They are too heavy to work with! It takes too much time to store them in the morning and deploy them at night. They use too much manpower to operate.
They are too expensive to install and maintain. …. These are
a few grievances and gripes heard in and around swimming pools when
the idea of installing a thermal pool cover system is
In my 20-plus years of making and selling thermal pool covers,
I’ve heard such excuses countless times. But during these
tough economic times, seeing pool covers as a nuisance rather than
an essential, integral part of a fiscally efficient — and
environmentally responsible — pool operation is rather
Simply put, an energy-efficient pool equals an environmentally and
fiscally responsible pool. How efficient? Depending on the size of
the heated pool and the cost of energy, consistent use will save up
40 percent in energy, water and chemical costs. The entire cost of
a pool cover system can pay for itself in less than a year. And
with the assistance of utility companies around the country, pool
covers may be eligible for grants or energy rebates.
Thermal pool covers are an evolutionary version of the one that
Nick Balas and Bill MacCurdy made in response to the gas shortages
in 1970s. They started MacBall Industries, providing free-floating,
insulated thermal pool covers. Those first covers were simple,
narrow strips of closed cell polyethylene foam glued on one side to
a tarp-like polyethylene fabric. But, as with many great
inventions, they were highly effective.
Later, improvements were made and they incorporated weighted
edging, brass grommets, end reinforcements and more.
Current crops of pool covers have come a long way since
MacBall’s first products. Not only are covers flame-bonded so
the foam and fabrics are fused together to create strong laminates,
but newer materials (such as expanded UV-resistant vinyl materials,
better threads and stainless steel grommets) and better equipment
(such as flame lamination, heavy-duty sewing machines) allow for
stronger and longer-lasting covers.
Improvements in information gathering, computer-aided processing
and manufacturing techniques also allow complex, custom shaped
covers to be made to fit modern pools.
And with careful and proper design, pool covers need not be too
heavy/difficult to use or too expensive to install and maintain.
The key is to use light but strong raw materials, inventive
manufacturing processes, and thoughtful and intelligent
This is where operators really need to be aware of what they want
from a cover. A more durable cover can certainly be made from
heavier/thicker fabrics and denser foam, but the trade-off is that
the cover will be that much more difficult to use on a daily basis.
Lighter weight materials will result in lighter weight covers and
easier operation, but they won’t last as long. So a cover
that is made by carefully chosen materials with a blend of tough
mechanical properties combined with properly designed proportions
and configurations may be the best compromise between longevity and
Of course, no cover is worthwhile if it doesn’t actually
cover the pool. Again, thoughtful design and advanced techniques
have made this prerequisite easier to fulfill, too. Thermal covers
can be configured in myriad ways to fit even today’s modern,
free-form pools. The right balance of the size and quantity of
covers to fully encompass the entire pool should be carefully
worked out by considering the pool’s size/shape, deck space
and budgetary considerations.
For example, using wider panels that cover two or three lanes will
result in less quantity, but heavier panels. But with the help of
an appropriately sized and, possibly, motorized storage reels, pool
cover size would have less of an impact on the storing process.
Main consideration then would be more on deck space (especially
important for indoor pools) and budgetary limitations.
Configuring narrower covers that can be fitted between lane lines
enables operators to opt for lesser cost and smaller manual storage
reels. Because the covers are lighter and lie flat on the
water’s surface, friction between lane lines and the
cover’s underside is eliminated, resulting in easier
operation and less wear and tear on the cover. Further benefit for
this type of cover is that it is less susceptible to wind
As more and more aquatics facilities try to draw entire families to
pools, recreational or play pool designs for children are being
included in the projects. Typically, these pools are custom shaped
and equipped with all sorts of fun waterfeatures that bring aquatic
joys to kids, but pose interesting challenges to pool cover
From an energy-saving perspective, even with free-form recreational
pools, there should be no operational or design reasons of why pool
covers cannot be installed. Of course, the more complicated the
pool shape, the more complex the configuration of covers will
Using drawings, templates and some good ol’ American
imagination and ingenuity, pool covers can be shaped to fit the
irregular contours of a free-form pool. Cutouts for ladders,
railings, various waterfeatures and folding hinges can be
incorporated to make these custom shaped covers easy to handle and
coordinated with manual or motorized storage reels.
Ultimately, with proper sizing and configuration, pool covers can
be more effortless to use on a daily basis — and easier on
the wallet to install and maintain.