You could spend a lot less time cleaning your pool and a lot more time enjoying it if you invested in an automatic pool cleaner. Between the three types—pressure-side, suction-side, and robotic—you’re practically guaranteed to find a model that fits your budget. Each type functions differently, so it’s worth learning a bit about how they work so you can choose the one that’s right for you.
There are three types of pool cleaners:
1. pressure side cleaners,
2. suction side,
3. and robotic.
Pressure Side Cleaner
- They connect to an inflow (return to the pool) of your existing filtration system
- Most require a booster pump to give adequate pressure for a cleaner
- Booster pumps add cost, require installation, and added maintenance
Pressure side pool cleaners are usually more expensive than suction cleaners, but still cheaper than robotic cleaners. They attach with a hose into the water line that flows into the pool from the pool pump and filter. Some pressure side best pool cleaners review have an external booster pump that exerts higher pressure than the pool pump can produce.
- Higher pressure machines often have handy features like timers and don’t require as much fuss. All pressure side pool cleaners come with their own filter bags to catch debris, which keeps it out of your pool filter, thereby prolonging the pool filter’s life.
- Pressure side pool cleaners use the water flowing from the pool pump to propel it kind of like a jetski. Part of the flow gets diverted to a water jet which pushes debris and dirt into the intake and through the internal filter.
- They’re usually more powerful and quicker than suction cleaners, but since they operate on positive pressure rather than negative (vacuum) pressure, they can’t climb walls like suction cleaners can. So these guys are best for large debris on the pool bottom. Without brushes or squeegees, they’re not good at picking up small debris. They work best for in-ground pools.
Zodiac Polaris Vac-Sweep 360
This pressure pool cleaner attaches right to your pressure line without an extra booster pump. The extra-large filter bag catches lots of of leaves and other large debris to keep them out of your pool filter. The jets are strong enough to send it across walls and stairs, though it may need some help. A backup valve ensures it won’t get stuck on the drain or in a corner.
Hayward TVP500C TriVac 500
Triple venturi jet action, an extra large bag, and a unique backup system let the TriVac run for longer with less babysitting. Low-friction wheels travel easily over floors and walls while a powerful sweep hose whips up large debris in those harder-to reach areas. A separate booster pump is needed for this model, which can be noisy if not mounted level.
Suction Side Cleaner
- These units also use your existing filtration system but connect to the side that is pulling water into the system
- Use is restricted to your hose length
- The hose can easily get clogged
- The pump basket can fill fast restricting flow to the filtration system
- Suction pool cleaners are generally the least expensive of the automatics. They attach with a hose to the inlet (or suction side) of your pool filtration systemand send debris straight to the pool filter. They require your pool pump to be running in order to operate.
- Since suction side pool cleaners make the pool filtration system work harder, you’ll have to clean or backwash the pool filter more often.
- These cleaners are best for above ground pools or pools with light debris and do a great job with fine dirt and sand. If you get a lot of leaves, bugs, and other large objects, consider buying a separate leaf catcher attachment to catch that stuff before it gets into your filtration system.
- To first set it up, it might be necessary to turn the cleaner upside down in the water so all the air escapes to let it sink to the bottom of the pool. Some pools come with a connection specifically for suction side pool cleaners, but not often, so you may want to plan for that when the pool is first installed.
- To move around the pool, suction pool cleaners use the force of the water being pulled into it by the pool pump. Most of these machines move in a random pattern, but some of the wheeled ones work in set cycles of left/right turns. Brushes or squeegees beneath the machine detach the debris to let the suction carry it through the hose and back to the pool filter.
BARACUDA G3 W03000
The BARACUDA G3’s saw disc-shaped brush makes it intimidating design-wise, but it’s only bad news for the small and medium debris in your in-ground pool. The 36 fins on the disc ensure good contact with the surfaces of your pool as it navigates turns and changes in elevation, even in oddly-shaped pools. It comes with a 39-foot hose and is super quiet.
Hayward Poolvergnuegen 896584000
We’re not sure how to pronounce poolvergnuegen, but “The Pool Cleaner” is worthy of attention. Four wheels with patented treads help this guy roll across the pool floor, walls, stairs and around obstacles that often trip up other cleaners. It works well in larger pools with no dedicated suction line and has several pre-programmed steering settings. Three interchangeable throats help optimize suction for low-flow pumps and larger debris.
Robot Pool Cleaner
- Does not depend upon your existing filtration system
- Low power usage
- No hoses to clog
- No boost pumps to buy
Robotic pool cleaners are by far the easiest automatic cleaners to install. You pretty much just plug it into a GFCI outlet, turn it on and drop it in the pool. Your pool pump doesn’t need to be running, so you can give it a rest while this little guy does his thing. It will save your pool filter by using its own self-contained filter to collect debris of all sizes. However, they are the most expensive automatic pool cleaners.
A pump in the pool vacuum robot pulls water into the underside of the machine, filters the water with an internal filtration system, then pumps clean water out into the pool. The suction from the pump itself moves the robotic pool cleaner along the pool’s surfaces. Dirt and debris are collected in its filter bag while it scrubs the walls, stairs, and pool floor with brushes, rollers or water jets.
Robotic pool cleaners can be programmed for different pool sizes and a timed cycle of cleaning before shutting off automatically. These smart boys have internal microprocessors that learn the size and shape of your pool. This helps them calculate the quickest, most efficient cycle to get your pool sparkling clean. Some pool robots have a remote control so you can enjoy a nice poolside cocktail while directing it to clean certain areas that might need a little more scrubbing.
Dolphin – Nautilus
The Dolphin Nautilus is the original and most basic in the Nautilus line of pool cleaners. It’s good for in-ground pools, even those with vinyl lining. For most pools up to 50 feet in length, the Nautilus can clean them in 3 hours or less. Dual cartridge filters eliminate the need for filter bags. A 60-foot swivel cord keeps it from getting tangled up in pools of most shapes and sizes.
Zodiac – Polaris F9550
For in-ground pools, it’s hard to beat this little 4-wheel drive pool robot. A remote control lets you choose from 7 programmable cleaning cycles. Unlike several other models, this one has an indicator to let you know when to empty the canister, which has 4X the capacity of other cleaners. The Easy Lift system drives the machine right up the pool wall so you can easily pull it out of the water.