Question for users of the DIY solar cover reel

RLinger

Member
Jul 25, 2016
11
Broadview Heights
I was following this thread DIY Pool cover reel

Very interesting thread!

We have a 30' above ground pool, and I have had a great heavy duty 4" dia. reel that worked great for almost 15 seasons. Towards the end of last season it finally broke, pretty much in the center of the span. I had the reel sitting in the center of the pool, with the ends sitting on top of 4" x 4" posts, and I had a third post away from the pool, where I would swing the rolled cover to when the cover is off the pool. Like I said it worked great for 15 years.

When it broke I contacted the manufacturer of the reel, and was informed that replacing the 8' long portion of the 4" dia. aluminum tube would cost over $500! I emailed him back to verify that all I wanted was ONE section of the tube, and he verified that yes, one section will cost $500!

The only drawback that this reel had was the weight of the reel and the 30' dia. cover. My wife is just not able to uncover the pool by herself, so now that I am in the need of a new reel, I'm thinking the option in this thread may be what we try next.

I'm wondering about taking our 30' round cover and cutting it into 4 pieces of a pie, and then having 4 of these reels meeting like spokes in the center of the pool, to allow the weight of the cover to be a quarter of the weight of the old system. Does this make sense, or does anyone have any other suggestions?

To add to the difficulty, we have a pool deck along one "end", so all the cranking would be done off the deck, while standing on the ground.

I'm also thinking that I can install something on the outside of the deck to hold the 4 rolled up sections.

I would love to hear any suggestions from above ground pool owners.
 

Newdude

Well-known member
Jun 16, 2019
4,403
NY
I'm wondering about taking our 30' round cover and cutting it into 4 pieces of a pie
IMHO, having the pie shape would be harder to roll up at the start (wide part) and it would also keep the thickest bulk of the weight in the center. It would be less weight than the whole cover was, but still. I would cut the strips into rectangles (well, curved rectangular-y, closest you can get pieces). Then they would sit on the DIY Reels more uniform.

And you just KNOW that the center pieces of the pie would flap over when reinstalled and you would have no way to get to the middle and adjust them. Murphy’s Cover Law.
 

barejewels

Bronze Supporter
May 19, 2015
35
Attica
I was following this thread DIY Pool cover reel

Very interesting thread!

We have a 30' above ground pool, and I have had a great heavy duty 4" dia. reel that worked great for almost 15 seasons. Towards the end of last season it finally broke, pretty much in the center of the span. I had the reel sitting in the center of the pool, with the ends sitting on top of 4" x 4" posts, and I had a third post away from the pool, where I would swing the rolled cover to when the cover is off the pool. Like I said it worked great for 15 years.

When it broke I contacted the manufacturer of the reel, and was informed that replacing the 8' long portion of the 4" dia. aluminum tube would cost over $500! I emailed him back to verify that all I wanted was ONE section of the tube, and he verified that yes, one section will cost $500!

The only drawback that this reel had was the weight of the reel and the 30' dia. cover. My wife is just not able to uncover the pool by herself, so now that I am in the need of a new reel, I'm thinking the option in this thread may be what we try next.

I'm wondering about taking our 30' round cover and cutting it into 4 pieces of a pie, and then having 4 of these reels meeting like spokes in the center of the pool, to allow the weight of the cover to be a quarter of the weight of the old system. Does this make sense, or does anyone have any other suggestions?

To add to the difficulty, we have a pool deck along one "end", so all the cranking would be done off the deck, while standing on the ground.

I'm also thinking that I can install something on the outside of the deck to hold the 4 rolled up sections.

I would love to hear any suggestions from above ground pool owners.
If you haven't found anything on here, have you tried a google picture search for "diy solar pool cover reel above ground" or on Pinterest? There are a lot of creative people out there that have come up with good DIY ideas for making one that works for their pool setup, I am sure you would find options that could work for you as is or with a little modifications. I made my own solar cover pull tow system, so that I can cover my pool by myself, fortunately we have a deck all the way around our pool so I'm able to use a standard in ground solar cover reel. It may help also if you attach a picture so that we have an idea of what you are working with to better give you suggestions. Good luck!
 

RLinger

Member
Jul 25, 2016
11
Broadview Heights
Thanks Barejewels! Great idea about adding a picture. Here is my setup, we have a 30' dia. pool, with a 15' wide deck centered on the pool. The reel that we have used for many years worked great. It spanned across the center of the pool, and pivoted on one side to a landing post out of the way in the back side of the pool. This setup is great for me, being 6' 3" and 250 lbs, but my 5' 4" 125 lbs wife that isn't a weight lifter, struggled with the weight of the 30' dia. cover, plus the weight of the 4" dia. reel tube.

Late last summer the tube broke right in the center of the pool. I contacted the maker of the reel, and they gave me a price of $500 for one 8' long section of that 4" dia. aluminum tube! That isn't happening.

So now I am looking for suggestions in using a 12 mil thick solar cover. I am thinking of cutting our existing 1 year old cover into 4 or 5 sections, and using a button and some sort of strap to connect the sections together while the cover is on the pool, but can be undone quickly so each of the sections can be individually rolled up and stored somewhere when the pool is in use.

I am in search of any other suggestions for managing the solar cover! I have tried using an 8 mil cover, but it could keep itself on the surface of the water in higher winds, so we need a 12 mil cover minimum. We also live in north east Ohio, and we like our pool to be in the mid 80's minimum temperature wise, we don't have a heater, so we rely on the solar cover to maintain the warmth. Our pool is in sunlight for 12 hours during a typical summer day, so this setup works great at heating the pool.

Any thoughts?

Pool.jpg
 

RLinger

Member
Jul 25, 2016
11
Broadview Heights
Looks like you can get a completely new one for a 30' pool for $369: FeherGuard Premium 30' Solar Cover Reel | Solar Cover Reels
I actually looked at that one back 15 years ago, and I still may consider it. The thickness and dia. were both smaller than the one I bought. We got 15 years out of the last reel, maybe the smaller reel will get us 10 to 12 years of use, who knows if the pool will last that long, or if we will still be in this house then??? May be the way to go, but there is still that thing about the weight, and my wife's lack of ability to remove the cover.
 

RLinger

Member
Jul 25, 2016
11
Broadview Heights
I'm thinking if I cut the cover into long 3' to 5' wide strips, I would use these Stayput clips on both sides and both ends of each strip of cover, this way the cover will act as a single unit when on the water surface, and prevent the cover from blowing up in high winds, but can be easily separated from each other for when we want the cover removed.


1587735201812.png 1587735225557.png
 

barejewels

Bronze Supporter
May 19, 2015
35
Attica
Thanks Barejewels! Great idea about adding a picture. Here is my setup, we have a 30' dia. pool, with a 15' wide deck centered on the pool. The reel that we have used for many years worked great. It spanned across the center of the pool, and pivoted on one side to a landing post out of the way in the back side of the pool. This setup is great for me, being 6' 3" and 250 lbs, but my 5' 4" 125 lbs wife that isn't a weight lifter, struggled with the weight of the 30' dia. cover, plus the weight of the 4" dia. reel tube.

Late last summer the tube broke right in the center of the pool. I contacted the maker of the reel, and they gave me a price of $500 for one 8' long section of that 4" dia. aluminum tube! That isn't happening.

So now I am looking for suggestions in using a 12 mil thick solar cover. I am thinking of cutting our existing 1 year old cover into 4 or 5 sections, and using a button and some sort of strap to connect the sections together while the cover is on the pool, but can be undone quickly so each of the sections can be individually rolled up and stored somewhere when the pool is in use.

I am in search of any other suggestions for managing the solar cover! I have tried using an 8 mil cover, but it could keep itself on the surface of the water in higher winds, so we need a 12 mil cover minimum. We also live in north east Ohio, and we like our pool to be in the mid 80's minimum temperature wise, we don't have a heater, so we rely on the solar cover to maintain the warmth. Our pool is in sunlight for 12 hours during a typical summer day, so this setup works great at heating the pool.

Any thoughts?

View attachment 134601
So your new idea is removing the solar reel completely and manually putting on/taking off the sections of the solar cover, am I understanding correctly? When I made my solar cover pulley tow I ordered most of my connecting parts from Plastic Components because I couldn't find what I needed anywhere else and their prices are fare. Attached are couple ideas on how to store your cover if not using a reel and don't mind the look. You could make or install something like these around your pool for each section of your solar cover. The other picture I found here Reels - Reels-Rollers for Solar Pool Covers | Hydrotools it looks like a beefier reel than you currently have but can be setup in the same way that you currently have.
Heck, I live in Indiana and I think I still have the rod from our old reel, you wanna go on a road trip, lol?
solar cover holder.pngsolar cover reel.png
 

RLinger

Member
Jul 25, 2016
11
Broadview Heights
So your new idea is removing the solar reel completely and manually putting on/taking off the sections of the solar cover, am I understanding correctly? When I made my solar cover pulley tow I ordered most of my connecting parts from Plastic Components because I couldn't find what I needed anywhere else and their prices are fare. Attached are couple ideas on how to store your cover if not using a reel and don't mind the look. You could make or install something like these around your pool for each section of your solar cover. The other picture I found here Reels - Reels-Rollers for Solar Pool Covers | Hydrotools it looks like a beefier reel than you currently have but can be setup in the same way that you currently have.
Heck, I live in Indiana and I think I still have the rod from our old reel, you wanna go on a road trip, lol?
View attachment 134648View attachment 134649
Barejewels, my problem is trying to find a reel that will span close to 32' by the time its sitting on the poles. There are many reels out there for 21 to 24 foot dia. pools, but once you get above that they get scarce. My reel is actually made for a 27' pool, and it has a series of 4" dia. tubes with some just slightly smaller tubes that fit inside the 4" dia. tubes, I was able to space them apart far enough that it covered the 32' that I needed.

I actually like the reels from the last link you shared, but the longest they have available is for 6.1m (20'), so that is just a little short, plus they are in Australia! Shipping from down under must cost a small fortune.

To answer your question, yes I am thinking that having smaller strips of cover, that can be "buttoned" together while on the water, to create a "solid" cover, but then can be unbuttoned from just walking around the outside of the pool, then get in the pool and just roll them up and then stack them on the deck and cover them to protect from the sun. That's my thinking at this time.
 

RLinger

Member
Jul 25, 2016
11
Broadview Heights
4" diameter by 8' long aluminum round tube starts at $219 (depending on wall thickness) here: MetalsDepot® - Buy Aluminum Round Tube Online
4" x 4" square tube, if that would work, is almost half the cost.
Thanks for the info denhajm! Looking at that site, and thinking it through a little, I could probably get away with just one section of 3-3/4" diameter at 8' long, and stuff that inside my good sections of the 4" tube, however the 3-3/4" dia. is more expensive, just under $350, plus shipping!

I'm leaning towards the button system that I described above, I can purchase 25 buttons and knobs for under $80.00 and have some extra just in case I need them.

My only real issue is just where to put the stacks of rolled up cover when they are out of the pool? The stacks will take up the pool deck. We have a "moat" that the pool sits in, the pool is a 30' dia. and it sits inside a 40' dia. hole, with a retaining wall around it, thanks to a slightly sloping yard. When we get heavy rains, it fills up like a moat (it has drainage inside the moat so the water doesn't stay there long), that's where it got its name. I am thinking the rolls can just get stacked up inside the moat. I'm not sure how well the cover hangers would work if I cut the cover into 5' wide strips.
 

barejewels

Bronze Supporter
May 19, 2015
35
Attica
Barejewels, my problem is trying to find a reel that will span close to 32' by the time its sitting on the poles. There are many reels out there for 21 to 24 foot dia. pools, but once you get above that they get scarce. My reel is actually made for a 27' pool, and it has a series of 4" dia. tubes with some just slightly smaller tubes that fit inside the 4" dia. tubes, I was able to space them apart far enough that it covered the 32' that I needed.

I actually like the reels from the last link you shared, but the longest they have available is for 6.1m (20'), so that is just a little short, plus they are in Australia! Shipping from down under must cost a small fortune.

To answer your question, yes I am thinking that having smaller strips of cover, that can be "buttoned" together while on the water, to create a "solid" cover, but then can be unbuttoned from just walking around the outside of the pool, then get in the pool and just roll them up and then stack them on the deck and cover them to protect from the sun. That's my thinking at this time.
Maybe something like this Amazon.com : Solar Roller Cover Stick (+3900 Sold) - Rolls Free Form Pools in Sections, Like Pieces of a Puzzle : Garden & Outdoor would work for you.
 

denhajm

Well-known member
Apr 4, 2015
73
Western, WA
I've had a 26' round pool the for the last 3 summers. I took a single piece solar cover and cut it in half to make it (a bit) more manageable. I would just pull it off the pool and let it sit in the yard until we were done swimming for the day. It works, but its probably not the best method. Any grass clippings loose in our lawn would get on the cover and then into our pool. I've been too lazy & cheap to look into other alternatives, but this thread has me thinking...
 

RLinger

Member
Jul 25, 2016
11
Broadview Heights
I ended up getting the straps from Sail Rite, they are called "Stayput Shock Cords" and I also purchased the Stayput Shock Cords Lacing Knobs". I ended up cutting the cover into 60" wide strips, which should be a little easier for my wife to take off the pool.

I understand that the cover should sit fine in the pool, however these straps help keep the cover where it needs to be in relation to the steps and the cut-outs I already had for the steps.

I'm pretty happy with the results, but it sure takes a lot longer to remove and reinstall 6 strips of the cover, vs. the time it took with the old reel setup.

Obviously the picture of the whole pool is a panoramic view, so it's only "slightly" skewed! I still have the wood posts in the ground, that supported the old reel. I need to pull those out this week.

Thanks for all the suggestions everyone!

Pool Cover small.jpgPool Cover Typical Straps area small.jpgPool Cover at Steps small.jpg
 
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RLinger

Member
Jul 25, 2016
11
Broadview Heights
You can see in the first picture where the reel was connected to the cover last season, right across the center of the pool. I ended up cutting the cover down about 14" from the widest part at the center of the old reel, to allow the cover to sit flat(er) on the water. After a week or two, I may need to look at trimming a little more.
 

RLinger

Member
Jul 25, 2016
11
Broadview Heights
I like the idea, but how are you putting the cover back on? Do you get in the pool and put each section in, tie them together and then get out of the pool?
Yep, that's what we are doing.

It takes about 5 or so minutes to uncover or cover the pool this way, which is much longer than with the reel. We aren't positive if this was the way to go, but thought we would give it a shot, at least until we need to replace this cover in a year or two.