Best Pool Cleaner | Reviews

Best pool vacuum robot cleaner.Best pool vacuum robot cleaner.Best pool vacuum robot cleaner.

Impressive cleaning power — and fast as well. (Buy from Amazon)

There are a lot of pool cleaners on the market so making a final decision on the best pool cleaner can be difficult because everyone has a different opinion on the subject. It’s much easier to choose when you think about what’s the best pool cleaner for you. One of the most important factors that will determine your final purchase is your budget. How much do you want to spend? What features do you need? What type of pool do you have? Inground or above-ground?

Either way, we hope this indepth article will help you choose the right pool cleaner for your specific needs.

Intro | Best Pool Cleaner

Most people will tell you that the best pool cleaner is a robotic pool cleaner. To me, these are, undoubtedly, the most technically advanced pool cleaners around. Selecting the best pool cleaner depends on some variables that we’ll discuss in this article. Robotic pool cleaners use a microcomputer to overcome some of the limitations of the best automatic pool cleaners that were used in the past. Because old-fashioned automatic pool cleaners rely on the pool filtration pump for power, they reduce the filtration efficiency. It steals power from the most essential system, the skimmers. An efficient filtration system with an excellent skimming action is your first line of defense in a pool. It should be where most of the dirt is cleared away.

Robotic pool cleaners do not rely on the flow of water from the circulation system, but use a 24V DC supply. All it needs is a power outlet near the pool. This is what makes it the best pool cleaner. Robotic pool cleaners are the fastest, they don’t interfere with the filtration system or the skimmers, and follow an intelligent path around the pool.

Dolphin Quantum | Ultra-mobile with Vortex Jets

Dolphin Quantum - best automatic pool cleaners.Dolphin Quantum - best automatic pool cleaners.Dolphin Quantum - best automatic pool cleaners.Dolphin Quantum - best automatic pool cleaners.

Massive 400 square inch top-loading cartridge filter. (Buy from Amazon)

In this review, we’ll discuss all the cleaning issues for the various types of residential pools. I’ll explain how the different types of automatic pool cleaners work and consider their advantages, as well as their disadvantages. Then, we’ll move on to the robotic pool cleaners. After reading this, you will be empowered to select the best possible solution to suit your budget and unique pool cleaning needs.

Some pools become very dirty while others remain relatively clean, it depends on its environment and how it’s used. Some are plastered, while vinyl pools offer a very different type of pool surface. Selecting the pool cleaner that suits your budget and pool is not easy. There is a lot to consider, and your budget is only one of them. Prices range from affordable to expensive. Depending on the pool and its environment, you can select from a wide range of different cleaners on the market. You always have the option of manual cleaners through to a wide range of automatic cleaners to robotic pool cleaners. We’re going to help with the choice.

Let’s ignore the manual ones and start with automatic pool cleaners. These cleaners rely on the flow of water to propel them. Two types are available; those that use the suction side of the filtration system and another group use the pressure side of the system. It can be from either the filtration system or a separate pump. We’ll discuss both types in detail a little later.

As I mentioned, robotic pool cleaners use electricity as a power source. They may not be the best pool cleaners for everyone, but they are the fastest. Robotic pool cleaners follow a preprogrammed path that is altered by sensors attached to the machine. It soon learns the best route to clean your pool. Another advantage is that it does not affect the pool filtration system because it’s self-propelled and entirely independent.

Pentair Prowler 830 | Includes a remote control

Pentair 360032 Kreepy Krauly Prowler 830Pentair 360032 Kreepy Krauly Prowler 830Pentair 360032 Kreepy Krauly Prowler 830Pentair 360032 Kreepy Krauly Prowler 830

Cartridge indicator signals when to empty and clean. (Buy from Amazon)

There are many factors beyond your control that will determine which pool cleaner to choose. When the pool is surrounded by big trees that drop a lot of leaves, you should remove them as fast as possible. The same applies to having lots of bugs, twigs or grass cuttings in the pool. These floaters remain on the surface for quite a while (up to two hours) before they settle on the bottom. If you can get rid of them before they sink, most of the work is almost done.

For this, you want to consider a system with maximum skimming action to remove the floating debris. The pool’s built-in skimmer can only do its job if the pool cleaner does not interfere with the water flow provided by the pump. You can double-up the cleaning action by adding a skimmer like the Pooldevil Pro. It fits the pressure side of the water flow and collects floaters into a sock. It’s affordable and has received rave reviews. Another option that you may consider is a robotic pool skimmer that’s powered by the sun, these are expensive but efficient.

A pool that’s surrounded by paving normally remains clean, and it’s the type of pool where you mostly focus on collecting dust, bugs and tanning oil. It’s a lot easier, and you do not need an elaborate pool cleaner, sometimes the filtration system is enough. Manual cleaning of this pool will be the most cost effective. However, for less effort, you may be content with one of the many automatic pool cleaners like the Kreepy Krauly. Keep in mind though that you will forfeit much of the skimming action with this type of automatic pool cleaner. I had a pool with a Kreepy Krauly for many years and it never disappointed me.

Reviews — Best pool cleaner Robots

Dolphin Nautilus CC Plus 99996403-PC 

Best pool cleaner for the money. A Robotic Pool Cleaner that continues to get better and better.

Dolphin 99996403-PC Dolphin Nautilus Plus Robotic Pool CleanerDolphin 99996403-PC Dolphin Nautilus Plus Robotic Pool CleanerDolphin 99996403-PC Dolphin Nautilus Plus Robotic Pool CleanerDolphin 99996403-PC Dolphin Nautilus Plus Robotic Pool Cleaner

Two filters : filter out large debris as well as the smaller debris.


  • Top-Filter access allows for extremely easy filter cleaning.
  • CleverClean Technology cleans the floor, walls, and waterline.
  • Extra-Large filter capacity means fewer filter cleanings!
  • Maytronics patented floating, swivel cable ensures optimal, tangle-free pool coverage.
  • Easy Fix modular technology.
  • 360˚ suction, the Nautilus PLUS with CleverClean filters the water while it collects debris in its self-contained filter, so you can reduce the need to backwash your pool filter by as much as 30%.
  • 2 Year Warranty.
  • Patented swivel cable helps prevent tangling
  • Scrubs, vacuums and filters all pool surfaces in just 2.5 hours
  • Once they are submerged in water they expand back to their normal shape
  • Weekly Timer


The Dolphin Nautilus Plus is fit for pools up to 50 feet in length. Compared to the other units that we review, it’s the same as the Dolphin Triton Plus. The Polaris F9550 Sport support a 60 feet pool, and the Dolphin Nautilus and the Hayward TigerShark are built for 40 feet pools.

The Nautilus Plus cleans the bottom, sides, and waterline of the pool. Some pool cleaners have a separate cleaning cycle for the waterline, but I do not think this is one of them. However, it’s good to know that it will cover the entire pool. It will not take all day, and it will do a standard cycle in 3 hours. In a 50 foot pool that’s good, but not as fast as some robots. It means that in three hours’ time someone must be at the pool to remove the machine and wash it and its filters. It does not come with a caddy, in this lineup of robots, it’s only the Polaris F9550 sport that’s supplied with one.

Maytronics Dolphin Nautilus Plus CleverClean. Best automatic pool cleaner.Maytronics Dolphin Nautilus Plus CleverClean. Best automatic pool cleaner.Maytronics Dolphin Nautilus Plus CleverClean. Best automatic pool cleaner.Maytronics Dolphin Nautilus Plus CleverClean. Best automatic pool cleaner.

Patented swivel cables eliminate tangled cables forever. (Buy from Amazon)

It has an extra-large top access filter, and two full sets of filter cartridges come with the machine. A pleated polyester fiber set for fine filtration and a mesh screen for coarse filtration. The pool cleaner will work really well at filtering large, as well as the smaller debris, resulting in a cleaner swimming pool.

The cable that connects the robot to the power supply/controller floats on the water. A swivel enables the cable to follow the unit freely without tangling up as it moves in a random pattern. The cable is 60 feet long to allow the pool cleaner to reach all corners of the pool. It’s interesting to note that the Nautilus – 99996113-US no longer uses the swivel.

Maytronics, a U.S. company founded in 1983, manufactures the Dolphin range of robotic pool cleaners. They pioneered many designs, and the company is an ISO 9001:2008 and CE Directives/UL Standards company. It means the company is fully capable of supporting you should something go wrong. Maytronics operates wholly owned subsidiaries in the USA, France, Australia and a local sales support for Latin America located in Argentina. They offer a limited warranty for 24 months from the date of purchase.

Dolphin 99996403-PC Dolphin Nautilus Plus Robotic Pool CleanerDolphin 99996403-PC Dolphin Nautilus Plus Robotic Pool CleanerDolphin 99996403-PC Dolphin Nautilus Plus Robotic Pool CleanerDolphin 99996403-PC Dolphin Nautilus Plus Robotic Pool Cleaner

Operates completely independent of your pool’s pump and filter.

The Dolphin 99996403-PC is the big brother of the Nautilus. Modular components used in manufacturing the unit makes it easy to replace when needed. The machine uses all-surface PVC bristle brushes and climbing rings to make sure that it can move around on any kind of surface. You have to make sure that the pool cleaner will be able to handle the surface material of your pool before you buy one. Not all pool cleaners can efficiently work in all kinds of pools.

Dolphin Nautilus – 99996113-US

With CleverClean technology — an advanced cleaning system,. This is one of the most popular pool robot cleaners on the market today.  Well worth your hard earned money.

A refined and improved version of an already great pool cleaner.


  • Refined, streamlined and improved for the modern age.
  • 50% lighter, Large capacity Top load filtration, weekly timer, active brush and latest navigation system for complete pool coverage
  • Thoroughly cleans the floor, walls and up to the waterline
  • Clever Clean Technology that systematically scans your pool to determine most efficient path, regardless of shape or surface resulting in clean pool every time
  • Active brush for effective scrubbing and cleaning
  • Easy to clean Top Load filter basket that captures debris and filters water

Note : The original Dolphin Nautilus (99996323) is still consistently one of the top selling robotic pool cleaners. This is truly a classic pool cleaner and the CleverClean updated model is even better.


The Dolphin Nautilus – 99996113-US is the smaller model in the Nautilus range, and it’s suitable for pools up to 40 feet in length. Its cable length is 50 feet, and it cleans all surfaces – the bottom, sides and up to the waterline. It’s not supplied with a caddy for storing. It’s more efficient in smaller pools than the Nautilus Plus with a standard program cycle time of only two hours. It’s aided by brushes that spin at twice the speed of the robot to speed up its task. This makes it efficient at removing hard to remove contaminants from the pool bottom and sides.

After its programmed two-hour cycle, you can guide the robot to a spot where you can conveniently remove it from the pool. To make it easy to lift from the pool, all the water releases within 6 seconds. Robotic pool cleaners are quite heavy when full of water, so this design is a great plus.

Maytronics 99996113-US Dolphin Nautilus Robotic Pool CleanerMaytronics 99996113-US Dolphin Nautilus Robotic Pool CleanerMaytronics 99996113-US Dolphin Nautilus Robotic Pool CleanerMaytronics 99996113-US Dolphin Nautilus Robotic Pool Cleaner

One of the latest & most precise navigation systems. (Buy from Amazon)

The large filter basket is easy to remove, and you do not have to turn the machine over. The top flips open and you just remove the filter, then wash it with running water. With the filter out, it’s an excellent time to inspect the robot for debris and wash it out. Leave the screens out to dry and put the machine away.

The Dolphin Nautilus has a 12-month warranty that covers any manufacturer’s defects. Pool cleaners are subject to wear when doing its job and the parts must be replaced at some point. The brushes that spin to remove contaminants from the hard areas of the pool wear out, the wheels wear out too. The service replacement components come in modules that are easy to remove and replace. It’s a straightforward DIY job.

Maytronics 99996113-US Dolphin Nautilus Robotic Pool CleanerMaytronics 99996113-US Dolphin Nautilus Robotic Pool CleanerMaytronics 99996113-US Dolphin Nautilus Robotic Pool CleanerMaytronics 99996113-US Dolphin Nautilus Robotic Pool Cleaner

It reminds me of a whale. Well-designed pool robot. (Buy from Amazon)

The CleverClean technology logs your pool data during cycles to determine the most efficient path. The size or shape of the pool does not matter. The information is gathered and eventually, it will cover all areas of the pool using the most efficient path. It has a weekly timer, but I could not determine if it’s of any use when you remove the cleaner after each cycle to clean the filters. All you really need is a timer that determines the cycle time since you switch off and store the controller with the machine. If you leave the cleaner in the pool, a weekly timer will work but then all the debris is left in the water to rot, and that’s something you do not want.

Dolphin Triton Plus with PowerStream

Another wonderfully designed Maytronics pool cleaner. Smart technology and clever engineering makes this a highly efficient robotic pool cleaner.

Maytronics Dolphin Triton Plus 99996212-us Robotic Cleaner With PowerstreamMaytronics Dolphin Triton Plus 99996212-us Robotic Cleaner With PowerstreamMaytronics Dolphin Triton Plus 99996212-us Robotic Cleaner With PowerstreamMaytronics Dolphin Triton Plus 99996212-us Robotic Cleaner With Powerstream

Bluetooth remote control capabilities using your smartphone.


  • 50% lighter, XL capacity top load filtration and enhanced features like Bluetooth Navigation, weekly timer, quick clean mode, active brushing and latest navigation system with PowerStream for complete pool, wall and tile cleaning coverage
  • Power Stream Technology provides constant grip on vertical surfaces for superior wall and tile cleaning
  • Enhanced pin-point turning and climbing abilities for a deeper clean
  • Easy to clean Extra-Large filter basket with 4 Fine and 4 Ultra Fine Filters for debris removal and excellent filtration
  • MyDolphin App – Allows bluetooth remote control capabilities using your smartphone
  • Wall Climbing and Cleaning Scrubs floor and walls, removes algae and bacteria
  • Weekly Timer with Industry-leading energy efficiency and 2 hour cycle time
  • Active Brushing – Large Active Scrubbing Brush Spins at 2X the speed of the robot to power through debris
  • Filtration – Extra-Large easy clan net basket + choice of ultra-fine (Top access)


The Dolphin Triton plus is the most advanced robotic pool cleaner in the Dolphin range. With its PowerStream, it’s suitable for pools up to 50 feet in length. The manufacturer recommends that you place the power supply 10 feet from the edge of the pool. It explains why the cable is 60 feet long. If you think about it, when placed near the center point along the length of the pool, the cable will reach all corners of a 50-foot residential pool.

This robot cleans the complete pool bottom, sides, and the waterline tiles. The standard cycle time of two hours is fast for a fifty-foot pool, and then there is a 1-hour rapid-clean cycle too. This makes it possible for one person to manage the machine and still do a day’s work. The device is 50% lighter, so it’s easier to move around, and it clings better to the sides. The Dolphin Triton Plus can be used on plaster, concrete, painted, and vinyl bottoms and sides. The Power Stream Technology is a design feature that improves grip to improve its poolside and tile cleaning abilities. This has eliminated the need for floats.

Dolphin Triton Robotic Pool Cleaner.Dolphin Triton Robotic Pool Cleaner.Dolphin Triton Robotic Pool Cleaner.Dolphin Triton Robotic Pool Cleaner.

Enhanced pin-point turning and climbing abilities (Buy from Amazon)

This model uses a large filter basket. The debris collects in the basket, and the clean water flows through the filtration sides. To make things even easier, the bottom end opens up to let all the debris out and to aid in washing the filters from the outside. It uses four fine and four ultrafine filters to form a basket. It’s easily disassembled to wash the filters individually.

Maytronics moved away from the swivel cable used in older Dolphins. The software algorithms of the Triton Plus now direct the unit along a path that prevents the cable from tangling. It’s a good move; it replaces the costly mechanical swivel with software instructions that are simply brilliant. This machine has a weekly timer too, and its Bluetooth remote or a smartphone can maneuver it to where you remove it from the pool. Using the MyDolphin app, you can manually guide the unit for spot cleaning. You can choose between an on-screen joystick or ’tilt’ mode that utilizes the internal gyroscopic sensor of the smartphone. You guide the unit in whatever direction you tilt the phone.

This model has a 24-month warranty that covers factory defects. If your pool is no longer than 50 feet, I recommend this cleaner. It’s the most advanced cleaner and is supported by an established company.

Polaris F9550 Sport

Polaris F9550 Sport : best pool cleaning robot, automatic pool cleanerPolaris F9550 Sport : best pool cleaning robot, automatic pool cleanerPolaris F9550 Sport : best pool cleaning robot, automatic pool cleanerPolaris F9550 Sport : best pool cleaning robot, automatic pool cleaner

Can clean your pool is as little as 1.5 hours.


  • Motion-Sensing Remote – Responsive cleaning control in the palm of your hand.
  • Easy Lift System – With the touch of a button the 9550 surfaces to a desired location and waits for you to grab it, then automatically evacuates water for effortless removal from the pool.
  • Dirty Canister Indicator – No more guess work. Know immediately when it’s time to empty the filter canister.
  • Vortex Vacuum Technology – Keeps debris suspended for long-lasting suction and superior cleaning performance.
  • Easy Clean Filter Canister – debris can easily be emptied with a simple shake and spray convenience.
  • 7-day programmable timer – fully customizable set it and forget it cleaning modes.
  • ActivMotion Sensor – automatically controls robot’s position at all times, allowing complete cleaning coverage without any hang ups.
  • 4-Wheel Drive Technology – cleans pool floor, walls, and scrubs tile line with a solid-blade scrubbing brush.
  • Waterline Only Cleaning Cycle – for isolated tile line scrubbing.


In our selection of the best pool cleaners, this one can handle the biggest pools, up to 60′ in length. And, as you can expect by now, it has a 70′ floating cable with a floater near the machine. This is the complete package, it’s supplied with a control unit, handheld remote and powder coated alloy caddy. It will perform equally well in any pool shape, but it’s not recommended for pools with a sharp 90° angle at the bottom. It will clean the bottom, sides and the waterline of a pool and works on any surface material.

On the controller, there is a selector that selects a bottom only mode or bottom and sides. It may be useful for a pool with sharp corners at the bottom, but it’s best to check with the manufacturer first. It has a special program to clean the waterline and tiles only. I love this feature; it’s an area of the pool that’s easily neglected. The controller is fitted with selectors for cleaning intensity and the shape of the pool. It has a seven-day programmable timer that’s easy to use, and this pool cleaner is the exception by using 30VDC drives. It all boils down to a pool cleaner that has lots of programming features to enable it to work in any pool shape.

4-Wheel Drive Technology – cleans pool floor, walls, and scrubs tile line


Included caddy makes it easy to move and store. (Buy from Amazon)

The top of the cleaner has a lid to remove debris easily. Just lift the lid and lift out the large capacity filter canister. You can wash both the filters and the machine with running water. Individual filters can be removed from the canister for replacement by merely unclicking the unit. I like the design, all the debris is trapped in the cartridge and carried to the point where it’s cleaned out.

Polaris has a good reputation for more than 40 years. They’re known worldwide for their quality products. The company behind the brand is Zodiac Pool Systems, Inc. with their headquarters in Vista, CA and is represented worldwide. There’s always a service center near you. As always, read your manual carefully before you use the machine, so you don’t void your warranty by accidentally doing something wrong. They offer a two-year limited warranty and most parts are easily replaceable by the owner.

The Polaris F9550 Sport features a motion-sensing handheld remote that you use to direct the machine to a spot for easy removal. On the pool-cleaner there’s a dirty canister indicator, useful for quick trouble-shooting. The robot uses a forced vortex to create suction power. As long as the vortex path is clean and free of debris, it will stick to any poolside. The vortex cleaning is aided by oscillating brushes that scrub away stubborn dirt.

Three Polaris Sport models : F9350 / F9450 / F9550


3 models to choose from. Click image for all the details.

This design promises efficient cleaning and low maintenance. The brushes do wear down of course and feature a wear indicator for when they need to be replaced. It’s easy to do and the four-wheel drive Aqua-Trax tires are also easy to replace when worn. I do not have a preference for soft traction 4 wheel drive or tractor belt drives. I’ve seen cleaners on wheels that can climb anywhere, it’s really the suction power the keeps the machine to the sides. This machine gets excellent reviews, and the problems that are mentioned in the media mostly come down to user ignorance. If I were to select from this lineup of robotic pool cleaners, my choice would be the Polaris F9550 Sport, it’s a perfect fit for my pool.

Hayward TigerShark QC — RC9990CUB

Best Pool Cleaner Robot with QuickClean mode (90-minutes)

Hayward TigerShark best Automatic Robotic Pool CleanerHayward TigerShark best Automatic Robotic Pool CleanerHayward TigerShark best Automatic Robotic Pool CleanerHayward TigerShark best Automatic Robotic Pool Cleaner

Two cleaning speeds: fast (3 hours) and really fast (90 minutes).


  • 90-minute Quick Clean cycle is unique to the QC model.
  • Cleans the pool floor, walls, coves and waterline in just 3 hours or a quick 90-minute cleaning cycle.
  • Runs separately from the pool’s filtration system reducing the frequency of filter backwash cycles
  • No extra hoses, hookups or pumps required
  • Unique cartridge filter system makes emptying easy, just open the cleaner, remove the cartridge and rinse with a hose
  • Built with an efficient 24-volt motor designed to use less energy and lower cost


The TigerShark Robotic Pool Cleaner fits pools of 40’ by 20’ with a 55’ floating cable. The manufacturer recommends that the cleaner control unit is placed a minimum of 10 feet from the pool edge. All pool surfaces, bottom, sides, coves and the waterline are covered by the robot’s program, utilizing a 3 hours standard cycle. A quick clean cycle of 90 minutes can also be used when you do not have time for a full clean.

An efficient 24-volt motor drives the system, and it will work on gunite, vinyl, fiberglass, pebble and tile surfaces. The manufacturers suggest that you may need a set of foam rollers for extra slippery surfaces. Do not be concerned when the TigerShark waits for several minutes before it moves, it runs a self-diagnostics routine when switched on. This robot has a handle that you turn and lock to indicate in which direction it must turn. It does not follow a random pattern of left and right turns. With continued use, the cord may become coiled, and the turn direction must be reversed by turning the handle.

For larger Pools | Hayward TigerShark2 (RC9956GRCC) (pools up to 30′ x 60′)

Hayward Tigershark2 RC9956GRCC : Best commercial pool cleaner.Hayward Tigershark2 RC9956GRCC : Best commercial pool cleaner.Hayward Tigershark2 RC9956GRCC : Best commercial pool cleaner.Hayward Tigershark2 RC9956GRCC : Best commercial pool cleaner.

Commercial Pool Cleaner : Can clean 55-sq. ft. per minute. (Buy from Amazon)

The reinforced polyester filter cartridges are easy to clean, just open the bottom end of the cleaner, remove the cartridge and rinse with a hose. Yes, this is one of only two robots in our review with filters that are removed from the bottom. It is not as convenient as top opening cleaners, but it’s not a big deal breaker either. It’s easy to turn a unit over to open the bottom.

The Hayward Pool Products company has been in operation for over 80-years, their headquarters are in Elizabeth, NJ. They offer a warranty of 3 years, proving that they trust their manufacturing facilities and the quality of the product. The manufacturers are based in Malaysia. Like with Dolphin, you will find a service center near you anywhere in the US.

Types of pool cleaners

When considering pool cleaners, we have to distinguish between two types of pools, above-ground pools, and in-ground pools.

Above-ground pool cleaners can be different from the ones used with in-ground pools, it depends on the type of pool referred to. A typical residential pool, built above ground, or partly above the ground is considered to be the same as an in-ground pool. What we are talking about here are the temporary structures that are usually made of vinyl, with side panels or without.

Dolphin Escape | Robotic Above Ground Pool Cleaner

Dolphin Escape above ground pool cleaner.Dolphin Escape above ground pool cleaner.Dolphin Escape above ground pool cleaner.Dolphin Escape above ground pool cleaner.

Optimized for above ground pools. (Buy from Amazon)

Some of the cleaners are designed for pools with vinyl lined pool surfaces and will not work in a pool with fiberglass side panels. Therefore, you must choose the correct cleaner for your pool. If a pool has a flat, undulated bottom without a deep end, the uneven nature will affect your choice of pool cleaner. The pool cleaner must be able to navigate the bumps without getting stuck.

If your above ground pool has a filtration system, the pump will be smaller with a lower flow rates than those used for in-ground pools. The pool cleaner must be able to work with this system, so you have to select it carefully in order for it to work with your pump. It could possibly need a booster pump. In which case, a robotic pool cleaner designed for above ground pools may be your preferred option.

Pool cleaner choices include suction side cleaners, robotic cleaners, and pressure side cleaners. Above-ground pools are usually chosen because of cost considerations, so most of these pools are cleaned manually. But if you’re considering one, the best pool cleaner may be a robotic pool cleaner for above ground pools. Because it uses its own power and filtration system, it’s a complete solution. It does not need a pump and filter so it can be a cost-effective alternative to a filtration system and a pool cleaner.

If you already have an above ground pool with a filtration system, a suction cleaner can be attached to the skimmer or water inlet. You just plug the cleaner hose into the inlet side of the filter and let it vacuum the pool bottom, depositing the debris into the filter basket. Relying on a small pump basket is, however, problematic. It fills up quickly, needing frequent emptying and every time you do this, the pump must be primed again. It lets air get into the filter, making it less efficient. The Hayward Skim-Vac plate enables you to use the larger skimmer basket instead. It’s a lot easier to clean the skimmer basket, and the pump does not have to be primed when you do this.

I suggest you take a picture of your pump and filtration system, note the power rating of the pump and discuss it with a professional before you consider an inlet pool filter. Not all filtration systems can handle them, and then a robotic pool cleaner is the best solution. It has its own debris bag or filter basket and operates on its own power, independently of a pump system. Following the reviews of robotic pool cleaners, we’ll discuss how to use and care for them, the rules are the same as for in-ground pools.

In-ground Pool Cleaners

An important consideration for any type of automatic or robotic pool cleaner is the size of the pool. What kind of material was used and if a dedicated cleaner line was installed.

Dedicated cleaner line

A dedicated cleaner line is a plumbing line that was installed when the pool was built. it’s separate from the filtration system and is meant to be used with an automatic pool cleaner. It may be connected to the filtration system, and then you have to determine if it’s connected to the pressure side, or to the suction side of the pump. It determines whether the pool cleaner will be a suction line or pressure line unit. It will usually be positioned near the midpoint of the pool length. If it’s not yet connected to the pump, it may be intended for a booster pump, in which case it will be a stub sticking out of the ground.

An automatic pool cleaner that’s connected to a dedicated cleaner line can be used independently from the filtration system. But, it will need a booster pump and a timer. The pool cleaner must therefore be a pressure side cleaner. This is advantageous in that the pool cleaner runs on its own time cycle, which is shorter than the filter cycle. This extends the lifespan of the pool cleaner. The filtration system is also fully effective at removing floating debris and is backwashed less frequently. When considering the cost of a booster pump installation, it makes sense to compare this to the cost of a robotic pool cleaner. The robotic pool cleaner is independent of the filtration system and only needs a power point. If the dedicated cleaner line is connected to the suction side, the most significant advantage is that your pool cleaner will not interfere too much with the skimmer.

Automatic pool cleaners

Suction side

Suction side automatic pool cleaners use the flow of water to propel them. Some use a rubber diaphragm or a heavy flip-flop valve that pulses the flow of water through the unit. The pulsing action causes it to ‘walk’ the pool, and the suction is used to vacuum the pool. It’s an efficient system with only one moving part, so they last longer and are easy to maintain. More advanced pool cleaners use a water flow impeller to operate gears that propel the machine. The cleaners make alternating 90° turns at irregular intervals. In doing so, it follows a random path through the pool that hopefully covers the whole pool.

Baracuda G3 automatic pool cleaner.Baracuda G3 automatic pool cleaner.Baracuda G3 automatic pool cleaner.Baracuda G3 automatic pool cleaner.

Works with low-speed pumps for maximum efficiency. (Buy from Amazon)

Using the skimmer line

A suction side pool cleaner that connects to the skimmer reduces the skimmer efficiency. To overcome this, some plan must be devised to clean the water surface. As I said before, the pool surface is where the leaves and debris first collect. If these are removed in time (before they sink), most of the work is done. The Hayward Skim-Vac plate enables you to use the larger skimmer basket to collect leaves, but it also disables the pool’s skimmer system. One possibility is to use the PoolDevil, or the Hayward skim ground skimmer, hooked to the pressure side to collect the surface dirt. It’s very efficient, and I recommend using it.

Some suction line pool cleaners connect to the skimmer port with a valve that still allows a small amount of skimming action. The disadvantage being that the larger floaters like leaves, frogs, and acorns get stuck in the valve and block the flow. It will require regular attention and you may not always be aware of the blockage. If you only have one skimmer and trees nearby, or dogs enjoying the pool all day, I suggest a robotic pool cleaner.

Another disadvantage is that the pool cleaner gets stuck on leaves, acorns and such. When this happens, the flow of water is reduced. It causes a compensating valve in the skimmer to open, and when the water level is low, the suction draws air into the pump. Air in the pump causes it to lose suction, and the whole system fails while the pool pump is continually drawing in air. It’s a dire situation if left unattended because it drastically reduces pump life. On the plus side though, when you are not plagued by leaves in the pool, these suction side pool cleaners work really well. I had two pools where leaves were not a problem and had excellent service from my Kreepy Kraulies.

Pressure side automatic pool cleaners

As the name indicates, pressure side pool cleaners rely on the flow of water to the pool to propel it. The water is forced into the unit by the pump of the filtration system or by a booster pump. In the unit, the water drives an impeller that propels the pool cleaner. It then creates a suction flow at the venturi before being expelled. The water flowing from the unit washes the fine debris off the sides and bottom and into suspension. The fine debris should end up in the filter system. Some ports create water jets that help to guide the unit away from obstacles.

Advantages / Disadvantages — Automatic pool cleaners

The advantage and, to some extent, a disadvantage of the suction side pool cleaner is that it deposits the debris into the filtration system. The benefit is that the cleaner doesn’t fill up with debris and can therefore, remain in the pool almost indefinitely. The disadvantage is that debris collects in the pump’s basket and in the filtration system. Also, the skimmer is less efficient because the suction pool cleaner connects to the skimmer. It results in more floating debris that eventually settles on the bottom, which the pool cleaner must suck up again.

Pressure side pool cleaners are more efficient, and the only downside is that the debris is collected in or at the cleaner. Every day after the cleaning cycle, you must remove it from the pool to clean. These systems work most efficiently when used with a dedicated pressure line. It leaves the skimming action of the filtration system free to do its job. The combination of a booster pump with a dedicated pressure line and a good pressure side pool cleaner is very effective. When combined with a good skimmer system, it will keep your pool sparkling clean.

Robotic pool cleaners

If you feel that you deserve the best, you can spoil yourself by buying a robotic pool cleaner.

So, how does a robotic pool cleaner work?

Robotic pool cleaners do not connect to the pool filtration system. It uses a control unit that connects to a wall socket and generates 24V to 30V DC, which is safe to use in the water. The robot uses a microcomputer at the control unit that directs the machine in a random path along the pool bottom and sides. It also collects information about the environment in the pool and maps the data. In doing so, it gathers enough information to direct the pool cleaner along the most efficient path to reduce the time it spends in the pool.

A cyclone creates a vacuum to suck the debris, and an onboard filtration system collects the dirt. When the system stops, it’s guided to a spot where you remove the pool cleaner. A caddy can be used to move the unit around and for storage. With the pool cleaner out of the water, you remove its filters for a wash with running water.

Advantages/Disadvantages — robotic pool cleaners

Robotic pool cleaners do not connect to, nor do they interfere with the skimmers or the outlets of the filtration system. The super fine filters used in the unit make for improved filtration. In places where lots of leaves drop in the pool and the skimmers cannot cope, additional surface skimmers are used. The motto is that when the surface is kept clean, the pool sides and the bottom are easy to clean. It’s easy to guide the robot to spots it missed with its remote control, or an app on your smartphone, though not all of them use this technology.

Hayward RC9740WCCUB SharkVac |  Robot Pool Cleaner

Requires no hoses or hookups nor additional pumps. (Buy from Amazon)

Robotic pool cleaners are not in the water for a long time, so the power it consumes does not dramatically affect your power bills. They use stepper motors, which are very efficient. In the end, it reduces the time that the pool pump has to run. The small saving on the pump’s consumption offsets some of the power consumed by the robotic pool cleaner.

The improved water circulation and filtration keeps the water cleaner, reducing the need to backwash the filter. Another advantage is that it reduces your chemical consumption and the chlorine levels remain more stable.

Robotic pool cleaners do not last long when left in the pool for extended periods. The warranty does not cover the effects of prolonged exposure to the sun. It makes one wonder why there is a multi-day timer feature when you’re advised to remove the unit from the pool between cycles. If you do leave it in the pool, the water may eventually seep into the motor and electronics, ruining your robot. It sounds unlikely, but incidents like this have been reported on social media.

Another, more pressing reason, is that you have to clean out the onboard cartridge filter after each cycle and wash it. If left in the pool, algae will develop inside because there is no water flowing through the unit. The next time the cleaner is used all that algae will escape into the pool, not the sort of thing you want to happen. You merely have to accept that a robotic pool cleaner needs regular attention.

Robotic pool cleaners are made of materials that do not last long when exposed to the sun. It’s another reason why you need to remove the robot from the pool after the cleaning cycle. When removing it, start near the cleaner and untangle the cable before you store it. Store it on the caddy, out of direct sunlight or foul weather.

When handling the robotic pool cleaner, never use the floating cable to remove it from the pool, always use the lifting fixture. The unit is too heavy for the cord. Be careful when you lift the cleaner out of the pool, it’s heavier when filled with water and needs a few seconds to drain. So, allow the water to drain from the machine. It makes sense to direct the bot to the same spot for removal every time. It will reduce the tendency to follow the same path over and over and not entirely clean the pool. It really depends on the pool.

To extend the robotic pool cleaner’s life, remove it from the pool before super chlorinating or adding acid to the pool. When placing it into the water, slowly swing it from side to side to remove all trapped air and then fully submerge it. Do not interfere with the cleaner while it’s in operation, use the manual or remote control to navigate it. I believe the best time of the day to use your robotic cleaner is during the cool hours of the day. I’m an early starter, the first thing I do is start the pool cleaner and then I remove it just before I leave for work.

General Guidelines when Buying A Pool Cleaner

Do not buy a robotic pool cleaner with a wheel size that’s smaller than the curve where the sides meet the bottom. It will lose suction and may not cling to the sides when the cleaner starts up the sidewall. In fact, no pool cleaner will be able to climb a sharp 90° turn successfully.

The cord should enter the pool near the middle of the pool length. Only place enough cord length in the water to reach the farthest point of the pool. Keep the rest outside the pool but do not coil it up, keep it straight.

If the robot fails to cling to the sides, it loses suction power, and you have to investigate. It’s possible that a leaf or something is stuck in the venturi or cyclone. Or, it may be that the filter is dirty and blocking the flow of water.

Some manufacturers warn that you must not use an extension cord, it voids the warranty, so it’s best to avoid that.

DO NOT start a robotic pool cleaner out of the water. The motors must be submerged because it relies on the pool water to cool it down.

What about leaves?

Leaves, dust, bugs, and other debris, first settle on the water surface before it sinks to the bottom. I believe that combining a good surface skimmer with your choice pool cleaner is a winning solution. Something to consider may be the Solar Breeze Pool Skimmer. The pool will remain cleaner during the day, and when the sun sets, you can drop the robot in for a quick cleanup. Even the best pool cleaners generally have a problem with leaves, acorns, frogs and the dog’s favorite toy. Before you use the pool cleaner, you should make sure that it is able to handle the debris in the pool.

Keep the chemicals correctly balanced

High levels of chlorine and water acidity add to the decay of the plastic components of pool cleaner. It’s harmful to the pool itself and to the water filtration system. Be thorough; check your chemical levels regularly to ensure that things are in order. It’s quite easy to do it every day, since you’re probably going to be around the pool anyway.

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