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Types of Pool Cleaners: Robotic vs Suction vs Pressure – Which is Best for You?

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The Different Types of Pool Cleaners

Now that you’ve got your own swimming pool to enjoy, you’ve also got your own swimming pool to clean. And they do need cleaning! Lots of it. No one else is going to do it so it’s up to you. Let’s take a look at some of the different types of cleaners available and how to use them.

The Different Types of Pool Cleaners:

1. Robotic Pool Cleaners

a robotic pool vac

A robotic pool cleaner. This is the popular Dolphin Nautilus CC Plus.

Starting at the top in terms of cost and ease of use, robotic cleaners don’t require any effort from you at all once you’ve programmed them and dropped them in the water.  As the name would suggest, they are robotic, therefore completely autonomous once they’re underway.

They don’t need to be attached to your swimming pool’s pump or water circulation system.  They have their own filter bag or capture system.  They are literally, plug and play.  Plug them into a socket – with a suitably long extension cord of course – and turn them loose in the water.  Walk away and come back a few hours later to a clean pool.

Click here to see a rundown of the 5 Best Robotic Pool Cleaners

When using a robotic cleaner it helps to turn your pool’s pump off so all the dirt and debris settles to the bottom where it can be scooped up by the robot.  This eases the wear and tear on your pool’s pump and filtration system, thereby extending its useful life.

You’ll need to clean out the robot’s filter after each use, but that’s it.  They’re expensive but worth it.

Our favorite robotic pool cleaner:

Dolphin Nautilus CC Plus Automatic Robotic Pool...
1,657 Customer Reviews
Dolphin Nautilus CC Plus Automatic Robotic Pool...
  • Cleaning made convenient. Set your Dolphin’s weekly scheduler to automatically clean for you-...
  • Powerful dual scrubbing brushes forcefully attack tough dirt and debris on the floor and walls....
  • CleverClean delivers a smart and efficient clean using advanced algorithms for complete pool...

2. Suction-side Pool Cleaners

a suction side pool vac

A suction-side pool cleaner. This is the popular Hayward Aquanaut.

A suction side pool cleaner relies exclusively on your pool’s pump to provide the suction to scoop up debris.  It has a long hose that will connect to the skimmer where the water intake to the pump is.  The cleaner then becomes a water-based vacuum cleaner moving around the pool in a predetermined pattern to clean it up.

They can move quite high on the sides of the pool and are very easy to use for first-time swimming pool owners.  You do have to have a functioning poop pump in good condition, and you’ll need to backwash the filter and clean out the skimmer basket after each use to clean it out.  Some models have their own filter bag but most rely on your pool’s filter to capture the debris.

Click here to see our Top 5 Suction-Side Pool Cleaner Picks

Since the pump is providing all the power for these cleaners, your electric bill will necessarily be higher than with the robotic cleaners.  They also put an additional strain on your swimming pool’s filter, but it is one of the cheapest cleaners available.

Our favorite suction-side pool cleaner:

Hayward PHS41CST AquaNaut Suction Pool Vacuum...
283 Customer Reviews
Hayward PHS41CST AquaNaut Suction Pool Vacuum...
  • V-Flex technology provides maximum power at any flow and handles any type of debris without clogging
  • Patented adjustable roller skirt maintains constant suction on uneven surfaces and obstacles
  • Multiple pre-programmed steering sequences ensure complete pool coverage

3. Pressure-side Pool Cleaners

A pressure side pool vac

A pressure side pool cleaner. Here’s the popular Polaris Vac-Sweep 360.

A pressure-side cleaner also relies on your swimming pool’s pump and filter, but it uses the water on the pressurized side of the pump, where the pressurized water is being forced from the pump into the pool.  This is where it gets the name “pressure side cleaner.”

As the pressurized water moves through the cleaner, it powers the wheels and creates a suction that sucks up dirt and debris.  Another nice thing about these cleaners is that they have their own filter bags like the robotic cleaners, thus reducing the wear and tear on your swimming pool’s own filter.

Which Pressure-Side Pool Cleaner is Best for the Money? Click here to read more

You’ll have to clean the filter bag on this cleaner after each use.  Since it relies on your swimming pool’s pump for its power, the electric bill on this one will be the same as for the suction side cleaner above, but you don’t have to backwash it when you’re done.  In terms of price, pressure-side cleaners fall somewhere between suction side cleaners and robotic cleaners.

Our favorite pressure-side pool cleaner:

Polaris Vac-Sweep 360 Pressure Side Pool Cleaner
2,782 Customer Reviews
Polaris Vac-Sweep 360 Pressure Side Pool Cleaner
  • Powered by triple jets and advanced cleaning technology
  • Works in all in-ground pools of any size and shape.Tail Sweep PRO Compatible
  • Sweeps, scrubs, and vacuums the bottom and walls of your pool.If they are low or the wheels are not...

4. Manual Pool Cleaners

a manual pool vac

A manual pool cleaner/ vacuum head. Here we have the Milliard Pool and Spa Vacuum Head.

The cheapest, simplest, and physically hardest type of cleaner to use is the manual cleaner.  You provide the power to move it around through the water.  You connect the hose to the skimmer so the pump is sucking water through the cleaner just like in a suction side cleaner but then you grab a long pole and push the cleaner around the swimming pool just like you would push a vacuum cleaner around inside your house.

Your swimming pool’s pump has to be running while you’re using the cleaner so your electric bill will be the same as with the suction side and pressure side cleaners above, and you’ll have to backwash the filter when you’re finished.  It’s a time-consuming task so you need to allow yourself at least an hour each time you clean your swimming pool.

Our favorite manual pool cleaner:

Milliard Sea-Thru Triangle Weighted Pool and Spa...
778 Customer Reviews
Milliard Sea-Thru Triangle Weighted Pool and Spa...
  • Handle has spring-loaded locking clips for attaching standard extension poles, and the vacuum port...
  • Triangular plastic body is see-thru for maneuverable and accurate vacuuming along walls and into...
  • Weights keep the vacuum head at the bottom of the pool where it belongs. Rubber bumpers at the sides...


As you can see there are automatic ones, and more old-fashioned, time-craving manual models.

Counting down from the most expensive to the least expensive, and from the physically easiest to use to the physically hardest to use, the cleaners are:

Now you know what’s out there, how to use them, and what’s involved, you can make a decision regarding which one is best for you.

Hope to see you guys next week. I plan to write a post on how to automate a lot of the chores a home. I mean you’re golden if you have a pool cleaner, a roomba, and a robotic lawnmower! But I have some more tips & tricks that I’d love to share with you. I’ll tell you more about these in next week’s post!