Whats Important When Choosing a Pool Cover?

Sunbather have been manufacturing and supplying pool covers for 40 years. Over that time they have seen pool covers change from being an incredibly difficult product to sell into an almost mandatory item. Few would argue that the benefits of covering a pool are huge and once pool owners have experienced these benefits, the initial objection of having a cover and roller located around the pool area soon vanishes.

As pool covers became more popular, Sunbather expanded their range to include thermal blankets, and a comprehensive range of automatic and built in options. Customer feedback on operation and aesthetics were often the main driver for more innovation and better designs while government cash rebates helped to break down some of the objections still held by some domestic pool owners. The commercial pool cover industry has benefited from several years of serious water shortages and governments policy of encouraging lower emissions.

Approx 90% of all heat losses from a pool are through the water surface so any impervious layer across the pool will control water evaporation and reduce overnight heat loss. Even single layer covers will work remarkably well, but the key to a good cover is whether it is easy to use day after day week after week and year after year.

There has been a push in recent years to promote the ‘R’ value of the cover as a simplistic way to measure one cover against another. However, the R value only measures the resistance to the flow of heat across the cover and this only accounts for a very small percentage of the total heat losses from a pool. For example, the difference in weight between a 3.0 mm & a 5.0mm thermal blanket is 20% – for that extra 20% in weight you just get a 1% improvement in the pools heat retention.

Sunbather designers concluded years ago that the physical difficulties of handling a much heavier and awkward blanket was not worth the fractional gain in thermal performance. For a pool blanket to work it has to be “on the pool” and the harder it is for the user the less likely it is going to be used. The overall effectiveness of a pool blanket is going to be determined by how easy it is to use – not by a misleading comparison of material thickness.

The type of cover material used, its weight and thickness are second order concerns when compared with controlling evaporation. The main reason for this is that the temperature difference between the pool and its surrounds is normally not more than 10C. Compare that with a domestic hot water tank where the difference is more like 30C or more. From the very beginning Sunbathers focus and design philosophy has been to make their systems easy to handle, long lasting and if it can be hidden out of sight when off the pool that is a feature customers are happy to pay extra for.

No matter how expensive the initial installation price of a pool cover is the pool owner can be assured that it is actually going to pay for itself over a number of years. It is little wonder that pool owners are becoming increasingly willing to pay higher prices for more automatic options because a pool cover is one of the rare items of pool equipment that actually pays itself over time with energy savings. A cheaper cover pays for itself more quickly but will require multiple replacement over the lifespan of the pool. The more expensive automatic slat covers are not only easier to use but they also offer an extra layer of protection should young children gain access to the pool area. In European countries slat covers have been used for decades and are accepted under some safety standards such as the French AFNOR standard NFP 90-308 as being an effective safety device. A slat cover that is used properly by the pool owner is always going to be a more effective safety barrier than a pool fence.


Slat covers have improved dramatically over the last 10 years with the latest design being a great improvement over the traditional hollow chamber products. This design from Europe’s leading specialists, Covrex is 100% hail resistant and carries a 5 year full guarantee against hail damage. The extra strength comes from a dense foam filled core which not only gives the slats an exceptionally high impact rating but also stops any water leaking into the slats over time.

Couple this new foam filled slat design with Sunbather’s wide range of motor driven rollers and customers now have an amazing range of options to choose from.