Clear vs. Blue Solar Pool Covers
Indeed, cover color does affect your swimming pool temperature, but it is not quite as straightforward as you may think – there is a bigger picture. The presence/absence of air bubbles in solar pool covers, the thickness, the type of material, and the color influence various performance features, including heat transfer, heat absorption, and heat retention. While solar pool covers come in various colors, people often pitch the clear vs. blue solar pool covers – for different reasons. But the question is, what advantages do they offer over each other?
In this article, we compare the properties of clear vs. blue solar pool covers to guide your choice between either of them.
Clear vs. Blue Solar Pool Covers – The Differences
Compared to blue blankets, a clear cover absorbs less heat. Since they are translucent, most of the light that gets to them passes through, leaving them with little heat energy to absorb.
Generally, a blue solar cover absorbs more heat than a clear cover. Compared to a clear cover, a blue cover is not as translucent. So, it will allow relatively less light to pass through it, leaving it with more heat energy to absorb.
It should be noted that the less translucent a blue cover is, the lower the amount of light that will pass through it. The lower the amount of light that passes through it, the more heat it will absorb. The same rule applies to clear covers to a lesser extent.
Since they do not absorb so much heat energy, clear blankets do not retain heat for blue blankets. Therefore, they may not be the most suitable for regions that do not get a lot of sunlight.
Unlike clear covers, blue covers preserve heat for long periods. So, they are usually the better option for areas that do not get up to 6 hours of sunlight daily.
Penetration of Light
Due to their translucency, light passes through clear covers with relatively more ease. This makes it possible for the sun’s rays to penetrate and travel far into the pool.
Unlike a clear cover, a blue cover will not allow light to penetrate with ease. So, the penetration of the sun’s rays is typically limited with blue solar covers. In essence, the sun’s rays will not travel far into the pool.
Clear covers transfer heat more efficiently than blue solar covers. This holds because they absorb & hold on to less heat while allowing easier passage of solar rays.
Heat transfer from blue covers is not as efficient as that from clear solar pool covers. It will limit heat transfer from the pool to the water at the surface with a blue cover.
Since a blue cover absorbs and retains considerably more heat, they mainly transfer heat to the pool through conduction. This is unlike a clear cover, which will mainly facilitate heat transfer through radiation and convection.
Effect on Chemical Cost
Since light will pass through a clear solar cover with relative ease, more UV rays get into the water. UV light is known to degrade chlorine, so with clear covers, chlorine levels will fall faster in the pool. Consequently, you will spend more on chemicals.
The reverse is the case with blue covers. They do not let light through as easily as a clear solar blanket will, so chlorine degradation by UV light is slower.
Need for Water Circulation
With clear covers, the sun rays travel deep into the pool. So, convection can take place spontaneously. Hence, you may not need water circulation to disperse heat to every part of the pool.
When using blue covers, heating is limited to the surface of the pool. Going by the laws of convection, it will not transfer the heat at the top of the pool water to the bottom. This leaves you with an upper layer of hot or warm water and a lower layer of cold water.
To counter this phenomenon, you will need water circulation. The water circulation will facilitate convection artificially by transferring cold water from the bottom upwards and heated surface water downwards.
To quite some people, clear pool blankets are not as eye-catching as blue covers.
Some people prefer blue covers over clear ones because they are more visually appealing.
Pros & Cons
Clear Solar Pool Cover
- Heating is faster and more efficient.
- It may not need for effective heat distribution.
- Allows easy penetration of light, so heat reaches deep into the pool.
- They may raise your spending on pool chemicals.
- Since they do not absorb or retain enough heat, they may not be the best for regions with shorter periods of sunlight.
Blue Solar Pool Covers
- Blue pool cover absorbs heat rapidly and retains enough of the absorbed heat for long periods. Therefore, they are a better fit for regions with shorter periods of direct sunlight.
- Blue covers offer more visual appeal.
- They help you save on the expenses of pool chemicals.
- They heat pool water less efficiently and not as fast as a clear blanket.
- Water circulation methods will be needed to ensure the heat at the top gets to the bottom of the pool.
What Is the Best Color for a Pool Cover?
People often consider clear solar pool covers as the best type of pool covers. However, while clear solar covers offer the best heating, they may not always be the best in all situations.
The best color for a pool cover may ultimately depend on your personal preferences and other factors unique to you. For one, if you prioritize rapid and efficient pool warming, then a clear solar pool cover will work best for you. If you also want more heat gain and a higher rise in temperature, you should get a clear solar cover.
However, if you want some visual appeal, you may opt for a colored pool cover. Some of the solar pool cover colors available include blue, black, or grey. You may also get one with two colors or tones. Of such solar pool covers with two colors is blue-black solar covers and blue-silver solar covers.
If you live in an area that does not get enough sunlight per day, you should prioritize heat retention. To this end, you should get solar pool covers with dark colors. It could be black, dark blue, or even dark grey. These types of solar covers will absorb and save some heat for your pool long after the sun is gone. This way, they make up for the short periods of light from the sun. However, you will need water circulation to distribute the heat within the pool.
Some solar pool cover colors offer you some degree of efficiency coupled with heat retention. One such type of cover is the blue-silver solar cover. The upper blue side of this solar pool cover is translucent, allowing easier passage of solar radiations for efficient heating. The lower side is silver; it reflects rising heat back into the pool, thus promoting heat retention.
Although some colors are better in some situations, clear pool covers will always be valuable in most situations. This may be why they are typically considered the best.
Does a Pool Heat Faster With the Solar Cover On?
No, a pool will not heat up faster with a solar cover on. When a solar cover is on your pool, it acts as a junction between the solar radiations and the pool. It receives the heat from the sun, then transfers it to the pool, delaying the pool warming process.
Besides, all the solar heat that gets to the solar cover does not reach the pool water. Some of it is lost through radiation, reflection, and convection.
However, when there is no solar cover on the pool, most solar radiations reach the pool directly and heat the water rapidly. But the downside is that the warmth is not retained for long as most of it is quickly lost through radiation, convection, and water evaporation.
What’s the Difference Between a Solar Cover and a Solar Blanket?
While people typically use the terms solar cover and solar blanket interchangeably, they are actually quite different.
A solar cover is a broad term for a group of substances placed or applied on the surface of pools to raise the temperature or hold warmth in the pool. These substances include solar blankets, solar rings, and liquid solar covers.
A solar blanket, on the other hand, is a type of solar cover. It is made for warming pools, retaining warmth in pools, and reducing water evaporation from pools. Solar blankets are typically made from materials such as polypropylene, polyethylene, or vinyl. These materials come in various thicknesses (usually 8 mils to 16 mils), and they are sometimes UV-stabilized for durability. They may also come with air bubbles for higher heating efficiency.
Solar Pool Blankets vs. Thermal Pool Blankets
Another pool blanket you can invest in besides a solar pool blanket is a thermal pool blanket. But while both blankets reduce water evaporation and keep debris out, they do not always function similarly. Here’s how they differ:
While thermal pool blankets and solar pool blankets can both retain heat in your pool, they do so to varying degrees.
Of both types of blankets, thermal pool blankets offer better heat retention. They are made using thick, watertight, polyethylene foam. The outer region of this foam is impermeable to solar rays, while the underside is impermeable to water. These features make thermal pool blankets effective insulators. Hence, their superior heat retention.
On the other hand, solar pool blankets are relatively thin, and they are not impermeable to solar radiations. So, they do not insulate as well as thermal pool blankets.
Also, in the absence of sunlight, solar pool blankets offer limited heat retention. But the absence of sunlight does not affect thermal pool blankets.
Thermal pool blankets are impermeable to solar radiation. So, they do not heat pools. The solar types, on the other hand, are permeable to solar radiations. So, they can heat pools.
Thermal pool blankets are generally more expensive than solar pool blankets. On average, they cost $1000-$1650. Solar pool blankets are relatively cheaper, and they typically go for $100-$1000.
Compared to the solar types, thermal pool blankets last quite long. You can expect them to last for 8-10 years or more.
The lifespan of solar pool blankets, on the other hand, depends on the thickness and the presence of UV protection. Thin solar blankets will generally last a few months but can last up to a year with UV protection. Thicker blankets can last for up to 6-7 years, especially when they come with UV protection.
While you may not require a professional to install a solar blanket, you will most likely need one for a thermal pool blanket.
Final Thoughts – Clear vs. Blue Solar Pool Covers
There is a never-ending debate in the swimming pool industry about which color is better in the clear vs. blue solar pool covers. Both clear and blue solar covers are useful in pool water heating. However, while the clear types heat water faster and more efficiently, the blue types are better at retaining heat.
In many cases, the rapid heating and high efficiency of clear blankets are optimal. However, in places where the sun does not stay out for long, the heat retention of a blue solar blanket is desired. Your choice between clear vs. blue solar pool covers depends on the most features that matter to you. If you want, you may even get both types and use them to make up for each other’s flaws.
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