Swimming pools lose energy in a variety of ways, but evaporation is by far the largest source of energy loss. You can significantly reduce pool heating costs by using a pool cover.
A Solar Pool Cover is the least expensive way to keep your pool water warm and extend the length of your swimming season.
One of the lowest cost covers made specifically for swimming pools is the bubble (or solar) cover. Bubble covers are similar to bubble packing material except they use a thicker grade of plastic and have UV inhibitors. The bubbles trap heat from the sun and keep the heat in the pool, keeping the water temperature warm and inviting.
It’s best to use a cover designed specifically for swimming pools. They’re made of special materials, such as UV-stabilized polyethylene, polypropylene, or vinyl. They can be transparent or opaque. Covers can even be light or dark colored. Vinyl covers consist of a heavier material and have a longer life expectancy than bubble covers. Insulated vinyl covers are also available with a thin layer of flexible insulation sandwiched between two layers of vinyl.
Outdoor pools gain heat from the sun, absorbing 75%–85% of the solar energy striking the pool surface. This is an important contribution to the pool’s heating needs. A pool cover will decrease the solar gain contribution to some extent, depending on what type you use. A transparent bubble cover may reduce pool solar energy absorption by 5%–15%. A completely opaque cover will reduce it by 20%–40%. You need to consider this when selecting a pool cover.
You also need to decide whether you want a manual, semi-automatic, or an automatic pool cover. You can manually pull the cover on and off, fold it, and place it somewhere out of the way. You can also purchase a pool cover reel to help manually roll up the pool cover. The reel, usually on wheels, can be rolled out of the way.
Semi-automatic covers use a motor-driven reel system. They use electrical power to roll and unroll the cover, but usually require someone to pull on the cover when unrolling or guide the cover onto the reel when rolling up the cover. Semi-automatic covers can be built into the pool deck surrounding the pool or can use reels on carts.
Automatic covers have permanently mounted reels that automatically cover and uncover the pool at the push of a button. They’re the most expensive option, but they’re also the most convenient.
Other Pool Cover Benefits
Besides offering energy savings, pool covers also do the following:
- Conserve water by reducing the amount of make-up water needed by 30%–50%
- Reduce the pool’s chemical consumption by 35%–60%
- Reduce cleaning time by keeping dirt and other debris out of the pool.