Last Updated on
Simple, quiet and usually among the most affordable, suction-side pool cleaners are a great option for someone with a pretty small pool without a lot of complicated cleaning needs. They are the easiest to operate, requiring nothing more than just snapping them into the intake side of your pool’s pump system.
That said, there is still a great gulf of difference from model to model. We tested some of the most popular models on the market and wrote these reviews to help you figure out just which suction-side pool cleaner is the right one for you. It’s a pretty crowded market with lots of different options, not just in models but in features, so if you want a little more we included a buyers’ guide at the end of our reviews to help guide you to the best possible choice.
We hope you find our reviews a worthwhile read and take at least a little value from our buyers guide. We wish you the best of luck in finding the right suction-side pool cleaner.
|Hayward PHS41CST AquaNaut|
|Hayward Poolvergnuegen||1 Year||4.7/5|
|BARACUDA G3 W03000|
(Best for the Money)
|Pentair 360042 Kreepy||1 Year||4.2/5|
|XtremepowerUS 75037||1 Year||3.9/5|
One place that suction-side pool cleaners tend to do poorly compared to pressure-side and robotic pool cleaners is in the area of cleaning large debris. They tend to have smaller intakes and without a booster pump not so great suction power. Not so the AquaNaut 400. It not only picks up large leaves along with the usual grit and dead bugs, but comes with an adjustable skirt so that it doesn’t lose suction power while moving over obstacles on your pool floor. It also comes with a long connector hose so it will cover just about any size pool you have and with the right set of tires can clean any pool surface, from gunite to vinyl. It’s also quiet enough that you can run the thing while napping in a chaise lounge next to it, which you definitely can’t say about other pool cleaners.
The only thing that holds it back is the price. Granted, when compared to the cost of a pressure-side pool cleaner with a booster pump, it’s still a great value, but among suction-side cleaners it ranks as one of the most expensive.
One drawback to suction-side pool cleaners is that they can come with a minimum threshold for a pump’s operating horsepower. Below it, they just don’t work. Hayward’s Poolvergnuegen addresses that with self-adjusting turbines that allow it to operate at almost any speed. It comes with tired designed to let it move around the pool with ease, making sharp turns to get in and out of tight spaces and to climb over obstacles without losing suction pressure. It has an adjustable throat so that it will clean up any sized materials, with adjustments for fine grit and for medium-sized debris like small leaves and twigs. It’s also pretty easy to clean.
It will also cost you a lot of money for a suction-side cleaner, enough to warrant dropping it to the second rank. It just doesn’t deliver the quality for the price that AquaNaut does. It is not so expensive that it is a bad value, and on a good day it’s actually possible that you’d find this model available for a lower price. But on an average day, it’ll be a little more expensive without delivering any additional benefit to warrant the cost.
Even if we didn’t rank it our Best for the Money, we would still really like Zodiac’s Barracuda G3 W03000. It’s a great cleaner that comes with the very important feature that it can operate at any suction power level you have. That means it is compatible with any pool, which spares you a lot of guesswork. It also comes with fins that as the cleaner moves along the floors and walls they knock up dirt and debris for much easier suction cleaning. It’s also a top-tier suction cleaner that comes at a very likeable price tag.
There are a couple of things that prevent it from getting a higher rank. It tends to get stuck quite a lot climbing over vents, which means you have to pay closer attention to what it’s doing. Unlike our top two models, it also isn’t very good at picking up large debris like leaves. In fact, leaves tend to get stuck in it, which like it’s tendency to get stuck on drains requires extra attention. Unlike our top two models, you can’t plop this in the water and go take a nap while it cleans your pool. Well, you can, but the chances are pretty good that you’ll find it immobilized on a drain when you wake up.
We had a lot of hope for Pentair’s Kreepy Krauly based on its design. It has the look of something that can do the job. Like other suction-side cleaners, it was easy to set up and pretty affordable for a pool cleaner. When it gets going, it does a pretty good job cleaning and the skirt allows it to maintain enough suction power that it can clean walls. As a basic pool cleaner, this means it has everything.
But, once it starts getting to the extreme end of the hose, it starts to lose suction pretty quickly, which means it has trouble cleaning large pools. It also has no internal controls or means to even alter its route, so its movements are entirely random. That means it is prone to getting stuck pretty easily, so you have to pay attention to what it’s doing. Its customer service also has a reputation for being not very responsive.
So, if you’ve got a small pool, it’ll do the job. But, the bigger the pool, the faster the quality of its cleaning will decline. We’d also recommend that you not put a lot of faith in contacting customer service, because that’ll be a hit-or-miss experience.
This pool cleaner doesn’t cost a lot of money, which is great because for the time and energy you’ll have to put towards watching it and correcting its course it’s almost as if you’ve gone ahead and bought the tools to do the job yourself. It gets stuck, frequently, and if it doesn’t maintain appropriate movement speed it will simply stop working. To achieve that, by the way, you’ll want a pump that runs at at least one horsepower. If you don’t have that, you’ll need to either buy a booster pump, which would make this a terrible value for the money, or just simply spend extra money on a cleaner that can accommodate your pump.
As we mentioned, if you can make it work, this one is really cheap. It’s probably one of the very cheapest pool cleaners or any kind on the market. It’s just that with everything it has going against it, we wonder if that makes it a decent value or a waste of just a little bit of money.
Buying the right suction side pool cleaner starts with knowing why you want to buy a suction side pool cleaner. That means knowing what makes it the right choice for your pool.
Suction side pool cleaners are one of three basic kinds of pool cleaners. Two of them use the pool’s circulation system, and one operates independently of it. The independent kind — a robotic pool cleaner — is generally considered superior to the other two. It usually has cutting edge artificial intelligence technology to chart its own path through the water, comes with the latest features in mobility. They are also more complicated machines, heavier and cost a lot more money. They are best suited to very large pools and pools of atypical design.
The other two — the suction side and pressure side — connect directly to the pool’s circulation system, but on different ends of it. Pressure side cleaners operate on water being returned to the pool to the filter. They are usually considered better in operation than suction-side pool cleaners, but there are a couple of drawbacks.
Most designs require that you purchase a booster pump to push more water through the cleaner to give it the proper power to move and vacuum up grit and dirt. Because they come with a wider intake mouth, they are better at cleaning up large objects like acorns and leaves.
They have a tremendous downside, which is their price. Pressure side cleaners are already more expensive than suction side cleaners. The booster pump can add a couple of hundred dollars to the price. So, while better, they are not always a better value. You’ll also have to buy the booster pump separately.
Suction side pool cleaners, by contrast, and much simpler and much more affordable. They are pretty simple to set up, and they work best on medium-sized pieces of pool debris like grass and dead bugs. Some models are good for cleaning up small particles like sand and dirt. They don’t come with a lot of frills and require regular cleaning.
You’re reading reviews of suction-side pool cleaners, which means you’ve already decided that the pool cleaner you want should be pretty simple to operate, appropriate for small-to-medium size debris, affordable and not loaded down with a lot of bells and whistles.
The first thing to help you separate out which suction-side pool cleaner is right for you is making sure that the cleaner you buy can meet the basic operational requirements for the job. A big one is that your pool’s filter has enough power to make your pool cleaner go. It’s possible to get a booster pump to pad it out, but that will add quite a bit of expense to what should be a really affordable purchase.
You’ll also want to make sure that the model you buy has enough hose to reach your entire pool. You can always buy additional hose, but this isn’t just more added expense it also dilutes the vacuuming power of your pool cleaner. So, you’ll want to make sure that you buy a pool cleaner that when it gets into the far corners of your pool still has the juice to remove dirt and small leaves.
Finally, but perhaps most importantly, you’ll want to find a pool cleaner that is compatible with the construction materials used for your pool. Some pool cleaners work with everything. Others don’t work well with fiberglass or vinyl pools. Others work best with concrete and tile pools. Matching the pool cleaner you buy with the kind of pool you own is a good, first step to determine whether your investment is a successful one.
In general, suction-side pool cleaners are best for mid-sized debris like small leaves and dead insects. But there is a small range of debris sizes that they can handle.
You’ll want to rightsize your cleaner’s intake to match the size debris you have to clean up. Some suction-side pool cleaners can pick up dirt and sand. If you have a pool in a place where that’s the biggest issue, you’ll want to buy one of those. On the other hand, if you have pool that is fenced it, you might have a very light debris load. If that’s you, you can get away with a pool cleaner to match a much smaller collection need.
Some models of suction-side cleaners are designed for only light use. If you have a fence-in pool that doesn’t get a lot of use, you probably don’t have to clean it all that often. If you live where there is a lot of wind and there’s a steady stream of people into and out of your pool, you’ll need to clean it pretty frequently.
If you are going to get heavy use out of your suction-side pool cleaner, what you think is a really good deal might just not get the job done. If you only get a little dirt in the bottom of your pool occasionally, you don’t need to spend an arm-and-a-leg on a pool cleaner.
While we’re at it, make sure that you find a model that’ll be easier for you to clean out. Keeping a suction-side pool cleaner running will require cleaning before you put it away. If you don’t pay attention to the ease of doing that, it’ll cost you time maintaining your pool cleaner.
Ultimately, you will always have to figure price into whatever pool cleaner choice you make. This is worth keeping in mind especially if you’re already looking for value in purchasing a suction-side pool cleaner. If money was no object, you’d throw a bunch of it at the top-of-the-line robotic pool cleaner.
Because they are simple machines, suction-side pool cleaners are the most affordable pool cleaners on the market. Even the basic range of their cost, however, is a fraction of the cost of building and maintaining a pool. You’ll want to maximize your investment rather than just go cheap.
Even at their cheapest, suction-side pool cleaners cost a couple hundred dollars, so it doesn’t hurt anything to spend a little time figuring out what you require from a pool cleaner and then making a list of which features you need and which features would be great extras. Once you have this in mind, you can start to break down pool cleaners on the market based on what can give you what you need and which ones you can add without breaking your budget. Keep in mind while doing this that no matter the cost, you’re buying a pool cleaner to support a major, major household investment so you’ll want to get it right.
We loved Hayward’s AquaNaut 400. It’s got just about everything you could want in a suction-side pool cleaner, and even though it’s pretty expensive it’s still a lot less money than a pressure-side cleaner and a booster pump. If not that it cost even more money, we were tempted to rank the Poolvergnuegen our top pick, but dropped it because of price. Zodiac’s Barracuda G3 was our Best for the Money because it was great for-dollar value, even if it just didn’t quite have the performance that more expensive cleaners did. We really wanted to like Pentair’s Kreepy Krauly based on its design but found that the fall-off of performance in a large pool was unacceptable; and while we liked the price of the XtremepowerUS 75037, it was just too limiting in terms of what it could do to be a real option.
We hope you found value in our reviews, and at least could take something away from our buyer’s guide. We hope that you have great luck in purchasing a suction pool cleaner and that you find hours of enjoyment in using your pool that you don’t have to spend cleaning it.