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Thread: Solar Blanket: Which one works best.

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    Solar Blanket: Which one works best.

    Folks, I gotta tell you from my own experience that the color of the solar blanket you choose makes a huge difference.

    In a little over two years, I've had experience with two different blankets:
    8-Mil, light blue
    12-Mil, Dark blue

    The light blue 8-mil blanket heated the pool up 3-4 degrees on a hot summer day, but after 1 and 1/2 years shred to pieces and had the little blue dots everywhere.

    The new 12-Mil Blanket is dark blue. Uh-oh.. It's not doing as great warming my pool: 1-2 degrees on 2 very warm late spring days. But it retains the heat pretty well, even after the cool Colorado spring nights. It remains to be seen how much longer it lasts than the 8-mil, but my guess is that it will hold up much better. At this point, I'd say look for the stronger-made 12 Mil Light Blue solar blanket.

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    frustratedpoolmom's Avatar
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    Re: Solar Blanket: Which one works best.

    Or remove the cover for the sunlight warmth, and put the cover back on at night. That's a bit of a pain daily though, especially if no one is swimming that day.

    I have to chime in....

    I have had 2 blankets in 8 years. First one - "SpaceAge" solar blanket, silver on bottom, dk blue on top, very heavy, I'd guess 12-16 mil. It was included in our Pool package.

    After 4 seasons, I could barely lift it out, 5th season it was so hard to use myself, it would just get absolutely waterlogged.

    Replaced it in 2007 with a cheapy 6 mil (I thought it was 8 but now I know it's 6). MUCH easier to put on and off, even blew off once but now I know how to deal with that. Didn't notice an improvement either way, heating wise, definitely noticed the heavier one retained heat better, sometimes too much in the heat of July.

    So put the cheapy solar cover on about a month ago, and went to remove it this week - finally swimming Yeah! - but this too has become very waterlogged, am finding small pieces of the bubbles in my skimmer, some of the bubbles appear ruptured and greenish pockets filled with algae? (this never happened with the SpaceAge) and it tears easily when I pull on it because of it's water-weight.

    I doubt it will last the season, and with the pockets of algae, not sure I want it on my pool. Good news is it was only about $50 so that's not so bad. I'm torn about what to replace it with though. I have RA and I just can't deal with the heavy covers anymore.
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    Re: Solar Blanket: Which one works best.

    Interesting feedback, though the problem with those bubbles rupturing is common across the board for everyone.
    I did a great deal of research prior to buying my 2nd one, and this is the complaint everyone has. The bubbles blow up after a year and a 1/2!... I was told to buy a solar blanket cover to protect it from the sun! A blanket for a blanket?? Come on..this is getting obsessive. Plus, the only time you will cover your solar blanket is when you're swimming and it's not being used. Anyway, I went ahead and got one because it was cheap. This last one I bought, from one of those places I linked on e-Bay sold them for only $7.50. I also paid about $20 for brand new straps and buckles. The entire 16x32 blanket was only $71 with free shipping. With the straps, buckles and solar blanket-blanket, it cost me $102 shipped. My only regret is I wish it was a lighter color. I think the light blue is the right formula, personally.

    Also, they say stay away from anything over 12-Mil. Too heavy and makes your reel sag. My 12-Mil seems light enough, but I usually like to have my wife help with it anyway, to avoid wear and tear on the blanket. Having one person on each side makes it lay-out nicer and with less stress.

    Your blanket shouldn't get soggy unless the bubbles are ruptured. The aglae problem is probably more unique to your area with the higher humidity. But your nights are warmer, so the blanket probably isn't as crucial to keeping your pool warm as it is for me!

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    riverheightsnancy's Avatar
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    Re: Solar Blanket: Which one works best.

    To extend the questions on solar blankets. I have an unsual shaped pool (see my avatar) and we are going to buy a new solar cover because ours is popping and getting filled with water. So, If I only buy a rectangular blanket for the narrowest part of the pool and leave the two areas that bulge out, will the blanket still be effective? In order to cover the unusual shape of the pool we have to buy an enormous blanket and cut it to fit. (I hate the waste). Additionally, when the balnket is cut to fit the pool, it is very hard to roll up on the reel. I was thinking, go straight down the middle, keep it rectangular and not worry about the two spots that bulge out. Any thoughts?
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    Re: Solar Blanket: Which one works best.

    Quote Originally Posted by riverheightsnancy
    So, If I only buy a rectangular blanket for the narrowest part of the pool and leave the two areas that bulge out, will the blanket still be effective?
    Actually, one option would be to get a cover that is too long and use the extra to cut smaller pieces to fit the bulges. You'd have to haul the small pieces in and out by hand but that's no trouble. My pool is also odd-shaped, it has a roughly 10x15 section left over after I put on the main cover, and I just cut a scrap to (mostly) cover that section. My 10-year-old hauls that out by herself no problem.
    --paulr
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    riverheightsnancy's Avatar
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    Re: Solar Blanket: Which one works best.

    Thanks for that answer PaulR. I hadn't thought about buying a bit longer to do that. I do wonder, if any part of the water is left uncovered, does that radically make the solar balnket ineffective? In essence, IS a solar blanket supposed to cover all of the water? I had heard somewhere about leaving a bit uncovered so the water "breathes", but I don't know if that is simply an urban (pool) myth?

    Also: Any opinions on black, blue or clear? My pool is in a cold area in NJ. I want the MOST heat I can get, I do not care about buying a new one 2 years from now.
    1960s Original Sylvan Pool
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    @ 30,000 Gallons
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    mas985's Avatar
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    Re: Solar Blanket: Which one works best.

    Based upon my own experience and that of others, clear covers seem to work the best at heating during the day. This makes sense from theoretical point of view as well. Clear should allow more heat to go through while colored covers rely mostly upon heat transfer (e.g. the sun heats the cover which in turn heats the water).

    But the opposite is probably true at night where clear allows more radiative heat to escape but since most of the heat loss is due to evaporation, I don't think it matters much.
    Mark
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    Re: Solar Blanket: Which one works best.

    Mas,

    what you say makes perfect sense. Darker is better at retaining hit. Lighter better at heating up. My newest solar cover is dark blue and doesn't seem nearly as effective as the light blue one at heating up the pool.

    Based on my experience of the last couple of covers, I'd go with light blue. The perfect compromise.

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    Re: Solar Blanket: Which one works best.

    This is good confirmation of the lighter covers being better since they let light into the pool to heat it. Can I ask anyone who has compared light and dark covers if they noticed any difference in chlorine consumption/loss during the day? I'm trying to figure out if the light covers are still relatively opaque to UV so still protect chlorine from breakdown from sunlight. If they do, then I would think a clear or light blue cover would be the way to go with no downside relative to a dark cover.

    Richard
    16,000 gallon outdoor in-ground 16'x32' plaster pool; Pentair Intelliflo VF pump; Pentair IntelliTouch i9+3s control system; Jandy CL-340 square foot cartridge filter
    12 Fafco solar panels; Purex Triton PowerMax 250 natural gas heater (200,000 BTU/hr output); automatic electric pool safety cover; 4-wheel pressure-side "The Pool Cleaner"

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    Re: Solar Blanket: Which one works best.

    Actually,

    It does seem that my chlorine consumption has slowed down since a year ago, when I was using a lighter blue cover.
    Not enough, though, to make me want a dark cover. When I ordered this blue cover, I had no idea it was significantly darker than the last one I had. I'll stick with light blue next time.

    The lighter blue solar covers pictured here Link removed: PM sent: Butterfly

    I bought mine from here: See the standard one.
    Standard Blue

    Does that look darker to you? It definitely looks darker on my pool.

    Quote Originally Posted by chem geek
    This is good confirmation of the lighter covers being better since they let light into the pool to heat it. Can I ask anyone who has compared light and dark covers if they noticed any difference in chlorine consumption/loss during the day? I'm trying to figure out if the light covers are still relatively opaque to UV so still protect chlorine from breakdown from sunlight. If they do, then I would think a clear or light blue cover would be the way to go with no downside relative to a dark cover.

    Richard

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    Re: Solar Blanket: Which one works best.

    I need to buy a new solar cover and I have seen some solar blankets that have a clear top layer and a silver aluminized bottom layer.

    The clear top layer evidently maximizes the amount of sun's rays that penetrate to the greatest depths of your pool.

    The silver aluminized bottom layer apparently reflects the absorbed heat back into the pool to retain more heat.

    Additionally, some sites offer the choice of the solar covers with the typical round bubbles or diamond shape ones.

    Seemingly the difference between them, is that the diamond shape design helps to minimize the space between the air pockets to provide the maximum amount of heat retention, while a traditional cover with round bubbles has more space between the cells, which does not provide the highest insulation value possible.

    At any rate, has anyone had a solar blanket with a clear top layer and a silver type bottom that they can comment on?

    Second has anyone had both types of solar covers with one that had round and diamond shape bubbles that they could tell us if they noticed any difference?

    Thank You

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    Mod Squad JohnT's Avatar
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    Re: Solar Blanket: Which one works best.

    If the bottom layer is silver, sunlight isn't going to penetrate the cover no matter what color the top layer is.
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    Re: Solar Blanket: Which one works best.

    I was thinking the same thing, but I wasn't sure if there was some type of material that allowed the sun to still past through. So that is why I asked if anyone has one of these types of covers to find out if there actually work as they claim.

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    Re: Solar Blanket: Which one works best.

    It seems like most of everyone’s solar covers no matter what color or thickness have had short life spans, but I assume most of them stated they had some type of warranties when you bought them.

    I have seen on a lot of websites looking for a new solar cover and depending on some type of factors such as thickness, the warranties are for a specified number of years and terms. For example, some say they have a total number of years like 8 and then they also say 2 full. It is my guess that during the 8 years of the coverage the amount they will pay for, goes down each year and it also gives the impression that during the first 2 full years they will pay 100%.

    With seemingly everyone’s solar covers only lasting a couple of years, has anyone attempted to use the warranty that comes with their covers and has anyone received 100% credit during the supposed full year’s time frame? If yes was it a big hassle?

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    Re: Solar Blanket: Which one works best.

    Teapots go,
    Whilst the chlorine does age plastics the concentration is very low <3ppm. The greatest aging is done by the sun's UV, depending on where you are but further south would obviously be worse. Whilst the cover is on the pool it is kept relatively cool but once removed from the pool and rolled up it MUST be covered by as near UV block preferably slighlty reflective cover or it will age in a couple or years.

    There is a new kid on the block, I have a piece of it right in front of me as I type. much better longevity (still best covered when on a roller) and a completely different shaped bubble has eliminated the weak corner of the bubble wrap type cover. The new shape also allows the bubble to expand and contract more easily without stressing the plastic.

    Clear is best for solar gain.

    The Geo Bubble

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    Re: Solar Blanket: Which one works best.

    Also - word of caution... Make sure to have bubble side down before you custom cut like I did yesterday. Fits great, but bubbles up! \

    Not a shape conducive of just flipping it.... Sigh. $130 lesson learned.

  17. Back To Top    #17

    Re: Solar Blanket: Which one works best.

    So a thermal question for my above mistake. If I am more concerned about heat retention from heat pump / gas heater, will bubble direction matter? If not, I may just deal with my bubbles up install until time to replace.

    Thoughts?

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    Re: Solar Blanket: Which one works best.

    For heat retention you want a 6mm foam cover, doesn't matter which way up that goes

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    mas985's Avatar
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    Re: Solar Blanket: Which one works best.

    A simply plastic sheet will virtually eliminate evaporation which is a significant part of the heat loss. However, having the bubbles in the correct position adds to the R-Value of the cover so heat loss from conduction and radiation are reduced as well. So the bottom line is you will get most of the benefit from the cover but not all.
    Mark
    Hydraulics 101; Pump Ed 101; Pump and Pool Spreadsheets; Pump Run Time Study; DIY Acid Dosing; DIY Cover Roller
    18'x36' 20k plaster, 1/2 HP 2sp pump, Aqualogic PS8 SWCG, 420 sq-ft Cartridge, Solar, 6 jet spa, 1 HP jet pump, 400k BTU NG Heater, ThePoolCleaner

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    Mod Squad Bama Rambler's Avatar
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    Re: Solar Blanket: Which one works best.

    I'd leave it until it has to be changed. I wouldn't throw away a perfectly good blanket just because it's up side down.
    Dave J. TFP Moderator
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