While there’s a lot to know when it comes to doing the job well, using the right tools is about 90% of it. And among these tools are automatic pool cleaners.
There are several types of pool cleaners to choose from, but suction (or suction-side) cleaners tend to be a consumer favorite.
The main reason so many pool owners prefer suction cleaners to some other types of cleaners is that they’re more affordable but just as efficient.
Of course, they may be more expensive than manual cleaners, but those require a lot more work, so there’s not much comparison there.
If you do decide to buy a suction cleaner for your pool, here’s everything you need to know, including our top ten picks.
The 10 Best Suction Pool Cleaners
#1. Zodiac Baracuda G3 W03000
The Zodiac Baracuda is one of our favorite suction pool cleaners because it does a good job of sucking up small debris as well as medium. It also works well even with low horsepower pumps.
The cleaner head is made with a rubber fin disk that adheres to pool surfaces for the best suction. But it doesn’t get caught on fittings or pool lights because of the way it’s designed.
#2. Hayward Poolvergnuegen
- EFFORTLESS DEBRIS MANAGEMENT: The patented self-adjusting turbine vanes eliminates clogs and ensures maximum power at virtually any flow. Their ability to move allows easy passage of large debris to ensure full cleaning with peace of mind
This Hayward cleaner is powerful enough to suck up large debris and its self-programmed steering glides it smoothly over uneven surfaces. It’s also equipped with self-adjusting turbines to work with all pool pumps, no matter how low the pressure.
This cleaner is perfect for most average-sized pools and any pool surface.
#3. Xtremepower 75037
- 10 hoses included for up to 30' pool. Ideal for cleaning bottom surface and wall; does not clean stairs
The Xtremepower 75037 was designed with larger pools in mind. It requires at least a 1 hp pump to function well and will clean a pool up to 30 feet long.
Rather than moving on wheels, this cleaner navigates itself with the water pressure from your pool pump. And its thick, pleated base plate creates a suction that removes everything from microscopic algae spores to leaves and twigs.
#4. Zodiac MX6
- Innovative low-flow design makes it ideal for pools with 2-speed or variable speed pumps
Zodiac has two main suction pool cleaner models we recommend — the MX6 and the MX8. They both have cyclonic suction and an articulating turbine for superior wall-climbing.
This series of pool cleaner is designed to clean small to medium pools with a powerful navigation system. It’s also made to run on lower horsepower pumps so you get maximum cleaning power no matter what size pump you have.
#5. Zodiac MX8
- Cyclonic Vacuum technology ensures the MX8 captures maximum debris whilst maintaining maximum cleaning power – connects directly to skimmer or dedicated 1.5” vacuum line
Next in line in the Zodiac series is the MX8. This suction pool cleaner is a larger, broader version of the MX6.
The power-packed dual cyclone cleaning that both models have is one of the things that makes them stand out. It climbs walls effortlessly to clean every inch of your pool surface, and will run on almost any size pump.
#6. Hayward PoolVac XL
- SUPERIOR DEBRIS PICKUP: Designed for gunite surfaces, the unique wing design, wide vacuum inlet and constant suction power make this cleaner more efficient on cleaning dirt and debris
You can’t talk about pool products without coming across a Hayward. The PoolVac XL is the second to make our list.
This one is programmed with AquaPilot, which is Hayward’s own steering system that ensures effortless navigation over all your pool surfaces. The PoolVac XL has a wide head and winged sides to sweep all sizes of debris in and whisk it away.
#7. Hayward Navigator Pro
Hayward’s Navigator Pro is built a lot like the PoolVac XL. Like the XL, it has a wide base and side wings to efficiently wrangle all types of debris. Its SmartDrive system smoothly navigates the cleaner along every square inch of the pool’s surface, ensuring complete and thorough coverage.
These come in a couple of different models — one for vinyl and one for gunite, so make sure you choose the right one.
#8. Pentair 360042
- Dive float directional system helps guide cleaner throughout entire pool from the water line to the pool bottom for great cleaning coverage
This Pentair cleaner is called the Kreepy Krauly because it effortlessly glides over and around steps, ladders, lights, and fittings for a thorough cleaning. The base is surrounded with what they call “cleaner wings” that sweep debris into the center for effective removal.
It only has one moving part so there are no gears, wheels, or mechanics to replace. This means it usually lasts a lot longer than more complicated models.
But don’t let its simplicity fool you! It’s still one of the best cleaners in its class.
#9. Hayward AquaNaut
- HANDLES LARGE DEBRIS WITHOUT CLOGGING: Patented V-Flex variable vane turbine technology eliminates clogs and maximizes power at almost any flow
The Hayward AquaNaut pool cleaner comes equipped with an adjustable roller skirt to maintain constant suction, even on uneven surfaces. It’s also programmable with a number of different steering sequences so that your entire pool is covered every time.
This cleaner works on all size debris, including large leaves and twigs and will run on very low hp pumps. It can be used in any type of pool, including pebble, tile, concrete, vinyl, and gunite.
#10. Pentair K60430
- This creepy krauly cruiser automatic in ground pool cleaner have many design elements shared by the most popular suction-side cleaner in history
This next Pentair cleaner is called the Kreepy Krauly Cruiser. It has an extra wide mouth to suction all sizes of debris and built in bumpers for easy navigation.
Its unique design with “slits and fingers” keep it from getting stuck on fittings and lights. And it also creeps into tight corners for maximum cleaning. The cleaner is also very lightweight, which makes for easy handling and storage.
Types of Pool Cleaners
With all the types of pool cleaners out there, it’s easy to get confused about what they do and which one you need.
The simple low-down is that there are only 4 basic types: robotic, suction-side, pressure-side, and manual.
Here’s how they work.
Robotic Pool Cleaners
Robotic pool cleaners are programmed to work completely alone. You basically choose the setting and drop it in the water. It does the rest on its own.
They don’t have to be attached to pool pumps; instead, they’re usually plugged into a socket.
Robotic cleaners have built-in sensors that help them navigate the pool surface, covering every square inch, no matter the size. They also have their own filter bags instead of using the pool’s filtration system.
Suction-Side Pool Cleaners
Suction-side pool cleaners use pool pumps to create suction. They attach to the skimmer, where the intake (or suction) occurs and move around with the pressure of the water flow.
These types of cleaners are usually best at climbing the sides of the pool. But you may have to monitor it occasionally to make sure it reaches the entire surface.
Suction-side cleaners don’t use electricity, so they’re more energy efficient. However, they are harder on the filter, so you may have to backwash and replace it more often.
Pressure-Side Pool Cleaners
Just like the suction-side cleaner, pressure-side cleaners also rely on your pool’s pump for power. The difference is that this one uses the pressure side rather than the suction side. (Hence the name!)
The pressurized water goes through the cleaner, which pushes it around the surface and causes a suction.
Like the robotic cleaners, these have their own filter bags attached to them, so you’re not putting extra strain on your pool’s system. You will, however, have to clean these bags out pretty frequently.
Manual Pool Cleaners
Manual pool cleaners are just like they sound. You attach them to the skimmer for suction and physically push them around your pool with a long pole.
They’re just as effective as the other types of cleaners, but they do require a lot more time and effort to operate.
What is a Suction Pool Cleaner?
When someone mentions “suction pool cleaners” like we’re talking about here, they’re talking about cleaners technically known as suction-side cleaners. We just described them briefly in the section before, but here’s a little more about them.
You already know that suction cleaners are made to be connected to the suction side of your filtration system. This is the side of your plumbing where water is being sucked out to be filtered.
This is almost always the skimmer, but some pools do have a dedicated connection just for pool cleaners.
Once they’re attached, the suction moves the cleaner around and sucks debris up through the hose and into the pool filter.
Benefits of Suction Pool Cleaner
Next to manual pool cleaners, suction-sides are usually the cheapest to buy and maintain.
- Ease of operation
Suction pool cleaners are usually designed very simply and very easy to operate. There’s no programming and not much physical exertion involved in the process.
- Efficient cleaning
The purpose of buying any cleaner is to keep your pool surfaces clear of dirt, debris, and algae. These do a very effective job, as long as you purchase a good model.
- Energy efficiency
These cleaners simply run on the suction already being created in your pool’s filtration system. So, unlike robotic cleaners that you plug into electric outlets, these aren’t using up extra energy.
Choosing the Best Suction Pool Cleaner: 5 Things to Consider
- Scuff-free hoses. If the appearance of your pool is important to you, check the unit to make sure it comes with scuff-free hoses. These also slide over obstacles, like fittings, a lot easier than other hoses.
- Brand. Big brand names don’t necessarily mean you’re getting the best cleaner, but there are some perks to sticking with the most popular. For one thing, the biggest pool brands are more likely to have plenty of replacement parts in case you need them. But they also usually have the best customer service because they have the most to lose.
- Running requirements. Each suction cleaner comes with its own demands as far as the horsepower of your pump. Most require a minimum flow of 25 GPM. But some also require at least 1 horsepower to run.
- Pool type. Suction pool cleaners are actually usually the best types of cleaners to choose for weird-shaped pools or uneven surfaces. However, pay attention to recommendations and reviews based on use in your particular type of pool.
- Pool size. Every pool cleaner is designed to clean a maximum amount of space. And most suction cleaners have a couple of different models to meet different needs. Keep in mind that while you can buy a bigger and more powerful cleaner to clean even a small pool, this may not be the most cost-efficient model for you.
Suction Pool Cleaner FAQs
How do you install a suction pool cleaner?
Suction pool cleaners are fairly simple to install. You’ll simply connect one end of the hose to the skimmer and one to the cleaner.
Of course, there are a few tricks to doing it the most effectively. First, fill the hose up with water after connecting it to the cleaner but before you hook it up to the skimmer.
Then monitor its progress the first time to make sure it’s running smoothly and picking up debris. Also, if it appears to be moving too slowly or getting stuck, try getting in the water and splashing around a bit to stir things up.
Here’s a video explaining the process in more detail:
How often should I run my pool vacuum?
Under normal circumstances, adding vacuuming to your weekly pool maintenance schedule will keep it clean. But just like your other tasks, there are times when you need to do it more often.
For example, if you’ve had a big rain or pool party, it’s always a good idea to vacuum it out right after. Any settling debris could throw the chemistry off and cause more problems with keeping it balanced.
Why doesn’t my pool vacuum have suction?
There are several reasons your vacuum may lose suction. The first one is low water levels in the pool. Check to make sure your water line is above the skimmer.
Another reason for low suction is a dirty filter. Dump and rinse out the skimmer filter before trying the vacuum again. (Read: how to backwash a sand filter).
Next, thoroughly check the vacuum hose for holes, clogs, or loose connections. Any of these can inhibit the flow of water that creates the suction.
How long will a suction pool cleaner last?
Most experts say you can expect between 2 and 5 years out of suction pool cleaners. Of course, this always depends on the quality of the product and how often you use it.
Choosing the right type of cleaner for your pool is the key to getting the job done right. And suction cleaners are a safe bet for almost any of them.
The thing to remember is to check the specs for your particular pool size and make sure it will work with the surface you have.
Using a suction cleaner as part of your regular pool maintenance routine will help you keep your water safe and your equipment running optimally for years to come.