Cleaning out the swimming pool is not a fun job. Unlike a kid’s pool that you can spray out with a hose, you have to climb inside those pools and scrub.
It’s a long and thankless task.
You can’t exactly leave a pool alone, either. Sooner or later, dirt, grime, algae, dead bugs and other things accumulate along the surface of the pool.
Nobody wants that either.
This also goes a long way towards explaining the existence of robotic pool cleaners. These little robots have scrubbing tools built into their frame. They skate easily along the surface of the pool, and unlike people, they never tire.
If you have a pool and you’re sick to death of having to clean the thing, you might want to consider investing in a robotic pool cleaner.
Things to Consider
Generally speaking, there are two different kinds of pool cleaners. There are robo-cleaners for above-ground pools and robo-cleaners for in-ground pools. These pools are typically made out of different materials, so you don’t want to mix the two of them up unless they’re specifically approved for both types of pools.
One of the biggest things to look for in a pool cleaner is its mobility – how easily it moves over rough surfaces and how effectively it scales the pool walls. Most pools are not perfectly smooth, so try to look for four-wheel-drive models if possible.
2. Quality Brushes
Any pool cleaner that doesn’t have good brushes is a waste of money. But there isn’t just one kind of brush that works well. While hard bristles make for a good brush, rotating rubber brushes can be very effective as well. Depending on the material used in your pool, some types of brushes may be more effective than others.
3. Programmable Timers
This is really more of a convenience than a necessity, but it’s a pretty big convenience. A programmable timer means you don’t have to babysit or supersize the robot as it cleans – simply set it to work and retrieve it later when you have the time.
4. Good Sensors
Some robotic pool cleaners have a tendency to get stuck in the corners of the pool because their sensors aren’t good enough to effectively navigate these awkward angles. Pool cleaners that have the right sensors can avoid these annoying obstacles, meaning less frustration for you.
5. Pool Size
The effectiveness of your robotic pool cleaner will vary heavily depending on the size of the pool you have. A lot of pool cleaners have an ideal size ratio, and won’t be able to clean larger pools effectively. In general, larger pool cleaners are able to cover a larger area.
The Best Robotic Above-Ground Pool Cleaners
Best Robotic In-Ground Pool Cleaners Under $100
New Unbrand Stingray Swimming Pool Vacuum Cleaner
Generally speaking, you’re not going to find the best or most reliable products at a bargain price. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t any good options, however. The Stingray Automatic Pool Cleaner isn’t the most effective robotic cleaner, but it’s a great pick for its price.
Unlike some types of pool cleaners, the Stingray Automatic Swimming Pool Cleaner does not function independently, but connects directly to your pool’s filtration system. It uses a vacuum suction to clean your pool, and it is powered by your pool pump – it doesn’t require an independent power source. You’ll need a pool pump of at least ¾ horsepower, however.
Although this is an automatic pool cleaner, it doesn’t work all that well independently. Because it doesn’t have any sensors, it has a tendency to get stuck on corners, so it’s best if someone is around to straighten the Stingray out when this happens. The cleaner is recommended for pools up to 16 x 34 feet.
XtremepowerUS Automatic Suction Vacuum
Although the XtremepowerUS Kreepy Krauly Automatic Pool Cleaner looks quite a bit different from the Stingray, it functions in much the same way and has a similar set of requirements. It features a rubber suction end that glides well across the surface of most pool interiors.
Like the Stingray, the Kreepy Krauly connects directly to your filtration system and runs off of your fuel pump independently of any other power source. It also requires a minimum of a ¾ HP fuel pump. It has great suction and is good at climbing walls and other obstacles, although it will get stuck in corners or shallow water and occasionally needs to be sorted out. For this reason, it needs to be ran with supervision.
As you might expect from a $100 pool cleaner, there are a few faults. For one, it doesn’t work in shallow waters under three feet, and it’s also a little loud, which you may or may not find extremely irritating. Even so, this is definitely a much better way to clean your pool than doing it by hand, and it’s absolutely worth the money.
Best Robotic In-Ground Pool Cleaners Under $300
Aquabot Pool Rover S2-40 AJET121
If you’re looking for something a little more automatic than the last two pool cleaners, or a model that isn’t connected to the filtration system, you might want to consider the Aquabot S2-40i Pool Rover. The model is not without its faults, and it’s not the right fit for everyone, but in my opinion, the good outweighs the bad.
Like the last two pool cleaners, the Pool Rover uses vacuum suction to clean up leaves and debris from the pool. It also uses a filtration system that filters up to 5000 gallons of water. It has tough, durable wheels that allow it to navigate obstacles and avoid getting stuck, and it can clean a pool up to 30 feet long in about an hour. The Aquabot has a 110V power supply and a 40-foot thermoplastic rubber-coated Kevlar cord.
Now for the downsides. Where the two cheaper pool cleaners could leapfrog up the sides of the pool, the S2-40i cannot scale walls and will just get stuck. This means that if you’ve got algae growing on the sides of your pool, the Aquabot will be of limited use. However, it comes with two different grades of filter bag and is backed by a one-year warranty. There are definitely better pool rovers on the market, but this is the best you’re going to find at this price.
Best Robotic In-Ground Pool Cleaners Under $400
Hayward 2025ADV Pool Vac Pool Cleaner
The Hayward 2025ADV Pool Vac Pool Cleaner is a major step up from the Aquabot S2-40i in a lot of ways. There’s still a couple of features that I’m not completely crazy about, but this robotic cleaner gets a lot of things right.
One of the biggest differences between the Hayward 2025ADV and the Aquabot S2-40i is that, instead of using its own filtration system, the cleaner connects directly to the pool’s filtration system. It runs off a turbine power system that is virtually silent, a welcome change from some other, more expensive models.
It also follows a pre-programmed course designed to clean the pool in the most efficient manner possible. It even scales the walls of your pool. This also frees you up to do other things while the cleaner does its job.
That right there is the biggest problem with this model, however. I love that it takes a hands-off cleaning approach, but it takes a long time to clean the pool – as much as six hours. If cleaning the pool is just a routine maintenance task you’re checking off a list, this isn’t a big deal.
But if you want to clean the pool before you get in, that six hour waiting period is awfully annoying. Still, the quiet operation and easy maneuverability are both excellent features that make this mid-priced model easy to recommend.
Best Robotic In-Ground Pool Cleaners Under $400
Aquabot Junior Automatic Robotic In Ground Pool Cleaner
Aquabot returns to the scene with a heavy-duty pool cleaner designed to thoroughly scrub your pool, leading to a much more efficient clean. The Aquabot Junior Robotic Pool Cleaner features durable scrubbing bristles connected to a continuous track that scourges your pool of algae, dirt and grime.
The Aquabot Junior cleans your pool in a variety of ways. It vacuums leaves, insects and other debris. It scrubs off algae and dirt that may have gathered on the surface, and it also has a microfilter to purify the water from floating particles. The Aquabot utilizes ultra-fine filtration bags that capture particles as small as two microns. And it weighs less than 20 pounds, so it’s not excessively heavy, either.
The Aquabot Junior has a 50-foot long cable, and can be used on either a four-hour cycle or set for a continuous run. It’s designed to work with virtually any pool material, including vinyl pools. The cleaner does have some faults – the cable that connects the cleaner is a little fragile and comes apart easily. But with a little bit of care, this is an excellent pool cleaner and a great substitute for chemicals.
Dolphin Nautilus CC Automatic Robotic Pool Cleaner
The Dolphin Nautilus with CleverClean represents some of the latest in pool cleaning technology. This model premiered in mid-2017, and offers an array of features and tools that make cleaning your pool a cinch.
Like the Aquabot Junior, the Dolphin Nautilus moves along by continuous track. Unlike the last previous cleaner, however, the scrubbing brush is attached to a second rotary. At 14 pounds, the Nautilus is lighter than the Aquabot Junior, and with a two-hour cleaning cycle it operates more quickly as well.
It utilizes CleverClean scanning technology to scan your pool and chart the most efficient path. It scrubs and filters your pool simultaneously, and it can scale your walls vertically. The Dolphin Nautilus also has an advanced timer that allows you to schedule your cleaning schedule, be it daily, weekly, or something else.
It has a 50-foot cable, a large filtration basket to capture debris and particles, and is backed by a one-year warranty. The one think it lacks is a vacuum-cleaning system, but considering its advanced tracking technology and industry-leading energy efficiency, those are small bones to pick.
Best Robotic In-Ground Pool Cleaners Under $850
Dolphin Nautilus CC Plus Automatic Robotic Pool Cleaner
If you’re looking for something a little more powerful than the basic Dolphin Nautilus, the Dolphin 99996403-PC Nautilus Plus is a major upgrade to an already effective robotic pool cleaner. The Nautilus Plus features several major improvements, including a sleek design and easy, do-it=yourself maintenance that makes this a great pool cleaner.
Almost everything about the less expensive Dolphin Nautilus model is improved here. The cable is 10 feet longer, allowing this cleaner to cover more of an area and service a larger pool. It comes with a two-year warranty on parts and labor – twice as long as the standard Nautilus. It has been redesigned to be easier to access, and the filters can be removed and cleaned much more quickly than before.
The Nautilus Plus is programmed with the same tracking technology, which helps it to clean your pool more quickly and efficiently, and it features a weekly programmable timer schedule as well. Weighing just under 19 pounds, it’s a little heavier than its lesser cousin, and because of the vacuum, it takes a little longer to clean as well – about two and a half hours on average. It’s more expensive than the basic models, but the extra features definitely make it a lot more user-friendly.
Dolphin 99996356 Dolphin Triton Robotic Pool Cleaner
Our final entry in the Dolphin family of robotic pool cleaners is the finest model yet – the Dolphin Triton 99996356. Major improvements include a caddy for easy portability and storage and the addition of vacuum-cleaning technology for an even better cleaning performance.
The Dolphin Triton represents yet another major redesign, with even more effort put into ensuring its ease of use. In addition to its scrubbing bristles and its filtration system, vacuum technology has also been installed that makes it even more effective at cleaning. Like the other models, it uses self-programmed scanning technology for a more efficient performance and is backed by a two-year warranty.
The biggest drawback of the Dolphin Triton is its weight. At 44.5 pounds, it weighs more than twice what the Nautilus Plus weighs, and over three times as much as the standard Dolphin Nautilus standard. The Triton offers amazing performance, but it’s weight makes it a lot harder to remove from the pool. Keep this in mind before you purchase.
Hayward RC9740WC SharkVac XL Automatic Pool Cleaner
The Hayward RC9740WC SharkVac X eschews the continuous rotating transportation of the Dolphin and Aquabot pool cleaners in favor of traditional wheels. This makes it easier for the SharkVac Xl to scale the walls of your pool and helps it to move more quickly as well.
The SharkVac is loaded with a number of interesting features, not the least of which is a dedicated microprocessor that helps it adopt an efficient cleaning pattern for your pool. It offers easy top access to the debris filter, making cleaning the robot a walk in the park. The SharkVac simultaneously scrubs and vacuums, and does so with the energy used to power a light bulb.
Unfortunately, there is a major downside to all this. Like the Dolphin Triton, the SharkVac is quite cumbersome. It weighs around 50 pounds, which might be too heavy for some people to comfortably pick up or carry. And unfortunately, some of the debris tends to leak out when you remove the SharkVac from the pool.
This is still an excellent pool cleaner, but I prefer the Dolphin Nautilus myself. I have no problem lifting 50 pounds, but that doesn’t mean I want to.
Best Robotic In-Ground Pool Cleaners Under $1100
Polaris F9550 Sport Robotic In-Ground Pool Cleaner
If you’re looking for the coolest, shiniest pool cleaner around, look no further. The Polaris F9550 is sexy. With its large, four-wheel drive wheels and its smooth, sleek frame, its appearance resembles that of a flashy sports car. What’s under the hood is what matters most, of course, and the Polaris F9550 Sport does not disappoint.
As you might expect from an advanced pool cleaner, the Polaris Sport utilizes ActivMotion Sensor Technology, which enables it to plot the most efficient route of navigation through any pool, even those with irregular designs. And its large, four-wheel drive wheels help it to scale any surface. It utilizes a combination of filters, vacuum technology and scrubbing bristles, and it can even clean hard-to-reach areas, such as the surfaces around the stairs that other robotic pool cleaners just can’t navigate.
Like the Dolphin pool cleaners, the Polaris Sport also features a seven-day programmable timer, and it also includes a remote control so you can activate it or even guide it by yourself if you want to. Like some of the other models, it features top-access debris removal, making it easier to clean it out.
Like the last two pool cleaners, the biggest downside is its weight. At 43 pounds, it’s a little lighter than the SharkVac, but you might want to use that remote control to get it where you want it to go. It features a 60-foot cable, a 110V transformer and a filter cannister.
As you can see, robotic pool cleaners come in a wide variety of forms, from relatively simple vacuums connected to your filtration system to completely independent robots with advanced sensors and features.
Picking the right robot for your pool is not a decision to take lightly. If you’re still not sure which model to go with, the Dolphin Nautilus is a great choice, especially for larger pools. But whatever you choose, you can buy it with confidence.