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Thread: Help with buying solar cover or solar rings or other?

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    Help with buying solar cover or solar rings or other?

    I want to purchase a solar cover or similar, for the purpose of helping to heat my pool obviously. And I think they are good because they help keep debris out a little bit?

    I looked around at what's available, and IF I buy a solar cover I want a 12 mil so it can go on a reel. And they claim that the clear type is best, so I would probably go for the clear type.

    However, then I came across those solar ring circular things. They say you just buy enough to cover 80% of your pool and it works like a very good solar cover. Is that true? What are the downsides to these rings and what else do I need to consider? I feel like it might be easier for me to remove a few rings and get into the pool (and I can leave some of the rings in the pool) rather than rolling up the solar cover. Since I am petite and not strong at all. I know that you can't store the rings in sunlight, so I would keep them in a plastic durable bin when they are not in the pool.

    Are there other options I should consider besides the rings or bubble-style solar cover?

    Thanks!
    Inground oval approx 17.5' x 35' (with middle of deep end 9'?) so guessing 27000 gallons. Vinyl liner, BBB chlorine. Dolphin. Portable fullsize spa not currently in use.

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    Re: Help with buying solar cover or solar rings or other?

    because they help keep debris out a little bit?
    Actually, when you remove the cover, most of the debris will fall into the pool, unless you are absolutely carefull removing the cover.

    As for the rings. If you get a lot of wind in your area, you may want to rethink this. I have a neighbor who has the rings and on windy days all of his rings end up in one corner of the pool or they blow completely out of the pool.
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    Re: Help with buying solar cover or solar rings or other?

    Oh, both are very good points, thank you. Still am confused though, hmm.

    There is possibly the option of skipping the cover or rings, and then I'll have more money towards my solar heater fund. I know that a lot of people with heaters still use a cover to retain heat, but I think my solar heater will raise the temp enough that I can waste some to the surface being exposed, and for me personally, it makes me less likely to use the pool if I have to remove the cover/rings.
    Inground oval approx 17.5' x 35' (with middle of deep end 9'?) so guessing 27000 gallons. Vinyl liner, BBB chlorine. Dolphin. Portable fullsize spa not currently in use.

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    Water_man's Avatar
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    Re: Help with buying solar cover or solar rings or other?

    You should consider ease of use since you mentioned it. I don't know what kind of pool you have, but for an IGP spreading the SC and reeling it in are not easy tasks. Two in my family are needed to spread it, and you need to have some muscle to reel it in. Maybe you should consider the lighter, 8 mil. Don't get the diamond shaped ones.
    This is my ticket for Heaven (when all's working..) :
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    JasonLion's Avatar
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    Re: Help with buying solar cover or solar rings or other?

    A solar cover is the single most cost effective thing you can do to warm up the water in your pool. It is a little bit of work, but if you get a reasonably thin cover it isn't too bad.

    The solar sun rings seem to get lots of negative reviews, though there are a few people who love them.
    19K gal, vinyl, 1/2 HP WhisperFlo pump, 200 sqft cartridge filter, AutoPilot Digital SWG, Dolphin Dynamic cleaning robot
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    frustratedpoolmom's Avatar
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    Re: Help with buying solar cover or solar rings or other?

    IF it's just you doing the cover, I'd go with the lightest mil possible, and you'll get a technique down for removing it. Plus if you decide to stop using it, you aren't out as much $$ by going cheaper. You don't have to use a reel. I roll mine up like a giant egg roll and stick it in the corner of the deck out of the sun.
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    Re: Help with buying solar cover or solar rings or other?

    Thanks... okay, I will really consider 8 mil. I do already have a reel that seems to work okay. I'm pretty sure I could reel in and out the cover by myself (if 12 mil and especially if lighter) but of course it will make me less likely to want to use the pool knowing I had to do that.

    The temp of the pool is pretty important too - obviously if it's 1-3 degrees cooler than what I find to be warm enough then I am less likely to want to get in for a swim too. I've been planning to make a DIY solar heater (get one made for me) with many feet of black hose, which looks to be very effective and may even make the pool too hot, if it were running all the time. But I don't know if I will manage to get that done in the next 2 months (in which case maybe I'd wait til next pool season).

    I guess those liquid solar types are more expensive and not nearly as effective as a cover? I tried that for a couple months, and it seemed like it helped by 2 degrees?

    Does that info change anything?
    Inground oval approx 17.5' x 35' (with middle of deep end 9'?) so guessing 27000 gallons. Vinyl liner, BBB chlorine. Dolphin. Portable fullsize spa not currently in use.

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    Re: Help with buying solar cover or solar rings or other?

    Have you considered a solar cover cut into strips. The advantages are no cost to purchase the reel and the strips are a more manageable size for one person to handle. Another advantage I have found is I can choose to only cover half the pool at different times of the year which gives us a little pool to play in without constantly covering and uncovering.

    Also keep in mind that a covered pool behaves slightly different from a chemical balance standpoint. In my pool I noticed increased chlorine usage and if I remember right my TA rose a little along with CC ..... All until I installed supplemental ozone which helped a great majority with these issues. Without the cover they really are easy issues in a chlorine pool.

    And yes, when you remove the cover all debris usually goes in the pool.

    8 mil is fine as by the time it begins to wear out it will be stained from organic debris anyway and you will want another.
    IG 24k plaster with overflow spa. Goldline PS-8 SWG. Tristar 0.75 HP filter pump, Polaris 280, large cartridge filter, 400k BTU NG Max-E-Therm HD, SR Smith Turbo Twister, Life Saver pool fence, ORP managed.

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    frustratedpoolmom's Avatar
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    Re: Help with buying solar cover or solar rings or other?

    I have a 6 mil and I'm on my third season with it. Couple of holes here and there but it's still holding up pretty well. It gets a lot of abuse from me.
    Helpful links: Pool School; CYA/Chlorine Chart
    24' round AG pool, 52" high, Raypak heater; Waterway 2 spd Pump;
    150 Sq ft. Clearwater Cartridge Filter; Former and DISSATISFIED "Pool Frog" owner
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    Re: Help with buying solar cover or solar rings or other?

    I have a 12 mil cover. I cut it into 3 sections- 2 semi-circles and a long strip in the middle. I am 5"2" and weigh 108lbs, so I am at a disadvantage wrestling with one huge single piece cover. I have a solar saddle on the side of the pool- when I remove the cover, I push and dump it over the side into the saddle, kind of fan-folding as I go, one section at a time- I consider it part of my exercise program. I would definitely not go any heavier than 12 mil, but I am afraid 8 mil would not stay on in our gusty winds.
    When I put it back on, I pull from inside the pool and it pretty much slides back onto the pool. If I am really feeling lazy, I just move the middle strip over onto on the other sections and swim up and down the middle of the pool- my own personal swim lane. The solar cover gave me about 2-3 weeks more swimming this fall over my friends that did not have one- my first season with the pool. If it would quit raining, I would be swimming now. A normal May (hot and sunny) and we would have been swimming since May 1. Wouldn't you know- my first spring with the pool and it has to be the coolest and rainiest in 10 years.
    28 ft round Doughboy Sand Dollar II AGP, Aug 2008: 4 ft shallow, 6ft deep end: 24K gal approx Hayward Power-Flo Matrix
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    Re: Help with buying solar cover or solar rings or other?

    Quote Originally Posted by amjohn
    I would definitely not go any heavier than 12 mil, but I am afraid 8 mil would not stay on in our gusty winds.
    I think FPM floats gallon jugs of water on her cover to help with the wind problem; that might let you get away with a lighter cover.
    --paulr
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    Re: Help with buying solar cover or solar rings or other?

    Already tried that- they slid off the cover in the wind and dropped down into the pool between the sections of blanket. If I did not cut the cover, that would probably work. I could tie them on to the sections, but that would make removing and replacing the cover even more of a hassle. Our main problem was the first few days with the cover after it had been in the shop dry over the winter. It apparently needed to get good and soaked to get heavy enough to stay in place. Day 3 we got a 1/2 inch rain and it was soaked. Now it only comes up if the wind gusts top 45mph. There are not too many things that stay in place in winds like that.
    28 ft round Doughboy Sand Dollar II AGP, Aug 2008: 4 ft shallow, 6ft deep end: 24K gal approx Hayward Power-Flo Matrix
    1&1/2-HP 2-SPD Pump, Hayward 27-Inch Sand Filter with a little DE -(2) 4ftx20ft Solar Bear AGP Panels w/ Goldline auto-controller, 50ppm Borates And some day, maybe this year, a DECK!!!

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    Re: Help with buying solar cover or solar rings or other?

    Hmm. I already own a reel which seems to be decent. Cutting is interesting but maybe difficult with wind, and so far I have no storage bin or anything -- the reel may be easier. Hard to tell, now it gets to be a pain to reel it in because it gets all bunched up or folded especially on the edges, but I think it's due to the existing cover being super old and icky.

    I am leaning towards getting a 12 mil clear cover still. They are supposed to be significantly more effective than the blue (or other colors/types) and 8 mil. (And costs twice as much of course.) So if I got this more effective cover but only had the cover on twice a week, maybe it's still better? Ideally I would like to have this clear cover to use at the beginning & end of season mostly, or during colder weeks, and then in the mid summer just use that liquid solar stuff. And hopefully get the effective DIY solar heater going, that would be the big help and would trump the rest.
    Inground oval approx 17.5' x 35' (with middle of deep end 9'?) so guessing 27000 gallons. Vinyl liner, BBB chlorine. Dolphin. Portable fullsize spa not currently in use.

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    frustratedpoolmom's Avatar
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    Re: Help with buying solar cover or solar rings or other?

    The main benefit of solar covers is the heat retention at night, color doesn't make that much of a difference as oppossed to the prevention of evaporation and heat loss at night - using it nitely for best results, I don't think you'll get much benefit using it once or twice a week.
    Helpful links: Pool School; CYA/Chlorine Chart
    24' round AG pool, 52" high, Raypak heater; Waterway 2 spd Pump;
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    Re: Help with buying solar cover or solar rings or other?

    Ok. I mean using it one or two days (for 12-18 hours per day), especially where the sun is really shining. I think it tends to up the temp by 3-4 degrees or more just from the one day, well at least in the shallow end lol, and then if I am losing heat the other days, it kind of makes up for it? I don't know obviously, I am just guessing at this, so please advise
    Inground oval approx 17.5' x 35' (with middle of deep end 9'?) so guessing 27000 gallons. Vinyl liner, BBB chlorine. Dolphin. Portable fullsize spa not currently in use.

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    Re: Help with buying solar cover or solar rings or other?

    The "liquid solar cover" (solar fish, etc) is basically an oil and won't do much more than make you feel like you have been swimming in crisco. Our pool installer tried it and said it was nasty. Took him forever to get it all out of the pool too.
    One breezy coolish night with the solar cover off, and you will lose all your heat gain during the day. We had those gusty winds last night, and sure enough, the thin strip in the middle of the pool blew off and was laying in the yard. The rest of the cover was kind of bunched up to one side of the pool. I had gained 5 degrees yesterday on about 6 hours of sunshine with my solar heaters, and lost most of it last night with the solar cover off. I did not get up until later this morning, so it was off during a cloudy windy morning too. I would guess it was off at least half the night and most of the morning. GRRR. It may be time to think more seriously about tying bleach bottles full of water to that middle strip- it is the one that keeps causing the trouble. At least until these ridiculous winds die down.
    Anyways, the point of the solar cover is to retain heat. Yes, the clear 12 mil will add heat to the water. Last Sep-Oct, it would add 3 degrees on a full day of hot Texas sun. But I would lose it all during the night and more if the cover was not on at night.
    28 ft round Doughboy Sand Dollar II AGP, Aug 2008: 4 ft shallow, 6ft deep end: 24K gal approx Hayward Power-Flo Matrix
    1&1/2-HP 2-SPD Pump, Hayward 27-Inch Sand Filter with a little DE -(2) 4ftx20ft Solar Bear AGP Panels w/ Goldline auto-controller, 50ppm Borates And some day, maybe this year, a DECK!!!

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    Re: Help with buying solar cover or solar rings or other?

    Maybe you could add grommets to the sides of the cover and tie it down? But I suppose they would rip out unless they were reinforced.

    That reminds me of another thing I am slightly confused on. I read that you can cut the solar covers down to size, so what size should I be aiming for? Buy one that is at least the size of the pool and cut it down so it's just leaving 1-2 inches on all sides? Or should I/can I leave more space than that, I mean is it best to leave as little as possible? I find it harder to reel out the cover if it's almost the size of the pool.
    Inground oval approx 17.5' x 35' (with middle of deep end 9'?) so guessing 27000 gallons. Vinyl liner, BBB chlorine. Dolphin. Portable fullsize spa not currently in use.

  18. Back To Top    #18

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    Re: Help with buying solar cover or solar rings or other?

    The more of the surface is covered, the more effective the cover will be. But you should balance that against the practicalities of your reel.
    --paulr
    BBB "Intermediate Swimmer"
    IG plaster pool 18.5K gal, Hayward Pro-Grid DE filter, 3/4 HP Hydramax II; Polaris 380, 3/4 HP booster
    AG spa 325 gal, probably Sundance of some kind
    Water testing instructions on one page

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    Re: Help with buying solar cover or solar rings or other?

    My past experience has been that using the solar cover at night is far more important than keeping it on during the day. During the day your pool liner absorbs the UV rays and heats the pool water. The main benefit of using a solar cover during the day is to minimize evaporation and chlorine loss. At night the solar cover works as an insulating layer keeping the heat in your pool...during the day it is actually opposite (to a certain extent as some light does actually pass through the cover), which is why some prefer using a clear cover to allow the suns rays past the cover. JMHO
    24'x52" AGP (13,500 Gallons), Intex SWG, (2)Solar Bear 4x20 panels, Hayward S220T Filter, 1/2hp Pentair Superflo

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    Re: Help with buying solar cover or solar rings or other?

    Just weighing in on the use of a cover at night - we have solar heat and can increase 8-11 degrees when running the solar during the day (depends on how hot it is and if it is windy or not) - absent a cover on a cooler night we can lose virtually all of the gained heat - with a cover we don't lose more than a couple degrees - for us during much of the summer - except during hot spells the cover at night is key to keeping our pool really comfortable.

    YMMV - we live in the SF Bay Area - and while we get hot days we really cool down at night (50-60's most nights - only staying 70-80's during a few heat waves) and tend to be breezy.
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