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Thread: Solar Covers (Bay Area) - Cut into sections or buy a reel?

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    Solar Covers (Bay Area) - Cut into sections or buy a reel?

    Hi all,

    I have recently purchased a house in Northern CA with a fairly standard rectangle pool (15' x 33'), so am trying to quickly get up to speed with all that is required. I really like the idea of a solar cover, but am quickly becoming confused.

    I had settled on a 16mil clear cover and was considering getting a reel from the same place for an additional $160. I had read reviews recommending the Rocky reel, but at $300+, it was a bit more than what I was anticipating. I dont like the idea of getting a reel in any case - I think they are unsightly, but I haddnt really given much thought to getting a cover on and off until I started researching. So, my questions are:

    1. If buying a solar cover, would you say getting a reel is recommended?
    2. Does anyone use a 16mil cover with a reel without issue (I have read that 16mil is too thick to use with a reel)?
    3. Does cutting the cover into smaller sections reduce the effectiveness? I am wondering if this is a better alternative to getting a reel.

    Any advice or input would be well received - especially from anyone in the Bay Area (ie. what mil are you using, how effective is it etc)...

    Thanks in advance!
    22,500 gallon IG pool, 15x33ft plaster, DE filter

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    Re: Solar Covers (Bay Area) - Cut into sections or buy a reel?

    I have a reel. Getting a solar cover off an IG pool without one, by yourself, it a real pain. They are not that unsightly, IMO.
    I would not cut a cover into pieces, it will defeat the purpose and it will be much less effective.
    14,000 gallon IG, Vinyl. Hayward 3/4 hp superpump, Penatair IC40 SWCG, Pentair automation, Hayward sand filter, Aqua Comfort heat pump, Hayward 400k Lo-Nox LP heater.

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    JasonLion's Avatar
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    Re: Solar Covers (Bay Area) - Cut into sections or buy a reel?

    Cutting the cover into sections works very well for some people, others prefer to use a reel. There is no significant loss of effectiveness when cut into sections, unless the sections start blowing off (which is rare but can be an issue in especially windy areas). Here is a good page explaining how one person cut their cover up into pieces.

    The reel needs to be large enough to fit the cover rolled up. Large thick covers tend to be too large when rolled up for some of the less expensive reels. You can sometimes get around that problem by mounting the reel up on blocks so there is more room for the cover. Also, the bearings might bind up on some particularly inexpensive reels under the weight of a thicker cover.
    19K gal, vinyl, 1/2 HP WhisperFlo pump, 200 sqft cartridge filter, AutoPilot Digital SWG, Dolphin Dynamic cleaning robot
    Creator of PoolMath and Pool Calculator. Other handy links: Support this site, TF Test Kits, Pool School

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    Re: Solar Covers (Bay Area) - Cut into sections or buy a reel?

    Quote Originally Posted by JasonLion

    There is no significant loss of effectiveness when cut into sections, .
    I respectfully disagree. I have known several people who have done this and it does not work very well. YMMV
    14,000 gallon IG, Vinyl. Hayward 3/4 hp superpump, Penatair IC40 SWCG, Pentair automation, Hayward sand filter, Aqua Comfort heat pump, Hayward 400k Lo-Nox LP heater.

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    JasonLion's Avatar
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    Re: Solar Covers (Bay Area) - Cut into sections or buy a reel?

    We have a number of people here with their cover cut into sections. Most of them are very happy with the results. The only two problems that came up were one person who had trouble with any kind of cover blowing off and was able to weight a single piece cover so it would stay in place but not a several piece cover, and another person who had problems with the sections moving so they overlapped, leaving large areas uncovered. Compared to somewhere around a dozen others who use several sections without any problems. As I said, it is not for everyone/every situation, but it can work extremely well.
    19K gal, vinyl, 1/2 HP WhisperFlo pump, 200 sqft cartridge filter, AutoPilot Digital SWG, Dolphin Dynamic cleaning robot
    Creator of PoolMath and Pool Calculator. Other handy links: Support this site, TF Test Kits, Pool School

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    Re: Solar Covers (Bay Area) - Cut into sections or buy a reel?

    Fair enough. I just dont recommend it and wouldnt do it. As i said, YMMV. People can do what they want. It's just my opinion.
    14,000 gallon IG, Vinyl. Hayward 3/4 hp superpump, Penatair IC40 SWCG, Pentair automation, Hayward sand filter, Aqua Comfort heat pump, Hayward 400k Lo-Nox LP heater.

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    Re: Solar Covers (Bay Area) - Cut into sections or buy a reel?

    Thanks for the input! I am not sure if that helped, or confused the decision more :P There seems to be no clear cut answer, so I guess I will have to stew on it a little more...
    22,500 gallon IG pool, 15x33ft plaster, DE filter

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    no-mas's Avatar
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    Re: Solar Covers (Bay Area) - Cut into sections or buy a reel?

    I use this to roll my blanket. I currently have my 3 year old blanket cut into two pieces; and a new blanket that I will cut into three. I've never had a problem with the 2 cut pieces moving around and overlapping each other; but I certainly had problems with the uncut blanket... what a pain in the neck!

    Generally, I read that the 16mil cover is too heavy for no additional longevity, but frankly I have only used 12 mil, so I can't speak from experience.
    18k gal inground, everbrite finish, 505 sq ft; 1.5 hp two speed whisperflow; rheem 5100ti 100k btu heat pump; 3 sheer descent falls; DE filter; swg (cell out and using trichlor for now)

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    Re: Solar Covers (Bay Area) - Cut into sections or buy a reel?

    FWIW, covers don't last forever, and if you see significantly better results without cutting it, then you have your answer. I've never had a solar cover but plan to get one this year. Because of the irregular shape of my pool, I think a reel may be more work than necessary and may actually harm the cover, so I plan to cut it into two or three pieces after cutting it to shape.
    45,180 gallon 26' x 53' IG Vinyl, irregular shape. Hayward sand filter / pump. Polaris AutoClear SWG, supplemented with a Hayward Automatic Chlorinator (In-Line). Hayward 400K BTU heater. Paramount "turnover" system. Polaris 480 PRO cleaner.

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    Re: Solar Covers (Bay Area) - Cut into sections or buy a reel?

    All valid points - thanks all for weighing in. I may regret it, but I have decided to buy a cover sans reel. Given this, I opted to go with the 16mil. Given my pool is probably considered small (15x33), I would hope 2 sections would be manageable?! Time will tell I guess….
    22,500 gallon IG pool, 15x33ft plaster, DE filter

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    Re: Solar Covers (Bay Area) - Cut into sections or buy a reel?

    Because covers don't last forever, you can change your mind when this one bites the dust, if it turns out you don't like it. I know I'm going to make a different choice next time. Of course you do have to live with the consequences of your decision until then!
    --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: Solar Covers (Bay Area) - Cut into sections or buy a reel?

    Exactly my point - you make a mistake buying a cover you hate, you only have to deal with it for x number of seasons, but you can still use it in the meantime. Buy a reel you can't use and you've wasted your money.

    That solar roller looks like the way to go for me, because of the shape of my pool. I had planned to do it by hand, but that may make it easier on my back and allow me to quickly remove it for testing and swimming.

    Edit - the solar roller is too small for my pool. Sadly.
    45,180 gallon 26' x 53' IG Vinyl, irregular shape. Hayward sand filter / pump. Polaris AutoClear SWG, supplemented with a Hayward Automatic Chlorinator (In-Line). Hayward 400K BTU heater. Paramount "turnover" system. Polaris 480 PRO cleaner.

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    Re: Solar Covers (Bay Area) - Cut into sections or buy a reel?

    We cut our cover into 5 sections. It lies flat on the water surface and has never blown off even during some high winds. Surface adhesion sort of glues it down. I can put it on and remove it by myself within 3 or so minutes, it's just not a big deal. I'm not entirely convinced that the solar cover does anything noticeable for retaining heat but I do know that during the worst of the pollen season it keeps yellow c**p out of the pool and for just that function it's a great addition to my pool equipment.

    If I had an inground I'd have a good quality reel.
    — AnnaK —

    12,000 gal AGP, Hayward sand filter, Pentair 2-speed pump, timer.
    Please visit our Pool Issues pages for information about step weights, managing the solar cover, and PoolSkim.

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