A solar pool cover keeps your pool warm during cold months, helps decrease water (and chemical) evaporation in your pool, and it keeps leaves and debris out of your pool too.
We’ve even heard that use of a pool cover in warm climates has shown a significant reduction in backyard mosquitoes! So, add West Nile prevention to the list.
Despite your love affair with your pool cover, you’ve probably daydreamed about ripping it apart or balling it up in your garage when you try to remove it from your pool. It doesn’t have to be this way. The good news is, there’s actually an easy and convenient way to store it that won’t drive you nuts.
Top Picks for Best Solar Cover Reel
|Rocky's 3A In Ground Pool Solar Reel - Up to 20...||$569.96||Buy on Amazon|
|Crystal Blue 24S-8SBD Box-CB Solar Pool Cover, 24...||Buy on Amazon|
|Sun2Solar Blue 24-Foot Round Solar Cover | 1200...||Buy on Amazon|
|Sun2Solar 16-Foot Wide Stainless Steel Solar Cover...||$149.96||Buy on Amazon|
|Nova Microdermabrasion Swimming Pool Cover Reel...||$139.99||Buy on Amazon|
|VINGLI Pool Cover Reel Set 18 Feet Pool Solar...||$159.95||Buy on Amazon|
|Robelle 18’ x 36’ Rectangular Space Age...||Buy on Amazon|
What is a Solar Cover Reel?
There are several different types of solar covers out there, such as liquid solar covers, solar rings, and solar blankets. Solar blankets are the most common type and if you have one, you probably already know the headache of bringing it out and storing it by-hand. It’s a backbreaking, rage-inducing, and frustrating task… but it doesn’t have to be.
Using a solar cover reel is like hitting the “Easy” button for this particular problem. It’s a device used to store and deploy your pool’s solar blanket, without arduously lugging, folding, or balling it up in the back of your storage shed until you pull it out next season.
With a solar cover reel, you can simply and easily cover and uncover your pool when you need to and store your cover when you’re not using it. The process takes mere minutes. All you have to do to release or rewind your solar blanket from the reel is turn the hand-crank on whichever model you choose, and you’re done!
How Does It Work?
Okay, picture your toilet paper roll… except if for some reason you needed to put the toilet paper back on the roll periodically. Wait, nevermind. That doesn’t work at all.
Metaphors aside, a solar cover reel is pretty self-explanatory. It’s a contraption that you position at one end of your in-ground pool. It’s basically a giant spool that consists of a long metal pole, supported between two vertical end bars. One end of the reel will have a flat platform and, on some models, the other end will have wheels to help you move it around.
The long metal spool rod has some dangly straps hanging down that allow you to clip the edge of the pool cover for easier rolling and to keep it in place. One end of the reel has some kind of wheel or crank that you’ll use to actually wind up the cover in an efficient and not-migraine-inducing way.
The giant, glowing benefit here is that you’ll be able to use and store your solar cover without enlisting the whole neighborhood to come help. Solar cover reels turn a once-dreaded task into a matter of a few minutes and a simple turn of the crank.
What to Consider When Buying a Solar Cover Reel
Construction Material vs. Price Point
Pretty much all reels you find are going to be made from aluminum or stainless steel. Both materials are durable, rust and corrosion-resistant, and can withstand sun and rain very well.
Stainless steel reels tend to be sturdier, heavier, and less likely to bow in the middle, especially if you have a wider pool. Aluminum models will be less expensive, lighter-weight, and more likely to sag a bit in the center. So if you have a smaller-width pool and are on a budget, the aluminum version may suit your needs just fine.
Wheels: Are You Going Off-Roading?
You’re going to find two wheels at one end of your reel. These make it easy to maneuver the large reel by yourself by rolling it, wheelbarrow-style around. Most reels are going to come with a set of either plastic wheels or rubber tires.
Plastic Wheels: The plastic wheels are cheaper and more likely to degrade over time. If your reel is sitting out in the elements, the wheels may crack after a season or two, making moving your reel practically impossible. Reels with plastic wheels are going to be less expensive, but it’s something to take into consideration before buying.
Rubber Tires: The other option you’ll find are reels with more solid, rubber tires. These are going to be similar to bike tires and will last a lot longer than the plastic alternative. Maneuvering reels with rubber tires is easier on wet surfaces (like your pool deck) and will withstand the elements over time.
Not all models of reels have wheels. So if you don’t want your solar cover reel taking up space at the edge of the pool all the time, not a problem. Simply look for a solar cover reel model with wheels for easy roll-away storage.
Tip: If you plan to move your reel around a lot for backyard parties and such, investing in a reel with good, sturdy wheels is a great idea!
Let’s Talk Straps
Solar pool cover reels usually come with two types of fasteners that actually connect your pool cover to the reel itself.
Embedded Straps: These type of straps connect directly to the reel. Typically, they are much more secure than other kinds of connections because they are embedded directly into the reel by means of grooves in the metal.
Hook-and-Loop Straps (Velcro): We’re all familiar with Velcro and how it works. This makes assembly a breeze but may not hold up with long term use.
So, if you have a large pool with a heavy cover, the hook-and-loops straps may not cut it and you may want to spring for the embedded-style straps.
Mil is the term used to denote the thickness of the plastic of your pool cover. Thicker plastic and higher mil mean better protection for your pool and a more durable cover in the long run. If you have a very thick solar cover, you’re going to need a reel that can accommodate its thickness and extra weight.
This is an important consideration when looking to purchase a solar cover reel. Not all reels will give a mil size accommodation in their specs, so it’s a good question to ask of manufacturers before you buy.
Best Cover Reel Reviews
#1. Rocky’s Easy Roller 3A In-Ground Pool Solar Reel
The Rocky Reels Easy Roller 3A In-Ground Pool Solar Reel is easy to operate and doesn’t require more than one person to use. It comes complete with all of the hardware and equipment needed for installation. Constructed from sturdy die-cast aluminum and featuring baked enamel finishes for outstanding quality and durability, it is easy to anchor and move. Designed for in-ground pools up to 20 feet wide.
- High-quality, solid aluminum construction
- Great instruction manual and assembly videos online
- Easy to operate with one person
- Installation is a bit tricky
- Higher price tag than other options
#2. Crystal Blue 24S-8SBD Box-CB Solar Pool Cover
The crystal blue heavy-duty space Age Diamond solar cover for above ground swimming pools includes a unique aluminum heat shield that traps otherwise lost heat back into the pool from the special aluminum underside. The heavy-duty material works with the sun to catch & retain heat.
- Easy to assemble
- Durable and lightweight construction
- Adjusts easily to varied pool widths
- Sags a bit in the middle of the pool
- Requires a drill to assemble
#3. Sun2Solar Blue 24-Foot Round Solar Cover
This solar cover reduces the cost of heating your pool during the summer months and beyond. This is made from a film of thousands of tiny bubbles, which work together to collect and retain heat both at night and on those chilly days. The blue color provides an appealing look while also using the sun’s rays to help warm your swimming pool.
The use of a solar cover helps in preventing up to 95% of pool water evaporation. When not enjoying a refreshing swim, keeping your pool covered lessens the vast amount of water lost into the environment.
- Warms water quickly
- The fit is perfect for 18′ round pool
- Easy to put on the water and it flattens out on its own
- The cover can disintegrate just one year of use
#4. Sun2Solar Stainless Steel Solar Cover Deluxe Reel System
The Sun2Solar Stainless Steel Solar Cover Deluxe Reel System comes in 3 different sizes to best fit your in-ground pool of any shape. Its stainless frame and aluminum reel makes for easy maneuverability and cranks up effortlessly with smooth, one-person operation. This reel can be moved easily, wheelbarrow-style, to move it out of the way when not in use.
- Works with any pool shape
- Easy assembly
- Lightweight and sturdy construction
- Assembly instructions could be more clear
- Velcro straps may have to be screwed on because the glue doesn’t always hold
#5. Nova Microdermabrasion Swimming Pool Cover Reel Set
The Nova Microdermabrasion Swimming Pool Cover Reel Set features sturdy aluminum and stainless steel construction with adjustable fit to accommodate 17.5-22ft wide in-ground swimming pools. Its aluminum and rust-resistant telescoping rod has 7 sections to prevent drooping.
A unique anti-spin locking device locks the steering wheel in place, stopping the cover from unraveling. This rust-proof, solid roller fits pools of all shapes and sizes.
- Easy to assemble and maneuver
- Lightweight construction
- Great value for the price
- Comes with a free pool thermometer
- Velcro straps don’t stay attached well and may need to be taped
- Aluminum bar may bow slightly in the middle when extended to its maximum width
#6. VINGLI Pool Cover Reel Set for In-Ground Swimming Pool
The VINGLI Pool Cover Reel Set features sturdy construction that provides maximum durability. The solid wheel design makes it more stable with large, rubber tires. This reel has a 3-section aluminum pipe design that will not droop, even after prolonged use.
The durable, rust-free stainless steel and aluminum construction of this reel will fit any shape of swimming pool with a 14-18ft adjustable width. Includes cover clips to secure the cover.
- Wheel lock to prevent accidental cover unwinding
- Large diameter telescopic aluminum tubes are lightweight and strong
- Easy to assemble, operate, and maneuver
- May sag in the middle with wider pools
- Clips may not hold, requiring bolts to be drilled in the bar
#7. Robelle 1836RS-8SBD Box Heavy-Duty Space Age Solar Cover
The Robelle Heavy-Duty Space Age Solar Cover is good for 18 by 36-Feet In-Ground Swimming Pools. This includes a unique aluminum heat shield that traps otherwise lost heat back into the pool from the special aluminum underside.
The Heavy-duty material works with the sun to catch and retain heat. Solar covers float “bubble side down” on the surface of your pool water when the pool is not in use, allowing solar energy to pass through and trapping it as retained heat in the pool.
- Warms the pool really well
- The material is plastic and does tear fairly easily
- Lightweight and easy to roll up
- Potentially non-useable after 6 months of use
- The cover is hard to put on/take off
There you have it! Everything you need to know to make an informed purchase for your new solar cover reel. All you need to know are the dimensions of your pool and what features you’d like in your reel.
With the right solar cover reel, your days of frustrated cutting and folding are over. Now you can not only store and deploy your cover alone without breaking your back, but you’ll also be extending the life of your pool cover in the process. Happy Rolling!