Choosing the Best Robot Pool Cleaner for You
Almost everyone who owns a pool will at least consider buying a robotic pool cleaner. Manual pool cleaning is a hassle, and pool cleaning services are expensive. Those two facts drive many people to automatic or robotic pool cleaners. This article assumes you are a home owner, though the requirements for commercial pool cleaners aren’t that different. If anything, pools at community centers or apartment complexes need robotic cleaners or automatic pool vacuums even more than backyard pools do.
The potential time savings from having a robotic device are obvious, but they can be expensive. How does a pool owner decide which system is best for their needs. Different sizes and shapes of pool may be better served by different types of pool cleaning robots. If you have a salt water pool, this might make a difference. Budget matters, though anyone who can afford a pool probably has the extra money to pay for a pool cleaning robot, but no one wants to waste money on an overpriced, inadequate machine.
ROBOTIC POOL CLEANER REVIEWS
IN-GROUND ROBOTIC POOL CLEANERS
ABOVE GROUND ROBOTIC POOL CLEANERS
Will I Still Need to Manually Clean my Pool?
Whether you buy a robotic pool cleaner or an automatic pool cleaner, you still need to manually clean your pool a few times a year. Do some manual cleaning at the beginning of the season, when you haven’t run the filtering system in a few weeks, or when the pool has an excessive amount of dirt or debris in it. In short, automatic cleaning systems are not full replacements for manual pool cleaning. Automatic pool cleaners cannot completely replace the pool’s own filtering system either, so you should run it regularly.
A robotic pool vacuum in particular can make pool maintenance a little cheaper and much less labor intensive, if you pick the right device for your circumstances. You also need to bear in mind that pool cleaners don’t replace the pools own filtering system and are not a perfect substitute for manual pool cleaning.
With those thoughts in mind, there are plenty of things to know about automatic pool cleaners and robotic pool cleaners.
Robotic versus Automatic Pool Cleaners:
Automatic and robotic pool cleaners are not exactly the same thing. An automatic system is connected to the above-ground filter and pumping equipment and cleans the pool remotely. A hose sucks up the water and filters debris. Automatic pool cleaners have their advantages and disadvantages, but they are definitely better than brooms and nets. Automatic pool cleaners are good options for small- to medium pools that have a standard round or rectangular shape. For other pools, a robotic pool cleaner might work better.
Consider the common features of robotic cleaners and the environment where you will use it. Those sets of factors determine, along with price, which machines are good options for you. A robotic cleaner is a great option if you have an in-ground pool with an odd shape.
Automatic vacuums are fine for a standard rectangular pool but aren’t quite as effective in pools with exotic shapes. Robotic cleaners are also great for pools with built-in filters that are low in power. If you live in a location where you get lots of leaf litter in the pool, a robotic cleaner might be a better option than an automatic pool cleaner.
Finally, the pool surface has some relevant to chooisng a pool cleaner. Almost all in-ground pools are surfaced with concrete and tile in combination. Some in-ground pools use fiberglass. Above-ground pools naturally tend to be vinyl or plastic. Be sure the robotic cleaner you choose is good for your type of pool surface. Usually this is easy enough. Fiberglass-sided pools might be tough for a robot to climb, but this isn’t necessarily true.
BEST AUTOMATIC POOL CLEANERS
Characteristics of Robotic Cleaners:
Every major manufacturer of pool supplies seems to offer at least one robotic pool cleaner. The most important factors to consider when reviewing the 100 or so models on the market include:
Tend to Cost from $400-$1500
40 feet seems to be standard though 60 feet is availble
1 Year is Common
Water Filtering Capability
4800 gallons per hour is common
Wall Climbing Ability
Very Useful for In-Ground Pools
Automatic Shut-Off Capability
Another Common Feature
Having a machine that shuts itself off when done saves the owner a little time and trouble. Even the low-end machines tend to have that feature so it should be easy to find a suitable machine that has it.
Automatic pool cleaners tend to be cheaper. The above-ground pool models often sell for under $200. The in-ground models tend to cost over $400. Many models offer two or three year warranties, where those seem to be rare for robotic cleaners. Automatic cleaners typically have hoses that are 25 to 35 feet long. That can be an issue if your pool is unusually large. Other aspects of your pool and the natural environment may influence the type of pool cleaner that’s best.
Common Design Features in Robotic Pool Cleaners:
Robotic pool cleaners tend to use the same cleaning mechanisms, except for connecting with the pool’s filter system. Further, almost all robotic cleaners run on electricity supplied by a cord plugged into a grounded outlet somewhere near the pool. The cord length of a model is important for that reason. While you might use an extension cord, this might not be safe. Check the machine’s user manual first. And always verify that the supplied cord is long enough.
Robots tend to move about the pool using either wheels or treads. There is no major advantage to either motive system. Both types of robots can handle stairs and concrete walls. The tread and wheel models cost about the same.
If robots with cords won’t work, there is always the option of just buying a battery powered pool sweeper. Pool owners with more money could opt for a solar-powered pool robot. Expect to pay at least $600 though. You will probably need a manual pool skimmer, though at least one solar model does that for you.
Automatic pool cleaners are similar to robotic cleaners in a few ways but there are many design differences.
Common Automatic Pool Cleaner Features:
Automatic pool cleaners are primarily aids to your pool’s existing filter system. They use electrically powered pump systems to draw in the water and filter it. They do this using one of three mechanisms. You still need to run the pool’s power hungry pump and do some manual cleaning.
Automatic pool cleaners use one of three cleaning principles. Suction cleaners use simple vacuum power to provide a boost to the pools built-in filter system. Pressure-side cleaners use the venturi effect to accelerate water and direct it through a mesh bag that catches larger bits of debris. Vibrating pool cleaners are simple and cheap devices that agitate water to stir up the debris on the pool bottom. Cleaners for above-ground pools tend to be suction powered, while in-ground pool cleaners tend to rely on water pressure. Suction-side pool cleaners are good for filtering out small particles, a feature they share with robotic pool cleaners.
The Pros of Robotic Pool Cleaners:
While the pros and cons of a robotic cleaner depend somewhat on the situation, there are some general observations to share here. The pool supply experts at Pool Supply World summarize several advantages of robotic pool cleaners over automatic pool cleaners:
- Cleaning Performance
- More energy efficient
- Warranties are longer
- Can often be remotely controlled
- Often come with a storage caddy
If you are really after maximum convenience, look for a remote-controlled model. If you are cost conscious, bear in mind that automatic pool cleaners can be energy hogs.
For energy efficiency reasons it might pay to spend extra for a robotic cleaner. For maximum energy savings, there are a couple of solar-powered pool cleaners on the market. You’ll never get back the premium price in energy savings, but a solar pool cleaner is the way to go if you love “green” technology.
Robotic pool cleaners offer two other advantages over automatic cleaning tools. A robotic cleaner extends the life of your expensive pool pump and the pool filter, by taking up some of the junk that pool system would clean up. The fewer hours the pump runs, the longer it is likely to last. The fewer hours per month it runs, the less it costs you to operate. Robotic cleaners also cut down on manual cleaning time, a characteristic they share with automatic pool cleaners.
The Cons of Robotic Pool Cleaners
Of course there are some disadvantages to buying an owning a robotic pool cleaner. Again, assuming the device is suitable for your pool, it still pays to consider:
- The higher price
- The need to put it in the pool and remove it by hand
- Excess cleaning capacity (small pool, expensive robot.
- Many moving parts add to complexity, may reduce operating life
Yes, your robotic cleaner may be fast and effective, but it will also be very expensive relative to the amount of cleaning your pool needs. And you still need to buy a pool sweeper and use it periodically.
Characteristics of the Pool and Surroundings:
The most important variable is whether you have an in-ground pool or an above-ground pool. Companies make vacuums designed for each type of pool. Cleaning robots for in-ground pools typically have the ability to climb walls while robots for above ground pools do not. Almost all above-ground pools are circular, which wheeled robots won’t be able to climb. Because in-ground pools are bigger, the robots designed for them tend to have greater filtering capacity.
Leaf litter is one of the worst enemies of every pool owner who doesn’t have a screened-in pool. If you leave the pool uncovered when the first Fall leaves come down, that’s a bunch of extra cleaning In other parts of the country, plants just shed leaves, needles, flowers, and pollen all of the time. An automatic cleaner is great for those situations. A robotic cleaner works
Robotic Cleaner Accessories:
Many robotic pool cleaners come with a storage container. If there isn’t one, you might be able to get a suitable storage container at the same pool supply store where you bought the pool cleaner. Some robots come with accessory kits, but you generally have to buy them separately. Many models can be fitted out with floating cables, or you can buy a cable float attachment for the included cable. Some storage caddies are sold separately, so check to see if your model of choice comes with one.
Robotic Pool Cleaner Repair and Parts
Your robotic pool cleaner will invariably need some maintenance and repair work at some point. Many stores, particularly the online stores, will have replacement bolts, treads, filters, wheels, and similar parts. Your owner’s manual might have a list of available parts and prices too. If not, just go online and enter the make and model.
The same comments apply to automatic pool vacuums. Plenty of parts are available online for various makes and models. However, automatic pool cleaners are relatively simple devices so there isn’t as much need to replace parts. However, if something does need replacing plenty of online stores carry parts.
If you own a robotic cleaning system, you can almost count on doing some repair work. As all robotic cleaners have their own filters, you will have to clean both pool and robot filters regularly. The robot’s filter will also wear out and need replacing at least a few times during the machine’s lifecycle. Fortunately, the replacement filters are easy to replace and relatively inexpensive. A quick online search revealed prices between $46 and $100.
Review Your Needs Before You Buy:
Should you keep cleaning the pool with a broom and net, or just hire a pool cleaning service? Automatic and robotic pool cleaners offer good options to unpleasant manual cleaning and expensive pool cleaning services. You may not need an automatic pool cleaner, but if you want one there are many options at a range or price points.
Robotic pool cleaners are great options for many pool owners, especially owners of oddly-shaped and/or very large pools. Consider what common features you require in a robotic cleaner. Also consider how your pool’s design affects the best choice of an automatic cleaner.
Before choosing either an automatic system or a robot, consider the size and shape of your pool. In-ground and above-ground pools are very different so are best cleaned with different machines. If you need help sorting through the many robotic pool vacuum options, several we have many review guides to the best, or the most popular robot pool cleaners. You also want to know the robot works on your pool surface. Most systems work fine with all common pool surfaces, but it helps to check.
BEST ROBOTIC POOL CLEANER
Dolphin Premier Robotic Pool Cleaner
With its industry leading warranty and state-of-the-art features the Dolphin Premier has been is the best robotic pool cleaners on the market today. It comes with a highly efficient DC motors, scrubbing brush and a multi-media filtration system it provides superior cleaning when compared to other cleaners. Simple plug-and-play operation guided by SmartNav navigation delivers the best user experience for those looking for the hands-off approach to pool cleaning.
Some Features of the Dolphin Premier include:
- Patented Anti Tangle Swivel: Keeps cable from becoming twisted stopping the cleaning process
- HyperGrip Rubber Tracks: Allows robot to retain grip on pool walls unlike some wheeled models
- SmartNav Technology: Ensures every inch of pool is cleaned in most efficient path
- Dual DC Motors: Drive tracks and scrub brush
- Twin 2 micron filter cartridge: Easy to remove and replace
- Easy to Service: Direct drive means no belts to replace
- Industry leading 3 year Warranty
The simplicity of use along with the top-of-the-line features and reliability make the Dolphin Premier our number one pick for robotic pool cleaners. However the features that make it the top pool cleaner also make it one of the most expensive. For those of you that are looking for a lower cost option with similar features read our other reviews on pool cleaners from Maytronics. All of the cleaners in their Dolphin line are well built with similar features.
Those of you looking for the best robotic pool cleaner, you will be hard pressed to find one better than the Dolphin Premier.