Best Robotic Pool Cleaner for An Inground Pool 2020: Top Picks & Reviews
Shopping for a robotic pool cleaner for your in-ground swimming pool?
You’ve come to the right place.
You can spend your weekends scrubbing and vacuuming the pool or pay money to a pool service company.
Or, you can buy a robotic pool cleaner.
In-ground pools can be a lot of work and money to maintain. A robotic pool cleaner saves you both. It scrubs and vacuums the pool while using way less energy compared to traditional suction and pressure cleaners.
What’s In This Buying Guide?
- What’s In This Buying Guide?
- In-ground vs. Above Ground Pool Cleaner
- The Best 5 In-ground Pool Vacuums
- Top 5 Robotic Pool Cleaners For Inground Pools: Comparison Table
- 1. Polaris 9450/9550 With 4-Wheel Drive
- 2. Dolphin Triton Plus
- 3. Dolphin Nautilus PLUS
- 4. Maytronics DX3 Dolphin
- 5. Hayward SharkVAC XL with Caddy
- How to Choose the Right In-ground Robotic Pool Cleaner
- Three Reasons To Get A Robotic Pool Cleaner For Your Inground Pool
- How We Pick The Best
- Our Verdict
- Where to Buy
- LATEST DEALS
In this 15-minute buying guide, we review the best robotic pool cleaners for in-ground pools. All our top picks are pool owner-approved with plenty of positive customer reviews.
We also explain why it’s a good idea to buy a robotic pool cleaner and how to choose the right one for your pool.
In-ground vs. Above Ground Pool Cleaner
When you shop for a robotic pool cleaner for your in-ground pool, make sure it’s designed to clean in-ground pools.
There are significant differences between above ground and in-ground robotic cleaners.
In-ground cleaners are typically larger, have stronger motors (allowing them to filter more water and move over larger obstacles), and have a longer floating cable to ensure they reach every corner of the pool.
If you use a cleaner designed for a small above ground pool, it won’t clean your pool well.
Another key difference is that most in-ground robotic pool cleaners are equipped with smart navigation systems that allow them to easily and efficiently navigate all pool sizes and shapes.
The Best 5 In-ground Pool Vacuums
- Dolphin Triton Plus
- Dolphin Nautilus PLUS
- Polaris 9450/9550 Sport
- Maytronics DX3 Dolphin
- Hayward SharkVAC XL with Caddy
Top 5 Robotic Pool Cleaners For Inground Pools: Comparison Table
Disclamer: All links below go to Amazon.com
|Dolphin Triton Plus||60ft swivel cable||Two scrubbing brushes||Top-loading basket||Yes (via Bluetooth)||Yes (weekly)||2-years||16.5lbs dry weight|
|Dolphin Nautilus CC Plus||60ft swivel cable||Two scrubbing brushes||Top-loading basket||No||Yes (weekly)||2.5-years||19lbs dry weight|
|Polaris 9450/9550 Sport||60ft swivel cable||Two scrubbing brushes||Top-loading basket||No||Yes (weekly)||2-years||16lbs dry weight|
|Maytronics DX3 Dolphin||50ft swivel cable||Two scrubbing brushes||Bottom-loading bag||No||Yes (weekly)||2-years||19lbs dry weight|
|Hayward SharkVAC XL||50ft swivel cable||Two scrubbing brushes||Top-loading cartridges||No||Yes (weekly)||2-years||21lbs dry weight|
The Polaris 9450 is unique in design and function. One of the best features of the 9450 is its easy lift system, which makes it a breeze to lift the cleaner out of the water with almost no effort.
The Polaris is also an excellent cleaner due to its unique Vortex vacuum system, which helps the unit cling to vertical surfaces while its 4-wheel drive and pleated scrubbing brush get the job done.
1. Vortex Vacuum technology
To achieve a thorough cleaning, the Polaris 9450 makes use of vortex vacuuming technology. This provides it with a powerful cleaning capability without any loss in suction.
2. Whole pool cleaning
The 9450 moves over any type of terrain to cover every inch of walls and floor using its pleated scrubbing brush for an extremely thorough cleaning.
3. Large capacity filter canister
Thanks to its super-sized filter canister, the Polaris 9450 can hold up to four times the amount of debris than other robotic cleaners. A simple shake and spray empty the canister, then it’s ready for more cleaning.
4. Customizable cleaning cycles
Use the seven-day programmable timer to set the cleaner to clean the pool automatically.
5. ActivMotion sensor
Unique to Polaris, this sensor helps the robotic cleaner understand its position in the pool and plot a path that will reduce cord tangling and optimize cleaning.
6. Easy Lift System
No other robotic pool cleaner is as easy to pull out of your pool. Just push a button, and the unit rises to the desired position. The cleaner automatically empties all the water in it, to reduce the weight. From there, you can easily lift it out of the water. Then plop it onto the included caddy and roll it into storage.
See It In Action
- Comes with a caddy for easy transport and storage.
- Cleans pools up to 50 feet in length.
- Weighs 16 pounds.
- 4 Wheel Drive technology for faster and more thorough cleaning.
Many owners compliment its durability and ability to clean every type of debris, having served them well for years:
Very quiet for the size of it and collects the smallest debris and dirt. Picks up leaves and bugs without hesitation and on one pass.
On the negative side, the unit seems to have a problem flipping off of some pool walls, especially when the filter gets too full:
It flips over when it tries to climb the walls, so I have to disable this mode.
The 9450’s cord may also get tangled now and then, requiring manual untangling.
The 4-wheel drive and easy-lift system are the best features of the Polaris F9450. It’s also lightweight, so if you have a bad back or find lifting a 20-pound object taxing or dangerous, then you should seriously consider getting this one.
An upgrade to the original Dolphin Triton, Maytronic’s Dolphin Triton PLUS boasts a ton of great features.
In addition to Dolphin’s patented tangle-free cable swivel and IntelliScan navigation, the Triton PLUS includes an extra-large top access filter (with fine and coarse mesh filters), a dual drive motor and split brushes.
You also get true 90-degree turning for tight corners and dramatically enhanced cleaning coverage. The Plus comes with remote control and a rapid-release feature to help you flush filtered water out of the unit for easy lifting onto the included caddy.
Intelliscan technology, found in most Dolphin pool cleaners, learns the dimensions and size of your pool, then uses that information to thoroughly clean the walls and floor of the pool in the shortest time possible.
2. Tangle-free swivel
This is another hallmark of Dolphin cleaners. The Triton’s swivel cable doesn’t get tangled as the robotic cleaner moves about.
3. Fine and coarse filters
The Triton Plus is equipped with two different types of filters for coarse and fine debris. The Triton Plus has excellent filtering capabilities. One owner commented that while emptying the collection bag, he would find things he did not even think we’re in the pool.
4. “Full Cartridge” indicator with auto-stop
As the filter collects debris, it deposits it into a collection filter cartridge. When the cartridge fills, the cleaner stops operating, and an indicator light comes on to remind you to clean the filter before proceeding.
5. Two cleaning modes
Got a party in an hour? Choose the quick clean mode to sweep your pool in only one hour. Or, use the full cycle cleaning setting that takes about two and a half hours. In both modes, the Triton Plus climb walls like a champ.
6. Remote control
A smartphone app is included along with the unit. With it, you can manually drive the cleaner around the pool and select your cleaning cycle.
7. Timer for auto cleaning
The Dolphin Triton Plus can be set to auto-clean your pool every 24, 48, or 72 hours with a push of a button. A maximum of three consecutive clean cycles can be scheduled.
See It In Action
Look at how the Triton Plus climbs walls:
- For in-ground pools up to 50 feet long.
- Top access, easy to clean cartridge.
- Easy to fix when damaged.
- Ability to make 90-degree turns.
- Caddy included for easier transport from the pool to storage.
- 2-Year Warranty
The Triton Plus gets high marks for its ability to climb any surface, for its overall cleaning ability and for its useful remote control that allows you to direct its movements.
Cleans my pool very well. Climbs walls, Stairs, able to go right over main drain, does the job very efficiently with minimal spots missed. Self corrects, and does not get stuck often…
On the con side, some people noted that removing the unit from the pool could be easier.
Lifting the cleaner out of the pool requires some effort, since it is full of water and weighs a good bit.
This pool cleaner is a bit heavy; lifting it out of the pool may be tough for some. This is especially true if it completes the cleaning cycle in the deep end.
The Dolphin Triton PLUS is a big step up from its predecessor and most other robotic cleaners. It excels in energy savings and thoroughness of cleaning and comes with a bunch of unique features (and a caddy!) that make it easy to live with.
The Plus has all the great features of its predecessor, the Dolphin Nautilus, plus a few more, including the addition of IntelliScan and an extra-large top access filter and easier do-it-yourself maintenance (at the component level).
The Nautilus Plus is a very popular unit, priced in the mid-range of all robotic cleaners.
1. IntelliScan Navigation
Unlike the original Nautilis, the Dolphin Nautilus Plus comes equipped with IntelliScan, Dolphin’s market-leading onboard navigation system that provides a more thorough cleaning in less time than other pool cleaners.
IntelliScan is an intelligent scanning, learning, and navigation system that helps the unit learn your pool’s surfaces and then use that knowledge to cover every square inch of the pool – including walls and other vertical surfaces.
IntelliScan works like the GPS in your car. During learning mode, Intelliscan records your pool’s shape, size, and dimensions and determines the most optimal cleaning path to follow for maximum coverage and the lowest possible energy consumption. The result is a cleaner pool in less time, without excessive energy costs.
Intelliscan works with all sizes of normal and irregular shaped pools.
2. Dual filters
The Dolphin Nautilus Plus uses an onboard dual filter system to sift pool water. All that is needed is to empty the collection bag once it is full.
There are two types of filters available: a mesh screen for filtering large debris and pleated polyester fiber to trap sand, dirt, and grit.
3. Patented Swivel Cables to avoid tangling
When the power cable tangles, it prevents cleaning and can damage a robotic cleaner. To solve this, Dolphin uses a patented cable swivel that stays clear of the unit and eliminates tangles.
See It In Action
- Suitable for in-ground pools up to 50 feet long
- Special spring clean-up option
- Takes about 3 hours for a full cleaning
- Weighs 22 pounds
- Spare parts are easy to find and affordable. In most cases, you can replace a damaged part without a professional.
- Has PVC bristle brushes, which are superior for scrubbing hard surfaces such as gunite (shotcrete).
Many owners give the Nautilus Plus kudos for its simple and reliable operation.
Its nice to be able to just plug this thing in, drop it in, turn it on, and walk away. It really was that simple out of the box.
On the negative side, some owners complained about the weight.
If there is any downside to this cleaner it would be its weight. It can be quite heavy and awkward to remove from the pool after it’s done cleaning.
In addition to the weight, trapped debris can fall back into the pool as you lift the cleaner out and the water drains. A good suggestion is to flip it over as you pull it out, to prevent debris from flowing back.
The Dolphin Nautilus Plus is one of the most intelligent and efficient pool cleaners available. Once it learns your pool, you can drop it in, walk away, and know your pool will be clean in 3 hours.
For the price, the Nautilus Plus robotic pool cleaner is tough to beat. This explains why it’s one of the best-selling robotic pool cleaners for sale today.
The Dolphin DX3 robot cleaner is a proven lightweight choice with a really powerful brush. It is smaller and lighter than other Dolphin models, which makes it much easier to handle and maintain.
DX 3 has been on the market for a few years now, but this is a good thing. The unit’s simplicity has proven itself over time, and it still outsells most other models.
1. Super lightweight
Being small and light has its advantages. This cleaner is very easy to handle when putting it into the pool and pulling it out. Maintenance and servicing are also a breeze.
2. Fine and coarse debris filters
The DX3 comes with two filters capable of collecting fine and coarse debris. The captured material is then deposited into a large filter bag, which is easy to empty.
3. Low energy consumption
The unit consumes very little energy. On average, a full cleaning cycle costs just 15 cents.
See It in Action
- Recommended for pools up to 40 feet in length.
- Cleans by scrubbing and vacuuming.
- A full cleaning cycle takes about 3 hours.
- Choice of cleaning every day, every 2nd day or twice a week
- Fitted with technology to enhance pool scanning for optimized cleaning.
The DX3 can struggle with cleaning steps. After a few tries, however, it usually figures out how to do it.
Also, the filter bag is a bit smaller than some other units, so you’ll have to empty it more often.
The DX3 does the job well without all the bells and whistles like a caddy, a remote, and programmable cleaning cycles. For those who need a lightweight, dependable pool cleaner that has been proven in the field (for years), this is the one.
Many good things have been said about the thorough cleaning ability of Hayward’s line of robotic pool cleaners.
The SharkVac XL is Hayward’s best mid-range offering, and it’s arguably better at cleaning pools than its more expensive and better-optioned older brother, the Hayward Tigershark QC.
The original Hayward SharkVac was released several years ago, and there are hundreds of reviews online that attest to its reliability and cleaning ability.
1. Caddy for easy transportation
The Sharkvac XL is a bit heavy, but the included caddy makes moving it and storing it away really easy. For a lower price, you can get the unit without the caddy.
2. Easy top access filter bag
Whenever the filter bag is full, simply access it from the top and clean it out.
3. Low energy operation
The Hayward SharkVAC XL uses very little energy to clean your pool, comparable to a single incandescent light bulb.
4. Self-programmed for optimized cleaning
The Sharkvac XL can determine the size of your pool and figure out the best way to clean it, all on its own. It plots out the most efficient path to expand the least amount of energy.
- Suitable for pools up to 40 feet in length.
- Works in any type of in-ground pool, including vinyl-lined.
- The cleaning cycle takes around 3 hours.
Many owners rave about the SharkVac’s ability to pick up fine debris and the speed at which it cleans a pool.
This thing is a beast. It picks up everything.
But many also complain about cord tangling.
I do wish the cord was a bit longer and that it didn’t get rung around itself.
The SharkVac XL sometimes finds it difficult to climb walls all the way and to climb pool steps.
Finally, don’t leave the unit on during a rainstorm. Even though this is a pool cleaner, some owners have complained of damage caused by rain.
If you want one of the best-cleaning, most proven robotic pool cleaners on the market, this is one to buy. The SharkVac’s ability to pick up all types of debris, from very fine sandy grit to oak leaves and small twigs, is unmatched. In a single 2-3 hour cleaning cycle, it will eliminate between 95% and 99% of all debris.
How to Choose the Right In-ground Robotic Pool Cleaner
Here’s what to consider when buying an in-ground robotic vacuum.
Make sure you get a robotic pool cleaner that will adequately cover your entire pool. The most important thing to look at is the length of the cable.
Get a pool vacuum with a cable that’s 10′ longer than your pool length. This ensures you can locate the power unit a safe distance from the water and leave enough cable length for the cleaner to reach every corner of the pool.
For example, a cleaner with a 60ft cable can clean a pool up to 50ft long. A cleaner with a 50ft cable can clean a pool up to 40ft long.
Pool robots that rely on random movements tend to miss some areas and are generally more energy wasteful.
A robot cleaner with smart navigation cleans faster and more efficiently without leaving any spots uncleaned.
Unlike most suction and pressure cleaners, almost all robotic pool cleaners come with scrubbing brushes. Brushes loosen dirt, algae and grime stuck on the pool surface, making it easier to vacuum.
A pool cleaner with scrubbing brushes will leave your pool far cleaner than one without.
Check what kind of filters the pool cleaner comes with. Some have both fine and ultra-fine filters to capture all debris sizes, while cheaper ones will typically have only a fine filter.
Also, check how easy it is to access the filters. Top-access filters are the most convenient since you don’t need to turn the cleaner over.
We also recommend getting a robotic pool cleaner that uses a filter basket instead of a bag. A basket is much easier to empty and clean.
If you don’t have a lot of upper body strength, try to find a lightweight robotic pool cleaner that will be easy to put in and lift out of the pool.
Two of the lightest cleaners among our top picks are the Polaris 9450/9550 Sport and the Dolphin Triton Plus.
These extras are not essential, but they are nice to have.
- Weekly timer – Let’s you set the days and time the cleaner will come on automatically. Handy for keeping your pool clean when you are away (Note: It’ll require leaving the cleaner in the pool – check with your manual or manufacturer whether this is okay).
- Wireless connectivity: Some robot pool cleaners let you control the cleaner from your smartphone via Bluetooth or WiFi.
- Remote control: Some cleaners come with a remote control that you can use to manually navigate the robot for spot cleaning.
Three Reasons To Get A Robotic Pool Cleaner For Your Inground Pool
1. Less Work For You
Older pump-driven pool cleaners often cannot reach custom-molded steps, raised sitting platforms, and irregular features that many inground pools feature.
This means you’re left to brush and clean those sections yourself.
But robotic pool cleaners are intelligent appliances that are designed to clean your pool no matter what the design. Many can even clean vertical surfaces like steps and walls.
2. Less Expensive Than The Alternative
With a robotic pool cleaner, you won’t need to add a booster pump to your existing filtration system, because robotic pool cleaners use their onboard filters to sift pool water for debris.
This makes installation much easier and can save you hundreds of dollars in installation costs.
3. Lower Operating Costs, Long Term
Robotic pool cleaners cost less to operate than pump-driven units for several reasons.
First of all, robotic cleaners use advanced software to optimize their cleaning path and use DC power. Intelligent navigation reduces the amount of time required to clean your pool, verses pump-driven units that randomly wander around. A shorter, more efficient cleaning cycle consumes less energy.
In addition, robotic pool cleaners are DC-powered (for safety), and DC motors are far more efficient than AC motors. Most use no more energy than a light bulb.
For a large inground pool, choosing a robotic cleaner over a pump-driven unit can save several hundred dollars a year in energy costs.
How We Pick The Best
We use the scale below to rate the best robotic pool cleaners in our reviews.
We also consider customer ratings and reviews on popular retail shopping sites like Amazon.com.
Finally, we attempt to offer a few pool cleaners for every type of pool and budget.
There are plenty of options for in-ground pool owners to pick from. We think Dolphin Triton Plus is the best choice overall. Though a bit pricey, it offers excellent cleaning performance even for extra-large pools. The remote smartphone control is a nice bonus.
Where to Buy
The best place to buy robotic pool cleaners for an in-ground swimming pool is online or Amazon.com, where you’ll often find the best deal.