How to successfully buy a pool cover! (Ultimate pool covers guide)

When summer arrives, it's fun in the sun, party time! Despite that initial dive in, the first thought is the water could be warmer!

In this article we will cover the following key points.

  • Types of pool covers
  • Why you should have a cover roller
  • What is a “micron” and thicknesses
  • Lifespan of pool covers and warranties
  • How to measure your pool cover
  • How to install your pool cover
  • Above ground pool covers
  • Making the decision

 

We suspect that some pool and spa builders underplay the value of a cover during their pitch to potential customers and the temptation is to go with the cheapest option. That often means that the supplied cover is of lower quality as well as being hard to use. And if you end up with a cover that is hard to use, then guess what? It is hardly used. There’s obviously a lot of cheap versions on the market, but people that are sitting there and doing the research and want a quality product, they’re the ones coming to us.

Since pool covers unequivocally reduce heat loss in heated pools and minimise evaporation, surely it’s a no-brainer to use them. But again, pool cover uptake comes down to cost and ease of use. While it’s tempting to put your head in the sand and pretend that pool covers are optional, eventually everyone in the industry will need to dip their toe in. And why wouldn’t you when the benefits are so obvious?

 

Different types of pool covers

With so many different types of pool cover available, it can sometimes be difficult knowing which one to choose and why. First, consider what you need a pool cover to do for you. Pool covers share several things in common and have varying benefits -

  • Increasing water temperature
  • Reduce evaporation of your pool’s water
  • Eliminate dirt, debris and leaves blowing into your pool
  • Cut your cleaning time in half
  • Decrease your heating, water and chemicals costs

 

Solar Pool Cover

Solar pool covers 

Solar swimming pool covers, or bubble covers, are the most affordable pool covers on the market. During the day, the blanket absorbs the sun’s warmth and retains the warmth from escaping the pool during the night's cooler temperatures.

Fact: Some blankets can reduce evaporation by 90% and cut down on pool heating costs by up to 75%!

They are commonly manufactured from a light durable material, and consist of air small air pockets known as bubbles. As light passes easily through these air bubbles, it helps facilitate heating in the same way that a magnifying glass works, while also acting like a layer over the surface of the pool, holding the heat in.

Benefits of Solar pool covers:

  • This is the most cost effective pool cover that can increase the water temperature. It will raise the temperature of the water by up to 8 degrees by converting the pool into a solar heater and thereby extending your swimming season by weeks!
  • Reduces evaporation by up to 90%, cutting down water and the chemicals necessary to keep a pool healthy
  • Keeps dirt and debris out of the pool’s water

 

Downsides of solar pool covers:

  • Difficult to roll take on and off unless you have a cover roller.
  • Solar covers are not safe and cannot withstand the weight of even a small child
  • Don’t insulate the water as well as thermal covers.

 

Automatic Pool Covers

Automatic Pool Covers

Automatic pool covers can alleviate safety concerns and are extremely easy to use. As implied by their name, They are automatic as a reel operates the slats, automatically covering and uncovering the pool at the push of a button. These are the easiest to operate and more secure than the other kinds of covers.

Manufactured with sturdy interlocking slats that rest on the surface of the water, and can support the full weight of an adult. It can also be locked to prevent young hands from inadvertently opening and closing the cover.

Benefits of Automatic Pool Covers:

  • Slat covers are 100% safe and provide peace of mind
  • Cuts down on evaporation of pool water, saving money on water costs.
  • Easy to use as it is automatic

 

Downsides of Automatic Pool Covers:

  • These can be the most expensive of the market.
  • Storing the cover and the automatic roller can be unsightly
  • Is not a thermal blanket, will not heat the pool water

 

Thermal Pool Covers

Thermal pool covers are  the best kind of pool covers, not only do they fully block the sun's rays that attack chemical levels, they also retain the heat the best over other styles of pool covers.

Thermal blanketsare made of a thicker insulating foam material, and though they cost a bit more than bubble covers, roughly $900-$3000 range, they perform much better and do insulate better than traditional solar covers.

Installation is normally done by a professional, but is a matter of just cutting it to the pool shape as per solar covers. The cover can fit just about any pool shape too.

Benefits of thermal covers:

  • Has the highest reduction rate for water evaporation and extending the swimming season.
  • Keeps out leaves, dirt and debris, saving money on chemical cleaning supplies.
  • Completely blocks the sun’s UV rays that cultivate destructive algae.
  • Easy to use with a normal pool roller
  • Lasts longer than traditional solar pool covers.

Tip: If you are heating your pool with a heater, a Thermal cover is a must!

Hidden Swimming Pool Covers

Hidden Swimming Pool Covers

If aesthetics are important, hidden pool covers are a great option.  These are commonly installed with new pools or when a major renovation is performed as there is a bit of work involved to hide the components poolside.

The blanket and roller housed in a sunken section at the end of the pool.  A lid, that retracts which is normally made from anodized aluminium then hides the roller and cover.

Hideaway covers come manual, automatic or semi-automatic, which makes them very easy to use while at the same time fulfilling all the savings and protection you’d expect from a swimming pool cover.

Benefits of hidden swimming pool covers:
  • Perfect for new pools
  • Versatile with automatic, semi-automatically, or manual use
  • Aesthetically pleasing, its hidden from view!

Fact: Automatic covers can be expensive and difficult to install in existing swimming pools.

Leaf and Debris Pool Covers

Leaf and debris pool cover

The primary function with these is to keep leaves and debris from entering the pool. They won’t warm the water, they won’t retain the heat, The main reason they’re so good at this is because leaf and debris pool covers don’t float on the water; they fit completely over the pool. They are secured to the pool surrounded by anchor points and come with detachable straps and fittings that are then drawn taught so that the cover is stretched to fit flush with the pool surround.

The mesh allows rainwater to pass through the cover while leaving the leaves, debris, bugs etc. on the outside. Because the leaves are kept from contact with surface water, they are easily blown off by any wind – or by a little manual assistance from a broom or leaf-blower.

Leaf and debris pool covers don’t require a roller, and can usually be fitted by one person. That said, they do take considerably longer to fit than a solar pool cover or thermal blanket.

All types of pool cover benefit your pool in so far as they all reduce evaporation, reduce chemical loss, and reduce cleaning time by preventing leaves and debris from easily entering the pool. However, each type of pool cover has a different primary function. Below is a table that compares each style side by side -       

Features Solar Pool Cover Automatic Pool Covers Thermal Pool Covers Debris Pool Covers

Increase water temperature

Yes

No

Yes

No

Extend the swimming season

Best

Moderate

Moderate

No

Keeps Out Debris

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Reduces water Evaporation

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

Reduces chemical costs

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Automatic operation

No

Yes

No

No

Safe to walk on

No

Can Be

No

No

The different kinds of swimming pool covers each have their unique features different for ranging applications. Deciding which pool cover to get can be one of the most important decisions you make when it comes to the extra enjoyment and money savings you will get from your pool.

Why You Should Have a Pool Cover Roller

Pool cover roller

The benefits of having a pool cover are well known and that’s all great. But, if you’ve got a pool cover, you need a pool cover roller, otherwise the cover will quickly become a rod in your back!

3 reasons below why a pool cover roller is a great idea!

  1. Keep your life easy! The point is, with a roller, getting a pool cover on and off is a breeze – the whole operation takes less than a minute. Without a roller you will be in a world of pain trying to fold, lift and store it. Not only is there a lot of material in these, they are wet, and heavy!
  2. Increase the lifespan of your cover - If you take off a pool cover manually, there’s a good chance that it’s going to get dragged over rough ground, rocks etc., and thereby possibly get scraped or torn on the side of the pool or surrounds
  3. A few dollars more - The whole point of having a pool cover in the first place is that it doesn’t just keep your pool warm and cuts down cleaning time, And the easier the process of taking the cover on and off, the more likely it is that you’ll do so. Don't make it a chore when its needed to be done, a few minutes and its sorted and depending on the season you are either back enjoying the pool or saving money!
  4.  

3 points why pool cover rollers can be a pain

  1. Pool Rollers Can be Pricey – they generally cost $250 to $550 for a manually operated one or $800 to $5000 for an automated pool cover roller.
  2. Takes Up Space – Pool cover rollers can take up some space at the end of you pool.
  3. Looks Ugly – Pool cover rollers can look a bit ugly. You can limit this by buying a nicer looking one. Or, as explained above, you can opt for the more expensive hidden pool cover roller.

Fact: There are only a couple of cons of buying a pool cover roller. For most people wanting to know if they need a pool cover reel, the benefits far outweigh the cons.

What is a Micron and the rule of thickness?

Micron Pool Covers

Pool covers come in a variety of sizes and the thickness of the material is measured in microns. For example, a 600 micron cover is thicker than a 500 micron cover. While the variation between a 400 and a 500 micron blanket is slight, the price difference and features  can be significant!

400 Micron Pool covers

These swimming pool covers are a good thickness. 400 micron is normally the minimum thickness that is recommended for a quality pool cover and classed as a starting point in covers. A thinner 300 micron cover will not last long and will quickly be degraded by the sun and pool chemicals.

500 Micron Pool covers

500 micron covers are much higher quality but are also more expensive that are usually 25% higher than 400 micron covers. There is also a 25% increase in thickness, you gain an added layer of durability and slightly improved heat retention and longer lifespan for your increased investment.

Because the material is thicker its als less susceptible to tears or punctures. It will better resist damage from the pool chemistry and the harsh Australian sun for a longer period of time. 500 micron covers also carry a longer warranty period to give that peace of mind

You’ll get most of the benefits of a 500 micron blanket including warmer pool water, reduced evaporation and money savings in pool chemicals.

Depending upon the amount of use you plan for your pool and the protection you need from debris, you should be able to make a choice that best suits the needs and requirements of your pool, while keeping within a family-friendly budget.

500 Micron Pool Cover

The average lifespan of a cover and warranties

The life of a pool cover varies greatly depending on which brand of cover you buy. The cheapest covers may only last one season. Better quality and higher priced covers can last 3 - 7 years!

For you to have an idea how long a pool cover will last for, check the length of the warranty offered. Be sure to check the fine print though. Some warranties may appear to be long but they can be deceptive if you don’t read the fine print which could include water test reports and correct storage methods

What Warranties May Not Cover

Pool covers will last much longer if you look after your cover properly. Pool cover warranties normally don’t cover misuse either. Misuse is commonly defined as:

  • Over chlorination (greater than 3ppm chlorine)
  • Storing pool cover in sun (when not on pool)
  • Not using a protective cover when the cover is rolled up
  • Tearing or ripping (this is normally considered fair wear and tear)

 

How to Measure Your Pool for a cover

Step 1 - To measure your pool, simply measure the widest and longest edges.

How to measure for a pool cover

Note - For shaped pools, treat as rectangular

Pool designs

Step 2 - Add 15cm overlap to both measurements to obtain the minimum pool cover size needed.

Step 3 - Use the size selector menu on the order page to select the closest size and place your order. Don’t worry if the cover is larger than your pool you can cut it correctly to size and shape!

How to Install Your Pool Cover

Step 1 - Unpack the cover from the shipping box, be careful when using a knife that you don't cut the cover. Lay the cover bubble side down on the water & smooth out with a pool broom.

How to install a pool cover

Step 2 - Cut the cover using the pool as a template with sharp scissors. Cut it a little big so the cover rises(curls) up the inside of the pool by about 7-10cm. This will help stop debris entering the pool and make it easier to remove build up on the cover.

Cut the pool cover

Step 3 - With the broom, smooth and push the cover up against the edge of the pool. If necessary, trim a little more off the cover so the cuts are straight and even.

Pool cover layout

Above Ground Pool Covers

Above ground pool cover

If you’ve got an above ground pool, you’re probably looking for a simple cover to match your simple pool. These Pool Covers are basically just one huge shower cap that stretches across the top of the pool, with a generous overlap to allow for ladders, etc. The cover is supplied with bungee cord which is threaded through grommets in the hem, and requires no installation or rollers like in ground pools.

Our recommendation

As with most things in life, there’s no doubt that with a pool cover, you get what you pay for. And while for pool builders and consumers alike, it’s very tempting to skimp on a pool cover in favour of spending more on another part of the pool, you’ll almost invariably find that opting for a reputable brand — even though it might cost more — will pay for itself in a short time.

Tip: Check the government site for potential pool cover rebates - https://www.energy.gov.au/

We’ve seen plenty of customers who’ve learned this the hard way. “You hear people say, ‘Oh, I got a Bunnings cover last time and it started flaking off in six months.’ We hear that often and then they’re swayed to come to us!

When we speak to them and tell them we’ve got a 12-month warranty, it often works out cheaper for them to make that little bit more of an investment upfront.

Decide if you prefer a larger upfront outlay or if you prefer to replace your cover a little more regularly and keep it looking nice. Make sure you do your research into the warranty terms and conditions. As explained above, the warranty and material can vary from supplier to supplier.

If you take all of these things into consideration when you purchase your next pool cover, you’ll make a much smarter choice and you’ll have a cover that hopefully lasts. Solar pool blankets are by far the most affordable pool covers on the market today. Effective and low priced—they cost $566-$1300—and they’re the perfect option for pool owners who keep a strict budget.

Pool cover recommendations

There is no doubt that once people use a cover, they suddenly realise how valuable they are. If you’re trying to heat a pool or stop water evaporation, it all happens on the surface of the water. 90% of the heat goes straight out of the top of the swimming pool. It’s not the filter; it’s not the pumps; it’s not this; it’s not that. It’s just exposed water and if you put a cover over that, you basically stop it dead.

We often see, particularly in really hot parts of the country, that people are really desperate for a pool cover because they can pretty much see the water evaporating. So I think it still is a really relevant reason to have a cover. Water costs money and it’s not cheap. It’s definitely a big factor.

While most consumers won’t fully appreciate the benefits of a pool cover until they’ve experienced them for themselves, a recommendation from a trusted professional is the next best thing. The key to increasing pool cover use is to educate on the benefits of pool covers: reduced energy use for heating; less debris in the pool; and massive reductions in evaporation.

Please Contact Us If you have any further questions on our spa and pool covers

Please see a list of other useful pool blogs below!Pool MaintenancePool ChemicalsPool FiltersPool Pumps
Post author:

Tom Hintze

Head of eCommerce & Operations at Mr Pool Man,
Co-Founder at Water TechniX

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