As a kid we had no robotic pool cleaner for our Southern California suburban home swimming pool. Regardless, most of my memories of our family pool are great. Family barbeques, playing with friends, teaching my little brother how to swim, etc. All of the awesome moments definitely trump the one negative thing the pool had.
Back then it was such a pain in the neck when it came to cleaning the pool. At first my dad bought a suction wand with a brush attached. This meant that I, being the the oldest, had to walk along the edge of the pool with the wand (attached to the pool’s filter) and scrub the bottom of the floor. It was not fun at all, but it was something that needed to be done.
Luckily, it’s not 1995 anymore and pool cleaners have evolved. I’m 35 years old now and I have a pool in my own backyard now, ah the circle of life. Having gone through two suction pool cleaners in the past few years I decided to invest in an electric robotic pool cleaner.
In this post I’m going to go over the information I recovered while researching robotic pool cleaners.
Robotic Pool Cleaners Q&A
Here’s our FAQ about Robotic Pool Cleaners. If you’re new to growing, or just want to brush up, enjoy!
What is a Robotic Pool Cleaner?
Since a robotic pool cleaner falls under the category of an automated pool cleaner then let’s start there. An automated cleaner, in essence, is a vacuum cleaner for your pool. It collects sediment and debris from the bottom of your pool on its own. Of course, there are various types of swimming pool cleaners: from battery-operated to the manual powered wands like the one I had to use when I was a kid.
A robotic pool cleaner, also known as an pool cleaner, is a machine that cleans your pool all by itself. Unlike its predecessors (suction and pressure pool cleaners) it does not depend on the pools filtration system. Instead it operates electrically. That means that it is plugged into an external power source.
While plugged in it crawls around the bottom of your pool scrubbing and sucking up scum. Statistically it saves more energy and cleans your pool faster than other automated pool cleaners.
How do Robotic Pool Cleaners Work?
First of all, a robotic pool cleaner has to be plugged into an external power source. Typically, this is the shape of a set-down transformer. And it is recommended to set the power source about 10 feet from the pool.
Inside you’ll find two motors: one sucks in water that goes through an independent filter, the filtered water is then pushed back into the pool. The second is part of the drive mechanism. It’s connected to the machine’s brushes and tracks, which are usually rubber or synthetic amuand tractor-like.
Movement is programmed into a microchip inside the machine. It is smart enough to switch on or off the machine and to know when to go the other way when it hits a wall or gets to the water’s surface when climbing the walls. Also, some electric robotic pool cleaners have sensors that are placed at the bumpers that help direct the machine.
There are three basic principles that govern a robotic cleaner: movement and traction which is created by the tracks and the drive motor; buoyancy which is caused by the pockets of air in the machine; and force which is a result of the high pressure water release at the top of the apparatus, that pushes it against walls and floor, thus holding keeping it on course.
The robot knows when it’s in a vertical or horizontal position due to an internal mercury button connected to the microchip. This function allows the unit (when on walls) to ascend or descend at varying intervals depending on how high the pool walls are. Some robotic pool cleaners have timers to delay the time the machine’s at the water’s surface, which is where more dirt hangs out, allowing for longer scrubbing to occur there.
How to Choose the Right Robotic Pool Cleaner?
This is incredibly important as you need to know what you have in order to get exactly what you need. There are some things you have to be on the lookout for when getting the best Robotic Pool Cleaner.
- Your type of pool: the pool you have is key. Is it an above ground pool or an in-ground pool?
- Size: keep your pool’s measurements when you are going shopping. you will see that some robotic cleaners are best for small pools when others are optimized for big pools (even Olympic size pools)
- Money: you should establish a budget for your purchase. How much are you willing to spend? How big do you want your cleaner to be? Do you want it to have special features? Are you more interested in performance? The answer to all these questions will help you set up your financial plan for the cleaner.
- Surface: some cleaners are made for certain surfaces (such as concrete or vinyl), while others can damage delicate surfaces such as tile or fiberglass. If you plan to remodel or you are just not sure, keep in mind that there are cleaners that can filter, clean and sweep pretty much every pool surface available.
- Pool filtration system: as mentioned before, Robotic Pool Cleaners don’t depend on your pool’s filtration system this translates to not having gears or hoses to attach to your pool’s filtration system while it’s being cleaned. The amazing thing is that you can just plug them and literally sit back to watch it work until everything is as clean as you want it to be.
- Technology: it is a matter of preference really; do you want an advanced device that has several settings or a remote control? Or do you feel better with a simpler cleaner with few settings and a straightforward cleaning process? Keep in mind that the smarter the cleaner, the more expensive.
- Special features: special features mean additional money. For every special quality your cleaner has there will be an increase on the overall cost but it will also increase the efficiency while cleaning, some special features you will find are Out of Water Sensors, Beach Entry, Vortex Vaccum Technology, Quick Clean Technology, etc.
Best Robotic Pool Cleaners For the money
We ranked our list of Robotic Pool Cleaners based on the results they showed and features they offer.
Top 5 Best Robotic Pool Cleaners on the Market – Comparison Table
|Aquabot APRVJR||21 x 18 x 19 inches||25.9 pounds||3.5/5|
|Dolphin Nautilus||20 x 24 x 20 inches||32.5 pounds||4.9/5|
|Dolphin Nautilus Plus||16 x 10 x 16 inches||19.0 pounds||4.9/5|
|Polaris 9550 Sport||22 x 22 x 22 inches||43.6 pounds||4.7/5|
|Hayward RC9990GR||21.5 x 19.8 x 19.8 inches||40.0 pounds||3.9/5|
Aquabot APRVJR Pool Rover Junior Robotic Above-Ground Pool Cleaner
Out of all of the top rated robotic pool cleaners this is a cleaner mainly used for residential Above-Ground pools. It has a very powerful suction system to clean up both big objects and small debris. Its full cycle runs for about 2 to 3 hours and even though it will not climb steps nor the walls. You can easily scrub them on your end so they can settle on the bottom where the Aquabot will clean them.
I found that the cord will tangle, so it will probably be best for you to check every hour or so to prevent a bad knot which can make the unit go in circles or reduce the area it is cleaning.
Dolphin 99996323 Dolphin Nautilus Robotic Pool Cleaner with Swivel Cable
This is a great device that is cheap and very easy to use, it works for pools up to 50 feet in length and it is recommended to use on in-ground residential pools. It has a long cable that does not twist in knots when working.
What is the best robotic pool cleaner for leaves? Well the Dolphin has 2 removable screens that work together to trap the dirt from the pool, one for leaves and big objects while the other goes for finer elements, they are easy to remove, clean and then put back on.
According to tests in standard pools (20’ x 40’) the Dolphin should finish its job thoroughly in 2 hours more or less, it will also go around the walls to prevent any dirt accumulation, and another great feature is that it works silently!
Not everything is perfect, so keep in mind that this cleaner is a bit heavier than others (around 17lbs) and sometimes has a bit of trouble when cleaning the angles (like where the pool slope encounters the side walls).
Read Full Review: Dolphin Nautilus
Dolphin 99996403-PC Dolphin Nautilus Plus Robotic Pool Cleaner
This is the plus version of the cleaner above! It is a little more money but also has more features. You will get absolutely everything you read above PLUS some other very cool features with it like the Full Pool Scanning which is a software that basically lets the machine learn the surface of your pool, in order to make the cleaning process and route much more efficient and effective, another improvement is the filtration system that incorporates a Fine Filter made of polyester fiber which can help get even finer debris.
Operating time still goes around 2-3 hours. Something very important to consider is that it is built with modular components that they call ‘Easy-Fix’, turns out that should you need to replace any of the pieces it will cost less money than you will think.
On the downside for this Dolphin we will find that it is even heavier (22lbs) and it maintains the problems when cleaning the angles or the steps of the pool. The cable on this model is thinner therefore it will tangle sometimes.
Polaris 9550 Sport Robotic In-Ground Pool Cleaner
This is a 4-wheel drive robotic cleaner, it has Aqua-Trax tires that will be good to any pool surface. One of its greatest traits is its remote control so you can guide the robot into the places where you want either a second clean or you want it to go to a hard place to reach. It is great for climbing.
It is great for residential pools and its cycle can last from 1.5 to 3 hours depending on the dimensions. You can program a 7-day cycle so you don’t have to take it out of the pool and it will run its cleaning chores daily. It is very easy to lift from the pool when you want to store it too.
The only downside is that it does not do a very good job when cleaning steps but you can correct that with the remote control, the manual on the machine is not very detailed, so sometimes you will have to ‘wing it’ when learning how to operate the cleaner.
Read Full Review: Polaris 9550 Sport
Hayward RC9990GR TigerShark QC Automatic Robotic Pool Cleaner with Quick Clean Technology
This is a whole new category where the special features come to play! This TigerShark is perfect for residential pools up to 20’ x 40’. It includes a Quick Clean Technology that provides and ensures a fast 90-minute cycle, its motor is optimized to use less energy therefore it will lower your overall costs.
The filters are easily removable and extremely easy to clean and put back in the unit. The full cycle will run for about 4 hours, it will climb, scrub and suck all the debris and dirt you have laying around in your pool.
I only found 2 downsides to the TigerShark, first is that it gets stuck on the pool drain so you will have to be checking it in case you have to pull the cord a little to stir it in the right direction. Second is that the filters have to be cleaned after every use (if you don’t clean them you might end up damaging it)
Time to choose
As you can see you have several options to choose from. You just need to check your budget and decide how much or how little you want to work alongside your robot when cleaning your pool. Remember that it will still need a human eye to check everything was done to perfection. The best thing is that nowadays the work you will have to do is minimal to keep your pool crystal clear.