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DIY Solar Cover Reel: An 8-Step Process

Can you DIY solar cover reels? Yes! Besides, you don’t need to be tech or craft savvy to pull it off! 

If a manual or automated pool cover reel is out of your price range, the good news is that you can quickly and affordably build your own solar cover reel to make pool upkeep much easier.

If you’re looking for a low-cost alternative for a solar cover reel, this article is for you. In this article, we’ll go over the advantages of a solar cover reel and everything you’ll need to DIY a solar cover reel.

What Is a Solar Cover Reel?

solar cover reel is a machine that sits at one end of the pool and aids in pulling your solar cover in and out. Solar cover reels are a quick and dependable solution to manage the solar coverings on a swimming pool. 

solar pool cover with reel

Using a reel to deploy, retract, move, and store your solar cover has never been easier, whether you have an inground or above-ground pool. Besides, reels are available in a range of sizes, styles, and materials to meet your specific requirements.

Solar cover reels are quite affordable too, and making them yourself is a lot simpler than you’d expect. Pool owners will no longer have to fight with their pool cover to keep their swimming pool water warm, thanks to innovative pool solar cover reels. 

Some of the best solar pool cover reels come with built-in wheels that make moving your pool blanket out of the way a layman’s job, even when there are swimmers in the pool. 

Note that most solar cover reels come with either a single handle or multiple handles to make rolling up the solar cover more convenient.

Benefits of a Solar Cover Reel

A solar blanket is a large cover that sits on the surface of your swimming pool water. A pool cover or sun blanket is an excellent pool investment that offers several advantages. 

It naturally warms the water, keeps leaves and dirt out, decreases water evaporation, and protects your sanitizer from the harmful UV rays of the sun.

Using a solar cover as your primary heating technique or in conjunction with a heater will save you some money and also prolong your pool season’s duration – but only if your solar cover is in good operating order. 

A factor in how long do solar pool covers last is proper maintenance. Note that maintaining your solar cover will keep it from being ripped, delaminated, damaged, or soiled. Hence, a solar cover reel comes in handy in this situation.

solar reel with cover

Additionally, a solar cover reel is a must-have accessory for every solar blanket purchase since it makes using and storing your solar cover smoother and simpler. 

How Do They Work?

The device must be set up on one end of your swimming pool deck. It’s made of a long metal pole and stands on the support of two T-bars, one of which often comes equipped with wheels to make it easier to move around. 

The entire process is extremely convenient since the wet cover may become rather hefty once rolled up. Moreover, you can also permanently mount various models of these solar cover reels on the swimming pool deck. 

Several heavy-duty straps with clips on the ends are suspended from the long central bar. Those clips are affixed to the edge of the solar cover for rolling onto the reel. 

Next, you’ll find a hand crank or a wheel at one end of the solar cover reel. Crank this knob to thread the cover onto the metal rod. 

CAUTION: Being able to shift your solar coverings swiftly, comfortably, and without throwing your back out makes all the difference.

Things You’ll Need

  • PVC pipe and corresponding fittings
  • PVC pipe end caps
  • Self-Drilling/Self-Tapping Screws
  • PVC adapter sections 
  • PVC glue 
  • 90-degree PVC elbow pieces

How to DIY a Solar Cover Reel?

Here’s a glimpse at how to make your own solar cover reels:

Step 1: Measure Your Solar Cover and the Pool

To account for the PVC, measure the length of your pool and add 6 inches. Next, measure the cover’s width to estimate how long a PVC pipe you’ll need for your cover reel.

Step 2: Divide the PVC Pipes

Divide the PVC pipe such that you get a single PVC run that’s roughly the same length as the calculated distance when the pipes are linked. 

If you have a large pool and therefore a large pool cover, consider buying two segments of PVC pipe instead of a singular long one to make transportation easier. The extra 6 inches will allow the PVC pipe to rest on the swimming pool’s exterior, preventing the pool cover from sinking.

Step 3: Attach the PVC Pipes

Join several pipe pieces to form one long continuous reel on each side of the pool. To verify your length, dry-fit the PVC pipe together and place it over the pool. 

Feherguard reel with pool cover

You can now join the two parts together with some PVC primer and adhesive. Make sure you put both sections of pipe to the test.

Step 4: Install a Threaded Adapter and an End Cap

Take one of your PVC pipe end caps and place it on one end of the pipe. Install the end cap on one side of the pipe to prevent your cover reel from filling up with water. This will also reduce the possibility of any breeding ground for undesirable pests. 

On the opposite end of the pipe, you need to add a slip coupling – here is where you’ll eventually screw a threaded cap. This is also when your PVC elbow pieces with 90-degree bends come in handy.

First, attach one elbow, a short segment of the PVC pipe, and an adaptor to one end of the longer pipe. The step will be completed when you add the second elbow piece, a short piece, and another end cap.

Step 5: Use Clips To Join the PVC Pipe to the Cover

It’s now time to create some clamps to secure your pipe to the lid. If you merely attached the tarp to the PVC pipe without clips, the screws would shred the cover at the slightest of movements. 

Cut three lengths of PVC pipe with your hacksaw, and make a longitudinal cut down each pipe. The objective is to obtain a pipe segment that’s 13 times its original circumference. The end will then be fastened between the pipe and the clips to keep the pool cover in place.

Step 6: Connect the Tarp

The next step is to connect the tarp to the PVC. If your tarp doesn’t have grommet holes on either end, you can cut holes in the tarp at 1-foot intervals using scissors. 

elite reel with cover

Place one end of the tarp over one run of PVC pipe and tie it down with a waterproof string. Tie a string through each hole and around the PVC pipe until the tarp is fastened to it. 

Repeat the process for the opposite end of the tarp. Note that you may also need to trim some traps depending on the size of your pool. Make sure the tarp fits the pool’s width measurement.

Step 7: Attach the Clips to the Pipe

Attach the clips (and cover) to the pipe’s long segment using screws and a screwdriver. Tighten the screws thoroughly to prevent your solar covering from slipping. These clips will also keep the solar cover from ripping during usage.

Step 8: Put On the Solar Cover

You now cover your pool with the cover. Simply install one PVC run on each side of the pool. Additionally, you can also roll the cover-up between the two PVC runs and then store when you wish to swim.

solar pool cover reel

Things To Consider Before Making a Solar Cover Reel

While the main design is almost the same from one solar cover reel to the next, there are a few changes between models that might influence your pool choice. 

Here are a few things to consider before making your solar cover reel:

1. Telescopic Pole or Stainless Steel

Both these metals are weather-resistant and durable. The size of your pool, which is proportional to the size of the cover, will be the decisive factor.

If you have a large swimming pool, the solar covering will be larger and thus heavier. Therefore, stainless steel may be a better option for holding the cover and keeping it stable.

2. Maintenance

Your solar pool cover will be exposed to both sun and rain. If you pick anything that isn’t weather-resistant or strong enough, it’ll surely break. 

So, try to create a low-maintenance reel for your solar cover that’ll last for years by using sturdy materials.

3. Hook and Loop or Embedded Straps

The straps attached to the metal bar have a bearing on how successfully the reel pulls the cover.  Generally, there are two types of straps on reels. Some are linked to the solar cover reel, while others are embedded in it.

Note that some types of straps are less secure than integrated ones. Drilling connects them to the reel, ensuring its stability. The hook-and-loop strap is looped around the solar covering reel to make installation simple. However, it may not stay in place for long.

All in all, if you have a large pool, the hook-and-loop system may not serve you well – go with the integrated strap.

4. Length of Solar Cover

The longer the solar cover, the more material it contains. More material means a heavier solar cover. 

solar pool cover with reel

A reel’s middle tube can only support a certain weight for so long. Heavier coverings that exceed the tubing’s tolerance might cause it to bend or break.

5. Pool Size

When purchasing or creating a pool cover reel, your pool’s size and form are critical considerations. How much you spend on the solar cover reel depends on the size and shape of the pool, with a reel for a rectangular pool costing less than one for a free form pool. 

Calculate the surface area that has to be covered to determine the proper size. You might also want to consider the size of your pool fence for accurate budget predictions.

6. Dependable Wheels

If you don’t get solid wheels for your pool cover reel, be prepared to face difficulties in transferring the reel from one location to another, which is especially important for storing the device.

7. Paint the Pipe and Clamps

This is an optional step that’s only necessary if your pool is exposed to direct sunlight. Painting the PVC pipes and clamps will protect them from UV damage while enhancing their shelf life. Note that spray paint will suffice.

Why Is Having a Solar Cover Reel Worth It?

Solar cover reels, like solar swimming pool covers, are available for both above-ground and in-ground pools. These reels make it simple for pool owners to utilize their solar pool covers. However, we also have a guide on how to install a solar pool cover manually.

Solar pool cover reels also lessen the probability of damaging the solar covering by enabling seamless deployment and removal. A single person can even operate some solar pool cover reels–a plus for most pool owners.

The finest solar swimming pool cover reels are made of long-lasting, corrosion-resistant materials that can endure frequent usage and exposure to the environment and pool chemicals. 

Additionally, they increase your pool cover’s durability. When you physically remove a pool cover, it’s likely to be dragged across uneven terrain, pebbles, and other obstacles, scraping or ripping it on the side or surrounds. Furthermore, pulling a pool cover may void the guarantee that it comes with. 

However, there’s also a downside to a solar cover reel. Rollers often take up more room. So, if you have space constraints, a roller may not be the best option for you. 

Other solutions, such as a roller that sinks into the ground, could be the preferred choice. These are referred to as an in-ground or concealed pool cover roller, thanks to their seamless finish.


Hopefully, you now have all the details you need to DIY a solar cover reel for your pool. Keep in mind that you’re free to personalize your DIY cover reel as per your preferences. 

With your DIY solar cover reel, we hope you’re able to enjoy warmer pool water as well as all the other benefits described above when using solar pool covers and reels in tandem.