How To Choose the Best Robotic Pool Cleaner (Ultimate Guide)
If you want to save yourself hours and hours of cleaning time, you need to get a robotic pool cleaner.
Trust me on this one!
A robotic pool cleaner will help remove all the junk that your pool filters miss, either because it is too small or it just floats to the bottom.
And all without any elbow grease.
What is a robotic pool cleaner?
A robotic pool cleaner is basically a low-voltage pool vacuum that runs by itself.
Ever used a Roomba?
It pretty much works the same way except it is powered by a cord instead of rechargeable batteries.
How does a robotic pool cleaner work?
Some pool cleaners or vacuums work by attaching them to the pool’s pump system, but robotic pool cleaners run independently of that.
They're actually powered by their own electricity source from a GFCI outlet and look a lot like a household vacuum in that most have brush rollers to effectively kick small debris up into the vacuum head.
The units are usually self-contained in that they have their own filter and debris storage that you dump out periodically.
Most robotic vacuums also have their own settings, so you can choose to have them clean the bottom only, waterline only, or the entire surface.
Water line cleaning is beneficial for keeping that ugly ring that can build up around the top of the pool.
Advanced models often have chips or sensors that tell the vacuum when to turn a corner or climb a wall.
And some are remote controlled so that you can actually steer it yourself from outside the pool.
Talk about a great way to get your kids involved in cleaning the pool!
6 reasons why you need a robotic cleaner
Robotic pool cleaners are probably the most efficient vacuum on the market in terms of suction and convenience, but there are plenty of other reasons you might want to consider buying one as well.
1. Water circulation
Since the vacuum is constantly moving around, it helps to stir up and circulate the water.
And movement is great for keeping the chemicals well-distributed and keeping bacteria from thriving.
This just gives your pump a little extra help!
2. Ultra convenience
The obvious convenience of the thing is what makes it so popular.
You just switch it on and forget it!
Talk about easy.
3. A cleaner pool
These vacuums offer superior cleaning because most of them have very powerful suction and scrub the pool surface while they work.
Other vacuums use pressure from the pump to create suction, which isn’t quite as powerful.
4. Less daily cleaning
Because most of these do scrub while they clean, they take the place of frequent brushing.
In fact, if you use it regularly enough, you may never have to brush!
5. Energy efficiency
These use their own low-voltage power sources so they consume less energy than other vacuums that leech from your pump system.
6. Less wear & tear on the pump
Robotic vacuums don’t use your filtration system like other vacuums, so they don’t put more stress on the pump.
7 features to consider
When you're shopping for a robotic pool cleaner, keep the following features in mind:
1. Cord length
You’re probably wondering why cord length would matter, but if you have a large pool, you'll need a vacuum with a cord length that will stretch the entire length of it.
On the other hand, if you have a small pool, a long cord could get tangled up with the unit and shut it down.
Usually, the size of the pool your cleaner is made to clean will determine its cord length.
But you still need to factor in the distance from the power source to the pool, not just the size of the pool itself.
Some commercial cleaners have cords up to 150 ft.
2. Wall climbers
Not all robotic pool cleaners are made to climb walls: some are made to just stay at the bottom of the pool and keep the floor clean.
And you have to decide for yourself which one you’d like to have.
Sure, there are obvious benefits to owning a wall-climbing model, but the price may keep you on the floor.
Just keep in mind that if you buy one that does not climb walls, you'll still need to consistently brush the pool walls to keep them clean and then let the vacuum pick up the debris that sinks to the bottom.
3. Cleaning cycles
Robotic pool cleaners usually have several settings or cleaning cycles you can program them for.
The most common are “Bottom Only” and “Waterline Only”, and of course the normal cleaning modes which would clean the entire pool.
The regular settings for the robotic vacuums mostly determine the amount of time they will clean before shutting off.
Some only have a single cycle, however, and automatically shut off after a set time, usually 3-5 hours.
4. Remote controls
Some robotic cleaners are remote-controlled. This makes them super fun for us...I mean, the kids...to use.
But they're made for more than fun.
The great thing about them is that you can direct it everywhere you need it and make sure it doesn’t miss a single spot.
And you can also maneuver it out of a corner without getting in the pool if it gets itself in a jam.
It’s also a little more energy-efficient because you can probably guide it over the entire pool surface in much less time than its automatic cycle would keep it running.
5. Types of filters
All these cleaners have their own filtration system, so rather than using your pool pump, they suck debris up into their own filters.
These filters are either bags or cartridges, depending on the model, but both can be cleaned and reused for a while before needing to be replaced.
Both types of filters do a good job, but the cartridge may be easier to clean off than a bag.
Robotic cleaners are made for all sizes of pools, including commercial, and the thing you don’t want to do is buy one that is made for a much larger pool than you own.
Well, if you buy a commercial cleaner that weighs 150 lbs for a small above ground pool, you might end up with a monstrosity that takes three people to lug over the edge and then takes up half the pool.
Not to mention the more than 100 feet of cord it might come with that will tangle the vacuum up in it at every turn.
Make sure the cleaner you get is the appropriate size for your pool.
I suggest getting the smallest model that will work for your pool size.
7. Easy-to-find parts
Once you find a model you like, I would check around for parts.
Filters, drive belts, impellers and other parts will have to be replaced once in a while and you want to make sure you can find them easily for the vacuum you have.
You don’t want to have to wait two weeks for a belt to come in if it breaks in the middle of swim season.
If you have a local pool supply store, it’s best to see what they keep in stock when choosing your cleaner.
It's always faster to run down the street for a part than to find one online that will deliver in a day.
However, if you do find a model that has lots of dealers selling parts for it online, like on Amazon, then you're probably safe to assume you can get those parts shipped fairly quickly from someone.
Best robotic pool cleaners
The Dolphin Nautilus Plus (click here to check the price on Amazon) is one of the easiest to use, most programmable robotic pool cleaners on the market.
It uses a cartridge filter system that is easy to maintain and easy to clean, and it also works a little faster than other models, cleaning an entire pool surface in as little as 2 ½ hours.
It's made to clean floors, walls and waterlines of pools up to 50 feet long.
This Premier version is the newest Dolphin (click here to check the price on Amazon) and comes with more features than ever.
It claims to reduce energy usage up to 87% because of its efficiency, and has a patented multi-media filtration system that allows you to choose between a micro-filter and oversized bag for different types of cleaning.
It's also designed with a patented 360° Anti-Tangle Swivel technology that keeps it running smooth without the cord getting in the way.
The coolest feature of the Dolphin Premier is the Smart-Nav software that uses a microprocessor to determine the optimum cleaning pattern for your pool; this is what makes it one of the most efficient cleaners on the market.
The Hayward SharkVac (click here to check the price on Amazon) claims to “hunt down” debris with its smart steering technology that keeps it on an efficient cleaning path.
It is also super fast, cleaning an entire pool surface, including the walls and waterline in just about two hours.
It uses cartridge filters that are top loading so they are easy to get to and easy to clean.
What would you expect from Polaris, 4-wheel drive? You got it!
This 9550 Sport vacuum (click here to check the price on Amazon) does some heavy duty cleaning with its vortex vacuum technology.
It will clean any pool up to 60 feet long, including the walls and water line, and the 4WD technology keeps it on its destination, and also has a solid blade cleaning brush to scrub up the toughest deposits.
It is both programmable and remote controlled, so you can decide whether you want to take charge or leave it to its job.
And its easy-to-clean cartridges make dumping debris a snap!
The Aquabot Pool Rover Junior (click here to check the price on Amazon) is designed to filter over 70 gallons of water per minute with its powerful suction technology.
It uses a filter bag system that filters down to two microns, and is also safe for all pool surfaces, including vinyl, and can be used in above ground pools.
What’s unique about this one is its patented hydrorobotic technology that propels the vacuum around the pool with powerful water jets. This means it uses fewer parts, making it cheap to repair.
The Aquabot Breeze IQ (click here to check the price on Amazon) is equipped with the finest filtration system on the market, filtering down to two microns.
It will help you save up to 30% on chemicals because of its efficient cleaning and water circulation, and it will save you up to 40% on your energy usage; it costs just about 5 cents per hour to run!
It's also made with the patented Aquabot Swivel to keep its cords tangle-free and has an easy to clean filter basket at the top.
But what it's most known for is its IQ system that helps it navigate your pool surface for maximum cleaning.
The Pool Rover S2 40 (click here to check the price on Amazon) is designed for most above ground and small in ground pools.
Just like its other Aquabot siblings, this one will filter down to two microns and uses an easy to access filter bag system to do it. It's also super fast, filtering over 80 gallons of water per minute with crazy strong suction power.
It comes with Aquabot’s patented hydrorobotic technology that jet propels it around the pool in record time.
And it's made with fewer parts for cheaper repairs.
The Pentair Kreepy Krauly Prowler (click here to check the price on Amazon) works in just about 2 ½ hours to scrub, vacuum and clean your whole pool.
It can be remote controlled and is equipped with an auto-reverse feature to get itself out of jams, and it uses a cartridge filtration system with an indicator to let you know when it needs to be cleaned.
It costs less than 20 cents per day to operate and is great for in ground pools.
What great about the Dolphin Triton Plus (click here to check the price on Amazon) is its Bluetooth technology that you can use to navigate the cleaner, set a weekly timer, or change its cleaning modes. All right from your smartphone!
Oh and speaking of cleaning modes: this one has Quick Clean, Active Brushing, and PowerStream for complete pool cleaning, including walls, coves and waterlines.
It also has a multiple filtration system for extra fine debris removal.
Most of the time, robotic pool cleaners are a little pricier option than other vacuums, so you'll have to decide for yourself if they are worth the cost.
It is my opinion, however, that the time it saves me in pool maintenance and the lower chemical usage makes it totally worth the added cost upfront.
But if you’re still on the fence and not sure which way to go, drop me a line and let me know how I can help.
I’ve probably had the same questions you do at one point or another!