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Swimming Pool Covers - Choosing the Right One For You

Updated: Feb 26

Energise Leisure Ltd supplies and installs a large range of covers, so below is an overview of the different options available, with summarised benefits, uses, and limitations to help you decide. Once you’ve chosen (or if you still aren’t sure), submit our enquiry form, give us a call on 0333 577 9692, or email enquiries@energiseleisure.co.uk for more information and a free, no obligation quote.

70% of the heat lost from an uncovered, in-ground swimming pool is through evaporation of water across the pool’s surface. Worse still, evaporated water will need to be replaced – this affects your water bill and your heating bill, and dilution can then require additional chemicals to ensure the levels in your pool are optimised. It all costs, so there’s no reason not to put a cover on your swimming pool, spa, or hot tub… But which one is right for you?

Bubble Covers:

The entry level point is what most would call a “bubble cover” or “solar cover”’. These are plastic covers often likened to bubble wrap, which allow solar rays to heat air pockets which in turn transfer that heat to the pool water. Bubble covers come in two main styles, with variants available in each.

The “standard” style has round, button-like air pockets and the “GeoBubble” looks like half-peanuts. The GeoBubble is superior, because there is greater surface area in contact with the pool and the bubbles themselves are more evenly shaped, lacking the weak spots that the standard covers contain.

You then have options such as “blue”, “black”, “silver”, “gold”, Sol+Guard, and EnergyGuard, and some are available with a woven fibre backing which adds strength and durability to the cover. Each of these have different performance and aesthetic characteristics – for instance, black and EnergyGuard cut out the greatest amount light so can help with algae prevention and lower chemical usage, Sol+Guard and EnergyGuard give the greatest heat transfer.

Different thicknesses are available in some style for added durability.


· Prevents evaporation

· Solar heat gain

· Potential chemical and filtration benefits

· Debris control

Best Uses:

· Outdoor swimming pools


· Less effective than foam for indoor pools

· Durability

· Safety

· Not suitable for spas or hydrotherapy pools

Foam Heat Retention Covers:

The next type of cover, while it represents an increased cost, sits more to the side than above the bubble cover – mainly because it has a different set of uses and benefits. Foam heat retention covers do what the name suggest – the insulate and retain heat, as opposed to add heat through solar transfer.

The most common is 5mm or 6mm thick, but greater insulation is gained using an 8mm cover. 12mm Foam is available for hot tubs and spas but isn’t suitable for swimming pools due inflexibility. Foam covers thinner than 12mm are not suitable for Spas and 5-6mm foam isn’t suitable for hydrotherapy pools.


· Prevents evaporation

· Cuts out light

· Insulates the pool

· Debris control

Best uses:

· Indoor swimming pools

· Spas and hot tubs (12mm)

· Commercial swimming pools


· No solar gain

· Safety

· Durability

Foam and Bubble Cover Accessories:

Manual and solar-powered reels, hemming for edge protection, rope/eyelet/leading edge kits for ease of use.

Manual Bar Safety Covers:

These covers are made from a vinyl material threaded onto metal bars which sit on the edges of the pool coping stones, preventing any unwanted accidents when the cover is closed. The most cost-effective way to keep your pool secure when not in use.


· Safety

· Cost compared to automated pool covers

· Suitable for wooden above ground pools

· Battery-powered tools available to help roll them

· Debris control

· Cuts out light

Best Uses:

· Indoor or outdoor in ground or wooden pools


· Insulation and solar gain

· Can be cumbersome to use

· Aesthetics

· Unable to custom fit around features

Vinyl Safety Covers:

Vinyl safety covers completely encapsulate your pool and prevent any person, animal, and debris from entering your pool when the cover is closed. Usually powered by electric or hydraulic motors (although manual versions do exist) they are fully automatic swimming pool covers that require a user to press a button or turn a key to operate. They are suitable for indoor and outdoor use and the systems can be fitted “above ground” or in a pit at the end of the pool, so are suitable for new builds or retrofitting to existing pools with only some disruption.

The covers move along and are held in place by tracks/rails.


· Indoor or outdoor

· Different installation types (in ground or above ground)

· Safety

· Debris control

· Cuts out light

· Easy to use

Best Uses:

· Where safety is key

· More ideal for new builds

· Suitable for smaller commercial pools requiring increased safety


· Insulation

· Solar Gain

· Durability for cheaper versions

· Versatility of the available range

· Unable to custom fit around features

Slatted Swimming Pool/Slatted Safety Covers:

Easily the most versatile type of cover with the greatest range of options – for available benefits or aesthetic choices. Slatted swimming pool covers are made from PVC or polycarbonate hard plastic “slats” which float on the surface of the pool. Many people are still under the impression that slatted covers are not safety covers, but British law is pretty lacking in this area – instead look for covers that conform to the French NF P 90-308 standard.

While they don’t fully encapsulate the pool (someone falling in might get slightly wet) you won’t become submerged or get dragged down/tangled in the cover because they are held in place with locking bracket mechanisms. Although the standard is sufficient, handrails can be added to the pool walls to increase safety and acrylic one-piece pools and new build pools can be made with a “safety ledge” to limit how far a cover can sink.

Slatted swimming pool covers can also offer the most striking appearances for your pool with the smooth, sleek look in a variety of complementary colours, clear slats that show off your pool lights, translucent coloured slats that can show off your pool lights with a pop of colour, and even metallic silver finishes are available.

PVC slats are usually opaque, and polycarbonate solar slats can be black, clear, coloured, or metallic. Polycarbonate slats are also stronger with increased weather protection and sometimes available with longer warranties.

All slats offer insulation, polycarbonate slats offer solar gain.

Like vinyl covers, they are usually electrically powered and automatic with the push of a button or turn of a key, and can also be solar powered with solar panels charging batteries – ideal for retrofitting onto outdoor pools.

Mechanisms can be above ground with a broad range of looks including a decking box or modern or sleek complementary reel supports, in ground with decking over the top, or even situated on or in the pool floor or in the pool wall. Both submerged and above ground options are available for installation onto existing swimming pools.


· Huge range of options

· Solar gain available

· Solar Powered available

· Ideal for retrofitting

· Safety

· Custom fit

Best use:

· Indoor or outdoor pools

· Suitable for some commercial pools


· Debris prevention compared to vinyl

· Depends on slat type and installation style choice

Honourable mention for winter debris covers...

...mesh covers which are secured in place over the top of your pool to prevent leaves and debris from getting into your water, affecting your chemicals, or even staining your outdoor swimming pool while it is not in use.

If you have or are thinking of getting a slatted pool cover, you should definitely take a look at the Ivernea Winter Pool Cover for slatted covers – does the same job as a traditional winter cover, looks better, and no trip hazards!

Winter covers are a must-have for any outdoor swimming pool owner who shuts their pool down in winter.

Call Energise Leisure Ltd on 0333 577 9692 or email enquiries@energiseleisure.co.uk to discuss your swimming pool cover options and get your quote.

To learn more about Energise Leisure Ltd, visit www.energiseleisure.co.uk.

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