Owning and maintaining a swimming pool is expensive, and whilst it is also one of life’s greatest luxuries, it can be so frustrating to find – having spent lots of money already on keeping the pool clean, well-lit, and in working order – that when the sun goes down, it’s suddenly too cold to swim in. Few things could surely be worse; after all, one of the main attractions of owning your own pool is getting to swim in warm water year round, rather than in the bitter coldness of the sea.
The majority of heat loss from a pool which has basked in sun all day is the loss of heat from the water’s surface at night, meaning that during the evening and dark hours, and well into the morning, your pool can become an unfortunately unappealing place. Thankfully, there are remedies for this which don’t break the budget, and solar pool rings – also known as solar sun rings – are one such remedy. These simple, passive inventions operate quite simply: they sit on the surface of your pool during the day, trapping heat to be released overnight.
The only problem is… it seems that however ingenious the idea, the execution leaves a lot to be desired. For this reason, we’ll be taking just a brief look at the very best the market has to offer, but would generally recommend that you think about investing in a thermal cover for your pool, or a solar pool heater, instead of these – often cheaper, but inarguably less effective – alternatives.
Having surveyed the market, and ascertained that few solar pool rings are up to the task they purport to be, we have still managed to find you a few items which really do work, and which customers have reviewed highly enough for us to include on this list. Here are their pros and cons, at a glance!
Solar Sun Rings Pool Heater – Set of 6
Shaped like a small frisbee, with a cute, attractive palm tree and beach motif, this pack of 6 solar sun rings from Solar Sun Rings lay atop the surface of your swimming pool during the day, harnessing the heat from the sun – 50% of which they send through to heat your water during the day, and 50% of which is kept between their two layers, to be released at night, once the sun has gone down.
It really is as simple as that. No batteries, no electronics, just a simple passive invention which ensures that the heat loss your pool would usually experience is minimised as effectively as is possible. Utilising heavyweight U.V resistant vinyl, these rings function similarly to a pool cover, except with these you can still swim about, without having to take a cover off and on. This is water heating technology at its most fundamental.
- Simple, straightforward passive technology requiring no installation
- Sun rings allow you to swim whilst they capture heat
- 6 is the perfect pack sized for small-mid sized pools
- Not as effective as solar pool heaters
Solar Sun Rings Pool Heater – Set of 3
Solar Sun Rings (or SSR) are the only brand featured on this list, as unfortunately they’re the only brand seemingly reliable enough to feature, when it comes to solar sun rings. Given that the products are the same, and it’s only the size of the package that changes (this one providing 3 sun rings), the only major difference in buyer consideration is budget.
If you’re not looking to break the bank, but still want to do something about the loss of heat from your swimming pool, then this is probably the package for you. However, 3 really isn’t enough to get the full potential out of this water heating technology.
- Most affordable package on the list
- Attractive design
- Magnetic ‘anchors’ keep them where you want them whilst you swim
- Not enough (even by manufacturer’s guidelines) to capture enough heat to keep a small-mid sized pool warm
- Not as effective as solar pool heaters
Solar Sun Rings Pool Heater – Set of 10
The most expensive of the three packages we’re featuring on this solar pool rings list, it is undoubtedly, however, also the most effective. If you’ve a mid-large sized pool, then you’ll want to take a look at this solar sun ring deal from Solar Sun Rings – the leading brand on this innovative technology.
Ten of these rings, built with two sheets of heavyweight U.V resistant vinyl – the central layer holds insulating air – will get closest to delivering you the effectiveness of an insulating cover, without robbing you of the use of your pool whilst they work. With magnets to attach them to each other, and thus move them into the sunniest part of the pool, or away from where you’re swimming or reclining, we recommend you take a look at this package if you want water heating technology without shelling out for a potentially even more expensive cover or heater.
- Most effective package on the list
- Best version of these products on the market
- Very expensive
- Still not nearly as effective as alternative technologies – covers and solar pool heaters
How Do Solar Pool Rings Work?
If you’re still unsure, it might be wise to take a moment and read about how solar pool rings actually work. Solar pool rings, or solar sun rings are a passive technology. What this means is that contrary to the technology we tend to think of when we hear solar – solar panels, solar power, solar electricity – there is nothing electrical about these products. Instead, solar pool rings work passively, without moving parts or motors or any need for generation.
Solar pool rings are designed to insulate your pool, keeping it warm into the night, long after the sun has sank. In short, they do so by trapping warm air in between two layers of UV-resistant vinyl, heated during daylight hours. Once the sun sets, the trapped warm air is diffused into the pool’s water in order to keep it at a desirable temperature. In addition to actively warming the water, the ‘raft’ (or layer) of pool rings – which you are encouraged to cover up to 70-80% of your pool with – acts as an insulation, stopping heat from dissipating overnight.
To be more specific, solar pool rings are two layers of UV-resistant inside a flotation ring, with a gap between them filled with air. The top vinyl layer, which is clear, acts as a magnifying glass, intensifying the heat and brightness of the sun’s rays through the centre of the ring. The middle layer of air is then heated by about 50% of these rays converted to heat by the blue bottom vinyl, whilst the other 50% sunlight passes through to heat the pool. Come nightfall, the retained 50% is dispersed into the water of the pool to keep it warm overnight and first thing in the morning.
Moreover, the flotation rings of these passive solar products are equipped with magnets, allowing them to be joined into a raft of customisable shape, ensuring that you can cover up to 70-80% of your pool’s surface. The magnets are not so strong that someone trapped underwater or falling through them could not easily break the raft. The raft apparently prevents water and chemicals from evaporating, saving you water and chemicals up to the percentage of your pool covered by the raft of rings. They are also built to be used alongside pool cleaners, and will not impact the effectiveness of pool cleaners.
Pros and Cons of Solar Pool Rings
When it comes to products which claim to do so much, for such a fair price, it is only prudent to first carefully consider the pros and cons:
- Passive technology means no noise and no maintenance. Without requiring an expensive motor or generator to run, solar panels to position, clean and maintain, or lots of wiring near your pool water, perhaps one of the biggest attractions of solar pool rings is that they are super low-maintenance. Aside for keeping them clean and clear, so as to maximise their ability to magnify sunlight, you don’t really have to maintain them in any other way, ever!
- Easy to use. Unlike solar pool heaters (which we would still recommend to be your best bet), sun rings can be put into use by just about anyone, and without having to spend hours leafing through jargon-heavy instruction manuals. With a little air provided orally, your sun rings can be out of the package and on the water in less than an hour (after relaxing into shape). No wiring, no fuss.
- Minimising the loss of chemicals and water through evaporation. Perhaps one of the more understated perks of solar sun rings is their passive ability to prevent the evaporation of your expensively chemically-balanced water from your pool when in direct sunlight. Because the UV-resistant vinyl of the sun rings only harnesses the sun’s power one way, it stops water from evaporating through it in the other direction.
- Expensive. No matter which way you look at it, solar sun rings are pretty extraordinarily expensive, for the minimal amount of heat preservation which they offer. And since you are advised by their manufacturers to cover about 70-80% of your pool with them, the cost can quickly skyrocket, especially if you’re lucky enough to have a large pool. For their effectiveness, the cost is hardly worth it for large pool owners, who we would recommend to research solar pool heaters instead.
- Ineffective. For all that the design behind solar sun rings seems pretty ingenious, we’re sad to say that they just don’t work very well. Customer reviews have alerted us to the fact that whilst they do of course retain some heat, it either does not last very long, or is so negligible as to be unnoticeable by late-night swimmers.
- Your pool benefits from exposure to sunlight – the heat and power of the sun’s rays decreasing the chances that algae and mustard algae build up on the surface of the pool. Whilst sun rings are designed to still filter sunlight through to the water, and rafts of sun rings have triangular gaps at regular intervals, there is still no denying that the large portion of the pool they cover could be detrimental to the effectiveness of sunlight at keeping your pool algae-free.
What should you be looking out for when shopping for solar pool rings?
Size of pool
This is a crucial consideration to make and, we’d say, the first thing to think about. Solar Sun Rings as a company have their own size-guide chart, which you’ll see on any on of the Amazon pages we’ve directed you to above. Essentially, however, the bigger your pool, the more heat can escape from it at night, and thus the more solar sun rings you’ll need to keep your pool warm. We think 6 is a good starting point for any small-mid size pool owner.
This may seem an obvious one, but have a think about why you’re here, before you decide on a package to buy. If your pool is a little colder than you’d like – during the day or at night – then you’re probably one of the people solar pool rings will work best for, as they can deliver a relatively cost-effective means of increasing your pool’s temperature a fraction. If, however, your pool requires a much more reliable and significant increase in heat, then we would seriously recommend considering investing in a solar pool heater, rather than these less effective products.
This is an easy one, what’s your budget? Solar sun rings are expensive for what little heat insulation they offer, but – having said that – they still might be the preferable option, compared to the impracticality of a solar insulation cover, or solar pool heater. If you can stretch, however, then don’t hesitate, buy a or even DIY solar heater, rather than skimping on cash and ending up unsatisfied.
Ease of use
This is another important thing to consider. Solar pool rings, for all their faults, are undeniably easy to use – just inflate, arrange or ‘anchor’ with magnets, and throw them in the pool. They really could not be more simple to ‘install’, whereas a pool cover or solar pool heater will require a much more hands-on approach. If it’s a quick and easy solution to a minor problem you’re after, then solar sun rings are for you; if you need something more stable, long-lasting, and cost-effective in the long run, we recommend you stop by our article on the best solar pool heaters on the market for a more reliable alternative.
Having researched the market, we determined two major things for you to consider. One, plain and simple, solar sun rings really aren’t that effective, and despite the ingenuity of their design, you’d need to spend a fair bit, and potentially clog up the swimming-space of your pool with solar pool rings before you achieved your desired levels of temperature retention. And two, of all the solar pool rings on the market, there’s really only one brand – Solar Sun Rings – that are worth your time. As such, we would recommend that you turn your attentions instead to the purchase of a solar pool heater – a technology designed to keep your pool at a nice, constant temperature by utilising the power of the sun, and not taking up any space on the surface of your swimming pool.
Check out our updated Pinterest board with the best solar pool rings:
Solar sun rings are formed of two layers, and as sunlight passes through the top layer, it traps a little (about 50%) of the light’s heat in the space between the layers (acting effectively as insulation). When the sun goes down, and the rings are no longer being hit by sunlight, the warmth from the insulation is slowly dispersed into the cooling waters of your pool, keeping it a little warmer than it otherwise would be at night.
Solar sun rings are comprised of two sheets of heavyweight U.V resistant vinyl layers, surrounded by an inflatable hoop which helps keep them afloat. Regardless of how effective they can or can’t be, they are undeniably durable and simple in their construction.
This depends on several factors, but the easiest way to ascertain this for yourself is simply to ask yourself how big the heating issue you’ve got on your hands is. If your pool is only under-temperature at certain times of the year, or for only a short period of time each day; if it is always under-temperature, but only by a small margin, then solar sun rings may well be the solar swimming pool heating remedy you need. However, if your pool is greatly below your desired temperature, or very often feels like it requires heating up, then you’d be much better off with a solar pool heater instead.
We’re glad you asked – yes there is! The best way to harness the sustainable, green and environmentally-friendly energy of the sun to heat your pool (and keep it at your optimal temperature) is without doubt getting yourself a solar pool heater, which you can read about (and discover the best related products on the market), here.
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