Best Pool Cleaners 2020: Top Picks For Every Pool + Buying Guide
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 each of these categories and recommend the right one for a variety of pool types and common situations.
All of these pool cleaners are proven and popular models sold both online and in your local pool store.
After we review the top picks, we cover the features and information you need to know to select the right type and model for your pool.
Best Automatic Pool Cleaners 2020
- Best Automatic Pool Cleaners 2020
- 1. Best Robotic Pool Cleaner: Dolphin Triton Plus
- 2. Best In-Ground Pool Cleaner: Polaris F9550 Sport Robotic Pool Cleaner
- 3. Most Proven Robot Pool Cleaner: Dolphin Nautilus
- 4. Most Advanced: Dolphin Premier Robotic Pool Cleaner
- 6. Best Suction Pool Cleaner: Polaris 380 Vac-Sweep
- 7. BARACUDA G3 Advanced Suction Side Pool Cleaner
- 8. Poolvergnuegen Automatic Suction Pool Cleaner
- 9. Hayward Aquanaut Suction Pool Cleaner
- 10. Kreepy Krauly Pool Cleaner
- How to Choose the Best Pool Cleaner For Your Pool
- What Types of Automatic Pool Cleaners Are There?
- What Type of Pool Cleaner Should You Buy?
- What Are The Benefits of Using An Automatic Pool Cleaner?
- What Else Do I Need To Buy?
- LATEST DEALS
These are the best pool cleaners selling today, according to our research and other 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.
Disclaimer: All links below go to Amazon.com
|Dolphin Triton Plus||Out of Stock||Robotic|
|Dolphin Nautilus|| on Amazon||Robotic|
|Dolphin Premier|| ||Robotic|
|Polaris F9550 Sport|| on Amazon||Robotic|
|Polaris Vac-Sweep|| on Amazon||Side Pressure|
|Poolvergnuegen|| on Amazon||Suction|
|BARACUDA G3|| on Amazon||Suction|
|Hayward AquaNaut|| on Amazon||Suction|
|Kreepy Krauly|| on Amazon||Suction|
1. Best Robotic Pool Cleaner: Dolphin Triton Plus
The Dolphin Triton Plus robotic pool cleaner is for in-ground pools of up to 50 feet in length.
It scrubs dirt and debris from your pool, vacuums them up, and filters out everything from leaves to small algae. It has a tangle-free swivel cable, a convenient top-access cartridge, and a caddy for transport and storage.
1. Pool scanning software
The Dolphin Triton Plus uses IntelliScan Technology to scan your pool’s shape and dimensions. It then determines the most efficient route to take while also ensuring that every inch of your pool’s floor and walls are covered.
So whether you have the classic rectangular pool, a circular pool, or an irregularly shaped pool, the Triton Plus will clean any of them quickly and efficiently.
2. The dual drive motor and split brushes for optimal maneuverability
If you look at a video of a bulldozer or tank turning, you can see how it easily turns in place by slowing down or stopping one track. The Triton Plus robotic pool cleaner maneuvers in the same way.
When you turn it over, you’ll notice that the tracks are split.
Each side of the tracks is powered by its motor. When the cleaner is moving about on your pool floor or wall, it can slow down or stop one side of the tracks to turn around.
This is great for making tight 90-degree corners and drastically improves maneuverability.
3. Modular design
Maytronics ensured that the Triton Plus would not be a headache to maintain. Instead of complex components that are tightly fixed in place, this pool cleaner has a modular design that makes it easy to remove and replace parts.
If one part breaks down, it’s easy to get a new replacement to keep your pool cleaner going.
4. Swivel cable
A 360-degree swivel design ensures the pool cleaner cable doesn’t get tangled in the water.
5. Super-fine filtration
Triton Plus has two types of filters. There is a mesh screen that captures the larger particles like leaves, twigs, and small rocks. A pleated polyester fiber filter then captures the smallest bits, including algae, fine dust, and bacteria.
Your pool’s filtration system doesn’t have to work as hard (so it lasts longer), and you use fewer chemicals.
An indicator light will tell you when the cartridge is full. Easily open it from the top to empty the collected debris.
6. Remote control and weekly timer
Using a remote control, you can guide the Triton Plus where you need it to clean. You can also set a quick clean mode (1 hour) or the ordinary mode (2.5 hours).
The Triton Plus also comes with a weekly scheduling feature. Set it to clean every day, every two days or every three days.
- Includes caddy for transport and storage.
- For inground pools of up to 50 feet in length.
- Dual motor and split-track system.
- Customizable cleaning cycles.
- Weekly timer.
- Remote control.
Customers love this pool cleaner. They say it’s easy to use, cleans well, and maintenance is a breeze.
The main complaint is that it sometimes gets stuck in the drain.
This is one of the best robotic pool cleaners of 2018. It’s hard to find a robotic cleaner that combines cool technology and ease of use in one unit. The Dolphin Triton Plus does it with ease.
If you are looking for a high quality inground robotic pool cleaner, this is our top recommendation.
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 another 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. Most Proven Robot Pool Cleaner: Dolphin Nautilus
This is a lightweight robotic pool cleaner designed for residential in-ground pools. It can clean pools of all shapes as long as they are within the 50ft length limit. It is ideal for all types of pool surfaces.
It can clean the floor, climb the walls, and scrub the stairs, and cove clean. But you may still have to manually scrub a few spots that it misses, especially on the walls.
If you are looking for an affordable robotic in-ground pool cleaner that cleans well and not much more, then the Dolphin Nautilus is a great choice.
The Dolphin Nautilus lacks some of the advanced features found in other more recent (and pricier) robots like remote control, pool scanning software, weekly timer, etc., but it will clean your pool thoroughly with a minimum of fuss.
1. Swivel cable
A swivel cable prevents any messy tangles as the robotic cleaner moves about in the pool. You don’t have to waste your time to untangle the cleaner each time it gets stuck.
2. Two filters
There are two filters included with the Dolphin Nautilus robotic pool cleaner: a course filter for large debris like leaves and twigs and a fine filter for smaller particles.
If your pool hasn’t been cleaned in some time and contains a lot of leaves, use the coarse filter first for an initial cleaning and then switch to the fine filter. The fine filter is also ideal for everyday maintenance cleaning.
3. 3-hour cleaning cycle
The Dolphin Nautilus has only one cleaning cycle, which runs for 3 hours. When the cycle ends, the pool cleaner will automatically turn itself off.
There is no weekly scheduling feature.
- For inground pools with a maximum 50ft in length.
- Bottom-access filters.
- 3-hour cleaning cycle.
- Weight: 34.5lbs.
- 60ft swivel cable.
Many customers say that it cleans better than they expected for its price. It climbs walls well enough and doesn’t get stuck on raised drains. The filters do an exceptionally good job of capturing almost everything from sand to worms to spring leaves.
The filters have bottom-access, so you have to turn the unit upside down to take them out for cleaning. This takes just a few seconds more than if they were top-access.
At 3 hours, the cleaning cycle is considerably longer than that of most pool cleaners. It also tends to miss some spots because it cleans randomly rather than with the help of scanning software.
Overall, this is a solid robotic pool cleaner for half what you’d spend on a more advanced model. If you just want to clean your pool and don’t care much for extra features, get the Dolphin Nautilus Plus.
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 SmartNav™ 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.
6. Best Suction Pool Cleaner: Polaris 380 Vac-Sweep
The Polaris 380 is the go-to suction 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.
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.
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 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 1,500 reviews on Amazon with 79% 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.
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 in 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.
The Hayward Aquanaut suction pool cleaner is very similar to Hayward’s ‘The Pool Cleaner” above.
Like its sibling, it comes in two versions, a 2-wheel one, and 4-wheel one, and shares many features.
Based purely on customer feedback, The PoolCleaner seems remains the better option. It’s more reliable and cleans better. It’s also cheaper. But the Aquanaut does add few more features you might find useful.
1. Self-adjusting vanes
Self-adjusting vanes help to boost suction when there is low flow. This allows you to use the cleaner with any pool pump size (minimum 1/2hp) without affecting cleaning performance.
2. Adjustable roller skirts
The roller skirts can adjust when the cleaner moves over pool features. This allows maintaining full suction even when moving over a raised drain.
3. Strong-grip tire treads
Patented tire treads provide a strong grip on the pool surface. This is especially helpful when the cleaner is going up the walls.
4. Interchangeable throats
The cleaner comes with three interchangeable throats of different sizes. Use each throat depending on how dirty your pool is and what kind of debris is in the water. The small throat is useful for dust, sand, and algae, while the largest one is best for leaves, twigs, and other large debris.
5. Internal drive sequences
Rather than just moving randomly about the pool, the AquaNautis pre-programmed with precise steering sequences that change its direction automatically every few feet. This provides better coverage.
- For in-ground 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.
- Minimum pump size: 1/2hp or 35 GPM.
Feedback for the AquaNaut is less positive than that of The Pool Cleaner. It doesn’t clean as well if your pool has large debris. It is also not as good at climbing walls. It’ll either fail to climb at all or just go halfway up.
Several customers also complained about frequent breakdowns.
If you are looking for a good suction cleaner, this is a decent choice, but I would recommend‘The PoolCleaner’ also from Hayward. It has more positive feedback and is overall a better suction cleaner than the AquaNaut.
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
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 it’s 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 nor 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 on 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 their 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.