DIY Solar Cover Roller

shoff1

Member
Jul 25, 2012
9
We have had a 33 foot round for about 6 years, and the solar cover has been the biggest PITA of the whole thing. The cover reel was just something that the salesperson forgot to mention when he sold the pool to my wife...

Here is what we have tried:
-Put on the whole thing in one piece - way too heavy and awkward
-Tried cutting in half, tried to roll it up with 1 inch PVC - too heavy to move for one person and too flimsy to roll
-Tried cutting in Quarters - used solar roller - Worked ok until the breeze flips the pieces of cover into the air like a kite, ends up shredding the aluminum pipes of the solar roller that are connected together. Also can't get to the middle of the pool to straighten it all out.
-best luck was with 10 foot sections of a pvc wrapped corrugated tile we got from Home Depot that we used fittings to hold together. Put a person on either end and it could be rolled in away from the deck and just flopped off the end - cover is all in one piece. I put "T"s on the ends so we had something to hold on to. Once you get the whole contraption in place and get the end secured, you can actually walk and roll it up OK. Then they would wait for dear old dad to come home from work to lift it back up and unroll it. The problems were with the tile getting "kinks" since it was not permanently fastened to the cover, and leaving a 35 foot white pole in the yard when the cover was on the pool This option was actually reasonably cost effective and efficient, and didn't make me hate the thing as much, but no where near the simple vision that I have when I see the 27 foot and under reel cover rollers that span the middle of the pool.

I have always been tempted to buy one for a 30 footer and just fold in the extra 18 inches on each side, but don't want to spend $400 on something that may fall apart in short order.

I am now on my yearly internet search for options to see if some company has entered the brave world of reels above 30 feet, or if anyone in the TFP universe has the solution that will bring peace to my frustrated mind. Any advice would be greatly appreciated!
 
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LFrankow

LifeTime Supporter
Sep 27, 2012
608
Medicine Hat, Alberta
I use 4" PVC drain pipe myself.
No fasteners just wet the pipe before rolling and friction will hold the cover on.
The weak link is the couplings, which break when removing the winter cover, but the pipe was free and a new coupling is 2.99 + glue once a year.
 

DeanP66

Well-known member
Mar 26, 2014
805
San Jose, CA
mas985,

I built a roller two years ago, but I used metal screws and they are all rusted. I got a hold of some of the clips that the Solar Roller uses and want to try them like you did in your original post. How did you make the hole so the notch will fit in correctly and be tight when you turn it 180 degrees to lock it in place? Also, is the depth of those clips just right when using a 1.5" pipe with the cover and top piece of pipe or is there some play up and down?
 

mas985

TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
May 3, 2007
13,584
Pleasanton, CA
I drilled a hole the size of the main part of the plug without the tab and then used a rat tail file to create the notch. And yes, the depth is just about perfect for the latch. Only the pipe clamp was necessary as a spacer.
 

maggiesfan

Gold Supporter
Jan 1, 2017
20
Tucson Arizona
I am getting ready to make my own solar roller based on mas985 excellent posting, my pool is free form Pool Plan.jpg
I'm thinking of two 14 feet lengths any other thoughts or will they do the trick.
Thanks
 

Mintypool

Well-known member
May 28, 2019
64
NJ
I read through this thread a couple times trying to figure out what’s best for a rectangular pool. I have a 16 ft wide x 32 ft long mostly rectangular pool except for the cutout of the stairs. If I cut the cover in half like the thread has said I would have 2 16x 16 squares.
1)Would you run the poles vertically the length of the Pool or horizontally? It looks like mas985 is pictured vertical so only one end of the pole potentially touches the liner. Do you make the cover hang a little bit over the end of the pole to prevent that?
 
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Dcookster

Silver Supporter
Apr 23, 2017
87
Stafford Va
I read through this thread a couple times trying to figure out what’s best for a rectangular pool. I have a 16 ft wide x 32 ft long mostly rectangular pool except for the cutout of the stairs. If I cut the cover in half like the thread has said I would have 2 16x 16 squares.
1)Would you run the poles vertically the length of the Pool or horizontally? It looks like mas985 is pictured vertical so only one end of the pole potentially touches the liner. Do you make the cover hang a little bit over the end of the pole to prevent that?
Mintypool, I have read all 10 pages and was thinking the same thing. My pool is 15’ wide so I’m thinking a 14’6”pipe or maybe even less so the foam core pipe doesn’t rub my vinyl liner? Hope mas985 replies his expert advice?
 

shawnpepera

Gold Supporter
May 20, 2012
13
Hinckley, Ohio
I also have a 33' round and pulled the solar cover out of the bag and its still sitting on the deck while Im here searching ideas........... Thinking about putting in 2 posts on the "far side" away from the deck and making some sort of roller.... gonna hit up pinterest as well.
 

shoff1

Member
Jul 25, 2012
9
I also have a 33' round and pulled the solar cover out of the bag and its still sitting on the deck while Im here searching ideas........... Thinking about putting in 2 posts on the "far side" away from the deck and making some sort of roller.... gonna hit up pinterest as well.
We may have finally gotten somewhere. Used 4 2 inch PVC pipes cut to 9 foot length for 36 feet total. To help strengthen the joints, I slid in 4 feet of 1 1/2 inch pvc and then bolted it all together with stainless 3 1/2" carriage bolts. My concern was that the coupler was just a little too small to drill into and still maintain strength. Still flexes, but hasn't bent like the drain tiles did.

We put t's on both ends and 18 inches of pvc in each one for a little leverage when spinning. Also added a little duct tape over the ends of the bolts to keep them from snagging.

We have been doing it from the end so far, but are trying some straps and hooking it to the middle this afternoon. The whole project is under $50. Hopefully we are on to something.
 

shoff1

Member
Jul 25, 2012
9
Here is an update on our project: we bought a solar cover reel strap kit from Amazon to fasten the pole to the middle. Our cover is thicker, so I ended up drilling through the clips and holding them them together with a stainless bolt, lock washer, and nut. We trimmed the edges of the cover so it has no excess. We added 18 inch pieces to the end T's for some leverage and that really made a difference.

Yesterday was the easiest time we have ever had taking the cover off, and it was back on more efficiently than ever. Next hope is to make it through a few seasons, but I'll take the win for now.
 

mas985

TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
May 3, 2007
13,584
Pleasanton, CA
Mintypool, I have read all 10 pages and was thinking the same thing. My pool is 15’ wide so I’m thinking a 14’6”pipe or maybe even less so the foam core pipe doesn’t rub my vinyl liner? Hope mas985 replies his expert advice?
The pipe can be smaller than the cover but I would not go more than about 6" on the far side (non roll-up side) and 3"on the roll-up side. You need to be able to grab the pipe under the cover to start the roll-up. Having the pipe a little shorter than the cover prevents the pipe hitting the tile and a bit easier to manage.
 
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