While a solar blanket helps to retain heat from the sun during the pool season when the pool is in use, a winter pool cover offers several levels of protection as part of the winterization process regardless of whether you live in an area that gets snow in the off season or not.
A good quality mesh winter safety pool cover keeps leaves and debris out of the water during winter while allowing rain and melted snow to enter the pool. A solid vinyl winter safety cover will additionally prevent water from coming in. Good quality mesh and vinyl winter covers range from $700 – $3,100 depending largely on your pool size and customizations you require. Leaves and other organic materials entering the pool over the winter not only makes pool cleaning more difficult in the spring but can also lead to algae growth as the leaves and debris decay. Safety pool covers can offer a safety feature to prevent humans and animals from falling in and suffering an injury or worse while the pool is closed.
The best quality and most useful winter pool covers are mesh-based safety covers or solid vinyl safety covers that are securely fastened to the ground around the pool to completely cover the water at all times. In that regard, we’ll concentrate on those models in this article.
What Is A Safety Pool Cover?
A safety pool cover is a mesh or vinyl covering that is used at pool closing to completely cover the pool to prevent debris from falling into the water over the winter. It also provides a level of security so that a person or animal can’t fall into the pool. This is especially important due to the potential low temperature of pool water in winter and the fact that if the water is murky or clouded, it can be difficult if not impossible to see to the bottom. A safety pool cover is one that is tightly secured on the ground all around the pool and is trampoline tight.
This is not a cheap vinyl tarp laid across the pool and held in place by bricks or rocks! We’re not going to discuss that option because it’s not viable. Why would you spend $25K – $75K or more on a pool and then cover it with a $20 tarp and some bricks? If the bricks end up falling in the pool as they often do, you have to fish them out and they may cause damage to your liner. Plus whatever debris was sitting on top of the liner before it fell in ends up in the pool making a mess. This sort of set up also offers no safety protection to prevent a person or animal from falling in and could make it worse if they get stuck in the tarp or hit by a brick(s).
Winter Pool Cover Manufacturers
Two of the most well-known manufacturers of safety pool covers for winterization are Meyco Pool Covers and LOOP-LOC. Each have multiple models which can be customized for your pool shape and personal situation. To calculate the size of the cover you need, you typically take the L X W of your pool and add 2 feet on each side to fully cover the pool while leaving enough space to add straps to hold the cover in place on the deck around your pool.
Depending on the model, you will often find that safety pool covers come in dark green, black, blue, gray or tan among other popular colors. The color is really a personal choice or to match your backyard decor more than anything else.
Below we’ll look at three popular safety cover models for both Meyco and LOOP-LOC and compare seven features of each:
Material: What is it made of? High end safety covers are typically made of a dense mesh with polyester threading or are solid covers made with high end vinyl. Other parts of the cover may include double thick straps with stainless steel springs and black yarn fabric for UV protection from the sun.
Weight: The weight in ounces of a 1 square yard piece of the pool cover. The more expensive the brand and model, the more the weight in general terms as the mesh or vinyl becomes denser and blocks more sun and UV.
Benefits: A shortlist of the main benefits of each model.
Particle filtering: The more expensive models filter out smaller and more particles keeping the water clean(er) over the winter.
Sun blocking: The more sunlight that is blocked, the better. Sun kills chlorine so in winter the longer you can get chlorine in the pool to survive, the more crystal clear the water come springtime. The more light blocked, the less likely you’ll see algae, too.
Warranty: Higher quality safety covers often come with 12 or 15 year warranties as we’ll see below.
Lifespan: How may winters can you expect to use the cover? The lifespan also depends on how harsh your winters are and how well you care for the covers.
Cost per square foot: An expected price range of the cost of each model per square foot. You’ll find that the bigger your cover, generally the less it costs per square foot. The more add-ons you choose like adding a step, customizing the shape, etc will add to the cost. Shop around for the best price as covers often go on sale. Check prices during the late fall and winter when the pool business is slow as they might be trying to clear out stock for the spring.
Meyco Safety Pool Cover Models (Costs)
Fred Meyco effectively invented the safety pool cover industry in 1960 when he received the first patent for a winter safety pool cover. Meyco produces several popular styles of safety pool covers.
|Material||Lightweight filtering mesh made from polyester bonded marine thread.||45% stronger webbing and white polyester bonded marine thread offering strength of mesh and the durability of a solid vinyl cover.||Made from ultra-light, vinyl material that blocks out water and sunlight and prevents algae growth enabling a clean pool opening in spring.|
|Weight (oz. per square yard)||4.4||6||10|
|Benefits||Lightweight, durable, low maintenance. Allows water in.||Durable with long lifespan. Allows water in.||Prevents materials from creeping into the pool over winter including water. Sold with a pump to remove water.|
|Warranty||12 years||12 years||12 years|
|Lifespan||10-15 years||10-15 years||6-10 years|
|Cost per sq ft.*||$1.15 – $2.25 depending on size.||$1.45 – $2.44 depending on size.||$1.75 – $2.62 depending on size.|
*Shop around. Prices will be higher if you need custom shapes, a step, and other features that aren’t considered standard.
LOOP-LOC Safety Pool Cover Models (Costs)
LOOP-LOC is a brand I’m familiar with as it’s the one we have for our pool. It’s a solid choice, hasn’t ripped and has maintained its strength and usefulness. LOOP-LOC is known as the Elephant Cover as they feature a tv commercial with a baby elephant walking on their pool cover to illustrate its strength.
|Material||Super dense mesh that blocks virtually all sunlight.||Virtually solid mesh with|
maximum light blocking cover.
|Premium coated vinyl material with enhanced 100% polyester Rip-Stop Scrim stops water and debris from entering water.|
|Weight (oz. per square yard)||4.7||6.7||14|
|Benefits||Rain and melted snow drains though at 35 GPM.||Blocks most sunlight, but still lets rain and melting snow drain through at 80 GPM.||Prevents water and debris from entering pool. Has water drainage panels and is sold with a pump to remove water.|
|Warranty||15 years||15 years||15 years|
|Lifespan||10-15 years||10-15 years||12-15 years|
|Cost per sq ft.*||$1.46 – $2.62 depending on size||$2.53 – $3.81 depending on size||$2.38 – $2.82 depending on size|
*Shop around. Prices will be higher if you need custom shapes, a step and other features that aren’t considered standard.
Cost Of A Safety Pool Cover
You can roughly calculate your safety pool cover size by taking the Length and Width of your pool, adding 2 feet to each side for the required overlap, and then multiplying the two numbers to get the square footage. Then take that total square footage and multiply that by the Per Square Foot costs quoted above for Meyco and LOOP-LOC models to get an idea of the total cost. These two companies produce two of the best types of mesh and vinyl brands and thus are on the more expensive side.
Expect to pay $700 – $3,100 for these brands and models of safety pool covers. The range in price and increased costs that you may experience will be based on the:
- Total size of your pool.
- Shape of your pool ie. funky shapes require more customization.
- Brand and model of the safety cover you choose and any add-ons you request ie. adding a logo, special color.
- Number of pool steps, water features and other things that will further customize the cover and add more work to its fabrication.
Being the proud owner of a green LOOP-LOC, I’m most familiar with this brand but I can also speak about pros and cons of the concept of a safety pool cover in general terms.
- If you have a pool that can be completely shielded by a safety cover that is firmly fastened to the ground as designed, you may find that virtually no leaves, twigs or other debris will make their way into the water over the winter.
- If you have a pool with a water feature or rocks or other design option that makes it difficult to 100% cover the pool, you may find that significant debris gets into the water over winter that will need to be vacuumed out come spring time. I speak from experience.
- Safety covers that completely cover the pool offer piece of mind to anyone who has small children or pets who may spend time near the pool during winter when it is closed.
- Modern, high quality safety pool covers like the brands mentioned above are very durable and should last many years, possibly longer than their warranty period when taken care of. Our LOOP-LOC is 10 years old and doesn’t appear near replacement yet.
- The extra cost of a safety pool cover that provides 95% – 100% sun and UV block and better filtration can pay for itself quickly in terms of you spending less time getting the pool ready come spring time.
- A mesh pool cover that lets water (rain, melted snow) in will help to refill the pool over the winter which can be helpful if you drain the pool for winterization because you live in a frigid area that experiences freezing winters. If you don’t drain the pool for closing, a solid vinyl cover that blocks all water from entering the pool might be more beneficial.
Mesh vs Solid Pool Cover
A mesh safety pool cover like the models referred to above include the MeycoLite and RuggedMesh models from Meyco and the LOOP-LOC and AquaXtreme models from LOOP-LOC. The mesh is designed to prevent debris like leaves, twigs, etc from falling in but allows water from rain or melted snow to pass through into the pool. But if dirty water passes through the cover, it makes the pool water dirty, too.
Solid pool covers are vinyl-built models and include the PermaGuard and ULTRA-LOC III options from the same two respective manufacturers listed above. They are called solid covers because they allow nothing through them ie. neither water nor debris passes through the cover into the pool.
What’s the difference and which design is better?
|Mesh Safety Cover||Vinyl Safety Cover (Solid)|
|Cheaper per square foot.||More expensive per square foot.|
|Lasts 10-15 years on average.||Lasts 6-10 years on average.|
|Allows water through the cover into the pool but not debris. Water could be dirty.||Doesn’t allow anything through the cover including water and debris. Pool water tends to be cleaner come spring time.|
|Requires no pump. Water filters through the mesh into the pool. No maintenance required during winter.||Requires use of a pump on top of the cover to remove water that accumulates over winter. This requires maintenance.|
|A quality cover may block 95% – 99% of sun and UV rays from the pool water.||Blocks 100% of sun and UV rays from the pool water.|
If you drain part of your pool each winter during closing (ie. you experience snow, ice and freezing temperatures), a mesh safety cover will help to refill the pool with water over the winter from rain and melted snow. In my experience with our LOOP-LOC cover, even though we drop the pool water below the skimmer and return jets each autumn for closing, the snow we get over winter fills the pool back up by spring almost perfectly. Only once was the water level too high and several times it has been slightly low come spring opening.
A solid vinyl cover on the other hand is good if you simply want nothing – no water or debris – into the pool over winter. You’ll pay more for this type of cover, it may not last as long as mesh and you’ll also need to use a pump most likely supplied with the tarp. But it will keep everything out of the pool if that’s your desire.
- The two main types of safety pool covers are made from mesh and vinyl (solid).
- Both options block debris from entering the pool but a mesh cover allows water to pass through (rain, melted snow) whereas a solid vinyl cover allows nothing to pass through.
- A mesh cover generally requires no maintenance during winter once it’s installed.
- A vinyl pool cover requires use of a pump to remove water so maintenance during the winter is necessary.
- Read more about 10 Tips To Winterize A Swimming Pool your pool.
- A winter safety pool cover isn’t to be confused with a solar pool cover which is used during the pool season to retain heat in the pool.