How to Use a Solar Pool Cover


Solar pool covers are useful tools that can help keep a pool warm. This has the dual benefit of making sure you don’t cannonball into an ice cold swimming pool in the morning

Place the solar pool cover of your choice on your pool at night. Pool covers don’t heat the pool, but keep heat from escaping. Contrary to intuition, the majority of heat loss happens at night making solar pool covers most effective when placed at night.

If you’re like me and want to more about how something works before taking action, read on for answers to every single question you have on solar pool covers!

solar pool cover on water
That is water warming by the moment right there.

What Are Solar Pool Covers?

Solar pool covers are designed to help keep heat in the pool so not only does the water stay warm and nice, but also to help save money by reducing the amount of energy that needs to be used in order to heat up cool or cold water to the temperatures that you prefer.

Solar pool covers can save a lot of money over time and assuming you’re not using the liquid ones, they even offer a little bit of protection from debris which is important because you don’t want the filter running at night since that breaks up the surface of the water and therefore lets heat escape.

One important thing to understand about how these work is that contrary to popular belief, they do not heat up the water. They stop heat from escaping, and that’s how the increased warmth works.

Also, although this goes against how you think it would work, the time to put a solar pool cover on is night. That’s when the evaporation and heat loss happens.

So when should you put on a solar pool cover? To get the most out of them and to keep the pool warm you want to use solar pool covers at night. Place them bubble side down.

If you aren’t going to be using the pool during the day you can keep the solar pool covers on during the day, but you may also want to use the pool’s filters at that time so make a judgement based on your situation.

What Types of Solar Pool Covers Are There?

There are three primary types of solar pool covers available. Which of these works best depends on a few different considerations. To some extent, all of them work. So there’s nothing wrong with taking one versus another depending on your preference and which you find easiest to use.

Solar Blankets Solar Pool Cover

The solar blanket pool cover is the most common design and the one that most of us are going to be familiar with when talking about solar pool covers.

So to answer the most common question right off the bat:

Solar blankets need to be placed bubble side down in your pool. This helps the blankets to float evenly, guaranteeing a better coverage and helping the solar blanket to do its job: keeping heat trapped in the pool.

While it can technically work to some extent even if you put the cover in upside down, it’s obviously not going to work as well as if you put a solar blanket down on the top of the pool.

These come in a variety of sizes and are one of the most popular options because they are relatively easy to use, effective, and can be rolled up when removed for easy storage.

They look like giant pieces of bubble wrap. The BEST two colors are a light opaque blue or a clear with a silver bottom.

Our Recommended Solar Blanket for In-Ground Pools: Blue Wave NS420 Solar Blanket

There are several options for finding good solar blankets for in-ground pools, and some crap ones heavily promoted on Amazon, however after testing out many and talking to friends who tested out even more, there was a general consensus.

Generally the in-ground pool owners we know stated that the Blue Wave solar pool blankets were superior to In The Swim or Sun to Solar brands. Between all of them that’s thousands of days of real life use between them that came to that conclusion.

So our tendency is to believe them.

Blue Wave pool solar blankets also come in six different sizes, which is particularly useful since in-ground pools come in many different sizes and there’s nothing like going with a company to realize they don’t make one in your pool’s size.

They are well made, the perfect translucent blue to be as effective as possible, and are the favorite of thousands of pool owners out there for good reason.

So if you’re interested in checking out the Blue Wave solar blankets for indoor pools then…

Our Recommended Solar Blanket for Above Ground Pools: Evoio Solar Above Ground Pool Cover

It’s simple, but this above ground solar pool cover gets the job done!

Above ground pools are a bit different from in-ground pools, and so when you’re looking for the best available solar pool cover you’re looking for a smaller solar blanket that is circular or sometimes oval in shape (although these are admittedly a bit harder to find).

That said, we love Evoio for a few reasons. They are durable, the color is right for top effectiveness, and the little bit of extra weight gives you a better chance of not losing them if you forgot to attach or tie them down when a bit of wind came by – or before you remembered to come over and do so.

They are good at retaining heat in pools. Now keep in mind these aren’t magic – if you have cold water in an above ground pool this won’t “heat the water up.” That’s not how solar pool blankets work.

Also worth noting: unless you have a heating unit attached to the above ground pool eventually you’ll have to really work to get the water warm again, but for a good above ground pool Evoio gets it done because:

  • The color of the solar pool blanket is a perfect blue for maximum effect
  • The blanket is thicker and stronger – designed to last as opposed to cheap alternatives
  • Relatively inexpensive
  • Best combination of weight, durability, and effectiveness for pool covers designed specifically for an above ground pool

Solar Rings Solar Pool Cover

The second style of common solar pool covers are solar rings. These are just like they sound like: they are rings that get tossed in, don’t cover the entire pool the same way the blanket does, but they can still be very effective by blocking large areas of the pool and keeping the still water underneath it from losing heat.

Will there be more heat loss with these versus a solar blanket?

Sure.

The major pros with solar rings: they are much easier to toss on and off of the pool.

The major cons with solar rings: they won’t be nearly as effective as a solar blanket.

To be clear, solar rings are much, much better than nothing. However, they are not comparable to solar blankets in terms of overall effectiveness. The simple reason is the coverage is less than complete and therefore some heat loss is going to happen.

These are laid out in the pool, spaced apart to cover as much area as possible, however, they are going to leave gaps. Generally we always recommend pool blankets unless you find yourself in a situation where the pool is getting too hot – although you may want to call a professional as just running the pump and filter more should take care of that.

If it’s not, you need to figure out what the root cause is.

So which solar pool rings would we recommend?

Our Recommended Solar Blanket for Pools: Actually look above at the Evoio rings for above ground pools.

Why?

Because these covers meant for above ground pools work better than most rings we see, and the price from buying three of those versus buying a pack of three is actually comparable. So if you’re going to go that direction, then we’d simply recommend with going with 3 Evoio pool covers, it will deliver a better result.

Liquid Solar Pool Cover

One of the most interesting options for a solar cover for your pool is going with a liquid solar cover. Yup, liquid. This is different because it doesn’t work with a cover over the top, but adds in a liquid that traps in the sunlight and lessens the evaporation.

This creates a very thin microscopic level of coverage that works as if there was a cover. From pool owners we’ve talked to, this works better than solar pool rings but not as well as a solar blanket.


Very important note: You still can’t run the pool filtration system at night with the liquid pool cover, otherwise this gets broken up and isn’t as effective.


Liquid solar pool cover can be a great way to provide a protection against overnight evaporation causing heat loss with the water in your pool. This is by far and away one of the easiest ways to do things and still get results, and while some report it not being quite as effective as the solar pool cover, it does the overwhelming majority of the work that a full cover does.

In other words, if you’re happy with 85% or 90% effectiveness, this will do just fine.

Our Recommended Liquid Solar Pool Cover: SunHeater Shield Liquid Solar Blanket

This is our top choice for the best liquid heat shield for pools, though we’ve heard good things about Cover Free, as well.

Why SunHeater?

  • Safe for swimmers, kids, pets in the pool
  • Only 4 oz needed for every 20,000 gallons of water
  • Inexpensive but effective
  • Gets rid of the issue of having to take pool covers on and off each day

Your Best Solar Pool Cover Checklist

  • Make sure the color is clear with silver bottom, translucent blue, or clear – do NOT buy black solar pool covers
  • Thicker is better for durability but not for the amount of heat retained
  • Choose the exact style of solar pool cover you want
  • Compare pricing as they should all be in the same relative range
  • If you go liquid, buy in bulk to make sure you have enough on hand
  • Don’t run filters/pumps at night
An automatic pool cover is great – but they’d be so much happier if they used a solar pool cover.

Common Questions about Solar Pool Covers

When should you put the solar cover on a pool?

Solar pool covers should be put on at night. This is when they are most effective at retaining the heat that would otherwise be lost. While covers can be kept on through the day as well, keep in mind over an extended period of time this can shorten the life cycle of the pool cover.

Can you run pool pump with solar cover on?

No. While there’s nothing specifically stopping you from doing so, running the pool pump reduces or outright eliminates the effectiveness of the pool cover. These work by keeping evaporation and thus heat loss from happening at night, so moving the water instead of allowing it to remain still dissipates the heat and keeps the solar cover moving thus eliminating the effectiveness.

Should I take my solar cover off during the day?

If you aren’t taking a solar cover off of there’s nothing wrong with that, but it will cause the cover to wear out from normal wear and tear over time. Also, keep in mind you’ll want to start the pumps and filters up for a while before jumping in, and while those are working you don’t want a solar pool cover on top.

Do you put the bubbles up or down on a solar pool cover?

The bubbles go down on a pool so they touch the water. This is what lets the covers float properly and retrain the most heat.

How do you keep a solar pool cover from blowing off?

There are multiple attachments for pools that these can be tied to whether an in-ground pool or above ground pool.

Does a pool heat up faster with the solar cover on?

No, solar pool covers don’t heat up a pool but they keep heat from escaping. They can’t warm up a cold pool.

Should you leave solar blanket on pool?

They’re not designed for non-stop use, but no direct harm actual happens. These solar pool covers tend to last 3-5 years and they will wear out the more they’re out and used over time, but in case a

Should you cover a pool at night?

Covering the pool at night with a solar cover is actually the best way to do it. During the day the pool pump and filter system should be working and the pool is open for use. At night is when the filter is supposed to turned off and the solar cover should be on the pool.

Is it okay to leave pool cover on all the time?

There’s nothing necessarily harmful with leaving a solar pool cover on during the day. This does help to keep leaves and debris off of it (assuming it’s not liquid) and if you’re not going to be running the pool that day then its fine. This also could be a time to run the filters, and then turn them off to allow the solar covers to do their thing once again at night.

What is the life expectancy of a solar pool cover?

The average life of a solar pool cover is around 3 years on average, though the thicker ones can last up to six years on average if properly cared for. These numbers can vary based on use, thickness, and storage.

Good Video on Solar Pool Covers

In Conclusion

Solar pool covers are a relatively new invention, but they do some great things to help reduce your heating costs for a pool by keeping the water much warmer and more pleasant. This is done by keeping the heat in at night so evaporation doesn’t occur.

The science behind it is best explained in the video above, but the long and short of it is that the actual heat loss occurs at night. So putting the solar blankets on the pool at night is the way to make sure they are effective and keep the heat in your pool so your electric bills (or gas bills) don’t go through the roof trying to keep the water feeling fine.

Follow this advice and you will have a pool filled with warm water ready for you to jump in and enjoy thanks to the power of natural solar!

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Shane

Hi, I'm Shane! I've always felt a passion for two worlds: one in technology and one for the great oudoors away from it. The amazing advances in solar power in my lifetime have really opened up the possibilities, and both my brother and I are deeply passionate about where solar power meets outdoor gear!

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