Published on July 1st, 2020 | by Roger Corbinetti0
The 8 Best Suction Pool Cleaners (Summer 2020): Top Picks & Reviews
Shopping for a suction pool cleaner for your above ground or in-ground pool?
You’ve come to the right place.
A suction pool cleaner works with your pool pump and filters to remove leaves, acorns, sand, and other debris from your swimming pool.
Suction pool cleaners are a cheaper alternative to robotic and pressure pool cleaners.
What’s In This Buying Guide?
- What’s In This Buying Guide?
- What is a Suction side pool cleaner?
- The 8 Best Suction Pool Cleaners
- 1. Best for Small to Medium Size Pools: Hayward Automatic Suction cleaner, 2X
- 2. Best for above ground pools: Hayward W3900 Wanda the Whale Pool Cleaner
- 3. Best for Budget: Vingli Swimming Pool Vacuum Cleaner
- 4. Best for cyclonic suction: Zodiac MX6 In-Ground Suction Cleaner
- 5. Best for concrete pools: Hayward 4-Wheel Suction Cleaner
- 6. Best for Pools with Low-speed Pumps: Zodiac Baracuda G3 Pool Cleaner
- 7. Best cleaning coverage: Pentair 360042 Kreepy Krauly Universal Pool Cleaner
- 8. Best Wall Climber: XtremepowerUS 75037 Climb Wall Pool Cleaner
- What Are The Benefits of Using A Suction Pool Cleaner?
- Suction vs. Pressure vs. Robotic Pool Cleaners
- How to Choose the Right Suction Pool Cleaner
In this in-depth buying guide, we review the best suction pool cleaners. We also explain the benefits of a suction pool cleaner and give tips for choosing the right suction cleaner for your pool.
If you are looking for another type of pool cleaner, see our reviews of the best pool cleaners (all types).
If you are interested only in robotic pool cleaners, see our roundup of the top robotic pool cleaners in the market.
What is a Suction side pool cleaner?
There are three types of automatic pool cleaners: robotic, pressure-side and suction-side.
Robotic pool cleaners move on their own and have a built-in vacuum and filter.
Pressure-side cleaners connect to the inlet port of your pool and use the pressure of returning water to move. Pressure cleaners have their filter bag.
Suction-side cleaners, which are our focus in this buying guide, connect to the outlet or skimmer port of your pool. They use the force of the water being sucked out to move and clean the pool. They also rely on your pool filter to get rid of debris.
A suction pool cleaner is the cheapest type of automatic pool cleaner. It’s great for removing light debris such as small leaves and fine sand.
One advantage of a suction pool cleaner, other than its lower cost, is that you don’t need a booster pump. There’s no need for extra purchases.
The 8 Best Suction Pool Cleaners
- Best for small to medium size pools: Hayward Automatic Suction cleaner
- Best for above ground pools: Hayward W3900 Wanda the Whale Pool Cleaner
- Best budget: Vingli Swimming Pool Vacuum Cleaner
- Best for cyclonic suction: Zodiac MX6 In-Ground Suction Cleaner
- Best for concrete pools: Hayward 4-Wheel Suction Cleaner
- Best for pools with low-speed pumps: Zodiac Baracuda Pool Cleaner
- Best cleaning coverage: Pentair 360042 Kreepy Krauly Universal Pool Cleaner
- Best wall climber: XtremepowerUS 75037 Climb Wall Pool Cleaner
1. Best for Small to Medium Size Pools: Hayward Automatic Suction cleaner, 2X
The Hayward suction cleaner uses a powerful 2-wheel drive system to cover most of your pool and easily drive over obstacles. It is perfect for pools measuring up to 16′ by 32′.
- Safe for all pool types.
- Works with low-flow pool pumps (1/2 HP min).
- Deep tire treads allow it to overcome most obstacles.
- The automatic steering system ensures full coverage.
- Large debris easily clogs it.
- No brushes to scrub algae and other stuck debris.
The Hayward automatic suction cleaner is available in two versions: 2x and 4x. The 2x is a two-wheeled cleaner while the 4x uses a more powerful 4-wheel drive system.
For small and medium-sized pools, the 2X Hayward cleaner is adequate. As long as you adjust the pressure valve properly and keep your pool filter clean, it will move all over the floor and climb the walls.
The Hayward suction cleaner comes with hose lengths totaling 33 feet. So it’s ideal for pools up to 32′ long. If you have a larger pool, get the 4x cleaner. It can clean pools up to 40′ long.
The tires of the Hayward cleaner have deep treads that grip the surface of the pool. They allow the cleaner to effortlessly drive over the drain and other obstacles. They also allow the cleaner to climb the walls without slipping.
An automatic steering system turns the cleaner in pre-programmed sequences. This ensures the cleaner covers the entire pool.
The Hayward suction pool cleaner works with most pool pumps, including smaller Â½ HP pumps with a flow rate of at least 35GPM. Self-adjusting turbine vanes allow the cleaner to generate a lot of suction power even with low water flow.
If you have a variable speed pump, you can set a lower speed (thus reducing energy usage) and still get a good clean.
Issues & Limitations
Similar to most other suction pool cleaners, the Hayward Cleaner struggles with large debris. It’ll either not pick the debris or will get stuck when it tries to pick it up. We recommend skimming your pool for a few minutes before dropping the cleaner inside.
Another limitation of the Hayward cleaner is the lack of scrubbing brushes. If your pool has a lot of algae and stuck-on grime, you’ll have to brush it manually before using the Hayward suction cleaner.
The Hayward suction cleaner is a great choice for anyone with a small or medium-size pool. It’s super easy to set up and requires minimal maintenance.
2. Best for above ground pools: Hayward W3900 Wanda the Whale Pool Cleaner
If you have an above ground pool, you don’t need a big and expensive suction pool cleaner. Something smaller and cheaper will keep your pool clean. Our top recommendation is the Hayward W3900 Pool Cleaner, popularly known as Wanda the Whale cleaner.
- Smart steering ensures to cleans every spot.
- Easy to install.
- Good cleaning performance.
- Gets clogged easily by large debris.
- Cleans slowly.
Wanda the Whale uses a SmartDrive steering system to clean most of your above ground pool. If you watch it for a while, you’ll notice that it takes predictable turns every few feet. This is the steering system works.
In addition to vacuuming debris, the Wanda pool cleaner also improves water circulation. It moves water from the bottom of the pool towards the top. This allows better mixing of chemicals and reduces the risk of algae growth.
Wanda is not as capable as the wheeled Hayward cleaner above, so it may sometimes get stuck on the drain or ladder. But it eventually frees itself and resumes cleaning.
Wanda is easy to set up. It includes 32 feet of hose, meaning you can use it to clean larger above ground pools of up to 30 feet in diameter.
Issues & Limitations
Wanda is slow. If you are looking for a cleaner that will quickly vacuum the pool before you jump in, this is not it.
It takes several hours before it covers the entire pool surface.
Another common issue pool owners have faced clogging when the cleaner picks up large debris like acorns. If your pool has large debris, pick it up with a net before you put the cleaner in.
Many customers also recommend installing a leaf canister. It’ll pick up large debris like leaves before it reaches the pool filter, thus saving you time constantly cleaning the filter.
Wanda the Whale is slow, but eventually gets the job done. It makes maintaining an above ground pool easier and less time-consuming.
3. Best for Budget: Vingli Swimming Pool Vacuum Cleaner
If you are shopping on a budget, the Vingli swimming pool vacuum cleaner is one of the cheapest suction pool cleaners. It has the same finned disc design as the popular Zodiac Baracuda G3 but costs way less.
- Cheap but cleans well.
- One moving part – lasts long and easy to maintain.
- Great value for money.
- Cleans floor and walls.
- Works quietly.
- Diaphragm requires frequent replacement.
For its price, the Vingli swimming pool cleaner works surprisingly well. Many customers who bought it say it works just as well, if not better than the much more expensive Baracuda G3 cleaner.
Like the Baracuda G3, the Vingli cleaner has just one moving part – the diaphragm. It lasts longer than other complicated cleaners with motors and drive systems and requires minimal maintenance.
The Vingli cleaner attaches to your pool’s suction line. It generates suction power using the diaphragm. The wide pad agitates stuck debris. It also picks up dirt and takes it directly to the pool filter.
A wheel deflector allows the cleaner to move easily over obstacles and around tight corners.
The Vingli cleaner reaches most of your pool, including the walls. But you may need to adjust the regulator valve to make sure it can climb walls.
The cleaner comes with ten hoses, which, when connected, are long enough to clean a large above-ground or in-ground pool. If the cleaner does not reach all corners of your pool, you can order additional hose lengths from the manufacturer.
Issues & Limitations
The one moving part of the Vingli cleaner requires regular maintenance. You’ll need to replace the diaphragm every few months.
Luckily, the manufacturer sends out diaphragm replacements quickly and at no cost.
If you like what other pool owners have to say about the Zodiac Baracuda but think it is too expensive, the Vingli cleaner is an excellent alternative for less than half the cost.
4. Best for cyclonic suction: Zodiac MX6 In-Ground Suction Cleaner
The Zodiac MX6 uses what the manufacturer calls cyclonic suction to lift dirt and debris from the surface of the pool. Combined with intelligent navigation, the MX6 cleans your pool almost as well as a high-end robotic pool cleaner.
- Excellent cleaning performance.
- Intelligent navigation ensures full coverage.
- Low flow design makes it great for variable speed pumps.
- Easy and quick to set up.
- Rotating fins get stuck easily on long leaves and palm fronds.
- Hoses do not last long.
Suction pool cleaners are typically simple machines that take forever to clean your pool, not so with the Zodiac MX6. It is designed and works more like a robotic pool cleaner.
The most impressive feature is the powerful vacuuming power, thanks to the cyclonic suction. A fan-like disk underneath the cleaner spins rapidly, generating suction that lifts water and debris into the cleaner.
This allows the MX6 to clean a dirty pool in a short time.
The MX6 cleaner works great, even with low-flow pumps. The turbines on the spinning disk are designed to generate suction even with a low water flow rate.
This is great if you have a variable speed pump. You can set a lower speed that uses less energy, and the cleaner will still work great.
An intelligent navigation system ensures the cleaner reaches every part of the pool. Thanks to the deep tracks on the wheels, it has no trouble scaling the walls and driving over obstacles.
The Zodiac MX6 is easy to set up. The hoses are quick to connect, so it’s easy to put them together.
Shopping tip: If you want an even more powerful pool cleaner, get the Zodiac MX8. It has dual cyclonic action, picks bigger debris and cleans faster.
Issues & Limitations
The turbines underneath the cleaner are great for vacuuming debris, but they clog easily. If your pool has a lot of long pieces of debris like a palm frond, they get wound up on the turbines.
Another issue is the hoses. According to many customer reviews, they don’t last long. Many customers had to get replacement hoses after about a year.
Though a bit pricier than other suction pool cleaners, the Zodiac MX6 is well worth the money. It cleans better and quicker.
5. Best for concrete pools: Hayward 4-Wheel Suction Cleaner
The Hayward 4-Wheel suction cleaner uses a powerful drive system to move over obstacles and clean large in-ground pools. With it self-adjusting roller skirts, it maintains suction on uneven concrete pool surfaces.
- Powerful drive system.
- Ideal for large pools up to 40′ long.
- Maintains suction on rough concrete pools.
- Deep tire treads maintain grip.
- Pre-programmed steering ensures full coverage.
The Hayward cleaner’s 4-wheel system gives it better mobility than other pool cleaners. It has an easier time moving over obstacles and easily climbs pool walls.
The Hayward cleaner can tackle larger in-ground pools up to 40′ feet long. It has pre-programmed steering patterns that ensure it covers every inch of the pool. It does take a few hours to finish cleaning the pool, but you can be sure it has reached every spot.
One of the best features of the Hayward 4x cleaner is the self-adjusting roller skirts. Concrete or gunite pools (the two types of pools are almost similar) are rough and can reduce suction power.
To prevent this, the Hayward cleaner has roller skirts that adjust up or down automatically when moving over an uneven surface. This ensures the cleaner maintains maximum suction and, thus, cleaning performance.
The adjustable roller skirts are also handy when the cleaner is moving over an obstacle. It maintains strong suction and keeps picking up debris.
Issues & Limitations
If you are looking for a budget suction pool cleaner, this is not it. It’s closer in price to some robotic pool cleaners.
The Hayward 4x pool cleaner is expensive, but we think it’s worth it, especially if you have a large concrete pool.
6. Best for Pools with Low-speed Pumps: Zodiac Baracuda G3 Pool Cleaner
If you have a low-speed pump, the Zodiac Baracuda G3 is a great choice. It is designed to maintain optimal performance even with a low flow rate.
It’s also a great choice if you have a variable speed pump. You can select the lowest speed setting, and the Baracuda G3 will work fine.
- Excellent cleaning performance.
- One moving part – durable and easy to maintain.
- The disc is safe for most types of pool surfaces.
- Works well with low-flow pumps.
- Doesn’t handle large debris.
- Cleans slowly.
To be honest, we think the Vingli swimming pool cleaner is better value for money. But if you want the assurance of buying from a well-known brand, get the Zodiac Baracuda G3. It has better build quality, meaning the disc and diaphragm last longer before you need replacements.
The best feature of the Zodiac Baracuda G3 is its ability to work with low-flow pumps. If you have a 3/4Hp or 1HP pump, the G3 will work perfectly without requiring a booster pump.
This is also great if you have a variable speed pump. You can reduce the RPM of the pump to save energy, and the G3 cleaner will still work fine.
The one moving part design of the Zodiac Baracuda G3 makes for easy and cheap maintenance. The only parts you’ll ever need to replace are the disc pad, the diaphragm, and the hoses.
All the parts are well made is it’ll be some time before you buy new ones.
As for cleaning performance, the Zodiac Baracuda G3 is great. It picks up most of the debris and clears up the murkiest of pools.
It is random in its movements, but it eventually covers the entire pool, including the walls. A wheel deflector improves agility and keeps the cleaner from getting stuck.
Issues & Limitations
The Zodiac Baracuda G3 is a bit more expensive than other suction cleaners. If you are on a budget, we recommend the Vingli cleaner instead. It has the same design and cleans just as well but costs less than half the G3’s price.
Another issue with the Zodiac Baracuda G3 is that it cannot handle large debris, such as acorns. Remove them before you put the cleaner into the water. Otherwise, it’ll get clogged and stop moving.
The Zodiac Baracuda G3 is one of the most reliable pool cleaners you’ll find. It cleans well and rarely breaks down.
If you are tired spending hundreds of dollars maintaining an already expensive pool cleaner, you’ll find the Baracuda G3 to be easier on your pocket.
7. Best cleaning coverage: Pentair 360042 Kreepy Krauly Universal Pool Cleaner
The Pentair Kreepy Krauly also belongs to the one-moving-part pool cleaner category. Despite its simple design, it cleans surprisingly well and covers every inch of the pool from the floor to the waterline.
If you still have to manually brush your pool walls because your pool cleaner won’t climb them, we recommend the Pentair Kreepy Krauly universal pool cleaner.
- Full pool coverage.
- Reliable and low – maintenance design.
- Picks up large and small debris.
- Rarely gets stuck.
- It requires some adjusting to get it to work properly.
Kreepy Krauly combines a simple and reliable design with excellent cleaning performance.
The diaphragm and the pleated seal generate plenty of suction power that picks up all kinds of debris. You still have to remove the large pieces like palm fronds to avoid clogging the cleaner, but Kreepy Krauly will handle everything else, including sand, leaves, and bugs.
An automatic valve ensures the cleaner is not moving too fast and leaving dirt behind. The cleaner will take time to clean the pool, but it’ll do it well. It cleans the floor, walls, and waterline.
It does have some trouble cleaning steps and ladders, but it rarely gets stuck.
Thanks to the ‘one moving part’ design, the Kreepy Krauly lasts a long time with minimal maintenance. After a few years, you just replace the pad and diaphragm, and it’ll be as good as new.
Issues & Limitations
If your Kreepy Krauly doesn’t climb the walls or moves too slowly/fast, you’ve probably not adjusted it properly.
Kreepy Krauly cleaners are not ready to use out of the box. You’ll need to adjust the valve to make sure it can climb the wall and move at the right speed. In most cases, these require repeated adjustments until you get it right.
Robotic cleaners are great but can be expensive and a headache to maintain. The Pentair Kreepy Krauly takes much longer to clean your pool but cleans almost as well and cleans all the areas a robotic cleaner would.
The best part is that it costs very little to operate.
8. Best Wall Climber: XtremepowerUS 75037 Climb Wall Pool Cleaner
Many suction pool cleaners have trouble climbing the wall. They either will go only halfway up or won’t climb at all, forcing you to brush the wall manually.
One of the best wall climbers is the XtremepowerUS pool cleaner. It also does a great job cleaning the floor and steps.
- Low price.
- Full pool coverage.
- Simple design – reliable and low maintenance.
- Rarely gets stuck, if you adjust it right.
- It requires repeated adjustments to get it to move properly.
The XtremepowerUS pool cleaner makes pool maintenance easy by making sure you don’t have to spend a lot of time brushing the walls, steps, and other areas most pool cleaners miss.
It provides full pool coverage from the floor to the waterline. It also cleans the steps, although, for certain pools, it may only manage the lower steps.
The XtremepowerUS cleaner mostly picks up small and fine debris, including dust, sand, bugs, and algae. It can also pick up leaves, but we recommend removing large leaves and other debris manually to avoid clogging the cleaner.
Similar to the Kreepy Krauly and Vingli cleaner, the XtremepowerUS cleaner has a very simple design without wheels or gears. This makes it more reliable and durable. It also makes maintenance easier and cheaper.
Issues & Limitations
Like the Kreepy Krauly, the XtremepowerUS cleaner is not ready to clean out of the box. You’ll need to adjust it several times until it works right. Otherwise, it’ll probably keep getting stuck, move too fast or too slow or fail to climb the walls.
If you are looking for a cheap suction pool cleaner that will clean the pool floor, walls, and steps, we highly recommend the XtremepowerUS pool cleaner.
What Are The Benefits of Using A Suction Pool Cleaner?
Suction pool cleaners are big timesavers. Instead of spending hours brushing and vacuuming a pool manually, you simply connect a suction cleaner and let it do its thing.
A suction cleaner will likely pick up dirt and clean off the grime that you would have missed using handheld pool cleaning tools. So you not only save time, but you also get a cleaner pool.
In addition to vacuuming debris and dirt, a suction cleaner also improves pool circulation. This keeps the water cleaner, distributes chemicals more evenly, and reduces algae growth.
Remember that a suction cleaner does all this without requiring a power connection like a robotic cleaner. It also doesn’t require a booster pump as most pressure-side cleaners do.
There’s also the big advantage of cost. Most suction pool cleaners cost less compared to robotic and pressure side cleaners.
Suction vs. Pressure vs. Robotic Pool Cleaners
Suction pool cleaners are generally the cheapest of the bunch. A suction cleaner connects to your pool’s outlet and relies on your pool pump and filter to move and clean. Suction cleaners are great for fines and small debris like sand, bug, algae, and silt. Most struggle with large debris like leaves.
Pressure pool cleaners fall between suction and robotic cleaners in terms of price (though you’ll find a few models that cost the same or even more than a robotic cleaner).
Pressure cleaners connect to your pool’s return line and rely on your pool pump to move and pick up debris. But unlike suction cleaner, pressure cleaners have their filter bag to hold debris.
Most pressure cleaners don’t just rely on vacuum to clean the pool. They use additional accessories such as a scrubber tail or brushes to agitate dirt and algae.
Robotic pool cleaners generally cost more than pressure and suction cleaners. They don’t rely on any pool system. A robotic cleaner has its filter bag or cartridge as well as a motor that provides suction power and moves the robot around the pool.
While it does not require any installation, you’ll need to connect a robotic cleaner to a power source.
Robotic cleaners have the best cleaning performance; most can pick up both large and small debris. On the downside, they require more maintenance and may not last as long as a suction leaner.
How to Choose the Right Suction Pool Cleaner
Here’s what to consider when choosing a suction pool cleaner.
- Pump size: Check the minimum required pump size and make sure your pool pump is not underpowered. It’ll be given either in horsepower or flow rate (GPH or GPM). Luckily, most suction pool cleaners work great even with low-flow pumps, so you’ll likely not have an issue finding a good cleaner.
- Pool size: The size of the pool a suction cleaner can clean usually depends on the length of the assembled hoses. If total hose length is 31″ or 32″, you can use it in a pool measuring up to 30″. Note that you can always order more hose lengths if you have a bigger pool.
- Cleaning performance: Check customer reviews to see how well the cleaner handles different types of debris. If you have trees near the pool, can the cleaner remove leaves from the pool? If your pool gets a lot of windblown sand, can the cleaner vacuum fine debris? Also, check its pool coverage. Look for a suction cleaner that cleans the floor and walls.
- Maintenance: We are big fans of ‘one moving part’ suction cleaners. They clean well and require very little maintenance. They also tend to be cheaper than suction cleaners with a complicated design.
How do suction pool cleaners work?
Suction cleaners rely on the force of the water being sucked out of the pool to generate suction. This allows the cleaner to move about and pick up debris.
Can I leave a suction cleaner in the pool?
Yes, you can leave a suction cleaner in the pool for hours or days. It’ll automatically start cleaning whenever the pool pump comes on.
Most manufacturers recommend removing the cleaner when you are swimming or adding pool chemicals. It’s also a good idea to remove the cleaner when you shut down the pool for winter.
Why is my suction cleaner, not working?
- It is clogged. Remove the cleaner and check the underside for any leaves or debris clogging it.
- Your pool filter needs cleaning. A dirty and clogged pool filter can reduce the amount of suction a pool cleaner can generate.
- You’ve not adjusted the suction cleaner properly. Most suction cleaners have a valve that you need to adjust to ensure the right flow rate through the cleaner. If your pool cleaner moves, then stop, doesn’t move at all, moves too slowly or too fast or don’t climb the wall, try to adjust this valve. Check the product manual for instructions.
If you are looking for an affordable and easy to maintain an automatic pool cleaner, we recommend a suction pool cleaner.
It’ll clean your pool slower than other types of automatic cleaners, but the results will be just as good.