The quality and effectiveness of a solar pool cover are typically defined by the following features: thickness, size, UV stability or resistance, and color. So, when compiling this list, it fixed our attention on solar pool covers that offer the best of these features.
Our Top Choices
- Blue Wave NS480 12-mil Solar Blanket – Best Overall Solar Pool Cover
- Sun2Solar Round Solar Cover 1200 Series – Second Best Overall Solar Pool Cover
- Intex Solar Cover for 15ft Diameter Easy Set and Frame Pools – Best Budget Solar Pool Cover
- Blue Wave NS115 8-mil Solar Blanket – Best Solar Pool Cover for Round Above Ground Pools
- Intex Solar Cover for 18ft X 9ft Rectangular Frame Pools – Best Solar Pool Cover for Rectangular Above Ground Pools
- In The Swim 16 x 32 Pool Solar Blanket Cover – Best Heavyduty Solar Pool Cover
Basically, the thicker the pool cover is, the higher its heat retention, but the thinner it is, the higher the heating efficiency. Besides thickness, the color of solar pool covers affects heat transfer. Generally, darker colors absorb more heat, lighter colors allow easier passage of sun rays, and colors like silver retain heat by reflecting them inwards.
Solar pool covers would spend a lot of time in the sun when in use. Knowing how damaging UV rays can be, your solar pool cover will last longer if it comes with some UV protection. Then, of course, you should get a solar pool cover that fits your swimming pool, else the heating would be ineffective.
Our Best Solar Pool Covers
Blue Wave NS480 12-mil Solar Blanket
Amongst our picks, the Blue Wave NS480 12-mil Solar Blanket is the overall best solar pool cover for many reasons. For one, it is UV-protected – a feature absent in the Sun2Solar Solar Cover 1200 series. With the UV protection, Blue Wave NS480 would be around for quite a while, even with regular exposure to sunlight. You can expect it to last up to 2 seasons with proper use. Nonetheless, you should avoid getting pool chemicals on it.
Besides being UV-protected, the Blue Wave NS480 12-mil Solar Blanket is efficient at heating pools. You can expect a change in temperature of up to 15 degrees with consistent sunlight. The heating efficiency of the Blue Wave NS480 12-mil Solar Blanket is in part due to its clarity. The clarity allows more sun rays to reach the depths of the pool, allowing extensive heating. But apart from that, the Blue Wave NS480 12-mil Solar Blanket comes with air bubbles. The sun heats the air bubbles then the air bubbles heat the water in the swimming pool by conduction. This makes for sustained heat transfer. So, even when the sun is not shining, there would still be some warming.
You would not want your pool to go dry because you are heating. Thankfully, the Blue Wave NS480 Solar Blanket prevents that. It is said to minimize the rate of pool water evaporation by up to 95%.
One pleasing thing about this product is when it comes to size. There are many options. It comes in 7 sizes, including 15 feet, 18 feet, 21 feet, 24 feet, 28 feet, 30 feet, and standard, making it third on the list for size options. With a thickness of 12 mm (0.5 inches), this solar pool cover is neither too thick nor too thin – it would hold just enough heat.
Besides all the above, the Blue Wave NS480 12-mil Solar Blanket comes with a 5-year warranty. However, it is not perfect. It is not so easy to install – you may need an extra pair of hands to fit it on your swimming pool. Also, it is not very efficient at heating in regions that do not get enough sunlight. Since it is not dark-colored, it would not absorb enough sunlight diffusely. So, it may not get enough heat to your pool.
- It is pretty durable when used properly.
- Comes with UV resistance.
- It heats pools efficiently and offers sustained heating.
- It minimizes pool water evaporation significantly.
- You can get it in various sizes.
- It may not be so easy to install.
- Heating may not be very efficient in regions with low sunlight.
Sun2Solar Round Solar Cover 1200 Series
For good reasons, the Sun2Solar Solar Cover comes in as the second-best solar pool cover on our list. The heating efficiency is topnotch. With its 12-mm thickness and air bubbles, the heat retention this solar pool cover offers is remarkable. Even after the sun is long gone, the swimming pool should still feel warm.
Unlike the Blue Wave NS480 12-mil Solar Blanket, the Sun2Solar Solar Cover is available in 2 colors: clear and blue. So, you can choose between high heat retention and high heating efficiency. The clear variant heats pool water more efficiently than the blue. However, the blue offers more aesthetic and heat retention. The choice is yours. But if you have shorter periods of sunlight, the blue variant would be the better option for you.
The Sun2Solar solar pool cover also reduces evaporation by up to 95%. So, you can spend more time enjoying the warm pool water instead of refilling it. You also would not have to worry about frequently decluttering your swimming pool from accumulated debris, as this prevents that.
When it comes to size and shape, Sun2Solar Solar Cover offers you choices. You can get it in one size for the square-shaped variant but in thirteen sizes for the rectangle variant – more than any other product on this list offers. So, you would not have to worry about resizing or reshaping it. Even if you have to resize it, it does not affect the warranty.
The Sun2Solar Solar Cover has notable solar pool heating features, no doubt. But it appears not to have UV protection. So, with regular exposure to the sun, it may not last long. Apart from that, there might also be some irregularities with the warranty from the manufacturer. These downsides dropped the Sun2Solar Solar Cover to the second spot on our list.
- It offers efficient heating and remarkable heat retention.
- It comes in various sizes, shapes, and 2 colors. So, you have options.
- It reduces evaporation by up to 95%.
- It does not have UV protection.
- The warranty from the manufacturer comes with some irregularities.
Intex Solar Cover for 15ft Diameter Easy Set and Frame Pools
If you are not looking to spend too much on getting around solar pool cover, this Intex Solar Cover should be within your budget. Compared to every other product on this list, you will spend less getting this product. But a low price is not all you will get. The Intex Solar Cover offers sufficient heat retention while insulating the pool and ensuring evaporation is kept minimal. It is crafted with air bubbles. This way, the sun heats the air first, then the air heats the water through conduction, allowing for efficient and sustained heating. Then apart from heating, it keeps dust and debris out of pools.
The Intex Solar Cover fits well on round swimming pools measuring 15 feet in diameter. It is also suitable for pools with diameters less than 15 feet, and installing it is pretty easy. Since it is round and lightweight (5.8 pounds), it fits right inside the edge of the pool. So, you would not have to wrestle with unfurling it in your swimming pool. Of course, since this pool cover is easy to install, it is easy to remove too.
Besides the ease of heating and installation, the Intex Solar Pool Cover is portable. It comes with a carry bag that allows you to move it around and store it readily.
While it does offer considerable sustained heating, you might struggle with the durability of this product. It appears to have no UV protection and is pretty thin. So, you may not get to use it for more than 2 months. Apart from that, the Intex Solar Cover is colored blue. Blue solar pool covers and those of darker colors do not let enough sun rays penetrate readily. They will not heat the pool efficiently or very fast, but they will retain heat for long.
Store the Intex Solar Cover 15 ft in a shaded area. Leaving it in direct sunlight will cause the bubbles to burst. Also, when adding a chemical to your pool, do not let any of it get on the pool cover. If it does, the pool cover’s material may become brittle, and the bubbles may also burst. If you would use any chemical at all, avoid those containing copper sulfate.
- It is easy to install.
- Minimizes pool water evaporation.
- Offers considerable sustained heating.
- It comes with a carry bag that makes it easy to store and carry around.
- Relatively inexpensive.
- It is not quite durable.
- Does not have UV protection.
- It is pretty thin.
Blue Wave NS115 8-mil Solar Blanket
What applies in an inground pool does not apply in an aboveground pool. For one, the insulation of the soil is absent in aboveground pools. So, you may find that the solar pool cover you use for inground pools may not work as well as for aboveground pools. Luckily, the Blue Wave NS115 8-mil Solar Blanket is one of those that will give you the best experience with above-ground pool solar heating.
Top amongst the benefits of using the Blue Wave NS115 8-mil Solar Blanket is that it is UV-protected. They created this solar over with a UV-protected polymer. So, it offers resistance to deterioration by the sun and should last longer with proper maintenance.
The air bubbles of the Blue Wave NS115 8-mil Solar Blanket act like thermal cells. The air retains heat from the sun. So, even on cool days, there would be some reserve heat to help maintain the pool’s warmth. Apart from that, the Blue Wave NS115 8-mil Solar Blanket is 8mm thick – sun rays pass through it readily. So, the pool water gets heated faster and more efficiently. All in all, this product can get pools warmer by up to 15 degrees with steady sunlight – about the same as the Blue Wave NS480 12-mil Solar Blanket. Nonetheless, its relatively low thickness has its downsides.
The manufacturer suggests that Blue Wave NS115 8-mil Solar Blanket provides up to 95% reduction of pool water. So, you can expect significant water savings. But you would not be saving water alone, as you will also be saving the environment and your time. The Blue Wave NS115 8-mil Solar Blanket comes in 8 different sizes from 12 feet to 33 feet – not as many as the Sun2Solar Solar Cover 1200 series, but more than the other products on the list. So, you should not have to worry about getting an undersized product. Opt for a size larger than your pool so that you would have extra material on the edges for attachment to the swimming pool.
While a 3-year warranty backs the Blue Wave NS115 8-mil Solar Blanket, the 8-mil thickness is not impressive. It might allow easier penetration of sun rays, but the heat retention will be relatively lower. With an 8-mil thickness, the Blue Wave NS115 8-mil Solar Blanket is easier to puncture, and if not fastened to the pool, it would get blown away easily. On the bright side, it is relatively lighter than many other solar pool covers.
- It is UV-protected to resist exposure to sunlight.
- It has considerable heat retention. But it could be better if it were thicker.
- It prevents evaporation significantly.
- It is lightweight and easy to install.
- Different sizes are available.
- A 3-year warranty backs it.
- The 8-mil thickness does not allow for superior heat retention.
- Since it is relatively thin, it is prone to puncture.
- It can easily be blown away if not fastened to the pool properly.
Intex Solar Cover for 18ft X 9ft Rectangular Frame Pools
If your aboveground pool is rectangular, not round, then the Intex Solar Cover for 18ft X 9ft Rectangular Frame Pools should be your choice. Why? Like many other efficient solar pool covers, it uses air bubbles to retain heat and transfer it to the pool water by conduction. This contributes to the heat retention of the solar cover and the heating efficiency of the sun rays.
Apart from that, the Intex Solar Cover for 18ft X 9ft Rectangular Frame Pools is just about 6.3-mil thick – the lowest of every product on this list. With this low thickness, sun rays can penetrate through the cover readily and heat the pool’s depths. But this also means the cover will not retain as much heat as thicker solar pool covers. Besides, the Intex Solar Cover for 18ft X 9ft Rectangular Frame Pools can be perforated readily if not handled well. So, if you want some serious physical durability, this may not work for you. But if you want far-reaching heating in your swimming pool, this would work.
The Intex Solar Cover for 18ft X 9ft Rectangular Frame Pools insulates the pool and slows down the rate of evaporation. The manufacturer estimates that evaporation is reduced by up to 95%. The product also helps keep debris out of the pool, and it comes with a bag for easy portability and storage.
Intex Solar Cover for 18ft X 9ft Rectangular Frame Pools might be the best solar pool cover for rectangular aboveground pools on our list. However, it is not without flaws. One of these flaws is that the material has no UV protection. So, its durability is at the mercy of the sunlight. Besides, the pool cover comes in only one size. If you use it with a bigger pool, it will not be as effective.
This warranty on the product is also not impressive. It comes with a 30-day return policy, and this policy depends on where and who you bought the product from. So, it does not apply in all cases.
- The heating is very efficient.
- The pool cover is lightweight and portable
- It’s easy to install.
- It comes with a carry bag for easy storage.
- Also, it insulates the pool and slows down evaporation considerably.
- It is not very durable and has no UV protection.
- The cover’s thickness does not favor significant heat retention.
- The warranty is unimpressive.
In The Swim 16 x 32 Pool Solar Blanket Cover.
Crafted with a thickness of 16 mm, the In The Swim 16 x 32 Pool Solar Blanket Cover offers the highest durability of any product on this list. But beyond that, the high thickness makes for better heat retention and heating efficiency.
The Swim 16 x 32 Pool Solar Blanket Cover combines air bubbles, a clear top layer, and an aluminized bottom layer to achieve superior heat retention. With these features, you can get a change in temperature of up to 10 degrees in a week with regular sunlight. But this temperature change is not as much as what Blue Wave NS480 12-mil Solar Blanket and Blue Wave NS115 8-mil Solar Blanket offer.
The top layer permits easy passage of sun rays through the pool cover. Then the bottom layer retains the heat by reflecting the escaping sun rays into the pool water. Since the solar pool cover comes with air bubbles, the pool water is heated through conduction. Unlike heat transfer through convection and radiation, the heated air will warm the pool over a longer period and more efficiently since minimal heat loss.
Unlike solar pool covers with lower thickness, the In The Swim 16 x 32 Pool Solar Blanket Cover will not get punctured easily. It comes in just one size, so if your pool is larger than that, it would not be an effective choice for you. But if your swimming pool is smaller than the available size, you can easily cut the material to the required size and shape. The In The Swim 16 x 32 Pool Solar Blanket Cover is also effective at reducing the rate of pool water evaporation. So, you will not have to refill the pool frequently.
The Swim 16 x 32 Pool Solar Blanket Cover is backed by an 8-year manufacturer warranty – pretty impressive. However, one of the drawbacks of this product is the absence of UV protection. So, even though it is thick, you cannot be too confident about how much sunlight it will resist. Also, it is only available in one size. So, if your pool is larger than that, you may have to get more than one product unit.
While the In The Swim 16 x 32 Pool Solar Blanket Cover poses considerable durability, keep pool chemicals away from it. For one, when you add a chemical to your pool, wait for at least 24 hours before using this pool cover. If you don’t, the bubbles will break down, and the pool cover will become brittle.
Also, if you will not be using the solar pool blanket for a long time, get it off the pool and store it. Ensure it is dry and clean before you store it. Remember that the In The Swim 16 x 32 Pool Solar Blanket Cover does not have UV protection. So, leaving it out when not in use will only promote its deterioration.
- It is considerably durable.
- Has superb heating efficiency and heat retention.
- It is easy to install.
- An 8-year manufacturer warranty backs it.
- It is only available in one size.
- It has no UV protection.
What Is the Best Thickness for Solar Pool Cover?
Solar pool covers typically have thicknesses between 8-mil and 16-mil. The 8-mil types are thinner, and they allow heat to pass through them readily. However, they offer the lowest durability and are more susceptible to puncturing, chemical damages, and UV deterioration.
The 16-mil types are the thickest, and they are quite durable and resistant to chemicals, puncturing, and UV rays. However, they absorb more heat than the thinner ones.
People typically opt for the 12-mil types because this is a middle ground between the properties of the 8-mil and 16-mil types. However, any solar pool cover with thickness between 12-mil and 16-mil will offer superior heat retention.
What Color Solar Pool Cover Works Best?
Solar pool covers are usually clear, light blue, or dark blue. In uncommon cases, they can be black.
Clear Solar Pool Covers
When it comes to heating efficiency, clear solar pool covers are the best. They allow sun rays to penetrate easily and reach the depths of the water. Clear solar pool covers transfer most of the sun rays it gets to the pool. But this means it has lower heat retention. Besides, the efficiency with which clear covers transfers heat might raise your pool chemical cost. Since they allow relatively higher doses of UV light into the pool, more of the chlorine close to the water’s surface is degraded.
Dark Blue Solar Pool Covers
Dark blue covers are basically the opposite of clear solar pool covers. They offer the best heat retention. But do not let sun rays penetrate easily. In other words, they are not very good at facilitating heat transfer to the pool water.
Light Blue Solar Pool Covers
Light blue covers are almost midway between clear solar pool covers and dark blue solar pool covers. It offers considerable heat retention. It also reduces the penetration of sun rays into the pool. But not as much as dark blue covers.
Black Solar Cover
Black solar covers pretty much prevent the entry of sun rays into the pool. However, they absorb heat quickly and heat the swimming pool very fast. But their rapid heat absorption contributes to their rapid deterioration. Black solar covers do not usually last as long as solar pool covers of other colors.
Clear solar pool covers are perfect in regions with long periods of direct sunlight (about 6 hours or more). But in areas with shorter hours of direct sunlight, the dark blue or light blue covers are more ideal. The dark blue and light blue variants can take in more heat in a short period, making the most of the limited exposure to sunlight.
Solar Pool Covers with Hybrid Colors
Besides clear, light blue, black, and dark blue solar pool covers, some covers with hybrid colors. They include blue-silver solar covers and blue-black solar covers.
Blue-Silver Solar Cover
Blue-silver solar covers have a translucent-blue top layer and a silver bottom layer. The translucent top layer allows easy penetration of sun rays into the pool and offers some heat retention. The bottom layer, on the other hand, traps the heat by reflecting the sun rays inwards.
Blue-Black Solar Cover
Blue-black solar covers have a translucent-blue bottom layer and a black top layer. This combination allows the rapid absorption of heat and easier penetration of the absorbed heat into the pool.
Are Pool Solar Covers Worth It?
Yes, pool solar covers are worth it. They help retain heat in the pool, and they can also add heat to the pool by absorbing energy from the sun.
Without pool solar covers, pools will lose water and heat by evaporation. When this happens, you will have to refill the pool. When you refill the pool with new water, you will need extra energy to get the new water to the desired temperature again. Summarily, your pool will be unable to maintain the desired warm temperature without a solar pool cover, and your utility bill will be higher.
Consistent with the result of a study by researchers of California Polytechnic State University, solar covers generally offer over 90% efficiency in controlling evaporation from pools. This is significant since evaporation is the main way pools lose heat.
Besides heating the pool and sustaining heat in the pool, pool solar covers also help keep debris out. So, you can spend more time enjoying the pool and less time decluttering it.
Does a Pool Heat Faster With the Solar Cover On?
Without a solar cover on the pool, most sun rays get to the pool water and heat it rapidly. However, this heat is not stored and is quickly lost through evaporation and radiation.
With a solar cover on, not all of the sun rays get to the pool water. So, heating is not as fast as when the cover is not used. However, by absorbing heat and preventing evaporation, solar covers help the pool store heat.
How Long Do Solar Covers Last?
Solar covers that receive a lot of direct sunlight – about 8 hours of sunlight regularly – may last for just about 2 to 4 years. This applies even if they are well-maintained. But solar covers that are not exposed to prolonged sunlight can last for 5 to 7 years.
How to Maintain a Solar Pool Cover
- Do not leave the solar pool cover on the pool while shocking. The chlorine will degrade the material.
- Do not place your solar pool cover on the pool immediately after shocking the pool. Wait for at least 24 hours.
- Do not use the solar pool cover on the pool when the chlorine level is higher than 2 ppm. High levels of chlorine will degrade the material of the pool cover and make it brittle.
- Ensure you maintain the pH of the pool at around 7.4. Low or acidic pH levels also degrade the material of solar pool covers.
- To avoid unnecessary tugging and folding, use a solar cover reel to roll up your solar pool cover.
- When the solar cover is rolled up or folded, do not leave it under the sun. The air bubbles will keep focusing sun rays on the cover, and this will promote deterioration. It is better to wrap the solar cover with a UV-resistant material or store it in a shaded area.
- If you will not be using the pool cover in a long time, roll it up and store it in a shaded area. Before storing it, ensure you dry it and clean it. This way, you will reduce or remove any residual chemical that can degrade it in storage.
The best solar pool covers typically offer efficient heating, heat retention, and they minimize evaporation remarkably. Also, since the pool remains warmer for longer, you will spend less on electricity bills. While the product you end up with will be determined by factors unique to you, this guide offers a blueprint to help with your selection. So, you should find the best solar pool cover for you on this list or with this list.
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