Don't you just hate it when it's too cold to swim outside? Maybe sometimes you go in anyway only to plunge into the pool and experience some significant discomfort and that "needle" feeling when your muscles feel that cold.
Despite this discomfort many people still find it not worth it to use a pool heater. After all, they are expensive to use to heat up your pool even just once. However, there is an alternative solution that can heat up your pool 5-15 degrees with a low one time purchase.
The solution is solar pool covers (don't confuse these with the regular pool covers), also known as pool blankets. They are sheets of a plastic-type material with air bubbles that go on top of your pool.
You can see a summary of the ones we have reviewed here:
Best Solar Pool Covers Comparison
Once on top of the pool, the solar covers will absorb sunlight and transfer it to your pool. Not only that, but these special type of pool covers also make sure your pool retains its heat as well.
Solar covers, or solar blankets, also reduce water evaporation (which is where most heat loss comes from) and trap the heat inside the pool. This allows them to also to not only get warmer throughout the day, but also maintain heat throughout the night.
They not only efficiently heat up your pool, but are also cheap alternatives to pool heaters while also providing your pool protection from debris.
All in all, they heat up pools significantly cheaper than swimming pool heaters and keep the pool warm throughout the day. Since they also protect your pool from debris they help keep your pool maintenance costs & time down which is another plus.
Since there is a low variance of price, but big variance of quality I like to purchase the more expensive ones. The best pool blankets typically end up lasting twice as long as covers that are only SLIGHTLY less money.
What To Look For When Shopping For The Best Solar Pool Cover
By now, you've seen what I have ranked each solar pool cover as. However, what is good for me might not good for you. This is because
1) There are a lot of factors to consider and different people prioritize different ones
2) Different locations affect solar cover performance
With that in mind, you'll want to be aware of the most important things to consider. We've detailed them below:
Price is one of the biggest factors for any purchase. Fortunately, with solar pool covers they're almost all in the same price range unlike other products that can be bought between $50 or $500. The prices of solar pool covers have a lot less difference so price isn't as big of a factor.
Keep in mind that price is dependent on size. While you are looking make sure to check the price of the correct size cover or you will be getting the wrong idea about price. No matter what, it'll still be cheaper than using a pool heater or pool heat pump and it will lower your heating costs as it will retain heat of your pool water longer.
Durability is almost as important as price. After all, nobody wants to spend money on a product that will break the next day. While none of the covers are made that bad, there is a one that I mention that breaks down within a few months for most owners!
With every cover there is an estimated "product life". Of course it varies on a variety of things such as how you use, if it suffers from accidents, and by location, but you'll still get a general sense regardless of these factors.
Weather is a huge factor. Areas that have a lot of sun have trouble with their covers lasting a long time since the sun breaks down the plastics. On the other hand areas that have a lot of rain and other weather conditions will also negatively affect the pool cover durability.
Personally, I live in California so most of the feedback that I hear from others as well as my own experience is based on an area with a lot of sun and little rain. However, I also keep the cover on my pool throughout the entire year. People with snow will usually take off their cover during the cold months so there is a good chance that a cover that lasts 2-3 years for me may last 4-6 in other areas.
Another impact on durability is the thickness of the pool solar cover. As you could guess thicker ones tend to last longer and are higher quality. They’re usually only a little more expensive, but are worth the extra money since they can last twice as long and heat up your pool twice as much.
Size / Shape
There are a lot of different pool shapes and sizes. You'll want to be absolutely sure you're getting the correct solar cover for your pool and this means getting one for the right shape and size.
The most common types of pools are rectangular, round, and oval. However, if you have an odd shaped pool such as a kidney shaped pool then you'll want to purchase a large rectangular and oval cover and then cut it to the right shape.
It's best to get a cover that is slightly larger than what your pool needs. This will ensure that your pool will stay on the edge and just won't constantly sink into the pool. This helps keep the pool cover from degrading and will keep it good and strong longer.
This is especially true if you are going to cut it. You'll want to be sure to get a pool cover that is much larger so that if you make mistakes cutting it or even if you underestimate how much you're taking off then you'll be sure to have the cover have some material on the pool edge.
How Well It Works
There's really only reason to get a solar pool cover and that's if you want a cheap and efficient way to heat up your pool. If you're looking just for general protection from debris you'll want to check out our top 10 pool covers article.
However, assuming you're where you want to be a solar pool blanket can heat up pools anywhere from 5 to 15 degrees. Of course it varies from location to location, but 5 to 10 degrees should be what is expected from a quality cover.
2 qualities that contribute to this are
2) Cover color
Thickness matters a lot in order to maximize heat maintenance in a pool. Most covers can easily heat a pool up, but the good ones are able to effectively maintain heat throughout the night. Since a lot of pool water heat is lost through water evaporation the thick ones not only do this, but also easily trap warm water, air, and the therefore the heat within.
Color matters because of its ability to really transfer the heat to the pool water. Clear covers tend to heat pools up the best. Blue might not work as well, but there will still be a noticeable increase in the pool temperature. This is because blue will absorb some of the heat itself while clear covers will pass all heat into the pool water.
There are black covers that typically aren't as effective because they absorb ALL the heat and don't pass much onto the actual swimming pool. They can help raise the temperature of a pool, but don't normally heat as much as cover or blue covers.
Solar Pool Cover Reviews 2017
We outlined the top 10 swimming pool solar covers here. Follow our guide and recommendations and you can't go wrong with your purchase.
EDITOR RATING: 4.8/5
The Sun2Solar Rectangular Solar Pool Cover is a top solar pool cover that gets the job done and is the top solar pool cover overall.
Most users will find a significant difference in pool temperature with this product. The first day of putting it on (make sure the bubbles side are down) you’ll notice a pretty big temperature increase.
Usually a pool will heat up about 4-8 degrees on the first which. This may not sound like a lot, but your body will feel the difference when you get in.
After day 2 of use a pool’s temperature will usually increase around another 3-5 degrees and will tend to level off at that point. This means that within 2 days your pool will have gained anywhere from 7-13 degrees. Of course, this will vary by location since the actual temperature of the pool and various weather conditions will have a large impact on the effectiveness of a pool cover.
One reason why this cover works so well is because it tends to trap heat very well with its ability to reduce evaporation by 95%. Morning swimmers will notice a huge difference since the pool will be significantly warmer in the morning than pools without a solar cover. This is because pools normally lose a lot of heat overnight so it is easy to notice a big difference in the mornings.
Another reason why Sun2Solar's Rectangular Solar Pool Cover works so well is because it is clear. Research has shown that clear covers are more effective than traditional blue covers by around 10-20%. It's not a huge difference, but it will heat your pool up by an extra 1-3 degrees which is surprisingly noticeable.
Like most covers, the set up is pretty easy. However, it is thicker than many pool covers which means it is also heavier. Dragging it around can be difficult when first setting it up but it gets easier once you can lay it out.
Many readers use this as a cover for many pool shapes other than rectangles. Since it's pretty large it is great to cut so that it fits kidney shaped or oval pools. The material is sturdy after cutting, just make sure to do clean cuts so it will reduce the chance of your cover getting some tears.
You can also be sure it'll last long, not just because it claims to be made from a high quality plastic, but by the warranty alone. With purchase, you get 3 years full warranty and 10 years limited warranty so you are protected and guaranteed it works for at least 3 years.
Try getting that with cheaper pool covers that may last just around 1-2 years.
Bottom Line: Sun2Solar is definitely the best solar pool cover. It's a little pricier than others but it will do its job much better than cheap ones. With great durability and a nice warranty you can't go wrong with this cover.
EDITOR RATING: 4.5/5
Intex Solar Cover for 15-18ft Diameter Easy Set and Frame Pools is THE solar pool cover to have if you have an Intex Pool. Intex's covers don't just come in 1 size - there is one for every Intex above-ground pool (which is why it says 10-18 feet) so if you have an Intex pool these are for you.
These covers don't actually drape or hang over your pool. Instead, you just place it in your pool and they just float on top.
This makes them pretty effective in heating up the pool since even the edges are touching the cover. However, this means it also lets a little more debris in than other solar covers (if this is a deal breaker you can just get a cheap Intex pool cover to help protect your pool from debris). Alternatively you can purchase a solar cover that is for a larger pool.
The cover heats up the pool really well – particularly the surface. If you spend some time mixing the water around then it events out the temperature really well. Otherwise you have the weird sensation of cold legs and a warm torso!
It's easy to take off since the covers are pretty small. They come with a nice bag for storage so during the winter you have a good place to store your solar cover in.
The quality of itself is decent. It is a bit thin and some people complain it is just bubble wrap (it's a common misconception), but you get what you pay for. The Intex Solar Pool Covers are some of the most affordable that we have reviewed, but don't expect them to be the best solar pool covers on the market.
However, they do the job. They last about 1 season which is pretty good considering the price. They are a good bang for your buck since covers that last 2 seasons can be more than twice the cost.
Bottom Line: The Intex Solar Pool Covers are good buys if you have a small above ground pool (such as an Intex Pool). However, you'll definitely want to buy a cover that is for a larger pool than yours so it will prevent more debris from coming in.
Very affordable and cheap you can't go wrong with this if you're on a budget and have a small, round pool.
EDITOR RATING: 4.6/5
The Doheny Rectangular Solar Cover - 16 Mil may be the thickest solar pool cover we discuss, which contributes to its ability to effectively heat up a pool. However, it more than justifies the slightly higher than average cost.
One of the biggest reasons why it's a little pricier is because it is 16 mil thick. Most of the other solar pool covers are 8 or 12 mil so this one is thicker and more durable. Unfortunately, this also means it is heavier.
If you have a large pool and don't have anyone to help you with you may want to consider an 8 mil (or 12 mil if you're feeling ambitious). Seriously, these things are heavy and probably weigh around 60-70 pounds, meaning it can be difficult to set up and take off.
On the other hand the thickness and weight is what contributes to it working so well. Many people claim that it normally is able to heat a pool 10-15 degrees which is more than the other ones we discuss. However, I can’t verify this since I have never owned it.
I wouldn’t be surprised if what people said was true though. A thick pool solar cover means that a pool will maintain a lot of warmth throughout the night. It also means that it can take in a lot of heat from the sun and transfer it to the pool, which is a big advantage to thicker covers.
If your pool is a lot colder than you’d like than the Doheny Pool Cover is definitely a good option for you. From what I have heard it lasts between 2-3 years which is pretty good. This is a rough approximation since there aren’t a lot of owners that have chimed in – this is just what I have heard from 2 sources.
What should encourage fact though is that it has a 2 year full warranty and 6 year limited after that so you get 8 years of protection. This gives me some confidence that it's a pretty good solar cover and may be what I try out next.
Bottom Line: Great heavy duty solar cover if you really need to heat up your pool. Not recommended if you have to take it on and off by yourself since it is heavy and requires lots of work - you'll get sick of it fast. While not the best solar pool cover, it is up there.
EDITOR RATING: 4.5/5
The Splash Pool's Round Solar Cover oddly enough is generally thought to be better than the oval one even though they are made from the same material.
A reason for this is round covers are easier to fit than ones for oval ones since the dimensions can vary a lot more. Like Splash Pool's Oval Cover, the round gets the job done. It tends to increase pools about 6 to 8 degrees.
You’re probably wondering why it works better than the oval cover if they are made from the same material and are the same thickness. However, it is simply because of the pool shape. Oval pools tend to lose heat quicker than round pools do and pool covers are able to really capitalize on this.
With all of the water (and therefore warmth) in one central location the cover is able to harness the sun rays more effectively. Thus, round pools retain more heat and also heat up quicker.
I will admit that the pool covers themselves are probably equally effective (although it is hard to test). However, this is just a lot more effective for the reasons mentioned before.
It also tends to last a bit longer because of the shape as well. Since it won't cave into the pool as much it takes longer for it to deteriorate. You can expect it to last about 1.5 years to 2 which is average / above average.
Bottom Line: Splash Pool's Round Solar Cover is the best round pool cover available. It does its job by protecting your pool from debris and warming it up at a good price point.
EDITOR RATING: 4.2/5
The Splash Pool's Oval Solar Cover is one of the best for above the ground swimming pools . However, this one in particular may not be their best product, but it gets the job done.
It’s decent in warming up the pool. It claims to increase temperature by about 15 degrees but my understanding is it is closer to around 5. It’s a decent increase but you’ll probably want something that does a better job.
It would probably be more effective if it was thicker. Most people think it is too thin and flimsy (roughly around 8 mm but hard to know for sure) which makes it both fragile and less effective than other pool covers.
It tends to last about 1 year to 1.5 years and then it will start disintegrating. It’s a little shorter life than some other covers we talk about, but it is pretty average.
It’ll still keep debris out of your pool which is a nice bonus to all solar covers. However, I think there are other covers that are more worth it despite this brand’s normal success.
Bottom Line: It's decent and will get the job done, but if anything it might be a better idea to just purchase Sun2Solar's Rectangular pool cover and just drape it over. You can cut it too but it might affect the 3 year warranty.
EDITOR RATING: 3.8/5
In the Swim's Rectangular Pool Solar Cover - 12 Mil does the job of a pool cover by heating up your pool and protecting it from debris. However, if you do end up deciding on this brand I suggest going for the 16 mil instead (more on this later).
It's a little heavy at 49 pounds. Even though it's decent quality and has good thickness, it is actually still easy to cut if you have kidney shaped, oval, or other pool shapes.
The pool cover's thickness does help keep the pool warm - effectively retaining heat and capturing the heat from the sun to warm up the pool. My understanding is it typically increases water temperature around 8-12 degrees which is fantastic (I haven't had one myself so I can't say).
However, based on other reviews many buyers think it is a bit thin and say they would definitely want to opt in for the 16 mil instead. Personally, if I can I go for the thickest one available since they are generally higher quality – they work better and are usually more durable.
The durability for In the Swim’s swimming pool solar cover isn’t bad though. It’s about average (though a little less) at 1-2 years. I would guess the 16 mm lasts about 2-3 based on my past experiences, but it’s hard to know for certain.
Oddly enough it has a pretty good warranty at around 7 years, but at the time of this writing it is hard to find out how many of those years are fully covered vs limited. At least knowing it has a good warranty is pretty good protection.
Bottom Line: This pool cover is just pretty good, but there are better ones available for a similar price. If anything, get the 16 mil instead since the overall quality will be better.
EDITOR RATING: 4.2/5
The Blue Wave Rectangular Solar Blanket - 12 Mil is very effective. You can't expect much else from one of the most well known brands in the pool space.
Since you can pick different sizes the weight will vary, but the typical 16 feet x 32 feet is just 25 pounds which mean sit is very easy to set up and take down. This makes it perfect if you have to this with just 1 person or more senior and don't want to lift heavier solar blankets.
It's pretty average in turns of thickness since most covers seem to be either 8 or 12 mil's thick. Fortunately, it's on the thicker end which means it'll heat up your pool more and will be more durable. However, some claim that the blanket ends up being thinner than advertised - closer to 8-10 mil.
Though I have seen 2 of these myself and they seem fine, it is a good thing to be aware of.
On the other hand, based on what others have said you can expect a 6-10 increase which is enough for me to consider it a winner! It is okay in maintaining heat throughout the night (you'll still feel a difference) but really shines when taking direct sunlight to rapidly heat up the pool.
It works really great in areas where there is a lot of sun – so if your’e in California, Florida, or anywhere else there is a ton of sun then you want to consider this pool blanket. Normally intense heat and sun will wear down a cover, but it apparently doesn’t do so to this model. Instead, this solar pool cover will still be able to last around 2-3 years.
Given the average price, it’s a pretty good deal – especially since it comes with a 5 year warranty. Not all of the years are fully covered and you’ll definitely want to read the policy since it isn’t the most forgiving. Overall, the warranty is not the best one out there, but at least it’s better than nothing!
Bottom Line: Blue Wave continues to deliver with quality pool products and accessories. This solar blanket is a great buy for anyone, but is a must have for those with a lot of sun!
At an average price with a 5 year warranty, this pool cover is a solid, risk free purchase that will do its job!
EDITOR RATING: 4.6/5
In The Swim Ultra Clear Rectangular Pool Cover -16 Mil is definitely worth the money. Even though it's just at an average price, it is always worth it to pay a little extra for higher quality goods (well, almost always) - especially when it comes to swimming pool equipment.
A lot of people consider even 12 mil solar blankets to be too thin. However, 16 is pretty much as thick as it gets. If you want your pool to gain a lot of heat and have your cover last a long time then you want a thick solar cover like this 16 mil.
In fact, most people really dislike In the Swim's 12 mil pool cover, but really enjoy 16 mil. It's the same company, but the 2 different mil pool covers seem like completely different products because of the 4 mil difference.
In fact, it's the 4 mil difference that allows this cover to heat pools 8-12 degrees, though some claim up to 15 degrees. If you're looking to really heat up your pool significantly then this is the cover for you!
However, it’s not recommended to get this if you don’t want to move heavy objects like if you’re senior, have a bad back, etc. This isbecause it is quite heavy at around 65 pounds, but it’s because of the quality and thickness of the material.
If you want something light then going with a 12 mil cover is a good idea. It might not heat the pool as much or last as long, but at least it’ll be easy to take on and off. On the other hand, at least the 16 mil pool cover lasts 2-3 years.
Since most of them last 1-2 years then this is really good. It means less wasted money and less headache for you! However, there is one thing you should be aware of.
Although it has an 8 year limited warranty previous customers have complained about:
1) Bad policy. Even if it breaks during full warranty they will give some reason/excuse as to not replace it.
2) Bad customer service - The company might not even respond to your complain!
Yes, this can be annoying, but it's still overall a great product and a top pool cover.
Bottom Line: This cover is a great buy if you're willing to move around a heavier cover. It's harder to work with, but will last longer and heat up your pool more and I personally prefer 16 mil covers because of this.
Great for kidney-shaped pools and other odd pool shapes since the material is easy to cut as you want it.
EDITOR RATING: 4.3/5
The Blue Wave Round Solar Blanket for Above Ground Pools - 12 Mil is one of the best solar blanket for round pools. There's not a lot of competition other than Splash's which is also pretty good though. You can't go wrong with purchasing either of them but I think Slash's is slightly better.
I guess Blue Wave's solar covers tend to be a bit thinner than advertised. Many people say both the rectangular and solar cover seems to be about 8-10 mil instead. This explains why it isn't as good as other covers as retaining heat.
Although it heats up the pool pretty well (around 8 degrees), if you swim in the morning you’ll notice the pool just a little warmer than usual. This is because of the mediocre heat retention, although in the warm sun it will quickly heat your pool up again.
This is because it is a clear cover instead of dark blue or black one. As I have mentioned many times before, clear covers allow the warmth and heat to really get into the water instead of having the blanket absorb all of the solar energy.
Unfortunately, this all doesn’t mean much if it only lasts 1 year. While not TERRIBLE, it’s not as long as many other ones we have reviewed. It has a 5 year warranty to back it up, but the policy overall is not that good.
Bottom Line: It's good, but not great. I would recommend getting Splash's Round Pool Cover instead since this has such a short life span.
EDITOR RATING: 2.7/5
If you want true mediocrity then get the Robelle Heavy-Duty Space Age Round Solar Cover. Although Robelle has some great pools their solar cover is terrible. There aren't a lot of round ones, but all of the other ones that are mentioned are better than this waste of money.
Although it heats up the pool fine (5-8 degrees) it is clearly made of poor quality. For example, the seams tend to come apart fairly quickly and will only last several months. After that it will split into several pieces.
It may work well and it seems to be decent quality, but it's clear that it's not worth a purchase unless you WANT it to only last a few weeks to several months. Though some claim it lasts up to 1 year you don't want one that lasts AT BEST one year.
Bottom Line: It's not worth your time or money. Consider ANY other cover for your round pool - even if it's a rectangular cover. Again, DO NOT BUY.