Best Above Ground Swimming Pool Winter Covers (2019)
There's only so much that pool cleaners or vacuums can get rid of. An open pool welcomes all sorts of dirt and debris with open arms. You might have really smirked at the name of such an item and be all cynical, but quality pool covers do play an important role in maintaining your pool, on top of sparing you the seasonal cleaning up. Read along to find out why and how.
After many hours of research and evaluation of most of the above ground swimming pool covers on the market, we recommend the Robelle 3528-4. Mentioned is the 28 feet model, however it is available in various sizes of up to 33 feet. This pool cover carries an 10-year manufacturer’s warranty and is perfect for protecting your pool against the cold season.
You could certainly pay more, either for another brand or a different model of Robelle. But in our opinion, you don’t need to; unless you have an even bigger pool, as the model we’ve chosen is a high-range item that has many features in common with covers carrying a much higher price tag (e.g. metal grommets).
Should the Robelle 3528-4 be unavailable or in any other case, you could consider the Blue Wave Gold Round Pool Winter Cover, which is our second contender. The brand is well known for all three series of pool covers it manufactures.
Best above ground pool covers in comparison
#1 Robelle 3528-4 28ft. Super Winter Round Pool Cover
Our top choice
The Robelle 3528-4 is a 28 feet, round, heavy-duty polyethylene above ground pool cover with a 4 feet overlap and an 8 X 8 scrim. It is treated with UV inhibitors and has a black underside which prevents algal growth. The cover also has a 4 feet overlap and the packaging includes winch and cables. Apart from this size, the brand offers an array of colors and other sizes, according to which the price varies.
Although named for winter essentially, this cover can serve well in any season if you are to give your pool for a long time. It is designed to provide protection against UV damage and can also endure snow build up on top of it. This cover has pretty good reviews overall and comes with a 10-year warranty.
WE DON'T LIKE:
#2 Blue Wave Gold 18ft. Round Winter Pool Cover
The Blue Wave Gold 15-Year Round Above Ground Pool Winter Cover is another substantial and durable option you can look into. The manufacturer states this cover is made of their most durable materials and is designed to cope with a harsh Minnesota winter. The 18 feet pool cover has a 4 feet overlap and is woven using UV stabilized polyethylene. It features heat sealed seams a black underside which prevents algal growth. Blue wave offers several other sizes in this series, out of which we chose the 18 feet one as it lies around the average size for above ground pools users buy.
The cover comes with heavy duty vinyl cables and tighteners attached to the 'rip-proof' metal grommets. Although a tad bit heavier, on account of the high area it can cover, this cover does a good job on the whole and has many positive reviews. It comes with a 15-year warranty, of which the first 3 years are unconditional and the remaining years cover partial refund.
WE DON'T LIKE:
#3 Blue Wave Bronze 18ft. Round Pool Cover
The Blue Wave Bronze 8-Year Round Above Ground Pool Winter Cover has most of the features of the pricier models - UV protected topside to last as long as possible in the sunlight, black underside to inhibit the development of algae and bacteria, metal grommets with extra stitching, and the generous 4 feet overlap, so you don’t have problems with stretching and tearing. The material is of reasonable quality and weave (similar to a tarpaulin). The cover comes with heavy duty cables and winch tightener for attaching the cover securely.
This model made it to our list because it can provide you with everything required at the best price. The cover is easy to install and easy to store when not in use. The warranty on this one lasts 8 years and there are six other sizes of this cover available in this series. There doesn’t seem to be a significant difference in the quality of materials and workmanship between the Bronze range and the more expensive covers from the same manufacturer.
WE DON'T LIKE:
#4 Sun2Solar Blue 24ft. Round Solar Cover
The Sun2Solar Round Solar Cover is our third choice towards the premium end. It is made of thin plastic which you can also trim to fit the shape of your pool; this will not affect your warranty also! This one in particular is 24 feet, round, blue but they have many different sizes available in both rectangle and round shapes, along with options for in-ground pools. This cover too also has 4 feet overlaps.
The tiny bubbles trap heat continuously which helps to keep your pool water warm. The brand claims to reduce water evaporation by up to 95% and has a series of 1200 bubbles (another series has 800). But due to the thin material, these covers do not tend to last very long and the warranty covers only seam separation and delamination.
WE DON'T LIKE:
#5 Intex Round Metal frame 15ft. Pool Cover
If you are on a budget, you could consider the Intex Round Metal Frame Pool Cover. This will provide the basic function of sheltering your pool from leaves and debris, though there are question marks over its long-term durability. Unlike the Blue Wave and similar covers, this cover doesn’t lie on the surface of the water, rather it is flush with the top side of the pool.
This 15 feet pool cover comes with a 10-inch overlap and has water drainage holes at the center of the cover, but dirt and debris tend to make their way into the water through these holes. It has rope ties included to help you secure the cover snugly. The metal frame strengthens the cover even more when exposed to strong winds. Considering the price, this cover is as decent as it can get.
WE DON'T LIKE:
Minor issues With Pool Covers
The reality is that these covers will be exposed to harsh outdoor conditions, which will vary hugely between different states, and it’s not possible to make a pool cover at an affordable price point which will survive 100% of all possible conditions for 8,10,15 or 20 years. Our expert sources question the value of a 20-year warranty on a pool cover, when the pool itself is unlikely to last this long. Therefore, we advise you to buy a decent quality cover, use it according to the manufacturer’s instructions, store it carefully in a cool, dry place when it’s not being used, and get as many years use out of it as you can. If you live in an area with harsh winter weather, 2-3 seasons is as much as you can expect from any cover. In our experience, spending the extra money for a supposedly more durable cover may get you an extra season at best.
What Makes A Good Swimming Pool Cover?
These factors are the most important when deciding which cover to buy
To figure out what matters in an above ground pool cover, we contacted several sources in the pool supply industry. These features are what they look for in a cover:
1) Thick, good quality material. Lighter weight material may be easier to handle, but is less likely to be durable.
2) Tight weave: the tighter the weave of the material, the more leaves and debris will be kept out of your pool over the winter.
3) Size: the cover should be at least 3-ft larger than the pool, which allows the cover to drop down below the top of the pool sides, and sit on the surface of the water. If the cover is too small, you will stretch it when putting it on the pool, which will considerably reduce the life of your cover.
4) Metal grommets, preferably stainless steel, with extra stitching around the grommets – this will reduce the wear and tear on the mounting holes around the edge of the cover. We have seen covers with no grommets at all, which should be avoided, as the cover will quickly tear at this area of maximum strain.
5) Dark color: the underside of the cover should be a dark color, which restricts the amount of light passing through the cover, and inhibits the growth of algae and bacteria.
This video by poolsupplies.com walks you through how to install the cover:
Here's what you will get in the box:
For anything larger than about a 12-foot pool you'll need someone to help. First step is to unfold the cover, on a flat area which is as close to the pool as is practical:
With the help of your assistant, slide the cover over the top of the pool:
Thread the cable through the grommets, then thread both ends into the turnbuckle and into the winch spindle:
Now turn the winch handle to tension the cable. When the cable is taut adequately, it will hold the cover to the pool securely.
Maintenance / Cleaning
Two of the quickest ways to damage your cover and invalidate the warranty are:
1. Using milk jugs, concrete blocks, or other weighing-down devices not included with the cover or approved by the manufacturer. These can cause excess strain on certain areas of the cover that it is not designed to cope with, and lead to premature wearing or tearing of the cover.
2. Allowing the cover to become snagged or pinched on sharp areas of your pool - for example, if your pool has any sharp areas on the top rail, once the cable is tensioned, the sharp areas will chafe at the cover, potentially causing it to fail.
Poolcenter.com has some additional tips on how to remove, clean, fold and store the cover.
Do you own any of the pool covers mentioned here? Did you choose a different one? Let us know in the comments!