Solar Pool Covers - The Cheapest Way to Cut Swimming Pool Heating Costs

by Pool Builders on 03-24-2009 in Articles

Solar covers are an effective and economic way to protect a pool from evaporative heat loss whilst ensuring that debris and vegetation are kept out of the water.

Because a swimming pool has such a large surface area of water it loses its heat energy at an alarmingly fast rate. In fact it has been shown that, by covering a heated pool with a solar blanket when it is not in use, it is possible to reduce heating costs by over 60%.

This is a massive saving and one that may pay for the complete cost of the solar cover several times over in a single swimming season.

How solar covers work

Solar covers (sometimes called blankets) are designed for the optimization of water temperature control and they can be considered to be a "passive" form of solar heating.

The blanket works by preventing evaporation which in turn results in a higher retention of heat energy within the swimming pool's water volume. Solar covers can also raise the temperature of the water by about 15 degrees on a sunny day. This is achieved because the cover not only retains the heat stored in the water, but it also passes the energy of the sun's rays into the pool to raise the temperature above that of its surroundings. i.e. It takes the sun's rays and distributes them back into the water as heat.

Most pool covers are made from a high grade (e.g. 400 or 500 micron) polyethylene which includes a protective UV inhibitor. As a general guide, the more expensive the cover, the higher the thermal performance and the greater the resulting energy savings.

Cover operation

The pool cover is usually stretched across the swimming area and secured using fasteners. Most covers are easily fitted and removed with the aid of a roller and winding mechanism at one end of the pool (which can be motorised).

The alternatives include a having a series of lugs located around the perimeter (to which the cover can be secured), or the using of a number of small floating solar and thermal modular cover units that can be thrown in to the water during inactive periods.

Further advantages of pool covers

Solar blankets have other benefits besides reducing water evaporation. They offer UV protection that shields and enhances the life of a swimming pool liner and, in the case of the higher quality covers, provide genuine thermal heat insulation properties (in addition to evaporation prevention properties).

By protecting a pool from falling and air bound debris, solar covers reduce both cleaning time and the amount of money spent on cleaning chemicals and general maintenance.

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