Pros & Cons of Automatic Pool Covers, Slated vs Tarpaulin

HomeFAQsPros & Cons of Automatic Pool Covers, Slated vs Tarpaulin

There are two main types of automatic cover in the UK; slatted and fabric (sometimes called tarpaulin). Both have their benefits and drawbacks, which we will look at here.

Slatted Covers

Slatted covers are interlocking PVC or Polycarbonate which can be installed in the pool underwater, or on an above-ground roller. They float on the surface of the water and rely on its natural physical properties to float across the pool. They are opened and closed using a 24volt (low voltage) drive motor, and the most common type of slats are solar PVC. They are hollow (like a double-glazing panel), coloured black underneath a clear top layer and have a vacuum which heats up. The air gap also stops radiant heat loss through the cover during the night – again, just like a double-glazed panel.

Worldwide, slatted covers make up approximately 80% of the market due to their reliability and simplicity. They are dependent on the water level in the pool being correct for them to open and close. Compass pools are fitted with an overflow as standard, and have an option of a digital auto top-up. Polycarbonate covers provide additional protection from heavy hail storms common in Europe and greater impact protection.

Benefits of a slatted cover:

  • Reduces convection heat loss
  • Eliminates evaporation heat loss
  • Captures solar gains (solar version)
  • Frictionless roller
  • Ultra-quiet
  • Can support 100kg per square metre
  • Maintenance free motors

Fabric Safety Covers

The other option for automatic covers is what is known as fabric, or tarpaulin, safety covers. They are made from a thin PVC (similar to the kind used on bouncy castles), and are available in flat colours. Fabric covers operate on tracks along the edge of the pool, either over the top of the coping or underneath. Heat loss evaporation is eliminated over the area of the cover; however, they also provide no real solar gain to the water.

Fabric covers are powered by a hydraulic motor, which can be fairly noisy as they take considerable force to move the cover. This drives a complex pulley mechanism to pull the cover along the track using stainless steel braided cables. Motors will require regular maintenance and service to keep pullies working, as grit and debris can get into tracks.

Outdoor pools will require a pump on top of the cover when closed. This is to prevent water pooling from rain, which can cause damage to the cover and pool if the swimming pool water level is low. Generally, these covers are more sensitive to user error. 

  • Eliminates evaporation heat loss
  • Seals your pool completely
  • Can support a considerable weight depending on the mounting method

We can fit both types of cover to a Compass Pool however we would always recommend a slatted cover for the above reasons.

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