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Buying and Installing a Solar Cover

Why Buy A Solar Blanket?

Regular pool covers keep rain and debris out of swimming pools and make pools easy to maintain. They also save water and reduce pool chemical consumption. Solar blankets can do all of these and also help heat your swimming pool.

Solar covers will keep your swimming pool warm enough to take swims at night and as the weather cools. Whether you use fossil fuel or electricity to heat your pool, getting the right solar blanket can significantly cut the cost of keeping your pool warm. In addition, solar pool covers are reusable, recyclable green products that do not contribute to environmental pollution.

A solar cover provides more insulation than regular swimming pool covers. The most common solar blankets look like large industrial bubble wraps. Therefore, a solar blanket can significantly reduce your energy bill by lowering the cost of heating your pool and even eliminate the need for a solar pool heater.

Solar Blankets: What to Look For

Thickness of the cover

The thickness of solar covers usually varies from 8 mils to 16 mils. A thicker solar blanket means a longer life, as long as you are following a regular maintenance and care routine.

Thicker covers will also handle chemical burning and solar wear and tear better than thinner covers, however you will still cause damage to these products quickly if proper care is not taken.

Pool Supplies Canada carries 8, 11 and 14 mil solar covers.

Size of the bubbles

The amount of air trapped between the top of the solar blanket and the water in your pool creates a barrier. This barrier is the majority of the insulation your blanket has; the more dead air space, the more effective the cover is. As convection currents are created due to the heat difference between the air and water you will lose your heat retention, so making this space larger does provide a benefit but not at an effective ratio to make it worth over-sizing the bubbles.

Shape of the Bubble

The shape of the bubble will help determine the longevity of the cover. More edges and curves means more structural weakness. As the temperature rises the bubbles expand and put stress on the material. A dome shape will spread this stress evenly through the bubble whereas a hexagon or diamond bubble will have many weak points which will be the first to go as the cover ages.

Pool Supplies Canada only offers solar covers with dome shaped bubbles. While circles seem like dome shapes, they are not actually as structurally strong as a dome shaped bubble. The bubbles should also be slightly deflated at room temperature to ensure expansion room so that as the temperature rises they don't explode.

Ultraviolet Resistance & Colour

Solar blankets come in different colours. While pool blankets with aquamarine and dark colours look good resting on swimming pools, they are not as effective as clear solar blankets at allowing rays of sun to pass through. A black blanket heats up quickly and would seem a good choice for keeping pools warm, however it is actually not very effective since it blocks sunlight. In addition solar covers spend a lot of time sitting in the sun. Therefore it is important to get one with a high UV resistance -- stabilized solar blankets last longer than those without UV protection. All Pool Supplies Canada solar covers come with a UV protection.

A darker coloured blanket can be advantageous for those who want a warm pool but have algae issues. A darker cover allows less light into your pool, therefore allowing less algae growth. The darker cover will reduce longevity of the solar blanket however.

Pool Supplies Canada carries blue, blue / silver and clear solar covers.

Size & Fitting

The size of your swimming pool is also an important factor to consider when shopping for a solar cover. While covering a portion of your pool with such a blanket is still better than leaving it exposed, it is best to get a solar blanket that covers all of the water surface. To get a blanket of the right size, make sure to measure your pool at its longest and widest sections. Then you can trim the blanket to fit the exact dimensions of your pool.

Measure the longest and widest points of the pool including any steps. The image to the right shows a freeform pool. You will want to measure the length and width of the pool, creating an imaginary rectangle around the shape of the pool as suggested in the image. In this case the measurement is 20 ft x 38 ft. We do not sell a 20 ft x 38 ft solar cover so you will want to round up to the nearest size. In this case you will round up to a 20 ft x 40 ft solar cover. Later in this guide we will go over how to cut the solar cover to shape and size.

Installing a Solar Cover

  • Lay the solar cover on the pool bubble side down.
  • Smooth out the cover, removing any air bubbles and wrinkles.
  • Using your pool as a template, take a pair of ordinary household scissors (the sharper the better) and with someone holding pool cover in position, cut the edge of the cover so that it sits flat on the water with about ¼ inch rising up the side of the pool. It is best to cut the cover a little large to allow for some shrinkage that will happen during the first couple of weeks.

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