Keeping your pool clean and well-maintained is extremely important for many reasons. Not only does a pool vacuum help you keep germs, debris and algae at bay, but it also increases the lifespan of your equipment and swimming pool.
While there’s a lot to know when it comes to doing the job well, using the right cleaning tools is about 90% of it. And among these cleaning tools are automatic pool cleaners and vacuums.
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 at getting the pool cleaned.
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 vacuum cleaner for your pool, here’s everything you need to know, including our top ten picks for the best pool vacuum cleaners.
The 10 Best Suction Pool Cleaners for Your Pool Type
#1. Zodiac Baracuda G3 W03000 Cleaner
- Quiet, powerful suction cleaner; works with low-speed pumps for maximum efficiency.
The Zodiac Baracuda is one of our favorite suction pool vacuum cleaners because it does a good job of sucking up small debris as well as medium sized debris. This automatic pool cleaner 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 the pool vacuum is designed.
#2. Hayward Poolvergnuegen Pool Cleaner
- 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 vacuum cleaner is powerful enough to suck up large debris and its self-programmed steering glides it smoothly over uneven surfaces. The automatic pool cleaner is also equipped with self-adjusting turbines to work with all pool pumps, no matter how low the pressure.
This vacuum cleaner is perfect for most average-sized pools and any pool surface.
#3. Xtremepower 75037 Cleaner
- 10 hoses included for up to 30' pool. Ideal for cleaning bottom surface and wall; does not clean stairs
The Xtremepower 75037 pool cleaner was designed with larger pools in mind. This pool vacuum 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 vacuum cleaner navigates itself with the water pressure from your pool pump. And this pool vacuum cleaner’s thick, pleated base plate creates a suction that removes everything from microscopic algae spores and debris to leaves and twigs.
#4. Zodiac MX6 Pool Cleaner
- 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 vacuum cleaner is designed to clean small to medium pools with a powerful navigation system. This automatic pool vacuum is also made to run on lower horsepower pumps so you get maximum cleaning power no matter what size of home pool pump you have.
#5. Zodiac MX8 Cleaner
- Dual Cyclonic Suction: Cleans faster and more aggressively than other pool cleaners with greater vacuum power, a wider cleaning path, and the largest debris inlet.
Next in line in the Zodiac series is the MX8. This suction pool cleaner is a larger, broader version of the MX6 pool cleaner.
The power-packed dual cyclone cleaning that both models have is one of the things that makes them stand out. This pool vacuum climbs walls effortlessly to clean every inch of your pool surface and will run on almost any size of pool pump.
#6. Hayward PoolVac XL Pool Cleaner
- 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 cleaning products without coming across a Hayward. The PoolVac XL is the second to make our list of pool vacuums.
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 pool debris in and whisk it away.
#7. Hayward Navigator Pro Pool Cleaner
- Over 30 years of proven and reliable suction cleaner technology
Hayward’s Navigator Pro is built a lot like the PoolVac XL pool cleaner. Like the XL, this automatic pool cleaner has a wide base and side wings to efficiently wrangle all types of pool debris. The pool cleaner's SmartDrive system smoothly navigates the cleaner along every square inch of the pool’s surface, ensuring complete and thorough coverage of in-ground pools or above-ground pools.
These pool vacuums come in a couple of different models — one for vinyl and one for gunite, so make sure you choose the right pool cleaner.
#8. Pentair 360042 Pool Cleaner
- 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 pool 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 of the pool for effective removal.
This pool vacuum only has one moving part so there are no gears, wheels, parts, or mechanics to replace. This means that this poool cleaner usually lasts a lot longer than more complicated vacuums.
But don’t let its simplicity fool you! This pool vacuum is still one of the best cleaners in its class.
#9. Hayward AquaNaut Pool Cleaner
- 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 in the pool. The pool vacuum is also programmable with a number of different steering sequences so that your entire pool is covered every time.
This pool cleaner works on all size debris, including large leaves and twigs and will run on very low hp pumps. This vacuum can be used in any type of pool, including pebble, tile, concrete, vinyl, and gunite. These vacuums can also be used for inground and above-ground pools.
#10. Pentair K60430 Cleaner for Pools
- 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 pool cleaner. This pool cleaner has an extra wide mouth to suction all sizes of debris and built in bumpers for easy navigation.
The cleaner is uniquely designed with “slits and fingers” keep it from getting stuck on pool fittings and lights. And the robotic pool cleaner also creeps into tight corners for maximum cleaning. The cleaner is also very lightweight, which makes for easy handling in the pool and storage.
Types of Pool Cleaners
With all the types of pool cleaners out there, it’s easy to get confused about what the pool vacuums do and which one you need for your swimming pool.
The simple low-down is that there are only 4 basic types: robotic, suction-side, pressure-side, and manual.
Here’s how swimming pool vacuums work.
Robotic Pool Cleaners
Robotic pool cleaners are programmed to work completely alone. You basically choose the pool cleaner setting and drop it in the pool water. The robotic pool vacuum does the rest on its own.
Robotic pool vacuums 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. Robotic pool cleaners also have their own filter bags instead of using the pool’s filtration system. A robotic pool cleaner is easy to use but typically is more expensive.
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 pool water flow.
These types of cleaners are usually best at climbing the sides of the pool. But you may have to monitor the pool cleaner occasionally to make sure it reaches the entire surface of the pool.
Suction-side cleaners don’t use electricity, so they’re more energy efficient. However, the cleaners are harder on the filter, so you may have to backwash and replace the pool filter 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 pool cleaner uses the pressure side rather than the suction side. (Hence the name!)
The pressurized water goes through the pool cleaner, which pushes it around the surface and causes a suction.
Like the robotic cleaners, these cleaners 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 to empty them of the debris collected from the pool.
Manual Pool Cleaners
Manual pool cleaners are just like they sound. You attach the cleaner to the skimmer for suction and physically push them around your pool with a long pole.
These handheld cleaners are just as effective as the other types of cleaners, but they do require a lot more time and effort to operate.
What is an Automatic Pool Vacuum?
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 the side cleaners.
You already know that suction cleaners are made to be connected to the suction side of your pool filtration system. This is the side of your plumbing where water and debris are being sucked out of the pool to be filtered.
This is almost always the skimmer, but some pools do have a dedicated connection just for pool cleaners.
Once the pool cleaner is attached, the suction moves the cleaner around and sucks debris up through the hose and into the pool filter.
If you want to find out more about how do pool vacuums work, click on the link.
Benefits of Suction Pool Cleaner or Pool Vacuum
Next to manual pool cleaners, suction-sides are usually the cheapest to buy and maintain. Automatic pool cleaning devices are worth the investment.
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 of operating a cleaner.
The purpose of buying any cleaner is to keep your pool surfaces clear of dirt, debris, and algae. These vacuums do a very effective job, as long as you purchase a good pool cleaner.
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 while cleaning your swimming pools.
Choosing the Best Pool Cleaner: 5 Things to Consider When Purchasing an Automatic Pool Cleaner
- Scuff-free hoses. If the appearance of your pool is important to you, check the unit to make sure the vacuum comes with scuff-free hoses. These also slide over obstacles, like fittings, a lot easier than other pool cleaner 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 pool cleaner on the market. 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 vacuums 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 cleaner machine 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 pool space. And most suction cleaners have a couple of different models to meet different pool 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 and your cleaning needs. Also note that pool cleaners can be used in both above-ground pools and below-ground pools.
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 pool skimmer and one to the cleaner.
Of course, there are a few tricks to cleaning the pool the most effectively. First, fill the hose up with water after connecting it to the cleaner but before you hook the cleaner up to the skimmer.
Then monitor its progress the first time to make sure it’s running smoothly and picking up debris. Also, if the robotic pool cleaning device appears to be moving too slowly or getting stuck, try getting in the pool water and splashing around a bit to stir things up.
Here’s a video explaining the process of using a robotic pool cleaning device 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 clean your swimming pool more often.
For example, if you’ve had a big rain or pool party, it’s always a good idea to vacuum the swimming pool 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 pool water line is above the skimmer.
Another reason for low suction is a dirty pool 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 pool water that creates the suction for cleaning the pool debris.
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 pool blaster and how often you use it.
Conclusion On Getting a Vacuum for Your Pool
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 type of swimming pool.
The thing to remember is to check the specs for your particular pool size and make sure it will work with the pool surface you have.
Using a suction cleaner as part of your regular pool maintenance routine will help you keep your water safe and your spa equipment running optimally for years to come.
Hi, I’m Matt Harper, the founder of poolcareguy.com, a site I started with one simple mission: to help people around the world clean and take care of their pools and hot tubs on their own, without the hassle.
I’m not a professional pool cleaner and don’t have any formal training, I’m just an average guy who loves hanging out by his pool and hot tub and taking care of it. After many years on the job, I’ve become quite good at it.
On this website I will be teaching you absolutely everything I know about pools and hot tubs.