The 5 Best Pool Skimmers For Every Type of Pool

If you want a quick answer, it's hard to beat the Hayward Dyna-Skim for above ground pools. I have more details on that product and others for above ground and inground pools below.

Keeping your swimming pool clean is nothing to take lightly. After all, swimming with algae, debris, and who knows what else can cause significant health problems. Plus, it’s gross – which is why every pool owner needs a skimmer. In this article, I’ll share my detailed analysis of the best pool skimmers plus the criteria I used to determine the top options.

Best Pool Skimmers for Residential Pools

Here are my top picks for the best pool skimmers on the market for a number of different types and sizes of pools.


Hayward SP1091LX Dyna-Skim Above-Ground Pool Skimmer

⭐ Best Above Ground Skimmer

Research Score: 4.7 out of 5

  • Performance: 5
  • Debris Capacity: 5
  • Compatibility: 3
  • Price: 5

What’s Great:

  • Compatible with any above ground pool
  • Easily accessible debris basket
  • Large debris basket makes cleanup easy

Limitations & What Needs Improvement:

  • Installation can be difficult
  • Lack of instructions
  • Thru-wall pool skimmer
  • For above ground pools
  • Removes debris of all sizes
  • Attaches to the pool wall

Research Notes

Hayward’s Dyna-Skim skimmer is a go-to for many above ground pool owners. Installing this seemingly simple addition to the pool cuts down on the mundane, everyday task of manually skimming the pool with a net. The Dyna-Skim sucks in debris of all sizes and makes sure your pool is clean and sparkling throughout the pool season. And all of this for a budget-friendly price!

The challenge with the Dyna-Skim comes with the installation. In order to install this thru-wall skimmer, you have to cut a hole in the side of the pool liner. You need to cut carefully and slowly in order to fit the skimmer into your pool without any gaps. Unfortunately, Hayward does not provide its customers with any detailed instructions for installation. However, once this skimmer is installed, you can enjoy its results for years to come.

Performance

Hayward’s Dyna-Skim sucks in the surface water in order to trap any floating debris and clean your pool water. It is a thru-wall pool skimmer that attaches to the side of an above ground pool. Installation can be a bit confusing, but once this skimmer is installed, all you need to do to maintain it is empty the skimmer basket when full. The debris collection basket is easily accessible through the top and the front. The Dyna-Skim shows how powerful it is by sucking in pretty much everything off of the surface of the pool. On top of that, this thru-wall skimmer is made of heavy-duty UV-resistant ABS construction, making this skimmer incredibly durable and long-lasting too.

Debris Capacity

The Dyna-Skim features a large-capacity debris basket that can hold debris of all shapes and sizes. Many other testers even claim that there is no more need to use a manual skimmer like a skimmer net once the Dyna-Skim is installed. Whenever the debris basket is full, simply empty it and start anew!

Compatibility

The Hayward Dyna-Skim is a thru-wall skimmer compatible with above ground pools only. Although some testers have reportedly used this pool skimmer with inground pools with varying degrees of success, I highly recommend looking elsewhere if you are looking for a good pool skimmer for your inground pool.

Price

The Dyna-Skim is a steal. No matter how you look at it, it’s definitely a great value for money. On top of the very reasonable price, this pool skimmer easily removes all floating debris from your pool - everything from leaves to dead bugs.

Notes From Other Testers

Hayward’s Dyna-Skim is one of the most popular above ground pool skimmers on the market. Out of almost 7,500 reviews, the Dyna-Skim boasts a rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars, which is quite impressive. It rates particularly highly for sturdiness, durability, and suction power. Most testers are happy with the results of this skimmer and its ability to suck in debris of all sizes. It really makes a difference for most pool owners.

However, less DIY-savvy testers have had trouble installing the Dyna-Skim in their pools in the first place. The instructions that come with the product can be lacking.

PoolSkim Pool Skimmer and Pool Cleaner

⭐ Best Skimmer and Cleaner

Research Score: 4.45 out of 5

  • Performance: 4
  • Debris Capacity: 5
  • Compatibility: 4
  • Price: 5

What’s Great:

  • Installs quickly and easily
  • No cutting/drilling into the pool walls
  • Blocks large debris from your filtration system

Limitations & What Needs Improvement:

  • Not compatible with Intex pools
  • Sticks out from the side into the pool
  • The Mesh bag has a couple of faults
  • Thru-wall pool skimmer
  • For both inground and above ground pools
  • Removes debris of all sizes
  • Attaches to intake/outlet connectors

Research Notes

The PoolSkim pool skimmer uses a mesh clip-on bag to trap debris as opposed to a more traditional debris basket. The floating hat pulls in the surface water and debris while the bag catches everything before any debris enters your filtration system. By simply installing this PoolSkim, you can extend the life of your pool’s filtration system by reducing stress on it. This pool skimmer is easy to install and easy to use.

However, the PoolSkim does stick out quite a lot from the side of the pool, so it’s not the prettiest design. If you have a smaller pool, it may be worth looking for a more streamlined pool skimmer. This pool skimmer also has a couple of design faults with the clip-on mesh bag, but these faults can easily be remedied with a couple of rocks and a pool sock.

Performance

The PoolSkim is an award-winning pool skimmer that uses a mesh clip-on bag instead of a debris basket. This pool skimmer attaches to the return jet and creates a little whirlpool that draws in the surface water and the floating debris. It can catch debris of all sizes - including pollen. However, smaller debris unfortunately has a tendency to go through the included bag, so buy a pool sock to go over the bag to fix this problem.

This pool skimmer is easy to install and use. The floating hat even self-adjusts to water level, which helps its performance. And when the clip-on bag is getting full, simply take it off, empty it, and clip it back on. Easy as that!

Debris Capacity

This pool skimmer can skim all kinds of debris from your pool surface. With the PoolSkim, you won’t have to worry about having to manually skim the water to keep your water clean. With this addition to your pool, skimming your pool will be basically automated. The large mesh clip-on bag can hold a large amount of debris. And once that’s full, cleaning up is super easy.

Compatibility

The PoolSkim is compatible with both inground and above ground pools. This pool skimmer can even fit concrete and fiberglass pools. However, despite their wide range of compatibility, the PoolSkim is not compatible with Intex pools. So, if you have an Intex pool, you’ll have to look elsewhere for your pool skimmer.

Price

The PoolSkim is not the cheapest pool skimmer on the market, but it certainly is a great value. The simple but effective engineering of this product, in addition to its high-performing ability to suck in debris, makes this product more than worth the price. In the amount of time you get back from manually skimming the pool daily, the PoolSkim will make your purchase worth it.

Notes From Other Testers

The PoolSkim rates highly at 4.4 stars out of 5 from almost 1,000 reviews. The innovative design has the testers raving about this product. This pool skimmer rates particularly highly for suction power, value for money, and easy installation. However, despite all of the raving reviews, there are a couple of things you will need to keep in mind. In order for the PoolSkim to work at its best, you will need to buy pool socks to put over the mesh clip-on bag and place a couple of rocks in the bottom to keep the bag from floating up.

SkimmerMotion Suction Floating Skimmer

⭐ Best Floating Skimmer

Research Score: 4.0 out of 5

  • Performance: 4
  • Debris Capacity: 4
  • Compatibility: 4
  • Price: 4

What’s Great:

  • Uses vacuum ‘power’ to clean
  • The adapter included for the Zodiac Barracuda
  • Ensures full pool coverage since it follows the vacuum

Limitations & What Needs Improvement:

  • Requires a pool pump of 1 HP or greater
  • Not compatible with electric or pressure pool cleaners
  • Floating vacuum-compatible pool skimmer
  • For pools up to eight feet deep
  • Removes up to medium-sized debris (no bigger than 1 inch)
  • Attaches to bottom vacuum cleaner

Research Notes

The SkimmerMotion suction floating pool skimmer is a great option for bottom vacuum cleaner owners. This pool skimmer attaches seamlessly to the vacuum and sucks up any small particles or debris while your vacuum cleans the bottom of the pool. The SkimmerMotion uses a whirlpool motion to attract all the debris and make sure everything is caught before it gets mixed in the water. This pool skimmer only works with smaller debris, so it won’t work if your pool is in a leafy area.

There are some limitations to the SkimmerMotion when it comes to compatibility as it won’t work with electric or pressure pool cleaners. But as long as you have the correct pool pump and pool vacuum, the SkimmerMotion does a great job at cleaning the surface pool water.

Performance

The SkimmerMotion pool skimmer removes the small debris in your pool before they reach the bottom of your pool, keeping your pool crystal clear. This floating skimmer attaches to any bottom vacuum cleaner. This way, you can clean both the bottom of your pool and the top of your pool water simultaneously! This pool skimmer generates a whirlpool suction to get rid of all surface particles and debris.

As a plus, the SkimmerMotion is easy to install and use - simply plug it into your bottom vacuum cleaner and increase the suction! However, with all that said, suction power is a bit lacking with this pool skimmer.

Debris Capacity

The SkimmerMotion is not built for big debris like leaves or twigs. If you have issues with leaves entering your pool water, I recommend looking elsewhere or to supplement this pool skimmer with a manual pool skimmer net. If you are looking for a pool skimmer to take care of all the smaller debris and particles that land in your pool water, the SkimmerMotion is a great option. The actual capacity of how much dirt this pool skimmer can hold will depend on the capacity of your pool vacuum.

Compatibility

This pool skimmer requires a bottom vacuum and a pool pump greater than 1 HP in order to function. Simply attach the SkimmerMotion to your running bottom vacuum and you’ll be good to go. SkimmerMotion does not work with electric or pressure pool cleaners. If you do not have the correct pool vacuum type, unfortunately, this pool skimmer will not work.

Price

The SkimmerMotion is priced very reasonably. Although there are certainly other pool skimmers on the market for cheaper, this pool skimmer is a one-of-a-kind patented design. The skimmer itself does a decent job of cleaning the pool, making the price worth it.

Notes From Other Testers

SkimmerMotion has almost 1,000 reviews and an average of 3.8 stars, with almost 70% of the reviews rating it 4 or 5 stars. Although the pool skimmer certainly does the job of skimming the surface of the pool, the general consensus is that the SkimmerMotion takes a bit of tinkering to get it to work perfectly. It doesn’t clean as fast as some other pool skimmers, but it is definitely worth it for most testers.

Instapark Betta Automatic Robotic Pool Cleaner

⭐ Best Robotic Skimmer

Research Score: 4.7 out of 5

  • Performance: 5
  • Debris Capacity: 5
  • Compatibility: 5
  • Price: 4

What’s Great:

  • Solar powered
  • Ultrasonic radar sensors to detect debris
  • Remote control for spot cleaning, if needed
  • Large easy clean debris basket

Limitations & What Needs Improvement:

  • Expensive
  • Issues with defective models breaking down after a few months
  • Solar pool skimmer
  • For both above ground and inground pools
  • Removes debris of all sizes
  • No cable connection

Research Notes

The Betta robotic pool skimmer is a great, solar-powered device that can skim across your pool water and clear it of debris. Using its ultrasonic radar sensors, this pool skimmer can detect debris across the pool to ensure spotless cleaning. The large easy clean debris basket comes with a handle, allowing for better and easier access. Although quite highly priced, for many, the Betta is worth the money. However, since this is a solar powered pool skimmer, make sure you purchase this only if you live in a sunny area. If you live in a cloudy area with not much sun, this pool skimmer won’t be able to recharge itself as needed.

Performance

The Betta is a solar powered pool skimmer with a smart auto-cleaning system that can clear your pool of all floating debris - from leaves to pollen. As this pool skimmer is cordless, it allows for more movement around the pool. While the ultrasonic radar sensors can detect debris in the pool, you can also use a wireless remote control to control where the Betta goes. The UV-resistant body ensures that this pool skimmer will last years - even with sun exposure. As this robotic skimmer is completely autonomous, you can simply plop it in the pool and it will even look for the sun to charge itself when it’s low on battery.

Debris Capacity

This pool cleaner features a large easy clean debris basket. The fine mesh filter does a great job at catching even the smallest debris. The debris capacity of this pool skimmer is quite large. And once it’s full, all you need to do is lift the debris basket from the pool and empty it - no need to take the Betta out of the pool.

Compatibility

The Betta pool skimmer is compatible with both inground and above ground pools and is a great option for all kinds of pool owners. As it is cordless, it doesn’t require any kind of connection with your pool pump or vacuum.

Price

As a robotic pool skimmer, it’s no surprise that the Betta is quite highly-priced compared to non-robotic models. But despite the high price, this pool skimmer does a great job of significantly saving the time you would spend cleaning the pool. So, in a way, the price offsets itself by giving you more time and energy than you would otherwise spend skimming and cleaning the pool. Despite the high cost, most other testers are satisfied with the quality of the machine.

Notes From Other Testers

The Betta has a 4.1 star rating out of 5 from almost 1,000 reviews. Testers especially like that this pool skimmer is easy to clean, easy to use, and its suction power. The top-mounted filter basket is a big point of praise as well. The Betta easily skims across the pool water to suck up all debris. It’s a worthwhile purchase for almost 80% of testers that rate it 4 or 5 stars. On the flip side, some other testers have had issues with the product breaking within the first few months. Make sure you get a good warranty with purchase.

HydroTools by Swimline Wide Mouth ABS Thru-Wall Pool Skimmer

⭐ Best Wide Mouth Skimmer

Research Score: 4.65 out of 5

  • Performance: 4.5
  • Debris Capacity: 4
  • Compatibility: 5
  • Price: 5

What’s Great:

  • Complete kit with fittings and hardware
  • Super wide mouth
  • Debris basket locks in place

Limitations & What Needs Improvement:

  • Installation varies based on pool type and material
  • Fragile debris basket with no handle
  • Thru-wall skimmer
  • For above ground pools
  • Removes debris of all sizes
  • Attaches to the return jet

Research Notes

The HydroTools thru-wall skimmer can effectively clean your pool of floating debris, leaves, and other organic materials. This pool skimmer comes with all of the necessary fittings and hardware to ensure easy installation. The debris basket also locks in place so that it doesn’t float. It’s no wonder that the HydroTools is a popular choice of pool skimmer for above ground pool owners.

Installation for the HydroTools can be a bit of an issue, as installation will differ depending on the type of pool you have. So, if you have any concerns, consider hiring a professional to install this budget-friendly pool skimmer for you.

Performance

The HydroTools is a thru-wall skimmer that can clear your pool of floating debris of all shapes and sizes. It has a wide mouth, which allows more debris to be pulled inside. Installation can be difficult, but as this product comes with all of the necessary fittings, it is a lot more intuitive than many other thru-wall pool skimmers.

As a plus, this pool skimmer is UV resistant and durable, so it’ll last you years. The debris basket locks in place but can be difficult to clean due to a lack of a handle. When it comes to suction power, this product rates pretty highly, with testers rating it an average of 4.5 out of 5.

Debris Capacity

The debris basket for the HydroTools pool skimmer does a great job of staying in place. As it locks in place, there is no need to worry about the basket floating around. However, since the debris basket is quite fragile, I would recommend using a filter sock to stop all of the debris from getting sucked in to clog up the filter itself.

Compatibility

The HydroTools pool skimmer is the perfect accessory for any above ground pool. It is compatible even with Intex pools. The installation process can differ depending on what kind of above ground pool you have, but once this pool skimmer is installed, it should work perfectly with your return jet.

Price

Don’t let the cheap price fool you. The HydroTools is a great above ground pool skimmer that can clean your pool water and filter out the debris so that you can enjoy a crystal clear pool. At this price, the HydroTools also comes with all of the necessary fittings and accessories for assembly.

Notes From Other Testers

The HydroTools pool skimmer is a popular option for above ground pools for a reason. It rates highly at 4.6 out of 5 stars from almost 2,000 reviews. In fact, 91% of these testers give this product 4 or 5 stars. The HydroTools rates particularly highly for suction power, value for money, and sturdiness. Unfortunately, some testers have had issues with this pool skimmer leaking. To avoid this, make sure you install the HydroTools correctly.

Recap: Best Pool Skimmers

How They Compare

Performance and Price Comparison

I created a scatterplot showing price and performance of all my top picks to show which ones win on value. As you can see, most of my top picks are in the upper-right corner - a very good value for your dollar. Hayward, Instapark, and Swimline are all great value picks.

Debris Capacity Comparison

  1. Hayward SP1091LX Dyna-Skim Above-Ground Pool Skimmer: 5
  2. PoolSkim Pool Skimmer and Pool Cleaner: 5
  3. Instapark Betta Automatic Robotic Pool Cleaner: 5
  4. SkimmerMotion Suction Floating Skimmer: 4
  5. HydroTools by Swimline Wide Mouth ABS Thru-Wall Pool Skimmer: 4

Most of my top picks have ample debris capacity. Hayward, PoolSkim, and Instapark really shined in this department.

Compatibility Comparison

  1. Instapark Betta Automatic Robotic Pool Cleaner: 5
  2. HydroTools by Swimline Wide Mouth ABS Thru-Wall Pool Skimmer: 5
  3. PoolSkim Pool Skimmer and Pool Cleaner: 4
  4. SkimmerMotion Suction Floating Skimmer: 4
  5. Hayward SP1091LX Dyna-Skim Above-Ground Pool Skimmer: 3

Instapark and HydroTools come out on top of the competition for compatibility. Hayward struggled in this area because of its lack of compatibility with some inground pools.

Other Pool Skimmers Researched

  • Intex Deluxe Wall Mount Pool Surface Skimmer - A lot of swimming pool owners have Intex pools, but I think some of my above ground skimmer options are a better value.
  • Bestway Above-Ground Pool Skimmer - Same situation here; I think PoolSkim is much better.
  • Solar Breeze Ariel - This skimmer is a robotic model that didn't perform as well as the Instapark skimmer in my testing.
  • Dunnrite Hydro-Net Pool-Skimmer - I didn't love the remote control aspect of this pool skimmer. You're better off with a robotic option.
  • SkimDoctor 2.0 - The basket costs extra and it has really poor debris capacity.
  • Gator AutoSkim - This model is easy to install, but that's about the only positive thing I have to say about it. Performance is very poor.

My Research Criteria

Here are the specific criteria I used to determine which pool skimmers are the best for each scenario. Keep these things in mind when shopping for a skimmer for your pool.

Performance

You want a pool skimmer that actually works. After all, the reason for a pool skimmer is for it to skim your pool of leaves and other debris. Suction power makes a huge difference here - the better the suction power, the better the skimmer will perform.

However, to look at performance as a whole, I needed to also consider how easy the skimmer is to use. Is the skimmer basket easy to take out and empty? Does the skimmer help make cleaning easier?

And finally, durability came into consideration as well. If the product breaks after just a couple of months of use, it basically renders it useless. So, I made sure to conduct proper research to ensure the best pool skimmers are durable and at least come with a decent warranty to protect them from any manufacturing issues as well.

Overall performance makes up a large percentage of the product scores at 40%.

Debris Capacity

Are you hoping to catch tiny bugs in your skimmer? Do you have piles of leaves decaying in your pool every season? Or perhaps you need to filter out soil or pollen before you take a dip.

I took these needs into consideration when sourcing the best pool skimmers, so my list features a range of functions that can help with multiple aspects of pool cleaning. For example, some skimmers focus on suction force to pull in small bugs and pollen. Others feature large baskets or trays to contain leaves and larger debris (related: my top picks for the best pool skimmer baskets).

Think about the most common ‘stuff’ that winds up in your pool and choose the skimmer that is large enough to remove that debris.

Debris capacity makes up 15% of the overall score.

Compatibility

If you’re a new pool owner, you might wonder what all the fuss is over skimmers. But the type of pool you have is significant when it comes to fitting a skimmer properly (and without leaks). The most common types of skimmers are:

  • Thru-wall
  • Floating
  • Vacuum-compatible
  • Solar

Read carefully to see which skimmer is likely to work with your pool. Some have specific requirements – such as compatibility with a certain brand of vacuum – while others are versatile for a range of installations.

For example, some skimmers are incompatible with inground pools, since they attach through the pool wall (thru-wall skimmers). Other skimmers connect via pool hoses, which can work for either an in- or above-ground setup.

Compatibility accounted for 15% of each product’s score.

Price

While investing a lot of cash in your pool can ensure that it operates flawlessly year after year, many shoppers have different priorities.

If you have an above-ground pool, for example, spending a lot on a solar-powered skimmer might not make much sense. However, if you have an inground pool that continually has leaves dropping into it, a solar skimmer could be the time-saving solution you need.

Think about how much time you currently spend manually skimming your pool. If it amounts to a few hours per week or even per day, you may save time and money by investing in a high-quality skimming product.

Even replacing a damaged or outdated skimmer basket or replacing a weir door can help make your swimming and recreational experience better. After all, no one wants to swim in a pool with bugs, grass, hair, and other bits of stuff in it.

Consider the value that a skimmer can provide, and balance that with the up-front cost of the device. You will likely find that it’s worth buying a skimmer to preserve your enjoyment of your pool for years to come.

Price makes up 15% of the product scores.

What Else To Consider

Here are some other things you should keep in mind when choosing the best pool skimmer for your pool.

Power Source

Some skimmers rely on the movement of the water alone to attract bugs, dirt, and other debris, such as thru-wall options. But there are powered options available.

Solar-powered skimmers move independently to chase after leaves, bugs, hair, and more. Vacuum-powered skimmers follow along with your pool vacuum as it completes its cleaning cycle.

Other skimmer types include those that work through your pool’s pump via the input and output connections. These utilize suction to attract the debris and trap it in filters or bags until you can empty them and start again.

Additional Features

It’s understandable that many consumers want dual-function products. After all, why purchase two or more devices when one can successfully do the job? Therefore, one of my research criteria was extra features that make cleaning your pool simpler.

A skimmer plus cleaner can provide advantages over a skimmer-only style product. Skimmers with add-ons like chemical trays can help you balance your pool’s chemical makeup and pH without fussing with another device, for example.

And, a skimmer that connects to your pool’s vacuum doesn’t need any extra power source or supervision, making it easier to use and therefore more effective.

Have more maintenance questions? Read my full guide on swimming pool maintenance 101.

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