Cleaning your pool is not a fun or glamorous job, but it has to be done. While it might not be much to clean a small pool or spa by hand sometimes, it is far from convenient. If your pool is medium or large, it could take up hours of time each week just to keep it clean manually. That’s where an automatic pool cleaner comes in.
The best pool cleaner is always going to be an automatic pool cleaner. These are reliable and efficient, and they will take little or no time out of your day to use. Automatic pool cleaners can make your pool floor, walls, and steps clean within a few hours while you do something else entirely.
This convenience allows you the freedom of not having to clean out your pool manually or hire a service to do it. Instead, you will just set up the pool cleaner and go on your way.
What Does an Automatic Pool Cleaner Do?
Automatic pool vacuums hook up to the electricity or pool suction system and drive around the pool floor. As they go, they are sucking up dirt, leaves, bugs, and other debris. Most of these cleaners can use suction to climb the pool walls and steps as well.
What it means is that they do the cleaning for you!
What Are the Different Types of Cleaners?
There are three main types of pool vacuums: robotic, suction side, and pressure side cleaners.
Although they are a bit similar to each other, there are some noticeable differences which can help you decide which type is right for you. Sometimes the size and shape of your pool will influence which type of pool vacuum you need to get.
What's the difference between the 3 types of pool cleaners?
How Does a Suction Side Cleaner Work?
This first type of pool vacuum is one of the most commonly used.
It is easy to use, reliable, and works in almost all pools. Suction-side pool cleaners are powered by the suction from your pool filter system. The water that’s sucked into the machine powers a turbine that spins the wheels.
Along with powering the wheels, suction is also used to vacuum underneath the pool cleaner as it moves around. Dirt is sucked up through the vacuum’s throat and into the hose. It ends in the pool filter, where your built-in pool filter system will catch it and keep the dirt from returning to the pool.
Suction-side automatic pool cleaners don’t need any specialized systems. As long as you have a suction filter system or a pool skimmer, you can use this type of pool vacuum. Some models work better with high or low flow systems, but overall it is easy to shop around to find the best unit for your pool.
What Are the Pros and Cons of a Suction Side Cleaner?
For some people, side suction vacuums are the best automatic pool cleaners, because they work in most pools.They are usually silent, and they are very easy to maintain. The disadvantages of side suction pool cleaners are that they don’t have enough suction power to pick up most large leaves, and they sometimes work a bit slowly.
Side suction pool vacuums operate with a relatively slow flow of water, so they can’t drive quickly underwater. Some models have a little trouble going from the deep end to the shallow end of the pool, depending on what kind of flow you have in your pool.
Since the suction is working both to run the turbine and to suck up dirt, you won’t get as strong a suction with this type of pool vacuum. Most small leaves, bugs, and dirt will go, but larger leaves and sticks can be difficult to remove.
Fortunately, as long as you have a dedicated vacuum line or a pool skimmer, you can hook up a side suction pool vacuum. A lot of people find this type to be the best pool cleaner because maintenance is simple. There is usually a small filter cartridge inside that can be hosed off and inserted back into the vacuum. The cartridge is there only to catch large debris and keep it from your pool filter area.
If you’re picky about noise levels, side suction vacuums are some of the most silent. Read the pool cleaner reviews before you make any assumptions about the noise level, but most of these vacuums will be very quiet.
Which is the Best Suction Pool Cleaner?
In my opinion, these are the two best suction pool cleaner vacuums available right now:
1. Baracuda G3
- In-ground Pools
- Great Value
The Baracuda side suction pool cleaner has a funny shape but is very effective at moving around the pool floor and up the walls. It can clean up to the water line on the walls and will also do the steps fairly well.
Baracuda’s strange looking disc design helps it to get around the pool without getting stuck on the ladder, drains, lights, or anything else around the interior of your pool.
You can use this pool vacuum with a low flow pump, and it will pick up all kinds of small and medium debris from around the pool. Even if you don’t have the recommended flow speed, a specialized FlowKeeper Valve is built into the hose to keep the cleaner working at its ideal power.
That's a quiet, lightweight pool cleaner which can be used for any size of pool. Depending on the size of your pool, you may need to add or remove hose sections that connect it to the system. 30 feet of hosing come with the cleaner when you buy it.
2. The Pool Cleaner, Hayward Poolvergnuegen
THE POOLCLEANER HAYWARD
- In-ground Pools
- Doesn't get stuck
This side suction pool sweeper gets around your pool very easily. It climbs well and drives right over many of the obstacles in your pool. Even most anti-vortex drains are navigable for this pool cleaner. On the bottom of the vacuum, there is a vacuum skirt that helps to increase the suction power.
You can hook the Poolvergnuegen up to systems with any flow speeds and it will self-regulate to optimize its performance. The same pieces of the hose that help it to regulate the speed will also allow larger pieces of debris to travel through the tube without getting caught on the way.
There are pre-programmed steering sequences built into this pool vacuum, so it doesn't get stuck. It will randomly make turns to get itself out of any tricky areas and corners. These steering sequences help the pool vac to cover the entire pool without missing any spots.
How Does a Pressure Side Cleaner Work?
Unlike suction side cleaners, pressure side cleaners need a separate booster pump. Without this, it won’t run at all. The booster pumper does two things: it creates a suction vortex that brings all the dirt and debris into a special collection bag, and it shoots a jet of water behind the pool vacuum to move it along.
Most pools don't have a booster pumpBooster pumps, and you will need to purchase it when you get the pool cleaner itself. Despite the extra cost of the booster pump, these types of pool cleaners are worth it to a lot of people. The larger mouth picks up everything in the pool. Even large leaves and sticks aren’t an issue.
Collection bags are necessary for pressure side cleaners. Bags last a long time and are designed to catch specific types of dirt (such as leaf bags or sturdier stick bags).
What Are Pros and Cons of a Pressure Side Cleaner?
Pressure side cleaners are usually a fantastic choice for your pool. Some reasons why a lot of people agree these are the best automatic pool vacuum types are that they are quick, and they can pick up all sorts of dirt and debris. The biggest downside is the need for a booster pump to be installed.
Because you can’t run a pressure side cleaner without a booster pump, it is not always a practical choice for all pool owners. It is not the best pool cleaner for anyone who cannot hook up a booster pump or doesn’t already have one, as this adds to the expense of purchasing the pool vacuum.
However, once you install a pressure pool cleaner you probably won’t regret it. In some cases, it can clean the pool within a short 90 minutes. That fast speed doesn’t compromise on a quality cleaning job either, as the suction is very strong and the wide throat of the device lets in anything and everything from the pool.
Which is the Best Pressure Side Cleaner?
Although other pressure side cleaners are available, this is the one I would highly recommend looking at:
- In-ground Pools
- Quick Cleaning
The Polaris 280 is a very popular and reputable pool vacuum. Not only do pool vacuum reviews give it a fantastic image, but there are also a lot of professional that would choose this model over any others when given the choice.
Its popularity is due to a robust design that can last for years without giving you trouble, and also because it keeps your pool sparkling clean.
31 feet of hosing come with the pool cleaner in separate segments. You can attach or detach as needed for your particular pool size. In less than 3 hours, an average sized pool will be clean in every area. That includes the walls and steps, as the Polaris 280 can do those sections easily.
Choose between 3 different filter bags for the vacuum and let it do its job. You should occasionally empty these bags so that the Polaris works effectively every time you use it. But otherwise, there is little or no maintenance for this pool vacuum.
How Does a Robotic Pool Cleaner Work?
Robotic pool cleaners are powered by electricity. They contain two motors: one for their movement and one for suction. These pool sweepers are self-contained and do not need any connection to your pool’s filter system. Filter cartridges are inside the vacuum, and all the dirt and debris pass through the filter area before the clean water comes out on the other side.
Very low voltage is used by most robotic cleaners, with an industry average of 24 volts. That is a safe voltage to have in the water, and it is not likely to cause any harm to you. It's better not to swim while it’s cleaning.
Most robotic pool cleaners are operated with a computer chip, but a few still use remote controls or random steering sequences to get around the pool. They can usually drive up walls and steps to clean everywhere.
What Are the Pros and cons of a Robotic Cleaner?
If you want a system that can work in any pool, reduce the strain on your pool filter, and work without your constant attention, then a robotic cleaner might be a good choice. However, they are usually a bit pricier and heavier than other types of pool vacuums.
The weight of a robotic pool cleaner is the result of the heavy electronics, the self-contained system, and the water that fills up the device when it’s submerged. All of this adds up to a device that can be a little tricky when you are removing it from the pool. The average adult or teen can usually pull a robotic cleaner out of the pool, even when it’s submerged fully.
Unfortunately, the price of a robotic cleaner is what often scares people away, as it can be a few hundred dollars more than other types of cleaners.
That higher price point does come with some advantages. Because electric pool cleaners bypass the filter system, your pool’s pump won’t experience as much strain and will last longer. The amount of power to run a robotic pool cleaner is minimal, taking away from the overall costs.
When you account for the fact that these robotic cleaners work in any swimming pool, it’s not a bad idea to look at them and give this type a chance as well.
Which is the Best Robotic Pool Cleaner?
Here are my two favorite robotic pool cleaners:
1. Dolphin Nautilus
- In-ground Pools
- High Performance
Whether you have an in-ground or above ground pool, this robotic pool cleaner can work in it. Most pools can be cleaned within 3 hours or less. That cleaning includes both sucking up debris and scrubbing away any residue around your pool. For 3 hours of cleaning time, the average cost of running your cleaner is just 15 cents!
The swiveling top cord is a unique feature that makes this robotic pool vacuum less likely to get stuck or caught on its own cable at any point. It will also help it stay upright rather than tipping over because of the cord getting stuck.
This unit comes with a 12-month limited warranty. Most of the time you won’t need to use the warranty because this is a pretty sturdy and reliable cleaner. But, just in case you need it, the warranty is there!
2. Tiger Shark QC
HAYWARD TIGER SHARK
- In-ground and Above ground Pools
- Quick Clean Technology
There are 3 different models of the Tiger Shark pool cleaner. The most popular model is the QC model, because of its quick clean mode that vacuums your entire pool in around 90 minutes. Although the quick clean cycle doesn’t scrub as much as the normal cycle, it is all that’s needed most days and will help you get your pool ready for visitors even if you forget to clean it earlier.
The strong pump on this Tiger Shark robotic pool cleaner does wonders for sucking up dirt and unwanted pool floor debris. It also helps when the device is climbing walls and steps.
Maintaining your Tiger Shark is simple. All you have to do is remove the filter cartridge and hose it off after you’re done cleaning the pool. If you empty the cartridge out after every cleaning (or in the middle of tough cleaning jobs), then your pool cleaner should take care of the job without any trouble.
Are Automatic Pool Cleaners Worth the Money?
The main reason most people like automatic pool cleaners is that they don’t have to pay attention when using them and they can easily replace a pool cleaning service.
If you frequently hire a service to come and clean your pool, an automatic pool vacuum will save you money within a few months or a year.
Depending on how you value your spare time, these vacuums can also be worth it because they will save you time and energy doing the work manually.
Which Pool Cleaner Should I Buy?
Out of the three types of pool cleaners, which is the best choice for your pool? That’s based entirely on what you need.
Here are the things to consider:
- Size of Your Pool
Smaller pools are compatible with most automatic pool cleaners, but if your pool is very small, it may not be worth it. Sometimes a manual pool cleaner is just as fast as an automatic pool vacuum in a tiny pool. The only thing an automatic will help you with is saving energy. For large pools, automatic cleaners are highly recommended.
- Your Budget
Manual above ground pool cleaners and suction side pool cleaners are the cheapest types available, so if you have a low budget, you should look at those types. Robotic pool cleaners and pressure side cleaners are a little pricier, but they can save you time and money in the long run.
- In-Ground or Above-Ground Pool
What kind of pool do you have installed in your yard? In-ground pools are compatible with most, if not all, automatic and manual pool cleaners. However, some above ground pools are not compatible with automatic pool cleaners. Your need to check before you buy if the cleaner is suitable for an above ground pool.
Beyond the broad classification of in-ground or above ground, pay attention to the surface material of your pool. Concrete pools can accept any pool cleaner, but other materials like vinyl or tiles might not be as accepting. Read about the pool cleaner you’re interested in before you purchase one that won’t work on your pool surface.
- What Gets in Your Pool Most Often
Do you have large leaves, acorns, sticks, or other difficult debris in your pool frequently? Look for a pressure side cleaner, because of the wide throat and strong suction. If you have mostly dirt and sand with some smaller debris, most other pool cleaners will work just fine.
- Pool Setup
If you don’t already have a booster pump installed (most people don’t), then a pressure side cleaner will be more expensive to install initially. Suction side cleaners work on any pool that has a built-in filter system with a dedicated vacuum line or a pool skimmer. Robotic pool cleaners and manual cleaners can operate on all types of pools, regardless of the setup.
- Type of Filtration
If you want better filtration when your pool is being cleaned, a pressure side or robotic cleaner is best. These two have the best filtration options with large and microscopic filters available. Suction side and manual cleaners can do a good job, but they don’t usually have as many options available.
Where Can I Buy a Pool Vacuum?
It’s common to buy the best automatic pool cleaners online. Although you can find them in some pool superstores, the prices are usually more competitive online than in stores. Plus, while most stores will be licensed to carry a particular type of pool cleaner, online stores offer you a lot more variety.
You can find the pool cleaners I mentioned above on eBay.com, Poolsupplyworld.com, and Amazon.com. I would recommend avoiding eBay, as you might be buying a used or refurbished product without knowing it; the risk is not worth it for a price that won’t be lower than anywhere else.
Amazon.com is a good option over Poolsupplyworld.com, as there is more variety. Poolsupplyworld is one of the sellers on Amazon for some pool cleaners, so it would be redundant to check the main website for them at all!
How much do they cost?
Keep in mind that robotic pool cleaners will always be the most expensive. Don’t get sticker shock when you see prices of $700+ for the cleaner alone. Suction side cleaners are the cheapest (usually $400 or below), with pressure side cleaners as the mid-range in price (usually $400-$600).
Prices vary depending on the time of year and it's worth checking the price on Amazon .
The cleaners we selected in this review are all excellent value for their category.
Finding the best automatic pool cleaner might take some time, but it is really satisfying once you get that crystal clear pool. Whatever you decide on, make sure it’s what suits your pool, not what other people might say is the best model.
What’s best for your pool might not be the same as what’s best for someone else’s pool.
Give yourself a head-start by looking at the pool cleaner reviews I’ve mentioned above. There are many different automatic pool cleaners available, and if the ones I’ve mentioned don’t suit your pool then you should search around for something that does!
You can find these models and more at Amazon: