Solar covers make for a very cost-efficient source of heat in your swimming pool, but the application and removal of solar covers can be cumbersome. Solar cover reels were designed to make this burden far easier to bear. Before you buy a solar cover reel, it is important to make sure that it will work for your swimming pool and your solar cover. Here are a number of factors to consider before making your purchase:
Most solar cover reels are specifically designed for only one type of pool, whether it is above ground or inground. Additionally, due to the nature of their mounting, above ground pool solar reels are typically designed to only accommodate round/oval pools or rectangular pools, and are not interchangeable.
Most above ground solar cover reels are designed to be permanently mounted onto your pool’s top rails, though many come with a pivoting or quick-release option to get it out of the way easily enough. Some inground reels also are built to permanently attach to the ground around your pool. On the flip side, a great many inground reels include castors (or feature them as an add-on option) to allow for better mobility. Make sure the design of the solar cover reel suits your taste as well as well as your pool.
Some reels are only sized to work on pools of a certain width, while others have adjustable widths (usually through segmented or telescoping tubing) to be more accommodating. It’s important to find a solar cover reel that fits your pool. Too narrow will make for a reel that’s unusable. Too large will make for a reel that’s more cumbersome and ill-fitting.
The longer the solar cover, the more material that the cover is comprised of, making for a heavier solar cover. A reel’s center tubing can only sustain so much weight for so long. Heavier covers that exceed the tubing’s tolerance can bend or eventually break the tubing. For this reason, most solar reels have a maximum length recommendation.
Thicker solar covers by design are made from more material than their thinner counterparts, which also equals more weight. As with maximum solar cover lengths, many reels will list a maximum tolerance for the thickness mil they can support. Generally, thicker and commercial grade covers should not be used on a residential or lower grade solar cover reel. They are not constructed to bear that much weight.
The majority of solar covers use round air bubbles. This allows for water that sits between bubbles to easily roll off of the cover as it is being picked up off of the pool (by reel or otherwise). However, diamond-shaped solar cover bubbles have less space between one another. This makes it harder for water that is between bubbles to escape before being rolled up onto a reel’s tubing. Reeling up a diamond cover often traps a lot of water in solar cover, adding significant weight to the load the reel tubing has to bear.