How to Choose a Robotic Pool Cleaner
When buying a robotic pool cleaner, convenience must be your first concern. You want a device which can get the job done with as little intervention from your part as possible. In order to find that cleaner, there are several aspects that you must consider:
Choose a cleaner specifically designed for your type of pool
When looking at a certain pool cleaner, you must first check to see for what type of pool it is designed. In-ground pools and above ground pools differ greatly, particularly when it comes to the materials from which they are made. However, you needn't worry as we have reviewed pool cleaners for both types of pools.
Check the recommended pool size
Your next concern should be the recommended pool size. Do not be fooled into thinking it is OK to buy a small pool cleaner for a big pool. You may think that it can handle the task, even if it takes it longer to finish the job. However, the recommended pool size is based not only on the pool cleaner's performance but also on its cable length. Ideally, you should find a pool cleaner with a cable that it is at least 10 feet longer than the length of your pool.
The GPH (gallons per hour) is another important technical specification that you need to consider. This specification refers to the filtration rate. The higher the filtration rate, the more gallons per hour the cleaner will be able to filter. A pool cleaner with a high filtration rate will also have a large debris holder capacity, thus being able to handle a bigger pool.
Cleaning cyclesDifferent automatic pool cleaners come with different cleaning cycles that last a specific amount of time. While the more efficient models can get the job done faster and with better results, there are models that last more so you will have to wait longer for it to be done cleaning the pool.
As we mentioned, automatic pool cleaners must be as convenient as possible, so the more features they have, the better. Or course, there is no need to pay for a pool cleaner that can climb steps, if your pool doesn't actually have steps. However, some features can save you a lot of troubles. For example, deflecting features are very useful as they prevent the cleaner from getting stuck in corners. Impurities don't gather only on the pool floor so you will need a cleaner that can handle the entire pool surface. The ability to climb walls is also very useful, as it will allow for a thorough clean of the whole pool, not just the floor. The best pool cleaners can climb the pool walls all the way to the top and can even clean the waterline to remove the nasty film that is usually formed.
A programmable timer is one of the features that matter the most because it will make the robotic pool cleaner more self-sufficient. Just set it to work and it will start the cleaning cycle without needing your presence. A remote control and an automatic shut-off feature are just a few of the many convenience features that can make your life easier.
You want your pool cleaner to be made of quality materials in order to last a long time. Its size doesn't really matter, but its weight is very important. Obviously, for a larger pool, you will need a bigger pool cleaner, which is bound to be heavier, but consider how you will get the cleaner out of the pool. Pick a model with a solid handle so you can easily pull it from the pool after it has finished cleaning. Things are a little more problematic for heavier cleaners. If you are not in the mood of getting in the pool to manually pick up the cleaner, consider getting a pool cleaner with a lift system. Smaller pool cleaners can be pulled up by the cable. If they are lightweight, this shouldn't be a problem, but if they are over 20 pounds, pulling them by the cord could eventually deteriorate the cord. If the item you chose is heavy, you might want to look for a caddy to ease storage and transportation.
The design of the wheels is also very important. We recommend four wheel drive systems (4WD) and extra wide wheels so that the cleaner can easily roll over bumps. The wheels should be made of an adherent material such as rubber so that they will not have troubles moving on a slippery surface. The brushes are as important because they are responsible for removing stubborn dirt from the pool surface. Therefore, look for hard bristle brushes or rotating rubber brushes that scrub off the dirt and algae even from corners or hard-to-reach places. Last but not least, get a pool cleaner with a swivel cord, in order to avoid a tangling fiasco.
In terms of energy efficiency, for a small pool, invest in a pool cleaner that doesn't consume more than 200 Watts per hour. This equals the energy consumption of a light bulb, which translates into a 5 cent per hour operating costs. For more powerful pool cleaners expect a higher energy consumption, but anything that consumes more than 1,000 Watts per hour is unacceptable. Larger models might use a little more energy during a cleaning cycle, according to the size of the motor.
Aside from the actual energy consumption, there are a few features which can make a pool cleaner more energy efficient. For starters, an intelligent navigation system will allow it to scan the pool size and determine the most efficient cleaning routes. This will eliminate energy waste by going multiple times over the same cleaned area. Rubber tracks can also make a pool cleaner more efficient, as they have a better wall adherence, which means that the cleaner will spend less time cleaning the walls, and it won't slip on horizontal surfaces either.
Most of the convenience features presented above contribute to a pool cleaner's overall ease of use. User-friendly options like an intuitive control panel, a remote control, a lift system and a swivel cable are the main characteristics that make an automatic cleaner easy to use. Given the advanced technologies used by these units, it's important to get the hang of them without many complications. Maintenance should be performed with ease, meaning the filter bag should easily come out for emptying it.
As far as durability goes, it is related to the quality of the materials and sometimes the brand and model. More expensive units tend to be of a higher quality and will last more in time. Moreover, a cleaner's warranty is a good indicator of its durability. If a manufacturer offers a good warranty coverage, that means that they are confident of their product's sturdiness and durability.
Robotic Pool Cleaners Reviews
Polaris F9450 Sport
At the top of our preferences, you will find the Polaris F9450 Sport robotic pool cleaner that made it to the first place thanks to the undeniable performance it has shown in our tests. It was designed to clean inground pools of 50 feet in length and it provides a 96% efficiency in removing the dirt and debris from the pool’s floor, walls, and waterline. It can easily climb walls to remove the unpleasant film that usually forms on the pool’s walls, but it can’t climb the stairs as other models can, meaning you will have to brush them prior to using the Polaris.
The 7-day programmable timer allows you to create a cleaning routine so the unit will start the cleaning cycle at the desired time without you having to be at home to start it. Thanks to the 4WD system and the obstacle sensors, the chances of bumping into obstacles or getting stuck are limited, although the lack of a swivel cord could cause some problems. The intelligent navigation is what keeps this automatic pool cleaner on track and makes sure every inch is cleaned to perfection. The pleated brush scrubs the dirt off and the powerful motor sucks it into the filter bag that features an indicator to let you know when it’s time to empty it.
Given that this device is bulky, the lift system that enables it to get out of the pool by itself spares you the effort of lifting it. There is also a transportation caddy included as well as a remote control that makes the unit easier to maneuver. The cleaner comes with a 2-year warranty for all the parts.
Next in line is the Aquabot Elite, a sleek item that easily makes its way around the pool to perform a great cleaning of the floor, walls, waterline, coves, and stairs. This impressive efficiency is provided by the Triple Clean scrubbing system and the rubber tracks that offer it a better adherence on any pool surface. You can use it for pools up to 50 feet in length and it will take around two hours for it to finish cleaning.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t come with a programmable timer so you will have to get used to setting it to clean. With the intelligent navigation, it creates the most convenient path so that it will finish cleaning before it runs out of batteries. It doesn’t get stuck due to the obstacle sensors and the swivel cord.
It doesn’t include accessories like transportation caddies and it will require you to get it out of the pool manually, but luckily, it is a very lightweight unit that comes with a helpful large handle. If you want a remote control, you will have to pay extra for it. The good news is that the warranty covers the robotic cleaner for 3 years.
The automatic pool cleaner that has ranked third in our top is the Pentair 360032, a very efficient and easy to use device that is perfect for inground pools measuring 50 feet in length. It manages to climb steps without a problem with the help of the rubber tracks and it can clean up to 95% of the dirt and algae it finds in its way, using its large rubber brush that rotates to scrub the dirt.
The biggest drawback of this device is that it doesn’t include a smart navigation system that would help it clean faster and reduce energy. This means that it will wander around the pool, cleaning where it considers necessary, which might make it less convenient. There are no sensors to detect obstacles so it might bump into stuff it encounters in the pool. Luckily, the 60′ swivel cord gets out of the way to prevent any accidents.
Although it’s a device with a simple operating system, it does come with a programmable timer that lets you set it to work any day of the week and it even includes a dirt canister indicator to alert you when to empty the filter bag. Moreover, it comes with a convenient transportation caddy and a remote control for easier handling. The warranty is the average 2-year you can find in most units.
At number four, say hello to Dolphin Quantum, a great tool to use for cleaning the entire surface of the pool, including the steps, wall, and waterline. It can handle pools as long as 60 feet during the 2.5-hours cleaning cycle it comes with instead of a programmable timer. Thanks to the HyperBrush dual scrubbing, the Dolphin manages to clean two times faster than ordinary brushes, removing even the most stubborn debris.
The performance of this unit is strengthened by the rubber tracks that help it climb the entire pool surface and the sensors that keep it from wasting energy when trying to overcome obstacles. Moreover, the cleaner incorporates an intelligent navigation that helps it create a cleaning path, thus reducing the time spent on cleaning.
As for convenience, it lacks a transportation caddy and a remote control that would have made it easier to maneuver. What it does include are a swivel cable and a dirt canister indicator, as well as a 2-year warranty coverage.
Dolphin Nautilus Plus
Our last choice is another model from Dolphin, namely the Nautilus Plus, a good unit capable of cleaning 60-feet long inground pools. This is one of the most affordable pool cleaners in our top. It lacks a lot of convenience features, but it does a great job, considering its small price. It can clean the floors, walls, and waterline but it doesn’t do well on stairs so you will have to handle this part yourself. The PVC bristle brushes are good at removing dirt, although they might turn out to be a little too harsh to get deep into the algae or the film on the walls. Instead of a programmable timer, the unit comes with a 2.5-hours cleaning cycle.
There aren’t any obstacle sensors included in this device, but is does feature an intelligent navigation to help it get the cleaning done faster and better. Unfortunately, you won’t receive a transportation caddy or a remote, nor a dirt canister indicator feature. The standard warranty is 2 years from the date of purchase.
Pool Maintenance Guide & Tips
Choosing the right pool type and taking care of it in order to maintain it in the best condition are important parts of owning a home swimming pool. You must pick the right cleaning solutions and devices that are suitable for the material of the pool and you need to constantly check the water quality. Our tips and tricks will help you make the best choices in what regards pool maintenance and will keep you in touch with the latest and most reliable systems and products designed for cleaning the pool and the water in it.