codeaholic

Solar Sun Rings: Anybody have them?

barco
12 years ago

Does anybody have the Solar Sun Rings and can comment on how effective they are-do they really work? Do you have the ones with magnets? Water pockets? Do they heat the pool or keep it heated through the night? Do they fly off in the wind? Are they more painful than the rollaway solar covers?

In our last pool, we had a solar cover and it was very effective but was a PITA to take on and off to go swimming, got really dirty, started popping with little blue circles everywhere, and had to be replaced every two years.

Thanks in advance.

Comments (33)

  • tresw
    12 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    They've been discussed over on TroubleFreePool forums a bit. One person complained that if there was much wind they'd all be piled up on one side of the pool. Someone else suggested that might be because they were overinflated. Several people complained about storage, they are not supposed to be stored in the sun and they make a pretty big pile when removed from the pool. There were also complaints that they inhibit the function of the skimmers (junk gets between the rings and doesn't get removed from the pool), that the magnets rust, and that they need to be constantly reinflated. To tell the truth I was pretty disappointed in the comments as they sounded like a great idea and I personally find the appearance of them less objectionable than a solar cover.

  • barco
    Original Author
    12 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    Bunch of people who really don't know what they are talking about on that site so I don't plan on going there....so thanks for summarizing for me.

    Some of the complaints you are listing are pretty generic for all solar blankets covers. They all interfere with the skimmer to some degree, they all get blown around and can even get blown off (the big ones are not immune to this thats for sure). You can't leave the big solar blankets in the sun without a cover either...and they take up alot of space on the deck even with the rollers.

    The magnets I just saw at the pool store are the "flexible" magnets...which I don't believe rust (could be wrong on that...they look like polymer)...so perhaps they changed this? They also have water anchors now as well as the magnets.

    Does it really "heat" the pool or keep it heated? I'm reading that it does not in some cases and others say that they do. Perhaps they tried it with only one or two, thinking they were heaters? The whole solar covering is not a panacea. Its work, its not perfect, there are problems...but its worth it to extend the season with just some upfront cost and a little extra work cleaning, moving them and storing.

    If they are 80% as good as the solar covers and only have the same problems as the covers, its probably worth it to me.

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  • barco
    Original Author
    12 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    FYI on the magnets and I guess a big example of becareful of what you read over the Internet. The magnets are sealed. They are polymer magnets and I am not even sure they can rust??

    They will attract metal and magnetic particles from your pool. So the rust folks are seeing is not the magnets but stuff in their pool stuck to the outside of the vinyl holding the magnet which they would normally not know about except for the solar rings. You have to periodically clean the rings and thus the magnets off. The rusted metal is completely external and not "caused" by the rings but a "side-benefit" of having the rings.

    I'm going to try them since I hate the rolled up solar cover.

  • graffster
    12 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    I was curious about them myself. I wondered how they work in regards to evaporation. We live in SW Florida and seem to be losing 2-4 inches a week! (I don't know if that's normal or not...seems like a lot to me). But our pool is a free-form, so I thought these might be just what we need.

    Anyone with comments or suggestions as far as evaporation goes?

  • tresw
    12 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    Quote: "Does it really "heat" the pool or keep it heated? I'm reading that it does not in some cases and others say that they do. "

    Yeah, I read the same. Makes it tough to figure out if they work or not. If I were to guess, I'd say they probably warm the pool up well during the day but don't do much to keep it warm at night. Since the enemy at night is evaporation and the rings only cover about 70% of the pool, they probably don't help much to keep the warmth in.

  • tresw
    12 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    Quote: "We live in SW Florida and seem to be losing 2-4 inches a week!"

    That sounds like a lot, but I'm not sure what's normal for Florida. You can always try the bucket test- set a large bucket on a step in your pool, fill it to pool level with pool water and check it after a week or more. Water loss should be about the same between the bucket and pool.

  • barco
    Original Author
    12 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    Well its probably true that 70% will cause you to loose some heat....however, they explained to me the reason its 70% and it sounds logical. They say they don't cover 100% to prevent the formation of algae and with our old pool we use to have to fight algae anytime we left the pool cover on for more than 7 days in a row. Its a trade off.

  • barco
    Original Author
    12 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    I think folks might be throwing 3 or so on, expecting the pool to heat up in 1-2 days by 4-5 degrees like its magically. It probably takes the full 70-80% and at least 3-4 days to see say a 3-4 degree temperature change. That is often the temperature between swimming and not swimming early and late in the season.

    Gonna have to try them...I'll report back if they don't work. If they do, you probably won't hear from me. ;)

  • MidTNGal
    12 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    pardon the hijack! :)

    dpdp,

    I agree with you re: TFP! Not sure why barco feels this way and would surely like to know as well. They have been a wealth of knowledge and help during this long road of building my pool. I can't say enough good things about them! I'll have to say barco, this is the first time I have EVER heard anyone have something negative to say about that site.

  • barco
    Original Author
    12 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    Do you work for "the pool store" or own one ? What is the matter are they taking away your sales of stuff that doesn't work ?

    Please put your credentials forward so I can decide to listen to you instead.

    I really don't care if anyone listens to me or not. I don't have a pool store. I also don't have such a distain for pool stores that it would make me find anyway I can to figure out how to pass out as much false information about them as they do. I went to GWU in Wash. DC in chemistry. I worked for 8 years testing water for VOC's and Inorganics at Versar and then about 10 years for a major instrument -- Finnigan MAT Instruments, making GC/MS and LC/MS equipment for chemical analysis. I was an application chemist for the company who went on site to help customers solve problems with the instruments when analyzing water....we were called firefighters because typically these were big customers threatening to return the instrumentation claiming they weren't work. I have been to the City Departments of Water to ensure they were correctly analyzing their water for Memphis, Chicago, Tulsa, and others in addition to the largest water testing laboratories in the United States. I'm an expert in water analysis under methods 524, 525, 624, 625, CLP, and a variety of other analytical water protocols.

    Now, lets keep the subject on topic please...just really interested in these Solar Rings...any "real world" experience would be helpful.

  • tresw
    12 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    Quote: "Gonna have to try them...I'll report back if they don't work. If they do, you probably won't hear from me. ;)"

    LOL! Well if you do give them a try I'd like to hear your thoughts one way or the other. They've gotten a lot of bad press, but I wouldn't exactly call the feedback "scientific" :-) I haven't done anything solar-wise for our pool yet and am still interested. I'd do a standard solar cover, but I really don't like how they look. It sure would be nice to raise the pool temp about 5 degrees right now though!

  • jennifer_in_clyde
    12 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    I've used the solar sun rings for two summers and think they work well, but are not without flaws.

    I did not really use them to "heat" my pool - although they probably helped - I relied primarily on my rooftop solar system - and used the sun rings instead of a solid cover to keep the heat in at night. I probably had 90% coverage with the rings (they say to assume the areas between the rings count as "covered") - I have a somewhat odd shaped pool - and put as many of the rings in as would fit - so there were odd areas that were uncovered - but we had fairly full coverage.

    I found they did an excellent job in retaining overnight heat. We live in an area with a lot of night wind and cool temps (in the San Francisco Bay area of CA) and before using the sun rings would lose 8-9 degrees of heat overnight - pretty much wiping out all the gains from the solar we made that day...with the solar sun rings we only lost 2-4 degrees at night - which very quickly allowed us to bring the pool up to a nice temperature (this was our experience during many parts of the year - since some days I'd get lazy and not put them back on - and except for a couple heat waves where we had still hot nights, I'd lose significantly more heat sans the rings than with them).

    So we were very pleased with the general performance.

    That said - they were a PITA in our area - we have a lot of wind - and they would blow out of the pool, they'd fold over on each other and the air levels have to be constantly adjusted. While it sounds simple to maintain the proper inflation level - it was harder than we expected. Not that it didn't make them worth using - and IMO preferable to a solid cover - just much more ongoing maintenance than I expected. Additionally because they get blown around we did get some damage to them (those pygmay date palms have sharp spines on them!)...and we had to replace several due to puncture.

    I was going to happily keep doing this - but one day searching on ebay to see if I could find good prices from wholesalers (sometimes possible) I found "plans" for a build it yourself sun ring - from someone who liked the idea - but didnt' like dealing with inflation. It's kind of like building a "hula hoop" out of pex and using solar bubble cover to fill in - we built these over the winter and are using them now (going into our third summer). I like using htem - they are a little easier to maintain and stay on the pool better - and seem to cover as well as the solar sun rings did (although I need to buy more materials - we only have 70% coverage right now and I was really happier with the heat retention aspect with fuller coverage).

    I hope this is somewhat helpful. I wouldn't hesitate to use this product again...but if you are a handy guy/gal you may also want to consider looking on ebay for build 'em yourself plans - which I consdier a slight improvement and a good replacement. (the magnets actually do NOT rust and are the one thing I really miss about the original solar rings vs the diy ones we put together - they help keep them in place and if you are in a not terribly windy zone may be plenty to keep them on your pool with no problems).

  • barco
    Original Author
    12 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    Thank you very much for your posting.

    The build it yourself method sounds interesting. So you are gluing the blue bubble cover on the tubing? I can't find the ebay ad. My wife actually suggested that we get a cover and cut it up in smaller more manageable pieces. Is there a code word to search for?

  • repair_guy
    12 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    barco,

    The guy who invented them lives right here on my town. They do work but they are not a magic wand. Overinflation is a problem but the paperwork clearly states how to inflate and lets face it most people don't read things. I sell them on my site and in all reality, they are not a big mover. They are there for people who have heard of them and thus ask us to supply and set up.

    They can blow in to one side in high wind locations. I've seen the major complaint being they tear up when they are not on the pool. Well, there is a solution for that too. The original productions had issues but i do believe they have improved steadily as most products do.

    They claim a btu of 13k per ring but how do you really measure that? In the average pool with 125,000 pounds of water, that's only about a degree per hour that they are on. I'd imagine in most areas, evap loss is greater. They do restrict loss but it's not too huge.

  • Boby Huffard
    12 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    Looks like they now have plans for other shapes too.

    Boby

    Here is a link that might be useful: solar disks

  • ron_2007
    12 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    I use these rings and luckily we don't have a wind problem. I agree with everything jennifer said above. I bought these rings to help prevent heat lost at night and I too see a 2-4 degree heat lost with these rings. With out them, I would lose around 6 degrees negating all of heat our solar system provides. Storage can be a pain though.

  • livinwell
    12 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    I am in So. Cal and I no longer use the solar sun rings. I have solar heat and used them to help retain heat.

    They do work and you don't have to cover every inch of the water. They also helped to increase the temperature when they were left in the pool during the day.

    To say they were a PITA is to put it mildly, but that is only my opinion. I am not someone who bought 3, I had 10 and was thinking of adding more until I got tired of all the things mentioned above. I didn't second guess a bit when I tossed them all into the trash can. Chalked it up to another life lesson. :)

    As far as the TFP comment goes, there is alot of knowledge on that site if you are interested in "how to" about anything related to pool build, pool equipment and pool chemicals. Like GW, it is a resource that should be appreciated, especially by those who glean and do nothing to contribute.

    In case there is disbelief about the number of rings used...

  • duraleigh
    12 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    "barco" was banned from troublefreepool in less than 48 hours after joining.

    It wasn't his astonishing ignorance of pool water chemistry (which was formidable) but rather his argumentative and rude posts.

  • barco
    Original Author
    12 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    I was rude on my last two posts, because there were going to be my last two posts. Argumentative....you mean the pool desk jocks turned chemistry experts were arguring with me about chemistry.

    I think this site is much better.

    Anyway, thanks for the Ebay link..!!! Also thanks for the real world experience on the links. I don't think any of these solar covers are a panacea just trying to find the best one with the worst secondary problems. Sounds like making your own might be the way to go...then at least your not kicking yourself for spending a lot of money and your expectations are lower. I believe thats what I'm hearing.

  • tresw
    12 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    I also want to thank everyone for their valuable feedback on these rings since I've still been thinking about them as well. It sounds like maybe the eBay versions are worth considering, all the benefits of the inflatable rings without the hassle of keeping them inflated. Anyone using the ebay rings have comments about their wind resistance? We have some really crazy winds here, it's not unusual to get 20 & 30 mph winds on otherwise nice days.

    Quote: "Looks like they now have plans for other shapes too. "

    Now that looks like an interesting idea, those would certainly be easier to store because they could be stood up on end.

  • jennifer_in_clyde
    12 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    tresw - when I bought the plans - we had more than one shape included in our plans (a round and an octogon) - I think these could be built in LOTS of shapes effectively. We make rounds - since well, that was what I wanted to manage (my DH thought a larger octogon and round mix would work best - but I liked the idea that they'd be uniform in size and color...the other shapes are made with PVC and the rounds are made with "aqua pex" a flexible blue tubing - which matched the solar bubble material we used better - what can I say - while I'm about efficency - if I can make things match and look nice I'd much rather ;-)

    We HAVE had these blow out in high winds - but what I think happens is our Polaris will while running sometimes move some of the rings so they overlap - thus leaving a little "edge" that the wind can catch - with higher winds - ours can be 20-30 also, they can blow out or flip over onto other rings. What I can say is that this happens a LOT less...and they aren't damaged by sailing away - or at least not so far - and I've had them on the pool since February. They also as more solid units don't fold over on themselves in the wind. If I were better about pulling them before our cleaner ran, I don't think we'd have any problems (or if I checked on them after to make sure none were pushed by it's hose and tail).

    As far as storate - I stack them up like hula hoops on the deck and throw a beach towel over them...the diamater is much smaller than the SSR inflatables (which is a better fit for my pool) - so they don't take up much space.

    And I can vouch - those plans are incredibly detailed - and if you follow the instructions to a T they work easily. We had to buy some of the specified materials on line - as we did not want to try to "fake it" with something similiar until/unless we knew what we were doing (for example aquapex is sold in stores in the east - but NOT in CA, you need a contractors lisence - so we bought it from an online store).

    barco - you don't glue them on - you use "plugs" from drip hosing (the kind you use to block a hole you no longer want in your system). So far they are holding great!

  • repair_guy
    12 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    'Looks like they now have plans for other shapes too."

    If they can make them in "x's" and "o's" I'm there. Can you imagine pool sized tic tac toe?

    How about a hangman pool cover now?

  • barco
    Original Author
    12 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    Jennifer, you sold me. I just bought the set of plans...if nothing else...we'll try one and if it doesn't work, we'll only be out $10 instead of the $200. As far as blowing away, it sounds like the tubes can be filled with pebbles to weigh them down....also, can't you put water on top, inside of the rings. On our solar cover...we use to do that and it would at least keep part of the cover in the pool. I don't really have time to build these....but right now, I'm in the tired of getting ripped off do it yourself mood.

    I wonder if you can use "real" hula hoops. They have them at the dollar store for, well, a $1.00 My wife said she saw some there last time she was there.

  • jennifer_in_clyde
    12 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    barco - honestly I think you could - and then use the bubble cover and plugs the same way. I don't know if I'd want to weight them down with pebbles - I think they'd be harder to get out of the pool - but that's just me. because the cover is attached only in places (is not solid all the way around) water tends to run back into the pool...there are probably ways to weight them in better - but honestly I haven't tried anything yet - hmm - I see a summer experiment coming!

  • pointlessdude
    12 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    Did 10 rings in my 14x32 pool last week, I have a full screen enclosure, so normally a bit lower water temp than the neighbors, but the water went from 72 up to 79/80 over a somewhat windy week with peak temps in the mid 80's.

    Downsides have been they are a bit of a pain to take in and out and about 5 of them wont lay totally flat, but I am still playing with the inflation levels.

    I have never done a solar blanket because I did not like the safety challenges with kids and pets, so these seemed to be a good compromise. They are easy to push out the way or throw up on the deck, probably a similar effort to pulling a full solar blanket over. Getting them back in and the magnets lined up takes a little bit of work

    I am not so sure they are providing any solar heating, but they probably are preventing heat loss at night. Spent about $265 for all of them with from a local store, happy so far...

  • jkjs
    11 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    I found this thread and tried the link for the build your own solar rings on ebay but the listing has been removed. I've searched the web and can't seem to find a do it yourself version.

    Would anyone be willing to share the plans that they purchased?

    If someone has a link for where I could buy the plans that would be great as well.

    Thanks in advance!

  • sogood007
    11 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    I purchased the SSR last season and so far have a mixed feeling on it. Before SSR, I have also used the regular solar cover (blue bubble one). I didn't like regular solar cover because of the reel which need to place across my pool. Because of the landscape and layout, I can't place the reel at the far end of the pool. It is a hazard for my young kids, which may trip and fall. So I didn't use the solar cover since I have my kids. When I saw the SSR, it seems to be a good idea. Frankly, it does work. My pool temperature maintain much higher with it. My pool does have solar panel. The SSRs are able to reduce the lost of heat at night. It wasn't that bad to take it out and put it down every time I used the pool. I usually just pile up them on inside the pool. It took a few minutes for pile them up and lay them out.

    The main problem is the durability. After one seasons, half of the SSRs leak (I had 16). It is much harder to pile them up and lay them out if they are leak. I tried to call the manufacturer and they asked me to send them back for inspection to see whether it is a manufacturing defect which I haven't done so yet. It is a pain to send them back and don't know whether they are agreed as defect or normal tear and wear.

    I am thinking my next experiment is DIY SSR. It is not a rocket science, you just need to create a "frame" to hold the regular blue bubble solar cover. Using PVC pipe probably is the easiest way. (maybe if I can find some cheap and large hula hoop , I may consider that too. Though PVC probably more durable in chlorine water)

  • compoundctc
    11 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    I am very interested in building my own solar sun rings. I tried the above link to ebay but it was no longer valid. I was wondering if anyone has a working link as I have been unable to find the plans by searching the internet. Thanks in advance for any help.

  • sdkath
    11 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    I just ordered the new 2009 version of the Solar Ring off eBay for $20 each. I will let everyone know how it works. I got 10 of them. I hope they help keep the pool from cooling at night. That would really help boost the roof solar during the day. The new ones have some additional reinforcement to keep them from blowing away, although it's not that windy here in San Diego...

    Katherine

  • rosemarie_pearl_yahoo_com
    9 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    I used the solar rings last summer and they did keep my pool warmer. It is windy in the afternoon here, however the wind only pushed the rings to the side of the pool. BUT my rings turned a dark gray almost black in large areas of the rings I used mild soap and water but it did not remove the discoloration. I like the idea of using hula hoops and bubble cover.

  • mkelly006_earthlink_net
    9 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    Is there more of a chance of getting algae in a pool with a solar blanket or solar rings? I currently use my old heater to heat the pool but since it's an older heater and takes a while to heat, I only heat the water when I know I am going to use the pool - I would love to keep the water temperature more consistent. The pool repair person told me solar blankets were not a great idea because of the algae.

    Thanks.

  • hanselman1
    4 years ago

    I don't really know a whole lot about the rings. But I do know that solar pool covers are absolutely a great way to help cut the cost of heating your pool Visit Stress FreePools to learn more