How to Use a Solar Pool Cover

Written by Michael Dean
June 1, 2023

solar pool cover and checklist

Whether you own an indoor pool, an inground pool, or an above ground pool, one of the more cost-effective methods of extending your pool season is to use a solar pool cover. Solar covers have been around for a while now. Their continued popularity is a testament to how they can keep your pool warm and even warm it up to some degree.

If you are contemplating purchasing a solar pool cover or simply need a refresher on using it, you’re in the right place. In this article, I will go over how solar pool covers work, when to use them, how to install and use them, and even answer some burning frequently asked questions about these valuable additions to your pool.

Main Takeaways

  • Solar pool covers stop heat from escaping the pool by preventing evaporation; some types of solar covers can even heat up the swimming pool.
  • You should use a solar pool cover whenever you are not using the pool.
  • Leaving your solar cover on will not encourage algae growth as long as the pool chemicals are balanced.

How Solar Pool Covers Work

75% of heat loss in swimming pools is due to evaporation. So if there is a method to prevent evaporation, you can save money on pool heater energy costs. This is where solar pool covers come in.

First and foremost, solar pool covers work to maintain a pool’s heat. The covers trap the heat to keep it in the pool and help reduce evaporation. In fact, solar pool covers can be up to 95% effective in preventing evaporation, therefore keeping the heat in the water.

By having a solar cover covering the surface of your pool, your pool water will not be exposed to the night’s cool air, the wind, or other elements that may change the water temperature. Instead, you can enjoy a constantly warm pool with the help of a solar pool cover.

Solar pool covers can even help heat up your pool to some extent. In the case of solar blankets, they can even help to heat your pool further by up to 15 degrees Fahrenheit on a sunny day. Just make sure to face the bubbles the right way, or else you might wonder why your pool is still cold.

When to Use a Solar Pool Cover

As a general rule, you should use a solar pool cover whenever you are not using the pool. Try to use it as much as possible to maintain the pool temperature. In particular, you should use the cover at nighttime when the cool of the night is likely to rob your pool of those precious few degrees that can make it go from pleasant swimming temperatures to freezing. However, it can be equally helpful to use the solar pool cover during the day when the solar pool cover can use the sun to heat up your pool further.

The one exception to this rule would be using a liquid solar cover. Liquid solar covers can be used even when swimming.

How to Install and Use Your Solar Pool Cover

There are three types of solar pool covers, and they work differently from each other. I will go over every kind of cover and provide a step-by-step guide on how to install and use it.

Solar Blanket

Step one: Buy the solar blanket in the correct size

When in doubt, buy one slightly bigger than your pool.

Step two: Unroll your solar blanket

Unpack the solar blanket by unrolling it on top of the pool. Make sure the bubbles are facing the floor of the pool.

Step three: Cut the blanket to fit the pool

You can easily use a pair of scissors (or heavy-duty scissors if you buy a thicker blanket) to cut the blanket to fit around the perimeter of your pool. You want to ensure that the blanket fully covers your swimming pool for the best effects.

Step four: Push the cut sides up the edge of the pool

Use a pool brush or something similar to push the cut sides of the blanket up the edge of the pool, removing any air bubbles underneath and smoothing it out.

Step five: Buy a solar pool blanket reel

This step is optional, but it may make removing and replacing the solar blanket easier, as it can be quite cumbersome to deal with.

And now that the solar blanket is cut to your pool’s specifications, you can roll it up and unroll it as needed!

Solar Ring

Step one: Purchase several solar rings to cover your pool

Unlike a solar blanket, solar rings will not cover the entirety of your pool, so don’t worry about any spaces that are not covered.

Step two: Blow up the solar rings

Blow up each of the solar rings. If you are blowing them up with your mouth, take breaks, so you don’t get too lightheaded.

Step three: Lock the solar rings together

Each solar ring should have magnets to connect with each other to float together on top of the water. This prevents them from floating aimlessly and from getting sucked into the skimmer.

Step four: Stack them when not in use

Simply pull one of the solar rings out of the pool, and the rest of them should all come with it. The magnets will not be difficult to disconnect, so unlock them from each other once they’re out of the pool. Then stack the rings on top of one another somewhere dry and out of the way, ready to be placed in the water again when needed.

Liquid Solar Cover

Step one: Determine how much liquid to use

Each product will have instructions on how much liquid solar cover to add to your pool, but generally, add 4 ounces per 20,000 gallons of water.

Step two: Shake up the bottle

To ensure the solution is properly mixed, I recommend shaking it before pouring it into your pool.

Step three: Pour the liquid into the pool

It is usually ideal to pour the liquid into your skimmer, but adding it directly to your pool is still effective.

Step four: Run your pump

Whenever you add any chemical to your swimming pool, you want to run your pump to ensure the additives get adequately mixed in. I recommend running your pump for at least 3 hours after adding a liquid solar cover.

Step five: Repeat every 1-2 weeks

Because the liquid solar pool cover is biodegradable, it will break down after some time, so you will have to re-add it every week.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long can you leave your solar cover on your pool?

Although you should keep the solar pool cover on as much as you can, you should try to let your pool breathe, especially when it comes to solar blankets that cover every surface of the pool.

The main issue with keeping a solar cover on too long is the damage the cover itself will have to endure. The constant exposure to the pool chemicals will make it more likely for the cover to break down and tear.

Many people worry that leaving a solar cover on the pool for extended periods will contribute to algae growth. The warmth of the cover can certainly accelerate algae growth if the conditions are right. However, as long as the chemicals in the water are balanced, this is nothing to worry about.

To make a long story short, there is no actual limit to how long you can leave your solar cover on as long as you keep an eye on the water’s chemical balance. But to protect the integrity of the solar pool cover itself, it might be best to let your pool breathe occasionally.

How often should you replace your solar pool cover?

The answer to this question really depends on the quality of the solar pool cover you purchase. More expensive, durable solar pool covers can even last up to 7 years. On the other hand, a cheaper model can last as little as one pool season.

Can you run your pool pump and other equipment with your solar cover on?

Running your pool pump and other equipment with the solar cover is entirely safe. The cover does not hinder the efficiency of the pool pump. In fact, if anything, the solar cover will increase the pump’s lifespan, reducing the number of hours the pump will need to run.

Need Some Maintenance Help?

Send me a message! I can answer any of your pool maintenance, equipment, or other questions.

Bottom Line

Solar pool covers are relatively easy to operate once you do it the first time. If you have any questions about how to use solar covers, don’t hesitate to reach out. And be sure to read my guide on the best solar pool covers and some related maintenance topics below.

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