Polaris has two great, effective robotic pool cleaners in the F9450 and F9550. Both incorporate features that pool owners have for years been dreaming of. They are programmable and can change course mid-cleaning to get the job done more effectively and faster. They both have nice wide intake mouths and easy to empty debris canisters for fast, efficient cleaning. Both possess sturdy four-wheel operation to help them climb and clean walls. And, as you might expect with this kind of performance, both come with a pretty high shelf price.
The F9550 gets our nod as the superior model. The biggest reason is that it has for pool owners the Holiest of Grails, a mode to clean the waterline. It also has a full-tank indicator to let you know when it needs to get cleaned out for continued operation. One place we liked the F9450 was its weight. While some users have said that it’s too light and tips over too easily, it’s also a lot easier to get out of the pool at the end of a cleaning.
Both pool cleaners have the same wide intake mouth and same big debris cannister for debris and garbage both small and large. Both are easy to empty out and fast to get back cleaning. One difference is that the F9550 will let you know when it’s full, thereby sparing you the guesswork of knowing why it’s stopped working. This isn’t really all that big an advantage, but it’s enough to give the F9550 an edge in performance.
Price advantage is always something relative to the general price range. If you have tools that are less than $10, a difference of one dollar can be a major difference. If you have tools that start to hit a thousand or so dollars, a few bucks is basically nothing. This is the case with the F9450 and the F9550. Both pool cleaners are more than a thousand dollars, and their comparative price difference is not all that great. In fact, depending on the day it might be that they switch places with today’s more expensive model the cheaper. And because they both basically do the same thing, there’s no advantage either way on price.
One area of the pool that is a constant problem for owners is the waterline. This is a high-debris area, especially for things that don’t sink. It’s also a hard spot to get a pool cleaner to work in because there are regular problems with ballast. The F9550 solves that with a dedicated waterline scrubbing mode. Because this actually saves pool owners a chore that is normally reserved for them, this is an undeniable edge.
Pulling a robotic pool cleaner out of the water can be hard work. They’re heavy, sometimes waterlogged, and have bulky shapes that make grasping them awkward work. The Polaris F9550 comes with an Easy Lift system that allows the cleaner to come to you, empty itself of water and present its handle for painless removal. The technophile side of us likes that. The P9450 has that and in addition is about seven pounds lighter, which means it’s about one third less its weight. We like that even more. The F9450 also comes with better tangle-free features for no-hassle storage.
The Polaris F9450 packs a lot of wallop for such a compact robotic pool cleaner. Weighing in at just 16 pounds, it has the cleaning power of a much-bigger unit, with the added bonus of also being really quiet. It’s also self-programmable, so you can get it going and it will adjust on its own mid-cleaning. That way, it delivers a more complete cleaning in less time. It comes with four-wheel drive to keep it attached to walls and climbing over any obstacle in your pool, and has advanced tangle-free operation features. Its weight does work against it a bit because it might tip over mid-cleaning and require that you right it before it can get going again.
Highly programmable and internally capable of managing its own workload, the Polaris F9550 represents the leading edge of what are truly robotic pool cleaners. Put it in, and it’ll keep track of its own workload, and speed things up if necessary to get the job done on your schedule. It also comes with a full filter indicator to let you know when the wide-mouth intake has suctioned up enough grit and leaves that it needs to be emptied. One thing we like is that it has a waterline scrubbing mode, which strikes one more task off the pool owner’s list of tasks necessary to supplement the pool cleaner.
We don’t want to make it seem like one of these robotic pool cleaners is far and away superior to the other. In reality, people buy a robotic pool cleaner to do a basic job: clean the pool without creating a lot of extra hassle. Both Polaris pool cleaners we looked at — the F9450 and the F9550 — do just that, and incorporate cutting-edge features in terms of programmability and self-control that pool owners have longed for, for years. Both are also comparatively expensive.
We did come down on the side of the F9550 for a couple of reasons, however. While the F9450 is lighter and is more easily removed from the pool, the F9550 has a full filter indicator light to let you know when it needs to be emptied. That’s one thing. The other thing is that we liked its waterline cleaning mode. Neither are terribly well-suited for cleaning stairs, but we’ll take a good waterline scrub as compensation.
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