Swimming pools have to be skimmed to remove leaves, bugs, twigs and other debris floating in them. This is why swimming in the local watering hole down at the creek isn’t as much fun as it sounds like. There is too much scum and gunk in the water. And just like someone is always trying to build a better mousetrap, someone is always trying to build a better skimmer.
Those “someones” are the manufacturers who designed and built various motorized and/or automatic pool skimmers to do the job for you. There are a lot of them out there, with almost as many different designs as there are companies making them. It can get confusing wading through all the conflicting claims. In fact, some people have taken one to two years to figure out which one is best for them.
Let us take some the hassle out of it for you.
We’ve done the reviews on the available skimmers, narrowed the list down to a handful that are worth being looked at, then examined and analyzed them. The results of that process are presented here for your benefit.
|Solar Breeze NX||13 lbs||4.7/5|
|PoolSkim Skimmer and Cleaner|
(Best for the Money)
|Dunnrite Hydro-Net NT212||10 lbs||4.3/5|
Solar-powered equipment doesn’t have the greatest track record in the world, but this little skimmer is easy to use and to clean. Even on a cloudy day, it can pick up enough charge in its batteries to keep on working most of the night. This is after working all day keeping the pool clear of floating debris.
Since it does run on solar power, there isn’t any change in your electric bill. The skimmer keeps the surface of the pool clean, running automatically around and around the pool until you take it out to empty the basket, or it finally runs out of power early in the morning. Then, as soon as the sun comes up, it starts chugging along again.
After a strong storm has blown your pool full of leaves and debris, this machine will have it cleaned up again in no time. In fact, it’ll be cleaning your pool during the storm. Because it scoops up leaves and debris before they have a chance to settle to the bottom, it relieves some of the stress on your pool cleaner.
Now and then it might get stuck on floating hoses, but it can back up to free itself.
This is the previous, older model of the top pick. Like its tougher sibling, it runs on solar power all day and on batteries at night, well into the wee hours of the morning before running out of juice. As soon as the sun comes up, it starts up again, and away it goes.
It runs constantly, skimming up debris nearly as fast as it is deposited. This is especially noticeable if you live in a windy area subject to dust storms, or around a lot of trees. This skimmer can keep up with the deposition and relieve some of the load on your pool cleaner and pool filter.
Unlike the winner, though, this skimmer has a problem with the collection tray or basket. It has an unfortunate tendency to pop off if it is bumped too hard – which can happen in a pool. When that occurs, the tray sinks to the bottom, scattering all the leaves and debris in it. The tray also comes out when you’re taking the skimmer out of the water unless you hold it evenly with both hands, and it can get stuck on floating hoses from the pool cleaner.
This interesting device works on the water jet returns to the pool. As water from the pump jets back into the PoolSkim, it creates a whirlpool effect inside the basket. Remember the Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End whirlpool scene where the ships are going around in circles firing at each other? That’s what happens here. It sucks the surrounding water – and anything floating in it – into the skimmer, then down and out through the filter bag.
The debris gets caught in the bag and clean water returns to the pool. Since it is working on the returns, it catches debris that would otherwise be drawn into the swimming pool’s filter. This reduces the load on the filter, and you won’t have to backwash it as often. You’ll also spend a lot less time skimming by hand, which means more time relaxing.
It’s not as aesthetically pleasing as the first two entries, and it does run off your pool’s pump, so that has to be functioning in order for this model to work. The filter bag doesn’t have as fine a mesh as the first two skimmers, but all things considered, this one is the best for the price.
When this works, it does a fairly decent job of catching large debris, but even then it’s more of a toy than a serious tool. It’s a lot of fun to play with, though; it’s got that going for it. But you can’t really relax while it’s running, because you have to steer it the whole time.
The net doesn’t have a very small mesh, so it doesn’t catch the smaller bugs and seeds that make up so much of the debris floating in your swimming pool.
The batteries on the remote and the “boat” have to be recharged separately. If you leave either one of them on when it’s not in use, the battery in that part will discharge until there’s nothing left and it needs recharging again.
Twice as many parts mean twice as many chances for things to go wrong, and Murphy’s Law is working overtime on this one. The remote doesn’t always signal correctly, and the engines on the “boat” sometimes work at cross purposes, which leaves it spinning uselessly in circles.
This is one skimmer that looks a lot better than it really is. Consider it just a toy and proceed from there.
The SkimmerMotion is for both in-ground and above-ground pools. It’s good for some pools, but it won’t be the right thing for all pool owners. It attaches to your suction-side cleaner, so it’s able to move around your pool and hit all the areas at the surface that line up with the spots getting hit on the bottom of the pool. That gives it very good coverage and means that the entire top surface of the pool gets covered during cleaning. It’s compatible with most brands of suction-side cleaners. Given how it works, it’s more effective than most for removing bugs from the surface of your pool.
Unfortunately, this model has issues with tangling when used with a pool cleaner. Since there’s now an extra pipe in the pool, it takes some tricky maneuvering to ensure that it doesn’t get caught. When that happens, it often prevents the cleaner from working as well, which is a pain. It also only removes debris up to one inch in size, so it isn’t great for pools with large leaves. Overall, this is a decent skimmer, but most people will be able to get better value for the money.
The INTEX Deluxe Wall Mount Swimming Pool Surface Skimmer is designed for INTEX pools, though there’s a chance it will work with other above ground pools. It works well with Easy Set and metal frame pools, so you don’t have to worry about compatibility if that describes your setup. It’s also fairly inexpensive as skimmers go, so if you’re looking for a way to keep the surface looking great at a fraction of the price of other models, this is a decent choice. Plus, it’s easy to clean out if it gets clogged or dirty, so it’s easy to maintain.
However, the mount is made from cheap plastic. That means it doesn’t always fit right, and sometimes it breaks. The mount causes a lot of headaches for the owners of this product, and small gaps between it and the wall can lead to it falling off. That makes it tricky to set up, and trickier still to set up in a way that will leave it intact. Overall, this is a cleaner that works well once you get it installed, but most people will dislike how hard it is to get it there.
The Pooldevil Pro Swimming Pool Automatic Dirt and Leaf Skimmer is an option that will work very well in some pools. It’s a pressure-side skimmer, so it doesn’t interfere with any suction-side pool cleaners or other suction-side equipment you use. It creates a vortex on the top of the pool, which circulates the contents until they’re snagged in the included net. That gives this model very good surface coverage, despite the fact that it doesn’t move around the surface of the pool. This cleaner is also remarkably durable when it comes to most of the parts, so you can expect it to last for multiple years in typical conditions.
Unfortunately, if you ever have a problem, Pooldevil’s customer service is almost impossible to reach. They tend not to respond to phone calls and emails, so if you do encounter a problem you believe is covered under warranty, you’ll have a hard time getting it serviced. The net that catches the debris could be made of better material and is expensive to replace, leading many people to develop jury-rigged alternatives. This pool skimmer isn’t too expensive, but the poor customer service and net quality make it a very risky buy.
The SkimDoctor 2.0 Pool Skimmer TurboCharger helps enhance the system you already have in place on your in-ground pool, but it’s not going to be the right tool for most people. On the plus side, it enhances your built-in skimmer basket in multiple ways. It weighs it down so that it doesn’t come loose while you swim and let excess debris into the line. It creates a vortex, increasing suction and dramatically improving the area covered by your skimmer baskets. It reduces the strain on the system as a whole, which is always a good thing. It also comes with adjustable suction, which is great for systems that use a variable pump.
However, it struggles with large leaves. If you have a pool that’s affected by those, you’ll be unhappy with this skimmer. It’s also much harder to clean than a traditional skimmer basket. These two things make this skimmer pretty expensive relative to its value. It’s not something that will work on all pools, and you’re paying a lot for a device that merely enhances a system in some ways while making it clunkier in others. That makes it a bad buy overall.
Skimmers are required if you have a swimming pool. You can’t live without one. If you’re buying a motorized or powered skimmer, there are a few things you need to think about.
A good skimmer should reduce the time spent cleaning your pool without subtracting from the time you spend enjoying your pool. A skimmer that needs constant maintenance and repair would be counterproductive. It would also be a waste of money.
Look for a skimmer that is well designed and well built. The best factory in the world can only turn out junk if the design is sloppy or fatally flawed. Likewise, the perfect design will still only be as good as the quality control at the manufacturing plant. Find a skimmer that couples good design with quality manufacturing.
If you purchase either of the solar-powered skimmers on the list, an extended four-year warranty would be an excellent add-on to your order, whether you buy it online or at a local swimming pool store. Given that skimmers are fairly expensive items, an extended warranty makes good economic sense. You wouldn’t drive a car without insurance, and you shouldn’t make big purchases without warranties, and if they’re offered, extended warranties.
Another thing to think about is hose weight. Pool cleaners trundling along the bottom of the pool drag floating hoses behind them, which can act as a trap for surface skimmers. Hose weights can submerge those hoses just enough to let the skimmers get over them, thus freeing both machines to work simultaneously without interfering with each other.
Extra nets for your skimmers are always a good addition to your order, especially if you can find a finer mesh than the manufacturer includes with its skimmer. There’s nothing saying you can only use OEM nets. Aftermarket and third-party nets will generally fit and might be able to catch smaller bugs and debris than the original nets would. Look around and see if you can find some. It’ll be worth it.
The reviews are done, and the results are tallied and presented to you for your benefit and use. Keep this review close at hand when you get ready to make your decision.
The top pick is the Solar-Breeze NX2, an updated version of the previous NX model. This skimmer changed our minds about solar-powered tools. It’s reliable, hard-working, and does exactly what it is designed to do. You’ll enjoy the peace of mind you get from knowing this skimmer is cleaning your pool day and night.
The choice for best for the money went to the innovative PoolSkim Skimmer and Cleaner. It’s a stationary skimmer, running off the return jets to create a whirlpool that sucks in debris and catches it. While it’s not as elegant as the top pick, it is definitely worth the price.
Any of the skimmers on this list are an improvement over grabbing a pole and skimming your pool manually. Manual skimming robs a swimming pool of its charm and turns it into a chore. If these reviews have helped you figure out which tool will help restore some of your enjoyment of your swimming pool, then our job is done.
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