Working with a Solar Cover

cnr1089October 11, 2010

Our new pool is up and running! But the heater hasn't been hooked up yet (tomorrow, actually) and I want to make sure everything is working as expected before we close the pool for the season (live in southern NH). So at some point, we are going to crank up the heat (400k BTU heater) and get it up to swimming temperature for some swimming ,just to make sure it is all working.

This is going to be a fairly expensive endeavor, but I don't want to find out 6 months later that things weren't installed correctly. My wife is against solar covers. She thinks the look crummy and are hard to work with (we will not get a reel for our cover). She says that it will be bulky to store and hard and it needs to be kept dry to not get moldy (she had a pool growing up, I did not).

I think that having the solar cover will pay for itself in just this one experiment (heating our pool from 50-75 degrees when the nighttime temperature can be as low as 35). I have found a rectangular 20x40' cover for use on our non rectangular 24x41' pool for about $119 (shipping included).

My thought is I can cut the cover to get almost 100% coverage (it indents in one spot and out in another). With the cover cut in several pieces (maybe 4 or so), it will be easier to work with and store.

How do others deal with this? How do they store their solar cover (note, it is likely to only be used right when we open the pool and right before we close it, I am not likely to put it on and off throughout the summer). I have seen mixed reviews of the solar rings and I am not really fond of the images on the top of them. Is this question better suited for troublefreepools.com (I have frequented here more often, as there are more about pool builds here).

Thoughts?

Thanks!

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golfgeek

cnr1089,
IMO Rings are easier to store and clean.
I look at the large solar covers as throw away covers. At $119 they are a lot of work to clean and store. I would suggest you find the cheapest solar cover and figure it's worth one years use. Anything after that is bonus. And buy a new one each year.

In the heat solar covers melt on the reel
In the cold solar covers freeze and pop the air chambers

Always wanted to meet the guy who put the covers in those nice cardboard boxes. Wonder how he would package a slightly used cover?

    Bookmark   October 11, 2010 at 6:43PM
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azbabs

Get a clear cover, they look much better. I cut mine in 3 pieces for easier application, removal, and storage. When not in use, I rinse the pieces off and hang over the fence to dry. Then fold up the pieces and put in my pool shed. I have a large pool (22' X 43')and can do this all easily by my self.

The cover will greatly reduce the heatloss you gain from the heater. You won't have to play catch up so much and get the water warmer and faster.

    Bookmark   October 12, 2010 at 4:20PM
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cnr1089

Does it not interfere with the skimmer (I guess it doesn't matter, since nothing will land on top of the pool).

How about the cleaning robot (have the Polaris 3900 Sport). Can this work under a solar cover?

    Bookmark   October 12, 2010 at 5:34PM
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mas985

Yes, basically a cover will prevent skimming. Debris will collect on the top and unless you clean it off before rolling it up, the debris will end up in the pool. Sometimes you can use a leaf blower to blow off the debris but it isn't perfect and doesn't work if the cover surface is wet. I find it is easier to let the debris go into the pool and use a leaf rake to remove it.

I have a suction cleaner which works fine under the cover so I would assume a robot should be fine.

    Bookmark   October 13, 2010 at 10:48AM
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joanneswimsct

I have a clear cover for my 20X38 rect. I wasn't sure how much I'd use it but found that I LOVE the temp to be a balmy 85 or more (yes, even in the summer!) so we roll it on and off every day. We use the Rocky roller which is on wheels so when not in use, we roll it as far from the pool edge as possible. We are in CT so have experience w/ those cold evenings. We are actually still swimming daily as we are fortunate enough to have a telescoping enclosure that keeps the weather 99% out. We don't have to deal w/ flying debris BUT it is not air tight so we do suffer extreme air temps. W/o the solar cover I'm sure the water would be fairly chilly each morning but w/ the cover, the pool gets "put to bed" each evening at 87 and when it starts up in the am it has only dropped to 85. Knock on wood but we have yet to deal w/ mold, mildew, melting or freezing of the cover. It has been in use for 2 seasons (our seasons last 9 months) and although a bit bedraggled, it still performs remarkably well. In the summer, even w/ the enclosure open, the air can get very hot; 120-plus degrees w/ the sun shining directly into the end bays but still no trouble w/ the cover or reel. Good luck w/ your decision; I vote yes!!
Joanne

    Bookmark   October 15, 2010 at 11:59PM
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inspectorjoe

I keep a solar cover on my 41' free-form pool almost all the time. It's one piece, but I have no trouble taking it off or putting it back without a reel (I can't say the same for my wife).

The cover has two seams, dividing it roughly in thirds lengthwise. To start, I take the pool brush and flip one side over along a seam. It takes practice, but once you get the hang of it, it's easy. Then I walk into the shallow end, place an aluminum pole on the surface and start rolling. That also takes a little practice to be able to roll straight and quickly. When it's completely rolled, I float it to the edge then 'roll' it up over the coping onto the deck. Then I'll either leave it there and cover it with white plastic or carry it to a shady spot.

It takes less than 5 minutes.

Joe

    Bookmark   October 19, 2010 at 11:57PM
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