The 6 Best Pool Cleaners

If you want a quick answer, I think Dolphin makes the best robotic pool cleaners and Zodiac has some great value options for suction-side cleaners. Read more about those top picks and more in my research below.

To fully enjoy your pool all season, you need it to be clean. But even with a pump, the right balance of chemicals, and frequent skimming, some pools still have debris piling up. Here, I’ll cover the best automatic pool cleaners for every swimming pool out there.

My Top Picks For The Best Automatic Pool Cleaners

Here are my top six choices for the best pool cleaners.


Zodiac Baracuda G3

⭐ Best Value Suction Side Cleaner

Research Score: 4.4 out of 5

  • Mobility: 4
  • Compatibility: 5
  • Cleaning Ability: 5
  • Durability: 4
  • Price: 4

What’s Great:

  • Quick assembly/replacement
  • Compatible even with low-speed, low-horsepower pumps
  • Simple design for easy maintenance

Limitations & What Needs Improvement:

  • Larger debris can clog the soft plastic tube that “breathes” to propel the unit
  • If the hoses bend, it may not be able to move effectively
  • Suction-side pool cleaner
  • Works on gunite, tile, fiberglass, and vinyl inground pools
  • 39’ feed hose
  • Works with any single, two-speed or variable-speed pump, including low-speed pumps

Research Notes

The Zodiac Baracuda G3 is an affordable product that is a great option for those looking for a simple vacuum that will clean an inground pool. It is compatible with low-speed pool pumps and effectively cleans even with a lower horsepower. Due to its simple design, it makes installation and maintenance a breeze, and if you do encounter any issues, you won’t need to worry too much as parts are cheap and the pieces are straightforward. Although the Baracuda is quite useful when it comes to smaller debris, larger debris can get caught in the diaphragm.

Mobility

The mobility rating for this Zodiac product is pretty impressive considering the price. It can easily navigate the pool and can even clean stairs and work around other accessories. However, the stair-cleaning ability, though decent, could be better. I find that this product works best with wider stairs. Expect similar results if you have a pool with an unusual surface. It will certainly do the job but may miss a few spots.

Compatibility

The Baracuda G3 works with any single, two-speed, or variable-speed pump, so whatever pump you already have in your pool should work with this vacuum. This means you won’t need to purchase a second one, which is a huge plus. This product also boasts the ability to work with low-speed or low-horsepower pumps as well. That said, it can take some experimenting to find the pump speed that will work best for the Barracuda.

Cleaning Ability

The Baracuda G3 has a pretty good mobility rating that helps it to effectively clean the pool, including walls and stairs. In just a few hours, the vacuum will transform your pool into a sparkly clean one. A wheel deflector keeps the vacuum from bumping into obstacles as it cleans, and the disc has 36 fins to help it maintain suction. It devours small and medium-sized debris, and although it could also suck in bigger debris, it may cause a block in the vacuum that you will need to manually fix. You should also avoid bending the hoses as this will impede the cleaning ability.

Durability

I have put the Baracuda G3 to the test, and I am impressed with its ability to hold up to bumps and bruises. It is a simple albeit powerful tool with single moving parts. There are no gears or wheels so there is less room for things to break while it is being used. This product also comes with an additional Long-Life Diaphragm if there comes a time to replace it. It must be mentioned that there are definitely verified reviewers that have complained about the product needing fixing after just a few months of use.

Price

The Zodiac Baracuda G3 is a bang for your buck. The product itself is fairly priced, and any replacement parts you may need for maintenance are generally inexpensive as well.

Notes From Other Testers

Other testers rate this Zodiac product highly. In fact, the Baracuda G3 has an average rating of 4.4 stars out of more than 4,500 reviews. 86% of the reviews rate the product at 4 or 5 stars, which is a testament to the quality of the product. A major pro for the Baracuda is affordability. And despite its price, it still delivers in terms of cleaning ability and compatibility. However, some negative reviews talk about the lack of durability in this product, with some testers needing replacement parts only months after the first use.

Hayward Poolvergnuegen

⭐ Best for Large Pools

Research Score: 4.2 out of 5

  • Mobility: 4
  • Compatibility: 5
  • Cleaning Ability: 5
  • Durability: 4
  • Price: 3

What’s Great:

  • Treadwear markers let you know when a replacement is necessary
  • Adjustable skirt maintains suction even when facing obstacles
  • It can manage debris of all sizes

Limitations & What Needs Improvement:

  • Climbing ability could be improved
  • Less effective than the four-wheel model
  • Suction-side pool cleaner
  • Works on gunite, vinyl, fiberglass, pebble, and tile inground pools
  • 33’ hos
  • Minimum pump size of 1/2 HP or 35 GPM needed

Research Notes

The Hayward Poolvergnuegen pool cleaner is a great vacuum for those that have medium to large pools. It can easily suck up all different sizes of debris, thanks to its 3 interchangeable throats. For this reason, although the manufacturer claims this vacuum works with all pumps with at least ½ HP, a variable speed pump would be ideal.

The adjustable roller skirt also helps the pool cleaner to go over moderate obstacles without taking away from its suction power. It is worth mentioning, however, that this product’s weak point is its ability to climb well. It can still certainly climb, but there are times when it is unable to climb up walls completely.

Mobility

The Hayward Poolvergnuegen comes with robust tire treads that give it the ability to properly clean your entire pool. As an additional plus, the front tires are raised, so that the cleaner can easily maneuver any obstacles and uneven surfaces without many issues. This makes this product a good choice for pools of all shapes and sizes.

Keep in mind that this model does not have the best track record in terms of going up the shallow ends of the pool or walls. The product certainly does have a climbing ability, but it is not the strongest.

Compatibility

The only thing to keep in mind when deciding on this model is to make sure that it is compatible with your pump. But thankfully, the Poolvergnuegen pool cleaner works with most pumps as long as it has a minimum of ½ HP or 35 GPM. Considering this is a rather low standard, you can pretty much assume any pool pump will work.

Cleaning Ability

This product boasts multiple steering sequences for an even cleaning job. In just a few short hours, depending on the size of your pool, this pool cleaner will clean all surfaces of your pool. It can even manage larger and more stubborn debris without any issues.

The only downside of this product’s cleaning ability would be it is inferior to the 4-wheel cleaner, so if you are looking for a product with a better cleaning ability and better mobility, consider an upgrade.

Durability

This pool cleaner holds up very well to bumps and bruises. The high quality of the tires themselves makes the product a durable one. Even after several months of use, this vacuum continues working as well as it does on the first day. However, some other testers have reported parts of this pool cleaner breaking after just a few uses, so it seems the product could do with some quality control to ensure each one sent out is up to par.

Price

For the job that it does, this pool vacuum is reasonably priced. There are certainly cheaper models out there on the market, but the cleaning ability of this product cannot easily be matched. No additional accessories are necessary for this product.

Notes From Other Testers

This Hayward pool cleaner comes highly rated at an average of 4.5 stars. Almost 90% of the reviews from other testers are positive, with many praising the cleaning ability and good suction of the vacuum. However, it lacks in its ability to properly climb walls all the way, and some testers have even noted that the pool cleaner is unable to efficiently work its way up to the shallow ends of the pool.

Polaris Vac-Sweep 280

⭐ Best Pressure Side Cleaner

Research Score: 4.1 out of 5

  • Mobility: 4
  • Compatibility: 3
  • Cleaning Ability: 4
  • Durability: 5
  • Price: 4

What’s Great:

  • Filter bag helps preserve the life of your filtration system
  • Cleans a pool in three hours or less
  • Double jets for better and faster cleaning

Limitations & What Needs Improvement:

  • Requires a booster pump
  • Can get caught up on stairs
  • Flimsy filter bag
  • Pressure-side pool cleaner
  • Works in all inground pools, including vinyl, fiberglass, gunite, pebble, and tile
  • 31’ feed hose
  • Requires a booster pump

Research Notes

The Polaris Vac-Sweep 280 is one of the best pressure-side pool cleaners on the market. It not only does a terrific job simply cleaning and vacuuming the surfaces, but it also does it in under 3 hours. It is a fast-working product that cleans the pool efficiently. The single chamber filter bag is an excellent feature that helps capture larger debris so that it removes this debris before it even reaches the filter itself.

The one catch is that this pool cleaner requires a booster pump in order to operate, so it’s a good option for those that already have one installed. It also is not as effective at cleaning stairs and can often get stuck, though this doesn't seem to be the case for every tester.

Mobility

The Vac-Sweep 280 is a swifty moving machine that can sweep, scrub, and vacuum the floor and walls of your pool. It is very effective for the basic surfaces of the pool, but it is not as competent at cleaning stairs.

Similarly, it has a tendency to get stuck behind ladders as well. On the plus side, when this pool cleaner gets stuck, it does have the ability to back up.

Compatibility

This Polaris pool cleaner is compatible with any pool pump. The catch is that you need to install a booster pump in order to use it. The booster pump is not included with this model, so it must be purchased separately. If you already have one installed, this Vac-Sweep 280 is a great option. But if you don’t, consider if it’s worth going through the trouble of getting one installed for the pool cleaner.

Cleaning Ability

This model rates highly on cleaning ability due to its double jets. They provide better vacuum power and can clean the pool in just 3 hours. It thoroughly cleans the bottom and sides of the pool and makes them spotless. This pool cleaner even has a large 2.25” inlet to pick up larger debris that many other cleaners of this caliber can’t. And maintenance is easy. Once the Vac-Sweep 280 is done cleaning your pool, you simply need to remove the filter bag.

The only issue with this product’s cleaning ability is that it is unable to properly clean stairs as it can often get stuck there. However, it is worth noting that some other testers have found this to not be the case as the backup valve helps free it if it gets stuck.

Durability

Polaris is known for the quality of its pool cleaners. This Vac-Sweep 280 is no different from its other products, featuring the same sturdy construction and high-quality materials. It is considered one of the most lasting products on the market and it comes with a long line of high praise for its construction. True to this, I have found that this model lives up to the hype and can withstand even hard use.

Price

Considering what you get, the Polaris Vac-Sweep 280 is sensibly priced, but the upfront cost is not the only thing you should consider. Unfortunately, replacement parts for this product can be quite pricey. And if you do not have a booster pump already installed, you will need to consider the price to not only buy it but to have it installed if you aren’t able to do it yourself. However, if you already have a booster pump, this is not a bad price at all.

Notes From Other Testers

The customer reviews for this product are overwhelmingly positive, which is a great sign. In fact, out of more than 3,500 reviews on Amazon, it has a rating of 4.5 out of 5 stars. It rates particularly highly for ease of installation, suction power, and value for money. Most testers gush about how much cleaner their pool is after purchasing this Vac-Sweep 280. Negative reviews state that the debris bag that comes with this product is quite flimsy.

XtremepowerUS Automatic Suction Vacuum

⭐ Best Low Cost Pool Vacuum

Research Score: 4.0 out of 5

  • Mobility: 3
  • Compatibility: 4
  • Cleaning Ability: 4
  • Durability: 3
  • Price: 5

What’s Great:

  • Cleans algae, dirt, and dust
  • Easy to troubleshoot
  • Ideal for routine maintenance
  • Affordable

Limitations & What Needs Improvement:

  • Needs a 1 HP or 1,600 GHP pump to work properly
  • Doesn’t clean stairs
  • Can get clogged by larger debris, like leaves
  • Suction-side pool cleaner
  • Suitable for all types of pools—both inground and above-ground
  • 10 hoses included for up to 30’
  • Requires a 1 HP pool pump, minimum

Research Notes

If you are looking for a budget-friendly automatic pool cleaner, look no further. The XtremepowerUS Automatic Suction Vacuum does a great job of cleaning a pool without breaking the bank. Its affordability is one of its main advantages, but it is also worth mentioning that it is a decent machine that is easy to troubleshoot.

As it is not the most powerful vacuum out there, this product is probably best for routine maintenance instead of a proper deep clean. It works best with smaller debris and larger debris like leaves can often clog up the machine. But if you are simply looking for a pool cleaner that will do routine work, this XtremepowerUS product is a great affordable option.

Mobility

The XtremepowerUS Automatic Suction vacuum has a few limitations to its mobility, which is why I rated it a bit lower than the other models. The first major limitation is that the vacuum is not able to clean the stairs of your pool. It also tends to get stuck in one spot and struggles with sharp corners in the pool. When this happens, it will need to be manually nudged to get it moving again. Other than those limitations, the pump does work well and is able to move around the pool fairly easily; it will generally move at a rate of 8-10 feet per minute.

Compatibility

The XtremepowerUS Automatic Suction vacuum is compatible with most pool pumps, but it does require the pump to have at least 1 HP for it to function properly. So if you have a pump that is less than 1 HP, you may want to consider upgrading your pump for better water flow.

Cleaning Ability

I found that the vacuum consistently cleaned around 70 percent of the pool. While it did miss a few spots, it does a thorough job of cleaning the areas it does go past. The vacuum is able to suck up larger and smaller particles, and pool owners should really notice a difference in their water quality.

Unfortunately, this pool cleaner is unable to clean stairs and has issues maneuvering around corners of rectangular pools, so it did miss some surfaces when making the rounds.

Durability

This automatic vacuum rates pretty low in durability. It is an affordable model and the low price shows in the materials it is composed of. The plastic parts may break apart after the first couple years due to their cheaper manufacturing.

My testing did conclude that the hoses clog easily, but it was able to handle cleaning a large pool 3-4 times before I had to unclog the device.

Price

XtremepowerUS markets this vacuum as a budget option, and at only $100 it really is a steal. You cannot really go any cheaper than this without sacrificing the cleaning ability of the product, which is what you are paying for in the end!

Notes From Other Testers

The XtremepowerUS Automatic Suction Vacuum has 3.9 stars out of 5 on Amazon. While not the best-reviewed product, the price makes it one of the most popular pool cleaners out there on the market. It rates particularly highly for easy assembly and decent suction power. This pool cleaner does the job of cleaning a pool fairly well, but many testers complain that the machine often gets clogged and needs to be manually unclogged.

Dolphin Escape Robotic Above Ground Cleaner

⭐ Best Robotic Vacuum for Above Ground Pools

Research Score: 4.6 out of 5

  • Mobility: 4
  • Compatibility: 5
  • Cleaning Ability: 5
  • Durability: 5
  • Price: 4

What’s Great:

  • Works in almost all shapes and types of above ground pools
  • Scanning software to keep it moving around obstacles
  • Easy to use - plug in and play
  • Top load filter for easy access

Limitations & What Needs Improvement:

  • Doesn’t climb walls/clean stairs
  • Doesn’t come with a remote
  • No timer function
  • Robotic pool cleaner
  • Works on gunite, plaster, vinyl, and fiberglass above ground pools
  • Reach of up to 30’ with a 40’ long cable
  • Doesn’t use the pool filter

Research Notes

All in all, the Dolphin Escape Robotic Above Ground Cleaner is a great option for above ground pools of less than 30’. It has state-of-the-art software that is able to map out the pool for optimum cleaning. The hyper grip rubber tracks definitely aid in this respect as well. As long as you don’t mind the lack of a remote control or the inability to clean walls and stairs, this product is a solid option that comes with a decent warranty period as well.

Mobility

Of all of the automatic pool cleaner types, robotic cleaners come near the top in terms of mobility. For this model specifically, it features rubber tracks that help grip the pool bottom and help it to move seamlessly around the pool. It also has a smart scanning software to help your pool cleaner navigate the pool floor and clean efficiently. It can even sense walls, ladders, and drains to avoid obstacles. Due to this built-in software, this Dolphin Escape Robotic Cleaner rates very highly in this section. But keep in mind that this pool is not built to climb walls or stairs, so it will clean your floor only.

Compatibility

Unlike other automatic pool cleaners, this Dolphin Escape robotic vacuum does not need to be connected to the pool’s filter or pump system in order to work. You simply need to drop the vacuum in the pool, plug it in, and turn it on.

Cleaning Ability

This product has a highly-rated cleaning ability. It thoroughly cleans the pool’s bottom and can climb up some sides too. It has Hyperbrush Dual Scrubbing Brushes to clean the pool of any hint of algae and other contaminants. And if you have a lot of trees around your pool, this robotic vacuum will help to clean the fallen leaves up as well.

This product boasts a top-load filter that can hold debris of all sizes. And once this filter is full, all you need to do is open the cleaner and empty it out. This pool cleaner does a fantastic job of doing what it needs to as long as your pool is 30’ or smaller. If you have a pool any larger, this robot may have a harder time properly navigating your pool and may miss a few spots.

Durability

The Dolphin Escape Robotic Above Ground Cleaner passed all the tests in terms of durability. Even reviews from other testers stress how tough this product is. In fact, of the almost 1,000 reviews on Amazon, there are barely any reviews related to a faulty product or a product that breaks after just a few months of use. This is a testament to the quality of this pool cleaner.

Price

Although it is a bit more pricey than other automatic pool cleaner options, for a robotic vacuum, this price is more than fair. One thing to note is that you do need to purchase the ultrafine filter separately.

Notes From Other Testers

There are a couple of things of note that other testers have pointed out regarding this product. First is the cleaning ability. Testers have reported this robotic vacuum cleaning their pool in just a few short hours thanks to its modern technology and extra-large filter. The second is the warranty. This Dolphin pool cleaner comes with a two-year warranty, but many testers stress the importance of buying an extended warranty just in case. And finally, although this pool cleaner is not known to climb walls, some testers have reported that their Dolphin Escape pool cleaner is able to climb their pool walls to some degree.

On the flip side, there are negative reviews about the product regarding the lack of a remote and lack of a timer function.

Zodiac MX6 In-Ground Suction Side Cleaner

⭐ Best for Small Pools

Research Score: 4.2 out of 5

  • Mobility: 4
  • Compatibility: 4
  • Cleaning Ability: 4
  • Durability: 4
  • Price: 5

What’s Great:

  • Can climb walls with the suction setting high enough
  • Works with a range of pump outputs and speeds
  • Energy efficient
  • Easy-grip handle—for easy removal and transport

Limitations & What Needs Improvement:

  • Not ideal for stairs/seats
  • Can’t handle palm fronds or similar type leaves
  • Single directional gear so can’t reverse
  • Suction-side pool cleaner
  • Works on concrete, tile, vinyl, and fiberglass inground pools
  • 32’ twist lock hose
  • Works with 2-speed or variable speed pumps

Research Notes

For small to medium-sized pool owners, the Zodiac MX6 is a great, affordable option for an automatic pool cleaner. It is able to clean pools within a few short hours and is able to even climb walls if you get the water flow and suction settings right.

It may not be the most powerful pool vacuum on the market, but if you are just looking for a product that can handle small particles and contaminants, this may be a great option. This pool cleaner cannot clean stairs, but for small pools, this is probably not a concern anyway.

Mobility

The Zodiac MX6 features what the company calls X-Drive Navigation. This is an intelligent bi-directional navigation that helps the pool cleaner properly clean the pool floor and walls. I have found that this product does a great job at moving across the pool and can navigate most obstacles.

In my testing, I have not found this pool cleaner to get stuck behind the ladder, but other testers have reported this product to often get stuck. Another slight drawback is that this pool cleaner is not able to navigate and clean stairs.

Compatibility

The Baracuda G3 works with any single, two-speed, or variable-speed pump, so whatever pump you already have in your pool should work with this vacuum. This means you won’t need to purchase a second one, which is a huge plus. This product also boasts the ability to work with low-speed or low-horsepower pumps as well. That said, it can take some experimenting to find the pump speed that will work best for the Barracuda.

Cleaning Ability

In just a few short hours, the Zodiac MX6 should get your pool clean again. It provides powerful cyclonic suction to help it not only climb walls but also suck up the dirt laying on your pool floor.

Unfortunately, this product is not as good with larger debris. So, if you happen to have any leaves or palm frond pieces in your pool, they are likely to get stuck in the vacuum.

Durability

This vacuum is a sturdy, well-built unit. It has passed all of the tests I have put it through, and other testers have said that the product is still in use a few years later. As long as you look after it and make sure it doesn’t get larger debris stuck inside, you shouldn’t find too many issues in terms of durability.

Price

For the quality of the product you get, the cost of this pool cleaner is more than fair. It does a good job of cleaning the pool, and while not an overly complicated machine, it can still navigate around a pool pretty well. Looking at the bigger picture, the Zodiac MX6 is an energy-efficient model, so you’ll be able to save some money on running costs.

Notes From Other Testers

Most reviews for this product are positive. The Zodiac MX6 rates 4.2 stars out of 5 on Amazon out of almost 6,000 reviews. Most testers are satisfied with the product - it does a decent job, especially for the price. It has worked well for customers with small to medium-sized pools.

On the other hand, some testers have had trouble getting the water flow right for it to properly climb the walls, but once you figure it out, it shouldn’t be a problem. Another hang-up for some was the fact that this model cannot handle larger debris.

Recap: Best Automatic Pool Cleaners

How They Compare

Cleaning Effectiveness and Price Comparison

Dolphin, Zodiac, and Hayward are all a great bang for your buck when you look at the intersection of cleaning ability and price on the scatterplot chart above.

Mobility Comparison

  1. Zodiac Baracuda G3 - 4
  2. Hayward Poolvergnuegen - 4
  3. Polaris Vac-Sweep 280 - 4
  4. Dolphin Escape Robotic Above Ground Cleaner - 4
  5. Zodiac MX6 In-Ground Suction Side Cleaner - 4
  6. XtremepowerUS Automatic Suction Vacuum - 3

Zodiac performed well with their suction-side cleaner. Overall though, my top picks are pretty even on mobility. I'm testing more models to see if I can find the most mobile cleaners out there.

Durability Comparison

  1. Polaris Vac-Sweep 280 - 5
  2. Dolphin Escape Robotic Above Ground Cleaner - 5
  3. Zodiac Baracuda G3 - 4
  4. Hayward Poolvergnuegen - 4
  5. Zodiac MX6 In-Ground Suction Side Cleaner - 4
  6. XtremepowerUS Automatic Suction Vacuum - 3

Dolphin and Polaris stood out from the pack for durability. XtremepowerUS struggled; I'm not surprised though since it is a budget option.

Other Automatic Pool Cleaners Researched

  • Dolphin Nautilus - I am still testing this one and hopeful it can come out on top for inground pools.
  • POOLWHALE Portable Pool Vacuum - Just a cheap, unusable product in my opinion.
  • Dolphin Premier Robotic Pool Cleaner - Still testing this one as well.
  • Poolmaster Big Sucker Swimming Pool Leaf Vacuum - Another cheap product that isn't worth the hassle. You're better off spending a few more dollars to get the XtremepowerUS cleaner that I mentioned.
  • Pentair Kreepy Krauly Great White Inground Pool Cleaner - I'm currently testing this for inground pools, but so far Dolphin is beating it.
  • Polaris VRX iQ+ Robotic Pool Cleaner - This model is too expensive for it's cleaning ability.
  • PAXCESS Cordless Robotic Pool Cleaner - This cheap pool cleaner was a hassle to deal with and didn't perform well.

My Research Criteria

How can you choose the best robotic pool cleaner? Here are my research criteria and what you should look for as well.

All of these factors went into my overall weighted rating for each pool cleaner which broke down into the following categories: Mobility, compatibility, cleaning ability, durability, and price.

First, Know Your Options

There are four main types of pool cleaners:

I have recommendations all of them above (except for manual), but it’s important to know the differences between each one, because they vary in terms of benefits and price. Read my full guide on comparing the types of pool vacuums here.

Climbing (and Stair Cleaning) Ability

Depending on the type of pool you have – whether inground or above-ground – you may want a pool vacuum that can climb stairs or walls. Many models claim to handle the flat ground and vertical surfaces equally well. However, you should read carefully to determine whether climbing walls and cleaning stairs are part of the manufacturer’s recommended usage.

Some vacuum cleaners are for flat surfaces only, while others specialize in wall-climbing. Still, you may need a higher-powered pool pump to facilitate the wall-climbing of some vacuums.

Robotic pool cleaners are going to be your best bet here. Pressure-side and suction-side cleaners are less effective at getting around uneven surfaces like stairs.

Mobility accounted for 20% of my overall score for each model.

Track or Wheel Layout

You can find pool cleaners with all types of mobility configurations. Some have wheels, others have tracks like a tank, and still others have disc-shaped scrubbers that adhere to the pool bottom. When selecting a configuration, you should consider the size and layout of your pool, the materials in it, and the presence of stairs or other obstacles.

Vacuums that stay connected to the pool floor or wall with suction can run into problems when they hit drains or ladders, for example. In contrast, robotic pool cleaners with wheels may not be as effective at sucking up debris as machines that stick close to the floor and walls.

When it comes to wheels, I recommend looking for cleaners with rubber wheels, not plastic. The rubber will stick better to your pool surface and be able to navigate around the pool a bit easier. Also look for wide tires – the wider the better, which will give you better traction.

Reach and Pool Size

Most manufacturers of pool cleaners specify a size range for their units. While you may be able to use a cleaner with a 30-foot pool compatibility rating in a 40-foot pool, you can’t always expect optimal performance.

On the same note, some manufacturers specify a range of pool sizes because of the hose lengths they include. Many pool owners have hoses already, so adding an extra length isn’t a problem. But if a vacuum uses programming software to get around, it could wind up going in circles in a pool that’s much larger than what the manufacturer outlines. Speaking of going in circles, a handy feature on good pool cleaners these days is deflecting sensors which can detect where walls and obstructions are and get around them easily.

Plus, the more hose you link together, the higher the odds your vacuum will wind up with tangles. If you don’t want to have to babysit your cleaner, you’ll need to give it just the right amount of hose length. Also make sure to look for cleaners with a swivel cord which can help prevent tangles.

Pump Compatibility

When you hook up a pool cleaner, you’re attaching it to your pool’s pump. The suction of the pump tubing is what sucks debris into the vacuum. Therefore, your pool pump’s horsepower and gallon-per-minute rate can affect the cleaning ability of your vacuum.

Use your pump’s rating to weed out incompatible vacuum cleaning tools. Or, consider an additional pump to power your vacuum cleaning device.

Compatibility accounted for 15% of my overall score.

Surface Suitability

While some pool cleaners can handle all surface types, others work better with a narrower spread of materials. In some cases, pumps are ideal for gunite or plaster but don’t work so well on vinyl surfaces, such as above-ground or quick-set pools.

Read the manufacturers’ recommendations to see what the best fit is for your pool. Keep in mind that most pool cleaners use even suction for effective vacuuming, so an uneven surface like pebbles or tile might be challenging to clean thoroughly.

Cleaning Ability

Obviously, your pool cleaner should be effective at picking up debris. Mobility, climbing ability, and other factors certainly come into play here, but I also took at look at the effectiveness of the brushes (rotating rubber brushes and hard bristle brushes are the best), suction power, and how much dirt and debris it can hold.

Cleaning ability accounted for 25% of my weighted score for each model.

Durability

Longevity is really important when you’re making a big decision like a critical piece of equipment for your swimming pool. To assess durability, I put each pool cleaner through a series of tests to see how it held up to some bumps and bruises. High quality brushes are also a key consideration here – are they going to hold up to repeated cleanings or fall out after just a few uses? I also looked at customer return rates, warranty claims, and other data to see which ones break down the most.

Durability accounted for 20% of my overall score.

Lifetime and Accessory Costs

The lifetime price of the pool cleaner and the features and accessories that come with it made up 20% of my overall score.

Most cleaners are compatible with a range of pool pumps and attachment types. Therefore, the odds are low that you’ll be unable to find the right accessories to get your cleaner to work. Still, many companies offer accessories for their vacuums, such as leaf bags or pH testers, that connect to the pump tubing.

When looking at the cost of your pool cleaning tools, you should factor in the replacement cost for parts plus accessories. Many units require filter changes, tread replacement, and other routine upkeep. Some accessories can help you cut down on lifetime costs too, like a programmable timer that you can set to only run the pool cleaner when you need to which can help you save on energy costs if you choose an energy efficient model. Most pool cleaners are going to consume around 200 watts per hour, so try to avoid models that are up closer to 1,000 watts per hour. Just don’t forget about your pool cleaner completely remember to clean it every once in a while too.

Instead of looking at the up-front price of the unit, consider the long-term or lifetime costs, and make your purchasing decision accordingly. At the same time, you can compare that amount to the investment you’re currently making in cleaning your pool by hand.

You might be paying someone to maintain and clean your pool, when it’s cheaper to purchase a robotic cleaner to handle the job for you.

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