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A Thin, Clear Barrier to Heat and Water Loss

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The industry has always tried to cover its pools through various means. It stretches polypropylene mesh, vinyl and plain old plastic across them, using rollers, reels or just manual labor in order to keep them clean, save heat and water, and keep out intruders during the winter.

Two of those missions can be accomplished with a relatively inexpensive alternative: the liquid pool cover. It won't stop debris or intruders, but service pros and retailers say it helps keep heat and water in the pool. It makes particular sense for pools with gas or electric powered heaters, because it lowers the customer's utility bill, or it can make solar pool heaters more effective.

Some service pros and retailers consider it a new and unfamiliar product, but acceptance has grown to the point where it is standard equipment for many pool companies.

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"It just creates a real thin barrier on top of the pool, almost like a force field in a way. And it keeps evaporation from stealing heat and water," says Josh McCarthy, CPO, owner of McPools in Bradenton, Fla. It's a common component of his customer's service package.

"Here in Florida, if you have a gas heater and you keep the pool at 84 degrees year round, it's going to cost thousands. Or even if you're using a heat pump, it still costs a lot. But if that same person adds a few ounces of liquid blanket, like, 20 times a year, they end up spending a lot less, about $600, on heat. It's a significant difference."

That's the point McCarthy sells on. He tells his customers including a liquid pool cover in their service regimen will save them more money in the long run. "Compared with other things you use to keep your water warm, I think it works a lot better."

STEAM MEANS HEAT LOSS

Dick Abare (2018 Pleatco Perfect Pool Guy) owns Algae Busters Pool Service in nearby Tampa, and although he has been in business for 47 years, he discovered liquid pool covers only recently. "I started realizing the importance of offering liquid solar covers to my clients several years ago. But before I recommend a product, I like to test the product on my own pool first.

"I was sitting poolside with my wife one evening watching a cloud of steam rise above our pool. I remember saying to my wife, 'We could cook hot dogs with all the steam coming off of our pool!' Of course I was very aware that the 'steam' was water and heat evaporating from my pool. I poured in a sample of the liquid solar blanket product I was given, and I watched as the pool stopped steaming, and I was amazed how the water returned to a glass-like appearance. I was immediately convinced this product worked. Since then, I have been offering liquid solar covers whenever I sell or repair pool heaters."

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Like McCarthy, Abare thinks the product works particularly well in concert with some kind of pool heater.

"The reason for offering liquid solar pool covers with heaters is that when customers are investing in a pool heater," Abare says, "I want to be sure they are satisfied with their purchase. So we include the liquid solar cover product with our start-up package with the heater installation and explain to the client they should include it in their weekly pool maintenance routine to prevent evaporation and heat loss. My customers are very happy with the results. The liquid solar cover is easy to use and saves them money on their operational costs."

YOU CAN'T SEE IT, BUT IT'S THERE

The pitch is a little different in a retail store as opposed to a conversation in a pool owner's backyard, but according to Kathi Belcourt, Aqua-Tech Pools, Spas & Bath in Winnipeg, the logic remains the same — as long as she can convince customers that an invisible product really works. "At first we thought the liquid solar cover would be a tough sell, because we are essentially selling them something they cannot see. However, as opposed to a physical solar cover, it is the fact the customer does not see it that makes this product appealing," she says.

"The main reason we have had success selling the liquid solar cover is that it does not detract from the beauty of the pool. Many pools are the centerpiece of the landscape, therefore covering it with a solar blanket prevents the client from enjoying this visual focal point. In fact, some clients have told me the liquid solar cover has enabled them to enjoy their pool more!"

Belcourt says the convenience of the liquid pool covers also figures into the transaction. "The traditional solar blanket, in some cases, can decrease the client's use of their pool because they can be cumbersome to handle. The reason for this is that when a pool owner gets home from work and looks outside at an 18-by-36-foot solar blanket, the thought of removing it to go swimming can seem daunting — especially if someone is attempting to do the removal on their own."

"One of our clients has a remote cottage with a vanishing-edge pool, which requires water to be trucked in to fill it. This client preferred not to cover the pool, as it is the primary feature on the property.

"It depressed the client to put a solar blanket on the pool, however, if she did not use it, she would lose about 1 inch of water per day due to evaporation, and she could not afford to truck in that much water. After selling the client the liquid solar cover product, she added it once a week, and she was able to leave her pool uncovered all summer without needing to add any water over an eight-week period. The client was thrilled and is deeply loyal to the product and our company for introducing her to the product."

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