Best Solar Pool Covers of 2018

Noel Case ·
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We have been reviewing solar pool covers since 2015. We did in-depth online research to find the best solar pool covers on the market, examining online product pages, reading reviews and contacting professionals with our questions. Our research revealed that the Poolcenter 16 Mil is the best solar blanket overall. Backed by an impressive eight-year warranty, it is one of the thickest, most durable solar blankets we looked at, and it will both protect your pool and capture the sun's energy to warm your pool's water. 

Best Overall
Poolcenter 16 Mil
The Poolcenter 16 Mil is a thick, durable solar blanket that will protect your pool while heating it. Built to last, it is backed by a generous warranty.
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Best Value Standard Blue Standard Blue is an affordable solar blanket that effectively protects your pool from dirt and debris while capturing heat, but it isn’t quite as effective as thicker, clear covers.
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Best for Above Ground Pools
Blue Wave Above Ground Magni-Clear
The Blue Wave Above Ground Magni-Clear solar blanket is made of durable material that will absorb sunlight to warm your pool as it protects it from debris.
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Best Overall
The Poolcenter 12-foot Clear Round Swimming Pool Solar Blanket is a round solar cover for in-ground and above-ground swimming pools.
It comes in irregularly shaped options, including oval and kidney-shaped. It is a thick, durable solar blanket measuring 12 feet across and is one of Poolcenter's smallest round blankets. The top layer of this Poolcenter solar blanket is made of heavy-duty polyethylene, and it has an aluminized bottom layer. The underside of the blanket has a row of raised air pockets that make it look like a large piece of bubble wrap. With a thickness of 16 mils, or 0.016 inches, it’s one of the thickest solar pool covers available. It’s also heavy, so it will probably take more than one person to place it, especially on above-ground pools. This thickness has several advantages, such as durability and efficiency in trapping heat. The bubbles serve as an insulating layer between the water in the pool and the wind blowing over it. The aluminized bottom layer reflects heat back into the pool. This blanket’s transparency, thickness and air pockets combine to heat your pool as much as 10 to 15 degrees Fahrenheit. It is backed by an impressive eight-year warranty, one of the longest warranties available for solar pool blankets. Despite this solar blanket’s thickness and reinforced seams, it is not indestructible. Poolcenter did not equip this solar cover with an ultraviolet-resistant film. UV rays from sunlight can slowly break down the air bubbles and weaken the polyethylene fabric. Its durability is also affected by extreme temperatures. Leaving it out in the sun on very hot or very cold days can shorten its lifespan.
  • It is thick and durable and keeps out dirt and debris.
  • It’s efficient at trapping heat beneath its surface to heat the pool.
  • It comes with a generous eight-year warranty.
  • Its weight may require more than one person to handle it.
  • It is not equipped with an ultraviolet-resistant film.
  • It’s relatively small, so it won’t cover big pools.
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Best Value
The Standard Blue is a round solar blanket that measures 12 feet across. It is great for small to midsized curved and irregularly shaped swimming pools.
Its material is a resinous polymer that is both durable and protective, and it’s backed by a three-year warranty. This solar cover will keep dirt and debris out of your pool while providing passive heat. Its thickness of 8 mils, or 0.008 inches, is relatively thin when compared with many of the pool covers in our lineup, so it can’t trap as much thermal energy. This solar blanket is affordable and effective at both protecting and heating your pool. Like most solar covers, the Standard Blue Solar Cover has an underside covered with raised air pockets, which are chiefly responsible for capturing and transmitting solar heat to the depths of the pool. These bubbles also insulate the water from the cooler air blowing above the pool. One problem with the pool cover is that, while it has the beautiful aquamarine color homeowners love, the blue color somewhat diminishes its effectiveness at heating your pool. It can still potentially heat your pool up to 15 percent, but it does not completely transmit the full spectrum of incident sunlight like clear solar pool covers do. Another flaw is its lack of a UV-protective film. This significantly affects its longevity, as ultraviolet rays split the seams of the blanket and shrink its bubbles over time.
  • It’s made of durable resinous polymer material.
  • Comes with a three-year warranty.
  • It’s more affordable than most solar pool covers.
  • It can’t trap as much thermal energy as thicker covers.
  • It lacks UV-protected film.
  • The blue cover is not as effective as clear covers at heating pools.
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Best for Above Ground Pools
This Magni-Clear Solar Blanket from Blue Wave is a solar cover designed for above-ground pools. It is round, measures 24 feet across and is transparent. The Magni-Clear Solar Blanket is made of 1,200-gauge plastic polymer that is durable and allows the passage of solar rays.
Its surface has a protective film to prolong the lifespan. Still, you should not leave the Blue Wave Solar Blanket in the sun when not in use, since prolonged sun exposure can cause the separation of its layers. Extreme temperatures will also shorten the lifespan of this pool cover, so it’s a good idea to remove the blanket during the winter and store it in a cool place. Also, water with a chlorine concentration level of more than three parts per million can damage the bubble and protective film, so you’ll want to be sure the chlorine concentration is in check when using this cover. The underside of the Blue Wave Magni-Clear Solar Blanket is covered with air bubbles which create an insulating layer against cool winds and prevent heat loss due to air convection and nighttime cooling. This design contributes to its capacity for raising your pool’s temperature as much as 15 degrees Fahrenheit. The material of the solar blanket is clear and transparent, which ensures that the Blue Wave pool cover absorbs most of the sunlight reaching it and is warmed by the heat trapped inside the blanket's air bubbles. With a thickness of 12 mils, or 0.012 inches, it’s thicker than many above-ground blankets, which makes it durable. Blue Wave backs it with a five-year warranty.
  • It’s made of a durable 1,200-gauge plastic polymer material.
  • The transparent material absorbs sunlight efficiently.
  • It’s backed by a five-year warranty.
  • It’s not big enough to cover an extremely large pool.
  • It is harder to move, roll up and store than thinner blankets.
  • It’s pricey when compared with other solar pool covers in our lineup.
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Why Trust Us

We have been reviewing solar pool covers since 2015. In our recent evaluation, we spent more than 30 hours doing extensive online research, comparing features on product pages, watching videos and reading customer reviews. We contacted manufacturers and other professionals to get expert opinions about the best solar blankets for different types of pools. 

How We Researched

We spent over 30 hours researching solar pool covers online, watching video tutorials, reading customer reviews and consulting with manufacturers to learn everything we can about pool covers to make useful recommendations. We compared features and price points, and we weighed them against what customer reviews and manufacturers said in order to find pool covers that work best for different needs. The companies we contacted had no influence over our assessments of the products themselves. Results of our evaluations were not provided to the companies in advance of publication. 

Key Features to Look for When Buying Solar Pool Covers

The thickness of a solar blanket varies from 8 to 16 mils (800 to 1,600 gauge). While solar pool covers don’t have the thickness required to keep pets and small children safe, as some pool covers do, they will keep leaves and dirt from blowing into the pool. All solar pool covers will minimize pool debris, but thicker blankets will retain heat better than thin blankets. Thicker blankets, however, are harder to move and roll up.

Ultraviolet Resistance & Color
People often gravitate to aquamarine and dark-colored solar pool covers because they look good resting on top of your pool. But colored blankets aren’t as effective as clear blankets at allowing the sun’s rays to pass through. A black blanket heats up quickly but isn’t as efficient as clear blankets at allowing the heat to be absorbed into the pool because it blocks the sunlight. Since a solar blanket spends significant time in the sun, a stabilized blanket with solar protection and UV resistance will last longer than one lacking those features.

Size & Fitting
The size of your swimming pool is an important consideration when shopping for a solar cover. An undersized blanket is better than leaving your pool completely exposed, but it’s obviously preferable to find a blanket that covers the entire pool. Measure your pool at its widest and longest sections before buying a blanket. You can always trim the blanket to the correct dimensions.