Solar Pool Blankets: The Complete Guide 2019

solar blankets

How to choose the Best Solar Pool Blanket

Solar pool blankets are quickly becoming popular and why is that? What exactly do they have to offer?

Solar blankets are also known as solar covers, pool covers or pool blankets. These covers are used to raise or maintain the temperatures of your swimming pool water allowing you to swim in a warm pool regardless of how cold it may be outside without necessarily having to turn on your pool heater. These accessories are usually deployed onto your pool where they trap heat from the sun and use it to warm the water beneath. In simple terms, solar blankets are designed to offer the same benefits of pool heaters except their approach is not just unique but highly efficient and environmentally friendly. Are they really reliable though? Are solar blankets efficient enough for anyone already with a pool heater to consider getting them?

best solar pool blanket

 

What makes Solar Blankets Unique?

Solar blankets deliver lots of benefits which go beyond their primary functions. These include:

  1. The covers help to retain the chemicals used to treat pool water in the pool. As you may know, chemicals such as chlorine are usually broken down and lost to the atmosphere when exposed to sunlight. With a solar blanket, sunlight will never hit your pool directly, and hence such chemicals will be retained in your pool. This cuts your maintenance costs significantly as you will never have to worry about adding more chemicals into your pool to retain safe chemistry.
  2. Solar blankets reduce evaporation. From multiple studies, pool blankets will cut evaporation by up to 99%. This helps to prevent a drop in water levels and will also help in retaining pool maintenance chemicals as discussed above.
  3. Most of the solar blankets in the market do not require experts to set up. You can, therefore, install them yourself with your household equipment. A few pool blankets including automatic solar covers must, however, be set up by professionals to ensure that they work correctly and to safeguard their warranty.
  4. Solar blankets don’t just help in covering your pool water and preventing a drop in temperatures, but they can also increase your pool water temperature. They’ll, therefore, function as pool heaters yet other than installation and maintenance you won’t spend anything else to get them running.

Types of Solar Blankets

There are currently three main types of solar blankets in the market today:

  1. Solar Sun Rings – These solar blankets feature a UV resistant vinyl layer that is used to heat your pool. Solar Sun Rings are also very efficient in preventing evaporation.
  2. Bubble Pool Covers – Bubble Pool Covers are designed with thermal bubbles that trap the heat from the sun and transfer it to your swimming pool water. These solar blankets can heat your pool by around 15 degrees F and also reduces evaporation by 95%.
  3. Liquid Solar Covers – These are less efficient compared to the two discussed above, but they still do a decent job of keeping your pool water warm. As the name suggests, liquid solar covers come in a liquid form which is spread around your pool to form an invisible protective layer. They also prevent evaporation by around 40%.

Buying a Solar Blanket

To enjoy the best services a solar blanket has to offer, you must be keen on which item you pick. The following elements should help you shop for the best solar blanket perfect for your unique pool.

  • Material Used

Most solar blankets are made of polyethylene or polypropylene materials. Some of these blankets feature solar rings while others are designed with bubble covers. Both of these pool blankets are pretty good by bubble covers standout since they are easy to install, use and they are also very affordable. Bubble covers are also UV resistant, and that’s why they will serve you with no issues for up to 5 years.

  • Thickness

Solar blankets come in different widths ranging from 800 to 1600 gauges. The thicker the blanket, the more the heat it retains. Thicker solar blankets will also remain firm on your pool even when it is windy. The thickest solar blankets are usually the most recommended but they are quite costly, and you may also need an extra pair of hands to roll them out.

  • Size

It goes without saying that size matters. You need to get the accurate measurements of your swimming pool before ordering for a solar blanket. To ensure optimal performance of these blankets, they must cover every part of your pool. Know the size and shape of your pool and order for an appropriate blanket.

  • Color

For solar blankets, color is more than just about the aesthetics. The color of your blanket will determine how much heat is lost from your pool at night. Most solar blankets are available in blue, silver or clear colors. Clear covers absorb more heat into your pool, but they are not very efficient in retaining the heat at night. Silver and blue sheets, on the other hand, will absorb heat into your pool during daytime and reflect the heat back into the water at night. Silver solar blankets are the best at retaining heat at night.

The Best Solar Blankets

  1. Intex Solar Cover for 12ft Diameter Easy Set and Frame Pools

This remarkable solar blanket is made for 12 feet round swimming pool. The blanket uses air bubbles to trap heat from the sun thus keeping your pool water at a high temperature. With this Intex solar blanket, you’ll hardly have to use any pool heaters since there’ll hardly be any drop in water temperatures.

Intex Solar Cover for 12ft Diameter Easy Set and Frame Pools

This Intex solar cover will reduce evaporation by up to 95%. One issue with most solar blankets is the accumulation of water on top of the sheets. This menace has been solved here thanks to the unique drain holes designed in the Intex solar cover.

Pros
  • Prevents evaporation by approximately 95%
  • Easy to store thanks to the included reusable carrying bag
  • Keeps your pool warm
  • Features drain holes to stop water accumulation on the cover
Cons
  • The cover can tear up easily if mishandled

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  1. Sun2Solar Blue 20-Foot-by-40-Foot Rectangle Solar Cover

The Sun2Solar cover is 12 mils thick designed with tiny bubbles that trap heat from the sun and use it to keep the pool water warm. This solar cover beats a lot of its competitors with its unique clear cover which allows optimal penetration of sun rays to the deepest parts of your swimming pool. This makes it a decent choice for people with relatively deep pools.

This solar blanket is also an excellent choice to people with irregularly shaped swimming pool. That’s because trimming the blanket is very easy and it also doesn’t affect its warranty.

Sun2Solar Blue 20-Foot-by-40-Foot Rectangle Solar Cover

The Sun2Solar cover will also prevent evaporation of water and other pool maintenance chemicals by around 95%.

Pros
  • Easy to trim
  • Prevents evaporation
Cons
  • It’s not very durable

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  1. Intex Solar Cover for 18ft by 9ft Rectangular Frame Pools

This Intex Solar blanket is made of 160 microns that keep your pool water warm for extended periods hence prolonging your swimming time. The solar blanket is designed for rectangular swimming pools measuring around 18ft by 9ft.

This particular solar blanket weighs around 5.5 pounds. This is a good thing in various ways; handling it is easy, and it also allows you to use it with your above ground pool without putting too much pressure on it.

Intex Solar Cover for 18ft by 9ft Rectangular Frame Pools

Pros
  • Comes with a carrying bag that makes storage a breeze
  • Keeps your pool warm
Cons
  • It’s not very durable

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 Conclusion

Take a moment to think about how much you spend on adding different chemicals lost to evaporation and other environmental factors. Solar blankets not only keep your pool water warm but also prevent entrance of different contaminants into your pool. These blankets will also reduce how often you use your pool heater thus easing your pool maintenance budget. As you can see, solar blankets will extend how long you can use your pool while also reducing your expenditure on the pool and this is why you need one.

Skim-A-Around Review: The Guide for Pool Skimmers

Skim-A-Around

Introduction to Skim-A-Around

A Pool skimmer is an essential pool accessory that is used for pool water filtering and general pool maintenance. The apparatus helps in getting rid of leaves, bugs, debris and a majority of other contaminants that not only make your pool look unclean but also distort the chemical balance and its safety. Most swimming pools are usually installed with a skimmer but rarely are they efficient. In most cases, pool owners are forced to invest on another skimmer be it a manual or automatic skimmer to keep the pool clean. In today’s review, we will be discussing one such device, the Skim-A-Around.

skim-a-round

Before all of that, let’s first look at the:

Types of Pool Skimmers

  1. Automatic Skimmers

Automatic pool skimmers are usually fitted to the pump inlet of the swimming pool. As water is getting into the pool through the hose, the skimmers move around collecting any dirt particles before they find their way to the bottom of your pool and your filtration system. These skimmers are usually fitted with either paddles or propellers to facilitate this movement. A majority of these skimmers are also not programmed for any special movement patterns. Instead, they just move randomly collecting dirt all around the water surface and rarely do they get stuck in one spot. Re-deploying the skimmers is, therefore, not very common especially if you were wise in choosing the skimmer.

  1. Manual Skimmers

Unlike the automatic skimmer, this one does not require any electricity to operate. The task of moving it around is, therefore, left to the pool owner. A manual skimmer is hence very simple. You only get a pole fitted with a fine mesh. It also comes with a hose that is connected to your swimming pool pump and outlet system to suck debris as it is moved around. Manual skimmers are cheap and easy to operate, but they are not very efficient when it comes to filtration. They are better suited for collecting large particles floating on the pool water. If you are looking for better filtration, you may have to look for another device.

  1. Self-Contained Skimmers

Self-contained pool skimmers might be new in the market, but they are very efficient. These skimmers utilize sunlight to move around your pool collecting both large and small particles of dirt. The skimmers do not require any electrical power to move around or filter the water. This reduces the cost of keeping your pool clean. The initial cost of obtaining these skimmers is higher compared to the automatic and manual skimmers, but they are much cheaper to operate.

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 Choosing The Best Skimmer

So, you already know which type of skimmer you want but then how do you know which of the dozens of skimmers available is best for your pool? Here, you have to consider various factors to ensure that the skimmer you are getting will deliver the best possible result for a long time before you have to go looking for its replacement.

Here are the factors that should help you out with your shopping:

  • Ease of Installation

Pool skimmers can be quite complicated to set up. This can be a huge problem particularly to people with no DIY skills and may, hence, end up spending even more on a professional. To avoid this, you should look at how easy it is to install the skimmer and if the manufacturer has included a guide on how to set it up.

You should also go for skimmers that do not require any additional accessory to work. Some pool skimmers out there come without a net (which is really weird even calling them a skimmer), and hence the user is forced to spend more on getting these accessories. Such skimmers are usually very affordable, but if you include the cost of buying the accessories, they become quite costly. There is also the issue of compatibility which you will have to consider when buying the accessories. To avoid this headache, buy a skimmer that comes with everything necessary to get it working.

  • Durability

Pool skimmers come in all sorts of materials and shapes. Some of them are hence very durable while others will barely see you through the hot summer season. To make sure that you don’t incur unnecessary loses, look for the most durable materials out there. You can go through user reviews to see how well they perform and last in different weather conditions.

It is also at this point that you should look for skimmers made of UV-resistant materials. This way, you’re guaranteed that the constant exposure to sunlight will not damage its appearance, durability, and functionality.

  • How is the skimmer propelled?

The best pool skimmers are propelled by wind. Why? Well, a skimmer that is moved around by wind uses the surface tension and water currents of your pool to collect dirt particles from the surface. This is friendlier to your pool compared to self-propelled skimmers which experience a lot of wear and tear. Keeping such skimmers running is costly, and they may also damage your pool liner.

  • Does it attach to your pool system appropriately?

A skimmer may look excellent with good user reviews, but if it cannot be appropriately attached to your pool system, then it becomes rather useless. Ensure that the skimmer can fit into your filtration system properly to allow for optimal circulation of water which in turn ends up cleaning the water more efficiently.

  • Warranty

Warranty is the easiest way of gauging how reliable an item is. A pool skimmer with a decent warranty is a sign of a high-quality unit that functions very well to deliver the needed results. Try as much as possible to buy skimmers with warranty covers that you can use to get a refund or free replacement in case it fails to work as advertised.

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Skim-A-Around Review

Skim-A-Around is an excellent “extra-skimmer” that you can use to enhance the performance of your wall skimmer. Some people even use this device as the sole skimmer in their pools, and it still performs very well ensuring that debris has no place in your pool.

Unlike most other skimmers in the market, the Skim-A-Around is made of small openings which is very beneficial, Water from the surface will hence move through these openings at a much faster rate which leads to more suction. As a result, the skimmer will pull not just more debris but also particles from a bigger distance. This keeps your pool clear and free from floating dirt within a short time.

Skim-A-Around is also designed to float on the water. Changing water levels will never affect its performance. Most other pool skimmers require the user to refill the pool when the water levels drop to keep them working, but with this item, it will continue to float and filter your water at all levels.

Installing the Skim-A-Around is also very easy. All you need is to connect it to a vacuum line or at the bottom hole of an existing wall skimmer if you are using as an extra skimmer.

Pros
  • Works at a fast rate
  • Remains functional even as the water levels drop
  • Comes with a full-size debris basket
  • Vacuum hook-up kit is also included
  • Easy to install
  • Air-tight connection

Verdict

Keeping your swimming pool clean is so vital yet very difficult, and that’s why you cannot ignore any equipment that promises to make the task easier. Skim-A-Around is one of such an item. It collects both small and large debris making it one of the most efficient pool skimmers in the market.

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Intermatic Pool Pump Timer: A Complete Guide 2019

intermatic pool pump timer

Introduction to the Intermatic Pool Pump Timer

How are pool pumps important for your pool? What role do they play? Can your pool survive without a pool pump? Saying a pool pump is crucial for your pool is an understatement. These devices are tasked with keeping your pool water sanitized. They draw water from your pool passing it through the filtration system where algae, bacteria, and debris are removed before the water is circulated back into the pool. The pumps also allow for optimal distribution of all the maintenance chemicals you add in your pool for them to perform well.

pool pump timer

As you can see, therefore, pool pumps are vital for any pool, and that’s why, ideally, they should always be running. The truth, however, is that you cannot keep your pool pump running 24/7. Instead, most pool owners opt to switch on their pool pumps maybe once or twice every day. Doing this manually can be very exhausting, and in some cases, you may even forget to switch them on. To make your work easier, you need a pool pump timer. These timers are designed to automatically turn on your pool pump and keep it running for the necessary duration before they go off. With the best pool pump timer, you can decide how often you want your pool pump to be running, and hence you will never have to worry or question yourself whether you turned it on or not.

Buying The Best Pool Pump Timer

Pool pumps timers are supposed to bring convenience and efficiency to your pool maintenance duties. The best timer will ensure that your pump is running whenever necessary and that it doesn’t run beyond the recommended time. This will keep your pool clean while making sure that your bills are kept as low as possible. To enjoy all this, however, you must buy the best pool pump timer, and this is not as easy as it may sound. There are so many timers in the market, and a significant majority of them are just not reliable. With this guide, we will provide you with all the essentials that you need to keep an eye on when shopping for a timer. They include:

  • Compatibility with your Pool Pump

To avoid a frustrating back and forth argument with your timer manufacturer due to compensation, make sure that the timer you are buying is compatible with your pool pump. Check on whether your pump is a one-speed or variable-speed and its voltages. The timer you purchase should be capable of handling the pump’s speed and voltage without breaking down. If you are unsure on the appropriate voltage for your pool pump, you can always consult a professional to help you out.

  • Range of Control

Pool pump timers come with different features. Some are designed to deliver the basic on and off functions while others are programmed to offer much more than that. Some timers are only intended for a one-speed pump while others can not only control your variable-speed pump, but they will also help with managing your pool temperature and also offering freeze protection. Some timers go an extra step to control not just your swimming pool but also any nearby music systems, fans, water fountains and pool, and yard lightings.

Of course, the more the features, the more convenient the timer is but such timers are and the costlier they are.

  • Build Quality

You want your timer to last for as long as possible, and that’s why you must be keen on how it is designed and the material making it. The best pool pump timer should be made of a weatherproof material that protects it from extreme sunlight and moisture.

Top 3 Pool Pump Timers

  1. Intermatic T101R Switch Timer

The mechanical Intermatic T101R Switch timer features Intermatic’s famous and very successful Yellow Dial Time Switch. The switch has been one of the most trusted and reliable timers in the market. This Yellow Dial Time Switch has been used for over 50 years with an overall market share of over 70%. This goes a long way to show you just how reliable it is.

pool pump timer

The timer can be used with electrical loads as high as 40A per pole for 12 On/off operations every day. This timer also features a manual override to make your work even easier. Through this feature, you can bypass the timer’s settings and backwash the filter, bump the motor, pump out rainwater and carry out other tasks without interfering with the default settings. Yes, you can use the manual mode on this timer and do different pool maintenance tasks, and you won’t have to reconfigure the automatic timer!

Pros
  • Can handle electrical loads of up to 20 Amps
  • Comes with an on and separate off tripper
  • Can work with up to 1 – 12 on and off operations per day
  • Durable
  • Easy to use
Cons
  • Can’t be used with a 240V pool motor
  • You need basic electrical skills to install
  • It is mechanically timed, and hence you have to reset it in case of a power outage

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  1. Intermatic T104M Mechanical Time Switch Mechanism Only

The Intermatic T104 Mechanical Timer is perfectly designed for reliable and convenient performance. This timer doesn’t come with a casing, but instead, it can be installed in other Intermatic casings or a box of your own choice as long as the dimensions are the same. This timer is designed with durable materials capable of handling voltages between 208 and 277V and loads going as high 40Amps.

What makes this timer an even better option than most of its competitors is its remarkable horsepower rating. The timer is rated at 5HP making it perhaps the best power performance pool pump timer in the market. The timer is also versatile enough to work with industrial, residential and commercial pools.

It’s also worth noting that unlike most other pool pump timers with loud ticks, this particular item is quieter.

Pros
  • Accommodates 1 to 12 on and off operations per day
  • 40Amps electrical loads
  • 208 – 277 VAC – DPST
  • Durable
Cons
  • In some cases, the timer may be a bit slow in the first few hours after installation. This should disappear after a couple of hours

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  1. Intermatic P1353ME Time Switch

The Intermatic P1353 ME is a three-circuit clock designed to be used with swimming pools and spas.  With this timer, you can choose between three circuits and six different pre-programmed operating modes. These modes include one-speed, two-speed, and cleaner pump combinations. The various operating modes also mean that the timer can be used with different pumps that are as powerful as 3 horsepowers.

Intermatic P1353ME Time Switch

This timer is designed with a circuit clock and a heater and freeze protection. These will ensure that the timer remains functional even when exposed to hostile elements. It also comes with override features that you can use to interrupt the timer’s settings momentarily as you service your pool pump.

Pros
  • Heater and freeze protection
  • Comes with six pre-programmed operation modes
  • LCD readouts make using this timer a lot easier
  • Features override and countdown features

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Conclusion

The right pool pump timer will make your work a lot easier when it comes to maintaining a clean and healthy swimming pool. These timers will also reduce your pool maintenance costs significantly. The three timers above are the best in the market. Make sure you check which one of them is compatible with your pool pump before placing your order though.

The Best Hot Tub Covers to Buy in 2019

hot tub covers

Introduction to Hot Tub Covers

Keeping your hot tub in a warm and usable condition can be very difficult. Some people are forced to use so many chemicals in an attempt to keep the water chemistry right, and this ends up costing them a lot of money. Even worse, such chemicals can put so much burden on the water making it unsafe for use! The funny thing is that a significant majority of hot tub issues that cost you hundreds of dollars to solve can easily be prevented by using a hot tub cover. These covers will insulate your tub and keep it free from a lot of contaminants which makes sure that it is in the right condition the next time you open it.

hot tub cover

So, how do you know which cover is perfect for you? This review will help you answer that question, and we will even provide you with a sample of some of the best hot tub covers in the market today.

Choosing the Right Hot Tub Cover

To make sure that you get the perfect cover that offers the best protection to your hot tub you must consider:

  • Quality of the Vapor Barrier

A vapor barrier is mandatory for any hot tub cover. All manufacturers understand this, but unfortunately, they are not very honest with the quality of barriers they fix into their covers. The right barrier should be capable of blocking water from ever sipping through into the foam. The primary insulation of your hot tub cover should never come into contact with water, and thick vapor barriers help in achieving this. Ensure that the cover you are buying has this kind of barrier. You can also go through any available reviews to see what other users have to say about the quality of the barrier on the cover you are interested in.

  • The thickness of Foam Core

It’s unfortunate that a lot of manufacturers use poor and recycled foam to make hot tub covers which can barely last through a single season. While we understand that these are usually the cheapest covers in the market, their performance is always so wanting to question whether they are even worth buying in the first place. I mean, of what use is a cheap cover if you will have to replace it in a couple of months and don’t even get us started on just how ineffective they usually are. You are better off investing a reasonable amount of your money on an item you can rely on for years, and this is why we recommend you to go for hot tub covers made of virgin polystyrene.

  • The Climate in your Area

The cover will be exposed to harsh weather conditions throughout the year. If you are not careful, the sun and the wind will affect the cover causing it to tear and wear out. If you are not keen, your cover might not even see you through a single year forcing you to incur an extra cost on getting a replacement. To avoid all this, make sure that you are buying a cover that is weather resistant. One that can survive all the four seasons of the year without any issues.

  • Size and Shape

Don’t get overwhelmed by an attractive hot tub cover and forget to think about the dimensions and shape of your tub. Remember that if the item can’t cover your tub effectively, then it all becomes useless. Take the measurements of your tub and its shape into account before placing your order. Ask yourself whether the cover you are buying will fit with the shape of your tub. If not, check whether you can trim it or not. If not, then you are better off looking for another option.

Top 3 Hot Tub Covers

  1. BeyondNice Hot Tub Cover and Spa Cover

This BeyondNice Hot Tub and Spa cover is extra thick ensuring that your tub receives optimal insulation. At 6 inches, this is the thickest tub and spa cover from BeyondNice, and it will benefit your pool in a lot of ways. It ensures that the hot temperatures in your tub are never lost even in the coldest of days. As a result, you can enjoy a hot dip in your tub in the middle of the night during winter with no issues at all. The cover will also help to reduce your heating bills since you’ll never have to keep heating up the water thanks to the efficient insulation.

BeyondNice Hot Tub Cover

The BeyondNice Hot Tub and Spa Cover come with a convenient five-year warranty. The company will replace all malfunctioning covers, and they will even sort you out with a new cover in case of water logging problems.

Specs

  • Comes with two nylon lifting handles
  • Features a polyethylene vapor barrier
  • 6-inch-thick foam core
  • Four locking tie down straps
  • Made of galvalume metal (non-corrosive) and 26 oz. marine grade mildew resistant vinyl

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  1. CoverMates Square Hot Tub Cover

The CoverMates Square Hot Tub Covers is perfectly designed to withstand all sorts of weather conditions and constant temperature changes to deliver the best services for a very long time. Unlike most covers in the market which are made of felt lining, this particular cover is made of a polyester lining which makes it more durable.

CoverMates Square Hot Tub Cover

What’s even more exciting about this item is its price tag. For less than $100, the CoverMates Square Hot Tub Cover is perhaps the most affordable hot tub cover in the at the moment.

Specs

  • 12-gauge commercial grade vinyl
  • Durable polyester lining
  • The thick elastic band provides a firm grip around your tub

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  1. Classic Accessories 55-586-011501-00 Veranda Square Hot Tub Cover

The Classic Accessories Veranda Square Hot Tub Cover is designed not just to deliver the much-needed insulation to your tub but also to do so in the safest way possible while also adding an extra touch to how your tub and its surrounding look. This unique hot tub cover features padded handles that make handling it a lot more comfortable.

Classic Accessories 55-586-011501-00 Veranda Square

The item from Classic Accessories has also been designed with air vents that prevent condensation inside the tub. And wind lofting. The cover has a Gardelle Fabric System which offers optimal protection against splashes.

To guarantee durability, this cover is made of high-density stitching and interior bound seams. These allow the cover to withstand different weather changes to stay functional throughout the year.

Specs

  • Elastic hem cord with a toggle
  • Designed for 94inch by 94-inch hot tubs
  • Air vents for reduced condensation
  • Padded handles
  • Gardelle Fabric System

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Conclusion on Hot Tub Covers

Hot tub covers will save you a lot of money that you would otherwise spend on your heating bills to keep your tub warm. They will also shield your tub against contaminants saving you even more in maintenance costs. With the above guide, you should get the perfect hot tub and spa cover that will provide you with excellent services for an extended period.