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Pros & Cons of Automatic Pool Covers, Slated vs Tarpaulin

There are two main types of automatic swimming pool covers in the UK: slatted and fabric (often called tarpaulin). Both types of cover have their various advantages and disadvantages, which we will take a look at in more detail below.

Slatted Covers

Slatted covers are made from interlocking PVC or Polycarbonate. They can be installed in pools either underwater, or on an above-ground roller, resting on the water’s surface and relying on the pool’s natural physical properties to float. They can be opened and closed using a 24volt (low voltage) drive motor, with the most common type of slats being solar PVC. They are hollow (like a double-glazing panel), coloured black underneath a clear top layer, and have a vacuum which heats up. They also have an air gap to prevent heat loss through the cover during the night.

Slatted covers are the most popular type of pool cover across the world, making up approximately 80% of the market. This is mainly thanks to the reliability and simplicity they offer. However, in order for them to work properly, they depend on the pool’s water level being correct so that they can open and close effectively. Compass Pools are fitted with an overflow as standard, and have the option of a digital auto top-up.

Likewise, polycarbonate covers are able to withstand heavy hail storms, so are a lot more durable than other types of pool covers on the market.

Benefits of Slatted Covers:

  • Reduce convection heat loss.
  • Eliminate evaporation heat loss.
  • Capture solar gains (solar version).
  • Frictionless roller.
  • Ultra-quiet.
  • Can support 100kg per square metre.
  • Maintenance-free motors.

Fabric Safety Covers

One of the main alternatives to automatic slatted covers is the fabric, or tarpaulin, safety cover. These are made from thin PVC (similar to those used on bouncy castles), and are available in flat colours. They operate on tracks along the edge of the pool, either over the top of the coping or underneath. While this may eliminate heat loss evaporation over the cover’s area, it doesn’t provide any real solar gain to the water underneath.

Fabric covers are powered by a hydraulic motor, which can be fairly noisy, driving a complex pulley mechanism to pull the cover along the track using stainless-steel braided cables. This takes substantial force to move the cover, so the motor will require regular maintenance to ensure it carries on working effectively.

For outdoor pools, using this type of cover will require the additional use of a pump on top of the cover when it’s closed. This is to prevent rainwater from pooling, which can cause damage to both the cover and the pool itself – should the water level fall too low.

In general, these covers are much more sensitive to user error.

Benefits of Fabric Safety Covers:

  • Eliminate evaporation heat loss.
  • Seal pools completely.
  • Can support a considerable weight (depending on the mounting method).

Whichever cover sounds right for you, our specialist team are equipped with the necessary skills to fit it to your Compass Pool. In our opinion, we would always recommend slatted covers, since they offer a lot more benefits than fabric-based alternatives.

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