BEST POOL CLEANER 2020 – THE ULTIMATE GUIDE
So you finally have a pool ready to go. But before you go and enjoy your pool, you have to ask yourself one question.
Do I have a plan to keep this pool clean?
Without a plan to keep your pool clean, you may end up with a green pool covered in gunk and algae. You can see how hard it is to clean a pool by looking at youtube videos, like this one from Clean Pool & Spa’s channel, where he describes having to dump about a ton of sludge from a pool because it had gotten so bad.
At this point, you might be wondering if it’s really that big of an issue. Besides the obvious grossness of the slime, are smaller amounts of algae really dangerous to humans. Generally, algae grows naturally in ponds and lakes and people can safely swim in those just fine, right?
While that’s true, here is something to consider. As Pool algae can grow and multiply they become homes for harmful microbes. It’s these microbes that can cause health problems on swimmers if exposed to them.
So instead of exposing yourself to that risk, you could seek a professional cleaner to do it or buy yourself an automatic pool cleaner.
TOP 5 POOL CLEANER ON THE MARKET
1. Dolphin Nautilus CC Plus Robotic Pool Cleaner with Top Load Filter Cartridges Ideal for Pools Up To 50 Feet.
2. BARACUDA G3 W03000 Advanced Suction Side Automatic Pool Cleaner
3. Polaris Vac-Sweep 280 Pressure Side Pool Cleaner
4. Dolphin Escape Robotic Above Ground Pool Cleaner
5. Dolphin Nautilus Robotic Pool Cleaner with Dual Scrubbing Brushes Ideal for Pools Up To 35 Feet
WHY EVERYBODY SHOULD HAVE AN AUTOMATIC POOL CLEANER?
Automatic pool cleaners are machines that do the heavy lifting of pool maintenance. These devices are built to suck up debris, keep your pool looking clean, and some can even scrub walls or help filter your water in some models.
Besides reducing the amount of labor you have to use to keep your pool clean, these devices are also easy to use and constantly being improved upon as technology improves. By doing the cleaning on its own, these devices leave you more time to enjoy your swimming.
WHAT ABOUT THE COST?
For a general cost breakdown, once a week pool cleaners tend to run a range from $75 to $165 per month. This doesn’t sound like much, but compare that cost to doing it yourself.
After the initial purchase of cleaning supplies, you could expect to pay as little as $20 to $100 a month. That is asavings of anywhere from a quarter to 65%.
Thelong term savings will more thanmake up for the initial cost, but only if you choose the right tools. Today, we’re going to look at why automatic pool cleaners should be part of the tools you buy.
I should go buy an automatic pool cleaner now!
Hold on, before you run to your pool supply store,there’s a few important things to know. First, there are actually three types of automatic pool cleaners and this guide will go over each one to help you in your purchasing decision.
There are three options for automatic pool cleaners and being familiar with each one will help you make your purchasing decision. Those three options are; Suction-Side, Pressure-Side, and Robotic pool cleaners.
Types of Automatic Pool Cleaners
For the most part, the differences between these cleaners lie in a few specific factors; how are they powered, how much do they cost, what can they do, and which pools are they best for?
HOW ARE THEY POWERED?
SUCTION-SIDE POOL CLEANERS
The suction-side pool cleaner is powered by your pool’s filter system. It uses that system to push it along the pool where it sucks up small bits of debris and deposits it in the filter.
PRESSURE-SIDE POOL CLEANERS
This compares to the pressure-side pool cleaner that also uses your pool’s system to function but some cleaners require a separate booster unit to give it power. Because it stores debris in its own vacuum bag, there is no need to keep watch on your filter as it runs.
ROBOTIC POOL CLEANERS
Finally, we have the robotic pool cleaners that are self-contained systems. You simply have to plug it into a transformer and place it in the pool and it will suck up debris into its own container.
TYING IT ALL TOGETHER
The suction-side pool cleaner does run on your filter, so your pool has to be kept running for it to work. Also, because it deposits debris in your filter, this runs the risk of causing problems for your pool.
The pressure-side cleaner avoids this risk by having an internal unit, but it will require refurbishing your pool’s system if there isn’t already a set up in place for the booster. But it does share the same problem of requiring your pool’s systems to be turned on.
Robotic pool cleaners avoid both problems by not requiring the pool to work and not putting your pool’s systems at risk. If power is a concern, robotic pool cleaners are the clear winner.
But let’s talk about what you pay for that power.
THE COST OF YOUR AUTOMATIC POOL CLEANER
While robotic pool cleaners can be used while the pool is off reducing power usage, the complexity of these systems are such that if the cleaner breaks or malfunctions you will need a specialist to make any repairs. Repair costs are then higher than the other options as repairs are difficult to do yourself.
Pressure-side and suction-side pool cleaners both run on systems that you should already have existing, and both cleaners are relatively simple to repair in the case of problems. But suction-side pool cleaners are the clear winner as far as price boasting the lowest up front price.
They require your pools to be on to function, so you are using much more power during cleanings than you would with robotic cleaners.
Additionally, pressure-side cleaners often require a booster pump and many suction-side pool cleaners fail to function if you have a weak pool pump. Also, suction-side cleaners sometimes lack features like optional leaf canisters which some homes need, which further raises the cost.
PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER
Suction-side pool cleaners are the cheapest up front option. But what you save in that cost means more power costs while the cleaner is working and you will have to manually empty your filter more often.
Pressure-side pool cleaners are the middle of the road option, but your pool filter may require a booster pump or require a plumber if it was not designed with a booster pump in mind.
Robotic cleaners are the most expensive up front and can require the most cost to repair, but it can run while the pool is off.
WHAT CAN MY AUTOMATIC POOL CLEANER ACTUALLY DO?
It’s not surprising that all three types of pool cleaners can clean. They sweep through your pool picking up debris and tossing it into a receptacle for later dumping.
But the difference is in how effective they can be at their jobs and whether they have any useful extras. Let’s take a look.
DO YOU HAVE SMALL DEBRIS?
Both suction-side and pressure-side cleaners can pick up small debris perfectly well. The suction-side cleaners place any collected dirt into your filter, where as the pressure-side cleaners collect it in a self-contained pouch.
While some buyers may prefer the pressure-side cleaner pouches, some shoppers do prefer the convenience of everything being collected in the filter since they have to clean it anyway. These shoppers enjoy knowing that they only have to worry about cleaning one thing rather than two.
DO YOU GET SOME LARGE DEBRIS?
Robotic pool cleaners and pressure-side pool cleaners tend to do a better job of picking up large debris or leaf clumps. These are idea if your pool sees a lot of nuts and berries or if it’s below a large group of trees.
WHAT ELSE CAN AUTOMATIC POOL CLEANERS DO?
Robotic pool cleaners are not just great at picking up small and large debris but they offer extra filter power to your pool. Some automatic pool cleaners, especially robotic ones, can even scrub your pool walls and floors.
Also, since these systems run on microchips, many robotic cleaners can be controlled by remote control, so you can quickly direct the cleaner to problem areas.
Before we go into detail on each type of cleaner, let’s figure out which pools want which cleaners.
The type of pool you have will determine which is the best option for you. Pools are expensive to maintain and the cost of maintenance can be high, so you want the best bang for your buck.
I HAVE AN ABOVE GROUND POOL
Above ground pools tend to have the fewest requirements. The reason for this is because above ground pools have flat bottoms and so pool cleaners designed for them don’t have to worry about steps or slopes.
This pool cleaner is suggested for above ground pools only, because the bumps and slopes of an in-ground pool can cause it to rub right through it’s plastic tubes.
Since the requirements though are relatively light on above ground pools, it’s advised that you do some online research and figure out what pool cleaners are rated highly before you go shopping at your local pool store.
Here’s a website that can get you started at considering costs. As a tip, ask your vendor for help if you’re unsure of which ones are suction-side, pressure-side, or robotic cleaners.
I HAVE AN IN-GROUND POOL?
In ground pools though require a bit more work and consideration. But answering a few questions will make these considerations far easier.
DOES YOUR IN-GROUND POOL HAVE A CLEANER LINE?
If you have a dedicated cleaner line, then the site recommends pressure-side pool cleaners as an easy choice. Since a booster pump and time clock would be all you’d need to add.
Be sure you know that if your cleaner line is a vacuum line, it can be converted to a pressure line with some simple plumbing. If you would prefer not to make any changes, then suction cleaners can work just as well.
HOW BIG IS THE DEBRIS YOUR POOL IS GETTING?
If your pool has large trees or features surrounding it that shed larger leaves or debris, then it suggests using any pressure cleaner for your needs. According to pool center, cleaners like the Polaris 360 or the Hayward Trivac are effective at dealing with larger leaf and debris volumes.
If your pool is in a desert environment or only collects small sized debris or debris in small amounts, then suction side and robotic cleaners are perfect for you. These cleaners are available in a wide range of price points and likely any features your need can be found.
One thing to know though is that many suction and robotic cleaners can clog up too often if your pool collects a lot of debris such as spring or fall leaves. If this is the case, then these pool cleaners will require frequent intervention or the pool will need some manual cleaning.
So I’ve made my choice. What do I need to know?
Whether you go with a suction-side, pressure-side, or robotic pool cleaner, no guide would be complete without going into some in depth details.
Let’s go over these three types of cleaners one by one and see what we need to know.
WHAT DO YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT SUCTION-SIDE POOL CLEANERS?
HOW DO I INSTALL MY SUCTION-SIDE POOL CLEANER?
As we’ve seen through this guide, suction-side pool cleaners attach to the suction side of your plumbing. Below is a handy video guide that shows you, step-by-step, how to install your suction-side pool cleaner.
SMALL THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT YOUR SUCTION-SIDE POOL CLEANER
First, you should know that these cleaners do limit your skimmer’s ability to function if you only have one.
If you have the luxury of a dedicated cleaning line, then be sure to have your installation prepared at that station to ease the strain on your skimmer.
HOW DOES MY SUCTION-SIDE POOL CLEANER WORK?
These cleaners work by creating a suction on the underside of the cleaner as the filter pump runs. The cleaner moves randomly and automatically around the pool guided by the motion of a stop/start pulse that a device gives in the water.
The unit travels, sucks up debris through the hose, and dumps it into the pool filter.
ARE SUCTION-SIDE POOL CLEANERS ANY GOOD?
Since it’s been pointed out that suction-cleaners are the cheapest option, it’s often asked if these cleaners are any good.
They do the job of a cleaner well enough, but as stated, they can limit your skimmer’s ability to function with most skimmer action being lost while your cleaner is connected. Also, the filter can get clogged rather quickly as all debris is dumped right inside.
Finally, these cleaners are the least ‘automatic’ since you have to set it up and put it away each time you use it. So what you save translates into more work and immediate oversight.
If you are looking for good suction-side pool cleaner options, then you should know that they are divided into two types; pulse types or hydro drive powered.
Hydro drive cleaners are generally more powerful, faster cleaning, and make a lot less noise then their pulse type siblings.
THE CARE AND MAINTENANCE OF SUCTION-SIDE POOL CLEANERS.
One advantage of your choice to use a suction-cleaner is that there’s not a lot of daily maintenance to keep them long-lasting and working well. In general, you just have to make sure to do a few key things.
- Pull the cleaner out of the pool before shocking the pool or swimming in it.
- Run the cleaner only as long as you need, usually up to 3 hours, to reduce wear.
- Store the head and hose carefully. It’s best to keep them out of the sun and out of harm’s way.
- Disconnect all hose sections for storage and lay all the parts flat rather than coiled if possible.
WHAT DO I DO IF MY SUCTION-SIDE POOL CLEANER BREAKS?
If your suction cleaner breaks down, it’s mostly going to be an issue of needing a replacement parts. Some models, like the Kreepy cleaners, only have 1 moving part and won’t need many replacements.
Always rotate the wearable parts on the cleaners and replace those parts when needed. In general, you can expect to pay less than $20 per year to keep your cleaner at peak performance.
Obviously, the more parts a cleaner has, the more potential problems can appear. This isn’t always a bad thing though, as many suction side cleaners with more parts also have more features.
But always be sure to compare and contrast before you make your purchasing decision, because some inferior products will boast having many working parts to hide the lack of features or low quality materials.
As these systems are relatively simple, all you will need is a screwdriver to make repairs, but most cleaners won’t require tools at all for repair. Many websites have schematics or diagrams in their pool parts department so you can see how cleaners are assembled and can tell what parts are worn or broken.
COST AND FEATURES OF SUCTION-SIDE POOL CLEANERS.
The price range for quality suction-side cleaners can be seen at online retailers such as this one with themosthigh rated cleaners, those at four stars or higher, starting at about $195 and topping off at about $565.
While this is quite a wide range, the more expensive cleaners tend to boast features such as the ability to make wider turns to cover more of your pool in less time or a free hose or piece of replacement equipment.
As stated, since these cleaners work on your skimmer or dedicated cleaner lines, the power costs during use will be much higher since your pool must be on for the cleaners to work.
TROUBLESHOOTING YOUR SUCTION-SIDE POOL CLEANER
Some of the common problems that can come up are suction cleaners moving too slow or the cleaner not cleaning the entire pool. If you notice these problems, here are some handy tips that will help you bypass these problems.
WHAT DO I DO IF YOUR CLEANER IS GOING TOO SLOW?
- If your suction cleaner is moving slow, first check the pump basket for debris and make sure your filter is clean.
- You should also hold the cleaner head underwater to prevent air from being sucked in and check the throat for obstructions or clogging.
- If your pool has lots of leaves and trees nearby, then you may want to use an in-line leaf trap to help your suction cleaner as heavy leaf volume may overwhelm your cleaner.
- Finally, suction cleaners are built and sized to the pool pump. So an aboveground pump will not be able to move an in-ground model around the pool. If your in-ground pool has plaster, then make sure the suction cleaner is built to stand up to rough plaster surfaces.
MY SUCTION-SIDE POOL CLEANER ISN’T DOING A VERY GOOD JOB CLEANING. WHY?
- Check your hose, because it may be too short for the cleaner to reach.
- Sometimes the return jets will be too strong for the cleaner to go where it wants to. So adjust the return port wall fittings or add wall fittings to the return points. It helps if the fittings are pointed at a downward angle.
- Finally, try adjusting the hose, head unit, or cleaner itself as different adjustments will create different cleaning patterns.
- One thing to be careful of is that if there’s too much suction, the cleaner will go too fast and fly around the pool resulting in poor cleaning.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT PRESSURE-SIDE POOL CLEANERS?
HOW DO I INSTALL MY PRESSURE-SIDE POOL CLEANER?
If you’ve bought or plan to buy a pressure-side pool cleaner but don’t know how to get it installed, then worry not. Here is a helpful video that shows you a step-by-step guide to install your pressure-side pool cleaner.
After you’ve done your installation, it’s time to get cleaning!
HOW DOES MY PRESSURE-SIDE POOL CLEANER WORK?
The hydraulics in the machine pump pool water back and forth which sends these machines on their way. These cleaners have some clear advantages over other types
While these machines clean your pool they also distribute clean water around your pool. It also keeps debris within it’s own bag to keep from affecting your filter system.
Using the devices sweeper tail, thrust jet, and venturi, these machines split the incoming water to help it function.
But while you’re shopping for pressure cleaners, you should know that some attach to existing return ports and are powered by the pump. Other pressure cleaners require an additional booster pump to function and are known as High Pressure Cleaners.
Let’s look at this in further detail.
HIGH PRESSURE (BOOSTER) VS LOW PRESSURE (NO BOOSTER)
High pressure cleaners are the ones that use a booster pump to deliver a consistent flow rate for the cleaner. These pumps need about 30 PSI to operate their water management systems well.
To prepare a system for these booster pumps, a plumber would have to cut the return pipe after the filter and install a Tee fitting. This diverts water out of the return line to the booster pump which them pumps through a dedicated pipe.
Then an install valve and hose attachment would have to be installed above ground with a hose run across the pool deck connected to the cleaner.
Obviously, this takes up a bit more time and expense if your pool wasn’t built with this system in mind, which can make high-pressure cleaners a less desirable option.
Because booster pump models have internal clocks, they can be set to turn themselves off when they are done. This limits wear and prevents you from making a second trip to the pool to turn it off.
So while the low-pressure cleaners have a lower cost barrier of entry, they tend to do the job more efficiently in the long run.
PROS AND CONS OF HIGH AND LOW PRESSURE-SIDE POOL CLEANERS
Here are a few things to consider if you are deciding between these two.
Booster pump cleaners deliver a consistent flow for constant power and they often run with a timer remaining on only for 2-3 hours per day. This helps reduce wear.
Low pressure cleaners create back pressure on the filter when connected to a wall return and require you to turn them on and off.
Generally, booster pump cleaners are faster and more powerful.
With these in mind, you should be able to determine which cleaners best meet your needs.
THE CARE AND MAINTENANCE OF PRESSURE-SIDE POOL CLEANERS.
We know that nothing goes along perfectly well and pressure-side pool cleaners are certainly no different. By now, you know how to install your device, but how do you keep it up when things go wrong?
First, if you’re using a booster pump high-pressure model than you should install the booster pump so that it is constantly flooded with water. Typically this means installing it beneath the pool return pipe.
Not doing this runs the risk of the device failing to run at full power which will limit effectiveness or prompt re-installation down the line.
If you notice that your cleaner isn’t changing directions and orientation, then check the valves and timers for malfunction or clogging with sand. To fix these problems, wash the device thoroughly in water or open and inspect it for any clogs or stuck equipment.
Be sure to perform regular inspection and maintenance on your pumps and cleaning lines, because the cleaner cannot function at peak performance if either of these systems have issues.
Finally, you may notice that back-up valve failure can be caused by a failure of hose floats. If you notice your hose dragging on the floor of the pool, check the floats because dragging can tear holes in the casing.
COST AND FEATURES OF PRESSURE-SIDE POOL CLEANERS.
A brief search for an online retailer to compare the cost of top rated pressure-side pool cleaners reveals that most of the high rated ones have costs averaging $600. The one stand-out exception is the Polaris 6-130-00 model which boasts a price tag of $209.99 at the time of printing.
Many of these models will tell you whether they are designed for in-ground or above ground pools, but all of them will address the issue of power. Sometimes this promises plenty of power if a booster pump is installed like in the Polaris P39 model.
What you may be surprised is that many of these cleaners also feature scrubbers that help clean your pool’s floors and walls along with the sweeping and scrubbing ability that we have come to expect from these cleaners.
TROUBLESHOOTING YOUR PRESSURE-SIDE POOL CLEANER.
With all cleaners, pressure-side cleaners can show some problems.
If your cleaner is moving slowly, try inspecting the hose from the wall to the unit making sure there are no splits or holes that allow pressure to escape.
If the cleaner is not reaching all parts of your pool, then try adjusting the thrust jet to create different cleaning patterns around the pool. Most cleaners default to 11:00, but if you adjust them to 1:00 then the cleaner will track in the opposite direction.
But the most important factor in whether or not your cleaner reaches your entire pool is to examine the hose. Too much or too little hose will affect it’s ability to receive pressure and function at it’s peak.
If your cleaner gets caught up in ladders or drains, then try using ladder guards and drain covers to limit these problems.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT ROBOTIC POOL CLEANERS?
INSTALLING YOUR ROBOTIC POOL CLEANER
Because robotic pool cleaners are complex systems you might think that it will be difficult. But videos like this one show how easy it can be.
Robotic cleaners are plugged into wall outlets with a cord that extends from the unit to the transformer. Transformers will take 110 volts from your outlet and change it to a safer-around-water voltage.
This low voltage powers the unit by activating brushless motors that draw debris into the unit’s filter. A drive motor moves the unit around the pool.
THE CARE AND MAINTENANCE OF ROBOTIC POOL CLEANERS.
Many of the considerations you will make for caring for your device are covered in the troubleshooting tips below, but here are a few things that must always be kept in mind.
Robotic pool cleaners are heavy, so there is always a temptation to drag it around by the cords. But you should not do that because it runs the risk of loosening the plug which can cause malfunctions and shorts. Always handle your cleaners by handles or ask your local pool service store if they have caddy’s that can match your cleaners.
Outside of making sure your plugs are safe and functioning though, many of the maintenance issues you may experience are more matters of diagnosis so you can tell a certified technician what needs fixing.
COST AND FEATURES OF ROBOTIC POOL CLEANERS.
The typical price range for robotic pool cleaners start at around $600 and can raise as high as nearly $2000. While these are long term investments that will carry you through for years with proper maintenance, issues and servicing may require specialist care which adds occasional expense.
Many of these cleaners feature scrubbing and cleaning ability to add to the debris cleaning that you want to keep your pool maintained. But models such as the Aquabot also have auto shut-off timers or remote controls so you can be sure that it’s not on longer than at all necessary.
One helpful feature is that models like the Dolphin DX4S have weekly timers that can be set so that the cleaners work on your schedules.
The neatest thing about robotic cleaners is that the pump motor keeps the unit pressed firmily to the floor or wall, which allows it to scrub your pool’s floor and walls.
If your chosen cleaner has a remote control function, then you can guide it from the comforts of your lawn chair.
One thing to note is that above ground pools have walls with 90 degrees inclines and robotic cleaners cannot scale those angles. So you’ll be hard pressed to find a cleaner designed for an above ground pool that can scale walls.
These devices are heavy though, so you will want to be careful about how you move them around.
To help ease the difficulty in moving these devices in and out of storage, be sure to ask if your preferred model has a carry caddy optional or something similar.
TROUBLESHOOTING YOUR ROBOTIC POOL CLEANER.
Although robotic cleaners are intricate systems that require a specialist to handle certain issues, there are some issues that you can resolve or diagnose on your own.
MY ROBOTIC POOL CLEANER ISN’T MOVING!
If the cleaner isn’t moving check to see if the light is on. If it is not, then make sure that the transformer is on and the fuse isn’t blown.
Sometimes it helps to plug another appliance into the outlet to be sure that it’s not your plug that’s having problems.
If power is available try wiggling the plug from the unit to the transformer. Older units may short out at the plug, so buying a new plastic female plug is advised.
Next, make sure that the drive belts are tight and in good repair. These belts can weaken and stretch out over time and a simple replacement can keep it from skipping or locking in place.
To help extend the life of your cords and plugs, you should also never pull the unit or lift it by the power cord. Always lift them by the handle.
MY ROBOTIC POOL CLEANER ISN’T PICKING UP ANY DEBRIS!
If the unit moves but doesn’t pick up debris, lift the unit near the surface of the water and see if water is gushing out of the top.
If not, you may have a shorted pump motor.
If that happens, unplug the unit, lift it out the water, and remove the vent camp to check the impeller. Some models can have string or hair wind around the base locking it up.
Also, be careful if you have trees or large debris in your pool, especially after storms.
Large debris can clog the cleaner requiring cleaning with a hose or a skimmer. With equipment as pricey as the average robotic pool cleaner, you don’t want to cause it damage by being careless.
ROBOTIC POOL CLEANERS: OUR TOP 3 REVIEWS
1. DOLPHIN PREMIER ROBOTIC IN-GROUND POOL CLEANER
Dolphin are pool cleaning heavyweights.
Although the Premier is not cheap, when you think about the work it will do and the time it will save, it’s a relatively small investment.
One of the key selling points of this robot is its flexibility. It can take care of pretty much anything that finds its way into your pool. From sand or fine particles right through to leaves and anything falling from trees, the Premier makes light work it all.
This is achieved through multimedia functionality. You can choose between 4 modes and deal with a range of materials fuss-free.
- Fine debris
Whether it’s the micro-filter or the jumbo debris bag, Dolphin has your back. You’ll get these provided free of charge.
There’s an extremely capable motor running at up to 3000RPM. This motor is also incredibly energy-efficient. At 24V, it will use much less power than a booster pump. These ongoing costs are always worth checking out.
Thanks to powerful SmartNav software, the Dolphin won’t thrash around wildly. The Premier swiftly calculates the ideal cleaning pattern and gets straight to work.
Cables getting snarled up is one of the inbuilt problems of working underwater. Dolphin pioneered a 360 degree Anti-Tangle Swivel. Say goodbye to tangled cables.
A pair of hardworking scrubbing brushes guarantee a deep clean. They will get started on any marks to the surface and the robot will vacuum up afterward.
Although it stops short of cleaning the tops of steps or ledges, the Premier avoids them nicely with its intelligent navigation. All manual cleaning is reduced to the very bare minimum.
Note that the instructions leave plenty to be desired. There are plenty of videos available to give you more of an idea. This detailed guide should give you a decent overview.
The only other negative point we found was that twice during testing, the light came on to indicate the bag was full. When we checked, there was not much debris in the bag at all. Resetting the unit helped temporarily. Later, the same thing happened again. Be aware of this happening and don’t panic if the same happens to you. It’s a harmless glitch in the overall scheme of things.
Dolphin offers a strong 3-year guarantee. If you need any repairs, they’ll be taken care of in a timely fashion. If you are in any doubt about reliability, this market-leading warranty gives you real peace of mind.
For a first-class robotic pool cleaner, the Dolphin Premier is almost unbeatable.
2. DOLPHIN 99996403-PC: DOLPHIN NAUTILUS PLUS ROBOTIC POOL CLEANER
Another great robot from Dolphin is up next, this time the Nautilus Plus.
Slightly cheaper than the Premier, the Nautilus Plus is still a highly capable cleaner perfect for even large in-ground pools up to around 50 feet. It will take care of the waterline, floors and walls of your pool so you don’t have to.
CleverClean technology makes sure that your robot doesn’t dart off in random patterns. It will establish the best method of cleaning your pool and do so in short order.
If time is of the essence, the Nautilus Plus will not disappoint. You can have your entire pool looking shipshape in no more than 2 hours.
Simply program your Dolphin to go through its 2-hour routine however many times you want over the week. That’s where your involvement with cleaning the pool can end! With a cleaner like this, all you need to do is oversee things.
You don’t need to worry any pre-installation. There is no need to hook it up to your pool system. Your robot will arrive pre-programmed. Pop it in your pool and it will take of business alone.
Since the cables are able to rotate through 360 degrees as the robot cleans away, you won’t be plagued by a tangle of underwater cables. This will also help prolong the life of your cleaner.
You access the filter system through the top. The extra-large opening on the Plus is one of the things that sets this model apart from the cheaper original Nautilus. You’ll get 2 sets of filter cartridges. You can eliminate all debris, big or small, with this superb robot.
Operating independently from the pump and filter, the Nautilus Plus will save you a fortune in power bills over time.
With a 2-year limited warranty, Dolphin has you covered.
For a truly comprehensive robotic pool cleaner at a price you will love, think long and hard about the Dolphin Nautilus Plus. You could spend much more for far, far less.
3. HAYWARD RC9990GR TIGERSHARK QC AUTOMATIC ROBOTIC POOL CLEANER
To round out our trio of robotic pool vacuums, we chose the Hayward TigerShark.
You can choose from 3 different models:
- Quick Clean Technology
- Standard with Remote
There is a fair price difference between these different versions so look at each and decide which best fits your needs and pocket.
The Standard model has a 3-hour cleaning cycle. It will shut itself down automatically when it’s finished. The Quick Clean version defaults to a 90-minute cycle. You can override this and allow it to continue a full 3 hours. Simply hit the Full Cycle button.
This cleaner is ideal for home swimming pools of between 20 and 40 feet. This should be adequate for most residential pools. If in doubt, check the measurements of yours.
The nifty cartridge filter system works better than filters in many ways. It’s also much easier to remove and replace than a large bag.
You should be fine with all types of debris up to small or medium leaves. If your pool is prone to much larger leaves, you might find these block the intake port. This drastically reduces the effectiveness of the cleaning.
One thing to watch out for is a small trail of dirt that can leak out when you remove your robot from the pool.
The other downsides are equally minor…
It’s essential to clean the filter after every use. This adds to the time you’ll need to spend cleaning your pool.
If you opt for the quick cycle, the robot skips cleaning the walls properly. Manage your expectations reasonably if you’re going for an express clean.
The 24V motor has overload protection and auto-shutoff so you don’t need to concern yourself with safety.
The 3-year limited warranty takes the sting out of any pre-purchase jitters.
For a no-nonsense pool cleaner that’s not too hard on the budget, check out Hayward’s TigerShark. It punches above its weight.
SUCTION POOL CLEANER: OUR TOP 3 REVIEWS
1. BARACUDA G3 W03000 ADVANCED SUCTION SIDE AUTOMATIC POOL CLEANER
We’ll move now to suction-side cleaners.
After testing 5 of these, we narrowed the choice down to the leading 3, the first of which is the Baracuda G3.
This type of cleaner is much friendlier on the pocket than a robot while still delivering ample cleaning power. The differences between these cleaners are outlined above so check again if you are not sure which would be the best fit for you.
If you have a low-speed pump and your pool tends to accumulate small to medium-sized debris, the G3 is tailor-made.
Thanks to a FlowKeeper valve, water flow is automatically adjusted. This means that you can keep the cleaning power ratcheted up even if your pump is not so capable.
The Baracuda buffs up everything in your pool including the steps and wall.
Long hoses are scuff-resistant. Not only will you have plenty of room for maneuver, you’ll avoid any unsightly marks on the surface of your pool.
The G3 gets round even tight corners with ease courtesy of its wheel deflector. This is a highly maneuverable cleaner.
Maintenance is an absolute breeze. There’s a quick release cassette to make your life easier.
There’s no noise at all when your cleaner is working away. You can relax poolside while it does its job without being disturbed.
Installation couldn’t be simpler. Attach the wheel deflector, hose and disc. Connect to your skimmer or to a dedicated suction line. And you’re good to go!
A comprehensive warranty means you’re in safe hands if anything goes wrong.
For a cost-effective and highly efficient pool cleaner from a brand you can trust, the Baracuda G3 is hard to top.
2. PENTAIR GW9500 KREEPY KRAULY GREAT WHITE INGROUND POOL CLEANER
Like many pool cleaners, the GW9500 from Pentair has a striking name. It’s otherwise known as the Kreepy Krauly Great White.
This in-ground automatic pool cleaner has been a best-seller for years and with just cause.
The 15-inch cleaning path is adequate for a brisk enough pace. You’ll still want something like 4 to 6 hours for a full clean. You won’t need to spend that time monitoring the Kreepy Krauly. Just sit back with a drink and let it do its thing.
Although it’s reasonably efficient, the random nature of the cleaning mean it’s not got the same vision or programming present in more expensive robots. What you will get is a thorough clean while barely needing to lift a finger.
Whether you’ve got vinyl or a fiberglass finish to your pool, the Pentair copes admirably. Its ability to clean specialty surfaces is a key selling point.
If your cleaner gets traps in a tight spot, the specialized turning mechanism guarantees it will be free in no time.
The one major disadvantage of the Pentair is that it spends rather too much time cleaning the deep end while neglecting the shallow end.
Big leaves and other large objects will block the suction so think about what type of matter lands in your pool.
Pentair offers a 2-year limited warranty so you can buy stress-free.
For an all-rounder that will keep your pool spotless at a very keen price, road test the Kreepy Krauly today. We are confident you’ll be as happy with it as we were.
3. HAYWARD 900 WANDA THE WHALE ABOVE-GROUND AUTOMATIC POOL CLEANER
The final suction-side cleaner on our shortlist is Wanda the Whale, another memorably-named pool vac from Hayward.
The Hayward is an above ground style of cleaner unlike the first 2 suction cleaners we tested out. We chose this so there is something for everyone rather than a narrow band of very similar products.
Installation takes no more than 10 minutes. You won’t need any tools or specialist skills to be up and running almost straight out the box.
A turbine system means that water flow is nicely balanced. You’ll get smooth and gentle movement without any troublesome noise.
32 feet of hose supplied should be lengthy enough for most requirements. If you have a larger pool, this is not the most suitable cleaner for you anyway.
SmartDrive steering means you’ll get a little more finesse than with purely random cleaners. Water circulation is given a further boost as the cleaner pulls water up from the bottom as it does its work.
Whether it’s dirt or seeds, bugs or leaves, Wanda sucks up everything without breaking stride. Your water will be left crystal clear ready for you to dive on in.
If your pump kicks out less than ¾ HP, this cleaner is not for you.
The limited 1-year warranty is less generous than that offered by much of the competition. Take this into consideration when looking at the cheaper price tag. Sometimes value is about more than the numbers on a label.
If you’re looking for an extremely cost-effective method of keeping your pool immaculate, you could do far worse than unleashing Wanda the Whale.
PRESSURE POOL CLEANER: OUR TOP 3 REVIEWS
1. POLARIS VAC-SWEEP 360 PRESSURE SIDE POOL CLEANER
The final set of pool cleaners we tested were all pressure-side models. From the 5 we initially tried, we took a closer look at our top 3. Leading the pack is the Polaris Vac-Sweep 360.
The 360 is an in-ground pressure-side cleaner. You won’t need to worry about an extra pump. This cleaner runs on a separate pressure liner from your pool pump. This means you can cut costs both on installation expenses and running costs. If your pool is already built and you don’t want a robot, this is a smart choice.
The dirt and debris collected by the Polaris is stored in a filter bag. This is a single chamber.
A nifty hose scrubber at the rear makes sure your cleaner doesn’t leave a dirty trail behind it.
With 31 feet of hose, you should have enough freedom to operate without restriction.
An in-line backup valve soon frees up the Polaris if it gets stuck. It will flip and continue its duties without interrupting the cleaning cycle.
Since this vac is powered by the pressure of water returning to your swimming pool, the filter and skimmer will be freed up to do their jobs without intereference.
There is a limited warranty but look out for the restrictions. It’s better than nothing but you’d expect more from a company of this stature.
Pressure-side cleaners are not for everyone. If you think this type of vac would best fit your requirements, the Polaris 360 is tough to outflank.
2. POLARIS VAC-SWEEP 380 PRESSURE SIDE POOL CLEANER
As we near the end of this comprehensive guide to the best pool cleaners, another product from the pool cleaning titan Polaris.
A triple-jet pressure-side cleaner just like its smaller brother the 360, this vac does need a supplementary booster pump. Make sure you factor this into the equation when you’re budgeting.
The 380 will remove all marks from the walls of your pool all the way down to the bottom.
You’ll get all of the functionality of the 360 and more with this uprated 380 model.
31 feet of hose is generous.
The filter bag is made to prevent debris hitting the filter or basket. This makes life easier on your filtration system.
Heated water is dished out throughout the pool so you can get back into it without delay.
You’ll be able to get a large pool clean in 3 hours with the Polaris 380. That’s a very rapid turnaround time for such a deep clean.
It is inconvenient that the 380 will not clean the stairs of your pool. Take this into account.
You’ll need to swap the filter bag on an annual basis. The tail scrubber will also need replacing.
If you’re prepared for the stiff price tag, ongoing investment and the booster pump, the Polaris 380 is a class-leading pressure-side cleaner. It did nothing to let us down during testing. We really can’t recommend it highly enough.
3. PENTAIR LL505G KREEPY KRAULY LEGEND PRESSURE-SIDE INGROUND POOL CLEANER
Wrapping up our pool cleaner reviews, another Kreepy Krauly from Pentair, this time the Legend.
Again, a pressure-side cleaner, this is suitable for paler in-ground pools.
Pentair products are not cheap but they represent great overall value. It is a brand you can rely upon.
You’ll need to buy the booster pump separately as with the Polaris so give this due though.
4 wheels stop the Legend from toppling over. Front-wheel drive helps it to climb the walls with speed and ease.
The back-up valve kicks in every 3-½ minutes. This will deliver coverage of the whole pool and discourage the cleaner from loitering on the steps.
A large throat allows plenty of debris to enter and it’s stashed in a bulky filter bag.
The standard tail hose scrubber means you won’t see a trail of marks in its wake.
You can choose between gray or white to suit the color scheme of your pool.
For a rugged workhorse of a cleaner that will get the job done without any ceremony, the Kreepy Krauly Legend is worth an honorable mention.
WHAT DO I DO NOW?
You should have a good idea on what you want to buy and what to look for when you purchase your automatic pool cleaner. But if you need any help or have questions not covered by this guide, contact your pool supply vendor and see how they can help you.
Good luck in your automatic pool cleaner purchase and enjoy the savings to your wallet and the time you’ll have for more swimming.