Even in this day and age of high-tech where so many machines do the work for us, it might still seem odd having a little robot, left to its own devices, cleaning your pool.
The truth is these little powerhouses do a far better job than you or I and, of course, the hired human pool cleaner, who doesn’t come cheap. Professional pool cleaners usually charge for their time, not only at your poolside but also for traveling to and from your home.
Automatic pool cleaners reach areas where a person can’t. They cover every part of your pool, even the most awkward areas, removing algae and hard-to-shift dirt from the bottom and sides. It’s been proven that these compact little robots have better dirt-catching systems than a human cleaner, who will use the mesh pool scoop. An automatic pool cleaner uses far more refined mesh filters to pick up debris, even dirt that cannot be seen by the naked eye.
Generally, robotic pool cleaners have two motors, one is in charge of a water pump, which sucks dirt and debris through a filter, and the second is there to propel the unit around the pool. It’s not plugged into your pool system because they hold all the gunk and grime in their own receptacle.
So, although the initial outlay might make a dent in your budget, in the long term one of these robots will save you money not only on the actual cleaning but also on energy costs. A pool pump filtration system is an energy guzzler, whilst the robot could save as much as $500 in energy costs annually. This little robot could become your NBPF — new best poolside friend.
Here we look at five popular automatic pool cleaners:
|Automatic Pool Cleaner||Weight||Check Price|
|Maytronics Dolphin CC Nautilus Plus|
|Hayward TigerShark QC|
|Baracuda G3 W03000 Cleaner|
|Aquabot APRVJR Pool Rover Junior|
|Polaris 9550 Sport|
This compact robot knows how to multi-task for sure.
It has a dual filtration system, Active Scrubbing Brush can grab coarse debris and finer particles in one fowl swoop. Highly sophisticated sensors are able to map out the most efficient route, and modular components will keep maintenance costs in check.
When it comes to getting rid of the debris, the filters are easy to access and the quick release feature means you can remove them immediately. Water can be drained in about six seconds, which means it’s lighter to carry.
It has been dubbed the sports car of automatic pool cleaners. It is a far cry from the older Dolphin Nautilus. Thanks to advanced technology it has a superior scanning ability that is hard to beat.
Once its ready to go, it will automatically figure out the dimensions of your pool. It has a GPS-type property, which maps out the best way to approach your pool cleaning.
It’s average cleaning time is two hours, making it that much quicker to clean compared to the original model, which means it’s going to last longer and it will save on energy costs.
The Dolphin CC Nautilus’s 360-degree suction is able to suck more water than any of its competitors. Thanks to its advanced features you might not need as many chemicals to keep your pool clean. This is not only cost-saving, but it reduces your carbon footprint and your pool will be more swimmer-friendly due to fewer chemicals in the water.
- 19lb weight
- Suitable for pools up to 50ft
- CleverClean technology
- Active Scrubbing Brush system
- Equipped with the latest software, similar to a GPS tracking system
- Weekly Timer
- Patented swivel cable
- 12-month warranty
Put a tiger in your tank, which is programmed with intelligent technology. The TigerShark QC is good to go with fast 90-minute patented Quick Clean cycle.
This little beast outstrips its predecessors, cutting down the cleaning time by half.
Its powerful vacuum strength from its onboard pump and an energy efficient 24-volt motor means you won’t be using up too much electricity, while it does the job.
It has a unique cartridge filter system, which makes emptying debris easy. You just have to open the cleaner, remove the cartridge and rinse well with a garden hose.
The TigerShark QC runs separately from the pool’s filtration system reducing the frequency of filter backwash cycles.
The QC automatically determines pool size, calculates the most efficient cleaning pattern and powers off at the end of the cleaning cycle. It also calculates and plans its movement, so it offers more effective cleaning in a short space of time.
It has a high suction rate of 75 gallons of water per minute, regardless of the area it has been programmed to clean.
QC has two cleaning options – the Quick Clean 90-minute function or the automatic three-hour function. By selecting the automatic function, the device will scan and map the surface area and automatically choose the best cleaning motion for the job. The Quick Clean is there to save energy, by reducing the time spent on collecting debris and clearing the water from impurities.
It is compact (only 20x20x20 inches) and robust and features a 50ft power cord, perfect for larger pools. The unit weighs almost 40lb (21lb more than its rival, the Dolphin CC Nautical Plus).
The TigerShark QC generally enjoys positive online reviews. Buyers are happy with the way it operates and a lot of them say it is easy to use and maintain. It doesn’t require any assembly, so it’s straight out the box and into the water.
- Cleans 55 feet per minute
- Filters 75 gallons per minute
- Powerful on-board pump
- 110VAC 60Hz standard input
- Cartridge filters measure 1000 square inches
- Filter Media: 5 microns
- 3-Hour Cleaning Cycle
- Optional remote control
- Cord Length: 55 feet
- Warranty (USA Only): 36 months
Nothing seems to phase this beast of a pool cleaner. It is designed to combat deep pools, sides and steps, easily cleaning areas where most bottom cleaners can’t reach.
A good alternative to wheeled models that can mark and damage pool liners. It handles larger debris, such as small stones relatively easily.
Don’t be fooled by the “side cleaner” in its name. Some people assume it only cleans sides of swimming pools. This powerhouse effortlessly works its way around steps, ladders, nooks and crannies. Although it’s only designed for sunken pools, it does clean surfaces such as fiberglass, tiles and vinyl. It also works on Pebble Tec and Diamond Brite finishes.
It works equally well with high and low-pressure pumps, adjusting its output to suit the water flow. It connects to the skimmer or to a dedicated vacuum line so you don’t need extra plumbing or a booster pump. It will work with your existing pump system and it is easy to connect.
The Baracuda G3 comes with 12 feed hoses, which make up a total length of about 39 feet when connected together. These are long-life hoses with twist-lock fittings that are more resistant to the scraping and brushing common with other automatic pool cleaners.
You have to remove the skimmer basket and connect it to the suction pipe. If you already have a dedicated vacuum line port on the sidewall of the pool, you can use that suction port instead, leaving the skimmer basket where it is.
The Baracuda G3 copes well with small to medium leaves but be warned that large leaves might block the diaphragm and decrease its suction power. The pump filter needs to be cleaned often if the pool collects a lot of leaves.
To attach the feed hose remove the skimmer basket and connect it at that suction pipe. It might be an idea to buy the Zodiac Cyclonic Leaf Catcher, which traps leaves before they reach the skimmer and pump filter basket.
- In-ground pool unit
- Suction-side cleaner
- Skimmer/1.5” vacuum line
- One year warranty
- 39ft feed house
- Suitable for tile, vinyl, Gunite and fiberglass pools
We’ve included this little baby because it’s aboveground friendly and can cost up to a quarter less than its competitors.
Even though the Pool Rover Junior is aimed at the aboveground pool market, it has proved to be quite effective in sunken pools too, just as long as the incline isn’t too steep to make its way up. A glazed concrete surface is fine for the Junior Rover.
The joy about this automatic cleaner is that it is featherweight, easy to take in and out of the pool.
It has a two-hour automatic shut down timer, leaving you free to get about your business.
The 24-volt pump motor provides both vacuum suction and jet-drive propulsion.
Other features of this little number are: a floating 40ft cable; an inbuilt It comes with a 40ft floating cable, a built-in dual-micron fine long-lasting filter bag; and a power supply transformer. Its automatic vacuums are able to combat most raised pool surfaces in less than an hour without having to use hoses.
Its zippy non-marking wheels roll over any surface. The wheels have an E-Z patented swivel device ensuring a tangle-free cable.
- 40ft floating cable
- Built-in 2-micron fine reusable filter bag
- Power supply transformer
- 24-volt pump motor
- Patented E-Z swivel device
- Extra wide wheels
- Two-hour shut-off time
- 180 watts power consumption
- Electrical requirements: 120 VAC/60Hz
- 12-month warranty for the motor
This big daddy of pool cleaners is all about new age technology, with a range of advanced functions covering almost everything you’ll need to keep your pool pristine.
The Sport is the latest brainchild of Polaris, a tried and trusted name in the pool industry for 40 years. And it’s quite clear that a lot of time, thought and effort has been dedicated to its development.
It incorporates a four-wheel drive function, ideal for scaling sides and seeking out hard to clean crevices. Even the waterline, tricky for most robotic cleaners, is part of its remit. Teaming up with this are solid blades to tackle even the most stubborn dirt.
The Sport comes with a motion-sensing remote, which directs it to the exact spot you need to be cleaned. It’s as simple as: “point, click and go”.
There’s even an easy lift feature that brings the cleaner to the surface of the pool by simply pressing a lift button.
This model has a dirty canister indicator, something you’ll not find in many robotic pool cleaners. It indicates when the canister is full, meaning you don’t have to manually check.
Its rear water propulsion system means it is able to sort out those awkward hard to reach places. And thanks to Vortex vacuum automation it is able to pick up large debris without compromising on suction power.
You’ll keep your hands clean when cleaning the filter canisters. They have been designed in a way so that you don’t have to touch debris. Simply shake out the dirt and spray down the filter.
No frustrating pauses during cleaning because the cord has a “tangle-reducing” swivel.
- Control box supplied voltage 100-125 VAC, 60Hz
- Supply voltage 30 V DC
- Installed load 150W max
- Cable length 70ft
- Size: 16.9 x 18.9 x 10.6”
- Weight 21lbs
- Packed weight 42lbs
- All-purpose filter canister
- Variable programming
Here are some top tips to look out for when buying an automatic pool cleaner:
- Pool type. Make sure the automatic pool cleaner is the right one for your pool. Some are suitable only for in-ground pools, others for aboveground pools. There are some that do both, but our advice is to go for a cleaner specifically designed for your type of pool.
- Weight. If you struggle lugging heavy items about, you’ll be opting for the more lightweight models. The size and weight have to suit your specific needs.
- Performance. Research is key here. All automatic pool cleaners can scrub the bottom surfaces and filter debris, but there are models out there that don’t have the capacity to climb the sides and navigate curves and crannies.
- Filters. The top models generally have multiple filters to deal with different types of debris. If you are sold on an automatic cleaner with a single filter check it is able to handle the range of debris you find in your pool.
- Basket capacity. This could depend on where your pool is situated. If it’s under trees and has a smooth surround and the debris is minimal, the basket capacity might not be an issue. On the other hand, if your pool is regularly bombarded by debris, you must make sure that the filter cartridge can cope and won’t become full before it has completed its cleaning cycle.
- Cord. Check this against your pool length and make sure the cord is non-swivel.
- Check online reviews. These should give you a good indication of what the benefits and drawbacks of the models are.
- Warranty. Read the small print. Some companies might offer impressive guarantees, but these might not include the motor, which is the most important component of the unit.
- Specifications. Most brands have clear, concise specs, but there are a good few who don’t supply a complete technical rundown. Even manuals, available to download online, don’t have all the information you require.
BENEFITS OF INVESTING IN AN AUTOMATIC POOL CLEANER
Here are the main benefits we can see by investing in an automatic pool cleaner.
- Clean pool, healthy pool. These little dynamos will out-clean any manual attempt. A cleaner pool means you’ll need fewer chemicals making for a safer swimming environment.
- Less time and effort. Pool maintenance requires a lot of elbow grease. With a robotic cleaner, you’ll have more time on your hands.
- Economical. After the initial outlay, you’ll find these state-of-the-art machines will pay off in the long-run. Traditional pool cleaners rely on the pool’s pressure pump and filtration system increasing energy and maintenance costs.
We’ve explored the various types of automatic pool cleaners and realize that it’s imperative we understand what the different models offer and that we choose the right one for our pools. It’ll take a bit of planning and research, but it’s worth it.
Robotic pool cleaners aren’t gimmicks, they are a fantastic automatic machine that will save you time and effort. It’s guaranteed that once you’ve chosen the right automatic pool cleaner for you, it will be one of the best investments you’ll ever make for your pool.