They are the most common method for heating swimming pools, but do solar pool covers work? The answer is YES. I have had tremendous success with them and believe them to be the best way to heat your pool if you think about the low cost. And besides their ability to heat your pool, they also reduce evaporation greatly and keep it clean.
But before I get into my personal experience with them, its important to know the science behind how they work. So here is an overview, which is very brief so it doesn’t bore you to death.
Science Says Solar Pool Covers Work
One lesser known fact about solar pool covers is that they actually help heat your pool by preventing evaporation. Thats right, evaporation and heat are linked.
Evaporation Causes Heat Loss – Solar Pool Covers Prevent This
When water evaporates it requires a lot of energy. And this energy loss can and will decrease your pools temperature.
If your swimming pool is 80 °F and one pound of water evaporates out, there will be 1,048 British Thermal Units (measure of heat) lost. Compare this to the 1 Btu it takes to raise a pound of pool water 1 degree. You can see here that evaporation requires a lot of energy and can really reduce your pools heat.
With a solar pool cover you get the best of both worlds, more heat and less evaporation.
Besides preventing heat loss by preventing evaporation, they also are very effective at heating up your water. This is the more obvious function of solar covers.
Solar Pool Covers Heat Up The Water
These covers do a much better job at absorbing sunlight than water. Sunlight can penetrate water without the water being effected much. But solar pool covers absorb much of it and heat is produced. This heat is then transferred to the water below it.
Once the heat is transferred to the water beneath, there is somewhat of a greenhouse effect that is going on. Where the heat is trapped below the cover, maintaining your pool’s heat.
According to science, solar pool covers definitely work. But how do they do in real application?
Do Solar Pool Covers Work? I Have Had Great Success With Them
In my opinion solar pool covers are the most cost effective method for heating your pool. In think they give you the most bang for your buck.
I have been able to heat my pool up to the high 90’s (97 – 98°F) without much effort.
Around 98°F was the hottest I had ever heated my pool too, and the only method I was using was a pool solar cover. The hottest the outside temperature got that summer was in the high 80’s.
My pool was fairly chilly upon opening in late spring, so of course I’m going to heat it up. I began using the solar cover, but wasn’t even doing so consistently. There were nights that I left it off and days as well. They can be a pain to get on and off so sometimes I would skip the whole thing.
But anyway, next thing I know, come mid summer my pool is nearly 100°F. Thats pretty much how it went. I would have never wanted it that hot in the first place. The heat just crept up on me. I knew it was getting hot, but not that hot. And then when I went to gauge the temperature I was mind blown.
After realizing that my pool was uncomfortably hot I began to lessen my pool solar cover’s use, bringing the temperature back down to in the high 80’s, which I think is nice.
But this is just my “hottest” solar pool cover experience. I use one every pool season and it always works. Now that I’m experienced with using one, I am fairly good at getting my pool to a certain temperature and maintaining that temperature. You just have to play around with the timing of when you are going to leave your cover on and such.
Are Pool Solar Covers Worth Buying?
Definitely. Like I said, I believe these to be the most cost effective method for heating your pool. They use nothing but the sun to heat and prevent a great deal of evaporation and heat loss.
Not only that, but they are so simple and basic. You don’t have to worry about them breaking or any technical difficulties that you would have to deal with for other pool heaters.
The only downside to them is that they can be a pain to put on and take off your pool. There is no great and easy way to do this. A solar cover reel makes it easier, but its still a pain. Half the time when you roll the cover up, it becomes uneven as you are rolling it and then you have to unroll it and straighten it back out.
There is no way around this struggle with the normal solar pool covers. But I have found that its well worth dealing with, especially if you are trying to save money on pool heating.
A good alternative to the “normal” solar pool covers are solar rings (aka solar mats). These have some benefits and look much more visually appealing.