A solar swimming pool cover, also known as solar blanket or bubble cover, is a giant sheet resembling a large bubble wrap floating on the water's surface. These sheets are designed to trap heat from the sun, transmit the heat to the pool, and keep the temperature of water in the pool warm.
According to a study conducted by Plastipack, in collaboration with Brighton and London Metropolitan Universities, it was proved that 'evaporation loss in the UK for an average sized pool, 4m x 8m, is approximately 32,000 liters per year.' In hotter climates, the figures are higher.
Almost 70% of heat loss occurs due to evaporation, which can be reduced by 98% via these solar covers. This reduces the water consumption and water charges. Pool chemicals also do not get evaporated, thereby reducing overall pool maintenance costs.
These solar covers not only keep the swimming pool water warm, but also assist in heating the pool water to some extent. The latest solar covers in the market allow sunrays to pass through them to warm the water, and feature a silver-coated underside, whereby the heat is reflected back into the pool.
On a sunny day, the solar blanket can cause the temperature of the water to rise by almost 10°C, by heating the top 4 inches of water in the pool.
Solar covers are classified based on the thickness of the plastic from which they are manufactured. The thicker the plastic, the greater the durability. The thickness is measured in microns, and higher the micron count, the longer the cover will last.
200 microns covers are available, which last for a year or two. 400-500 microns thick covers are guaranteed to last for 3-4 years, and if handled carefully can last up to 6-8 years. These covers are suited for all types of swimming pools, and come in different sizes and shapes to fit any swimming pool.
The most popular cover is blue or clear pool cover, however, it is best to opt for black or silver covers. Black absorbs more sunlight, while silver reflects heat back into the pool. These covers are the most economical and practical method of reducing heating costs.
Removing and storing a solar cover is easy, as these covers float freely on the top of the pool, without any anchors or tie downs to hold them. However, this job can be quite cumbersome, as folding away a giant wet blanket is not child's play. To make this task easier, there exists a solar cover accessory called the 'reel'.
This reel eliminates the daily struggle of removing the cover. The cover can be rolled up on the large reel and wheeled out of the way. By using a reel, one can increase the cover's life by 30%. This is because the cover is less damaged by the ultra-violet rays of the Sun. Manual as well as automatic reels are available in the market.
Besides solar blankets, 'solar sun rings' are also available to help preserve the heat in the pool water. Solar sun rings are devices made from heavyweight UV resistant vinyl, and are circular in shape. These rings (each 5 feet wide) are held together by magnets to form a blanket, and cover most of the pool space, except for the spaces between the rings.
The rings not only help preserve the heat, but also prevent water and chemicals from evaporating. During the day, these rings trap sunlight, and during the night they prevent heat from dissipating and water from evaporating. An alternative to the conventional bulky solar pool covers is the liquid pool cover.
This liquid pool cover comprises a liquid blanket that slowly emits a non-toxic liquid which traps the heat, reduces evaporation, and saves energy. These liquid blankets eliminate the hassles in removing and placing a regular cover sheet. They come in the form of adorable tropical fish. All one needs to do is snip off the fins and toss them into the pool.
The invisible liquid oozes out of the fish, and rises to the surface to form an invisible blanket on the water surface. They work all the time, are 100% safe, and are in no way harmful to the skin. Although a solar cover is not designed specifically for cleanliness, it does help keep debris like leaves, insects, bird droppings, dirt, etc., out.
The covers must be removed completely before swimming. However, they do not make good pool safety covers, and children shouldn't be allowed to jump on the pool while the cover is still on. It can be dangerous and the cover can tear. Once torn, these covers don't work efficiently, and need to be replaced.