Recommendations for swimming pool solar covers
If and HOW you're going to heat your pool is a definitely a consideration when you are planning your project. If a heater is in the budget I highly recommend heat pumps. They are by far the best and easiest way to heat your pool. If not, many people ask if they should get a solar cover. My answer is no. Though they absolutely work to heat the pool as well as retain heat at night, they have other shortcomings that I think are not worth it.
First is aesthetics
They are just not very nice to look at. They're not a good fit even if they are cut to the pool shape and cover the beauty of your pool. Many customer spend just as much time looking at their pool as swimming in their pool. Why spoil the view? If you purchase a cover real that too is unsightly and consumes a decent amount of deck space.
Second is dirt
Solar covers have a way of attracting dirt. On or off the pool- dirt just gets on and in them and almost always finds a way to get in the pool right before you have friends over. If the dirt had just fallen in the pool on its own, it would have been likely skimmed and filtered already instead of going in as a muddy debris pile. If the cover is rolled or folded up at the end of the pool it will tend to drag dirt IN the pool when it goes back on.
Last is safety
Solar covers can be a hazard and a real risk to pets and small children. As and industry and as parents we spend a lot of time thinking and planning for safety. No door alarm, fence, self-latching gate, VGB compliant drain, or handrail will save a child perfectly capable of swimming if he or she is tangled in a solar cover or worse becomes trapped underneath it. In fact there are several know cases of adults swimming with a solar cover only half removed who became disoriented under the cover and were not able to lift the cover or find their way out.
What do I recommend?
I call them lily pads but they are also referred to as solar rings. They are small (3'-4') plastic rings that have an inflatable ring around them that float on the water. They do a great job at heating the water on a sunny day, are easy to put on and take off, don't collect the dirt, and are much safer. Though the manufacturers often recommend that 3/4 of the pool be covered, I have several clients report great performance with as little as half coverage.