Buyers Guide for Swimming Pool Covers  

by Pool Builders on 10-21-2010 in Articles

If you have a heated swimming pool, you can save a significant amount of money on your energy costs by using a cover. This can also be an important safety measure if you have children and/or pets as some covers are strong enough to withstand their weight should they fall in the pool accidentally.

In addition, the other useful benefits of swimming pool covers are that they can cut your pool's chemical consumption by 35%-60%, they conserve water as the amount of top-up water needed is reduced by 30%-50% and they keep the pool free of dirt and other debris.

The following guide will give you everything you need to know about swimming pool covers so you can make the best choice for your needs.

Energy Loss Explained

The majority of energy loss in swimming pools is caused by evaporation. It only takes 1 Btu (British thermal unit) to raise 1 pound of water to 1 degree, but each pound of 27C water that evaporates uses up 1,048 Btu of heat from the pool. In outdoor pools, this evaporation rate is also affected by the air temperature and humidity, the pool's temperature, and the wind speed on the water surface. You can take measures to reduce evaporation by planting shrubs, trees or a fence so that the wind factor is minimised. The problem with this however is that you could also end up blocking the sun, which helps heat the water.

Indoor pools, while not subject to weather conditions, also lose a great deal of energy from evaporation and require room ventilation to control indoor humidity caused by this. The ventilated air then needs to be conditioned and replaced with unconditioned outdoor air, which bumps up your energy costs even further.

Pool covers are the most effective solution for keeping evaporation to a minimum in both indoor and outdoor swimming pools. By covering your pool when it's not in use, you can save as much as 50%-70% on your energy costs. With indoor pools, you'll not only reduce evaporation, but the need to ventilate the air and keep exhaust fans constantly running, so you'll save even more money.

Types of Swimming Pool Covers

In essence, any large sheet of plastic will technically work as a swimming pool cover since plastic is a barrier to evaporation. Buying it at any store is not the best option however since normal plastic tears easily, is hard to store and deteriorates from sunlight - it will generally last only 1 or 2 seasons.

In contrast, covers designed for swimming pools are made of specific materials such as vinyl, UV-stabilized polyethylene or polypropylene, which do away with the above issues affecting normal plastic:

Bubble Covers

Similar to bubble packing material except they use a thicker grade of plastic and have UV inhibitors, these covers are one of the most affordable in price. They are also known as solar covers. Bear in mind that choosing a transparent cover will allow the sun through which helps heat your pool for free.

Vinyl Covers

This heavier material has a longer life expectancy than bubble covers. There are also insulated vinyl covers available which have a thin layer of insulation sandwiched between two layers of vinyl to keep in the heat.

Manual Covers

With these types you will manually pull the cover on/off and fold it. You can buy a pool cover reel to simplify this process.

Semi-automatic Covers

These use a motor-driven reel system, so the cover will be rolled using electrical power but you will need to guide the cover onto the reel and pull the cover on once unrolled. They come as carts with wheels or alternatively they can be built into the pool deck surrounding your pool.

Automatic Covers

These models have permanently mounted reels that will automatically cover and uncover your pool at the push of a button. While being at the high end in price, they're certainly the most convenient option.

Safety Covers

With this type of cover, which fits into tracks along the sides of your pool, accidents are securely prevented. This is particularly important if you have children or pets. Some models can even support the weight of several people. They can be bought as manual, semi-automatic or automatic versions.

Conclusion

All in all, swimming pool covers are highly effective at cutting your energy costs as well as keeping your family safe. With the wide range of different types now available, it's vital to choose the one that best suits your particular lifestyle.

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