Solar Cover Reel

djlombar

Member
Apr 7, 2020
11
Cary, NC
Pool Size
15400
Surface
Fiberglass
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Hayward Turbo Cell (T-CELL-5)
I've scoured the forum and am still struggling on a reel. I've got a 16'x40' rectangular inground that recently had a Hayward Summit XL added to (yay) so I am looking to add a solar cover to improve the heat retention. Any recommendations on a reel? I like the longevity of the Rockys but not sure I want to spend that much. Having said that the cheaper ones ($200 and less) seem to not last and I don't like the idea of being wasteful. I plan on tucking the cover away into the garage which is next to the pool deck when having company over so I like the idea of "portability." I did look at the Solar Roller (sold out) and the DIY version, but the DIY post is 8 years outdated now so wondering if it has not held up? Any suggestions? For reference I was planning on getting the Sun2Solar 1200 series cover.
  1. Suck it up and get the Rockys (how long will it last?)
  2. Go cheap and just replace parts?
  3. DIY Solar Roller (any updated guide?)
  4. Cut into sections (2 or 4 sections?)
Thanks, much appreciated! Only had this pool one season so far so a lot to learn still :)
 

Newdude

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Jun 16, 2019
6,395
NY
I went with the Rocky reel. It was $500 IIRC and there is no question it was much beefier than the others. I specifically got the one with the ‘T’ feet instead of the triangles. (the top view looking down was a T. The bottom of the T pointed away from the pool and it never wanted to tip. It was SOLID). I did not install the wheels to give it all the surface area contact for grip........becauuuuuuuuuuuuuse..... 40 foot it ALOT of real estate and even the thin cover will weigh a ton just from water weight alone. I got 5 years out of my HD Rocky reel. I had to MacGuyver it back together each season with bigger bolts, but it held up well IMO.

With no reel, cutting into sections will help a lot. Multiple sections on one reel does not matter so you would need a reel for each section to make it easier and lose half your patio space. So then it’s moving the smaller sections by hand. Not too bad but they will either wear out from being dragged over the patio to fold, or snag on a sharp edge somewhere. But buying the cheap thin cover, it’s easy on the wallet if it only lasts 2 years.
 

djlombar

Member
Apr 7, 2020
11
Cary, NC
Pool Size
15400
Surface
Fiberglass
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Hayward Turbo Cell (T-CELL-5)
I went with the Rocky reel. It was $500 IIRC and there is no question it was much beefier than the others. I specifically got the one with upside down ‘T’ feet instead of the triangles. (the top view looking down was a T. The bottom of the T pointed away from the pool and it never wanted to tip. It was SOLID). I did not install the wheels to give it all the surface area contact for grip........becauuuuuuuuuuuuuse..... 40 foot it ALOT of real estate and even the thin cover will weigh a ton just from water weight alone. I got 5 years out of my HD Rocky reel. I had to MacGuyver it back together each season with bigger bolts, but it held up well IMO.

With no reel, cutting into sections will help a lot. Multiple sections on one reel does not matter so you would need a reel for each section to make it easier and lose half your patio space. So then it’s moving the smaller sections by hand. Not too bad but they will either wear out from being dragged over the patio to fold, or snag on a sharp edge somewhere. But buying the cheap thin cover, it’s easy on the wallet if it only lasts 2 years.

Thanks for your input. Wow $500 for 5 years? I don't like waste so all of this is hard to stomach (especially the plastic cover...) hah.
 
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Newdude

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Jun 16, 2019
6,395
NY
If you are checking reviews, look specifically about sag and the bushings. That’s about all that can happen to a reel. But keep in mind that the people saying that theirs worked great could have a cover half your size and under a lot less stress. Sag can be fixed by drilling larger bolts through the pieces of the pipe. Some bushing can be replaced but most can’t, so if you are buying a discount reel, make sure you can get the bushings for it first. They will fail.
 

djlombar

Member
Apr 7, 2020
11
Cary, NC
Pool Size
15400
Surface
Fiberglass
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Hayward Turbo Cell (T-CELL-5)
If a cover is only going to last 2 years, reel or no reel, I'm thinking maybe just cutting into 2 or 4 sections...
Sounds like there is no good answer for what I want :cry:
 

Newdude

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Jun 16, 2019
6,395
NY
Sounds like there is no good answer for what I want :cry:
I got 5 years out the combo. The cover lasts longer on the reel. Oooooooh. You also need a cover for the cover when it’s on the reel. One hot day is all it takes and the bubbles will boil themselves and pop. But yeah. When the reel was on its last legs and the cover finally popped I was so sick of the PITA I threw it all out and didn’t replace it. Afterwords we loved running down to the pool and immediately going airborne, Even if it was brisk. YMMV.
 

Moe 103

Member
Jun 17, 2020
5
New Jersey
Pool Size
38000
Surface
Vinyl
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-60
If the warranty is true and not full of more holes than Swiss cheese, Then i like it. :) I don’t like the feet though. It might want to be tippy under the massive weight you’ll have on it. I had this one and it was firmly planted on the ground. Commercial Grade Solar Reel up to 24 feet w/ 5 inch Tube | In The Swim

I’m not sure if they all have the same warranty.
I too am looking for a reel system. Can you give me your review on the reel from In the swim?

thanks
 

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Newdude

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Jun 16, 2019
6,395
NY
Can you give me your review on the reel from In the swim?
Two posts up has the model I had and I thought it was well worth the money to upgrade to a beefier reel. So many reviews of the other reels listed sagging, even at shorter lengths.

What I liked best about it was the ‘T’ feet. I never installed the wheels and it never budged. It was firmly planted with the 3rd leg of the foot.

As with any reel (and the stupid heavy 20x40 16 mil cover) it did sag after about 2 years. I was able to extend its life twice, first by replacing the 1/4 inch bolts with 1/2 inch and then again with 3/4. After 5 and change years the cover bubbles popped and I decided to just go without, but the reel could have easily kept going with new bolt locations. What would happen was the bolts would work the round holesinto skinny oval like slots and once the slots were 3X as wide as the bolt, it could flex up or down by that diameter. With 5 or 6 pieces of pipe, each one added another variance of sag +\- (although gravity never let it go up).

All in all I was very happy with the HD model and was only $150(?) more than the ones that for sure wouldn’t have lasted.
 

djlombar

Member
Apr 7, 2020
11
Cary, NC
Pool Size
15400
Surface
Fiberglass
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Hayward Turbo Cell (T-CELL-5)
I ended up going with: Sun2Solar® Easy Gear Stainless Steel Cover Reel - Up to 16' Wide - PoolSupplies.com as the reel and Sun2Solar® 800 Series cover. So far it's fine. The reel instructions weren't the best and I had to drill some holes and the tubing minimum overlap specified in the instructions does NOT fit a 16' wide pool (mine is about 15'10")...I contacted customer service first and they were confused as well but said the manufacturer is solid with their 5-year warranty. I'll believe that when I see it though. Had I known this really wasn't great for a 16' wide I would have gone for the 20' wide model, though based on the tubing I'm not sure that would work...they advised to go with the 16' model.

Anyway, so far so good with the reel. Works well, easy to use now that it's together. Seems to be supporting the wet cover fine so far but it has only been a couple months. For the price so far I am happy.