Best Pool Cleaners 2023: Top Picks For Every Pool + Buying Guide
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Are you looking for the best pool cleaner for your in-ground or above ground pool?
You’ve come to the right place.
There are three types of pool cleaners to choose from:
- pressure or (return) pool cleaners
- suction pool cleaners
- robotic pool cleaners
In this buying guide, we review the best automatic pool cleaners in all three of these categories and recommend the best choice for various pool types and common situations.
All of the pool cleaners discussed in this guide are proven and popular models sold online and in your local pool store.
After we review our top picks, we cover the features and information you need to know to select the right type and model of automatic cleaner for your pool.
For advice on robotic pool cleaners specifically, check out our home page for our in-depth guide on the best in-ground robot pool cleaners and the best above-ground robot pool cleaners.
Best Automatic Pool Cleaners
These are the best pool cleaners selling today, according to our research and owner-verified robotic pool cleaner reviews:
How to use the table below:
- Our #1 picks are marked with a green circle.
- Cleaners for above ground and in-ground pools are noted.
- Rotate your phone for the best viewing.
- Best Energy Efficient Pool Cleaner: DOLPHIN Triton PS
- Best In-Ground Pool Cleaner: Polaris F9550 Sport Robotic Pool Cleaner
- Best For Large Pools: Aqua Products Evo502 Robotic Pool Cleaner
- Most Advanced: Dolphin Premier Robotic Pool Cleaner
- Best Pressure Side Pool Cleaner: Polaris 380 Vac-Sweep
- Best Value Automatic Pool Cleaner: BARACUDA G3 Advanced Suction Side Pool Cleaner
- Best Suction Pool Cleaner: Poolvergnuegen Automatic Suction Pool Cleaner
- Best Above Ground Robotic Pool Cleaner: Dolphin Escape
- Cheapest Automatic Pool Cleaner: Kreepy Krauly Pool Cleaner
Disclaimer: All links below go to Amazon.com
|DOLPHIN Triton PS||Robotic|
|Polaris F9550 Sport||Robotic|
|Aqua Products Evo502 Robotic Pool Cleaner||Robotic|
|Polaris Vac-Sweep||Side Pressure|
Poolvergnuegen PV896584000013 Hayward
Dolphin Escape Robotic Above Ground Pool Cleaner
1. Best Energy Efficient Pool Cleaner: DOLPHIN Triton PS
The Dolphin Triton PS is a popular automatic pool cleaner from Mayotronics. The company is known for its inventive approach towards pool cleaning and produces innovative products.
The Triton PS is no different. It boasts some of the iconic Mayotronics technologies that make it one of the best pool cleaners any homeowner can ask for.
This mini robot is suitable for in-ground pools as large as 50 feet. It can clean the pool floor, scrub the waterline, and even climb the walls to clean them.
The Triton PS comes with a long 60-feet tangle-free cable. It works with little to no interaction from you. Simply put it in the pool and turn it on, and after two hours, it will have the pool clean and sparkling for you to splash around.
Handling this Dolphin cleaner is also not a tough task. It is pretty lightweight, and you don’t have to struggle much to take it out of the water. Simply use the handle on top and let the water inside the unit drain before taking it out.
The Triton PS has a top-loading large capacity filter basket. You can access it by pressing a button and then use the handle to pull it out to remove the pool dirt.
Clever Clean Navigation
The Triton PS uses a unique Clever Clean navigation system to efficiently clean your pool. It is equipped with numerous sensors that analyze your pool’s size and shape and draft the best cleaning pattern that’ll allow it to clean the pool in the shortest time without leaving any spot behind.
Even if you own an irregular-shaped pool with some obstacles, the robot will find its way around it and continue on its devised pathway until the pool is completely clean. Its single cleaning cycle lasts for about two hours in pools as big as 50 feet.
Active Scrubbing Brushes
We also like this Dolphin cleaner for its forceful cleaning. It is equipped with active brushes that rotate at a fast speed to aggressively remove stubborn dirt and grime.
If you have pollutants like algae, biofilm and scale around your pool, the automated cleaner will forcefully scrub to dislodge and capture inside the filtration cartridge.
With Triton PS, there is no need to purchase separate filters. It comes with two filtration cartridges one is for ultra-fine debris, and the other is for bigger contaminants.
It is easy to switch between the two because they are top-loading and snap out easily for emptying and cleaning. Besides, cleaning them is also a breeze as a quick hose down is enough to remove all the debris.
- Suitable for in-ground pools
- 60 feet anti-tangle cord
- Top-load filter basket
- Active scrubbing brush
- Climbs walls and stairs
Dolphin Triton PS is a popular choice amongst pool owners for its convenience. Many users had issues with the cleaner spitting the debris back with its older version, but they are happy with the upgraded top-loading high-capacity filter basket that is easy to clean as well.
However, some buyers complain that its navigation system is not as effective on non-standard pools. In the two-hour cleaning cycle, it misses some spots while cleaning others multiple times.
If cleaning your in-ground manually is a hassle, you can rely on the Dolphin Triton PS to do a satisfactory job for you. You can choose from two filters depending upon the kind of pollutants in your pool.
The active brushes remove the most stubborn debris. The Triton PS also climbs the stairs and walls to remove water lines. It is easy to set up and also supports scheduled cleaning, so you can program it to clean your pool every other day or once a week.
2. Best In-Ground Pool Cleaner: Polaris F9550 Sport Robotic Pool Cleaner
Polaris F9550 uses wheels instead of tracks and is equipped with a 4-wheel drive system. This allows it to move easily and quickly on any pool surface.
A pool scanning system allows it to achieve almost complete coverage while powerful vortex vacuum technology and oscillating brushes scrub and lift all kinds of debris from the pool.
1. 4-wheel drive system
Most robotic pool cleaners use tracks to move. The Polaris F9550 has wheels that are powered by a 4-wheel drive system. Compared to tracks, wheels have better maneuverability. They don’t get stuck on drains and can move easily to different types of pool surfaces from tile to fiberglass.
2. ActivMotion sensor technology
The Polaris F9550 uses an integrated sensor to ‘see’ the pool. It can measure how big it is and recognize its shape. Whether your pool is freeform, rectangular, circular, bean-shaped, or whatever other shape, the Polaris F9550 is up to the task.
3. High-efficiency cleaning
The Polaris F9550 cleans your pool using three features.
Vortex Vacuum Technology
Powerful suction vacuums up dirt and debris from the water. The debris is collected in a top-access large-capacity canister. An indicator will light up when the canister is full.
Rear water propulsion
This gives the pool cleaner improved maneuverability in tight corners and under the stairs.
Oscillating brushes and a solid-blade scrubbing brush
The Polaris F9550 uses oscillating brushes to agitate any debris stuck on the floor or walls of the pool. It also has a special solid-blade scrubbing brush to get the dirt off the tile line.
4. Customized cleaning cycles and weekly timer
There are three cleaning cycles to choose from: a bottom-only cycle (1.5 hrs), a full cleaning cycle (2.5 hrs), and a waterline-only cycle with different time settings.
A 7-day schedule allows you to set the pool cleaner to clean on specific days of the week.
- Remote control.
- 4-wheel drive system.
- Easy-lift system.
- Pool scanning sensor and software.
- Caddy for storage and transport.
- Top-access filter canister.
The Polaris F9550 is a favorite among pool owners. They love how easy it is to use and how well it cleans. The cleaning cycles, weekly scheduling, and easy-lift system are especially popular.
The two common complaints are that the remote control can be a bit difficult to use (it tends to disconnect from the receiver) and that you still have to manually scrub a couple off of missed spots after the pool cleaner is done.
If you worried whether a robotic pool cleaner would handle your pool’s shape, get the Polaris 9550. It’s also great if you have a special pool surface such as fiberglass.
The wheeled mobility gives this pool cleaner an edge over tracked models. The 4WD system gives it extra power, especially for wall climbing and moving over drains and other pool features.
3. Best For Large Pools: Aqua Products Evo502 Robotic Pool Cleaner
The Aqua Products Evo502 Robotic Pool Cleaner is an automatic pool cleaner for in-ground pools as large as 4 feet. It uses dual-motor traction and spilt brushes to clean the floor, walls, and stairs of your pool.
The Evo502 scrubs the dirt and debris and sucks them into the large debris basket. It boasts a 2.5-hour cleaning cycle during which it scrubs every nook and corner of the pool for a spotless finish.
Unlike other robot pool cleaner models, cleaning the Evo502 is extremely easy. The debris basket is top-loading, so there is no way that debris can fall back into the pool. Just open the door latch on top and remove the basket to empty. Then give it a quick clean with a hose to remove finer particles.
1. Powerful Suction
The best thing about this device is its powerful suction technology. It pulls all the pollutants easily, whether they are free-floating or stuck to any part of the pool. The powerful action also keeps them spiraling inside the basket so that they cannot settle and clog it.
2. Good Turning Action
We also like the Evo502 for its awesome rotation. It swivels effortlessly on horizontal surfaces. Plus, when it moves from a horizontal to a vertical surface, the action is pretty smooth with no slips or slides.
3. Split Cleaning Brushes
The Evo502 features unique micro split format brushes that can handle any scrubbing job with ultimate ease. The innovative design removes any type of build-up, passing it from bristle to bristle towards the inlet that quickly sucks it in.
- Suitable for pools measuring up to 40 feet
- Cleans everything from the floor to the walls and the waterline
- Good turning radius
- Powerful suction
- Big and easy-to-clean basket
The Aqua Products Evo502 won over its buyers with its affordable price and versatile functionality. Customers report it as an efficient unit that cleans everything inside, be it the floor, sun deck, or stairs.
They praise its corner cleaning ability and report that it can easily handle the grime stuck there. But they don’t like the tangling cord, which can be a problem for you as well. Plus, it is not suitable as an above-ground pool cleaner as well.
If you own a large pool and want an automatic robot to handle the cleaning job, the Aqua Products Evo502 Robotic Pool Cleaner is a good option. It can handle the toughest cleaning jobs in as little as 2.5 hours, keeping your pool clean and spotless.
The powerful vacuum makes pool cleaning an easy job for it. Plus, the device itself is easy to clean and maintain.
4. Most Advanced: Dolphin Premier Robotic Pool Cleaner
If you have a more generous budget, then we highly recommend Dolphin’s latest model, the Dolphin Premier. This is an excellent-cleaning in-ground pool cleaner full of advanced features, including multimedia filtration, specialized tracks, and the most efficient pool scanning/navigation algorithms.
Some of the best features of this model include the following:
1. 4 media
The Dolphin Premier has a multimedia filtration system – which means you can use different types of media depending on the condition of your pool and the type of debris in it. Options include:
- Micro-cartridges for fine debris.
- Standard cartridges for larger debris like sand and small rocks.
- Oversized debris bag for leaves and twigs.
- Disposable debris bags if you don’t want to keep cleaning the filter bag.
2. Swivel cable
A 360-degree swivel cable turns with every turn the robotic cleaner makes. This prevents tangling, which could shorten the reach of the cleaner or even get it stuck.
3. Efficient pool scanning & navigation
The microprocessor-controlled SmartNavTM software scans the pool and guides the cleaner along the most optimal path. This not only saves time and energy, but it also ensures there are no missed spots.
The software can even detect drains and ladders and avoid getting stuck on them.
4. Energy efficient
This is one of the most energy-efficient robotic pool cleaners thanks to its efficient DC motors. Compared to the pressure side and suction pool cleaners, the Dolphin Premier uses up to 87% less power.
5. Dual scrubbing brushes
Dual scrubbing brushes clean on the pool floor, scrub the walls and reach into tight corners to get rid of any stubborn dirt and algae.
6. HyperGrip tracks
The Premier moves around on specialized rubber tracks that grip the pool surface strongly. This allows it to move quickly and reduces energy wastage because of slippage.
With help from the scanning software, the HyperGrip tracks roll seamlessly over raised drains and other features without getting stuck.
- Made for residential in-ground pools of any shape.
- Remote control (sold separately)
- Caddy for transport and storage (sold separately)
- Four filtration media.
- 360-degree 60-foot swivel cable.
- 2.5 hours cycle.
- Dry weight: 22 lbs
- Warranty: 3 yrs.
Here are some tips from customers who’ve bought this pool cleaner:
- Get this pool cleaner if you can afford it. It’s worth the higher price tag. The list price in most local stores is around $1,500, although you can get it for less on Amazon.com.
- You don’t need the remote control or the caddy. This will save you $220.
If you are looking for a top-rated in-ground robotic pool cleaner with the latest features, awesome wall-cleaning ability, and advanced navigation, then definitely consider the Dolphin Premier.
5. Best Pressure Side Pool Cleaner: Polaris 380 Vac-Sweep
The Polaris 380 is the go-to pressure pool cleaner for most pool owners. It’s popular because of how well it cleans, how easy it is to use, and the low price tag.
If you are looking for a great reliable pool cleaner, you can’t go wrong with the Polaris 380.
Note: The Polaris 380 requires a booster pump, which is sold separately.
1. Highly maneuverable
The Polaris 380 is designed for use in in-ground pools of any shape, complexity, and size.
It’ll clean the bottom and walls of your pool and tackles drains and stairs without getting stuck.
2. Oversized filter bag
The large-sized filter bag collects all kinds of debris from your pool, including sand, leaves, twigs, dead insects, and small rocks. You just need to run it for a few hours every day to keep your pool clean.
Better filters not only mean your pool is left sparkling clean, but it also reduces the load on the pool’s filtration system – which extends its life.
3. Triple jets
The Polaris 380 is powered by three jets (unlike two jets in the Polaris 280), which gives it more power. This cleans the pool quicker compared to the 280 and can tackle stairs and drains with ease.
- For in-ground pools of any shape and size.
- It requires a separate booster pump.
- Weight: 16.4 lbs.
- Average cleaning time: 3 hours.
- The 31-foot hose can be cut to a custom length.
- All-wheel belt drive system.
- Ideal for all pool surfaces.
With 81% positive feedback on Amazon, the Polaris 380 is one of the highest-rated pool cleaners. Customers love how thoroughly it cleans their pool and how easy it is to set up.
The main complaint from users is that the wheels tend to lock up occasionally. You then have to take it out of the water to get it going again.
The Polaris 380 is a highly popular choice for good reasons.
Pool owners love its performance and the fact that it has almost no setup and maintenance headaches.
If you want to keep your pool clean without much hassle, this is a great buy.
6. Best Value Automatic Pool Cleaner: BARACUDA G3 Advanced Suction Side Pool Cleaner
The Baracuda G3 is an in-ground suction pool cleaner designed to work with low-speed pumps to remove small and medium-sized debris. It can remove sand, small pebbles, leaves, algae, and twigs. Unlike the Polaris 380 above, the Baracuda G3 doesn’t a booster pump. It works well with lower horsepower pumps or the lower setting of a variable speed pump.
With just a single moving part, the G3 is easy to set up and maintain.
The G3 comes in three different versions. You can get the basic one with just the fin disc. For an extra $20 or so, you can get one with an additional scrub disk. And for a few more bucks, you can buy it with an extra replacement fin disk.
1. Ideal for low-power pumps
Most skimmers require the pool pump to have a minimum power rating, usually 3/4 hp. The Baracuda G3 can work with all kinds of pool pumps, even the low-powered ones.
It uses a FlowKeeper valve to regulate water flow, and this creates the right amount of pressure to steer the cleaner and suck debris through the hose. The valve allows the G3 cleaner to work quickly and efficiently even when connected to a low horsepower pump.
2. Easy maneuverability in tight spots
The G3 is fitted with an extra-large 36-inch fin disc. The large surface area creates stronger adhesion with the pool floor and walls. This allows the cleaner to move smoothly all over the pool surface without getting stuck in the drains and any other fittings inside the pool.
Also, it has a wheel deflector which comes in handy when the cleaner is navigating around tight corners.
3. Simple easy-maintenance design
If you look at most suction side pool cleaners, they look a lot like robotic pool cleaners. They are big and have wheels.
The G3 has only one moving part. There are no wheels, gears, or flappers.
The main advantage of this is the ease of maintenance. It’s easy to troubleshoot when there is a problem, and if something breaks, replacement is not an issue.
With fewer moving parts, it also means the pool cleaner will have more uptime, so your pool stays clean all the time.
4. Simple 2-step installation
Installing the G3 pool cleaner takes just a couple of minutes.
Start with the pool end of the cleaner and attach the disc, wheel deflector, and hose. Then connect the hose to your skimmer or a dedicated suction line if your pool has one. That’s all.
Leave the cleaner in the pool for a few hours (around 5-6) to get the best results.
- For inground pools of any shape and size.
- Weight: 19lbs.
- Self-adjusting control valve for maximum performance.
- Cleans small and medium-sized debris.
- 39ft feed hose.
The G3 has over 3,000 reviews on Amazon with 85% positive feedback. In other words, most customers like it.
What surprised most users is how thoroughly it cleans. Within just a few hours, even a really dirty pool is sparkling clean.
The only sorta downside is that you have to do a bit of cleaning first if you have very large debris like large twigs and acorns. The G3 only handles small and medium-sized debris.
Suction side cleaners are a cheap, efficient way to keep your pool clean. Baracuda G3 is one of the best. It’s easy to install (no tools required), cleans like a champ, and maintenance is a breeze. Best of all, you don’t need to get a booster pump or even upgrade your low-horsepower pool pump.
7. Best Suction Pool Cleaner: Poolvergnuegen Automatic Suction Pool Cleaner
The Poolvergnuegen (“Pool Cleaner”) is an extremely popular and proven pool cleaner that comes in 2-wheel and 4-wheel versions ($30-$50 price difference).
The two-wheel cleaner is designed for smaller pools of up to 16 by 32 ft, while the 4-wheel version is for larger pools measuring up to 20 by 40 ft.
Both require a minimum 1/2 horsepower pump with a flow rate > 35 GPM (gallons per minute).
1. Efficient navigation for full coverage
The wheels on The Pool Cleaner are fitted with strong-grip treads that hold strongly onto the pool surface. The patented treads allow the cleaner to navigate the pool floor and climb the walls effortlessly. They also prevent it from getting stuck on pool fittings such as raised drains and lights.
It is pre-programmed with internal settings that steer the wheels in a different direction automatically after every 8-10 feet.
So instead of moving randomly like most other suction pool cleaners, The Pool Cleaner moves in a series of sequences to ensure full coverage.
2. Excellent cleaning performance
Even with a small 1/2hp pool pump size, The Pool Cleaner will still perform at maximum capacity if it were connected to a 2hp pump. This is thanks to the self-adjusting turbine vanes that adjust the water flow.
The self-adjusting mechanism also allows large debris to pass through easily.
When the pool cleaner encounters an uneven surface, it has adjustable roller skirts to ensure that suction power does not let up. When the wheels reach an uneven surface like a raised drain, the skirt will lift to maintain optimal suction power.
3. Variable throat sizes
One of the things I like most about this pool cleaner is that it can handle all sorts of debris, not just the small ones.
The cleaner comes with three interchangeable throats to cater for different debris sizes. Use the largest one if your pool is full of leaves and other large bits. The medium one is great for weekly cleans, while the smaller one is ideal when you just need to clean up small debris.
- For inground pools of all shapes.
- Cleans floor, wall, and coves.
- Ideal for fiberglass, vinyl, pebble, gunite, and tile pool surfaces.
- Hose length: 33ft for the 2-wheel, 40ft for the 4-wheel.
- Weight: 4.9lbs for the 2-wheel, 6.6lbs for the 4-wheel.
With over 1,000 customer reviews and 79% positive feedback, The Pool Cleaner is a favorite.
Customers say it doesn’t leave even a single speck of debris behind. From large twigs to algae, it picks up everything with ease. Many love its reliability. One customer has had it for eight years without a major breakdown and spending only a few bucks on replacement parts.
If you live in a warm area where pools are open all year round and hence need daily cleaning, get this suction cleaner.
The only downside is that it doesn’t work well in pools with low-flow pumps. If the flow rate is less than 35gpm, it’s going to be very sluggish.
This is hands down one of the best suction-side pool cleaners. It leaves your pool spotlessly clean while demanding very little maintenance costs.
Make sure you pick the right version for your pool. If your pool is more than 32 feet long and 16 feet wide, you’ll need the 4-wheel version. It’s more powerful and can drag a longer hose.
8. Best Above Ground Robotic Pool Cleaner: Dolphin Escape
If you have an above-ground pool, the robotic pool cleaners we’ve reviewed are overkill in terms of power and price.
Dolphin escape is a more affordable robotic pool cleaner that’s designed specifically for above-ground pools up to 30 feet wide.
Hypergrip Tracks + Smart Navigation for Easy Mobility
Similar to most pricier Dolphin pool cleaners, the Dolphin Escape moves around on a pair of tracks. The Hypergrip tracks allow the Escape to effortlessly maneuver around the pool and over obstacles without slipping or getting stuck.
In addition, the Dolphin Escape is equipped with CleverClean smart navigation that enables it to steer around obstacles and cover the entire pool floor without missing a spot.
We are used to above-ground pool cleaners that vacuum without brushing, resulting in less than impressive results.
The Dolphin Escape is one of the few above-ground pool cleaners that brushes away the algae, grime, and dirt stuck to the bottom of your pool.
It uses two brushes, with one of them being a fast-rotating active brush.
Top-Loading Filter Basket
Instead of a messy, hard-to-clean debris bag, the Dolphin Escape uses a filter basket. The basket holds lots of debris, so you don’t need to empty it midway through a cleaning.
Once the robot is done cleaning the pool, the top-loading basket is easy to access and clean.
Note that this is a fine filter basket. It’ll pick up most debris, but will leave fine particles of silt, sand, and dust. If you struggle with fine debris in your pool, we recommend buying the ultra-fine filter basket.
- For above-ground pools up to 30ft long. Also works great for small in-ground pools.
- 40ft cable.
- Top-loading fine filter basket.
- 14lbs weight
Pool owners love the Dolphin Escape. Many say it’s much better than the cheaper suction cleaners they’ve owned before.
The only complaint is that it’s not a guaranteed wall climber. To be fair, Maytronics, the manufacturer, specifies it as a floor-only cleaner. So we are actually pleasantly surprised that some pool owners say it cleans part or all their pool walls.
If it doesn’t climb the walls of your above-ground pool, don’t worry, it’s not broken. You just have to do a bit of manual scrubbing now and then.
The Dolphin Escape has the features and performance of high-end Dolphin models that cost twice as much. This includes smart navigation, tracks, dual brushing, powerful suction, and a big filter basket.
If you are looking for a reliable and thorough above-ground robotic pool cleaner, the Dolphin Escape is the best choice.
9. Cheapest Automatic Pool Cleaner: Kreepy Krauly Pool Cleaner
If you have owned a pool for a while, then chances are you’ve heard of the Kreepy Krauly.
This one of the least-expensive suction side pool cleaners you can buy.
The Kreepy-Krauly does take a bit of work and experience to get it working properly, but once you learn how to use it, it cleans well.
This unit is designed to pick up dirt, sand, algae, and other small and medium-sized debris.
It does not pick up larger twigs and leaves, however.
Another thing to note is that your pool pump must be at least one hp to drive the KreepyKrauly.
1. Custom hose lengths
It is important to get the length of the hose right. Too long and the hose tangles into a mess, too short, and the cleaner is going to miss some spots.
The Kreepy-Krauly comes with adjustable hose lengths. There are ten hoses in total. You can take off or add a hose to get the best length for your pool.
2. Removable flapper
A removable flapper makes cleaning and maintenance easy. You just need to open a single screw to remove the flapper and check for any lodged debris.
Clearing away debris from the flapper before a clean ensures the highest water flow.
3. Easy installation
You just need to connect the cleaner to a dedicated suction line or skimmer. Adjust the hose lengths as you see fit, the weights and valve, and the eyeball diverter.
- For above-ground and inground pools.
- 30ft maximum hose length
- Weight: 12lbs
- Minimum pump size: 1hp
Pool Cleaners: Buying Guide
Choosing the right pool cleaner for your pool is not an easy task. While regular buyers would go back and purchase a unit they’ve used before, things are a bit different for first-time buyers. And the versatile range of robotic, manual, and suction pool cleaners confuses them even more.
Whether you are a first-time buyer or are getting a new pool cleaner to replace your old one, here’s everything you need to know about buying the best pool cleaner.
How to Choose the Best Pool Cleaner For Your Pool
To find the best pool cleaner for your pool, ask yourself these five questions.
What Debris Do You struggle With?
If you mostly struggle with small leaves, dead insects, small rocks, etc. -a suction side cleaner will do.
If your pool is surrounded by trees and often strewn with leaves, twigs, and acorns, a pressure side cleaner is best. It will easily pick up medium and large debris and won’t wear out or break due to the lack of moving parts. Most pressure side cleaners have optional filters capable of picking smaller particles like sand, as well.
If your pool has a wide range of debris from algae and fine sediment to large leaves and insects, then buy a robotic pool cleaner. These hardworking pool cleaners can handle all kinds of pool dirt. Some of the newest models like the Dolphin Premier come with interchangeable filters that you can use depending on what kind of debris is in your pool.
What is Your Pool Type?
If you have an inground pool, you can use any kind of pool cleaner, but robotic cleaners are especially ideal because they can pick all sorts of debris and climb walls.
If you have an above-ground pool, look for automatic cleaners specifically made for above-ground pools. There are plenty of suction, pressure, and robotic cleaners designed to be used with these types of swimming pools.
Do You Have a High- or Low-Pressure Pump?
Check the pressure requirements of suction or pressure-side cleaner before you buy it.
If you have a low-pressure pool pump (1/2-3/4 hp), there are models designed to work in such conditions.
Note that you can also get a booster pump to supplement the pressure from your main pump.
Or just get a robotic pool cleaner. Since it is self-contained – it has its motor and filter -it doesn’t matter what pressure your pool pump has.
How Much Does An Automatic Pool Cleaner Cost?
Suction-side pool cleaners are the best option if you are on a tight budget. They start at $100, and the most expensive ones are around $400.
Pressure side cleaners cost somewhere between $200 and $900.
Robotic pool cleaners are the most expensive. Most start at $500 while the most full-featured, largest capacity units go as high as $1,300.
How Much Time Do You Have to Clean?
If you have a busy schedule, I recommend a robotic pool cleaner. It takes just a couple of seconds to set up. Once you plug it in, just drop it into the water, and it gets to work cleaning.
Some robot pool vacuum models come with programmable scheduling. You can set it to clean the pool at regular intervals automatically, even when you are not at home.
In contrast, pressure and suction side cleaners need more time to set up and cannot clean your entire pool automatically, especially on sides and stairs, which you will have to clean by hand.
What Types of Automatic Pool Cleaners Are There?
There are three types of automatic pool cleaners, as summarized in the table below.
|System||Robotic Pool Cleaner||Suction-side Pool Cleaners||Pressure-side Pool Cleaners|
|Description ||Is self-contained. Doesn’t rely on pool pump or filter to clean the pool.||Relies on pool pump to provide suction for it to move and clean the pool.||Relies on the pressure of water coming into the pool for mobility and to provide suction to pick up debris.|
|Completely self-contained? ||Yes||No||No|
|Uses pool pump? ||No||Yes||Yes|
|Uses pool filter? ||No – has its own filter bag or cartridge||Yes||No – has its own filter bag|
|Requires setup? ||Very little –just plugging in the power unit and putting the cleaner into the pool||Yes – you need to connect a hose from the cleaner to the skimmer.||Yes –you need to connect a hose from the cleaner to a dedicated return line|
|Needs power connection ||Yes||No||No|
|Price||$300 - $1,300||$100-$400||$300-$700|
Side Pressure Pool Cleaners
Side pressure pool cleaners attach to the pressure or return side of your pool system pump line. They rely on the pressure of the water coming back into the pool to function.
To use a pressure pool cleaner, you attach it to your pool’s return line. The water coming into the pool goes through the pool cleaner and is emitted by jets underneath the unit. The pressure from these jets of water moves the pool cleaner along while also agitating any debris stuck on the pool surface.
If the pool cleaner has an integrated filter bag, it will collect most of the debris in the water. But smaller particles may pass through and get handled by the pool’s filtration system.
Cheaper pressure pool cleaners, especially for above-ground pools, completely rely on the pool’s filter to catch the stirred-up debris and particles.
More expensive units like the Polaris 280 carry their filter bags, which can be interchanged to handle the size of debris you are most concerned about removing.
One big drawback of side pressure pool cleaners is they are not intelligent – they move around randomly, and if the hose gets too cold/firm or kinked, they will miss entire sections of your pool’s floor.
Another issue with side pressure pool cleaners is they cannot climb walls or stairs. They only clean the floor.
Suction Pool Cleaners
Suction pool cleaners are attached to the suction side of your pool water system. This is the outlet where pool water flows out of the pool for filtration.
They use the suction pressure from the pump to move around the pool as they clean.
Most suction pool cleaners only clean the floor and cove, but some like Kreepy Kraulys can climb walls using a rubber disk that sticks to the pool surface.
Robotic Pool Cleaners
Robotic pool cleaners are the most advanced and hands-off automatic pool cleaners you can buy today. They use electrical power for motion and water vacuuming and do not rely on your pool’s pump to move – nor do they depend on your pool’s filtration system.
A robotic pool cleaner consists of a motor that drives wheels or tracks, a filter cartridge to collect debris, and a cable connecting it to a 12V (safe) power source.
Unlike suction and pressure cleaners that use pressure for movement, robotic cleaners use 12V DC electricity. They are low voltage and well insulated to prevent short-circuiting or a shock. Most are connected to a GFCI (ground-fault circuit interrupter) outlet, which instantly cuts off power if it detects an electrical problem.
The cheapest robotic cleaners move around your pool randomly for 2-3 hours then stop. They use brushes attached to the underside to scrub debris off the pool surface. An integrated vacuum then pulls the water through filters to collect the debris.
More advanced robotic cleaners use an intelligent scanning and/or navigation system. They can detect the size and shape of the pool and determine the most efficient cleaning path. They can also tell where they have cleaned, so do not waste time passing over the same areas again.
More expensive robot vacuums can be programmed to run at specific times of the day and days of the week. Some also come with remote controls you can use to direct the units to focus on trouble areas.
Robot pool cleaners are typically a bit heavy – 20 lbs are normal – so if you have back issues look for units that lift themselves up automatically and that have top-loading filter cartridges that are easier to remove.
What Type of Pool Cleaner Should You Buy?
Use a suction side pool cleaner if:
- You are on a tight budget.
- You mostly struggle with medium-sized debris on the floor of your pool.
- You want something easy & cheap to maintain.
Use a pressure side pool cleaner if:
- You don’t want to buy a $1,000 robotic pool cleaner.
- You mostly struggle with medium and tree/large debris.
- You want your pool filter to last a long time.
Use a robotic pool cleaner if:
- You want something that will clean all kinds of debris.
- You want to clean while you are not home.
- You have a non-standard or freeform pool shape.
- You want to save on utility bills.
What Are The Benefits of Using An Automatic Pool Cleaner?
An automatic pool cleaner will do a better job than most people can (or ever will) with a brush.
Automatic cleaners go for 3 hours or more, which is plenty of time to clean every inch of the pool surface.
Automatic pool cleaners are especially helpful if your pool tends to get dirty frequently, or you suffer from oak tree debris as we do at my house. If you use a suction or pressure cleaner, you can leave your cleaner in for days at a time.
If you use a robotic cleaner, 1 or 2 cycles should be enough to get all the debris, sand, and algae out.
More Time for You
Yeah, so this is the biggest benefit for most people.
Scrubbing and vacuuming a pool takes anywhere from 30 mins to 2 hours, depending on how dirty it is. If it has gone a whole season without use, you might have to clean it repeatedly for days before it’s clean enough to swim in.
You could hire a pool guy for $20-50 an hour, but those costs pile up fast when your pool gets dirty every week.
An automatic cleaner needs just 3 hours to get your water sparkling again. And with many of the most modern units, you can program it to run when you’re not home.
Extend The Life Of Your Pool
There is no doubt that a clean and well-maintained pool lasts longer. Too many algae, sediment, and debris can damage your pool. And repairing a pool costs $1,000s at a minimum.
Automatic pool cleaners also reduce the wear and tear on your pool pump, heater, and water lines. In particular, side pressure and robotic pool cleaners collect most of the debris in their filter bags and cartridges, rather than directing it towards your pool’s filtration system. This reduces the back pressure on your pool’s filter and pump, ensuring they last longer.
Pool pumps consume a LOT of electrical power when they run. A typical Florida home will spend $300 per year powering its pool pump.
With a cleaner pool, you don’t have to run the pool pump as often. So you save money.
Without an automatic pool cleaner, a pool owner needs to run their pool pump for 4-8 hours to effectively filter an entire pool’s worth of water.
If you instead rely on an automatic cleaner to get most of the debris and algae outrunning it for 2-3 hours – you may be able only to run the pump full-on every few days.
Robotic pool cleaners are especially energy-efficient. Because robot pool vacuums consume 12V DC power and use intelligent navigation algorithms to minimize cleaning time, they cost FAR less to clean a pool than an in-line pump filter, a conventional side pressure cleaner, or a suction automatic pool cleaner.
What Else Do I Need To Buy?
When buying an automatic pool filter, check whether there are any extra accessories you need.
Side pressure side cleaners may require a separate booster pump to take pressure load off of your normal pump and/or to increase the water pressure.
For all automatic cleaners, you may need to buy extra filter bags to collect different-sized debris, depending on your needs.
Finally, some heavier robotic pool cleaners and larger suction cleaners offer optional caddies that make it easier to lift and move these heavy units.
If you are still cleaning your pool manually or relying on an expensive pool cleaning service, it’s time to consider buying an automatic pool cleaner.
Your pool will last longer, you’ll spend far less time cleaning your pool, and you’ll save on your utility bill.
The only one who’ll regret it is your pool cleaning service.
What is the best automatic pool cleaner to buy?
- Best robotic: Dolphin Triton Plus
- Best for in-ground pools: Polaris 9550 Sport
- Most proven: Dolphin Nautilus
- Most advanced: Dolphin Premier
- Best pressure cleaner: Polaris 380 Vac-Sweep
- Best value: Baracuda G3
- Best suction cleaner: Poolvergnuegen
- Cheapest: Kreepy Krauly
- Best for above ground pools: Dolphin Escape
Are automatic pool cleaners worth it?
They definitely are. If you don’t think so, check the Amazon reviews of some popular automatic pool cleaners. Yes, many have a few issues and limitations, but they are huge time, money, and effort savers.
No more wasting your precious weekends scrubbing the pool or paying money to have other people clean it.
The best part is that you can clean your pool as often as you want, meaning it stays cleaner and healthier for your family. You’ll likely also end up using fewer chemicals.
How long do automatic pool cleaners last?
Depending on cost, construction quality, and type of pool cleaner, the average lifespan of automatic pool cleaners is 2-8 years.
Pressure and suction side cleaners tend to last 2-5 years while Dolphins and other robotic pool cleaners can last 5-8 years with proper maintenance.
How often should I clean my pool?
Every pool situation is different, so cleaning frequency varies. If your family enjoys the pool daily, you probably need to clean it daily. The same goes if your pool is near trees that dump leaves, acorns, and twigs into the water.
Other pools can do with a once or twice a week cleaning frequency.
But even if you have to clean daily, it’s easy to work using an automatic pool cleaner.