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How Does a Heated Pool Enclosure Work?

inside a retractable pool enclosure

Retractable pool enclosures work in conjunction with your pool’s heater to create a warm comfortable temperature for outdoor swimming.

We offer Retractable pool enclosures and swim spa enclosures that are designed with polycarbonate panels that create a greenhouse effect and trap heat inside the pool enclosure. 

The polycarbonate panels are superior to glass panels because polycarbonate is flexible, lightweight, difficult to break, and protects against ultraviolet rays from the sun.

This article will explain what to expect when using a heated pool enclosure and will provide a few heated pool enclosure options to consider for your outdoor swimming pool. 

Polycarbonate Heating Process 

During the day, light from the sun heats the water and air inside the closed pool enclosure.  At night or on cold days, the water and air inside the pool enclosure cool down at a much slower rate due to the greenhouse effect from the polycarbonate panels inside the enclosure. 

The greenhouse effect produced inside a polycarbonate pool enclosure results in warmer temperatures that allow people to enjoy their outdoor swimming pools when temperatures are normally too cold for swimming. 

Pool Enclosure Temperature Example During Winter 

The following pictures highlight temperature readings taken inside polycarbonate pool enclosures while outside temperatures were colder.

Note: The following pictures are intended to provide a general range of temperatures that you can expect to see inside a pool enclosure.  Actual temperatures will have some variation based on regional differences and outdoor temperature conditions. 

These pictures are based on a retractable polycarbonate pool enclosure located in Silver Spring, Maryland.  

The pictures were taken during the middle of winter and reflect temperatures recorded inside the pool enclosure using an infrared visual thermometer:

Pool Enclosure Roof Temperature during winter

pool enclosure roof temperature during winter 

  • Temperature of pool enclosure roof: 50 degrees Fahrenheit

Pool Enclosure Sidewall Temperature during winter

Pool Enclosure sidewall temperature during winter

  • Temperature of pool enclosure sidewall: 48 degrees Fahrenheit

Pool Enclosure Water Temperature during winter

pool enclosure water temperature during winter

  • Temperature of pool water inside enclosure: 88 degrees Fahrenheit

Note: The pictures of the pool enclosure are intended to provide a general range of temperatures that you can expect to see inside a pool enclosure when outdoor temperatures are cold. 

Actual temperatures inside the pool enclosure will have some variation based on regional temperature differences and outdoor temperature conditions. 

Condensation and Evaporation Inside a Pool Enclosure During Winter

Evaporation occurs when water is converted into water vapor.  Evaporation requires energy to occur.  In winter, this energy takes the form of heat loss from the pool water, which is known as evaporative cooling.

Colder air can result in more evaporation than hotter air.  If the temperature of the pool water is warmer than the air above it, the evaporation rate can increase inside an outdoor pool enclosure.

You can see this occurring when you observe steam coming from your pool water. 

It is important to keep in mind that condensation is normal and will occur inside a pool enclosure.  

For more information, see best winter pool enclosure options.

Managing Evaporation inside a Pool Enclosure 

A polycarbonate pool enclosure will create a greenhouse effect during winter which will lead to warmer temperatures inside the pool enclosure.  Evaporative cooling from the pool water will also create heat inside the pool enclosure. 

The key is to manage the humidity inside the pool enclosure and minimize the condensation. We have included a few suggestions on how to manage the condensation inside a pool enclosure below: 

  • Condensation inside a pool enclosure during winter is normal.
  • The condensation itself will not damage the pool enclosure material.
  • Use a solar blanket or liquid solar blanket when you are not swimming in your pool to help reduce the amount of evaporation inside the pool enclosure.
  • Periodically clean the surface of the polycarbonate pool enclosure panels.

General Cleaning Recommendations

  • Periodically use a hose or stream of water to clean and clear the surface of your polycarbonate panels.
  • If heavier dirt is built up on the panels, first use water to add moisture to the dirt and then clean the surface with a soft cloth or extendible mop with a detergent and frequent rinsing.
  • Be sure to avoid solvents that contain benzene, petrol, acetone, or basic washing powders that might damage the surface of the panels.

For more maintenance information, see our article detailing how to clean a pool enclosure.