by Rob Cox, August 24, 2012
Mesh or Solid Safety Pool Covers: Which is Better?
When the safety pool cover was first invented, a mesh fabric was the only choice offered. After about 20 years on the market, installers began to ask if they could have a solid material, anchored in the deck, in the same fashion. A company known as Anchor Industries was first on the market with a PVC reinforced vinyl material.
Safety cover manufacturers saw the demand for a solid safety cover and worked hard with the ASTM (American Society of Testing and Materials) to create a solid safety cover that could still be called a safety cover. This was complicated, due to the fact that a solid material would collect rain water, and even a few inches of water on a cover could pose a safety hazard. For a few years, you could have the solid cover made by Loop-Loc or Meyco, but it was very clear on the company and pool owner documents that this was NOT a safety cover, and could pose risks, yada, yada, yada.
A few years later, these companies introduced the solid safety cover with center drain panels. These proudly held ASTM approval as a safety pool cover. Meanwhile the completely solid covers were quietly removed from manufacturer's offerings, until around late nineties, when it was quietly announced that you could buy a completely solid safety cover, but it was only and always sold with an automatic cover pump.
So now, we have 3 choices available: Mesh safety covers, Solid safety covers with drain panel and Solid safety covers with cover pump. Which is better? I have listed the advantages of each below.
When solid covers with drain panels were introduced, I immediately got half a dozen orders for this new type of safety cover - touting it as the algae-free safety pool cover to those customers who were tired of spending so much money on pool shock to open their green, mesh covered pool each year. Because these covers block all sunlight I told them, we'll have no algae come spring!
Well, each one of these pools opened up green the next year, despite a careful pool closing. It could be that phosphate levels were so high that even a lack of sunlight couldn't prevent the algae growth. Regardless, I revised my theory on winter algae growth - that it was not so much the algae growth, but the contaminants that wash in through the center drain panel that causes most algae growth. Pollen, Pollutants and Phosphates among other things. I had nearby pools that used the Anchor solid cover, and was always happy opening these pools; just a little hazy, with perfect water balance and zero algae growth - year after year.
So, if you ask me - my preference is the Solid Safety Cover with Cover Pump. More expensive, heavier, requires more cleaning and maintaining a cover pump, but I just love removing these solid covers in the spring to blue and clear water. For me, that makes the extra effort and expense worthwhile. I also appreciate their extra heavy duty PVC reinforced fabric, providing extra resistance to damage from sunlight, animals or heavy tree branches. But most of all, I like the idea that solids aren't washing into the pool during winter, keeping the water lean and light, and preventing pool stains.
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