Buying Tips robotic pool cleaners compared

Published on January 2nd, 2016 | by Roger Corbinetti


Robotic Pool Cleaner Buying Guide 2016

Shopping for a new automatic pool cleaner can be an overwhelming experience!

There are over 80 robotic pool cleaners for sale today, after all. On top of that, pool stores, manufacturers, sales people and internet retailers further cloud the picture by telling us slightly different stories about each unit.

This guide is designed to help you cut through the noise with simple facts, independent ratings and helpful tips on how to buy the right cleaner for your needs. It won’t answer every question you have, but it will give you the data you need to feel comfortable in your purchase.

Here are some of the key decision factors you should take into account when selecting a robotic cleaner for your pool.


Robotic cleaners are constantly spinning around and climbing steps and walls, so your cable can end up a tangled mess without a good cable swivel. Tangled power cables is the most annoying part of owning a pool cleaner. Do not cheat yourself out of a tangle-free setup just to save a few bucks!

Luckily, the underwater robot cable swivel has arrived. In our opinion, it’s one of the best engineering achievements for automatic pool cleaners. Without a swivel in place, pool owners spend a lot of time detangling the power cords. When the power cord becomes a tangled spider web, efficiency and efficiency both disappear – for owner and robot.


Some automatic cleaners move randomly around the pool. Others use microprocessor-controlled navigation to tackle cleaning the pool in a very determined and reliable way.

Pool cleaners without Intelligent Navigation cost less, but they take more time to clean your pool, which uses more energy is used. This also can reduce the number of cleaning cycles you get out of your unit before it’s damaged.

We particularly like the new Variable Interval Timer feature. A number of the newer cleaners are so effective that there’s no reason to operate them every day for many pools. Variable Interval Timers allow your cleaner complete flexibility to run every two days, daily, or every three days. Now that’s energy efficient!


Did you know just 1% of the debris in a typical pool is in the water? The remaining 99% is on the wall.

Many cleaners only vacuum up loose trash, whereas others will clear every square inch of the pool with powerful spinning brushes. This is the key to dislodging dirt, dust and other contaminants. A number of the newer units are not bad at removing material that’s stuck on the wall including the bacteria, algae, and biolfilm which tend to attach themselves to the wall of every pool. Larger wheels, a jet propulsion unit and grabbing brushes all help a unit walk up a wall effectively.


Some pool cleaners function for 6 or more hours a day. Others use only 3 hours to complete the cleaning cycle.

A cleaner that’s more effective in cleaning in a shorter period of time will cost less to run. For the best robotic pool products, there’s no need to manage them every day; 2-3 times weekly is sufficient for many pools.


Getting a robotic cleaner repaired can be very expensive.

To avoid this expense, choose a unit with at the least a two-year non-prorated warranty. A couple of models have three year low-prorated warranties which are even better.

You’ll eventually have to replace a motor after the warranty expires. This can be a costly surprise for swimming pool owners, as some motors cost almost as much as a new unit. Search for cleaners using a substitute motor price that’s $450 or less.


Modern automatic pool cleaners feature 12- or 24-volt DC motors that consume about 90% less power than AC motors. Robots with DC motors can work for about 5 cents an hour on as little as 180 watts.

Energy Star will begin reviewing robotic cleaners in the next several years. That will be great, but you cannot focus just on the watts when considering the power efficiency. The power rating is just one component in energy efficiency. There are 3 other things to think about, too:

  1. Brush Contact w/ Surface: cleaners with rubber tracks possess a large desperate contact patch that grabs the pool surface a lot better than wheels and plastic tracks can. Efficiency increases.
  2. Intelligent Navigation further increases efficiency and allows the microprocessor to manage the road taken. Entry-level cleaners move the pool. There isn’t any since in within the same element of the share over and over. Intelligent Navigation works intelligent, saving you money.
  3. A Variable Interval Timer will allow your cleaner start only once needed, that may increase productivity by up to 3X. Nearly all products include just a daily timer. Why clean your pool when every other day is all that is expected?


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