From keeping the pool clean to maintaining water temperature, there are plenty of great reasons to get a pool cover. Many of the best pool covers are even strong enough to walk on, working as a safety barrier that prevents small animals and children from falling in.
Depending on what your pool needs, types of pool covers range from lightweight solar blankets to heavy-duty winter safety covers. On top of this, there are big differences in design between the best above ground pool covers and models made for in-ground swimming pools. So, how do you find the right one?
Several factors are very important when choosing a cover – whether it fits the pool properly, how easy it is to set up, and how long it will last until it needs replacing. To make your choice easier, our pool cover reviews feature something great for every pool. And, if you want to learn more about what makes a good cover, don’t forget to check out our buying guide below.
How To Choose The Best Pool Cover – Buying Guide
Type of Pool Cover
Depending on what you need, there are several different types of covers for pools. Some help maintain pool temperature and keep it clean, while others offer full protection your pool needs between seasons. Take a closer look at all the available options.
- Solar covers: Sometimes referred to as bubble covers or solar blankets, solar pool covers have numerous air bubbles that insulate the pool water and maintain its temperature. In addition, because they are usually clear, these are the only covers that can actually warm up the pool. Compared to others, this is the most affordable type. While it protects from leaves and other debris, it won’t support any weight (can’t be used as a pool safety cover).
- Thermal covers: Thermal pool covers are specially designed to maintain water temperature. Often made with extra insulating foam layers, they are even better at preventing heat loss and evaporation than solar covers. However, they are not opaque so they won’t heat the water. They are generally more expensive than solar covers but are more durable too.
- Debris covers: Unlike the previous two, debris cover doesn’t maintain the temperature or prevent evaporation. Debris covers are usually made of tightly woven mesh that prevents leaves, bugs, and anything else from falling into the pool. However, it allows water to go in (rain) and out (evaporation).
- Winter covers: For protecting your pool during the off-season, there is nothing better than a winter cover. They are thick, fully leak-proof, and protect your pool from rain, snow, ice, and very low temperatures. They often completely block out sunlight, which significantly slows down algae growth. Furthermore, some are even firm enough to support a person’s weight and double as a pool safety cover.
- Automatic covers: Setting up the pool cover manually can be a nuisance, which is why automatic pool covers were created. By a simple push of a button, a motor pulls the cover over your pool, making them probably the easiest to use. On the flip side, they are also the most expensive and can’t be installed on every pool.
- Hidden covers: As the name would suggest, hidden pool covers are removed from sight. They are usually contained on one side of the pool, with a lid to hide the cover and the roller on which it’s installed. This type of cover is much more visually pleasing but unfortunately comes with a much higher price tag than other types.
Size and Adjustability
When you’ve decided on the type you need, getting the appropriate size will ensure your pool is properly protected. The pool cover should be large enough to cover the whole pool without tightening it too much. This is why most great covers have overhang (excess material) on each side (makes setting up much easier).
Whether you have a round or rectangular pool, make sure to get a cover that closely matches its size. When listing a cover, manufacturers often list both the pool size and the actual cover size, so we advise you carefully read the specs for the product you like. While you can’t make the cover larger, some solar covers allow you to trim the edges so they fit better on your pool.
Mesh Vs. Solid Cover
Both solid and mesh covers are great for basic debris protection. However, there are significant differences between them that will make one or the other better suited for your pool.
Mesh: While it blocks out any debris, mesh covers allow water to go through. Any rain or snow that falls onto the cover will seep through into the pool below. The biggest upsides of a mesh cover are that it’s usually lighter than a solid one and much easier to install and use.
Solid: Besides keeping debris out, a solid cover keeps water out too. By preventing rainwater in, the pool stays fresh and clean for a longer time. These can also maintain the temperature and block sunlight to prevent algae growth. On the other hand, solid covers are heavier than mesh covers and can be more difficult to use.
Summer or Winter (Season)
If you just need something to cover your pool overnight during the warm summer months, it’s best that you go with a bubble (solar), mesh, or even a thermal cover. These are fairly easy to set up and remove, and will make sure the pool is warm and clean when you want to go swimming.
On the other hand, for winterizing your pool during the off-season, you’ll need a thick winter pool cover. If you won’t drain the pool between seasons, it will maintain the water quality so it’s clean and fresh to use come summertime. Using it protects the pool from harsh winter weather and saves you a lot of money on pool maintenance.
Budget and Durability
With all the expenses a pool brings, paying attention to the pool cover price tag makes perfect sense. For a good solar or thermal pool cover, you’ll have to give anywhere between $30 and $100. However, a thick winter cover might set you back for more than $500. And, if you want a hidden or automatic cover, the price will increase several times. The good news is that swimming pool owners can find a decent cover in every price range.
As for durability, you usually get what you paid for. Factors like fabric thickness, seams, and reinforcements all come into play here and can make a big difference in the longevity of your cover. We feel that spending a bit more on the most efficient pool cover is better than replacing it every year. Finally, be careful with product warranties because they often have limited coverage.
Q: How Do Solar Pool Covers Work?
Solar pool covers consist of countless air bubbles that work as insulation for your swimming pool. During the day, the transparent cover lets sunlight through allowing the water to get warm. During the night (or when it’s cloudy) the air bubbles prevent heat loss and help retain temperature. Also, because it comes without any holes in the surface, it prevents evaporation too.
Q: How Do You Clean Pool Covers?
To clean your swimming pool cover, you’re going to need a garden hose, mild detergent, a pool brush and sometimes a cover pump. Next, you should apply the detergent (or a special cleaner), wet the cover with a hose and scrub it. Make sure to tend to any signs of mold, dirt, and mildew. Rinse the cover and then allow it to dry in the sun.
Q: How Fast Does A Solar Cover Heat A Pool?
If the weather is warm and sunny, a solar pool cover can heat the water in just a few hours. On the other hand, if the day is colder and cloudy, even the best pool cover won't be as efficient. In this case, a solar pool heater can help warm up the pool so it’s more pleasant when you jump in.
Q: How Do I Install A Pool Cover?
It depends on the type of cover you have. If you want an automatic or hidden cover installed, you’re most likely going to need a professional to do it. On the other hand, you can install most soft covers on your own or with some help from a friend.
Solar and thermal covers usually require only that you spread them over the swimming pool and put some weight on the edges. For solar models, make sure the bubbles are facing down. As for the safety pool covers, they usually require some drilling and anchoring around the swimming pool. They are heavier so you need to anchor them properly so they stay in place.
Q: Is A Mesh Or Solid Pool Cover Better?
Both have their advantages and disadvantages. Mesh covers are lighter (easier to handle), don’t retain rain on the surface, and cost less on average. On the other hand, a solid cover will keep a pool cleaner and help maintain pool chemistry, but will cost more and require some maintenance in the off-season.
Q: Do I Need To Cover My Pool Every Night?
No, but doing it has a lot of advantages. Besides keeping leaves and other debris from falling in (less skimming the next day), it also significantly helps in retaining the water temperature overnight. This way, your swimming pool will remain warm allowing you to enjoy a pleasant swim in the morning.
Q: Can You Run Pool Pump With Solar Cover On?
Yes, this is perfectly safe. You can run the pump with the cover on without any fear of it getting sucked into the skimmer. The cover floats on the surface and doesn’t interfere with the pump, making maintenance easier.
Q: How To Keep Water Off Pool Cover?
If there is water at the cover center, you can remove it with a cover pump or a manual siphon pump. Removing standing water as soon as possible will prevent the cover from getting damaged by the extra weight.
Other forms of water (snow, ice) require a different approach. If there’s snow on the pool safety cover, you can remove it with a roof rake before it starts to melt and gets heavier. As for ice, it’s recommended to leave it be until it melts because its sharp edges might tear the cover.
Q: Can You Use Bubble Wrap As A Solar Pool Cover?
Technically yes, but it wouldn’t be very effective. Regular bubble wrap is a lot softer and less durable than a solar pool blanket, so it wouldn’t last very long in the sun. We would advise that you go with real solar blankets (like Sun2Solar or daisy pool covers) if you want good results and durability.
Q: What Is The Best Color For A Solar Pool Cover?
For gaining heat, the best color is no color (transparent) because it lets most sunshine in. For retaining heat and slowing algae growth, a dark color does a much better job. As an in-between option, light blue offers a balance which is why many of the most efficient pool covers come in this color.
Globo Surf Overview
Even though it often won’t be the first thing that comes to mind, a good cover can really make the swimming pool more enjoyable. Whether you just need a mesh cover to keep leaves out or a thick safety cover for winterizing your pool, the best pool covers will change the game by making your swimming pool safer and making maintenance much easier.