Published on January 30th, 2021 | by Roger Corbinetti6
Best Robotic Pool Cleaner for Above Ground Pool 2021: Top Picks & Reviews
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Shopping for a robotic pool cleaner for your above ground pool?
You’ve come to the right place.
A robotic pool cleaner is easier to use and cleans better than pressure or suction pool cleaners. Also, because it does not rely on your pool pump or filter, a robotic cleaner saves you energy and increases the lifespan of the pool filter.
What’s In This Buying Guide?
- What’s In This Buying Guide?
- Types of Above Ground Automatic Pool Vacuums
- The 5 Best Robotic Pool Cleaners Reviewed
- 1. Best for Pools Up To 50 Feet: Aquabot AJET122 Pool Rover
- 2. Most energy-efficient pool cleaner: Hayward W3RC9740CUB SharkVac
- 3. Best for Deep Cleaning: Aquabot ABREEZ4 X-Large
- 4. Best for Flat bottom pools: Aquabot APRVJR Pool Rover Junior
- 5. Best Value for Money: Dolphin Escape Robotic Pool Cleaner
- Benefits of Using a Robotic Pool Cleaner for Your Above Ground Pool
- Key Considerations When Buying a Robotic Pool Cleaner for an Above Ground Pool
In this buying guide, we review the 5 best robotic pool cleaners for above ground pools. We also explain the features to look for when shopping for an above ground robotic pool cleaner and answer the most commonly asked questions regarding robotic pool cleaners.
If you are looking for another type of pool cleaner, see our reviews of the best pool cleaners (all types).
Types of Above Ground Automatic Pool Vacuums
When shopping for an automatic cleaner for your above ground pool, there are three main options: a suction cleaner, a pressure cleaner, or a robotic cleaner.
Suction Pool Cleaners
A suction pool cleaner relies on the suction power of water being sucked out of the pool to move around and pick up debris.
The debris passes through a hose attached to the cleaner and goes directly to the pool filter, where it is trapped.
Suction pool cleaners are typically the cheapest and require the least amount of maintenance. On the downside, they work best in screened pools with light debris like sand and silt. They get clogged easily by leaves and other large debris.
A good example of a suction pool cleaner is the Zodiac MX6.
Pressure Pool Cleaners
A pressure pool cleaner relies on the pressure of water being pumped back into the pool after going through the filter. Thus, a pressure cleaner is connected to the pool’s return port.
A pressure pool cleaner creates turbulence that agitates dirt and floats it on the surface of the water. The pool filter removes this debris.
Some debris is also sucked into the cleaner and stored in an attached debris bag or receptacle.
Pressure pool cleaners can effectively remove large amounts of debris, including large pieces of debris like leaves. On the downside, many pressure pool cleaners require a booster pump, which raises the initial costs.
Because of the booster pump, pressure pool cleaners also use more electricity.
Robotic Pool Cleaners
Robotic cleaners do not rely on any aspect of your pool to work. They are fully self-contained with a motor to drive the robot around and another motor to vacuum debris.
Though pricey, robotic pool cleaners use less electricity than pressure and suction cleaners. But they can be pricier to maintain as parts and replacements cost more.
Robot pool cleaners are also costlier to repair because of their complicated design.
As for cleaning performance, robotic pool cleaners are great. Depending on the type of onboard filter, they can pick up almost all kinds of debris. Some robot cleaners have interchangeable filters for tackling different types of dirt.
The 5 Best Robotic Pool Cleaners Reviewed
- For pools up to 50 feet: Aquabot AJET122 Pool Rover
- Most energy-efficient pool cleaner: Hayward W3RC9740CUB SharkVac
- For deep cleaning: Aquabot ABREEZ4 X-Large
- For flat bottom pools: Aquabot APRVJR Pool Rover
- Value for money: Dolphin Escape Robotic Cleaner
|Aquabot AJET122 Pool Rover ||Most energy efficient||50ft swivel cable||Fine top-access filter basket||Full pool coverage||44.6lbs dry weight||1 year|
|Hayward SharkVac||Best for pools up to 50 feet||50ft swivel cable||Fine top-access filter bags||Cleans floor, cove, and lower wall||11.9lbs dry weight||1 year|
|Aquabot ABREEZ4 X-Large||Best for deep cleaning||60ft swivel cable||Fine top-access filter baskets||Cleans floor, cove, and lower wall||25.6lbs dry weight||1 year|
|Aquabot Pool Rover Junior||Best for flat bottom pools||40ft swivel cable||Fine bottom-access filter bags||Floor cleaning only||10lbs dry weight||1 year|
|Dolphin Escape||Best value for money||40ft non-swivel cable||Fine top-access filter basket||Floor cleaning only||13.8lbs dry weight||2 years|
1. Best for Pools Up To 50 Feet: Aquabot AJET122 Pool Rover
The Aquabot AJET122 (S2-50 model) is one of the newest above ground pool robots from Aquabot.
It falls in the same price range as the Pool Rover Junior and Aquabot X-Large Breeze but includes engineering improvements and filter options not found on the other two.
Like the Aquabot X-Large Breeze, the AJET122 works on both above ground and in-ground pools. For in-ground pools, however, it is limited to small sizes.
- Ideal for large above ground pools.
- Kink-free swivel cable.
- Hydro-Robotic Technology reduces maintenance costs and extends lifespan.
- Top-loading filters – easy to access.
- Requires frequent configuration of axle pins.
1. A 50-foot swivel cable
There is nothing as annoying as a cable that keeps tangling as the cleaner moves in the pool.
You have to take time after every clean to untangle the cable. Sometimes you even have to rescue the cleaner after it stalls in the middle of a cleaning session.
The Aquabot S2-50 solves this problem by including a 50-foot swivel-cable that does not kink or tangle.
2. Ideal for above ground and in-ground pools
The Pool Rover S2-50 has been designed to work on small in-ground pools and standard above ground pools.
3. Hydro-Robotic technology
The Pool Rover S2-50 is equipped with Hydro-Robotic technology, which helps lower the maintenance cost of the robotic pool cleaner while improving cleaning efficiency.
Hydro-Robotic technology refers to a mechanism where the robotic cleaner moves within the pool with the help of strong jet propulsion from the in-built pump. It reduces the number of moving parts needed in the cleaner, thus reducing maintenance and increasing lifespan.
4. Top access filter bags
The Pool Rover S2-50 features top access filter bags for easy access and cleaning.
This unit comes with two sets of filter bags with fine and extra-fine mesh options. The bags feature a nylon mesh filter that can filter out particles as small as two microns. The extra-fine filter picks up the smallest debris and algae, and the fine mesh filter bag picks up larger leaves and twigs.
5. Agitating brushes
The Pool Rover S2-50 comes with two scrubbing brushes. These brushes work to loosen up dirt and debris on the pool floor and walls, thus making it easier for the filters to pick up dirt.
See It In Action
- Top-access filter bags w/ two filter media choices
- Two dirt-agitating brushes
- 50-foot swivel cable
- 80 to 85 gallons per minute
Most customers commend the cleaner’s ability to pick up most of the dirt, even the smallest of particles. The 2-micron filters work especially well, so if your pool suffers from sand and algae issues, this is a great choice.
The no-tangle swivel cable is also a beloved feature for many customers.
One area where some owners express frustration is the need to keep changing the pin configuration on the axles to ensure that the entire pool is covered. This issue is also shared with the Pool Rover, Jr.
The Pool Rover AJET 122 is not the best pool cleaner there is. But it performs better and cleans larger pools than the Pool Rover Junior while still maintaining a low price.
2. Most energy-efficient pool cleaner: Hayward W3RC9740CUB SharkVac
With a price tag over $500 (or $700 for an XL model), there is a lot to expect from the SharkVAC Robotic Pool Cleaner. And it delivers.
Introduced in 2016, this is the latest model to be in the Hayward TigerShark family. It comes with some great features and is highly rated by owners.
Please note that there are several variations of the SharkVac cleaner. You can get the standard size or the pricier extra-large (XL) size.
You can also opt for one with a caddy cart, though it may cost you more (shop carefully – prices on the caddy combo deal change often).
- Excellent cleaning performance.
- Clean fast – 2-3 hours tops.
- No missed spots, thanks to the smart steering technology.
- Full pool coverage, including walls.
- A bit heavy.
- Hard to access the filters.
1. Top-access debris container
The SharkVac by Hayward is easy to clean thanks to its top access debris container.
When in need of a cleaning, just pop open the top, remove theÂ filter cartridges, and clear the debris.
There is no need to deal with messy bags or to turn the unit upside down.
Also, the SharkVac has two ultra-fine filters to catch the smallest of particles and leave your pool sparkling.
2. Scrubbing brushes
To deliver a thorough cleaning, the unit comes with two scrubbing brushes whose purpose is to loosen stubborn dirt for easier filtration.
3. Microprocessor technology and advanced sensors
The SharkVac contains advanced microprocessor technology that helps it navigate the pool surface as efficiently as possible.
This ensures that every point on the pool floor has been reached and sufficiently scrubbed in just 2 hours.
For an even more thorough cleaning of the waterline and walls, the company recommends using the SharkVac XL.
Another piece of technology contained in the cleaner are the sensors. There are two types of sensors. One set detects when the unit is out of the water and protects the motor.
The other detects when the unit begins to climb out of the water and responds by reversing direction.
4. Highly economical
This is one of the strongest selling points of the SharkVac.
This robotic pool cleaner is designed to be highly energy-efficient, using very little power on each cleaning cycle.
Each 2-hour cleaning cycle uses the same amount of power as a light bulb left on for the same amount of time.
- 50-foot cord.
- Works on a variety of pool surfaces including tile and vinyl
- top-access filter cartridge with extra-fine mesh media
Customer feedback is overwhelmingly positive on the Hayward Sharkvac. This is one of the few robotic cleaners actually to work as advertised.
It collects debris, employs smart technology for efficient cleaning, and is really energy efficient.
Best of all, it is far cheaper than similar-performance higher-end models.
One issue most customers encountered is difficulty accessing the filters. The lid is hard to open, and it takes a bit of effort to remove the filters. But with practice, it gets easier.
Despite its relatively low price, the SharkVac is by no means a low-end pool cleaner. It has most of the features of high-end models, and the cleaning performance is just as admirable.
This is one of the best robotic pool cleaners you will find in the $500 to $700 price range, excels at cleaning flat surfaces – and it’s easy on softer materials.
3. Best for Deep Cleaning: Aquabot ABREEZ4 X-Large
Aquabot’s X-Large Breeze is designed for deep cleaning above ground pools and small in-ground pools of varying shapes.
This cleaner is a good choice for pool owners looking for something with more quality than the Pool Rover Jr. but still affordable.
It has its limitations, but it does a fine job.
- Agitating brushes, power washing jets, and strong suction provide a deep clean.
- Top-access debris baskets that are easy to access.
- Swivel cable.
- Ultra-fine filtration.
- Some debris falls back into the pool when you lift the cleaner.
1. Ideal for smaller in-ground and above ground pools
The Aquabot X-Large Breeze does well in both in-ground and above ground pools of different shapes. For in-ground pools, however, it is only ideal for small-sized pools.
It can clean an L-shape, kidney shape, round, rectangular, or oval pool with a maximum length of 50 feet.
The cleaner’s wheels can handle different types of surfaces, including vinyl, tile, fiberglass, and concrete.
2. Top-access filter baskets
Cleaning out the Aquabot X-Large Breeze is no trouble at all. There are two large filter baskets with easy access.
Even better, the baskets have a clear cover making it easy to see how much debris has been collected. When they get full, just remove the filter baskets and hose them down.
3. Scrubbing brushes + power wash jets
Unlike the Pool Rover Jr., the Aquabot X-Large Breeze does not solely rely on its vacuum to clean up debris.
It also comes with two scrubbing brushes that make the cleaning process faster and more thorough. These brushes help agitate and loosen up dirt for easier pickup through suction.
Furthermore, the robotic cleaner has power wash jets to loosen debris and ensure the pool is left as spotless as possible.
4. Swivel cable
To prevent tangling when cleaning a pool, the Aquabot X-Large Breeze comes with a swivel cable. This makes it easy for the unit to turn without the cable getting tangled up.
See It In Action
- 2-micron fine filter inserts
- One and 2-hour automatic timer settings
- 150 Watt power consumption
- 60-foot swivel cable
- 80 gallons/minute throughput
If you read reviews on Amazon and dealer sites, you’ll see that most Aquabot X-Large Breeze owners are happy with their purchase. Most note the great cleaning performance and the low price.
The Aquabot X-Large Breeze gets high marks for cleaning flat surfaces and portions of walls (with moderate success).
The inclusion of agitating brushes and water jets is also appreciated by many customers.
The one concern to note is that some of the debris in the receptacles can fall back into the pool when you lift the cleaner out of the water.
The Aquabot X-Large Breeze is nice a step up from the Pool Rover Junior.
It has brushes, power jets, larger filter bags, and a convenient swivel cable. This translates into better performance & convenience at a price that is still affordable.
From its name and toy-like appearance, it would be easy to dismiss the Aquabot Pool Rover Junior as a lower-end robotic pool cleaner with limited cleaning ability.
But that is far from the case.
The Pool Rover Junior comes with a handful of powerful features to ensure that your pool is left sparkling clean. It is a simple, proven workhorse that’s relatively cheap to repair.
Though the cleaning power is not the tops among robotic pool cleaners, it does a fine job for a great price.
The Pool Rover Junior comes with most of the features you’d expect in a standard robotic pool cleaner: automatic timer, fine filter bag, and an intelligent guidance system, among others.
This pool cleaner is designed for flat-bottomed above ground pools. Don’t buy it if your pool has built-in steps or a deep end.
- Cleans fast.
- Hydro-Robotic Technology reduces maintenance costs and increases lifespan.
- Fine filtration removes extra-small debris like sand and pollen.
- Intelligent guidance system.
- Lightweight – easy to handle.
- Fair construction quality.
- Uses a debris bag that’s harder to clean compared to a basket.
- Doesn’t climb walls.
1. Fast cleaning
While most robotic pool cleaners take at least 2 hours to do a thorough cleaning, the makers of the Pool Rover Junior claim that it needs only 1 hour.
2. Extra-wide non-marring wheels
The non-marring wheels let the cleaner to easily roll over different types of pool surfaces for a thorough clean. This is especially important for vinyl-lined pools. They also ensure that the cleaner does not get stuck in corners or on ladders.
3. Intelligent guidance system
One of the features that make the Pool Rover Junior so efficient and quick is the internal guidance system.
Once you set it in the pool, it figures out the quickest and most efficient way to clean your pool.
This allows it to efficiently clean above ground pools of different shapes, including L-shape, oval, kidney-shaped, and rectangular, without any problem.
4. Ultra-fine reusable filter bag
The 2-micron filter bag captures leaves and large particles as well as algae, bacteria, and other smaller dirt particles.
- 40 ft floating cable
- 24-volt pump motor
- Reusable 2-micron filter bag
- Internal pump
- 2-hour shut-off timer
- 180-watt power consumption
- Only cleans the floor – no wall climbing capability.
The Pool Rover Junior has been on the market for several years. It has hundreds of reviews on Amazon, where you can read tons of pros and cons.
You’ll see that many of the negative reviews are from people who tried to use this cleaner for in-ground pools (not advised).
The most common complaint is with the quality of the material used on the Pool Rover Junior. Many customers noted that the plastic wheels and axles are weak and might not last very long.
Customers also caution that the power unit should not be left outside since it is not waterproof. It can easily get damaged if it is rained on.
If you are looking for an affordable & proven robotic pool cleaner for your above ground swimming pool, you should consider buying the Pool Rover Junior. The new Dolphin Escape is another excellent choice.
5. Best Value for Money: Dolphin Escape Robotic Pool Cleaner
The Dolphin Escape packs the cleaning ability and advanced features of high-end Dolphin pool cleaners in a much cheaper package. It’s a great choice if you are looking for a high-performance above ground robotic pool vacuum at a bargain price.
- Good value for money.
- Large top-loading filter cartridge.
- Smart navigation increases efficiency and ensures there are no missed spots.
- An active brush improves cleaning performance.
- Power-saving DC motors.
- Ultra-fine filter sold separately.
- No anti-tangle cable.
- Doesn’t climb walls.
1. Active Scrubbing Brush
Vacuuming is not enough to remove all the dirt and grime in a swimming pool. To get rid of algae and stuck-in dirt, a scrubbing action is necessary.
The Dolphin Escape robotic pool cleaner has a rotating brush that loosens dirt on the surface of the pool for easier vacuuming.
2. Smart Scanning and Navigation
Dolphin Escape will clean your pool in 1.5 hours or less. It cleans this fast because it does not rely on random movements.
Instead, it uses a built-in smart scanning program, the SmartNav 2.0, to determine the pool’s size and shape. It then plots the most optimal cleaning path.
Thanks to the smart navigation technology, the cleaner does not waste time and energy going over the same spots.
3. Large Top-access Debris Cartridge
All the collected debris is held in a large filter basket that you can conveniently access from the top. There’s no need to turn over the cleaner or deal with a messy, hard-to-clean debris bag.
4. Continuous Tracks
Instead of wheels, the Dolphin Escape pool cleaner moves on tracks like those you find on some tractors.
Tracks have better traction than wheels, which reduces energy-wasting slippage. It also allows the Dolphin Escape to easily drive over obstacles.
- 40ft cable (for above ground pools up to 30ft long)
- 8lbs dry weight
- Top-loading fine filter basket
- 5hr cleaning cycle
- Floor cleaning only
- 2-year warranty
The Dolphin Escape pool robot cleaner has mostly positive customer reviews on Amazon. Pool owners say it cleans fast and thoroughly. It doesn’t require much maintenance, and it’s well made.
The biggest complaint is the lack of an ultra-fine filter. The fine filter included with the Dolphin Escape picks up leaves, bugs, and other large debris but leaves fine sand and silt at the bottom of the pool.
If you struggle with fine debris in your above ground pool, you’ll need to buy the ultra-fine filter separately.
Something else you should know is that the Dolphin Escape does not climb the walls. It’s a floor-only pool cleaner, though some pool owners say it climbs partway up their pool walls.
Either way, you’ll still need to do some manual scrubbing.
The Dolphin Escape robotic pool cleaner is a great bargain. It has the features and cleaning performance of pricier robotic pool cleaners but costs way less.
If you are on a budget but would still like a robotic pool cleaner that will leave your above ground pool spotless, we highly recommend Dolphin Escape.
Benefits of Using a Robotic Pool Cleaner for Your Above Ground Pool
1. Saves you time and effort
Cleaning a pool with a brush is a grinding task that will take up all your precious time.
Even if you use a cleaner that relies on your pool pump, you most likely still have to clean the steps and walls yourself.
A robotic pool cleaner does this for you. A good one will not only scrub the floor, but it will also reach the hidden corners, tackle the steps, and even climb on the walls for an all-round cleaning.
2. Saves you money
A traditional pool pump-driven cleaner tends to require many parts and is expensive to install.
A robotic pool cleaner comes ready to use without requiring any additional parts or installation. Just plug it in, and it is good to go.
Furthermore, modern robotic pool cleaners are designed to be highly energy-efficient, ensuring you spend as little money as possible on your power bills.
3. Better, more thorough cleaning
It is without a doubt that a robotic pool cleaner does a much better job of cleaning your pool than any other method.
Most cleaners use a combination of scrubbing(agitating) brushes and a vacuuming mechanism to ensure a thorough cleaning. A cleaner pool not only looks good but is safer for everyone who uses it, especially children.
Key Considerations When Buying a Robotic Pool Cleaner for an Above Ground Pool
Don’t pick the first robotic pool cleaner you come across. Compare multiple options to find the one that’s right for your pool. Here are factors and features to consider when comparing different pool cleaners.
Pool size and shape
Pool shape is not all that important. Robotic cleaners can navigate a pool of any shape. But the size is important.
Check the maximum length of the pool; the robotic cleaner can clean. It depends on the length of the cable.
All robotic pool cleaners for an above ground pool can clean pools up to 30 feet long, and a few can clean larger pools up to 40ft or 50ft.
A heavy robotic pool cleaner is going to be difficult to handle. You are going to find it challenging to put it in and remove it from the pool.
If you are strong and healthy, weight is not as important. But if you have a disability or lower than average body strength, look for a lightweight robotic pool cleaner such as the Aquabot Pool Rover Junior (10lbs) or the Dolphin Escape (13.8lbs).
Scrubbing brushes are a must-have feature if you want your pool to get clean. Vacuuming is not enough to get all the grime out of the pool. Brushes loosen dirt and algae stuck on the pool surface.
Cheaper robotic pool cleaners have one brush while premium ones have two.
If a robotic pool cleaner uses random movements to clean the pool, forget it. It’ll keep missing spots, and you’ll probably have to put it in several times to get the pool clean.
Most robotic pool cleaners, even cheaper ones, come with smart steering or navigation. They scan the pool to determine shape and size, then calculate the most optimal cleaning path.
Smart navigation also prevents the cleaner from going over the same areas repeatedly or missing some areas.
We recommend getting a robotic cleaner with a top-loading filter basket. Top-loading filters are easy and quick to access since you don’t have to turn the cleaner over. Furthermore, a basket is much easier to empty and clean compared to a debris bag.
But if you are on a budget, a bottom-loading debris bag will work just as well; you’ll just need to spend more time emptying and cleaning the debris.
Also, check what size of debris the filter can capture. With some cleaners, you may need to buy an ultra-fine filter separately to remove sand, silt, and other fine bits of debris.
Check if the robotic pool cleaner has a swivel cable. A swivel cable stays kink-free, which allows better and faster cleaning. You also don’t have to keep untangling the cable after every cycle.
Don’t assume that a particular robotic pool cleaner will scrub and vacuum every inch of your swimming pool.
Many robotic cleaners designed for above ground pools only clean the floor or the floor, cove, and part of the wall.
If you want a wall-climber, look for an in-ground robotic pool cleaner. It’ll cost you more, but at least you don’t have to spend time scrubbing the wall yourself.
How are above the ground robot pool cleaners different from the rest?
Above ground, pool cleaners are typically smaller and have a shorter floating cable. They mostly clean the floor, cove, and lower wall. In addition, they have a smaller filter bag or basket.
How to use an above the ground robot pool cleaner?
Robot pool cleaners are plug-and-play. That means you don’t need to install anything. Just plug the power unit into a GFCI outlet and dunk the robot cleaner into the water.
How often should pools be cleaned?
It depends on how often you use your swimming pool and how dirty it gets. For some pools, once a week is enough, while others may require daily cleaning.
The advantage of a robotic pool cleaner is that you can use it every day since it uses very little electricity.
How are robotic pool cleaners different from the suction cleaners?
Suction cleaners run off the pool pump. A suction cleaner uses the force of the water being sucked out of the pool to vacuum dirt and move around. It also relies on the pool filter to capture debris.
In contrast, a robotic pool cleaner is independent. It has its drive system and filter.
A robotic pool cleaner uses less electricity, cleans the pool in less time, and has better cleaning performance.