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Rob Cox, February 18, 2012
Solar blanket pool covers: tips and tricks
Pool solar blankets, aka solar covers are an interesting idea. Invented when the bubble wrap people - Sealed Air, came up with another consumer use for their air cell technology. It began as a home experiment, when one of the engineers took home some heavy duty bubble wrap and put it on his pool; he noticed that it got warmer!
Solar Pool Blankets allow the sun's rays to heat the water and reduce the evaporative loss of heat, water and treatment chemicals. Depending on the length and strength of your daily dose of sun, solar covers can raise the water temperature 10 degrees or more, and retain the heat put in during the day, throughout the night.
Here's some common questions on solar blanket, from our PoolTalk help forum.
Q: How do I buy a solar blanket for a free form shape pool?
A: Buy the smallest rectangle that will cover the longest length and the widest width. Trim it to fit.
Q: How do I install a solar blanket on a free form shape pool?
A: After you have unboxed it, stretch it tight over the pool, and allow the packing wrinkles to relax. Place some weights around the edge, where the solar blanket overlaps the pool deck. Then use a razor knife along the edge of the coping stone. Cut carefully and slowly, all around the edge, keeping the edge taut as you go. You can recycle the leftover solar blanket material.
Q: My last solar blanket only lasted a year, and then it disintegrated!
A: Unfortunate, and uncommon. Here's some tips on increasing solar blanket lifespan:
- Keep chlorine level between 1-2ppm
- Remove solar cover before shocking the pool, keep off until chlorine level is 1-2ppm
- Maintain pH above 7.2. Low pH levels can weaken a solar cover
- Use a solar blanket cover or solar tarp (covers for the cover ;-) when storing outdoors
- Use a solar reel to store the solar blanket when not in use
- Buy a thick solar blanket; they are sold in 8, 10, 12 and 16 mil thicknesses.
Q: My pool cleaner hose gets caught on my solar blanket!
A: Thicker blankets don't usually have this problem. Using hose weights on some cleaners will help to keep most of the hose beneath the water surface. Installing a larger solar blanket that overlaps the deck slightly can help.
Q: How do I store my solar blanket?
A: Very carefully! They are best stored on a solar reel, and then covered with plastic bags or sheets of polyethylene. An Indoor, dry and climate controlled area is best. If you can't fit your solar reel indoors, it's best to roll up and store the solar blanket in the original box, or large can or large yard bag. Make sure that your solar blanket is clean and dry before storing it for an extended period of time. If you leave your solar cover off the side of the pool, laying on the ground, it will deteriorate the cover and also kill grass.
Q: Do I need to buy a solar reel to store my solar blanket?
A: Not if you don't want to, but they do make managing easier, and definately increase their lifespan. If you have a small rectangular pool and some extra deck space on one side or end, you can accordian fold it on deck when you take it off the pool. An alternative product to above ground solar reels is called the solar saddle, a series of J hooks that hang along the back of the pool wall. Solar covers that are bunched up over on the side of the lawn don't last very long.
Q: How do I get the leaves off of my solar blanket?
A: Here are methods for removing leaves and debris from a solar blanket.
- Use a leaf blower to blow leaves to one side of the blanket where they can be removed
- If using a solar reel, hose the leaves off as you roll it up, then use Cover Catch for the last part
- Use a leaf rake skimmer net on a pole to scoop leaves and debris from the solar cover
- Never use yard leaf rake, or do so very carefully, so the tines don't snag a hole
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