Selecting a Pool Cleaner
Above Ground or In Ground? Cleaners made for inground pools have longer hoses or cords, and most have the ability and power to climb sloped walls. Above ground cleaners are designed for flat bottom pools, and operate with smaller pool pumps, with shorter hoses for smaller pools. Other than that, the technology and types of pool cleaners are generally the same.
Suction Cleaners: Connected to the skimmer or dedicated vacuum line, they are powered by suction from your filter pump, and vacuum debris into the pump basket. With a Skim-Vac plate accessory, it can vacuum into the larger and easier to clean skimmer basket, or for heavy debris, use the much larger in-line strainer. Most suction cleaners require at least a ¾ hp pump, and work best with a 1 or 1.5 hp.
PRO: Cheap to buy, easy to install, inexpensive to repair.
CON: Brings debris/dirt into the pump/filter, may clog easily, no skimming while cleaning.
Pressure Cleaners: Low-flow pressure cleaners like the Polaris 360 or Polaris 165 (inground) and 65 (above ground) connect to a wall return fitting and operate by pressure from your filter pump. Hi-Flo pressure cleaners (inground pools) use a booster pump on a timeclock, and a dedicated cleaner line, for a truly automatic and independent system that captures debris in its own bag.
PRO: Independent of the filter system, turns itself on/off daily, most effective cleaning.
CON: Expensive to buy, complicated to install, energy costs to operate booster pump.
Robotic Cleaners: Operate by low voltage power from a pool-side power box, plugged into a GFCI outlet near the pool. A floating cord powers a drive motor and vacuum motor, to move around the pool and vacuum debris into an onboard filter bag or cartridge. Completely independent from the filter system, robot cleaners have fast and complete coverage and programmable cleaning cycles.
PRO: Independent of the filter system, filters water as it cleans, plug and play installation.
CON: Some models can be expensive to buy, and costly and complicated to repair.
Other Tips on Pool Cleaner Selection:
- If you have a dedicated cleaner line (suction or vacuum), use it!
- Pressure cleaners are best for heavy debris with very large leaves and twigs.
- The best new pool cleaner may be a replacement of the previous one.
- A more expensive cleaner tends to perform better and more conveniently.
- A more expensive cleaner may also have repairs that are more expensive.
- New pool cleaners often require tweaks or adjustments to work properly.
- All pool cleaners need regular maintenance and replacement of worn parts.
- Some have difficulty with uneven surfaces, sharp slopes or obstructions.