If you own a swimming pool, then you probably know that skimmers are not enough to clear out debris, especially after it has sunk to the bottom. Using a leaf net skimmer can work, but this manual cleaning can be very tiring.
The ideal thing to do is to use an automatic pool cleaner and even though most of them are expensive, they are very handy when it comes to getting rid of the debris as well as scrubbing floors and walls.
With that in mind, this article looks at the best automatic pool cleaners in the market, with a view of helping you get the perfect fit for your pool.
What to Check Before Buying Best Automatic Pool Cleaner?
1. Type of Automatic Pool Cleaner
Suction-side pool cleaners are attached to the suction end of your pool’s circulation system, and they use the generated suction force to move around the pool while scrubbing and collecting debris.
- Usually very affordable
- Require less maintenance because of having few moving parts
- Require running pool pumps to function
- Puts a lot of stress on the strainer
Pressure side pool cleaners are the opposite of suction side units because they are attached to the return lines of your pool’s circulation system. They usually come with a filtration bag for debris collection because they don’t use the pool’s filter.
However, for the best performance, most of them require a booster pump, which should be bought separately.
- Relatively affordable
- Fewer moving parts mean reduced maintenance
- Does not task the pool strainer with filtration
- Requires a running pool pump
- Depending on the model, an additional booster pump may be required
Robotic pool cleaners are easy to use, plug-and-play appliances that are powered using electricity as opposed to water pressure or suction pressure.
This means that they are self-contained units, featuring driving motors, debris filters, and debris bags. As a result, they can function without requiring a running pool pump.
- Energy efficient
- Suitable for cleaning floors, walls, stairs etc.
- Does not strain the pool’s filter
- Many moving parts require a lot of maintenance
- Very expensive
Buying Guide: If you have the money, a robotic pool cleaner such as Polaris’ F9450 is the best option to consider.
However, if your funds are limited, pressure and suction cleaners such as Zodiac’s F5 and Hayward’s Poolvergnuegen are still good, although you must always check your filtration system if you decide to use a suction side cleaner.
2. Type of pool
Swimming pools are either in-ground or above-ground. If you have an above-ground pool, then you need to buy a cleaner that is specifically meant for such pools such as Dolphin’s Escape Robotic.
Otherwise, you should get an in-ground cleaner such as Dolphin’s Premier Robotic.
The reason for this is that above-ground cleaners are usually smaller and designed to handle a smaller workload. On the other hand, in-ground cleaners are designed to handle larger and deeper in-ground pools.
3. Filter System
Filter systems ultimately determine the quality of the water that will leave the cleaner.
While suction cleaners do not have their own filtration systems, pressure-side and robotic cleaners usually have cartridge filters, with some high-end robotic models such as Polaris’ F9450 having canister filters.
Canister filters are designed as high-performance strainers, but for cartridges, ensure that it has both fine and ultra-fine screens so that large and small debris (such as algae) can be removed after being scrubbed off the floor and walls.
4. Ease of Use
There are a number of ways to look at this factor. Robotic cleaners are usually very easy to set up because they are plug-and-play. No hose pipes are required.
However, having its own filtration system and bag, you might have to empty the debris very frequently, especially if it is small or if the pool is very dirty.
In the case of a suction-side cleaner, although it may add a lot of pressure to the pool’s filtration system, you won’t have to get it out of the water now and then. Instead, you only have to clean the pool’s main filtration system after some time.
Therefore, an automatic pool cleaner’s ease of use factor depends on how you prefer running your system.
12 Best Automatic Pool Cleaners of 2021 Reviewed
1. Hayward 500 (Best for the Money)
2. Dolphin Premier Robotic (Best Inground)
3. Dolphin Escape Robotic (Best for Above Ground Pools)
4. Pentair 360032 (Best Eco-friendly)
5. Hayward Poolvergnuegen 896584000 (Wall Climbing Suction Cleaner)
6. Zodiac F5 (Pressure Side Cleaner with Large Filter Bag)
7. Zodiac Baracuda G3 W03000 (Reliable Suction Cleaner)
8. Pentair GW7900 (Easily Maneuverable)
9. Dolphin 99996323 (Easy to Use)
10. Hayward PHS21CST (Suction Cleaner with Self-Adjusting Variable Vanes)
11. Pentair LL505PMG (Powerful Pressure Cleaner)
12. Polaris F9450 (Robotic Cleaner with Vortex Vacuum Technology)
1. Hayward 500 – Best for the Money
Hayward’s above-ground pool cleaner is the most affordable automatic pool cleaner in this review, but it still performs really well.
The product features a unique turbine/ gearing system, which provides a constant and balanced water flow all the while operating quietly and moving gently across the pool floor as it picks up dirt and debris.
In terms of design, this unit has a contoured head design that is streamlined for easy maneuvering under the water and allows the steering pattern to be completed in minimal time.
Other features include an easy 10-minute or less installation time and a deluxe bumper ring, which minimizes friction as the cleaner moves along the walls.
- Unique turbine/ gearing system
- Contoured head design
- Easy to install
- Deluxe bumper ring
- No gripped wheels
- Puts a lot of pressure on the strainer
2. Dolphin Premier Robotic – Best for Inground Pool
Dolphin’s Premier is the best inground pool cleaner due to a number of reasons. For starters, it has up to 3 types of filter media. These include bottom load fine and ultra-fine filter cartridges, and an oversized filter bag, which gives you ample debris storage space.
The cleaner also features two of the latest commercial grade DC motors that consume up to 90% less energy than suction or pressure cleaners.
These motors are responsible for driving the robot and actually rotate dual scrubbing brushes via hyper grip dual tracks, with each motor driving its own side. This gives it superior scrubbing power, good grip, and good maneuverability
Navigation is done by Smart Nav software, which scans the entire pool then provides effective coverage by driving the motors using very advanced algorithms. This ensures 100% of the pool’s floor and wall surfaces are covered in a short time.
Other features include an advanced weekly control timer with optional remote control and an anti-tangle swivel technology on the power cable for hassle-free cleaning. However, it is very costly.
- Features 3 filter media
- Highly energy efficient
- Dual scrubbing brushes
- Smart Nav software for navigation
- Advanced weekly timer for additional control
3. Dolphin Escape Robotic – Best for Above Ground Pools
For an above-ground pool cleaner, Dolphin’s Escape has a compact, sleek design and weighs only 14 pounds.
This robotic cleaner also stands out because it features a large, oversized debris cartridge, which holds up to 60% more dirt than other above-ground robots of a similar size. This means that it requires less frequent emptying and thus, uninterrupted cleaning cycles.
4 wheels with hyper grip continuous tracks are used to drive the cleaner, and these provide enough grip for improved traction over the slippery pool floor.
A separate hyper brush is fitted at the front of the unit, and this helps to scrub the stubborn contaminants and dirt for more thorough cleaning.
Other features include Smart Nav 2.0 robotic scanning for optimizing cleaning patterns and energy-efficient DC motors for driving the wheels.
- Compact and lightweight
- Oversized debris cartridge for minimal cleaning interruptions
- 4 wheels with hyper grip continuous tracks
- Hyperbrush for scrubbing off stubborn dirt
- Smart Nav 2.0 scanning
- Plenty of moving parts translate to high maintenance requirements
4. Pentair 360032 – Best Eco-friendly Automatic Pool Cleaner
This pool cleaner is characterized by an efficient and eco-friendly internal filtration system, which cleans the water as it circulates the present chemicals thoroughly throughout the pool.
This helps reduce the chemical requirements and as a result, you get clearer water and reduced expenses because of the reduced chemical treatment.
The unit also features advanced design scrubs, vacuums, and filters, which enable it to clear out the dirt and debris in most pool sizes in under two and a half hours.
You get a built-in weekly timer that automates the cleaning cycles when you are away while a wireless remote gives you full control over the operations of the robot as it works underwater. However, it is very costly.
- Efficient and eco-friendly
- Advanced design scrubs, vacuums, and filters for quick cleaning
- Built-in weekly timer for automated control
- Wireless remote for full customized controls
5. Hayward Poolvergnuegen 896584000 – Best for Wall Climbing Suction
Hayward’s Poolvergnuegen suction pool cleaner features a 2-wheel drive system with patented tire treads that are enhanced for climbing pool walls and obstacle management.
If this is not enough for you, there is a 4-wheel drive option that is slightly more expensive but can cover more ground faster. This makes it suitable for larger pool sizes of up to 20 × 40 feet, as compared to the max 16 × 32 feet pool size that the 2-wheel option can cover.
Regardless of the size, this product features patented self-adjusting turbine vanes, which ensure that it operates at maximum power at any water flow rate, resulting in an almost effortless debris suction and management.
For guided movement, the Poolvergnuegen has multiple pre-programmed internal steering sequences that occasionally cause the left wheels to reverse. This changes the direction of the cleaner so that it can cover the whole pool.
This steering system also gives the unit the ability to climb up the swimming pool’s walls and navigate through obstacles for full coverage. Additionally, it has a patented adjustable roller skirt that makes it possible to clean on uneven surfaces for even better coverage.
- Patented tire treads for wall climbing and obstacle management.
- Available in 2- and 4-wheel drive options
- Self-adjusting turbine vanes
- Multiple pre-programmed internal steering sequences
- Adjustable roller skirt
- Requires a running pool pump
- Transfers debris to the pool filter, putting a lot of strain on it
6. Zodiac F5 – Pressure Side Cleaner with a Large Filter Bag
Zodiac’s Polaris is also an in-ground pool cleaner, but for the pressure side, which means that it should be connected to the return lines from the pool pump. It is fitted with a large filter bag, which helps to collect as much dirt as possible reduces pressure on the pool’s filtration system.
The unit is designed as ready to connect to a 1.5-inch dedicated pressure return line, which means you require an additional booster pump to provide sufficient pressure for efficient debris collection. On the bright side, you get a long 31-foot hose for wide coverage.
Other features include a large debris-opening intake for sucking in small and large particles, a dual venturi jet vacuum for powerful intake, and a 3-wheel iconic design. Collectively, these features make this the top-rated automatic pool cleaner in this review.
On the downside, this cleaner does not have treaded tires, which might compromise its grip on the pool floor. However, it has an in-line backup valve that helps free itself once it gets cornered, and this helps to maintain a continuous cleaning cycle without interruptions.
- Large filter bag
- Long 31-foot feed hose
- Large debris opening
- Dual venturi jet vacuum
- In-line backup valve for freeing itself when stuck
- Requires a booster pump
- Non-treaded wheels
7. Zodiac Baracuda G3 W03000 – Reliable Suction Cleaner
Zodiac’s Baracuda is a very reliable in-ground suction pool cleaner because it has only one moving part, which is its diaphragm. This means that it is very durable because a single moving part means minimal wear and tear.
The product is also very easy to maintain because of its quick-release cassette, which then gives you access to the diaphragm for cleaning and removing any debris that may be stuck there.
This unit runs very quietly and works well with low-speed pumps, maximizing efficiency. It also features a wheel deflector that helps navigate around tight corners for easier movement.
However, with its medium-sized diaphragm and low-speed, low-pressure operation, the cleaner is only suitable for picking up small to medium-sized debris from the pool floor.
- Reliable and durable due to its single moving part
- Easy to maintain
- Can be used on almost all types of floor surfaces
- Works well with low speed, low-pressure pumps
- Wheel deflector for navigation around tight corners
- No filter-bag. Moves all the debris to the skimmer
- Not suitable for collecting large debris
8. Pentair GW7900 – Easily Maneuverable
Pentair’s GW7900 is quite a small suction cleaner, measuring only 13 inches in length, width, and height. This means that it easily maneuvers above the pool floor while attached to the suction port of the strainer, from which it utilizes the suction from the pool pump to run.
To give it even better maneuverability, this unit features an exclusive smart track programmed steering system, which makes it possible to move around obstacles such as ladders and even around tight corners. The result of this is an evenly cleaned floor, without missing any spot.
With such a system, the GW7900 can effectively clean a 12 × 20 feet pool size, while moving the collected debris back to the strainer where it should be attached.
For this attachment, a hose is included in this pack, and it connects to the cleaner via a vac port that comes tightly closed using a spring-loaded cover. This is necessary for additional safety and must be opened using a tool.
- Compact size makes it easy to maneuver
- Features a steering system that further improves its maneuverability
- Designed to clean a relatively large 12 × 20 feet pool
- Closed vac port for additional safety
- Adds a lot of strain to your strainer and filtration system in general
- Requires a running pool pump
9. Dolphin 99996323 – Easy to Use Pool Cleaner
Being a robotic pool cleaner, Dolphin’s Nautilus is a very easy-to-use product, having a drop and go, or the popular plug and play mechanism that most people are familiar with. This is because it does not need to be connected to a booster pump and requires no hoses.
Instead, all you have to do is to connect the unit to the power supply and that’s it. It even requires minimal supervision because of its tangle-free power cable, which ensures that there are no interruptions as the cleaning continues.
Apart from getting rid of debris, Nautilus also features two scrubbing brushes, which double up as the driving wheels. This design ensures that as the cleaner runs over the floor and walls, it tackles the tough dirt that is stuck on the surface for a more thorough cleaning cycle.
To collect the loosened dirt, the cleaner features a large bottom-load fine and ultra-fine cartridge filter, which makes it possible to collect the small dirt and algae particles as well as the large leaves and twigs.
- Easy to use
- Tangle-free power cable
- Two scrubbing brushes as wheels for scrubbing floors and walls on every pass
- Fine and ultra-fine cartridge filter
- Requires the filter to be cleaned frequently
- Many moving parts mean more maintenance
10. Hayward PHS21CST – Suction Cleaner with Self-Adjusting Variable Vanes
With its patented self-adjusting variable vanes, Hayward’s AquaNaut allows small and large debris to pass through easily. This leaves a very clean pool floor, with the waste being passed off to the strainer for removal.
The suction vacuum created by these vanes is maintained by an adjustable roller skirt, which is designed to ensure that the AquaNaut never loses suction, even on uneven surfaces. Therefore, it can navigate through main drains and other objects while still pulling in all the dirt.
You also get 2 and 4-wheel options, with all having treaded tires that give a lot of traction when moving over slippery floors, uneven surfaces, and walls.
Other features include multiple pre-programmed steering sequences for complete pool coverage and 3 interchangeable throats that help improves the suction force at lower flow rates while also allowing large debris to pass through.
- Self-adjusting variable vanes
- Adjustable roller skirt maintains suction
- 2- and 4-wheel options
- Multiple pre-programmed steering sequences
- 3 interchangeable throats to adjust to different flow rates
- Puts a lot of strain on the strainer
- Requires a running pool pump
11. Pentair LL505PMG – Powerful Pressure Pool Cleaner
Pentair’s LL505PMG is a very powerful pressure-side pool cleaner, featuring dual thrust jets that give it a fast operating speed and suction so that it can clean up pools in 1 – 3 hours. To achieve this, it should be boosted by an additional independent pump, which should be bought separately.
To make its cleaning action hassle-free and uninterrupted, the unit features a large-capacity debris bag, which is ideal for storing leaves, twigs, and other large debris. This feature is complemented by a large throat intake, which easily picks up any large debris with ease.
However, having a large bag means that it is quite big. To counter this, the cleaner features 4 large treaded wheels that provide maximum traction, with a front-wheel-drive system for efficient movement.
Additionally, it has a very lightweight frame that makes it easier to move around concrete, vinyl-lined, and fiberglass pool floors and walls.
- Dual thrust jets for quick cleaning
- Large capacity debris bag
- Large throat intake
- Four, large treaded wheels, with an efficient front wheel system
- Lightweight frame for easy maneuverability
- Requires an independent booster pump
- Quite large in size
12. Polaris F9450 – Robotic Cleaner with Vortex Vacuum Technology
Rounding up the list is Polaris’ F9450 and which is equipped with vortex vacuum technology, which captures four times more of the debris collected by other similar robotic cleaners.
Though expensive, this sporty robot cleaner has a 4-wheel drive system with heavily treaded tires. These provide superior grip as all 4 wheels push through for quick and easy maneuverability across pools of up to 50 feet in length.
Other features include a small, streamlined body that cuts through water easily and a large canister filter with four times the capacity of other similar cleaners. This ensures it runs uninterrupted for a long time without emptying.
- Powerful vortex vacuum technology
- Strong 4-wheel drive system
- Suitable for large pools of up to 50 feet in length
- Small, streamlined body
- Large canister filter
- Very expensive
- No remote control
Pool cleaners are a must-have if you own a swimming pool. They simplify the cleaning process and help the existing filtration system in getting rid of debris and stubborn dirt that is sunk to the pool floor.
That said, Pentair’s LL505PMG stands out as the best pressure side cleaner due to its thrust jets while Polaris’ F9450 and Hayward’s Poolvergnuegen stand out as robotic and suction pool cleaners respectively.
In this post:
- What to Check Before Buying Best Automatic Pool Cleaner?
- 12 Best Automatic Pool Cleaners of 2021 Reviewed
- 1. Hayward 500 – Best for the Money
- 2. Dolphin Premier Robotic – Best for Inground Pool
- 3. Dolphin Escape Robotic – Best for Above Ground Pools
- 4. Pentair 360032 – Best Eco-friendly Automatic Pool Cleaner
- 5. Hayward Poolvergnuegen 896584000 – Best for Wall Climbing Suction
- 6. Zodiac F5 – Pressure Side Cleaner with a Large Filter Bag
- 7. Zodiac Baracuda G3 W03000 – Reliable Suction Cleaner
- 8. Pentair GW7900 – Easily Maneuverable
- 9. Dolphin 99996323 – Easy to Use Pool Cleaner
- 10. Hayward PHS21CST – Suction Cleaner with Self-Adjusting Variable Vanes
- 11. Pentair LL505PMG – Powerful Pressure Pool Cleaner
- 12. Polaris F9450 – Robotic Cleaner with Vortex Vacuum Technology