Solar Pool Covers: How to install a Solar Blanket

After reading the title of this post many of you may be thinking: “Um, I think you just lay the cover on the pool, genius.”  But what if your pool looks like this:

imagine putting a solar blanket on this free form pool

or this? how to fit a solar cover on a odd shape pool

You wouldn’t want to ruin the look of your beautiful backyard oasis by just slapping a huge oversized rectangular solar cover on the pool, right?  Of course not!  So, with that in mind, I’m going to give you a few quick tips for sizing and installing solar pool blankets, also called solar covers; in some parts they’re called summer pool covers.

To determine which size solar pool cover is best you really just need to measure the longest and widest points of the pool, this will ensure you purchase a cover that you can cut to fit if necessary, but will still be able to cover the whole pool.

Solar covers are available in round, oval, or rectangular shapes of various sizes. We all generally think of oval and round solar covers as being for above ground pools and rectangular solar covers being for in ground pools, but keep in mind you may be better off purchasing an oval or round cover for your in ground pool depending on your pool shape.  A 12-mil solar blanket is a 12-mil solar blanket, regardless of its designation as “in ground” or “above ground.”

Speaking of “mil,” solar pool covers are available in various thicknesses, measured in thousandths of a millimeter, which you will usually see shortened to “mil.” The higher the mil, the thicker the cover, and the more heat the cover will be able to retain in the pool.  In The Swim carries 5, 8, 12 and 16 mil solar blankets. The thicker the blanket, the longer it will last, generally speaking.

If your pool is rectangular, round, or oval and you were able to find a solar cover that is your exact pool size, then the job of installing your solar blanket is pretty quick and easy – just lay the cover on the pool with the bubbles facing down on the water, and the smooth side facing up towards the sky.  If you have a freeform pool and need to cut the blanket to fit, the best way to do it would be to have a few people help you stretch the cover out taut over the pool and place weights around the cover to help hold it in place.  Nothing too heavy or sharp of course, you don’t want to damage the cover, or the pool, if a cinder block fell in, for instance. Winter cover water tubes or heavy logs would be a good choice. Don’t worry about the cover being drum tight, rather, the cover should touch the water in the center, and out towards the walls.

Once you have the cover centered over the pool, covering all the water, and evenly stretched over the pool, carefully cut the cover around the perimeter of the pool, cutting right up against the coping to make sure there won’t be any gaps between the cover and the pool wall when it is lying on the water. A razor knife with a sharp new blade would probably be the ideal tool for this task. Be careful not to cut off too much, you can always trim off additional pieces later if necessary.

You may want to make note of what size cover you purchased so you can just re-purchase it again in the future when it’s time to replace the cover.  Also, don’t throw out your old cover right away when you order a new one, if you have the space in your yard, you may find it easier to use your old cover as a template by laying it on top of the new one and cutting around it rather than placing the cover over the pool.

Some pool owners (for example those with an “L” shaped pool) may find that they are better off purchasing 2 (or more) smaller solar blankets than they are buying a large oversized one and cutting it to size. That is certainly the “greener” way to do it too, as you are not cutting away and wasting huge chunks of an oversized rectangular blanket. If you just have a step section that needs to be covered, don’t worry about purchasing an oversized blanket and cutting to size, just purchase a step section piece. In The Swim offers 4’x8′ pieces of solar blanket for step sections in 12mil and 16mil material.

If your pool is so large that the blankets offered in stock just aren’t big enough, we can special order larger sizes, but only in rectangular shapes.  You will still have to cut it to fit if you have a free form pool. Custom solar blankets can take 3-4 weeks for delivery. Again, consider using two smaller solar blankets to cover larger pools.

Hopefully by now you are comfortable with the process of sizing and customizing a solar blanket as necessary. If you do have a free form pool, I think you’ll find it really is worth the time it takes to cut your solar cover to shape. Doing so will probably help to retain more heat since the cover will be able to sit flat on the water and reduce gaps, but you will also still be able to show off the uniqueness and shape of your free form pool, even with the solar cover on.

If you have any questions about sizing a solar blanket or to discuss your unusually shaped pool, please give us a call! 1-800-288-7946. With up to 25,000 pool solar cover blankets in stock, you can start solar heating your pool in just a few days.

Jackie Wolski
InTheSwim Staff Blogger

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