Swimming pool covers come in a variety of types. There are solid covers and mesh covers. There are automatic covers and manual covers. Some covers are held in place by heavy weights around the perimeter, others use spring loaded straps secured to anchors in the deck. Some covers move across the pool surface and are held in place by a pair of parallel tracks while other simply float on the water surface. With so many varieties available; which cover is right for your pool? Before this can be answered we need to further discuss the available varieties. Some are more suitable for thermal application; others are designed for winter use and still others are designed for safety. Some have even incorporated all of these properties into one product to some degree.
Thermal blankets – These covers simply float on the pool surface and are designed strictly as a heating aid. They can have a hand cranked roller system at one end of the pool for easier removal. These covers do well at heating the pool water but do little else. They are even somewhat dangerous if small children are present because of the entrapment hazard.
Simple covers – This can be any non-permeable barrier over the swimming pool. Generally only used during the off season, these covers are held in place by vinyl tubes filled with water or any other weighted device. While they do well at keeping the debris out of the pool during the off season, they can become a hazard if any standing water is not removed as it accumulates. During a heavy rain or snow these covers have been known to get pulled into the swimming pool by the surface weight.
Mesh covers – These covers are designed for winter use. After a pool is winterized, the pool is usually drained down below the return lines which are then blown out and plugged. The mesh cover is then put over the swimming pool and held in place with spring loaded straps attached to anchors in the deck. Any rain or snowmelt during the off season drains into the pool. This type of cover can be solid with a few mesh drain holes to reduce the amount of fine debris that drains through. These covers work well for safety during the off season but are not practical to use during the swimming season as they can be cumbersome to remove on a regular basis.
Tracked covers – These types of covers can be automatic or manual. They consist of a solid vinyl material with beaded side edges that ride in a set of parallel tracks running down each side of the pool. These have an excellent safety rating and keep dirt and debris out of the pool as well. They also can work as a passive solar collector and can increase the water temperature by 8 – 10 degrees. These covers have been known to support several feet of water before pulling loose from there supports but to prevent a drowning hazard any accumulated water should be removed immediately, as is with any solid cover. More information on this type of cover can be found in my other articles.
So, now with all of this information at your disposal you should be able to determine which cover is best for you based on your particular concerns.