Recent advancements in the field of automatic cleaners mean you can hang up the manual scrubbers for good and get a far cleaner pool in a fraction of the time. However, there are a ton of these cleaners online. That can make it hard to tell if you’re getting a great deal or a subpar model.
If you want to get a model you’ll love, you’ll appreciate our automatic pool cleaner reviews. We cover the pros and cons of different cleaners so you can find one while avoiding any flaws that would drive you nuts. There’s also a buyer’s guide, so you can learn about these terrific items before buying.
|Dolphin Nautilus CC Plus (Robotic)|
|Dolphin Premier (Robotic)||35 lbs||4.70/5|
|Polaris Vac-Sweep 360 (Pressure)|
(Best for the Money)
|Hayward AquaNaut 400 (Suction)||19 lbs||4.35/5|
|Polaris F9550 Sport (Robotic)||44 lbs||4.20/5|
You can program this model to run every day, every other day, or every third day, to maximize cleanliness or minimize the bill. Since it cleans so well, most users won’t need daily cleanings to keep their pools in good shape. The only reservation we have about this cleaner is that it sometimes struggles with steps, though this is a problem for most automatic pool cleaners. Overall, this model cleans so well that it would be worth almost any price, and it’s a model sure to leave most users very happy.
This model has a three-year warranty, which means it’s one of the best-protected automatic pool cleaners you can find. It’s also a great sign that the manufacturer believes in the product’s overall quality. What ultimately keeps this machine out of first place is its cost, which is about 50 percent more than our top choice. You do get some nice features out of the deal, but the price increase means this model doesn’t make sense for everyone.
You can also get this machine for about 60 percent of the price of the top model on our list. That earns it the title as ‘the best automatic pool cleaner for the money’. If you need a great pool cleaning experience, but don’t want to break the bank to get it, you’ll be very happy with this model. We wish it came with better instructions, but you can use internet resources if you find the instructions insufficient. Given the low price, this is a cleaner most will love.
It includes programmable steering sequences, so you can optimize this machine for your pool’s specific shape to get a great clean. The one downside to this model is one it shares with all suction cleaners. If the suction isn’t powerful enough, it won’t be able to climb the walls to clean them, though it may still do a good job with the pool floor. Overall, this is the best of the suction-side cleaners, though there are some better options in other categories.
However, this model struggles with walls. In some pools, it has no problems. In others, it will never clean the walls. If it were more consistent in this category, it could rise higher on our list. What really hurts this model’s value, however, is its price. It’s one of the most expensive cleaners on our list, but it sometimes fails to deliver good results. For the price, you should expect more. It sometimes works very well, and other times it falls flat, making it a risky buy.
However, this model suffers from the classic pool cleaner problem. It doesn’t always do well with walls. In this case, it has a lot to do with the floats this model uses. The manual recommends using more floats to help it turn over if it gets flipped, but using fewer floats gives it the grip it needs to grab the walls and climb. It does well with large debris but isn’t as effective with algae, so it’s not going to satisfy most people in that regard. While this is an okay pool cleaner, most people will want something better for the money.
Unfortunately, this model has some problems. Despite the manufacturer’s claims, many people find it tricky to assemble. You shouldn’t have to spend an hour or more to set up your pool cleaner, but that’s what this model sometimes requires. It also does decently with walls but struggles with stairs. If you don’t have those in your pool, it’s not a problem, but otherwise, you’ll probably have to clean them manually. This is a good suction-side automatic pool cleaner, but it won’t be the right thing for all pools.
However, you may not want this model if you don’t have a darker pool. For one, it’s expensive. It does clean well, but you can get equally good cleaning power for less. The manufacturer also recommends a booster pump, even if it doesn’t strictly require one. If you want to get the best performance out of this model, you’ll end up shelling out a lot more, which makes this a very expensive purchase. Ultimately, most people will like how well this unit works, but its high price means it doesn’t deliver incredible value.
This model also has problems with getting tangled and stuck elsewhere in the pool. It requires proprietary hoses, which are both expensive and prone to tangling. Even worse, the hoses have truly poor durability and often break down before the two-year mark, making the cost of operating this model very high. If you’re looking for a relatively inexpensive cleaner that will last a long time, this model isn’t the one for you. While it isn’t terribly expensive, it’s likely to leave most users unhappy.
However, this cleaner doesn’t work with large debris at all. If leaves or acorns fall into your pool, they can clog this machine and cause it to stop working. That’s a big problem, as this cleaner already has jamming issues that cause it to malfunction. That’s not unexpected at this price point, but it’s a pain to deal with. The weights on the hose, which must remain precisely positioned for efficient cleaning, also slide around. Ultimately, you’ll only really like this machine if you need a very low-priced pool cleaner and don’t mind investing a lot of time to keep it working.
There are three primary kinds of pool cleaners. It’s important to understand how they work in order to get the model that will work best in your pool, and provide you great value for the money.
Robotic pool cleaners are the only kind that doesn’t tie into your pool’s pump system in order to operate. That means they’re typically the model that is easiest to set up. They only require an electric outlet to operate, and there are no hoses to deal with.
Because they don’t put any extra pressure on your pumps, they won’t have to work harder, and your energy bills will drop as a result. In fact, it sometimes makes sense to turn your pumps off while you run your robotic pool cleaner. This allows any dirt floating in the water to settle to the bottom, where the robot can pick it up.
These cleaners often come with more advanced navigation systems than other types. They can also come with sensors that detect dirt and algae, which allows them to go back over problem areas so that the entire pool is uniformly clean.
The downside is that they can cost hundreds, sometimes thousands, of dollars. They have a lower cost of operation, but they do incur a huge upfront cost. However, most robotic models justify their high price with excellent performance.
Our favorite robotic model is the Dolphin Nautilus CC Plus.
Pressure-side pool cleaners connect directly to your pool’s pump system. They use the pressure provided by the water returning to your pool after it has passed through the pump, hence the name “pressure-side.”
The pressurized water is used to push the cleaner forward, which turns the wheels. The motion of the wheels is used to create suction, which picks up debris, algae, and dirt. Since these cleaners collect material in their own filter bags, they don’t put any extra wear on your pump and filters, though they will need cleaning out after every cleaning cycle.
They aren’t as easy to install as robotic cleaners, but they tend to be simpler to set up and operate than suction-side cleaners. However, they have a higher operating cost. They put more pressure on your pump, which causes it to work harder and consume more electricity.
In some situations, they’ll also require an additional booster pump to get the pressure high enough. While most people with pumps of at least 1.5 horsepower won’t have an issue, people with older or smaller pumps may need a booster pump to run a pressure-side cleaner.
Unlike robotic models, they aren’t guided by a computer chip, but they do use a number of mechanical tricks to cover a pool.
Our favorite pressure side model is the Polaris Vac-Sweep 360.
Suction-side pool cleaners are the inverse of pressure-side models. They attach to the suction-side of your pump, so they use the suction provided by that pump to pick up debris and move around your pool. The debris passes through the suction-side pool cleaner, to the hose that connects it to the suction port. The water is then passed through to the pump, where it’s caught in the filter basket. That means you should empty your pump’s filter basket after each cleaning cycle.
Like pressure-side models, suction-side models put more stress on your pump and cause it to use more electricity. That means their cost of operation can be very high.
However, these tend to be the lowest-priced models. If you need a high-quality cleaning device, but don’t want to break the bank, this is the category to examine first.
Depending on what kind of pool you have, setting up this model can potentially be tricky. Many pools have a dedicated suction cleaner line, which makes installation fast. Others don’t, so you may have to spend some time working with the pipes around your filter basket to get these cleaners to work.
However, suction-side models are less sensitive to water pressure and can run on lower pressures than pressure-side models, and they never require booster pumps.
Our favorite suction side model is the Zodiac Baracuda G3.
Many people underestimate the effect their filters have on their cleaner’s performance. If you’re using a suction-side model, the quality of your filter basket has a big effect on how well your pool is cleaned. The quality of the filters you use with your robotic and pressure-side pool cleaners greatly affects how clean they can get your pool.
Some models come with exchangeable filters that allow you to set the cleaner to work with fine dust and algae, or to clean up larger debris like sticks and leaves. Some filters try to be a one-size-fits-all solution, but struggle with either large or small debris, which can lead to clogging.
The best way to get the right filter is to survey the debris in your pool and choose a model with filters that excel with the debris you most commonly find.
Many people primarily look at price when they purchase a pool cleaner, which is understandable, but it also frequently ends up with them investing in a model they don’t like.
A better strategy starts with assessing your pool’s needs. Notice what debris is likely to be present, and what obstacles, like ladders, stairs, or light fixtures, could get in the way. Then determine what types of pool cleaners best overcome those obstacles.
Limit your search to models that meet those needs. Then rank your remaining models by price and buy the least expensive model. It’ll have the features you need for a very clean pool, but at the lowest overall price, making it the best value.
The Dolphin Nautilus CC Plus is our favorite model due to its easy programming, energy-efficient operation, and top-load filter cartridges. The next-best model is the Dolphin Premier Robotic. It has the option to use filter cartridges or a leaf bag, an extremely efficient motor, and a three-year warranty. The Polaris Vac-Sweep 360 takes third place with its easy installation and great performance with larger debris. Its low price makes it the best overall value for the money.
The Hayward AquaNaut 400 earns fourth place with its four-wheel drive and great roller skirt, though it struggles with walls. The Polaris F9550 Sport Robotic In-Ground Pool Cleaner comes with robotic operation and Aqua-Trax tires, but its high price and issues with walls hurt its value. In sixth, the Hayward Poolvergnuegen ‘The Pool Cleaner’ has self-adjusting turbine vanes and pre-programmed steering sequences, but it has problems with walls and algae.
The Zodiac Baracuda G3 works with low-speed pumps and has good performance in corners, but issues with assembly and stairs drop it to seventh place. In eighth, the Pentair LL505G Kreepy Krauly is great for darker pools and features a stable wheel design. However, it has a high price and requires a booster pump.
The Zodiac Baracuda MX6 works well with low-flow pumps and is good at climbing walls, but its poor durability and propensity for getting stuck really hurt its value. Last place is taken by the XtremepowerUS 75037. It has easy assembly and a low price, but buyers should be cautious about its frequent jamming and overall low quality.
Hopefully, our pool sweeper reviews and buyer’s guide have helped you learn about the different types of automatic pool cleaners. Armed with that information, you should be able to find the model that works best for your pool, at a great price.
Just a quick note. If you came here looking for above-ground pool cleaners – then check out our guide here. Also, feel free to check out our popular Dolphin & Polaris buying guides.