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Thread: Solar covers - worth it?

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    Solar covers - worth it?

    When I was growing up we had a swimming pool and bought a solar cover (this was around 1980). We didn't have any sort of a roller so we had to manually pull it off and fold it up at one end of the pool - this took up around 4-5 feet of deck space.

    Five years ago I moved to a new house and had a pool put in. We didn't get a solar cover and I am now wondering whether it is worth getting one. I don't have a ton of deck space so I am not sure where it would be stored. Obviously having a solar cover will reduce heating costs but is it worth the hassle and cost, assuming that I put in an automated roller system. The other system is that my pool is somewhat irregularly shaped and looks like this:
    Code:
         ________
    ____/       |
    |           |
    |      _____|
    |_____/
    Here is what I see as the pros and cons:

    Pros
    Save money on heating
    Less water and chlorine evaporation (chlorine doesn't really matter since I have an SWG)
    Prevents debris from getting in pool

    Cons
    Upfront capital cost
    Takes up deck space
    Unsightly
    Hassle of putting it on/off before/after using the pool
    Interferes with Kreepy Krawly?

    Do I have this right? What is the opinion on everyone here on whether it is worth it or not?

    FYI - I live in Toronto, ON and the pool is generally open from mid/late May to late Sep and I generally keep the heater at about 85F. At the beginning/end of the season I often only heat the pool for the weekend. My heater is NatGas.
    Vinyl 18'x36' in-ground 100,000 L, Jandy Aquapure 1400 SWCG, Jandy Lite2 heater, StaRite System3 filter, Evac tube solar heating panels

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    Mod Squad Bama Rambler's Avatar
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    Re: Solar covers - worth it?

    The thing that the cover will do is help with heat loss due to evaporation. You'd be surprised how much heat a pool loses that way. In my opinion it's definitely worth the cost and effort to have a solar cover.
    Dave J. TFP Moderator
    24' x 52" Round AGP. 2hp/¼hp SPL Power-Flo 2-speed pump. 200sqft Waterway Cartridge Filter. 45MHP2(3GPD) Stenner Peristaltic Pump
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    mas985's Avatar
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    Re: Solar covers - worth it?

    I might move the one about the debris into the con list because my experience has been that while the debris does collect on the cover, it is difficult to get off without dumping at least some of it into the pool. But nothing a little pump run time doesn't clean up. Plus since I have a SWG, salt seems to collect on the cover so I need to hose off the cover periodically which tends to dump dirt into the pool as well.

    But taking it on and off is not so bad. I use a homemade variant of the Solar Roller and it is very easy to get off and just a little more difficult to get back on.

    The best part is that it cuts the heat loss in half which means I can run my pump half as much with solar which is a pretty big savings. I can only imagine it is even larger savings using NG.
    Mark
    Hydraulics 101; Pump Ed 101; Pump/Pool Spreadsheets; Pump Run Time Study; DIY Acid Dosing; DIY Cover Roller
    18'x36' 20k plaster, MaxFlo SP2303VSP, Aqualogic PS8 SWCG, 420 sq-ft Cartridge, Solar, 6 jet spa, 1 HP jet pump, 400k BTU NG Heater

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    Re: Solar covers - worth it?

    With NatGas heating I would think that the costs savings with a solar cover tip the list to the "pro" side fast.

    I agree with your list - our solar cover keeps in a LOT of the heat overnight but I despised the way it looked and hated taking it off and putting it on. We had spent a good amount of money on water features and lights - which I really like when sitting by the pool at night. With the cover we stopped using them.

    The cover did not interfere with our suction cleaner.

    As soon as the solar could keep up without the cover here we folded it up and put it away.

    btw - I have seen "solar pills" which is a liquid that will float to the top at night and hold heat. People say they work, but I did not like the idea of yet another chemical in my water and they do need to be replenished. So we never tried it. The solar guy said he'd give us one for free if we wanted, but he also admitted he does not use them on his own pool...
    7500 gal gunite/stonescapes, iAqualink RS-8, Jandy 2HP VS-Flopro, Jandy 200 sqft Cartridge filter
    Pentair Intellichlor IC-40, Zodiac MX-8, Fafco solar panels
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    Re: Solar covers - worth it?

    If you do get one (which I also recommend), make sure you keep an eye on your chlorine level and SWCG setting as you will find you are using a lot less chlorine!
    20k gal, IG Vinyl, IntelliFlo VF Pump, 60 GPM sand filter, Jandy Aquapure Ei 35, 2 skimmers, one main drain, two returns, Dolphin Diagnostic cleaning robot, Taylor K-2006 test kit

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    Re: Solar covers - worth it?

    Yes, I would think that it would reduce the amount of chlorine that sublimates, but I don't know that is much of an issue other than turning down the percentage on my SWG which I don't think really makes much difference cost-wise.
    Vinyl 18'x36' in-ground 100,000 L, Jandy Aquapure 1400 SWCG, Jandy Lite2 heater, StaRite System3 filter, Evac tube solar heating panels

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    Re: Solar covers - worth it?

    Theoretically, running the SWCG less should extend the life of your cell and reduce your electricity consumption.
    20k gal, IG Vinyl, IntelliFlo VF Pump, 60 GPM sand filter, Jandy Aquapure Ei 35, 2 skimmers, one main drain, two returns, Dolphin Diagnostic cleaning robot, Taylor K-2006 test kit

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    Re: Solar covers - worth it?

    Sounds like the consensus is that a solar cover does help quite a bit... what is the best cover? And if it is installed in pieces (irregular shaped pool) with some gaps, does it still do about as well?
    32K gal, gunite, French Gray DB, IntelliFlo VF, IntelliFlo, WhisperFlo, Quad DE 100 filter, IntelliTouch, IC-60 SWG, IntelliChem, Dolphin M5

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    Re: Solar covers - worth it?

    Our pool is irregular and asked the guy who cut the cover for us to piece it. He said it was better done in a single piece, that multiple parts will slide across each other when the returns come on. Our pool is small enough that we could get one big irregular cover cut from standard roll stock.
    7500 gal gunite/stonescapes, iAqualink RS-8, Jandy 2HP VS-Flopro, Jandy 200 sqft Cartridge filter
    Pentair Intellichlor IC-40, Zodiac MX-8, Fafco solar panels
    DreamMaker X-500 Spa

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    Re: Solar covers - worth it?

    I'll throw in my $0.02 on this subject. I have a freeform pool and had to buy a much larger rectangular cover to cut to shape. I calculated that roughly 33% was thrown in the garbage. We cut it in two pieces for easier handling. It definitely helps with heat loss and our heat pump works better. But, I find in to be a PIA to put on, take off and store. I also would rather see shimmering water than bubble wrap and don't use it that much. I opened the pool a couple of weeks ago and may put the solar cover on when we get closer to swim season to get the pool warmed up.
    Free-form concrete walls with vinyl liner, 18,000 gallon capacity, Jandy 1.5HP e-Pump, Jandy DEV48 DE filter (using cellulose media), Jandy AE2500 heat pump, Jandy Aqualink Power Center with 14-blade cell kit and Jandy PDA-P8 wireless control system.

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    Re: Solar covers - worth it?

    My wife and I had a drink by the pool last night before bedtime (it was one of the first warm nights here) and we were discussing a solar cover. We are leaning towards no because we thought it would be a disincentive to use the pool, like have a quick dip before bedtime would become a hassle as you would have to take off the cover. I know it can save you a decent amount of money, but when you figure how much you spend on a pool in terms of capital and ongoing costs (I am guessing that my costs would be around $15k/yr assuming a 20 year life for pool & landscaping) then the opportunity cost of not swimming is also quite high. So maybe a solar cover takes the annual costs (including amortized capital and annual operating) down from $15k to $13.5k but is it worth it?
    Vinyl 18'x36' in-ground 100,000 L, Jandy Aquapure 1400 SWCG, Jandy Lite2 heater, StaRite System3 filter, Evac tube solar heating panels

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    Re: Solar covers - worth it?

    Mark,

    That solar roller looks great, and expensive! How did you make one yourself?
    Dave
    Yakima, WA (the Palm Springs of Washington!)
    IG kidney 14k gal, 33 x 18
    vinyl liner
    200 lb Sand filter
    3/4 HP pump
    First time pool owner

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    mas985's Avatar
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    Re: Solar covers - worth it?

    Quote Originally Posted by Yakiman
    That solar roller looks great, and expensive! How did you make one yourself?
    I had purchased one several years ago and it worked fine except for one thing. The aluminum tube that comes with it lasted only about 3 years before it corroded through, probably because of the salt. So I replaced the aluminum tube with 1 1/2" ABS pipe. ABS is nice because it has a foam core and floats so it helps keep the cover from sinking and the aluminum had a tendency to sink in the water. PVC sinks too. Anyway, I only had to drill a hole and notch the abs pipe to allow for the locking fasteners to work (second item):
    http://solarfactory.com/solar-cover-rol ... parts.html

    There is no longer a crank but since the pipe is a good size diameter, it is fairly easy to turn by hand. It makes taking the cover on and off fairly easy. So if you wanted to make one, you only need the ABS pipe and the locking fasteners.

    If I get a chance later today, I can take some pictures.
    Mark
    Hydraulics 101; Pump Ed 101; Pump/Pool Spreadsheets; Pump Run Time Study; DIY Acid Dosing; DIY Cover Roller
    18'x36' 20k plaster, MaxFlo SP2303VSP, Aqualogic PS8 SWCG, 420 sq-ft Cartridge, Solar, 6 jet spa, 1 HP jet pump, 400k BTU NG Heater

  14. Back To Top    #14

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    Re: Solar covers - worth it?

    Quote Originally Posted by wayner
    My wife and I had a drink by the pool last night before bedtime (it was one of the first warm nights here) and we were discussing a solar cover. We are leaning towards no because we thought it would be a disincentive to use the pool, like have a quick dip before bedtime would become a hassle as you would have to take off the cover.
    I completely agree, this was our experience. I called our cover the blue pool condom.

    In our case, not only did we skip the quick dip after dinner, we skipped turning on the lights and water features during dinner. However, our cover was not so expensive and since it does help get the temps up during the cooler parts at the start/end of our (very long) swim season I guess it may have a role to play.
    7500 gal gunite/stonescapes, iAqualink RS-8, Jandy 2HP VS-Flopro, Jandy 200 sqft Cartridge filter
    Pentair Intellichlor IC-40, Zodiac MX-8, Fafco solar panels
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    Re: Solar covers - worth it?

    I didn't think Florida had a swim season!
    Vinyl 18'x36' in-ground 100,000 L, Jandy Aquapure 1400 SWCG, Jandy Lite2 heater, StaRite System3 filter, Evac tube solar heating panels

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    Re: Solar covers - worth it?

    Thanks Mark!
    Dave
    Yakima, WA (the Palm Springs of Washington!)
    IG kidney 14k gal, 33 x 18
    vinyl liner
    200 lb Sand filter
    3/4 HP pump
    First time pool owner

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    Re: Solar covers - worth it?

    Quote Originally Posted by wayner
    I didn't think Florida had a swim season!
    It depends on what water temps you consider "swimmable"... I've seen Canadians swim unheated pools at any time - in fact if you see a person in an unheated pool in January the odds are good they are Canadian (or Nordic).

    For us thin-bloods... December and January are iffy with a few months around that as the "start" and "end" of the "season".
    I can't say I know for sure though because we have not had our pool a year yet. For my wife, even now with the solar on... a cloudy day will drag the water temp down to low 80's and she won't go in!
    7500 gal gunite/stonescapes, iAqualink RS-8, Jandy 2HP VS-Flopro, Jandy 200 sqft Cartridge filter
    Pentair Intellichlor IC-40, Zodiac MX-8, Fafco solar panels
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  18. Back To Top    #18

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    Re: Solar covers - worth it?

    I guess Lake Nona is not south Florida so that is somewhat different. But yes, since our summers are limited in Canada we take advantage of whatever swimmable time we have. Swimming season for me begins today as the air is around 20C or 70F and the water should be at 84F.
    Vinyl 18'x36' in-ground 100,000 L, Jandy Aquapure 1400 SWCG, Jandy Lite2 heater, StaRite System3 filter, Evac tube solar heating panels

  19. Back To Top    #19

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    Re: Solar covers - worth it?

    Quote Originally Posted by wayner
    I guess Lake Nona is not south Florida so that is somewhat different. But yes, since our summers are limited in Canada we take advantage of whatever swimmable time we have. Swimming season for me begins today as the air is around 20C or 70F and the water should be at 84F.
    LN = Orlando, so yes a few hours of "cold" occur here on occasion - and it makes the news! (still amuses me)

    yep 84F is swimmable to me too, the wife prefers 88 or more - it's 92 at the moment.
    7500 gal gunite/stonescapes, iAqualink RS-8, Jandy 2HP VS-Flopro, Jandy 200 sqft Cartridge filter
    Pentair Intellichlor IC-40, Zodiac MX-8, Fafco solar panels
    DreamMaker X-500 Spa

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    Re: Solar covers - worth it?

    I am a keen golfer so I have heard of Lake Nona since it is home to many PGA tour players.
    Vinyl 18'x36' in-ground 100,000 L, Jandy Aquapure 1400 SWCG, Jandy Lite2 heater, StaRite System3 filter, Evac tube solar heating panels

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