Best Solar Pool Covers 2020: Reviews, Advice & Buying Guide
Looking for a good quality solar pool cover to keep your swimming pool warm?
You’ve come to the right place.
Solar pool covers are the cheapest way to warm your swimming pool. It’s even cheaper than using a solar heater since you do not need to run the pool pump for a longer period to heat the pool.
A solar pool cover floats on the pool and transfers heat from the sun to the water.
Best Solar Pool Covers Compared
Here’s a quick comparison of the best solar pool covers. Scroll down for individual reviews of each pool cover.
|Solar Pool Covers||Type||Average temp rise||Warranty|
|Sun2Solar 1200 Series|
Editor’s Top Pick
|Bubble solar cover||5 degrees/day||6 years prorated warranty (2 years full coverage)|
|Blue Wave NS100|
Best for above ground pools
|Bubble solar cover||5 degrees/day||3 years warranty|
|Intex 12ft Solar Pool Cover|
Best for Intex pools
|Bubble solar cover||5 degrees/day||90 days warranty|
|MidWest Canvas Clear Diamond Cover|
Best for oval pools
|Diamond bubble solar cover||5-8 degrees/day||10 years prorated warranty (2 years full coverage)|
|Sun2Solar Round 1600 Series|
Most durable (also best for round pools)
|Bubble solar cover||5 degrees/day||7 years prorated warranty (2 years full coverage)|
|Aqua Splash Pool Solar Cover Reel|
Best pool solar cover reel
|Solar cover reel||N/A||5 years warranty|
|Solar Sun Rings|
Best pool solar rings
|Solar rings||2 degrees/day||2 years warranty|
|Cover Free Liquid Pool Blanket|
Best liquid solar cover
|Liquid blanket||2-5 degrees in a week||Not listed|
What’s In This Buying Guide?
- Best Solar Pool Covers Compared
- What’s In This Buying Guide?
- Why Buy a Solar Pool Cover?
- Types of Solar Pool Covers
- Best Solar Pool Covers: In-Depth Reviews
- 1. Editor’s Choice: Sun2Solar 1200 Series Blue Rectangle Solar Cover
- 2. Best for Above Ground Pools: Blue Wave NS100 Round 8-mil Solar Blanket
- 3. Best for Intex Pools: Intex 12ft Solar Cover
- 4. Best for Oval Pools: MidWest Canvas Clear Diamond Oval Solar Cover
- 5. Most Durable: Sun2Solar Round Blue 1600 Series Solar Pool Cover
- 6. Best Solar Cover Reel: Aqua Splash In-Ground Swimming Pool Solar Cover Reel
- 7. Best Solar Pool Rings: Solar Sun Rings Solar Pool Heater
- 8. Best Liquid Pool Solar Blanket: Cover Free Liquid Pool Solar Blanket
- How Do Solar Pool Covers Work?
- Solar Pool Cover Buying Guide
- Frequently Asked Questions
In this in-depth buying guide, we review the best solar pool covers available online.
We also explain how solar pool covers work, the different types available in the market, and how to choose the right one for your above ground or in-ground pool.
Why Buy a Solar Pool Cover?
You can warm your pool quickly using gas, but it’s expensive. An electric (resistance) pool heater costs even more to run.
An electric heat pump is cheaper, but it also costs some money to operate.
Solar pool heaters are affordable, but a solar pool cover is even cheaper and easier to set up.
Combine the low purchase cost with the low maintenance costs, and you can see why solar pool covers are such a pocket-friendly pool-heating solution.
2. A warmer pool
A good quality solar pool cover can raise the water temperature by as much as 12 degrees over several days.
With a solar pool cover, you can swim later in the day when the pool would normally be cold. You can even swim at night, and the water will still be warm.
A solar pool cover can also extend your swimming season by a couple of weeks, letting you open your pool earlier and close it later.
3. Easy to set up
Unlike a solar heater, a solar pool cover does not connect to your pool pump. So there are no additional costs from running the pump for longer.
Additionally, a solar pool cover is super easy to set up. You can lay it on the pool in just a few minutes and remove it just as fast when you want to swim.
4. Prevents evaporation and heat loss
A solar pool cover is not just good for warming your pool. You can also use it to keep the pool warm when the main pool heater is not in use.
If you use a solar, gas or electric heater, laying a solar pool cover on the pool at night, or when the heater is off, prevents heat loss from the water. This reduces how often you have to use your main heater and lowers overall energy usage.
Even if you don’t have another pool heater, you can use a solar pool cover to retain the warmth the pool received from the sun during the day.
A solar pool drastically reduces evaporation, which is how most of the heat in your pool is lost.
5. A cleaner pool
A solar pool cover also keeps leaves, dust, and debris from getting into the pool. Your skimmer and pool filter will work less, and you won’t have to deploy your robotic pool cleaner as often.
Types of Solar Pool Covers
Bubble Covers/Solar Blanket
Bubble pool covers have air bubbles on one side. During the day, the bubbles capture the sun’s heat and transfer it to the water. At night, they act as insulation, trapping heat within the pool.
Bubble pool covers are very effective at preventing evaporation. They block about 95% of evaporation, making the bubble covers the most effective type of solar pool covers.
Liquid Solar Pool Cover
Liquid pool covers create an invisible barrier over the water, preventing heat loss and evaporation.
A liquid solar blanket is easy to add to the pool and is safe for your pool filter. It’s also safer for pets and kids, as there’s no danger they will be trapped underneath in case they fall into the water.
Another big advantage of a liquid pool cover is that you don’t need to remove it when swimming.
On the downside, a liquid solar cover does not reduce evaporation as much as a solar bubble blanket – it blocks only about 15% of evaporation. It is even less effective in places with prolonged windy or rainy weather.
Solar Rings and Squares
If a solar blanket seems like a lot of work to put on and remove from the pool, we recommend solar rings. Solar rings are smaller than pool blankets and are inflatable. You’ll need several rings or squares to cover most of the pool surface.
However, solar rings cannot cover 100% of the pool; thus, they are not as effective as a solar blanket at reducing evaporation.
In addition to preventing heat loss and evaporation, some solar rings are also decorative.
Similar to a liquid cover, solar rings are safer for pets and kids since they break upon impact.
Best Solar Pool Covers: In-Depth Reviews
1. Editor’s Choice: Sun2Solar 1200 Series Blue Rectangle Solar Cover
The Sun2Solar Blue is one of the most popular and highest rated pool solar covers on Amazon. It comes in a wide range of sizes for both in-ground and above ground pools.
The bubble style pool cover prevents up to 95% of evaporation and raises pool temperature by around 5 degrees on a sunny day.
- Multiple sizes are available.
- Cover can be cut to fit.
- Significantly raises pool temperature on a warm day.
- Greatly reduces evaporation and the associated heat loss.
- 12mil thickness ensures the cover lasts longer than most pool covers.
- Increases risk of algae growth.
- Not as durable as a 14mil pool cover.
The Sun2Solar Blue solar cover is available in over two dozen sizes ranging from a small 4’ by 8’ rectangle for kiddie pools to a huge 30’ by 50’ cover for an Olympic size pool.
Whatever size your above ground or in-ground pool is, you’ll find the perfect Sun2Solar cover size.
If you cannot get a cover with the same dimensions as your pool, get a slightly larger one and trim to fit. Trimming the cover will not damage it or void the warranty.
The Sun2Solar Blue cover is a rectangle but, with some careful trimming, you can fit it onto any pool shape.
The Sun2Solar cover uses bubbles to concentrate heat from the sun onto the water. On a sunny day, many pool owners get a temperature rise of about 5 degrees. After a week, the water temperature can reach 90 or higher.
At night, the bubbles provide insulation, preventing heat from escaping out of the water.
The Sun2Solar cover also reduces evaporation by 95%. This has two benefits: it reduces how often you need to top off the pool, and it keeps the pool warmer for longer.
Thanks to the 12 mil thickness, the Sun2Solar Blue solar cover lasts longer than most pool covers. The average lifespan reported by pool owners is two years.
Issues & Limitations
Do not leave the cover on the pool for too long as it can cause algae growth. With the cover on, the water does not breathe. And even with filtration, there’s still a risk algae will start growing under the cover.
The longest you should leave the cover on is a week. After a week, remove the cover and let the pool breathe for at least a day before putting the cover back on.
Another tip is to remove the cover when it rains. This ensures rainwater containing algae spores do not settle on the cover and cause algae growth in the pool.
The Sun2Solar Blue solar cover is a great choice if you are looking for good quality, relatively durable, and quick-warming solar pool cover for your in-ground or above ground pool.
2. Best for Above Ground Pools: Blue Wave NS100 Round 8-mil Solar Blanket
For an above ground pool, you don’t need an expensive heavy-duty cover. A cheaper option like the Blue Wave NS100 will do.
The Blue Wave NS100 solar cover is specifically for round pools. You can get it in several diameters ranging from 12ft to 36ft.
- Gets the pool warm in just a few days.
- Easy to put on and take off the pool.
- Reduces evaporation by 95%.
- Lasts longer than most pool covers.
- 8-mil thickness keeps the cover light and easy to handle.
- Only warms the top part of the pool – you have to run the pump to warm the entire pool.
Generally, we recommend pool owners get pool covers that are at least 12mil to guarantee durability. The Blue Wave NS100 is an 8-mil cover, but it lasts longer than most pool covers.
Most above ground pool owners have been able to get two seasons out of it, and others even three.
There are sizes for different above ground pools. If you cannot get size matching your pool, get one tat’s bigger then trim it to fit.
The Blue Wave NS100 has bubbles on one side that increase the amount of solar heat the cover captures and transfers to the water. The average temperature increase on a sunny day is 5 degrees. After a week, you’ll get an increase of 15-20 degrees.
Make sure you keep the cover on at night. The bubbles insulate the pool, helping keep it nice and warm.
Like other bubble-style solar covers, the Blue Wave NS100 reduces water evaporation by about 95%. This goes a long way in preventing heat loss.
It’s easy to install the Blue Wave NS100 cover. Thanks to the 8-mil thickness, it’s not too heavy. You can roll it on and off the pool on your own.
Issues & Limitations
One issue mentioned by several pool owners is that the Blue Wave NS100 cover only heats the first few inches of water.
Right beneath the cover, the water can border on hot. Further below, it will still feel cold.
To eliminate these hot spots, run your pool pump earlier in the day when the cover is still on the water. This will mix the warm and cold water and increase the temperature of the entire pool.
The Blue Wave NS100 solar cover is a great choice for above ground pool owners looking for good quality, durable (but lightweight), and affordable solar pool cover.
3. Best for Intex Pools: Intex 12ft Solar Cover
If you have an Intex pool, it’s always best to get Intex accessories. This Intex solar cover fits 12ft Easy Set and metal frame Intex pools.
- Reduces heat loss and 95% of evaporation.
- Holes allow water to drain from the cover.
- Warms the pool on sunny days.
- Come with a storage bag.
- It doesn’t last long – 1 to 2 seasons.
This solar cover is a cheap way to warm your Intex Easy Set or metal frame swimming pool. It’s cheap to buy, and it doesn’t cost anything to run.
On a sunny day, the Intex cover warms the water by about 5 degrees. Leave it on for several days, and the temperature approaches 100.
It also prevents heat loss at night, reduces evaporation and keeps debris out of the pool.
Note that the Intex cover is designed for use with 12ft round above ground pools. It should fit perfectly without any trimming.
Issues & Limitations
The Intex cover feels thin, so don’t expect it to last long before it begins to tear. The average lifespan is 1-2 seasons. Thankfully, the pool cover is cheap enough that you can buy a new one every couple of seasons.
To get the most life out of it, do not leave it in the sun for long. After it dries, put it in the storage bag and keep it in a cool, dry place.
The Intex solar pool cover is a great choice for any Intex easy set and metal frame pool owner looking for a cheap and easy way to keep the pool warm.
4. Best for Oval Pools: MidWest Canvas Clear Diamond Oval Solar Cover
Have an oval pool? Get the MidWest Canvas Clear Diamond oval solar cover. It’s much easier to fit it on your pool rather than trying to trim a rectangular pool cover.
- A high number of bubbles improve heat capture and insulation.
- Prevents 95% of evaporation.
- Long warranty.
- Heavy – you’ll need help to put it on and take it off the pool.
The MidWest Canvas pool cover is designed to work with oval above ground and in-ground pools. Sizes range from 12’ by 18’ to 15’ by 30’.
You don’t have to buy a size that perfectly fits your pool. Get a larger size and trim it to fit your pool. It will not affect the warranty.
Talking of the warranty, the MidWest Canvas pool cover is covered by a 10-year warranty. It is a prorated warranty with full coverage available only in the first two years.
The long warranty is an indication of the cover’s durability. No, it won’t last 10 years, but you can expect at least three seasons out of it. If you take good care of it, even four.
The added durability is because of the cover’s thicker profile. It is 16-mil thick, which makes it more resilient against UV damage and tearing.
As for heating performance, the MidWest Canvas solar cover heats the pool surprisingly quickly.
Instead of the usual round bubbles, it has diamond-shaped bubbles. This allows the manufacturer to fit more bubbles onto the cover, which enhances heating and insulation.
On a sunny day, your pool will get a 5-8 degree temperature rise. Over a week, you’ll enjoy a pool that is 15-25 degrees warmer.
The cover also does a great job preventing evaporation and keeping debris out of the water.
Issues & Limitations
The 16-mil thickness is good for durability but makes it harder to handle the MidWest Canvas solar pool cover.
It is heavy and unwieldy. You’ll need help to lay it on the pool and take it off. If you can get a feel for it, it’ll make things much easier.
The MidWest Canvas pool cover is a great choice for owners of an oval above ground or in-ground pool.
5. Most Durable: Sun2Solar Round Blue 1600 Series Solar Pool Cover
Solar pool covers are notorious for their short lifespans. Many last just one season before tearing and becoming unusable.
A good way to tell whether a solar pool cover will last long is to check the thickness.
The 16-mil Sun2Solar Blue 1600 Series is one of the thickest solar pool covers you’ll find. It’s heavy and tedious to handle, but it’ll serve you for several years.
The Sun2Solar Blue 1600 Series solar cover is also the best choice for round swimming pools.
- Available in a wide range of sizes with the option of trimming for a perfect fit.
- Reduces water evaporation and heat loss.
- Warms water quickly on a sunny day.
- Heavy and difficult to handle – you may need to buy a reel.
The Sun2Solar Blue 1600 Series works the same way as the Sun2Solar Blue 1200 Series solar cover we picked as our top choice.
They both have bubbles that heat the pool and prevent heat loss at night. They also reduce evaporation by 95%, which saves you the cost of topping up your pool often and reduces heat loss.
The only difference (other than the shape – 1200 is rectangular, and 1600 is round) between the two solar pool covers is the thickness. The 1200 series is 12 mil, and the 1600 series is 16 mil.
The extra 4 mil translates to better weather resistance and a longer lifespan.
The average lifespan reported by most pool owners is 2-4 seasons.
Sun2Solar Blue 1600 Series comes in multiple sizes that fit both above ground and in-ground pools. They range from an 8’ round cover to a 33’ round cover.
You can also get the cover in either a blue or clear color.
Issues & Limitations
The main issue with the 1600 series Sun2Solar solar cover is the weight. The added thickness makes the cover more difficult to lay on and get off the pool.
You may have to buy a reel.
The Sun2Solar Blue 1600 Series is a great choice for above ground and in-ground pool owners looking for a durable solar pool cover that will last for several seasons.
Note that the cover is round, so we recommend it for round pools.
6. Best Solar Cover Reel: Aqua Splash In-Ground Swimming Pool Solar Cover Reel
A reel makes it much easier and faster to roll a solar cover on and off the pool. It is especially helpful for elderly or disabled pool owners.
The Aqua Splash in-ground Pool Solar Cover Reel is our top pick for those looking for a solar cover reel.
Note that the Aqua Splash reel does not come with a solar cover; if you don’t already have a solar blanket, order one when you buy this reel.
- Easy to put on and remove from the pool.
- It can be mounted on the wall or deck.
- Complete installation kit.
- Works with all pool shapes.
- Takes time to setup.
- No wheels – inconvenient for those who need to move the reel often.
A good solar cover reel should roll the solar blanket smoothly and with minimal effort. It should also be stable and long-lasting.
The Aqua Splash reel is all these things.
To keep the price down (the Aqua Splash reel is way cheaper than reels sold in pool stores), the reel combines both plastic (polyethylene) and aluminum.
The tubes, which take on the weight of the solar cover, are made from aluminum. They are light but strong.
The handles and base are made from thick plastic.
The reel is durable. Most pool owners have had theirs for years without any issues. The five-year warranty is also a good indicator of longevity.
The Aqua Splash reel comes with a complete installation kit. You can set up the reel on the deck or the wall.
By the way, the Aqua Splash reel works with all pool shapes, including round, freeform, rectangular, and oval.
As for size, there are three options for pools up to 16’, 18’ and 20’ wide. The max pool length for all three reels is 40’.
The Aqua Splash reel can support the weight of the pool covers up to 16 mils. Beyond that, it will sag a bit and may not last as long.
Issues & Limitations
Many pool owners found installing the Aqua Splash solar cover reel harder than they expected. It also takes time – around 2-4 hours, depending on your DIY skills.
If you don’t fancy spending a whole afternoon installing the reel, hire a pool pro to do it for you.
The Aqua Splash solar cover reel makes it easier to roll your solar pool cover on and off the pool. It’s a great choice if you live alone, you are disabled, or you are elderly.
7. Best Solar Pool Rings: Solar Sun Rings Solar Pool Heater
A solar bubble blanket is generally preferable to pool solar rings.
But if you find a solar blanket too cumbersome, solar rings are easier to handle, and you don’t have to worry about trimming to fit them in your pool.
These Solar Sun Rings are not just good for heating and insulating your poo; they make it prettier too. You can choose from a 3-pack to a 20-pack depending on your pool size.
They also sell a single ring, which is handy if you need to replace a damaged one.
- Easy to place on and remove from the pool.
- It warms the pool and reduces evaporation.
- Multiple packs are available.
- Not ideal for nighttime pool insulation – they do not cover the entire pool.
- The rings deflate quickly.
- The rings don’t last long.
- Not as effective as a solar blanket at warming the pool.
Each ring has a diameter of 5 feet. For a small above ground pool, you’ll need the 6-pack. For larger pools, start with the 9-pack. If there are still many gaps in the water, order more.
For large in-ground pools, consider the 20-pack.
Here’s a table from the manufacturer with guidance on how many rings to get based on your pool size.
You’ll need to inflate each ring to keep it floating on the water. Each ring has two layers: an upper clear layer that allows sunlight through and a lower blue layer that captures the sun’s heat.
Because these rings don’t cover the entire pool surface, the temperature increase will be smaller than the one you’d get with a pool blanket. The average temperature rise is about 2 degrees per day (a solar blanket can warm your pool 5 degrees per day).
But if you live in a sunny climate, your pool will be comfortably warm in a few days.
Issues & Limitations
To be honest, we think any of the solar blankets we have reviewed above is better than solar pool rings.
The Solar Sun Rings don’t warm your pool as fast, they deteriorate quickly, and are ineffective at insulating your pool at night (meaning you may still need to get a solar blanket for nighttime use).
They are also pricey. A pack of 9 rings (for a standard 15’ by 30’ pool) costs three times as much as a single rectangular solar blanket, which will do a better job heating your pool and will last longer.
Overall, the solar rings are not good value for money.
The Solar Sun Rings are ideal for pool owners who don’t want to deal with a large and cumbersome solar blanket.
8. Best Liquid Pool Solar Blanket: Cover Free Liquid Pool Solar Blanket
If you don’t want a solar blanket nor solar rings, another option is a liquid solar pool blanket. It’s a special liquid that forms a film over the water surface. The film prevents evaporation and heat loss.
The Cover Free liquid pool solar blanket is ideal for all types of pools, including salt and chlorine pools. It is safe and non-irritant, meaning you can keep swimming even after applying it.
However, unlike solar covers, the Cover Free liquid blanket does not heat the pool. It only maintains water temperature.
- Insulates the pool to reduce heat loss, especially at night.
- Reduces water evaporation, which also reduces heat loss.
- Safe for all types of pools and filters.
- Easy to add to the pool – no cumbersome cover to deal with.
- No pool heating.
- A solar cover is more effective at insulation and reducing evaporation.
It is important to understand how the Cover Free liquid blanket works before you get it. Many customers left 1 and 2-star reviews saying they did not notice any temperature increase.
Cover Free does not heat the pool. Unlike a solar cover, it does not capture the sun’s heat. However, your pool will still warm up as usual during the day when it’s sunny.
What Cover Free does is keep most of that heat inside the pool, which keeps your pool comfortably warm.
It insulates the surface of the water with a thin pH-neutral film, preventing heat loss. It also reduces evaporation, which also reduces heat loss.
That doesn’t mean that your pool will not get warmer. Many pool owners report a 3-5 degree temperature rise after a few days, thanks to Cover Free’s insulation.
Note that Cover Free is safe for the skin (does not cause irritation) as well as your pool. It works with both chlorine and saltwater pools, and won’t damage your pool filter.
Issues & Limitations
The main limitation of the Cover Free liquid pool blanket is that it is not a pool heater. If you are expecting it to warm your pool as fast as a solar cover, you’ll be disappointed.
Even the areas it is good at – insulation and reducing evaporations – it’s still not as good as a solar blanket. On the upside, it’s cheaper than a solar cover.
The Cover Free liquid pool blanket is a great choice for those who are looking for a, well, cover-free pool blanket.
It doesn’t work as well as the solar cover, but it is cheaper and easier to use.
How Do Solar Pool Covers Work?
Conventional solar pool covers turn sunlight into heat and then transfer that heat to the water. Bubbles on the cover increase the amount of heat captured, helping heat the water quicker.
Solar pool covers also prevent water evaporation, which reduces water loss and heat loss.
At night and when it’s cold, a solar cover insulates your pool to keep it warm.
A liquid solar cover does not heat your pool but only maintains the temperature through insulation and reducing evaporation.
Solar Pool Cover Buying Guide
Here’s what to consider when buying a solar pool cover.
1. Type of Solar Cover
As we explained at the beginning of this buying guide, there are three types of solar covers: solar bubble covers, solar rings/squares, and liquid solar covers.
Bubble solar covers are the best for most pool owners. They heat the pool quickly on a sunny day and do an excellent job preventing water evaporation.
Solar rings are ideal for those who don’t want the tedious work of handling a large solar blanket. They don’t last long, and they heat the pool slower.
Liquid solar blankets are ideal for those who hate the look for any kind of physical cover on their pool. A liquid cover is invisible.
The downside is that it only keeps your pool warm; it doesn’t heat it.
A liquid solar blanket is also a good choice if you are on a budget. It’s cheaper than either solar rings or solar covers.
Look for a solar cover that matches the size and shape of your pool.
But don’t worry if you cannot find the exact dimensions and shape. Most solar covers can be cut with a pair of sharp scissors to the required shape and size.
If you are buying solar rings, buy enough to cover most of your pool (it is impossible to cover the entire pool with solar rings).
Finally, consider the durability of the cover.
For solar bubble covers, check the thickness. It is typically indicated in mil (a thousandth of an inch).
8-mil covers are the least durable. They are ideal mostly for above ground pools. You usually have to buy a new one every season.
12-mil covers are thicker and more durable. They last around two seasons. For most people, 12-mil solar covers are the best. They are thick enough without being too heavy.
The thickest solar pool covers you’ll find are 16-mil. They are more durable (2-4 seasons), heat the pool faster, and insulate the water more effectively.
On the downside, they are heavier and usually require a reel to roll on and off the pool. They are also pricey.
Frequently Asked Questions
How well does solar pool cover heat the pool?
Solar pool covers heat the pool by about 5 degrees on a sunny day. Over a week, this can add up to a 15-20 degree temperature increase.
How long can you leave a solar cover on the pool?
A week is the longest you should continuously leave the cover on the pool. After that, remove it for at least a day to let the water breathe.
Leaving the cover on for too long can cause algae growth in the pool.
Can you run the pool pump while the cover is on?
Yes, you can. You should occasionally run the pump during the day when the cover is on to distribute the heated topwater around the pool.
How long does a solar pool cover last?
One year for the cheap thin solar covers (8 mil thickness) and 2-3 years for thicker 12-16 mil solar pool covers.
Can you leave the solar cover on during winter?
Yes, you can. Though it will not heat the water, it will keep debris from getting into the pool.
However, leaving the pool cover on in winter may deteriorate it faster. Instead of a solar cover, we recommend using a proper winter pool cover.
A solar cover is an affordable (and green) way to warm your pool and prevent water evaporation.
The Sun2Solar Blue 1200 Series solar cover is the best choice for most pool owners. It works great for all pools, it’s affordable, and it lasts long.
Best of all, it will keep your pool nice and warm, letting you enjoy swims later in the day and extending your pool season.