Solar pool covers can be a great way to keep your pool warm without having to invest in a pool heater. But solar pool heaters aren’t free! So let’s find out if solar pool covers are effective and worth the cost.
Solar pool covers are effective and can be a great way to keep your pool warm and save money. In fact, a good solar pool cover can heat your pool about 10 degrees warmer and keep your pool safe from the elements! Overall, solar pool covers are worth the investment.
Now, if you want to understand exactly what a solar pool cover can do, as well as a cost analysis of how much it will cost versus the price of a pool heater, and even understand the different kinds of solar pool covers, keep reading! You are going to be an expert in just a few moments.
What is a Solar Pool Cover?
The very first thing you need to understand before deciding if you should get a solar pool cover is what it actually is.
A solar pool cover looks like a large piece of bubble wrap, and it is used to protect pool water from the elements and debris, all while heating the water with the sun’s rays.
There are a few different types of solar pool covers, including solar rings, solar blankets, and liquid solar covers, and although the products are slightly different (which we will talk about in a following section), they essentially all do the same thing.
Many pool owners are opting for solar pool covers as opposed to standard pool covers as they provide everything your pool needs and can even save them quite a bit of money.
Before we dig into all the details, here’s a quick breakdown of the pros, cons, and prices of solar pool covers versus standard covers.
|Feature||Average Price||Protects Pool Water||Heats Pool Water||Easy Installation||Pool Heater Needed||Needs Cleaning|
|Standard Pool Cover||$60-$400||Yes||No||Yes||Yes||Every 3 Months|
|Solar Pool Cover||$100-$300||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||Every 3 Months|
Now, it may seem as though these two options have quite a lot in common, but there is quite a lot more you need to understand before deciding if a solar pool cover is the right choice for your pool.
How Do Solar Pool Covers Work?
The next aspect of solar pool covers to understand is how they work to heat your pool!
Like standard pool covers, solar pool covers keep out rain, leaves, and other debris when you aren’t using your pool. They also ensure small children and pets don’t fall in when you’re not outside and reduce evaporation which can save you money on your water bill!
However, unlike standard pool covers, solar pool covers have a specific technology that actually heats your pool while you’re not using it.
The solar cover traps the sun’s rays and uses them to heat the water underneath. And if you live in a sunny location, investing in a solar pool cover can mean you don’t have to buy or use a pool heater!
But before you go out and buy a solar pool cover, you may want to know exactly how effective they are and how much it will cost versus heating your pool with a standard heating system.
How Effective are Solar Pool Covers?
Solar pool covers are considered to be quite effective when it comes to heating outdoor pools.
In fact, studies have shown that a pool with a solar cover can get between 10-15 degrees warmer within 6 hours on a sunny day.
As well, solar pool covers reduce heat loss and evaporation by up to 95%. That means you won’t have to refill the pool as often, and if you use the cover consistently, you can keep your pool at the perfect temperature throughout the summer months.
A solar pool cover can actually cut your energy costs by 30%-50%, depending on how much sunlight the area receives.
It is important to note that these statistics do not apply to all solar pool covers. When it comes to selecting a solar cover that will cut costs and keep your pool warm, not all brands and makes are created equally.
Often, the cheaper solar pool covers are less efficient than those with a higher price tag. But you should absolutely do your research to find out if the cover you’re looking at is a decent quality product before making the purchase.
Heating Your Pool With and Without Solar
When it comes to comparing how much it will cost to heat your pool with and without a solar cover, you should know that in order for the cover to be effective and cost-efficient, it must receive a significant amount of sunlight.
Luckily, most pools are located in a sunny spot, so if your pool gets at least 6 hours of sunlight per day, here is what you can expect to pay to heat it with and without a solar cover:
|Options||Without Solar Cover||With Solar Cover|
|Cost Per Month (Energy Bill)||$200-$600||$0-$350|
If you live in an extremely sunny place like the southwest or Florida, you may be able to get away without having a heater in your pool at all if you invest in a solar pool cover! Which means you won’t pay a dime on your energy bill to heat your pool.
However, for most people who might still use a pool heater to ensure the water stays at the perfect temperature, investing in a solar cover can reduce what you spend on heating your pool by between 30%-50%.
How Should You Install a Solar Pool Cover?
If you’re thinking that a solar pool cover might be a great option for your pool, the next thing to understand is that there are two installation options: Doing it yourself or hiring a professional.
Now, we will step through the process, as well as the pros and cons of both options, so you can decide which is best for your situation.
First things first, you should be aware that there are two ways to install a solar pool cover. You can either simply unfold the cover and set it over the pool, or you can use a roller to easily move the cover when needed.
If you don’t plan to use a roller, installing a solar pool cover yourself is actually quite easy. Here’s what you need to do:
- Gently unroll the cover along the side of the pool.
- Unfold it over the pool and allow the excess cover to sit around the edge.
- Follow the lines of the pool with a pair of sharp and strong scissors to cut the cover to fit directly into the pool.
- NOTE: if there are a lot of leaves in your pool area, you may want to leave a few inches of cover to come up the sides of the pool.
- Make sure you leave a bit of the cover to fit into the filter.
When it comes to removing the cover, just pull the first half out of the water and fold it back up! You should always keep your pool cover in a safe location out of the sun.
There is another option to purchase a manual roller which does not need to be professionally installed for easy cover removal!
While the steps aren’t complicated, some solar pool covers can be very heavy and awkward. Therefore, many pool owners opt to install an electric pool roller which makes life just a little easier.
Hire a Professional
If you want to install an electric pool roller, you will probably want to opt for a professional to do the job.
Although it is possible to do it yourself, because the pool roller is electronic, a professional installer will be able to safely and efficiently set up the roller in a fraction of the time it would likely take you.
While hiring a professional does mean you need to pay an additional fee for your solar pool cover, it also means that you can feel safe knowing the electrical aspects of the roller are installed properly.
If you do decide to hire a professional, you should wait to purchase the solar pool cover as they may have a bundle in which you save money by buying the cover from the same company that comes to install it.
Another important factor to remember is that a pool roller will keep your solar cover in great condition, and you don’t have to worry about wear and tear as you would if you continually place and remove the cover yourself!
How Much Does It Cost To Install a Solar Pool Cover?
Now, if you install the pool cover yourself without a roller, i.e., simply unfolding the cover over the pool, it won’t cost you anything! And the only tool you would need is a pair of good scissors.
However, if you want to get the solar pool cover properly installed on a roller for easy placement and removal, you will certainly have to pay a fee.
Usually, it will cost between $200 and $5,000 to have a roller installed for your solar pool cover.
Realistically, how much it will cost to install the solar pool cover depends on what kind of roller you get, the cost of the cover itself, and how much the installation company charges for the labor.
|Option||No Roller||Manual Roller||Electric Roller||Automatic Roller|
|Price||Free||No Installation Cost||$250-$900||$1,500-$6,000|
Once again, what option works best for your family and your pool is completely up to you! But now you have all the information you need to make a confident decision as to how to install a solar pool cover.
Different Types of Solar Pool Covers
Finally, it’s time to discuss the different types of solar pool covers that you have to choose from.
Of course, there are a variety of different brands and models; however, there are also various types that you should understand before you even start shopping.
The first option is to opt for one or multiple solar rings for your pool. It’s important to understand that solar rings are not a complete pool covering and, therefore, do not offer the same protection as a pool cover.
|AffordableEasy to Install & RemoveHeat the Pool with the Sun||Don’t Protect the Pool from DebrisDon’t Minimize EvaporationDon’t Help Save on Chemicals|
Most solar rings only cost about $20 for a 5-foot circle. So if you just want a little extra heat for your pool without breaking the bank, this could be a good option for you!
Solar blankets, on the other hand, are complete pool coverings and are certainly the most common option for solar pool covers.
|Cuts Down Heat CostsDecreases EvaporationProtects Pool from Leaves & DebrisDecreases Need for Chemicals||They Can be ExpensiveBulky and Challenging to RemoveMay Need Professional Installation|
Overall, solar blankets can cost anywhere from $200 to $500, depending on which brand and quality you opt for.
And while they may cost a bit more to install, solar blankets will certainly save you money on chemicals, as well as water and energy bills over time.
Liquid Solar Pool Cover
Last on the list are liquid solar pool covers. This option is completely different from the others as it is an actual liquid that you pour on the top of the pool as opposed to a physical cover.
Liquid solar pool covers are made from alcohol and calcium hydroxide, and the combination is undetectable to anyone swimming but helps keep the pool water warmer.
|AffordableEasy to UseNo Installation NecessaryHelps Decrease Evaporation||Cannot Replace HeaterDoesn’t Protect Pool from DebrisDoesn’t Decrease the Need for Chemicals|
A bottle of liquid solar pool cover typically only costs about $25. However, while it can help keep your pool warm, it is in no way as powerful or effective as a solar blanket or even a solar ring.
Solar pool covers are absolutely an efficient way to protect and heat your pool!
And now you know what they will cost, the many options there are, as well as how you can and should install them.
Just remember, while you will spend a bit more when purchasing a solar pool cover and getting it installed, you will save quite a bit of money in the long run on chemicals, maintenance, and heating costs.
Ruben has a diverse background in the home services industry, with experience running a construction company, a kitchen and bath showroom, and a moving and relocation company. This breadth of experience has provided him with a wealth of knowledge and expertise in various areas of home improvement in general and specifically in the heating and plumbing niche.