Robotic pool cleaners are really very popular. Although they are not all made equal, for most of us, it’s an investment well worth the money. After you hear the benefits, you may want to get one for yourself. Let me tell you about it.
First and foremost, being retired, saving money and time is my biggest motivator. The robotic pool cleaner is energy and time efficient. It operates on its own power supply and not with the pool’s, which saves us money. Depending on what model you buy, it’s possible to save up to 94% of the total cost to operate a pool. While the little robot is cleaning, it’s circulating the water, so you don’t have to run the pump during clean up.
Robotic Pool Cleaner Buying Guide: How Do You Choose the Right One?
A robotic pool cleaner uses technology to completely automate the process of cleaning your pool. You just plug it in, set your preferred cleaning cycle, switch it on, and let it do the work. It uses artificial intelligence to manoeuvre, clean, and scrub your pool till it sparkles, and filter your water till it’s clean and polished.
Advantages of Robotic Pool Cleaners
- They save you a lot of time and manual effort.
- They can clean even the dirtiest pools effectively and quickly. Brushes scrub every part of your pool to remove dirt, even from the most awkward corners. They can pick up large and small debris.
- Robotic pool cleaners can reduce your energy and water costs and pool equipment maintenance costs by reducing the load on pumps and filters. They don’t require much energy to operate. And from all these savings, a cleaner can pay for itself in just one year. They filter water as they clean, so reduce the need for frequent backwashes, saving more water.
- A robotic cleaner is in the pool less often than other types of cleaner, especially suction-side cleaners. Resulting in less noise and obstruction while you swim. With a robotic cleaner, you can also get your pool ready in advance for you to swim in later on.
- They are eco-friendly. Fine filtration capabilities (down to 2 microns) together with better water circulation, provide temperature-regulated, cleaner, polished water, while using fewer chemicals.
- AI technology makes robotic cleaners smart, efficient cleaners that can be operated on a timer, by remote, smartphone, and by any Wi-Fi-enabled device.
- They are easy to operate and maintain. With lengthy warranties, parts availability, and US-wide service support centers.
- There are a huge variety of robotic cleaner models to suit your individual pool-cleaning needs and budget. Prices start at just $300.
Disadvantages of Robotic Pool Cleaners
- They can be quite costly to buy compared to other cleaners i.e. suction-side cleaners.
- If the cleaner is not a top-loading model, you will need to lift it out of the water to empty a filter or to allow water to drain out. And some cleaners are quite heavy. For bigger or dirtier pools, you may need to lift it out of the pool more often. You don’t want to rely on assistance, either.
Is a Robotic Pool Cleaner Worth Buying?
Yes, it can save a lot of time and manual effort. It can effectively clean the dirtiest pools, and any type, shape, or size of pool. And can save money in the long run: reducing energy, water, and pool maintenance costs.
Robotic pool cleaners are eco-friendly and cheap to run. They are smart, quick, and efficient cleaners. Some models can be set to clean on a timer and controlled by remote, or smartphone. They are easy to operate and maintain.
How Do You Choose the Right Robotic Pool Cleaner For Your Pool & Individual Needs?
When deciding on a robotic cleaner to buy, ask yourself 4 questions:
- What type of pool do I have?
Does your pool have stairs and awkward shapes and corners? Or, is it a straightforward box shape? Is it made from vinyl, fiberglass, gunite, or concrete? …These factors will determine the cleaning ability and features of the robotic cleaner you choose.
Most cleaner brushes are suitable for any pool surface. But, if your pool surface is slippery, tiled, or made from fiber glass, you’ll need a super-grip PVA brush. All other surfaces are ok with PVC brushes made from universal rubber. If your pool has an abrasive, pebble finish, you’ll need a cleaner that is able to scrub that surface clean, without allowing the same surface to damage the cleaner’s skirting as it moves around your pool.
For any pool surface, ensure the cleaner has adequate clearance underneath, so it doesn’t rub or scrape against the pool floor. If you have a vinyl finish, ensure the cleaner has no sharp edges, and tracks and rollers that can mark or damage the vinyl. If the pool has awkward shapes and hard-to-reach corners, the right type of wheels will help it navigate around these obstacles; and power-washing jets will help blast dirt from those tight corners.
- What’s the size of my pool?
The robotic cleaner you choose depends on your pool type (above-ground or in-ground) and pool size (depth, length, and width). The more expensive cleaners are designed for in-ground pools, as those pools tend to be larger with more uneven surfaces. These models start at around $500. Some will clean up to a certain size of pool. So do match the cleaner to your pool size (length x width) to ensure it can clean the pool in just one cleaning cycle.
Each cleaner comes with a fixed cord length. The cord needs to be long enough to reach the far side of your pool from the power supply. Note: for safety reasons, the power supply must be placed at least 12 feet from the pool’s edge. Some cleaners are best-suited for shallow pools, others for deeper pools. So don’t forget to take the depth of your pool into account to allow the cleaner to reach the bottom of your pool. It’s also best to keep extra cabling out of the pool to prevent tangling.
- What’s the main purpose of my cleaner?
Some cleaners just vacuum the pool floor with fixed or rotating brushes. Some clean the floor, cove, and the lower (or partial wall) with rotating, scrubbing brushes which also help climb walls. The most advanced cleaners (but not all) clean the floor, cove, the lower (or partial wall), and the waterline.
But don’t expect all cleaners to clean stairs and corners, only some can. Most robotic cleaners can pick up small debris (like sand and silt) and large debris (like large leaves, branches and pebbles). So double-check the suitability of the cleaner for your needs.
- What’s my budget?
Robotic pool cleaners can cost anywhere from $300 to over $3000. More advanced, higher-priced models, climb, scrub, and use power-washing jets to blast dirt from crevices, clean steps and get around awkward surfaces and obstacles. Lower-priced models simply vacuum and are suitable for most above-ground and in-ground pools; they require less maintenance and have fewer moving parts. So think of your pool-cleaning requirements… or you could end up paying more for advanced features you may not even need.
Extra features & options to consider
There are many features and options available across a wide range of models and manufacturers. So, consider the options that are most important to you based on your cleaning needs and budget. Here are the common ones to look out for:
Stay above 70 GPM (gallons per minute) for adequate suction power.
A smaller cleaner can use around 200 watts of power per hour. Larger ones can use over 1,000 watts per hour — avoid these, as they will cost more to run in the long term. The right model can pay for itself in just one year.
Lower micron filter bags or baskets can clean, purify, polish, and disinfect pool water. The lower the micron value, the better. The most effective cleaners claim to filter to 2 microns. Ignore general terms like ‘fine’ or ‘mesh’, just look for the micron number.
You may pay more for a particular brand of cleaner, but it will usually last longer. And you want to be cautious about cheap imports. A cleaner needs to be made from high-quality materials that last. Usually, a longer warranty indicates a more durable product. Although, eventually, all robotic pool cleaners require some repairs, just not too often — for a few swimming seasons, at least.
The right cleaning cycles
Cleaning cycles differ from model to model. You want to choose a model that offers cleaning cycles to clean your type and size of pool in the quickest, but most efficient and effective way possible.
The weight of your cleaner matters more than the size because you have to lift it out of the water during/after each pool clean. So get a cleaner that isn’t too heavy and is top-loading to allow you to remove the filter and drain-out water quickly; without having to lift the cleaner out of water. Also, try to get one that is ergonomically designed to make lifting easier. Some models come with caddies to store the cleaner and make transportation to and from the pool easier.
The way a cleaner moves around a pool can easily tangle the cable. This was a major problem for years, solved by the ‘mechanical swivel’, or commonly-known: ‘swivel cord’. Gyro systems have also been introduced, but are still in the development stage; they work best for dual-drive motor systems, found in the higher-end models.
Types of brush
For slippery, tiled, or fiber glass surfaces, get a super-grip PVA brush. For all other surfaces, use PVC brushes made from universal rubber. PVC brushes also do a great job of removing algae.
This feature is available on select models. It is best-suited for pools affected by fine sand, dirt, or silt. Power-washing jets ‘hydro-scrub’ areas of your pool, something that cannot be achieved by models without this option. The jets also help stir-up particles so they can be sucked up by the vacuum.
Wide, 4-wheel-drive wheels
These particular wheels (on rubber tyres) ensure your cleaner is able to get around your pool and around any awkward, slippery surfaces on the sides and bottom of your pool.
Able to climb
The best-performing cleaners can climb up the sides of your pool, clean the stairs, and the waterline.
If the cleaner gets stopped by obstacles, these sensors allow the cleaner to sense and reset it to stay on-course.
Higher-end models have set-and-forget programming options to clean your pool how you want, and on a timer for when you are busy, or not at home.
Some models can be controlled by remote, smartphone, or any Wi-Fi-enabled device.
A reliable brand for warranty and service
As with any product, you want it backed by a reliable brand that can:
- a) Build an effective, durable cleaner that lasts.
- b) Provide a reliable, quick service to fix or replace your cleaner.
- c) Ensure replacement parts like filter bags, tracks, and brushes are not overly expensive and are easily available.
What’s a Good Brand for Robotic Pool Cleaners?
Here are some well-known brands in the robotic pool cleaner market; some more established than others. They all offer a good range of cleaners to suit most pool-cleaning needs and budgets.
Aquabot have over 30 years of innovation and technological advances in the development of robotic pool cleaners. In 2011, they were acquired by Fluidra: the largest global manufacturer and distributor of robotic pool cleaners. This acquisition allowed them to further advance the quality of their products.
Dolphin by Maytronics
Another established brand is the ‘Dolphin’ range by Maytronics. The latest range of Dolphin cleaners benefit from over 30 years of innovation and technological advances.
Dolphin categorize their robotic pool cleaners in four classes: the ‘Basic Class’, their most economical range for above-ground pools. The slightly more advanced, ‘Classic Class’. The popular ‘Advanced Class’ with advanced features and enhanced navigation. And the top of the range ‘Premier Class’, being the ultimate in pool cleaning, featuring leading technology and state-of-the-art features.
Polaris is owned by Zodiac. Zodiac is also owned by Fluidra. Polaris have been in the pool-cleaning business for 40 years.
Pentair are known for their popular ‘Kreepy Krauly Prowler’ range of robotic pool cleaners. Pentair don’t specialize in the development of robotic pool cleaners as much as Aquabot, Dolphin, and Polaris. But do specialize in providing clean, sustainable water solutions, and have done so for many years.
Have been manufacturing pool equipment for 80 years and is the largest residential manufacturer of pool equipment in the world for pumps, filters, heating, cleaners, sanitization, automation, lighting, safety, and energy solutions.