A Guide To Reel Systems  

by Pool Builders on 02-12-2012 in Articles

The handling of a solar cover, both on and off the pool, is made hugely easier by the use of a swimming pool reel. The use of a good quality solar cover is considered to be an essential piece of pool equipment. The benefits, such as increased water temperature and prevention of evaporation, far outweigh the disadvantages, i.e. the initial cost, and the need everyday handling. For this reason it therefore sensible to make the job of covering and uncovering as easy as possible.

Basicly there are two types of swimming pool reel systems, manual and electric powered. We will look at both in turn. Both types of reel comprise a set of telescopic tubes, which when assembled will open up to the required width. This distance is usually the width of the pool, plus an overlap of about one foot each side. Rather than the telescopic tubes it is possible to buy a one piece tube, for some systems only, but the matter of transport often makes this a costly alternative. The main considerations when considering a tube system are the overall diameter of the tube and the gauge of the aluminium. It is best to have the largest diameter and gauge that you can afford. All tubes will bend to some degree, but the extent to which they bend will be determined by the diameter and gauge. If a tube is sagging, then it is difficult to turn the handwheel, making hard work of covering and uncovering the pool.

These tubes are then supported by an end stand. These end stands vary enormously from manufacturer to manufacturer, but are generally made of stainless steel.The exact design of these stands vary greatly from supplier to supplier, but are generally manufactured with a long life stainless steel. Some plastic systems are available but although cheaper, they tend to be fragile and have a much lesser lifespan.

For manual handling, the basic reel is a post bolted to the ground, connected to the tube and with a hand wheel at each end to allow two people to operate it at the same time. Care needs to be taken when siting these reels as obviously they are then fixed in place, and could cause obstructions.

The majority of systems sold have a tripod stand made of stainless steel. These tripods form a very effective solid base, whilst they are very long lasting due to the stainless steel. Some of these reel systems are capable of having castors fitted, which means that the reel can be wheeled away from the pool when required. Either with or without castors, there is a tendency for the reel to move or slip about when rolling the cover in or out. This can be overcome by the use of holding down bolts, which are supplied with most sytems. The holding down bolt is a threaded bar screwed through the tripod bars into a socket in the ground. These should always be used as the reel then becomes firm and secure, but they can easily be undone when you need to move the reel.

Electric reels come in two different formats, mains powered, or more popular solar powered. The main disadvantage to the mains reel is that it requires installation by a qualified electrician, which can be costly. Also a cable needs to be fed from the transformer to the reel which is either unsightly or requires laying underground, again at some expense. For this reason, solar powered reels are often the easiest and cheapest to install. Their power comes from a small 12 volt battery that is re-charged from sunlight via a solar panel. Obviously it requires a reasonable amount of bright daylight to operate effectively.

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