UPDATED: Oct 13, 2019.
The Polaris 280 Automatic Pool Cleaner is advertised to clear your pool of both small particles like dust and dirt and larger debris like leaves and pebbles, in under 3 hours. It can even clean walls and hard-to-reach corners and stairs.
The Polaris 280, along with other pressure pool cleaners in the Polaris line, is manufactured by Zodiac. Zodiac has been around over 100 years and has a reputation for quality that extends to its pool cleaning products. Many customers report that their Polaris pool cleaners continue to work well for more than ten years with periodic minor repairs.
The design of the Polaris 280 allows it to work in all in-ground pools, regardless of shape. Each unit comes with 31 feet of hose so that it can clean even large pools—extensions are available if even that isn’t enough.
The cleaner uses an additional pump, installed alongside your main pool pump, to create a high-pressure flow of water to drive it through the water and suck up anything in its path. Even leaves and small rocks!
It uses a special filter bag to collect such large debris before it can reach your pool filter—so you’ll need to clean your pool filter less often, and it’ll last longer.
The amount of pressure the Polaris 280 uses lets it clean your pool quickly, in under three hours when set up correctly. It can even run up the walls. A “tail sweep” is built in to let the cleaner reach spots where its wheels can’t take it, like tight corners and pool stairs.
If you haven’t owned a Polaris pool cleaner before, or if you’ve only had the 360, you’ll have to buy and install a separate booster pump like the PB4-60. Without the booster pump, your Polaris 280 won’t work right. Adding the cost of the pump increases the amount you’ll spend on the cleaner itself by more than half.
The booster pump also isn’t very energy efficient. Even though you’ll only need to run the Polaris 280 for a few hours to get your pool clean, your energy bill might be higher than with some lower-power automatic pool cleaners.
Correctly setting up and installing the cleaner is critical for it to work as advertised, but the included instructions are sometimes difficult to follow.
Despite the longevity of many older Polaris automatic pool cleaners, in the last few years, more customers have complained about parts failing within less than a year. The materials used by the manufacturer may be of lower quality than before.
Many of the most common issues owners run into can be diagnosed and fixed fairly easily. Here are some tips for maintaining your Polaris 280 automatic pool cleaner.
- If your hose is too long, it can get tangled or otherwise keep the cleaner from working right.
- The back-up valve, which activates every few minutes to keep the cleaner from getting stuck in one spot, needs to be installed about 14-20 inches away from the cleaner, and the opening where water comes out of it needs to face toward the cleaner.
- To test the back-up valve, just pull it out of the water while the cleaner is running. If it shoots water out constantly, it’s broken, and you need to replace it.
- The wall attachment point has adjustable pressure—if it’s open all the way, there won’t be enough pressure, but if it’s closed too tightly, it might crack. Check it now and then to make sure it’s still all in one piece.
- If the Polaris falls over on its side and doesn’t right itself, you might need to replace the rear float.
- Keep your skimmer basket and pump basket clear of debris, and keep the water level in your pool high enough. The Polaris uses the return water pressure to run, so if your pool pumps aren’t going, neither will the cleaner.
Finally, if your Polaris 280 is missing parts when it arrives, or it breaks down soon after installation, call Customer Service to make sure it’s under warranty. If they’re not helpful, you may be able to get assistance by leaving a review on Amazon describing your situation. Zodiac is attentive to Amazon reviews and may get in touch with you to remedy your problem and make sure you’re satisfied.
Despite some recent issues with durability, the Polaris 280 remains a solid choice if you need an automatic pool cleaner at a middle-of-the-road price—especially if you’ve had Polaris cleaners before and already own the required booster pump.