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Can You Use Bubble Wrap as a Solar Pool Cover?

A solar pool cover is an essential accessory for many pool owners. These covers retain heat, reduce evaporation, and keep debris out of the pool. By harnessing the sun’s energy, solar covers can extend the swimming season and make the pool more cost-efficient to maintain.

Solar covers are typically made from durable UV-resistant materials tailored for prolonged outdoor use. But bubble wrap has become a creative, inexpensive alternative some pool owners use in place of a fitted solar blanket.

Can You Use Bubble Wrap as a Solar Pool Cover

Can Bubble Wrap Be Used as a Solar Pool Cover Alternative?

Bubble wrap allows sunlight to pass through its transparent plastic, warming the pool water underneath. The trapped air inside the bubbles provides a degree of insulation. So bubble wrap can mimic some of the heating effects of a real solar cover.

However, bubble wrap has considerable limitations when used as a DIY pool cover. It lacks the durability and performance of purpose-built solar blankets. Still, temporary bubble wrap can reduce evaporation and harness solar heat until you’re ready to purchase a real pool cover.

Pros of Using Bubble Wrap as a Solar Pool Cover

Bubble Wrap as a Solar Pool Cover

The main advantage of using bubble wrap is its low cost, especially if recycling shipping materials for free. It provides a temporary solar heating solution without spending much.

The plastic allows sunlight to penetrate the bubbles, which heats the water. The air bubbles then insulate this captured warmth. So bubble wrap does replicate some solar heating and insulation capabilities.

Cons of Using Bubble Wrap as a Solar Pool Cover

Bubble wrap has significant drawbacks and limitations as a pool cover:

Lack of Durability

Bubble wrap breaks down quickly in the sun’s UV rays. The plastic becomes brittle and degraded. Soon small plastic pieces begin flaking off into the pool, creating maintenance issues.

Doesn’t Seal Out Debris

Bubble wrap sits loosely on the pool. Gaps between the bubbles and edges allow debris to sneak into the water. It doesn’t block debris as effectively as a tight-fitting solar cover.

Hard to Handle

Bubble wrap is unwieldy and challenging to remove and replace daily. A fitted solar cover is easier to roll or fold. Bubble wrap lacks these handling conveniences.

Appearance Issues

Bubble wrap looks messy on a pool. The haphazard plastic detracts from the pool’s appearance. It lacks the tidy uniformity of a real solar blanket.

Environmental Concerns

As plastic pieces flake off the degrading bubble wrap, they can enter the water supply. This plastic debris causes environmental concerns.

Safety Risks

Wet bubble wrap is slippery. Deteriorating plastic pieces also pose choking hazards for kids and pets. Caution is required when using bubble wrap poolside.

How to Properly Source Bubble Wrap for Pool Use?

Properly Source Bubble Wrap for Pool Use

When seeking bubble wrap for pool use, try to find UV-resistant plastic or at least long-lasting shipping material. Shipping stores often have used bubble wrap available for recycling. Or purchase new bubble wrap in bulk from packaging suppliers.

For best results, look for long-lasting bubble wrap made from UV-resistant plastic formulated to withstand sun exposure. Standard bubble wrap will break down rapidly in outdoor conditions.

Cutting and Sizing the Bubble Wrap

Measure your pool carefully to cut the bubble wrap to the proper dimensions. Make sure to account for an overhang of 6-12 inches around the entire perimeter. This compensates for the lack of tight edge seals created by proper solar covers.

Use strong packing tape or adhesive to seal the seams between bubble wrap sheets. Securely bonding the seams prevents gaps that allow debris intrusion.

Installing the Bubble Wrap Solar Cover

  • Thoroughly clean and dry the top ledge around the pool edge. This ensures solid adhesion.
  • Place the bubble wrap over the pool, unfolding to avoid trapping air pockets.
  • Weigh down the edges using rocks, sandbags, or other heavy objects. These keep the bubble wrap from flying off or floating on the pool surface.

Maintenance and Storage of the Bubble Wrap Cover

Check the bubble wrap regularly for breakdown and holes. Patch small tears with waterproof tape. However,m extensive deterioration requires replacing the entire sheet.

When not in use, store the bubble wrap out of direct sunlight and protect from weather exposure or animals. This preserves its condition.

Remove any bits of plastic that detach from deteriorating bubble wrap to prevent them from entering the pool water.

The Verdict on Bubble Wrap as a Solar Pool Cover

Bubble wrap can be an innovative, low-cost pool heating solution in a pinch. The air bubbles provide a degree of insulation, while the plastic allows sunlight to warm the water.

However, bubble wrap’s lack of durability in outdoor conditions limits its usefulness. It requires frequent replacement and careful maintenance. The wrap doesn’t prevent debris as well as a fitted solar blanket either.

For short-term use, bubble wrap can supplement solar heating and reduce evaporation until you install a real solar cover. But it is not a permanent or ideal solution.

Closing Thoughts on Bubble Wrap Solar Covers

Bubble wrap offers a creative way to gain some solar heating benefits without purchasing a costly, professional pool cover. With caution, it can extend your swim season temporarily.

However, bubble wrap’s rapid degradation and frequent replacement needs make it labor-intensive for long-term use. Investing in a durable UV-resistant solar blanket tailored for your pool is your best bet for convenience and performance.

While bubble wrap can work in a pinch, it pales in comparison to a real solar cover’s efficiency. But if used properly, bubble wrap provides a cost-effective temporary method to harness a bit of helpful solar energy.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does bubble wrap last as a solar pool cover?

Standard bubble wrap will likely degrade within 2-4 weeks in pool conditions. Heavy-duty UV-resistant bubble wrap may last 2-3 months at most before needing replacement.

Does bubble wrap heat a pool effectively?

Bubble wrap provides moderate solar heating, but cannot match the performance of a purpose-built solar blanket. Expect it to capture 30-50% of the heat from a professional cover.

Can I leave bubble wrap on my pool overnight?

Never leave bubble wrap on an unsupervised pool, especially overnight. Use caution and remove when not actively maintaining.

Does bubble wrap help keep my pool clean?

Bubble wrap can block some debris, but it does not seal out debris and insects as well as a fitted cover. Expect more frequent skimming and filtering maintenance.

Is it safe to swim with bubble wrap on the pool?

Never swim with any pool cover in place. Always remove the bubble wrap fully prior to swimming to avoid the risk of entrapment or drowning.

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