Solar covers vs solar panels

Kelly P

Well-known member
May 27, 2016
Effingham, IL
I am needing a new solar cover and was wondering if you prefer the covers or solar heating panels. If you prefer the covers is there a big difference between grades of covers?
Kelly P


Mod Squad
TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
May 19, 2010
Tucson, AZ
Covers hold heat in the water by reducing losses to evaporation.
Panels add heat by capturing it from the sun.

2 totally separate mechanisms.


Mod Squad
TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Apr 17, 2010
East Texas
I'd PREFER to have both.......but I just bought my first solar cover earlier this week. Common consensus here is that there is no relative difference between performance or longevity between 5 to 16 mil. blue or clear or the mixture of the two. The cheapest 8 mil you can find is my recommendation. The covers mostly shine in maintaining temps you have rather than adding to them. I haven't had any warmer ambient air temps than the pool temp since I put mine on, at least long enough to matter.....but I'm waiting to see!


Mod Squad
TFP Expert
Platinum Supporter
LifeTime Supporter
Aug 10, 2012
+1 to the +1

The first step is always to add a solar cover, 8 mil, thin and cheap. It may do all you need. It will add 2 or 3 degrees to the pool most days by reducing the overnight heat loss. Over time it will tend to keep your pool at the high temp rather than the midpoint between low and high. Solar panels will add heat to the pool. Our pool has been 88-89 for the last couple of weeks with a good high 80 and avg low 60. This mostly with solar panels and a solar cover and a little boost from the heat pump during cold fronts or rain.


Bronze Supporter
Oct 9, 2016
Lake Mary, FL
I prefer both as stated earlier but the costs for solar panels are much more than any cover. I'm looking to keep a consistently high temp of 90 year round in florida. As stated the solar panels add heat, the cover retains it especially overnight and during the cooler days. The cover will also create a cumulative effect (the longer it's on the more heat will be saved) and it is also great to prevent evaporation. I had no interest in liquid alternative based on the reviews and I really don't want to pour anything like that into my pool.