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Best Solar Pool Covers 2020 Reviews (Solar Covers and Reels, Solar Rings, Liquid Covers)

Date 16.4.2020 Peter Peter

Solar covers are the preferred method of heating/retaining heat of many homeowners since the use of solar heating does not require any additional costs compared to other heating options, such as conventional pool heaters (gas-fired heater or an electrical heat pump). Below is our take on the best solar covers and accessories.

Standard option
Sun2Solar 1600 Heating Blankets
SOLAR BLANKET

Go-to solar blanket

Cover not included
Intex Pool Cover Reel
BLANKET REEL

Recommended solar cover reel

Pricier
Solar Sun Rings
SOLAR RINGS

Alternative approach to solar covering

We’ve actually reviewed many more covers in Best Swimming Pool Covers Reviews (safety covers, solar covers, winter covers)

  title price summary button
Sun2Solar Blue 16-Foot-by-32-Foot Rectangle Solar Cover | 1200 Series | Heating Blanket Sun2Solar 1600 Series Heating Blankets Dollar coin iconDollar coin iconDollar coin icon The go-to solar blanket. CHECK PRICE NOW
VINGLI Pool Cover Reel Set 18 Feet Pool Solar Cover Reel for Inground Swimming Pool VINGLI Pool Cover Reel Dollar coin iconDollar coin iconDollar coin icon Good mobile cover reel option. CHECK PRICE NOW
Rocky's 3A In Ground Pool Solar Reel - Up to 20 Feet Wide Rocky’s Reel Systems In-Ground Reel Dollar coin iconDollar coin iconDollar coin iconDollar coin iconDollar coin icon Cover reel that can be fixed in place. CHECK PRICE NOW
Intex Aluminum Base Solar Pool Cover Reel Intex Aluminum Base Pool Cover Reel Dollar coin iconDollar coin icon Affordable reel for above-ground pools. CHECK PRICE NOW
Solar Sun Rings Pool Water Heater w/Anchors SSR SSRA-100 (9-Pack) Solar Sun Rings Dollar coin iconDollar coin iconDollar coin iconDollar coin iconDollar coin icon Alternative design. Good for irregular-shaped pools. CHECK PRICE NOW
Cover Free Liquid Pool Solar Blanket Natural Chemistry Cover Free Dollar coin icon Completely different liquid-type “cover”. CHECK PRICE NOW

1Best Solar Pool Cover 2020

To most people, using a pool solar cover (also called a solar blanket) is the most common method. It looks as if you made a blanket of bubble wrap and set it on the very surface of the water. Essentially, that is almost exactly what it is. 

The main purpose of solar blanket heating is to heat your pool water with the sun while the surface of your water is covered. In addition, a solar blanket that covers more of the water surface also prevents debris from falling in to your pool.

During cooler times of the day, solar blankets also aid in retaining the heat in your pool water, which otherwise would evaporate out until the ambient temperature outside gets warmer.

Conversely, constant exposure to the sun and the harshness of pool chemicals does give various forms of solar blankets a limited lifetime.

Blankets can be ordered in different thicknesses and different colors to suit your personal needs.

Preferred Choice: Sun2Solar 1600 Series Heating Blankets

Sun2Solar Blue 16-Foot-by-32-Foot Rectangle Solar Cover | 1200 Series | Heating Blanket

Sun2Solar Blue 16-Foot-by-32-Foot Rectangle Solar Cover | 1200 Series | Heating Blanket

Features: 

  • Available in sizes for above ground pools and below-ground ones
  • 2 Different Color Options: Blue and Clear
  • 2-3 Year Full Coverage Warranty

For this article, we have selected one of the most popular solar blankets available online, the Sun2Solar 1200 Series. 

The manufacturer offers these solar blankets in various thicknesses, from 8 mil up to 16 mil. 

The 12 mil was specifically selected because of its ability to balance price and longevity. The 1200 Series will get you more of a useful lifetime compared to the cheaper 800 Series, and the warranty on the more expensive 1600 Series only gets you an additional year of full-coverage if you only opt for the clear cover. 

Buyer ratingBuyer rating

This product currently holds an Amazon rating of 4.2 out of 5 stars. More than two-thirds of customers rate this product positively, appreciating the quick heating from the sun as well as preventing heat loss. Customers who rated this product negatively complain of warranty and disintegration issues, which could be the result of harsh chemical use as well as exposure to sunlight. Click here to see the customer reviews for yourself

Bottom line

Although the 16 mil cover would be slightly more durable, the 1200 Series is the best bang for your buck.

2Best Solar Cover Reels 2020

A solar pool blanket will require some sort of method to store it when it is not on the surface of your pool. Some owners resort to fan-folding their blankets near the pool, but doing so may wear down the blanket faster than the alternative: using a cover reel.

Preferred Choice, Mobile Cover Reel: VINGLI Pool Cover Reel

VINGLI Pool Cover Reel Set 18 Feet Pool Solar Cover Reel for Inground Swimming Pool

VINGLI Pool Cover Reel Set 18 Feet Pool Solar Cover Reel for Inground Swimming Pool

The Vingli Pool Cover Reel is the best option for those who need their pool cover to be mobile.

The reel comes with a large crank and two solid wheels to allow the unit to be easily moved away and towards your pool.

Buyer ratingBuyer rating

This product currently holds a rating of 4.3 out of 5 stars on Amazon. Customers find the unit easy to assemble. They also love the ease to cover and uncover the blanket from the surface of the water. Some think the raised height of the unit can make the reel somewhat flimsy. Click here to see the customer reviews for yourself

Preferred Choice, Fixed Cover Reel: Rocky’s Reel Systems In-Ground Reel

Rocky's 3A In Ground Pool Solar Reel - Up to 20 Feet Wide

Rocky’s 3A In Ground Pool Solar Reel – Up to 20 Feet Wide

For pool owners that do not need to worry about their cover obstructing the use of their pool, the Rocky In-Ground Reel is the best option available.

The unit comes with a threaded screw attached to a spring. When properly installed, the screw will fix the reel into the ground, allowing for a steady roll on and off of your pool.

Buyer ratingBuyer rating

This product also holds a rating of 4.3 out of 5 stars on Amazon. Nearly 90% of customers rate this product at least four stars. Consumers love that the reel is without flimsiness, and the solid construction design. Some say the included wheels can cause the unit to tip over, but it is suggested that the reel is used without installing them. Click here to see the customer reviews for yourself

Intex Aluminum Base Pool Cover Reel

Intex Aluminum Base Solar Pool Cover Reel

Intex Aluminum Base Solar Pool Cover Reel

Features

  • Adjustable Width: 9ft to 16ft
  • Materials: Aluminum shaft with plastic end pieces and crank handle.
  • Pool Cover NOT Included.
  • Intended for Above-Ground Pools with metal frames.

This adjustable pool cover reel is a great affordable option for rectangular above-ground pools. The ends can be bolted to the sides of the metal frame which in turn holds the entire assembly in place. It includes locking mechanisms to connect any adequate sized pool cover to the reel for easy deployment or storage.

The shaft is made up of several aluminum components which can be connected and locked together at various widths to allow for a broad spectrum of pool sizes to be catered to.

When the hand-crank is engaged, the device reels the pool cover up into a tight fold around the shaft which can then be locked in place to avoid unintentional unrolling.

Because of the design of the ends, this system is unfortunately not suited for in-ground pools as there is no way to bolt or hold the assembly in place. It also is intended for use with rectangular or square-shaped pools, as it cannot be bolted onto circular assemblies.

What are buyers saying?

Buyer ratingBuyer rating

This pool cover reel currently holds 4.4 stars out of 5 on Amazon with 235 reviews. Customers seems universally satisfied with their purchase stating is it sturdy and well designed. One customer lamented however that when it is used to roll up the cover, it unfortunately dumps whatever debris was on top of it directly into the water. Click here to see the customer reviews for yourself

Pros
  • Adjustable width.
  • Sturdy aluminum shaft.
Cons
  • Only intended for above-ground pools.
  • Only suited for rectangular or square-shaped pools.

Bottom Line

A relatively cheap cover reel that works very well with metal-framed rectangular above-ground pools.

3Best Solar Rings 2020

Solar Rings are another method owners can use to heat their pool.

The concept is the same as a blanket, but on a smaller scale. Instead of having a one-piece blanket covering your whole pool, instead you have many of these solar rings floating on the surface. 

Installing and removing Solar Rings would be easier than covering and removing a heavy and wet solar blanket. Having a solar blanket reel would not be required.

In addition, Solar Rings provide an advantage in passive safety. If anyone were to fall into the pool while the rings were floating on the surface, they could easily push the rings out of the way to get above the surface of the water.

The initial investment for Solar Rings are greater than a simple blanket. Since the rings don’t cover the surface in a uniform fashion, debris can also find its way through to the bottom of your pool. This means vacuuming or robotic cleaning may be necessary.

Preferred Choice: Solar Sun Rings Pool Water Heater (9-Pack)

Solar Sun Rings Pool Water Heater w/Anchors SSR SSRA-100 (9-Pack)

Solar Sun Rings Pool Water Heater w/Anchors SSR SSRA-100 (9-Pack)

Features:

  • 5-foot diameter
  • 2-year Warranty
  • Available in Multiple Packs

Our preferred choice from Solar Sun Rings comes in different package counts, from individual units up to a 12-pack of rings. The 9-Pack we selected is the equivalent to covering a 18’x36’ pool, so size your orders accordingly.

These rings come with a small inflatable outer ring as well as a water-filled anchor to keep them in place on your water surface.

Buyer ratingBuyer rating

This product holds an Amazon rating of 3.1 out of 5 stars. People have said this product helps immensely for smaller and irregular shaped pools, where cutting a solar blanket to fit would be otherwise complicated. They also praise the easier removal. However, almost as many reviewers rated this product with one star. The high cost of investment is a common theme, which seems to be an issue with larger pool owners. Having to inflate the outer rings is also an annoyance to many consumers. Click here to see the customer reviews for yourself

Bottom line

An alternative cover; possibly for smaller, irregular-shaped pools.

4Best Liquid Solar Cover 2020

The final option for pool owners involves neither covers nor rings. Liquid Solar Covers are a popular option among pool and spa owners.

In effect, a liquid cover does not necessarily heat the pool but rather minimizes heat loss and evaporation. It works best on calm water surfaces and has to be reapplied intermittently.

On a positive note, no extra storage is needed to store your blanket or rings. Owners would also not need to worry about covering and removing the blankets or rings before use — you simply can get in and out of the water as you please.

Conversely, liquid covers have a very limited life. A certain amount would have to be prescribed every week, depending on the gallonage of your pool or spa. The cost of applying the surface would be recurring, and another source of heating would be required to also increase the temperature of your water.

Remember – this method simply prevents heat loss. As for actual heating of your water, another method would be required.

Preferred Choice: Natural Chemistry Cover Free Liquid Pool Solar Blanket

Cover Free Liquid Pool Solar Blanket

Cover Free Liquid Pool Solar Blanket

Features:

  • 32 oz bottle
  • Promises to reduces evaporation by 85 percent and heat loss by 70 percent
  • Not an actual cover

Natural Chemistry’s Cover Free is the standard of Liquid Solar Covers.

Every bottle comes in a 32-ounce size, and every 4 ounces is used to treat every 20,000 gallons of water. This amount is meant to be applied every week, so one bottle should get the average pool owner half a season of use.

As stated earlier, the Cover Free liquid cover has the advantages of requiring next to nothing for storage space. There’s no actual blanket, and the bottle can simply fit in your storage closet. 

The price required for a full season of use amounts to about half of the cost of the cheapest 8 mil solar blanket. Although you prevent heat loss, this product will not heat the water as much as a traditional blanket will.

Buyer ratingBuyer rating

This product currently holds an Amazon rating of 3.5 out of 5 stars. Customers were delighted over how much the liquid cover managed to retain heat during the cooler nights. However, negative reviewers complained that the liquid itself can cause havoc with owners with cartridge filters. Click here to see the customer reviews for yourself

Bottom line

By far the easiest to use with somewhat limited performance.

5Conclusion

Consider your needs and what you want from your heating requirements. 

Should you live in an arid climate and not need to worry about heating but rather heat loss, you could try the the Cover Free liquid solar cover. 

When your pool is an irregular shape and does not have too large of a surface area, solar rings may be your best choice.

If you have a standard shaped pool and also need your cover to heat the water as well as retain what heat the water gains in the process, your best bet would be to use a solar blanket. And if you a blanket is your choice, getting a cover reel is also in your best interest.

That concludes our thoughts about solar heating. If you need a pool chiller to make your water colder, that’s a different story.

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Peter
Peter

Author and editor with LeisureRate.com since 2017.

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