Re-using a dead solar cover - still worth it if bubbles are broken?

Zwrickers

Active member
Jun 21, 2019
43
Louisville KY
Hi, our solar cover died last year by breaking down into millions of plastic circles.

We do have high winds here in southern Indiana and I want to use the pool into September as long as possible. If I used my broken-down bubble one from last year (so just like a cover) would that still prevent evaporation or heat loss at night? I know it wouldn't help with warming, but was hoping that having it like a piece of saran wrap on the surface of the water would at least help? Though I don't know if it's worth trying to get rid of all those tiny broken bubble pieces prior to using it this way.

Just curious your thoughts?
 

Newdude

Well-known member
Jun 16, 2019
4,490
NY
For evaporation purposes it would totally work. If you could get it not to stick, you could use seran wrap too, but good luck with that one. You might be better off using a tarp without having to fetch the half of the bubbles that haven't popped yet. The cover is ugly on its own, a tarp isn't any worse.
 
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Jeff J.

Well-known member
Aug 6, 2019
221
Staten Island NY
For evaporation purposes it would totally work. If you could get it not to stick, you could use seran wrap too, but good luck with that one. You might be better off using a tarp without having to fetch the half of the bubbles that haven't popped yet. The cover is ugly on its own, a tarp isn't any worse.
From what I understand, the only purpose of the bubbles is to make it float. I used to think they acted like little lenses to magnify the sun.
 
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Zwrickers

Active member
Jun 21, 2019
43
Louisville KY
Thanks guys - I'm going to try this! I am really interested in Newdude's info about the bubbles acting as lenses. I thought that too.

Are there any scientific research papers out there on solar covers - like real data on color vs clear, bubbles or not, day vs night use, etc. I am so worried about buying a new one, if my pool us usually at 4 ppm Cl, and it breaking down after one season. I keep reading anything over 1 or 2 ppm Cl destroys them and now that I learned that I'm worried.

Thanks,
Kristin
 
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Newdude

Well-known member
Jun 16, 2019
4,490
NY
I am really interested in Newdude's info about the bubbles acting as lenses
That wasn’t me but no biggie.
I keep reading anything over 1 or 2 ppm Cl destroys them and now that I learned that I'm worried.
Mine lasted 5 years with a FC @ 8-10. I had the thick cover which made the cover itself much stronger. The bubbles were the same flimsy things like all of them. Ultimately the bubbles popped like they all do, but mine was only used for 6 month seasons and kept on a reel so I think that helped extend it. Friends that dragged theirs on the patio each time only got a year or two.
 

Zwrickers

Active member
Jun 21, 2019
43
Louisville KY
Sorry there for the mix-up! I really appreciate that input re: cover longevity and thickness. I guess the best thing is to get the thickest one you can afford, always store it away from sun (or covered from the sun), and you might get that 5 years.
 

Newdude

Well-known member
Jun 16, 2019
4,490
NY
I guess the best thing is to get the thickest one you can afford
Well it’s a catch-22. The thick one is heavy and miserable to work with. I could have bought 2 cheaper and lighter ones for the same price and been more manageable the whole time. The reel probably would have lasted longer under less stress so that is a cost as well. The general consensus is to get the cheapest ones you can find and not care when they go.
 

borjis

LifeTime Supporter
Aug 19, 2014
3,305
Pacific NW
As far as I can tell the only real difference of clear vs blue covers, the blue keeps the sun from consuming more chlorine. The clear let's it through.
 

Newdude

Well-known member
Jun 16, 2019
4,490
NY
they claimed on the website that my clear (hideous opaque white) cover heated the pool a little on top of stopping evaporation. I can't speak for the blue ones but my water was on the verge of steaming everytime I took the cover off. The top layer of water was flat out HOT. It only lasted 30 seconds once exposed to the air, and the 2 inches probably didn't make a dent in the temps of the 8 ft deep 35k gallon pool but it was undeniably hot.
 

mas985

TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
May 3, 2007
13,732
Pleasanton, CA
Unless you can plug in a cover it can't really "add" heat. It can only retain heat. Plus you lose about 20% of the solar radiation due to the cover transmissivity. But overall, with the cover, the pool water will definitely be warmer even when used during the day. The amount of heat loss due to evaporation will usually exceed that which is lost due to transmissivity.

The bubbles do add some insulation to help reduce convection losses. Equivalent to about R=1.5. Not much but it makes a little bit of difference.
 
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Dirk

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Nov 12, 2017
6,828
Central California
A little off topic, but you did ask for our thoughts, right? I contemplated covers early on, though more for safety than for heat. Threads like these kinda reinforce my decision not to try one. Mostly based on my "laziness factor." I know I wouldn't want to take that thing on and off everyday, for sure. And I know that I'd likely skip swims just to avoid doing so, so that means I'd use my pool less. And I know that I would rather look at my pool, the color, the pebble, the beautiful edge tile, the shimmer, etc... than a bubble wrap cover. Most of the enjoyment of my pool comes from looking at it, not just swimming in it. And I know I want my skimmer and vac to take care of leaves dropping in my pool, not me and a cover. How do you all deal with that!?!

Yes, of course I would like to save some water, and a lot of heat. But it's easier to write a check for the extra water than to have to deal with a cover! Gotta subtract the cost of a new cover every year or two before complaining about the cost of evaporation, right? And the "cost" of labor/inconvenience of buying and cutting one every so often and rolling it up and out all the time should be part of the math, too. We don't own pools to save money, that's for sure. My goals are mine. But they don't include shaving costs to the bone, rather I want to shave the chores down as much as possible. So I automated everything and put solar on the roof to address the heat loss. I test my pool once a week and that's about it. I jump in whenever I want, and then walk away. A pool is a luxury, and I wanted to make mine as luxurious as possible. A cover just doesn't fit my idea of a pool.

No offense intended to cover uses, and I'm not suggesting my MO is right for all, for sure. Just pointing out that not using a cover isn't the worst thing...
 

Joshii

Well-known member
Jul 15, 2013
248
My thoughts on solar covers changed when I got one. I hated the idea of them for the reasons mentioned. I love looking at my sparkling clean pool, and having the spontaneity to use it whenever.

But because 2020 said FU to travel - I said if I'm going to be home all the time, then I'm going to have the hottest pool I can get. Long story short - my pool is 90+ all the time. All. The. Time. It is wondrous.

(I also live in the northeast where heat and sun -- even in the summer -- is kind of a luxury. Up here, you can never heat your pool too much.)
 

Dirk

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Nov 12, 2017
6,828
Central California
90+?!? Yikes. Good point though, my notions about a cover are surely influenced by where I live. I like 85° and I have lots of sun, so I have less of a need for heat retention than others would, for sure.
 

Jeff J.

Well-known member
Aug 6, 2019
221
Staten Island NY
A little off topic, but you did ask for our thoughts, right? I contemplated covers early on, though more for safety than for heat. Threads like these kinda reinforce my decision not to try one. Mostly based on my "laziness factor." I know I wouldn't want to take that thing on and off everyday, for sure. And I know that I'd likely skip swims just to avoid doing so, so that means I'd use my pool less. And I know that I would rather look at my pool, the color, the pebble, the beautiful edge tile, the shimmer, etc... than a bubble wrap cover. Most of the enjoyment of my pool comes from looking at it, not just swimming in it. And I know I want my skimmer and vac to take care of leaves dropping in my pool, not me and a cover. How do you all deal with that!?!

Yes, of course I would like to save some water, and a lot of heat. But it's easier to write a check for the extra water than to have to deal with a cover! Gotta subtract the cost of a new cover every year or two before complaining about the cost of evaporation, right? And the "cost" of labor/inconvenience of buying and cutting one every so often and rolling it up and out all the time should be part of the math, too. We don't own pools to save money, that's for sure. My goals are mine. But they don't include shaving costs to the bone, rather I want to shave the chores down as much as possible. So I automated everything and put solar on the roof to address the heat loss. I test my pool once a week and that's about it. I jump in whenever I want, and then walk away. A pool is a luxury, and I wanted to make mine as luxurious as possible. A cover just doesn't fit my idea of a pool.

No offense intended to cover uses, and I'm not suggesting my MO is right for all, for sure. Just pointing out that not using a cover isn't the worst thing...
My old, thick cover took about thirty seconds to reel off, and about 3 minutes to pull on. My new, thin cover takes about half that. I've only had it for about a week, but it seems to warm the water nicely. The old one definitely reduced chlorine loss. The new one is a nice blue, the old one ugly clearish. With the reel, I love the covers. Without a reel, I would definitely pass.
 

Dirk

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Nov 12, 2017
6,828
Central California
My old, thick cover took about thirty seconds to reel off, and about 3 minutes to pull on. My new, thin cover takes about half that. I've only had it for about a week, but it seems to warm the water nicely. The old one definitely reduced chlorine loss. The new one is a nice blue, the old one ugly clearish. With the reel, I love the covers. Without a reel, I would definitely pass.
Right, the reel. Forgot about that. I have no where to hide one and certainly wouldn't want to look at one. I don't really have any good spot to stash a cover without a reel, for that matter.

30 seconds + 3 minutes?!? I don't have that kind of time. That's time better spent bothering you nice folks with these rants of mine!! :rant:
 

magiteck

Gold Supporter
May 20, 2020
191
Neenah, Wisconsin
90+?!? Yikes. Good point though, my notions about a cover are surely influenced by where I live. I like 85° and I have lots of sun, so I have less of a need for heat retention than others would, for sure.
Climate definitely plays a factor. Even with a cover, after a week with highs only in the upper 60s and nights in the 50s, my water temps got down to about 74. After 2 nice days, I’m back to 79 and was able to swim comfortably today, but without the cover I’d probably be waiting another day or two before the water was comfortable. So it’s definitely a trade off. If I could keep the water in the 80s without a cover I probably wouldn’t deal with it either.

Looks like a good weekend coming up for us, so I’ll probably get the water back up to 84 or so by Saturday.
 
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mguzzy

Gold Supporter
Jul 8, 2015
2,328
OV, CA
I've gone through.. I don't know 5 or 6 covers. always the blue bubbly ones. I find they really only really prevent heat loss at night and really don't warm my pool much during the day.. but then again I get NO sun on my pool during the day to speak of. (lots of trees). So we also use ours a make shift gigantic slip and slide. But when the bubbles break down is when I am ready to ash can mine since it not worth all the blue plastic circles that are clogging up the filter basket.
 

borjis

LifeTime Supporter
Aug 19, 2014
3,305
Pacific NW
I don't love having to get the cover on and off, but it is a necessity in my region. It pretty much maintains 83 degrees in the summer with a cover. Definitely worth it for me and a lower gas heating bill to bump it up to 85 every few days