You’ve probably heard how solar covers are a good investment if you own a pool. However, you may be a bit overwhelmed at the many different kinds of solar pool covers available.
One of the most important differences between pool covers is their color. No, it’s not all about aesthetic appeal. Different color pool covers do different things. So which one would work best for your pool?
Clear and blue solar covers are the most common. You have probably seen blue bubble wrap pool cover at your local pool supply store or maybe at a friend’s house. Also common are clear, non-colored pool covers (although sometimes these types can look almost gray).
But which is the best color for solar pool cover? Before we answer this question, let’s take a look at how solar covers work and the differences between clear and blue ones.
What is the Purpose of a Solar Cover?
Solar covers are essentially tarps that are meant to cover the surface of your pool. Unlike traditional pool covers, a solar cover is designed to sit directly on the surface of the water. The bottom side will usually have little bubbles. These bubbles help trap pockets of light energy to help keep the pool warm.
In fact, that is one of the main benefits of solar covers: they help maintain a comfortable temperature in your pool water. If you have a pool heater, this is advantageous as you won’t have to run it so frequently. If you don’t, it helps retain the heat from the sun’s rays. Here are some of the other functions of solar covers:
They Keep Debris Out
Solar covers can help keep debris out of your pool. That means less skimming and less of a burden on your filter in general.
They Prevent Evaporation
Did you know that your pool’s water level can drop by 2 inches a day simply from evaporation? A solar cover can significantly slow this evaporation rate to help you save money on water.
They Slow Chemical Loss
Water is not the only thing lost to evaporation. Chemicals are also reduced under the hot sun. A solar cover will slow this reduction as well, helping to maintain the chemical balance of your pool water.
Blue Solar Covers
When discussing blue solar covers, you are really talking about 2 different kinds: light blue and dark blue covers. Light blue solar covers do a good job of trapping heat. This is beneficial if your main concern is keeping your pool water warm. They also block more UV light which means less chemical loss.
There is a downside to the light blue color though. Studies have shown that opaque solar pool covers actually block out a significant amount of heat. So while they are good at letting some heat in and retaining heat; clear pool covers actually let more heat in overall.
Then there are dark blue solar covers. Dark blue solar covers do a better job of absorbing heat than light blue ones. The only problem is that the dark blue color also keeps a decent amount of heat from reaching the actual surface of the water.
In this way, it has the same shortcoming as light blue covers even though it’s better at retaining the limited heat it lets through.
Clear Solar Covers
Clear solar covers are the best at letting the highest amount of broad spectrum light into your pool water. The overall gain in heat may be greater than with blue covers – in the short-term.
Because the material is clear, light can pass in and out of it easier. This makes clear solar covers worse for retaining the heat that it let’s in. There’s another downside too. Since clear solar covers allow for free passage of UV light, chemical degradation is an issue. You can still lose pool chemicals with a clear cover.
While this degradation mostly affects the chlorine near the surface of the water; it’s still enough to throw the balance off. With a clear solar cover, you may still have to pay too much for pool chemicals.
Which is the Best?
That will depend on when and how you intend to use your covers. If you want more heat for immediate pool use during the day, use a clear cover. If you plan on only using a cover during the night, a blue cover would work best.
However, if you are looking for a happy medium between the two, a light blue solar cover may work best for you.
You Can’t Lose
We have scrutinized different colors of solar covers to a high degree but in the end, you can’t really go wrong with any of them. No matter what color you choose it will still slow water and chemical evaporation better than not having a cover at all.