Abstract Desalination methods based on renewable energy offer a promising solution to both water shortage and environmental degradation problems that continue to grow globally. The solar still is one such method that uses a sustainable energy source to produce potable water albeit at a relatively low productivity rate. A new modification has been introduced to the conventional solar still to enhance its productivity. The modification consists of a light weight, black finished, slowly-rotating drum, which leads to a sustainable, cost-effective, and low-tech amendment that preserves the key features of the still while considerably increasing its yield compared to a control still that does not include the drum. In this paper, three different cover geometries of the modified still are studied and the effect of cover design on the performance of the still in terms of measured temperatures and productivity is considered. The three cover designs are as follows: double-sloped or triangular, single-sloped and curved cover. In addition, a conventional double-sloped still without the rotating drum is operated in parallel as a control and the findings of this study are reported and discussed.