Polaris 380 vs Polaris 3900: Which One’s Best?

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Best Choice
Polaris Vac-Sweep 3900 Sport pressure side pool...
Best Price
Polaris Vac-Sweep 380 Pressure Side Pool Cleaner
Model
Polaris Vac-Sweep 3900 Sport pressure side pool...
Polaris Vac-Sweep 380 Pressure Side Pool Cleaner
User Rating
User Reviews
146 Customer Reviews
2,161 Customer Reviews
Best Choice
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Polaris Vac-Sweep 3900 Sport pressure side pool...
Model
Polaris Vac-Sweep 3900 Sport pressure side pool...
User Rating
User Reviews
146 Customer Reviews
Best Price
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Polaris Vac-Sweep 380 Pressure Side Pool Cleaner
Model
Polaris Vac-Sweep 380 Pressure Side Pool Cleaner
User Rating
User Reviews
2,161 Customer Reviews

Once you wind your way through pressure-side pool cleaners, at the top you find the Polaris 380 and the 3900. The 380 is an improvement on Polaris’ popular 280 model, replacing the shaft-drive mechanism with a belted one. This cuts down on maintenance times and replacement part costs, adding benefits to an already well-received pressure-side pool cleaner. The 390 takes it to a new level altogether, adding a more reliable control system and wider tires for better control. It also paired a larger intake with a bigger debris bag with a powerful 40-gpm suction system fueled by three jets.

Both of them are priced as top-tier pressure-side pool cleaners, with the expectation that their sticker price is the first part of an investment. The second part is tacking on a separate booster pump, which is a few hundred dollars more.

We like both pool cleaners. Both work quickly and both are effective. Pool owners who want the features of the 3900 will want to pay the little bit extra to get them. Pool owners who want a great basic cleaning, but want to save a little money will find the 380 a more attractive purchase.

Polaris 380

The Polaris 380 Model

What are the differences between them?

Performance – Edge: 3900

The advantage here is based purely on the 3900’s features. It has a drive system designed and wide tires to keep it on task, and a powerful suction system and large, easily accessible debris bag. The 380 itself represented a step forward in pressure-side pool cleaner technology with a belt drive system and a wide mouth intake. It just doesn’t come as loaded as the 3900.

Polaris 3900 upper part

The upper part of the Polaris 3900

Price – Slight edge: 380

Considering the number of features that the 3900 comes loaded down with, it’s a bit surprising that it only costs a little more than the 380. But, cost more it does, and enough so that it’s noticeably more. Considering the amount of money pool owners have to invest for installation and annual operation and maintenance, it’s really a drop in the bucket. But you’ll notice it at checkout. While we’re on the topic, it’s absolutely critical to keep in mind that both of these are pressure-side pool cleaners, which means that you will need to purchase a booster pump sold separately. That will add a few hundred bucks to the purchase price of both. Budget accordingly.

Durability – Edge: 380

Here’s a new one for us. We’re going strictly off online user reviews to give the edge to the Polaris 380. Both of them have roughly the same design, and we were tempted to give neither an advantage on this. Then we read online reviews. The 3900 has a pretty significant issue related to durability with users. So, we have to give the edge here to the model with fewer gripes from online users, which is the 38o.

Polaris 3900 wheels and tubes

The wheels and tubes of the 3900

Design – Edge: 3900

Three jets fuel the 3900’s 40-gpm filtration system, dumping leaves and grit into a dual-chambered five-liter bag. It has a wider mouth and a larger debris bag. Plus, the TailSweepPRO system allows it to blow dirt and leaves for hard-to-reach corners while keeping water in the pool rather than splashing it all over walkways. The Polaris 380 is a good pressure-side pool cleaner in its own right, but the extras make the 3900 a much better one.

Quick Rundown of Polaris 380:

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Polaris Vac-Sweep 380 Pressure Side Pool Cleaner
2,161 Customer Reviews
Polaris Vac-Sweep 380 Pressure Side Pool Cleaner
  • Powered by triple jets providing greater vacuum power and faster cleaning
  • Works in all in-ground pools of any size and shape
  • Sweeps, scrubs and vacuums the bottom and walls of your pool

Built from the very successful Polaris 280 frame, the Polaris 380 replaced the shaft drive mechanism with a belted drive, which reduced the number of internal moving parts. Combined with the 380’s three-hour cleaning cycle, that means fast, efficient, low-maintenance cleaning. It has a wide, 2-1/4 inch intake mouth that deposits debris into a zippered debris bag that’s a snap to clean. The biggest drawback to this pressure-side cleaner is the upfront price, which is buffed out by the fact that you need to purchase a separate booster pump to make it work. That pushes your upfront investment to the same level as top-tier robotic pool cleaners.

Pros
  • Great cleaning
  • Fast
  • Easier maintenance
Cons
  • Expensive
  • Requires booster pump

Quick Rundown of Polaris 3900:

Sale
Polaris Vac-Sweep 3900 Sport pressure side pool...
146 Customer Reviews
Polaris Vac-Sweep 3900 Sport pressure side pool...
  • Works in all in-ground pools.
  • Requires Polaris booster pump.
  • Ready to connect to 1.5-inch dedicated pressure cleaner line.

At the top of the pressure-side pool cleaner food chain is the Polaris 3900. It has a unique traction system and wide tires that help it clean and make it as effective on sloped surfaces as it is on flat ones. It has a wide, 2.5-inch intake mouth that feeds into a dual-chambered five-liter bag that is zippered for speedy access and cleaning. These features don’t come cheap, however. The Polaris 3900 is pretty expensive, and it’s even more so when you consider that you will also have to pay for a separate booster pump to make it operate.

Pros
  • Comes with TailSweep PRO
  • Bigger debris bag
  • Advanced traction and drive features
Cons
  • Requires booster pump
  • Expensive
  • Reliability issues

Conclusion

Both of these Polaris pool cleaners are excellent, top-shelf pressure-side pool cleaners. The 380 is an improvement on the popular 280 design, subbing in a belted drive mechanism for the shaft drive. This reduces maintenance needs and replacement part costs while sacrificing none of the quality and speed that made the 280 such a popular pool cleaner.

The 3900 takes that performance to a different level by adding as standard the PowerSweep PRO accessory to help clean corners and keep water in the pool. The 380 is compatible with this, but it is a separate purchase. The 3900 has extra features related to mobility and comes with slightly larger debris bag and intake mouth and pairs that with a powerful three-jet driven 40-gpm suction system to clean up everything from leaves to sand.

Pool owners looking at these two pressure-side pool cleaners will want to make a choice based on a sliding scale matching features to price. Both are pricey pool cleaners, and as pressure-side pool cleaners, both require the purchase of a separate booster pump. That will add a few hundred dollars to the sticker price. When all that is added up, pool owners who want to pay extra will want the 3900. Pool owners who are okay spending a lot for a great cleaning but don’t want a lot of bells and whistles will want the 380.