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On this page we list our 3 top robot pool cleaner choices by type of pool plus the Top 10 Robotic Pool Cleaners of 2018, in case our top 3 don’t meet your needs.
If you want to dig deeper, then check out our independent robotic pool cleaner reviews, plus advice at the bottom of this page on how to choose the best automatic pool cleaner for your in-ground pool or above ground pool.
We only review residential automatic pool cleaners, although some of the larger units we cover will work fine in a commercial setting.
Finally, we update our reviews at least once a month.
For more top-rated pool cleaners, see our list of the top 10 robotic pool cleaners sold today.
In our opinion, the best pool cleaners aren’t necessarily the most popular new models.
Robotic pool cleaners are fairly expensive, so we prefer cleaners that have proven themselves for at least a year or two in the real-world.
These are the ten best robot pool cleaners we’ve reviewed so far:
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|CLEANER||PRICE||RATING||POOL TYPE||WEIGHT||WARR.||HOSE||CLEAN CYCLE|
|Aquabot Pool Rover Jr.||$279.00||Above Ground||11 lbs||1 year||41 ft||1 hr|
|AquaBot Pura 4X||$345.87||Above Ground |
|20 lbs||2 year||40 ft||2 hrs|
|Hayward Ultra XL ||$404.84||In-Ground||20 lbs||1 year||40 ft||4 hrs|
|Dolphin Triton||$732.99||In-Ground||19 lbs||2 year||60 ft||3 hrs|
|Dolphin Nautilus||$674.99||In-Ground||16 lbs||1 year||60 ft||3 hrs|
|Maytronics DX3 Dolphin||$773.33||In-Ground||19 lbs||2 year||60 ft||3 hrs|
|Hayward TigerShark QC||$943.44||In-Ground||40 lbs||3 year||55 ft||3 hrs|
* large capacity filter
|2 year||50 ft||3 hrs|
|Dolphin Premiere||$1,097.00||In-Ground||22 lbs||3 year||51 ft||3 hrs|
|Pentair Prowler 830||$1,024.76||In-Ground||45 lbs||2 year||60 ft||3 hrs|
We look at 4 main criteria to assign our own overall 5-star rating to each robotic pool cleaner. The final star rating is the unweighted average of the following four scores:
1. Value: for the price, how does this pool cleaner compare with competitors on features, cleaning ability and maintenance costs?
2. Wall Cleaning: how well does this pool cleaner clean hard-to-reach vertical surfaces?
3. Energy Efficiency: how much does it cost to run the pool cleaner each month?
4. Floor Cleaning: how well does this robotic cleaner pick up all sizes of debris – including fine particles like sand and grit?
Selecting a robotic pool cleaner is easy, once you know the key features to look for.
Most robotic pool cleaners will clean every square inch of the pool floor with whirling brushes and vacuum loose debris.
But only a few pool cleaners are really good at removing algae and other contaminants from vertical surfaces like walls, steps and stairs.
Use our Wall Cleaning Rating to get a general idea of how well a unit performs on this important job.
Sadly, millions of older style pool cleaners are in use, and some are still available to buy. These can consume over 1,000 watts – which cost a LOT more in utility expenses to operate than newer, low-voltage units.
The latest robotic pool cleaners feature energy-efficient 24 volt DC motors that spend 80% less energy per hour of cleaning than their AC forerunners. In fact, the latest robotic cleaners cost only 5 cents per hour because they operate on only 100-200 watts – about the same as a single light bulb!
Use our Energy Efficiency Rating to understand how much money you can save each year.
Twisted cables are the most frustrating aspect of owning an automated pool cleaner. In addition, tangles impair the cleaning function by not letting the device reach every nook and cranny of your pool. Read the reviews to make sure you buy a unit with an underwater cable swivel, to avoid this problem.
Getting a robotic pool cleaner repaired is not cheap. You will eventually have to replace a motor, and this can be a real jolt for pool owners as some replacement motors cost almost as much as a new unit.
There are two ways to minimize this risk. Look for models with a replacement motor that costs less than $500. Or, select a pool cleaner with at least a 24-month non-prorated warranty. Some of the more expensive models carry a 3-year non-prorated warranty.
The best robotic cleaners are not cheap. That said, there are times when you need to consider loosening your grip on the almighty dollar.
Here are three important features that are worth the additional expense.
Robotic cleaners turn all the time and sometimes climb vertical walls. This can tangle the power cord unless a 360 degree swivel is in place. With no swivel in place, a tangled power cable will frequently impair the cleaning ability and will become a mess to untangle.
While absolutely recommended, be aware that a cable swivel will eliminate most tangles, but not all of them.
Older pump-driven and suction cleaners may cost less up-front, but they use a “random walk” navigation. This means they wander around the pool randomly. In addition, they operate during a fixed timeframe every day, whether or not your pool needs cleaning.
Random movement and fixed timeframes mean the cleaning process will be spotty and inefficient, wasting energy and adding unnecessary wear-and-tear on your unit.
The best of the newer robotic pool cleaners such as the Dolphin Nautilus and Dolphin Triton use Intelligent Navigation, which relies on more sophisticated software and location monitoring to compute an optimized pattern for cleaning your pool and keep track of where the device has already been.
Intelligent Navigation makes robotic pool cleaners more energy efficient and requires and require less time to clean your pool.
In addition to navigation, the ability to program when and how frequently your cleaner operates is important.
We prefer units with Adjustable/Variable Timers. Variable timers let you run your cleaning cycle as needed – every two days, daily or every week. This saves on utilities and wear-and-tear. It’s just a smarter way to clean, and it will save energy costs over time.
Selecting the right filter media can be a hard decision if the unit only accepts one. Traditionally, swimming pool cleaner buyers have had to choose between a tote or cartridge system.
However, some of the newer robotic pool cleaners no longer force you to make this tradeoff. For example, the better Maytronics cleaners let you easily swap filter media. The best Hayward pool cleaners like the Hayward Tiger Shark use reinforced cartridge filters that are easy to clean and swap.
Media flexibility is important, because as the seasons change, your filtering needs change. To pick up bigger debris and tree leaves, make use of the coarse filter or a bag. To clean your pool from an algae rash or pollen, pop in a fine mesh cartridge.
If low running costs are high on your priority list, then consider the following energy-saving features when choosing your next swimming pool cleaner. In all of our product reviews, we assign an Energy Efficiency Rating to give you an idea of how our robotic pool cleaner picks compare on this important feature.
Look for robotic pool cleaners with rubber tracks that have a big sticky contact patch on them. These will adhere to vertical pool surfaces better than plastic tracks and wheels. Your cleaner will spend less time cleaning with a contact adhesive drive, because this design minimizes slippage on horizontal surfaces.
Our Floor Cleaning Rating covers this aspect of pool cleaning.
Yes, that one again. When your pool cleaning route is controlled by intelligent navigation software, it takes less time to clean your pool and reduces energy consumption.
With a variable timer installed, your pool cleaner will only turn on when needed – not every day, which is the default for cheaper cleaners. This single feature can triple your energy efficiency! Many cleaners come with only a day-to-day timer.
Robotic pool cleaners are self-directed, low-voltage automatic pool vacuums that clean the floor, steps and walls of a residential swimming pool.
To power the device, a transformer is connected to a standard wall outlet and a 30 to 100 foot-long power cord connects the pool cleaner to a transformer. The transformer drops the power from 110/220 volts AC down to a much safer 24 volts DC to power the cleaner in your pool.
Robotic pool cleaners operate using two electric motors:
Many robotic pool cleaners today are computer-controlled and automatically “learn” the most efficient path to clean your pool’s unique surfaces. This means they can clean very efficiently, and this saves you $$ on energy and chemicals compared to less intelligent units that rely on your pump’s circulation system and wander around randomly, often getting stuck in one place.
Some robotic pool vacuums offer a remote control that lets you drive the system from your patio chair (helpful for spot cleaning).
Because they’re not connected to your pool’s water pump, robotic pool cleaners generate no additional back pressure on your pool’s system, unlike a pressure- or suction-based cleaner.
This means you avoid the need to add a booster pump or install new plumbing, which saves in up-front costs.
Maintenance costs are better-managed due to the use of intelligent, efficient cleaning algorithms that prevent over-use of the device.
Every robotic pool cleaner is a highly efficient pool filter that’s easy to clean. Many come with extremely efficient filters – a mesh down to 2 microns is not uncommon, so they can catch even the finest particles.
Robotic pool cleaners are one of the most popular upgrades for pool owners, for lots of good reasons. Here are ten awesome reasons why a robotic pool cleaner is worth the investment:
2. Lower energy & running costs
3. Lower chemical usage
4. Climb and scrub walls, too
5. Extremely efficient cleaning
6. Super-simple installation
7. Low noise level
8. No pump upgrade needed
9. Drop it in the water & go
10. Great product warranties
That said, there are over 80 models to choose from that cost $200 to $2,000. Which makes selecting a robotic pool cleaner confusing for even the most dedicated online shopper.
To simplify your shopping, we provide more information on this website including:
Side-by-side comparisons of the Top 10 Robotic Pool Cleaners, organized by budget.
Good luck shopping!
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