Everything about a swimming pool spells pure fun, except the cleaning part. Swimming pools require intense upkeep and take a lot of time and money. The easiest solution is to invest in an automatic pool cleaner. And by “invest,” we mean in the truest sense of the word.
How? Well, you see, automatic pool cleaners cost at least a couple hundred dollars, and some types and models are even worth up to seven times more than that. But then again, considering the promise of saved time, money, water, and chemical usage, it has proved to be a worthy investment.
You may be sold into buying one right now, but hold your horses! Knowing what you’re getting into is as important as buying a pool cleaner. Only then can you decide which type of automatic pool cleaner is right for you.
Types of Automatic Pool Cleaners
Automatic pool cleaning equipment have three main types. These are:
- Robotic Pool Cleaner
If you’re looking for something that is the very definition of “automatic,” it’s the robot type. The Greek word for automatic literally means “acting of itself,” and that’s exactly what a robot pool cleaner does.
Robotic pool cleaners function independently with any system used in the pool. Therefore, it’s a completely different entity and ‘acts of itself’ by cleaning up your pool’s particles, big or small. What makes it possible is its energy-efficient motor plus its built-in filter. Some of these machines map the floors using cutting-edge technology, can be controlled via an app, and so forth.
With that being said, this is the most expensive type of automatic pool cleaner. It is not uncommon for robot pool cleaners to exceed $1,000, although you most certainly can take all of that back in a matter of months. How? The energy-efficient motor we were just talking about only takes up as much as $20 worth of electricity for a whole year! Now, that’s what we call “savings!”
- Suction-Side Pool Cleaner
Suction cleaners must be connected to the pool’s suction side or should have a dedicated suction line to function. It’s not the touch-and-go machine like the robot cleaners, but once it has all its connections in place, then it gets simple.
Models have varying abilities and designs. The most common suction cleaner design is a suction hose that floats on the top of the pool water, and then the cleaner scours around the bottom of the pool. The debris sucked by the cleaner goes to the unit and the hose, then through the pool’s skimmer, and ultimately into the pool filter.
When it’s done, the pool’s skimmer must be emptied because that is where all the dirt is stored and collected. Although that is a relatively easy task, you’d have to do your part. Another drawback is its complete reliability of the pool’s suction system. If anything is compromised, such as leaks or breaks anywhere in the system, this cleaner will be less effective. You may also have to deal with parts replacement and backwashing frequently.
On the other side of the coin, suction-side cleaners are relatively inexpensive. You can probably get away with many of its limitations if you have a smaller pool or don’t have too many trees in the area.
- Pressure-Side Cleaners
Pressure-side cleaners are, in a way, similar to suction-side cleaners. They use the filtration pump to provide suction power to suck the debris. The main difference is that pressure-side cleaners have their own filter bags. On top of that, these cleaners can go another level power-wise if used with a dedicated booster pump.
Budget-wise, pressure-side cleaners cost twice as much as the suction-side but are a little cheaper than a budget model robot cleaner. They are best if your swimming pool area teems with leaves, twigs, acorns, and other bigger debris. As far as durability is concerned, pressure-side cleaners have the upper hand over suction cleaners. The only thing that you have to be mildly concerned about is cleaning its filter bag because it could fill up real quick.
Most Recommended Models For Each Cleaner Type
Dolphin Nautilus Plus
Dolphin is a trusted name in the pool industry, and for a good reason. Maytronics, the brand’s manufacturer, has been around since 1983! It’s easy to see why people usually choose brands and models that are truly tested over time.
You can’t really go wrong with any of the Dolphin models, but the Nautilus Plus is one of their cheapest ones. Its cleaning capabilities should not be doubted, though. The Nautilus Plus has strong suction power, decent traction, covers the pool adequately, and just overall a solid pool cleaning device. Dolphin has pricier models such as the Triton PS, PS Plus, and the Nautilus Supreme, but the Nautilus Plus should be enough unless you really need the technology these units offer.
Polaris 9550 Sport
While Dolphin already has a satisfactory line, it’s not bad looking for other options outside Maytronics. Enter Polaris. Polaris has been around the pool industry for over 40 years, so they know what they’re doing.
What everyone likes about the Polaris 9550 Sport is that it is a 4WD machine. That means nothing can stop it in its tracks and could easily climb walls and water lines. The 9550 Sport is actually the third model of the Polaris 9050 line, but it has something that the others in its family don’t — a motion-sensing remote. It may not have the smart capability like the 9650 IQ, but if you focus on cleaning power, it’s pretty much the same unit, albeit with less technology and less expensive.
Polaris Vac-Sweep 360
The best thing about the Vac-Sweep 360 is that it’s strong enough not to require a booster pump. A dedicated pressure line should suffice. It also has this pretty disingenuous technology that enables the 360 to “escape” when cornered.
One thing that you may not like about it is that the hose is pretty short at 31 feet. If your pool’s length is less than that, the Vac-Sweep 360 is an option that you should not miss. Another point of concern is its inability to climb stairs, but for some pool designs, that matters very little.
The Poolvergnuegen is a pretty solid cleaner by itself, but as some purchasers have noted, it is perfect for pools that have skimmers at the center. In this design, other cleaners get stuck in the corner steps and never get out. Not with this one. You may complain about the noises it makes, but if you don’t mind it for a couple of hours, it should definitely be considered.
Zodiac G3 Barracuda
The G3 Barracuda is just as vicious in the pool as its namesake is in the ocean. Unlike the Poolvergnuegen, it is surprisingly very quiet while devouring debris in your pool. One of its best features is the FlowKeeper Valve System that controls water flow regardless of the pump’s horsepower. Therefore, even if you have a pump with lower horsepower (as long as the manufacturer follows the latest pump regulations), the Barracuda is something you should take a look at.
Bottom Line: Which is the Right Automatic Cleaner For You?
For a swimming pool owner who doesn’t have enough time for scrubbing and manual vacuuming, an automatic pool cleaner is the answer. But with all the automatic cleaner types and models, which one is right for you?
It all boils down to your specific cleaning needs. Is your pool a 60-foot monster, or is it essentially a kiddie pool or spa? Is it an above-ground or in-ground pool? What about your budget? The answers to these questions factor into the decision and, ultimately, your purchase.
Generally speaking, robotic pool cleaners are compatible with all pool designs and sizes but are notoriously expensive. Its motors are highly-efficient, though, and you can bring all that initial investment back through energy savings.
On the other hand, suction and pressure-side cleaners are cheaper, but you may be better off using them for small pools. These automatic cleaner types may also affect the lifespan of the pump and filtrations systems. Pressure-side cleaners work well with heated pools, and suction cleaners thrive against bigger debris. All there is assessing what you have and then making an informed decision afterward.