A pool cleaner helps keep the surface of your pool sparkling clean.
The biggest and most definitive factor you could consider when shopping for a pool cleaner is its type.
The Two Types Of Manufactured Home Above Ground Pool Cleaners
There are two types of vacuum cleaners for pools –
- and manual cleaners.
1. Automatic Vacuum
Automatic pool cleaners are a perfect maintenance shortcut if you dislike cleaning your pool now and then.
Usually equipped with an energy-efficient motor, this class of vacuum cleaners removes both moderately-sized and small debris from your pool without your supervision.
They also don’t require booster pumps or hooking in the filtration system of the pool.
If you select the right automatic cleaner—that is, a product that works for your needs—you will never need to purchase a manual vacuum.
It’s going to depend on the quality of the product, though. If, for example, you choose to go with a cheap, less efficient automatic cleaner, you will also need a manual vacuum to supplement it.
It goes without mentioning that manual vacuums provide a much better cleaning solution than washing your pool with bare hands.
Not only is it more hygienic, but also ensures faster cleaning compared to your bare hands.
Manual vacuums will require manual labor to operate. Using one of them is very much like pushing a regular vacuum cleaner around the house.
The biggest problem is that manual pool vacuums are much slower compared to their automatic counterparts.
Pricewise, however, the manual option turns out to be the most affordable option of the two.
There are 3 types of automatic vacuums for pools –
- pressure side
- suction side
- and robotic cleaners.
Which one is the best for your pool? The short answer – everything depends on your individual situation. It will also boil down to the specific features you are looking for, the current setup of your pool, and the amount of money you have ready to splash on the product now and in the future.
Pressure Side Pool Vacuums
Just before you get tired with subcategories, there are 2 types, again, of pressure side vacuums,
- one will require a booster pump to work,
- while the other type runs strictly off the main circulation pump.
Virtually every established pool vacuum cleaner manufacturer out there has a model or two of this class in the market.
Still, the most recognizable brands in this category are Pentair and Polaris.
Hayward recently added a new product to the market, the Trivac.
Another company referred to as Red Leopard is behind the Mercury line of products.
If you would like entry-level pressure side cleaners, you need to check with Polaris – the brand offers a wide range of these machines best suited for starters.
The standard warranty on a pressure side vacuum is 1 year but can be slightly more in some cases.
- Virtually all types of cleaners need to be removed from the pool after some time. They also need to be rinsed periodically to remove all the chemical water that could tarnish the surface. The problem is that most people don’t adhere to these steps and negligently leave them lying in the pool the whole time. Well, with a pressure side vacuum, you almost don’t need to worry about all that. As long as you empty the bag after every cleaning exercise, you can leave it in there, and almost nothing will happen.
- Pressure side vacuum parts are less costly if you are thinking of maintenance and repairs. And if you take good care of your machine and get parts repaired when required, the upkeep becomes fairly inexpensive. However, if you let faulty parts go unattended, the problem will build up into a major issue and lead to costly repairs.
- Replacement parts are generally easier to find.
- Some manufacturers will offer extended warranties and large rebates.
- The cost of acquiring a pressure side vacuum is usually less expensive than other types such as robotic cleaners. (however, when you add the cost of running a pressure pump, they start to level up with the cost of a robotic cleaner).
- Most of the pressure side cleaners you will find in the store require the assistance of a standalone booster pump to function, something that will add a load to your monthly power consumption.
- When your machine requires a standalone booster pump to run, you will need to consider the cost of acquiring the booster pump if you don’t have it, and it isn’t cheap.
- Additionally, a separate relay or time clock needs to be added to the system, which only adds to a long list of things that could go wrong.
- There are pressure side cleaners designed to work without the main circulation pump’s support, i.e., they don’t require a standalone booster pump. These machines take huge quantities of water to work. The dark side of this is that it takes a bit of valuable circulation from the filtration system, which is supposed to keep your pool crystal clear.
- Most pool cleaners aren’t designed or even meant to stay forever in the pool. However, pressure-side cleaners run on a predetermined schedule every day, so there’s no need to remove them from the pool, right? However, leaving this type of cleaner in your pool 24/7 will increase exposure to harsh or corrosive chemicals often used in pool waters, such as shock or chlorine, no matter how well protected it is. Over time, the paint starts to wear off, or you end up with broken parts.
- With pressure side cleaners, you have more “wear items” to care for, meaning you will have to do tune-ups/maintenance quite often to keep the machine functional. Such things as wear rings (located on the tail), tail scrubs, tires, and bearings, will need periodical replacement.
- Pressure side cleaners won’t use pressure to clean your pool’s surface but will apply the suction mechanism instead. They aren’t even “scrubbing” the walls of your pool.
- Most of the time, these cleaners won’t climb the whole wall up. They won’t even get to the tile line most of the time.
Suction Side Cleaners
Suction side cleaners seem to be “old school” setups, even though some pool builders are still installing them.
Pentair, Hayward, and Zodiac all have different models of suction cleaners in the market. These cleaners utilize the separate circulation pump’s suction to “slurp” the debris from the pool’s floor.
- Suction cleaners sit very close to the pool’s surface and do a great job of keeping the pool’s floor clean as well.
- They aren’t as costly as robotic cleaners and are even less expensive than pressure side cleaners, although you will still bump into a few exorbitantly priced models.
- These cleaners are designed to operate from the main circulation pump’s suction, meaning they don’t need additional equipment. This also means there will be no real jump in your household power consumption.
- Suction cleaners are quite easy to repair. Their parts can also be obtained at a fairly low price compared to other cleaners.
- These cleaners are designed to use the suction produced by the main circulation pump. This means that it will take the valuable suction away from the main drain and pool skimmers meant to keep the water clear.
- With a suction side cleaner, your pool will need to have a separate line dedicated to suction cleaners. One of the common mistakes many pool owners make is to buy a suction cleaner merely because it is cheap compared to other cleaners, only to realize too late that they must set up a dedicated line to serve the machine. Avoiding the hustle and cost of creating a new line, they are often tempted to plug the machine into their pool skimmer line, thus cutting off the skimmer from circulation. Skimmers are an integral part of the pool system – they are tasked with circulating water efficiently and skimming debris from the pool’s surface.
- Suction side cleaners demand a great deal of suction to function – A LOT of it. This means you will be cutting about 75 percent of the suction off the main drain and skimmer/s just to support your suction cleaner.
- A leaf canister is a must-have with this type of cleaner. The leaf canister is good at catching the debris before it ends up in your underground plumbing. Without it, you increase the chances of clogging your underground line. Also, note that you will need to buy these canisters separately, increasing the overall cost of setting up the machine.
Robotic Pool Cleaner
We put robotic cleaners at the end of the list because of their importance – they are the best automatic pool cleaners out there (if you were to ask me).
Robotic cleaners aren’t cheap – they are the costliest kind of automatic pool cleaner you could buy.
But that’s limited only to the acquisition cost. Suppose you consider the standalone pump you need to run a pressure cleaner, or the leaf canister necessary in suction side cleaners, or even the frequent maintenance and repair work required for both pressure and suction cleaners.
In that case, you begin to narrow this gap on pricing.
If you are looking for the best automatic pool cleaner that can climb walls, clean the tile lines, and come with brushes for the job, go for the robotic type.
These qualities make them highly competent for effective day-to-day pool cleaning. Almost all popular pool cleaner brands out there have a line of robotic cleaners to suit a wide range of needs.
- Your top robotic cleaner brands generally offer longer warranties on their products – can be 3 years or longer.
- Robotics don’t use pressure or suction from your pool systems, and they are fully independent cleaners. This means the pool system can continue to function even if your robotic cleaner is operating.
- They clean everything that makes up the pool: floor, tile lines, and walls.
- Some models come with Bluetooth application capabilities that permit you to navigate the cleaner from a distance and even make settings.
- Most models are equipped with brushes that will simply spin with rhythmic movements of the machine. Some Maytronics models even feature an “active brush,” which is driven by the motor, spinning the brush faster than the speed of the cleaner. This means the cleaner will actively scrub the surface of the pool, opposed to simple vacuuming.
- Most models feature a caddy on which you can easily coil the power supply cable and mount the machine, allowing you to store and move the machine easily.
- Some models come with top-loading cartridges or canisters. This may not be much to some buyers by the sheer sound of it, but after flipping the robotic machine upside down a few times to empty the bag, you will begin to understand the beauty of this part.
- There are just three (3) main parts that might experience motor, power supply, and cable problems. However, few other parts may need replacement once in a while, usually due to lack of maintenance or old age.
- They will keep running as long as your home has power, and they don’t depend on pool systems.
- Can save you a lot of money on energy bills compared to pressure cleaners and pump setup.
- Requires Emptying their Built-In Filter
- Most robotic cleaners have one major flaw – they are not meant for running on repeated schedules every day. But you will find some premium models equipped with 7-day programmable timers that can prove helpful if you leave for a short vacation but still want your pool to stay clean.
- Robotic cleaners demand more effort from the operator than suction and pressure side cleaners. You will need to remove them from your pool, rinse them off, and store them safely in a cool and shaded location. This can go a long way to add a few years to the lifespan.
- High upfront cost compared to pressure and suction cleaners.
- Replacement parts tend to be costly and usually take between 1 – 2 weeks to restock.
2. Manual Vacuum Pool Cleaners
There are two most often used manual vacuum pool cleaners –
- telescope pole
- regular manual cleaner.
If you are looking for the most basic manual pool cleaner, you should probably go for a telescoping pole.
This type of pool cleaner will let you manually brush your pool’s surfaces, collect the debris, and dispose of it in your home refuse bin, just as you would do with your yard.
There are a few attachments, such as skimmers and scrub brushes, that help remove the algae.
The best yet obvious thing about telescope poles is that they are cheap to acquire. They also rely on a smear of elbow grease and may give you a well-deserved workout.
Unfortunately, this cleaner offers the most time-intensive pool cleaning option you could choose, although quite therapeutic for some users.
Most pool owners use these cleaners with another cleaner – can be one of the above mentioned automatic vacuum cleaners or regular manual pool cleaner below.
Manual Vacuum Pool Cleaners
These are referred to as “manual” pool cleaners, but they are a great step up from the above telescope pole cleaners.
They are handheld devices that let you clean the pool’s surfaces, vacuum the dirt, and collect them in a bag.
Most of the models you find in the store are battery-powered.
You will take some time to clean the whole pool with your manual pool vacuum, but that’s going to depend on the size of the pool.
Manual vacuum cleaners are best suited for spot cleaning.
It is recommended that you backwash the filter of your pool after vacuuming.
In a nutshell
Suction cleaners work perfectly with a dedicated suction line installed in your pool, where applicable, or simply connect to the skimmer of your pool.
They utilize the suction of the filter pump to propel themselves throughout the pool. That way, they will clean the pool’s surface, eliminating debris and dirt from the pool.
Pressure cleaners are designed to utilize the preexisting pressure side flow to propel themselves throughout the pool.
The water pumped back into the pool is used to “fuel” the cleaner, although some models will require the booster pump’s assistance to move around.
Unlike their suction cleaner counterparts, pressure-side cleaners don’t use your pool’s filtration system to filter out the debris.
Pressure cleaners come with filtration bags to contain debris and dirt, relieving wear and pressure on the filtration system.
Robotic pool cleaners don’t use the preexisting pool equipment but will run on power drawn from your home.
This way, they help free up unwanted pressure on the pool equipment and reduce the overall power cost of running your pool.
Besides being generous with your pool resources, they provide superior cleaning power.
Most robotic pool machines support “plug and play” operations and pick up big and small debris before passing them in their built-in filtration systems.