Hate My Solar Cover, Loved Cover Free, Can They Be Used Together?

Swampwoman

TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Apr 27, 2012
3,835
Grand Rapids, MI
Boldly going where few posts have gone before...I want to kick around a crazy idea ;)

Cover by night and Cover Free by day...but presumably the cover free, which is lighter than water, would be carried out daily on cover...?

Background: This year I've run my pool in winter in Michigan with an Ameridome Dome, which is air supported. (Details here: Anyone Have a Winter Pool Dome - Ameridome or Others? )

As such, I rigged up an in-water homemade roller soar cover. Worked fine, got beat up from force, but was a pita to open both sides for guests and required being in water to close.

My pool is a Grecian with tight footprint. So I bought a Rockys Reel. Which I do love...well made, rolls great. But I can't run it the full length or width of my pool.

I put it on a swing arm so I can configure it laterally or side. Laterally was a pita and I feared shearing the bolt, so will only use it that way in winter when for the majority of the week i'm the lone swimmer. In open season, now its side-configured, meaning I have to fold down ends. Also pita but works. Will work better when I cut the ends off and float them in and out of place when I roll.

So, that's not really the problem, although its less than ideal.

The problem is that my debris load on a windy day is ridiculous, gross, full of stain harboring tanin which already stained steps, literally nets full of crud every am when I open it for physio.

This crud dumps into the water. So i spend my first 10 min. trying to net out the crud, then run the robot. The cover becomes discolored and gross in a single day. Yesterday I used 7 ppm of FC. Unheard of for me. Even in fall with leaf load, and believe me, I get a leaf load ;)

In prior years, I used cover free, and it really did reduce evaporation and heatloss IME. By having open water, my skimmer and pool skim and robot kept it clean, and debris never really accumulated. Not like this stinking mess right now.

I came across this review - a little light on experimental variables...but I so WANT it to be true ;)
http://cloud.snappages.com/86820d31baf91360b2ec3090e4b6dd03e0d0285b/PPOA%20article_1.pdf

I am teetering on the brink of abandoning the new cover and reel for summer use and going back to cover free entirely. But its in my economic interest to control the night temp differential since I'm still running it at 94 for am physio, so I'm debating first experimenting with the following:

1. Try 2 oz cover free daily in am after opening average cost about $1.50/day, which is equivalent to my cost to heat 1 degree in 1 hour.

2. Cover at night, to preserve the approx 4 hr heat run up I expect to need for morning.

I welcome any thoughts, caveats, cover tips, cover free tips, new research, past experiments, or commiseration about what a pita solar covers are ;)

Thanks for letting me vent.

Cheers, Swampy....and no, I don't ever want to go to the moniker origin again, which is why this cover gunk is driving me crazy ;)
 

JoyfulNoise

TFP Expert
Platinum Supporter
May 23, 2015
17,378
Tucson, AZ
Yeah, I hate covers too. They suck. Hard to manipulate and they make every pool look ugly. I'm the opposite though, I'd probably use CoverFree at night since that is when my water is the most still. During the day there too much wind and breeze that would basically kill the CoverFree. Also, for me, night is when the temperatures invert - water is warmer than air (barely!). So if CoverFree stopped the evaporative loss from the heat differential, that would help to keep my water bills down....makes me wish I had a flow meter on my autofill so I could measure the effect.
 

Swampwoman

TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Apr 27, 2012
3,835
Grand Rapids, MI
Thanks for the commiseration ;)
This morning was a little better, and my FC is "normal" again. The water is 93 and I've only spend $6 getting there despite 50s overnight temp.

Just to motivate myself to keep trying cover management approaches, I ran the calculation of heating to 94 open this month...would have been $785 according to SWIMMING POOL ENERGY TEMPERATURE CALCULATOR | Neil Anderson so I will learn to love my cover.

By comparison, May at 94 degrees in pool is costing me $180 ;) The differential pays for January and part of February - which is my goal -- offsetting my winter operation cost by reducing energy costs in summer!

So, here are tips for debris-subject pools....sweep the cover using a stand up dustpan on pole to prevent bulk debris dump. Then net the balance as soon as you open. This morning was much better doing that and the pool looks pretty clean ;)
 

pooldv

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Platinum Supporter
LifeTime Supporter
Moderator Emeritus
Aug 10, 2012
25,412
FL panhandle
I used to try to remove debris from the solar cover but it was a pain and not all that successful. Now, I try to get all the debris to fall off in the pool, speed up the variable speed pump for a little while for more skimming and run the robot. Then after the cover is back on, with whatever debris stayed stuck to it, I run the robot again under the cover. Then once a week or two we hose the cover off to clean it up. I have had to steadily increase SWG output to keep up with increased FC demand and I run my FC at 10%-12% of CYA as an extra precaution. Which has made for extra, extra, super duper clear water.

ps, I love my warm, cheap water therefore I love my solar cover. :)
 

Swampwoman

TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Apr 27, 2012
3,835
Grand Rapids, MI
Thanks for the tip, Danny, about dialing up the %. Right now I'm riding about 9% but I think I might dial that up a bit. I've been doing the "double run robot" gig too and its helping.
 

borjis

LifeTime Supporter
Aug 19, 2014
3,317
Pacific NW
I used to try to remove debris from the solar cover but it was a pain and not all that successful. Now, I try to get all the debris to fall off in the pool, speed up the variable speed pump for a little while for more skimming and run the robot. Then after the cover is back on, with whatever debris stayed stuck to it, I run the robot again under the cover. Then once a week or two we hose the cover off to clean it up. I have had to steadily increase SWG output to keep up with increased FC demand and I run my FC at 10%-12% of CYA as an extra precaution. Which has made for extra, extra, super duper clear water.

ps, I love my warm, cheap water therefore I love my solar cover. :)
same here, but manually chlorinated.
 

JoyfulNoise

TFP Expert
Platinum Supporter
May 23, 2015
17,378
Tucson, AZ
So I was able to get a good deal on a bottle of SeaKlear SolarShield liquid cover. I'm going to give it a try to see if I can detect any evaporation differences in the overnight hours. The afternoons usually get fairly windy but the nights are often still and quiet (the pool water always looks like a sheet of glass). Since I'm not about to use a bubble cover on my pool, it will be interesting to see if I can detect any evaporation differences. I'll have to turn off my autofill in the evenings to see what the typical evaporation loss is and then add this stuff to see if it has any impact. I'm skeptical it will do anything at all but it's worth a try since the bottle was (essentially) free....unfortunately the stuff is generally pretty expensive so it'll have to be a fairly dramatic to make it worth the typical cost per quart.
 

Swampwoman

TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Apr 27, 2012
3,835
Grand Rapids, MI
Okay, so I'm trying to "love the cover I'm wth" as the song goes ;) We may have made peace this a.m. After a bunch more fussing.

So I put 3 new sets of grommets on each end, two in in middle, one at catty corner.

I cut the far end off and overlapped it. Put 2 more grommets in and the made a "pivot" by connecting the grommets with a loose zip tie.

Then I gave myself some guide ropes. Like a marionette ;)

Now I can easily flip in the most difficult end, smooth surface to smooth surface, the walk in the far end, and roll. It was pretty quick this am, and neater than all other configurations.

I might get used to it this way. I def preserve more heat at night with the cover by a few degrees, which equals a few hour of heater runtime...so Im motivated ;)

Here are pics:

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