reel Cover...
  • ANY SIZE: Pool Cover Blanket For Reel Can Be Cut...
  • FULL PROTECTION: Ground Poly Tarp Pool Cover for...

Case or no case, when the swimming season ends, it’s advised to keep your cover stored somewhere dry, free from insects or rodents, and (somewhat ironically) out of direct sunlight.

Our Top Pick

Pool Mate 1836RS-8SBD BOXPM Deluxe...
Pool Mate 1836RS-8SBD BOXPM Deluxe...
  • Unique aluminum heat shield that traps otherwise...
  • Material is highly resistant to ultraviolet rays...
  • 14.6% greater heat retention

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