Pros and Cons of Solar Pool Covers

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A solar pool cover reduces heating costs by minimizing evaporation and trapping heat from the sun.
A solar pool cover reduces heating costs by minimizing evaporation and trapping heat from the sun. (Image: swimming pool cover image by Alison Bowden from Fotolia.com)

Most homeowners who own a pool consider purchasing a solar cover at one time or another. Most do so to keep the water in the pool heated year-round. However, there are some drawbacks to solar pool covers that homeowners should consider before committing to purchase one. In many cases, it depends on the individual pool to determine if a solar cover is worth the investment.

Pro: Reduces Pool Heating Costs

The most obvious benefit of a solar pool cover is its reduction of pool heating costs. A solar cover not only decreases a pool’s heat loss by minimizing evaporation but traps heat energy that the pool acquires from the sun during the day so the pool maintains its heat even during the cooler evening hours. As a result, an electric or gas heater does not need to be used as often with the pool, reducing costs by 50 to 70 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. At the same time, using a solar pool cover is also environmentally-friendly because it utilizes a renewable energy source.

Pro: Cuts Back on Maintenance

Beyond its heating capabilities, when placed over a pool that is not in use, a solar cover protects the water from leaves, insects, berries and other objects that might find their way into the pool. As a result, the pool’s water will be clean when the cover is removed, no matter how windy or inclement the weather might be. The pool will require less skimming and vacuuming, so pool owners can spend more time enjoying their pool and less time cleaning it.

Con: Cost

Perhaps the most significant drawback to solar pool covers is their cost. A high quality solar cover can be quite costly, particularly if you have a larger pool. In addition, because solar covers can be cumbersome and difficult to unroll by hand, many pool owners choose automatic or semi-automatic covers that utilize electrical power to unroll the cover. These types of solar covers are the most expensive and may not fit all budgets. However, it is important to note that despite a high purchase price, a solar cover may wind up saving a pool owner enough in energy bills to compensate for the initial expense.

Con: Does Not Fit All Pools

While solar covers come in a wide variety of sizes that will fit most pools, odd-shaped or over-sized pools may not have many options. If you have a lagoon-style pool or other specialty design, for example, a standard solar cover may not be large enough to accommodate the shape. As a result, a custom-sized solar cover must be purchased, which is even more costly than a standard cover.

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