Solar Pool Cover Reels

Swimming pool solar cover reels are designed to help you with the chore of putting on, taking off and storing your pool cover. The job of moving a large sheet of plastic on or off the water on your pool can be difficult for even two people. A quality pool cover reel allows one person to perform the task by themselves. Available for both in ground and above ground swimming pools, cover reels are simply the easiest way to use and maintain your pool cover.

If you have a pool cover but no cover reel, where do you store the cover when not is use? Pool covers have to be completely removed before anyone goes in the water for safety reasons. It is recommended that you lift the cover off on to the patio, fold it up and move it out of the sunlight because UV rays attack the plastic and reduce the life of the cover. But that's a big cover and it doesn't fold up into a little square. How do you manage it?  In my opinion a solar pool cover is a must because it results in a warmer pool that gets used more often. Also, a pool cover reel is a must because it increases the life of the cover, makes handling the cover more convenient, and results in the cover being used more often because it is no longer difficult to handle.

Reel Types and Options

You can find solar pool cover reels available in manual and automatic versions.  There are models that are positioned above ground on wheels, above ground and fixed mounted at the end of the pool, or hidden below the pool deck and fixed mounted. 

Automatic reel (motorized electric)

The fully automatic in-deck pool cover is a one-button option that does everything, and is usually installed with the pool.  If you are considering building a new pool, the in deck pool cover reel is a very attractive option. There are several versions of these, some of which provide safety features, but they all store the cover at one end of the pool, below the deck where it is completely out of sight, freeing up the deck for recreational uses.  These systems are most commonly motorized and automated.

Manual reel (hand crank)

The manual version is the most chosen reel type for existing swimming pools.  The manual version allows you to wind the cover onto a large roll with a simple hand crank. This is the most cost effective version and quite easy to use compared to the alternative of no pool reel.   The in ground pool version of the manual reel has an option with wheels that allows you to move the whole reel assembly (including cover) out of the way when using the pool. The above ground pool cover reel has a version has an arm that allows one person to swing the assembly away on a pivot when not in use.

Other options usually available only for commercial installations include a wall mount reel with radio control, models with double or triple winder reels that can store up to 3 covers at a time for larger pools, and models made entirely out of stainless steel.

Desirable Pool Cover Reel Features

Coatings and finishes

Stainless steel isn't usually an option for residential covers.  If possible, get a cover reel with a corrosion resistant powder coated frame.   This is much tougher than paint and will not flake, chip or rust if applied properly.Failing that, baked enamel. 

Dimensions and size

A lightweight manual reel is easier to move, but make sure it is sturdy enough that it won't tip over when you are using it.   A short and wide cover reel will be more stable and less likely to tip over than a tall and narrow model.

If you can't get an adjustable height cover reel, then make sure it is low enough to fit under your diving board if you have one, as this is the end of the pool where most covers get stored. No matter what pool cover reel you get you must make sure it fits the dimensions of both your pool and your cover.  Some recommendations suggest oversizing gives you a stronger reel.  That is, if your pool is 20 feet wide, get a 24 foot reel if it will fit.

Complaints and problems with low quality cover reels

Some of the complaints with cheap reels.  Lightweight plastic reels with cheap caster wheels aren't very stable and fall over into the pool unless a second person holds it stable while reeling.  Tall models designed to fit over top of the diving board are sometimes unstable and can fall over in wind easily.  A common complaint is that the reel tubing which the cover rolls up on isn't strong enough and sags or bends in the middle with even a small pool cover on it.  This makes reeling difficult as you are lifting the weight of the center of the reel up and down instead of around in a circle.  Cheaper reels without quality bearings, or with an undersized crank are hard to reel in.

The best rated solar pool cover reel features

The highest rated pool cover reels are made from aluminum and are powder coated for corrosion resistance.  The shorter the reel height, the more stable they appear to be.  The best ones have reels that are not difficult to turn under the weight of the cover and resistance of pulling it across the water. This usually means the reel has good metal bearings. This is also an advantage for people with aluminized covers, because pulling off an aluminized cover with a reel that has a lot of tension or resistance can tear the cover. Some people tended to prefer 4 inch tubing to 3 inch tubing saying that it does not sag in the middle like smaller diameter tubing.  A triangular shaped frame appears to be more sturdy then an upside down 'T' frame.

Benefits of a pool cover reel