As winter starts to turn into spring and the sun starts to show its face again, it’s not uncommon for our eyes to start straying to the pool that’s been languishing under a cover for the past few months.
The more daring among us will already know that nothing sharpens your desire for a heated pool than jumping into an unheated pool early in the year, or just in a colder climate.
But before you write off your pool entirely until midsummer, we have good news for you! You can add a little warmth to that water, and extend the working life of your pool, with just the power of the sun.
Want to know how? Well, read on!
The issue with solar pool rings
On the surface of it, solar pool rings seem like the best way to harness the power of solar energy to heat your pool. In a perfect world, these easy-to-use colored vinyl rings can just be floated on the surface of your pool and will trap the heat from the sun in the water below.
Unfortunately, in the vast majority of cases, they just don’t work.
The average Olympic swimming pool holds around 2.5 million liters of water. Now admittedly, most of us don’t have an Olympic swimming pool in the backyard, but even 25% of that is close to 600,000 liters of water.
The amount of energy needed to raise that amount of water by even a degree is far beyond the ability of a series of vinyl rings that cost less than $50.
With that in mind, you might be surprised to see us including solar sun rings in our reviews below. We’ve chosen to include them for two reasons.
Firstly, they are a solar heating option and we want to present the broadest possible range of options, and secondly, there are some smaller edge cases in which they can work, like smaller children’s pools.
However, while we might have included them for the sake of completeness. We certainly don’t recommend them.
The best solar heating options for your pool
There aren’t many solar heating options for your pool. But, the three best ones are:
So, as we’ve already mentioned solar rings aren’t a fantastic option. But, they are a low-cost option and they do work in smaller pools. You can buy them for around $60.
For our money, the Solar Sun Rings are probably the best on the market. Constructed from two layers of U.V. resistant vinyl, they trap the heat from the sun and transmit it into the water.
What makes the Solar Sun Rings stand out from their competitors is its durable U.V. resistant vinyl construction and its unique magnetic closure system. This system ensures that the rings are securely closed and that they won’t come loose when stored away and won’t immediately fly off your pool if the wind picks up.
What we like:
- Good value – The Solar Sun Rings are good value. They are one of the least expensive pool heating options on the market and they do work in smaller pools.
- Durable – They are made from durable U.V. resistant vinyl and have a unique magnetic closure system.
What we don’t like:
- Not super effective – These are inexpensive passive solar heating rings. So don’t expect them to be anywhere near as effective as using a pool heater.
Overall, the Solar Sun Rings are the best option when it comes to solar rings, they’re inexpensive and durable, just don’t expect miracles from them.
Blanket-style solar covers work by trapping the sun’s heat and then transferring it to the pool water.
These solar covers are made of a thick, durable material that is designed to last for years. They also have a blue top surface which helps to increase the amount of heat that is trapped.
They also reduce evaporation, which cuts down on the amount of water you have to pump into your pool, and they keep the pool cleaner by trapping dirt and debris.
The only downside to blanket-style solar covers is that they can be a bit of a pain to put on and take off.
The Sun2Solar cover is a film of thousands of tiny air-filled bubbles that work together to create an insulating layer.
This cover is lightweight so is easy to install and remove and won’t sag in the center. Plus, the Sun2Solar cover comes in a variety of sizes to fit any type of pool.
If you’re looking for an easy way to heat your pool and keep it clean, a solar blanket cover like the Sun2Solar is the way to go.
What we like:
- Easier to install – Lightweight and reasonably easy to install/remove.
- Multi-size – Comes in a variety of sizes.
What we don’t like:
- A little clunky – Can be a bit of a pain to put on and take off, which doesn’t make it that much different from other models and it’s easier to use because of its lighter weight.
More effective and more utilitarian than solar circles, the Sun2Solar solar cover is a great way to heat your pool by a small amount and keep it clean.
Threading the gap between a solar circle and the full solar cover is the Noair Heat Squares. These are basically smaller square covers that join together to make a larger one, and they work in a similar way to the solar rings.
While this might seem a little redundant, it does have a few interesting benefits. Firstly, one of the dangers of a pool cover is that you can get trapped in it and drown. These squares make it much harder to do so.
Secondly, they’re easier to move around and fit into smaller spaces than the circles are. And finally, they’re great if you have an oddly shaped pool that isn’t a square or a rectangle, as you can tile these squares into just about any shape.
Made from durable heavy-duty vinyl, they also have the exclusive No-Lift-Lip to keep the squares from blowing away in windy areas
What we like:
- Durable – The squares are very durable and heavy-duty.
- Won’t fly away – They have the exclusive No-Lift-Lip to keep them from blowing away in windy areas.
- Good for asymmetrical pools – The squares are easy to move around and fit into smaller spaces.
What we don’t like:
- Difficult to store – The squares do not fold up easily and don’t have the magnetic closure system of the Solar Sun Rings.
If you’re looking for an eco-friendly way to heat your pool by a small amount and keep it clean, the Noair Heat Squares are a good choice, especially if you have an oddly shaped pool.
Eco-friendly pool heating
So there you have it, three solar pool heating options with differing levels of utility based on your needs. For our money, the solar pool cover is the best option for a healthy and eco-friendly swimming experience.
Not only does it keep your pool at a comfortable temperature, but it also helps to reduce evaporation and keeps the water clean.
However, if you have a smaller pool, or an oddly shaped one, you might find the solar rings or solar squares work better for you.
For more eco-friendly pool accessory ideas check our roundup of the best solar pool lights.