Do solar cover reels work?

JohnA902

Well-known member
Apr 3, 2016
120
Baltimore MD
I have a rectangle pool. When the cover is dry it’s not too bad to accordian pull and fold the cover right off the pool by myself. But when it’s wet it’s miserable.

I see these cover reels that seem to be housed on wheels and what looks like flimsy plastic. I can’t imagine it working? I feel like the reel would just fall right over into the water when it gets some weight applied.

Should I try one!?

Thanks
 

Killer95Stang

Well-known member
Aug 17, 2012
821
Sunny SoCal
They work... and in my opinion they prolong the life of the cover by not permanently creasing it or damaging it from the extreme heat of the pavement. I always pulled mine off and folded it like you, and this year I thought I was slick and would put a small tarp with bungee cord to keep the sun off of it. Turns out the portion that stayed for a few months on the concrete facing down during the off season became brittle. Probably from the heat of the concrete. I had to cut a 4 ft section out and use it in two sections this year. My brother uses a cheap reel and has no such issues. He also uses tabs, but that's a fight for a different day.
 

Griswald

Well-known member
Jul 7, 2014
674
Hope Mills, NC
Yrs they work, if you get a quality one (aluminum not plastic) and keep it in good shape. I've had to replace the wheels and straps on mine, but the rest is solid.
 

borjis

LifeTime Supporter
Aug 19, 2014
2,904
Pacific NW
I have one that came with the house. The caster wheels were all froze up so I just removed them.
It is definitely better having one imo.

At first when I bought a new bubble cover, I used the straps, but those were more of a pain
to deal with, so I removed them and just pull the cover up and hand wrap the first spin,
then crank a bit, adjust the wrinkle, then crank more.
 

proavia

LifeTime Supporter
TFP Guide
Feb 6, 2015
1,513
Chandler AZ
Having a reel is great.
  • Easier on/off
  • Easier to move around the deck
  • Easier to carry off somewhere out of the sun
  • Easier to store the rolled cover - remove the ends from the metal tube and store on the garage ceiling using rope to put it up and secure it.
I have one of the ones with the plastic ends cause I got it cheap when a local PS was clearing them out. Have replace a couple of wheels in the 15 years I've had it. Treat it gently and it will last.
 

CarolineM

Silver Supporter
Jun 20, 2018
219
Annapolis, MD
I have a Rocky’s reel, it is heavy duty and works great. I put on and take off my cover everyday this time of year with no issues and can do it by myself. Invest in a quality reel, life will be so much easier.
 

borjis

LifeTime Supporter
Aug 19, 2014
2,904
Pacific NW
Having a reel is great.
  • Easier on/off
  • Easier to move around the deck
  • Easier to carry off somewhere out of the sun
  • Easier to store the rolled cover - remove the ends from the metal tube and store on the garage ceiling using rope to put it up and secure it.
I have one of the ones with the plastic ends cause I got it cheap when a local PS was clearing them out. Have replace a couple of wheels in the 15 years I've had it. Treat it gently and it will last.
that's the one I have. Treat it gently is sound advice. The ends on mine had turned yellow, I was removing one to paint it white and dropped it just a few inches to the ground and it broke in two pieces! (granted it was super cold outside at the time) Used some epoxy to glue it together, still works well. I'm much more gentle with it now.
 

proavia

LifeTime Supporter
TFP Guide
Feb 6, 2015
1,513
Chandler AZ
that's the one I have. Treat it gently is sound advice. The ends on mine had turned yellow, I was removing one to paint it white and dropped it just a few inches to the ground and it broke in two pieces! (granted it was super cold outside at the time) Used some epoxy to glue it together, still works well. I'm much more gentle with it now.
Being in Arizona, I only use mine at the very start and end of the season, so it's not exposed to the cold. It is showing its age though. If/when I replace it, I will get one with metal ends and larger wheels. Maybe not a Rocky, but something similar.
 
  • Like
Reactions: borjis

jeffr47

Bronze Supporter
Oct 19, 2018
105
Rockville, MD
What about for non-uniform pool shapes? We've got a "mountain lake" shape. We need a solar cover, but deck space is at a premium and the shape is a concern. Anyone try a solar roller?
 

gx22

Active member
Jan 21, 2014
36
CA
I used solar roller for a few years. Design is good for irregular shaped pools. No need to completely pull the heavy cover out of the pool is a big benefit. However quality is not durable. The connectors holes on the rods break apart in the second year. Then more connector holes break every year. The aluminium should have been thicker. Good that they honor their 5 year warranty and they send get replacement parts to fix it. I wish they improve their quality.
 
Last edited:

jeffr47

Bronze Supporter
Oct 19, 2018
105
Rockville, MD
Good that they honor their 5 year warranty and they send get replacement parts to fix it. I wish they improve their quality.
Yes, I've heard some concerns about quality and durability - but also that they were pretty good about the warranty. Fingers crossed.
 

Newdude

Well-known member
Jun 16, 2019
460
NY
I spent $500 on a heavy duty reel with a 5 inch aluminum tube. I liked the design that the supports were basically upside down T's so it was less likely to tip over. I never used the caster wheels that came with it but they were quality also. The 24 ft wide tube was reinforced but by the end of year 2 it sagged just like the cheap ones. This could be due to my having a 16mil cover but i specifically bought a reel that was supposed to handle the extra weight. It also came with dual heavy duty bushings on each crank. They took about 2 years to fail also. Once that happened it was saggy and either a 2 person job to open, or a one large person job. I stuggled for 3 years and by year 5 threw the reel and cover out. It may work forever on a smaller kidney or AGP, but notsomuch for my 20X40. Ive seen recommendations here to buy the thin/flimsy cover for ease of removal, but they dont heat/retain nealy as well. Putting the cover back on was always easy becuase i'd turn my pump all the way up and let the jets do all the work. It was always kinda cool to unreel the cover and watch it go on its own like magic.
 

jeffr47

Bronze Supporter
Oct 19, 2018
105
Rockville, MD
Well, I installed the Solar Roller yesterday, so we'll see how it works. First impression is that it isn't as easy as the videos suggest, but maybe that will improve once the cover has been on the pool longer. Right now it sticks to itself a lot, so it tends to unroll all on one side.
 

gx22

Active member
Jan 21, 2014
36
CA
Follow the exact instructions in Solar Roller of how to cut up your solar cover.

Using Solar Roller:
Roll up is easy and always works. Unroll can be difficult if you don't do it right. Here are my tips.
Unroll the first foot by hand with roller floating on water. Sort out one end go to left, other end goes to right.
Unroll very slowly. Doing it too fast the cover will not unroll fully.
 
  • Like
Reactions: jeffr47

kittersue

Member
Nov 7, 2012
9
We are using a solar reel for the first time on a 12 mil cover, 18' x 36. Don't know the brand but it is aluminum, has a large hand wheel on one end and a pair of wheels on one end to move it easily. Came with straps and attachment clips. Doesn't sag in the middle or anything. Rolling it up with one person works good, but I have to periodically tug the cover toward the edge to keep it from bunching up in the middle. I can't for the life of me figure out why it does this but we must be "off" on how we attached it to the reel and it does not pull evenly all the way across. Two people works great. Putting it on can be done while you are still in the pool--you get the first 2-3 feet unrolled and floating on the water, then unroll the rest and let it rest on top of each accordion style, and then you can "swim" it across to the end. Two people doing the same thing OUT of the pool is so much easier. What I like is that it is stored out of the way instead of laying on the pool deck. Also, many solar covers no longer come with protective plastic to shield them from the sun. I bought a big roll (10' x 25') of black/white poly film plastic that is used for gardening. The white side is UV treated and keeps the cover cool. We strap it around the reel with 2 bungee cords. The size of the plastic allowed me get two covers out of it by cutting it in half, so hopefully I can get a couple of years from each.
 

aceniza

Member
Jun 17, 2019
22
DFW
I got one from Amazon, it was roughly $120. I can't imagine not having one (15x35)

I also got a pair of velcro straps, once it's reeled up, I lock the reel with the set screw/knob, and velcro the cover in place. It's a must with as much wind as we get in North TX
 

aceniza

Member
Jun 17, 2019
22
DFW
We are using a solar reel for the first time on a 12 mil cover, 18' x 36. Don't know the brand but it is aluminum, has a large hand wheel on one end and a pair of wheels on one end to move it easily. Came with straps and attachment clips. Doesn't sag in the middle or anything. Rolling it up with one person works good, but I have to periodically tug the cover toward the edge to keep it from bunching up in the middle. I can't for the life of me figure out why it does this but we must be "off" on how we attached it to the reel and it does not pull evenly all the way across. Two people works great. Putting it on can be done while you are still in the pool--you get the first 2-3 feet unrolled and floating on the water, then unroll the rest and let it rest on top of each accordion style, and then you can "swim" it across to the end. Two people doing the same thing OUT of the pool is so much easier. What I like is that it is stored out of the way instead of laying on the pool deck. Also, many solar covers no longer come with protective plastic to shield them from the sun. I bought a big roll (10' x 25') of black/white poly film plastic that is used for gardening. The white side is UV treated and keeps the cover cool. We strap it around the reel with 2 bungee cords. The size of the plastic allowed me get two covers out of it by cutting it in half, so hopefully I can get a couple of years from each.
Thank you. I've been trying to Google it. Just want to make sure the Magic Eraser doesn't scuff up the gelcoat and take away the glossiness.
 

Adamphotoman

Well-known member
Aug 18, 2018
154
Dieppe New Brunswick
I have had Solar Blanket reels on both pools. Can't imagine not having one. My first one was a DIY made by the previous owner.
The current is a Feherguard Blanket Handler that came with the pool when we bought our current house. It is a mix of plastic and aluminum and it was in rough shape as was the cover. I used it for 2 seasons and then researched a new one. Couldn't bring myself to buy a Rocky so I instead rebuilt the Feherguard Blanket Handler [with an OEM Kit] and I bought a Silver Blue 11 mil Blanket - 18x40 cover. The OEM kit consisted of a new base with wheels, straps, screws, and fasteners. They no longer use the fasteners on the aluminum reel, preferring to directly screw the strap to the reel.

Canadian Pool Supplies recommends a Rocky for heavier weight covers - 11mil and up. Feherguard tells me that their reel can handle up to a 12 mil cover 40 feet long.

The reel was sagging. On Feherguard's advice I took apart the reel and reinstalled it, this time with SS self tapping screws [Stainless Steel Tek#2 versions - recommended to drill pilot holes on drill lines]. The 3 piece aluminum was initially installed improperly. It needs to be twisted to lock the pieces together and it needs to be balanced, which means equal lengths inserted into the middle section. A friend helped with this task. We installed the lighter weight inside pieces equally into the heavier mid section. The heavier mid piece was straight and true. The lighter weight pieces were both bent about 1/4 inch, so we installed them 1 bend up and 1 bend down. Now it works better.

As I roll up the blanket I do need to tug on it every few feet to keep the edge lined up and to prevent it from bunching up. Not that big of a deal.

I use a 1/2 inch thick 50 foot poly rope to pull the cover into place. I simply installed Princess Auto Tarp Eyelets to the cover seams. 2 per side [2 - 4 feet in on my walk side and 2 - 8 feet in on the other side].
Now it is a 1 person fun chore and it takes less than a minute to cover the pool.

Incidentally, Seams were letting go and my supplier is replacing the cover.

 
Last edited:

flaled

Gold Supporter
In The Industry
May 26, 2018
15
Pompano Beach, Florida
I started with a solar blanket. Then rigged up 200+ ft of black hose fed with a small pump. A small solar panel powered the pump. 90+% of heat is lost at night, so put the cover back on before bed.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Adamphotoman