Solar Rings/Squares vs Solar Cover/Blanket – SIMILARITIES & DIFFERENCES

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Like you, pool owners looking to pick some sort of solar cover for their pool are torn between picking a solar sun ring or a solar cover and are looking for differences and similarities.

Yes, both solar cover and solar sun rings are high-quality heating tools. They let your water get hot and maintain its temperature for a long time.

However, the main difference between a solar ring and a solar cover is that:

  • Solar cover support reels, and usually come in rectangular shapes and you need to trim to shape while solar rings come in both square and circle shapes
  • Solar rings typically come in blue, and black. A solar cover is available in Black which is a very good color. A black cover absorbs heat from the sun, which mostly transfers into the water, and it reduces chlorine usage.
  • Solar covers heat more than solar sun rings since they retain more heat, and are easy to remove.
  • Solar sun rings typically drop lots of dirt into your pool every time you lift them away.

Now, let’s check more pros and cons of each below:

Ultimate Characteristics of Solar Rings Vs Solar Cover – Specific Functionalities

Here are its functionalities:

Ultimately, your pool solar cover keeps the warmth of the water and makes sure it does not fall due to the vaporization of hot water.

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  • The Pool Solar Rings

Here are its functionalities:

  • The pool ring features a dual-layer of sheet. These sheets are high-end ultraviolet-resisting polyvinyl molecules.
  • The upper crystalline part of these sheets draws in up to 60 percent of the sunlight then converts and transfers the heat energy deep into the water.
  • Inside the upper transparent later, you’d find an isolating insulating air. That serves as the protection of the heat since it prevents the heat of water from vaporizing.
  • The air contact with water is brought to the barest minimum. That way, the water heat remains secluded and pristine.
  • You’ll find 6-8 magnets in the inner layer of the solar rings sheet.
  • Yes, the development of magnets will allow single-position expulsion. But, it will effortlessly separate to forestall entanglement in unintentional falls.

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With the highlighted points above, you can see that both pool solar blankets and solar rings operate in unique ways.

Solar Rings and Solar Cover Comparison

Now that we have gotten over the basics of solar rings or squares and solar blankets or covers, it’s time to determine which is best for you.

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Both will be reviewed in each category of this process and the winner will be announced.

Ready, set? Go!

  • Evaporation

Solar rings generally provide up to 50% reduction in evaporation, while traditional solar pool covers or blankets can reduce up to 95% of evaporation.

Even if you completely cover your pool with rings, there’d be gaps between them by which water can escape.

The winner? Solar pool covers or blankets!

  • Heating the Pool

A good solar cover can trigger an increase in water temperature of 10 – 15°F compared to an uncovered pool. This is largely due to the cover’s ability to reduce evaporation along with harnessing the sun’s energy.

So, if your ultimate goal is to use the sun to provide extra heat, it’s recommended that you use a translucent cover. This lets sunlight to reach the water for better heating.

The typical blue-tinted bubble cover is great, but a clear cover allows for better heating.

Solar rings on the other hand are unable to cover as much surface as a traditional cover would. This results in more heating loss.

But the gaps in solar pool squares have had some benefits in that they allow direct heating from the sun into the water – this can prove to be more efficient than the sun having to go through a cover in the long run.

Overall, when factoring in both heat loss and heat gain, the cover will provide more heating capability due to better evaporation reduction than solar rings.

The winner? Solar pool covers or blankets!

  • Safety

It is crucial to keep the pool area secure when in use and not in ise.

Solar covers give an illusion of being a solid surface – so much, so that kids and pets may think they can walk on top of it.

This is a trap since an attempt to walk on it can cause entrapment and drowning.

On the other side, solar rings allow visibility of water around the edges that may discourage any pet or person from trying to walk on it.

Even if someone attempts to walk onto a solar ring, the rings will give way without causing entrapment.

The winner? Solar pool rings or square!

  • Reduction in Water Consumption

The higher the evaporation rate, the more frequently you’ll need to add in more water into your pool.

So, it is always wise to use a cover to reduce the addition of water. Which will ultimately maintain the chemistry of the pool, and will also keep it warmer.

A solar cover can reduce the amount of water being added to the pool by 50%.  For a 600-square-foot pool with 1/4″ daily evaporation, this could save you upwards of 1,500 gallons a month of makeup water compared to not using a cover.

Solar rings can help reduce the amount of makeup water by about 25% compared to not using any rings.  For a 600-square-foot pool with 1/4″ daily evaporation, this could equate to about 750 gallons saved each month.

The winner? Solar pool covers or blankets!

  • Reducing Chemical Loss

Chemical loss occurs when the sunlight breaks down the pool’s chemicals.

A solar cover can help prevent up to 60% of the chemical loss. For large pools, this could mean chemical savings of several hundred dollars each swim season.

On the flip side, solar rings will usually eliminate 30% or so of chemical loss.  For small pools, it might be a negligible cost. However, this could still amount to sizeable cost savings in chemicals for large pools.

The winner? Solar pool covers or blankets!

  • Heating Cost Reduction

The frequent use of a solar pool cover can reduce your heating cost by up to 70%. Solar rings can also reduce heating costs by about 35%.

Based on data from the U.S. Department of Energy, it costs about $3,200 on average to keep a pool in New York at 82°F all season long using a gas heater without a pool cover.  By using a cover, the cost could be reduced to about $550 for the entire swim season –this is a savings of over $2,500!

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Based on the sample above, solar rings could reduce heating costs to around $1,100.  This still provides a significant savings of about $2,000 in heating costs!

The winner? Solar pool covers or blankets!

  • Keeping Dirt and Debris Out of Pool

The reduction of bugs, debris, and dirt will help keep your pool cleaner and easier to maintain proper chemical balance.

A traditional solar cover usually sits atop almost the whole surface of the pool. This means that it traps the debris and dirt on the cover, most of the time. And only a few, if any fall into the water.

If you take care when removing the cover from the pool, there should be no dirt falling into the pool.

Solar rings can capture some dirt and debris. But, because they have lesser coverage of the pool surface, they invite more dirt into the pool.

The winner? Solar pool covers or blankets!

  • Algae Peace of Mind

Since solar pool covers provide more heating than solar rings. Pools using them are more susceptible to an algae outbreak if there is any inappropriate chemical balance.

We recommend you remove the cover during the daytime from time to time. This will provide you an opportunity for surfaces to be brushed and a visual lookover of water health.

Solar rings often allow enough visibility to spot growth in the water that can be dealt with quicker.

The winner? Solar pool rings or squares!

  • Ease of Use

Solar covers can be a pain in the neck when trying to take it off. It is more manageable when using reels to handle the cover.

For custom-shaped pools, it may not be practical to keep a solar cover in a single piece.  Cutting the cover and using multiple reels may be necessary.

Solar rings, on the other hand, are dead simple to use, you just toss them into the pool without the equipment needed.

The winner? Solar rings or squares!

  • Overcoming Wind

A solar pool cover fitted properly to your pool won’t drift around when the wind strikes because there’s not much room to drift around in the pool.

Undersized covers, however, could be pushed by the winds towards one end of the pool, and may be more susceptible to bunching up – this will reduce the cover’s effectiveness.

Sadly, solar rings have a reputation for being tossed around a bit more in the wind. Their light weight can even allow for gusty winds to lift them out of the pool.

The good news? Water anchors are designed into some rings that can help them stay well-grounded. You might consider these anchors if you decide to go down this route.

  • Storage

Here, I would call it a tie.

Solar pool rings with a dedicated and protected area make storage very easy.

A solar pool cover with a reel makes for easy storage too.

Whether using a solar cover or solar rings, it’s important that they are stored in a shaded area or covered in order to prevent UV degradation.

Neither should be stored on an abrasive surface, such as landscaping material or mulch in order to prevent punctures.

The winner? It’s a tie!

  • Longevity

Depending on use, care, and storage, you can expect both solar pool covers and solar pool rings to last 5 or more years.

  • Thickness of Material

Normally, the rule is – the thicker the material, the stronger it will be. Strength in most types often correlate with durability and longevity.

Solar covers are typically sold in various thicknesses. A minimum thickness of 8 mils is advised with many preferring at least 12 mils.

Solar rings are often marketed as being constructed of two thick layers without the choice of thickness.

Solar Rings vs Solar Cover

Type of Material

Most solar covers are available in polyethylene. It is flexible and lightweight, allowing for ease of use when applying or removing the cover. It’s most common for covers that will need a frequent application or use.

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Vinyl is more durable than polyethylene. But vinyl covers are heavier and can be harder to put on and off due to their thickness.

Many solar rings indicate the use of two vinyl layers for optimal strength and durability.  While solar rings may be constructed of heavier material than most covers, their inflatable section can be susceptible to punctures and leakage.

Pool Chemistry

Solar pool covers and solar rings will be used in residential pools. These products can be affected by water chemistry, meaning that the longevity of the solar products cannot always be guaranteed.

If water is too acidic or has too much chlorine, the cover or rings will degrade quicker.

After shocking the pool, it is important that these products remain off the water for at least a few hours. Subjecting high concentrations of sanitants can cause these products to become damaged.

Cleaning the covers and rings before winterizing them can remove chemicals that would otherwise lead to corrosion throughout the season.

  • Sun Exposure

Solar rings and solar covers are designed to get the most out of the sun by absorbing it when in use.

Although these come with UV-resistant materials, Solar radiation eventually erodes the material in the coating.

UV and chemical exposure will make your pool equipment more brittle and they will shed while in the pool.

Keeping your pool cover or pool square in the shade or covered when not in use will increase their longevity.

Generally, it’s a good idea to plan on getting two years out of either solar rings or a solar cover. Neither has an advantage over the other, and even some of the thicker covers may only last as long as thinner ones.

With the right care, and by paying close attention to how long you use them, your solar pool cover or rings may last longer. But this is not something that is guaranteed or warrantied by the manufacturer.

Winner: Tie

  • Cost

Pool supply prices have increased rapidly in recent years, and solar covers and solar rings are not immune to this.

Spending $150 for an 8-mil cover on a standard 18 by 36 pool, and more for thicker solar covers is normal. Thicker solar covers sold in the range of $200-$300 for this size of the pool.

You’ll need 13 rings for an 18 x 36 pool, with a cost of anywhere from $300 -$500 to gain 70% coverage. Standard foot rings are sold anywhere from $25-$35 per ring.

Ultimately, the cost will depend on the size of the pool.

A solar cover for your pool is more expensive than solar rings. Although this cost is offset through savings on fuel – you only need to put in one round of clean and fresh water every year instead of two or three.

Winner: Solar Cover

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Which One Should I Choose In Between Pool Solar Rings Vs Solar Blankets?

It depends. Solar rings are typically cheaper than pool covers but the pool covers heat more area, quicker than solar rings.

Can I Cover My Pool with Solar Rings and Solar Blankets in Winter?

Yes, you can but you must make sure the water doesn’t freeze.

Do the Solar Rings and The Solar Blankets Properly Work?

Yes, solar covers and solar rings are quite effective and efficient. So, both can operate for long periods unless you damage them. Other than that, if there isn’t enough sunlight energy, the solar equipment won’t work efficiently.

Can I Put on Solar Rings and Solar Covers in The Pool Area Altogether?

Yes, you can. This improved the efficiency of the solar tools better.

Author: Howard S. Baldwin

My name is Howard S. Baldwin. I am a work-at-home dad to three lovely girls, Jane + Hannah + Beauty. I have been blogging for the last 3 years. I worked for other Home and Lifetsyle blogs, did hundreds of product reviews and buyers’ guides. Prior to that, I was a staff accountant at a big accounting firm. Needless to say, researching and numbers are my passion. My goal is to be an informative source for any topic that relates to DIY life and homemaking.

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