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The Best Solar Cover Reels for Inground Pools

by Matt Giovanisci | Last Updated: July 14, 2020

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If you use a solar pool cover, you’re ahead of the game, getting lots of benefits from warmer water to lower energy bills. But deploying and removing it is a headache. Or is it? Not with a solar cover reel, it’s not.

And after a ton of research, we found the VINGLI Pool Reel to be the best bang for your buck. It’s affordable, durable, and works for many types of inground pools.

Our Top Pick
VINGLI Aluminum Solar Cover Reel Solar
$153.95

A great value when compared to other solar cover reels on the marketing. It features a grooved 3-section aluminum pipe design (no drooping) to avoid strap fall off. It's solid, the legs are stainless, the reel is aluminum (so nothing can rust) and the wheels are made of large full solid tires.

Buy Now On Amazon
If you click this link and make a purchase, we earn a commission at no additional cost to you. July 15, 2020 12:43 am UTC

For our upgrade option, we chose the Auto Pool Reel System. It’s a jump in price, but it’s the only solar cover reel that’ll uncover and COVER your pool with the click of a button!

Our Upgrade Pick
The Auto Pool Reel: Fully Automatic Solar Cover Reel
Starting at $765

The Auto Pool Reel is a fully automatic pool cover reel/roller system that uncovers and covers your swimming pool with your solar pool cover for inground pools. It's hands-free, track-less, self-retracting, self-deploying, with no pulling or manual cranking.

Buy Now On Amazon
If you click this link and make a purchase, we earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

Disclosure: We take pride in finding the best solar cover reels. We source reviews from popular retails (like Amazon) and test these products when we can. Our posts may contain affiliate links, meaning we get a commission if you purchase through our links (at no extra cost to you). It helps us keep the lights on💡

What is a Solar Cover Reel?

There’s not much to explain, really. The name says it all. A solar cover reel is a way to:

Do You Need a Reel For Your Solar Cover?

Honestly, no. But if you have a solar cover, you know how much of a pain it is to take the cover on and off your pool. Especially if you have a large inground pool.

Plus, where do you store your solar cover when you’re not using it? A solar cover reel lets you store it right next to the pool so it’s always there when you need to it.

How Do You Use a Solar Cover Reel?

The device sits on the deck at one end of your inground pool. It consists of a long, metal pole extended between two T-bars, one of which usually has wheels to make it easy to move around. This is nice because once that wet cover is rolled up, it can be a little heavy. Some models can be permanently installed on the pool deck.

Suspended from the long middle bar are several heavy-duty straps with clips on the end. Those clips are attached to the edge of the cover to allow the cover to be rolled onto the reel.

On one end of the solar cover reel is a hand crank or a wheel. This is what you’ll turn to spool the cover onto the metal rod.

It’s a simple design, really. But it makes such a difference in being able to maneuver your cover quickly, easily, and without throwing your back out or inventing new curse words.

Solar Cover Reel

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The Pool Care Handbook

Features We Looked For

While the overall design is pretty standard from one solar cover reel to the next, you will find a few differences between models that can make a difference in what you choose for your pool.

Aluminum or Stainless Steel Telescopic Pole

Both metals are sturdy and can stand up to the elements. The deciding factor will be how large your pool is, which correlates to how large the cover is. If you have a big pool, the cover will be bigger, and therefore heavier, so stainless steel may be a little better able to hold the cover and remain sturdy.

Plastic or Rubber Wheels

Some of the less expensive models use thin, plastic wheels. After a few years of being exposed to pool water and the sun, it’s possible that plastic will begin to crack and deteriorate.

Also, because plastic wheels can’t really grip the deck surface, there’s a chance that when you’re trying to reel in your cover, the whole shebang might fall into the pool. Kind of defeats the purpose, huh?

Thicker, rubber wheels can stand up to the elements a little better, and they get better purchase on the deck. They also last longer, saving you the time and money of having to replace the reel (or at least the wheels) down the road.

Embedded or Hook and Loop Straps

How the straps are connected to the metal bar can make a difference in how well the reel pulls in the cover. Some solar cover reels use hook-and-loop straps, while others embed them in the bar via grooves in the metal.

Mil Accommodation

If you’ve never seen a solar pool cover, it looks like a huge sheet of bubble wrap. Yes, the temptation to pop all those giant bubbles is overwhelming. You must resist, though, because it’s those bubbles that magically heat your pool while the cover is on.

Solar Pool Cover

The cover is made from a thick grade of plastic. The thickness of this plastic is measured in mil.

This is a standard unit of measure in the United States that equates to one-thousandth of an inch. Solar pool covers most often measure 8 mil, 12 mil, or 16 mil.

The higher the mil, the thicker the plastic, and the sturdier the cover will be. Thicker covers may also be more expensive, but they can be worth the up-front investment to have a cover that heats your pool more efficiently and lasts longer.

Now, when you’re looking for a solar cover reel, some of them will list their compatibility with covers by mil. So if your solar cover measures 16 mil, make sure you don’t select a solar cover reel that only works with 8 mil or 12 mil covers.

Important: Always remove a solar blanket from the pool before allowing anyone to swim, especially small children and pets. Partially removing it or folding it back isn’t enough. It’s possible for them to become trapped under the blanket. It must be completely removed to avoid this risk.

The Best Solar Cover Reels for Inground Swimming Pools

You’ve got your solar cover, you know what to look for in a solar cover reel. All that’s left to do is choose the one that’ll work best for your cover and pool.

The VINGLI Aluminum Solar Cover Reel

The VINGLI has all the features you’re looking for and makes rolling and unrolling a solar cover easy. The durable, rust-resistant aluminum pipe has three lockable sections to prevent sagging from holding a heavy cover. Stainless steel legs and large, rubber wheels add stability. The grooved reel rod design means the embedded straps stay put.

The center rod is telescopic, so it can adjust for pools that measure 6 feet to 18 feet wide. Once the cover is rolled up, the reel locks to keep it in place. It also sits a little higher than some other solar cover reels, making it a little easier to use. Cover clips are included.

Our Top Pick
VINGLI Aluminum Solar Cover Reel Solar
$153.95

A great value when compared to other solar cover reels on the marketing. It features a grooved 3-section aluminum pipe design (no drooping) to avoid strap fall off. It's solid, the legs are stainless, the reel is aluminum (so nothing can rust) and the wheels are made of large full solid tires.

Buy Now On Amazon
If you click this link and make a purchase, we earn a commission at no additional cost to you. July 15, 2020 12:43 am UTC

The Auto Pool Reel System

We learned that The Auto Pool Reel is the only fully automatic solar pool cover reel that covers and uncovers your pool. Let me repeat that: it COVERS your pool. Unlike every other solar cover reel on earth, even if it’s automatic, you still have to manually pull the cover the pool yourself.

The Auto Pool Reel is completely hands-free, trackless, self-deploying, self-retracting with no manual cranking, no pulling, no strings, no tethers, or cables. This is all done with a push of a button. And you can even set the speed.

Our Upgrade Pick
The Auto Pool Reel: Fully Automatic Solar Cover Reel
Starting at $765

The Auto Pool Reel is a fully automatic pool cover reel/roller system that uncovers and covers your swimming pool with your solar pool cover for inground pools. It's hands-free, track-less, self-retracting, self-deploying, with no pulling or manual cranking.

Buy Now On Amazon
If you click this link and make a purchase, we earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

The Best Solar Pool Cover Reel for an Above Ground Pool?

To tell the truth, it’s been very hard to find a decent above ground solar cover reel. I’ve personally tested several throughout my years in the pool industry and I haven’t found one I could confidently recommend.

I’ll continue to keep my eye out. But I suggest that if you have an above ground pool, stick with taking the cover on and off yourself. It’ll be much easier than installing a solar cover reel every season.

If you have a fairly large above ground pool, I recommend cutting the cover into more manageable pieces so it’s easier to remove. Don’t worry, the cover will still work when it’s cut.

Ready to Get Things Rolling On and Off Your Swimming Pool?

Why settle for cutting up your solar cover to make it easier to maneuver? Or inviting five friends over to help you fold it up? You can easily deploy and roll up your cover alone with the right solar cover reel.

Select one that fits your pool and your cover, and then choose between a few extra features, and you’ll be back to enjoying your warm pool before you can say, “Roll ’em!”

Happy Swimming!

Matt Giovanisci, the founder of Swim University®, started in the pool and spa industry at age 13 and moved to bigger companies along the way, helping thousands of pool and hot tub owners every year. He wanted to share his knowledge and unique teaching style on a larger scale, so he launched Swim University® in 2007. Since then, he's worked to make pool and hot tub care easy for over 10 million homeowners. And each year, he continues to help more people with water chemistry, cleaning, and troubleshooting.

Frustrated by adding chemicals and trying to keep your pool clear all the time?

We cut out all the confusion of pool maintenance in this easy-to-read illustrated ebook and video course. It'll help you save $100 right away on pool care!

Click here to learn more
The Pool Care Handbook

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