Buying Guide for Best Pool Cleaners


pool cleaner

An automatic suction side pool cleaner in action

Pool vacuums, or pool cleaners are a great way to easily keep your pool clean.

For many people, the standard filtration system that most pools have is simply not enough. Skimmers are needed to clear the pool of leaves, seeds, and dirt from the pool surface. The walls, floors, and tiles of the pool must be cleaned to prevent scum buildup. Not only is a dirty pool unattractive and a potentially dangerous space where bacteria, algae, and insects can thrive, but is it also being permanently damaged.

The grime and gunk inside neglected pools can destroy the filters and pumps, corrode the pool linings, and create permanent stains – potentially causing thousands of dollars in damage. An automatic pool cleaner, also called an automatic pool vacuum, can solve many of these problems and keep your pool clean and safe for a very long time. Although the initial investment in a pool cleaner might seem costly, pool cleaners can save you from many hours of exhausting manual pool maintenance. 

We highly recommend pool sweepers to every pool owner, as pool cleaners clean your pool automatically and save you hours of valuable time.

In the making of this guide, we have reviewed over 20 pool cleaners on the market today, and narrowed it down to six of the best pool cleaners in three categories: suction-side pool cleaners, pressure-side pool cleaners, and robotic pool cleaners. Each type has their own advantages and disadvantages, and we have reviewed all of them to help you make an informed decision.

After you buy an above ground pool, please check out our buying guides for Heaters, Pumps, because you will need these in order to maintain your pool.

Here are the top automatic pool cleaners which have passed our tests:

NameTypeRatingLink
Dolphin Nautilus Robotic Pool Cleaner (Top-Rated Robotic Pool Cleaner) Robotic Pool Cleaner 5 out of 5 Stars Dolphin Nautilus Robotic Pool Cleaner
Smartpool NC22 SmartKleen-Robotic Pool Cleaner (Runner Up) Robotic Pool Vacuum 4 out of 5 Stars Smartpool NC22 SmartKleen-Robotic Pool Cleaner
BARACUDA G3 W03000 Advanced Suction Side Automatic Pool Cleaner (Best Suction Side Automatic Pool Cleaner) Suction Side Automatic Pool Cleaner 4.5 out of 5 Stars BARACUDA G3 W03000 Advanced Suction Side Automatic Pool Cleaner
BARACUDA Zodiac Ranger Suction Side Automatic Above-Ground Pool Cleaner (Top-Rated Automatic Above Ground Pool Cleaner) Suction Side Automatic Pool Vacuum 4 out of 5 Stars BARACUDA Zodiac Ranger Suction Side Automatic Above-Ground Pool Cleaner
Hayward Poolvergnuegen Automatic 2-Wheel Suction Cleaner (Best Suction Automatic Pool Cleaner) Suction Automatic Pool Cleaner 4.5 out of 5 Stars Hayward Poolvergnuegen Automatic 2-Wheel Suction Cleaner
Polaris Vac-Sweep 280 Pressure Side Pool Cleaner (Top Ranked Pressure Side Pool Cleaner) Pressure Side Pool Vacuum 4 out of 5 Stars Polaris Vac-Sweep 280 Pressure Side Pool Cleaner

Our Editor’s Top Picks – The Best Pool Vacuums


TOP RANKED SUCTION SIDE POOL VACUUM

BARACUDA G3 W03000 Advanced Suction Side Automatic Pool Cleaner

The Baracuda G3 is a relatively inexpensive pool cleaner, but it does a tremendous job at cleaning any small or medium sized pool.

The BARACUDA G3 Suction automatic pool cleaner is a great option for those who want to have an effective and budget pool cleaner that will serve you well for many years. The Baracuda can quickly clean up small-medium debris off of walls, steps, floors and all pool surfaces.

The best features of this pool cleaner are that it has a FlowKeeper valve that prevents your cleaner from using too much water flow and its only moving part is its diaphragm, which also means that the cleaner will use less water flow as well. The Baracuda has a 36-in fin that helps the cleaner grasps the pool surfaces tightly without using extra water flow along with a wheel deflector system that lets your cleaner turn around sharp corners and enhances agility.
poolcleaner1

HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Includes FlowKeeper valve
  • Efficient with low flow pumps
  • Good Pricing
  • 36-in Fin.
  • Wheel Deflector system

4-5-star

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Runner Up

Hayward Poolvergnuegen Automatic 2-Wheel Suction Cleaner

The Hayward Automatic Pool Cleaner works with ease to clean your pool. It is a good model for those who want an automatic pool cleaner with a large feature set for their pool.

poolcleaner
This Hayward gas has a lot of features that stand out to us, the first one being the tire treads for climbing and getting around obstacles for an easier clean. The cleaner also has turbine vanes which allow for maximum water flow under any conditions and also helps clean up large debris. Pool cleaning is easy as well because the model has pre-programmed steering sequences to make your cleaning even easier.An adjustable roller skirt makes suction even easier on uneven surfaces.

HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Robust tire-treads
  • Self-adjusting turbine vanes
  • Pre-programmed steering sequences
  • Adjustable roller skirt
  • Easy suction

4-5-star

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 TOP RANKED ROBOTIC POOL CLEANERS

Dolphin Nautilus Robotic Pool Cleaner 

The Dolphin Nautilus is the gold standard for robotic pool cleaners. In the relatively immature robotic pool cleaner most cleaners are clumsy and break down often, but poolcleaner3the Dolphin Nautilus stands out with a proven track record of quality and performance. It’s not cheap, but it’s arguably the best pool cleaner on the market, able to seamlessly clean every edge and crevasse of your pool. The cleaner uses AI to automatically navigate your pool for up to three hours. Maintenance is also very easy – all you need to do is wash off the filters after every cleaning. If the Dolphin Nautilus fits into your budget, we highly recommend it.

HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Probably the best all-around pool cleaner on the market today
  • Very reliable compared to other robotic pool cleaners
  • Easy to setup and easy to clean – just wash the filters with water
  • 60 ft. swivel cable allows the cleaner to operate in most pools
  • Controllable from mobile device 
  • Cleans pool walls, floor, stairs, and coves

5-star

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Runner Up

Smartpool NC22 SmartKleen-Robotic Pool Cleaner

If you are seeking an affordable alternative to the Dolphin Nautilus, but still want a robotic pool cleaner, the Smartpool SmartKleen Cleaner is a great option. Also poolcleaner4including intelligent AI navigation, this cleaner can automatically clean pools for up to two hours at a time. This cleaner is generally very reliable, but the power supply can sometimes fails. There is nothing exceptional about this cleaner, but it is one of the more dependable and affordable robotic cleaners available today. 

HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Affordable but still relatively reliable robotic cleaner
  • Intelligent AI navigation
  • Powerful Direct Drive motor for greater traction
  • Lightweight design is easy to set up and operate
  • 40 ft. power cord
  • Cleans the entire pool automatically and independently

4-star

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TOP PRESSURE SIDE POOL CLEANER

Polaris Vac-Sweep 280 Pressure Side Pool Cleaner

The Polaris Vac-Sweep Pool Cleaner is an effective, fast and compact cleaner that can suit all your needs. The cleaner has many great features that make this truly one of the best pool cleaners. The cleaner is powered by dual-jets that increase the flow rate of the cleaner and thus increase the speed of your clean.

poolcleaner
Another noteworthy feature of this cleaner is the filter is quite capable of filtering out even larger pieces of debris in comparison to other pool cleaners, along with a strong suction system. The strong flow rate means the cleaner will also work faster and more efficiently at picking up larger pieces of debris.

HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Large Filtering Bag
  • Strong Suction System
  • Dual-Jets increases flow rate

4-star

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TOP ABOVE GROUND POOL CLEANER

BARACUDA Zodiac Ranger Suction Side Automatic Above-Ground Pool Cleaner

Another great automatic cleaner from Baracuda, the Zodiac Ranger Suction-side pool cleaner is dominates the competition in its class. It’s one of the few quality pool cleaners we have seen at a low price range. Specially designed for above ground pools, the Baracuda Zodiac Ranger has the patented Flowkeeper™ Valve and Insta-Skim Compact self regulation water flow control valve which allows the cleaner to always operate on peak performance. Coming with various unique features like a deflecting wheel protect you pool from damage and a AG Disc that allows for smooth movement and operation, the Zodiac Ranger is a very high performing pool cleaner. If you are looking for the best automatic above ground pool cleaner, look no further than the Baracuda Ranger.

HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Specially designed for above ground pools
  • All in one quiet and efficient design with few moving parts
  • Deflecting wheel helps cleaner stay away from ladders and steps
  • 32 feet of hose
  • AG Disc allows the cleaner to seamlessly navigate and clean your pool
  • Patented Flowkeeper™ Valve and Insta-Skim flow controls
  • Easy to install and use

4-star

Benefits of having a Pool Cleaner

  • Can reduce pool maintenance needs significantly
  • They are all fully autonomous, meaning they automatically clean pools without supervision
  • Low cost to maintain
  • Easy to install and operate
  • Reduces stress on the original pool filters
  • Another layer of protection for your pool for more peace of mind
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What pool cleaner should I get?

Here is a quick review of the characteristics, pros, and cons of each type of automatic pool cleaner.


Suction Side Pool Cleaners

Suction-side pool cleaners use the suction power of your pool’s own pump to power itself to clean the pool. This type of cleaner acts like an automatic vacuum cleaner, randomly moving around your pool and sending sucked up debris to your pump basket. These cleaners are generally the most affordable and are well suited to screened pools and light debris. However, suction-side cleaners can suffer from lack of suction power.

Pros

  • Easy to set up - just connect it to your pool's suction outlets or skimmer
  • The most affordable type of pool cleaner
  • Includes its own filter in addition to your pool's filter
  • Its suction power can be upgraded with a separate booster pump
 

Cons

  • Only runs when your pool pump is running
  • Suction and cleaning power without a booster pump could be inadequate for some pool
  • May have trouble picking up heavy debris
  • Not very good with the side walls of pools

Robotic Pool Cleaners

Robotic pool vacuums are the newest form of pool cleaner, being extremely versatile fully-independent AI guided cleaning robots. They have their own control system, pump, motor, filters, and sometimes even batteries. Robotic cleaners can learn the best way to clean your pool, minimizing energy costs and maximizing efficiency. Since robotic cleaners are completely independent of your pool’s systems, they put less stress on the pool’s skimmers and puts and can operate while the pool pump is not running. Some robotic cleaners can even be controlled from a mobile device such as a smartphone or tablet.

Pros

  • Independent of your pool - can run using its own motor's and filters - saving electricity
  • Essentially a second cleaning system for your pool instead of cleaners that merely upgrade your pool's cleaning capabilities
  • A water source pool heater can operate on heat from a water source, therefore it is not dependent on outside temperature

Cons

  • Industry is still in infancy; some models may not be practical or reliable
  • They are usually more expensive than other types of pool cleaners, but not by much
  • Cannot be left in pool and must be manually cleaned after each cycle

Pressure Side Pool Cleaners

Pressure-side pool cleaners use pressured water from your pool’s pump to create a suction vortex that sweeps debris up from the pool. They sometimes require a separate booster pump to operate. These cleaners are usually sold at a reasonable price and are generally very capable cleaners, being able to suck in large debris like pinecones and capture smaller debris with its filter.

Pros

  • Includes filter bag which puts less stress on the pool's cleaning systems
  • Can pick up all types of debris - large and small
  • Wide throat design allows for a more thorough clean

Cons

  • Only operates when pool pump is on
  • Could require a separate booster pump

Factors to Consider When Buying an Automatic Pool Vacuum

Overwhelmed and stressed out? Here are some factors you should consider


What Is Your Price Range?

The price of pool vacuums does vary and can be costly. Unlike pool heaters and pools, though, there are little installation or upkeep costs. What you see is what you get. You won’t need to constantly dump money into maintenance, energy, or repairs for pool cleaners. They are very cheap to run. 

We think that you should avoid very low priced automatic pool cleaners, as they don’t work well and break easily. Investing a bit more in a reliable cleaner will save you a lot of trouble and money in the long run. Although the cheapest robotic pool cleaners start at around $300, most of them are should be avoided. If you want a good robotic cleaner, you will have to pay a bit more.

  • Suction-side pool cleaners usually cost around $100 – $400
  • Pressure-side cleaners usually cost around $250 – $600
  • Robotic Pool Cleaners usually cost around $300 – $1000+

Also bear in mind that robotic cleaners are not necessarily better than suction-side or pressure-side cleaners just because the robotic cleaners cost more.

If you do have a budget for more costly options, we highly recommend that you get a high quality cleaner of any type – you get what you pay for. High quality pool cleaners offer greater cleaning power and will work for many more years than a bargain cleaner because of better engineering and higher quality manufacturing.

What Kind of Cleaning Power does your Pool Need?

  • Suction-side cleaners are best suited for small to medium sized pools 
    • These vacuums also fit above ground pools very well
  • Pressure-side cleaners best suit medium to large pools with more difficult and larger debris
  • Robotic pool cleaners are best suited for medium to large pools

What type of pool do you have?

You probably won’t need as good of a pool cleaner for an above ground pool as you would for a proper in-ground pool. If you have a very big pool, probably avoid suction-side cleaners and lean towards robotic pool cleaners more. 


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Do I need help to install a pool cleaner?

Pool cleaners are very easy to install. Most of the time, all you need to do is connect a few ports if you have a pressure-side or suction side pool cleaner. Setup is even easier for robotic pool cleaners – you just need to connect to the power and place it in the water like you would use a robot vacuum!

Where can I buy a pool vacuum cleaner?

You can buy a pool cleaner at most pool related stores and on the internet. You will have a much larger range of choices when buying on the internet and fierce competitions online usually means the lowest prices will be on the online stores, though you may have to pay for shipping. Occasionally, there are great deals in brick-and-mortar stores.  We have found that Amazon offers the largest variety, best prices, and free shipping to everyone.

Are pool cleaners expensive?

The price for pool cleaners range from around $100 to almost $1,000 depending on what type of pool vacuum you buy. Generally, most quality pool cleaners cost around $250 to $600 (Data from Pool Supply). Suction and pressure-side cleaners are on the lower price range, while the newer and more technologically advanced robotic pool vacuums cost around 25% more. Maintenance costs for pool cleaners is minimal, since most components can last for a long time. 

Are pool cleaners bad for the environment?

Most pool cleaners are usually very energy efficient, using the suction or water pressure of your pool pump. Robotic pool cleaners are independent, relying on their own motors and pumps, but energy use is still very low.


Conclusion

Robotic pool cleaners are great for those who want their pools clean of dirt grime and other forms of accumulation, we hope our pool cleaner reviews can help you find the best pool cleaners on the market available today!

We hope that this guide helped you find which type and which vacuum to buy for your pool today.