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Frequently Asked Questions About Suncap® Solar Bubble

How does Sealed Air Suncap® pool cover material heat a pool?

A properly fitted pool cover using Suncap® solar material will heat a pool up to 8° C warmer making it much warmer to swim. The Suncap® solar blanket is designed to allow short wavelength solar energy to pass easily through its surface. This heat, which radiates at longer wavelengths, is then maintained under the surface due to the special design of the blanket. This means warmer water for longer.

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How much hotter does a pool get with a Suncap® pool blanket?

Sealed Air has done a lot of work with the CSIRO (Australian Commonwealth Scientific and Research Organization). This is Australia's pre-eminent research organization and one of the largest scientific organizations in the world. The CSIRO Division of Mechanical Engineering concluded in their Technical Report No 12/A/3 that a transparent pool cover will increase pool temperatures by "about 7°C." This research was later independently confirmed by scientists at Rheem Australia's Rydalmere Research Centre (NSW Australia). Using identical insulated above-ground pools complete with filters and pumps using computer-linked sensors to monitor temperatures in the pools with and without blankets, this controlled trial confirmed a temperature increase of over 7°C in the pool with a transparent bubble cover. The Rheem trial also compared the performance of lighter-coloured bubble blankets against darker-coloured material. The results clearly showed that lighter-coloured bubble blankets consistently heated the pool water to a higher temperature than darker bubble material in controlled tests in realistic "full size" pool tests

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Why is the Suncap® material light coloured?

Suncap® Solar pool material is available in blue, green and silver/blue colours. Whilst the blankets have been coloured they are translucent which means that if you placed your hand on the underside of the material you can see the outline of your hand through the material.

Solar radiation is the key to heating a pool naturally. When the sun beats down on the pool a translucent cover like the Suncap solar cover allows solar radiation to enter the water, thus heating the pool, as though the cover was absent. In other words, the less transparent the cover, the less radiation entering the water. Dark covers need to absorb the solar energy and then transmit it to the water, allowing a lot less direct penetration of solar energy. The best analogy would be tinting a car window. It is darkened to STOP transmission of heat. It is the same principle for swimming pools.

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What is the warranty on Suncap® material?

This is dependent on the thickness of the material. All Suncap® solar cover material is made from the same formulation using the most advanced UV stabilizers and super strength polyethylene. The care of the material once it is on a pool with ultimately determine its life however Sealed Air will credit the fabricator the cost of the material if the product becomes defective during the warranty period, or if our workmanship was faulty. There are some exceptions and you will need to refer to warranty for the full details.

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What is evaporation?

As we know from boiling water and seeing it turn into steam, a simple definition of evaporation is the process whereby liquid water becomes a gas and dissipates as the water temperature is increased. Eventually, a saucepan of water will "boil dry" as all the liquid becomes a gas and disappears into the atmosphere. Calculating evaporation rates is a very complicated process, with many variables such as water surface area, water temperature, air temperature, air pressure, air density, wind speed, and humidity – among other – all affecting evaporation.

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How much evaporation does a swimming pool lose?

The main factors that affect evaporation rates from domestic outdoor pools are:

  • Pool surface area – The bigger the pool, the more surface area, therefore, a greater evaporation problem.
  • The temperature of the water and air – The highest evaporation rates occur when the differences between water and air temperatures are the greatest. This may not be in the middle of a hot day when the pool is in use. At this point the water and air temperatures may be quite close. Later at night the pool water may remain warm, but the air temperature has fallen substantially – that means a greater temperature difference between the air and water – and greater evaporation.
  • Humidity – The drier the air, the greater the evaporation rate. In very humid conditions less evaporation occurs.
  • Wind – The final and very significant factor for home polls is wind. A breeze of just a gentle 11 kilometres per hour can more than double the evaporation rate by removing the insulating layer of warm, moist air directly above the surface.

An explanation of how much water a pool uses after filling is detailed in this very informative document. In Australia with its hot summers swimming pools will lose up to 10,000 litres per month during the 6 hottest months.

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How does a Suncap® cover prevent evaporation?

Pool blankets provide a physical barrier to evaporation. A pool blanket covers the pool surface like putting a lid on a jar. It can't be totally watertight like a jar lid, but a properly fitted pool blanket is so effective that it stops 97% of evaporation.

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Why does Suncap® material perform better than other solar material in heating and water retention?

Extensive analysis has been done on solar bubble product from all over the world. In every instance Suncap® solar bubble film has the highest tear strength and highest puncture test compared to other products. Because of the versatile polymer blend used by Sealed Air Suncaps elongation (stretch ratio) at fracture was significantly higher than all other products.

Suncap® 500um material has the highest buoyancy of 3.1kg/m2, thus making it the best floating product. Poor buoyancy means that the material could be submerged under water after heavy rain thus negating the intended purpose of the product. This is in direct correlation with the height of the bubble – the smaller the bubble height, the closer to the water the product sits.

When exposed to ultra violet light in an accelerated weathering tester (to simulate normal weather conditions), the tensile strength and stretch ability (elongation at failure) showed extensive degradation of the polymers after UV exposure. Simulating 4 years weather exposure the competitors products are more likely to crack or tear when folded after exposure to UV. In one case, a major competitor's material was 1/4 of the strength of Suncap® in tear strength PRIOR to UV testing using the trouser method (ASTM D624). This shows that the competitor product is at a very high risk of tearing during use.

What does this all mean? In summary:

  • Suncap® is the strongest solar material on the market meaning that the product will protect a swimming pool for much longer than competitor products;
  • The height of the bubble means that Suncap® has the best buoyancy and therefore is more resistant to being submerged during a heavy downpour;
  • Suncap® material has the best UV package and is significantly stronger than its competitors after being exposed to the equivalent of 4 years UV intensity;
  • The larger bubbles also mean better insulation than other small bubble blankets so swimming pools using Suncap® solar pool material stay warmer overnight;
  • The larger bubble contact on the water surface provides a much broader base for better wind resistance and automatic cleaner operation;
  • The proprietary extrusion technology developed by Sealed Air enables Sealed Air to offer a perfectly formed bubble with no weak spots in the corners.

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Why is there a choice of thicknesses?

The thickness of the material coupled with the even distribution of the material is the primary factor in its durability. A blanket is only as strong as its weakest link. Some products in the market which are 500um are only as strong as a Suncap® 250um product because the competitor material has not been distributed evenly resulting in weak spots in the bubbles. Not all bubbles are equal.

Sealed Air provides a range of quality alternaives that are commensurate with lifespan. In essence, the thicker the material (providing material distribution is even), the longer the life of the product. So Sealed Air offers a range of products that balance cost against longevity.

From the research done by Sealed Air's R&D centre, Sealed Air has found that blankets thicker than 500um prove to be too heavy and rigid in domestic pools and as a result consumers tend to avoid products that are not light and relatively easy to handle.

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