Today, we will discuss a popular and economical option for warming your pool water: solar pool covers. Solar heating is preferred by 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).
We’ve actually reviewed many more covers in Best Swimming Pool Covers Reviews (safety covers, solar covers, winter covers)
|Sun2Solar 1600 Series Heating Blankets||The go-to solar blanket.||GO TO STORE|
|VINGLI Pool Cover Reel||Good mobile cover reel option.||GO TO STORE|
|Rocky’s Reel Systems In-Ground Reel||Cover reel that can be fixed in place.||GO TO STORE|
|Solar Sun Rings||Alternative design. Good for irregular-shaped pools.||GO TO STORE|
|Natural Chemistry Cover Free||Completely different liquid-type “cover”.||GO TO STORE|
Best Solar Cover 2019
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
- 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.
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
Although the 16 mil cover would be slightly more durable, the 1200 Series is the best bang for your buck.
Best Solar Cover Reels 2019
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
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.
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
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.
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
Best Solar Rings 2019
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)
- 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.
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
An alternative cover; possibly for smaller, irregular-shaped pools.
Best Liquid Solar Cover 2019
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
- 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.
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
By far the easiest to use with somewhat limited performance.
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.