Robot Pool Cleaner Buying Guide: Simple Guide to Clean Pools

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When we bought our house I was super excited to have a pool that would now be mine only. I have “made it” according to my younger self where a pool was almost a pinnacle on a “rich persons” house!

HA! I wish I knew better then what I have learned now over the last three years, don’t get me wrong as I absolutely love my pool but it isn’t without its hiccups and mental trials…

I wanted to get a robotic pool cleaner to help take care of this task more consistently to ensure the pool was fully cleaned and ready for use at any point, I then realized how the information isn’t consolidated well so I decided to build this out for you to have it simpler.

My Top Picks

Best In Ground
Dolphin Nautilus CC Plus
Runner Up
Dolphin Premier
Best Overall
Polaris 9550 Sport
Budget Choice
Paxcess Automatic Pool Cleaner
Dolphin Nautilus CC Plus Robotic Pool [Vacuum] Cleaner - Ideal for In Ground Swimming Pools up to 50 Feet - Powerful Suction to Pick up Small Debris - Easy to Clean Top Load Filter Cartridges
DOLPHIN Premier Robotic Pool Cleaner with Powerful Dual Scrubbing Brushes and Multiple Filter Options, Ideal for In-ground Swimming Pools up to 50 Feet.
Polaris F9550
PAXCESS Pool Suction Cleaner Pool Vacuum Cleaner Wall Claiming, 360° Rotate Deep Cleaning,20x19.7 Air-Proof Hoses, 4-Wheel Gear Drive for Above/In Ground Pool with Pump
Maximum Pool Size
50 Feet
50 Feet
50 Feet
50 Feet
Cleaning Time
2 Hours
3 hours
2 Hours
1, 2 or 3 hours
Wall and Waterline Cleaning
Scheduling
Smart Navigation
$839.00
$1,979.00
Price not available
$141.55
-
-
-
Best In Ground
Dolphin Nautilus CC Plus
Dolphin Nautilus CC Plus Robotic Pool [Vacuum] Cleaner - Ideal for In Ground Swimming Pools up to 50 Feet - Powerful Suction to Pick up Small Debris - Easy to Clean Top Load Filter Cartridges
Maximum Pool Size
50 Feet
Cleaning Time
2 Hours
Wall and Waterline Cleaning
Scheduling
Smart Navigation
$839.00
Runner Up
Dolphin Premier
DOLPHIN Premier Robotic Pool Cleaner with Powerful Dual Scrubbing Brushes and Multiple Filter Options, Ideal for In-ground Swimming Pools up to 50 Feet.
Maximum Pool Size
50 Feet
Cleaning Time
3 hours
Wall and Waterline Cleaning
Scheduling
Smart Navigation
$1,979.00
-
Best Overall
Polaris 9550 Sport
Polaris F9550
Maximum Pool Size
50 Feet
Cleaning Time
2 Hours
Wall and Waterline Cleaning
Scheduling
Smart Navigation
Price not available
-
Budget Choice
Paxcess Automatic Pool Cleaner
PAXCESS Pool Suction Cleaner Pool Vacuum Cleaner Wall Claiming, 360° Rotate Deep Cleaning,20x19.7 Air-Proof Hoses, 4-Wheel Gear Drive for Above/In Ground Pool with Pump
Maximum Pool Size
50 Feet
Cleaning Time
1, 2 or 3 hours
Wall and Waterline Cleaning
Scheduling
Smart Navigation
$141.55
-

Why Should You Buy a Pool Robot?

There are some strong points to why a robot cleaner is the best choice for your pool, lets look at what is more standard for people with their pools which are Suction and Pressure pool cleaners.

Suction-Side Pool Automatic Cleaners

Among automatic cleaners the suction-side cleaners are the easiest, along with cheapest, to purchase and install. These automatic cleaners will simply connect on the suction-side of your pool pump filtration system.

This type of automatic pool cleaner is perfectly fine for most pools of standard sizes and dimensions but may fall short for you should you have a larger pool.

The main issue with this style of automatic pool cleaner is that all of the dirt and debris that it cleans up just ends up stored in your pool filter which can lower its life expectancy.

The suction-side pool cleaner will also start to fail in performance and functionality when the pool filter becomes dirty. You will need to ensure the filter gets cleaned regularly to ensure that your suction pool cleaner will perform properly.

Last of all the suction-side pool cleaner only works when the pool pump is running. This can be a large power draw over time and is typically not going to be able to be on as often as you may want due to this.

Pressure-Side Automatic Pool Cleaners

The pressure-side pool cleaner is a step up as it has a little better performance but this makes it more expensive to purchase than the suction-side mentioned above.

This setup will have an additional booster pump that helps to provide water pressure for your pool cleaner and is what actually increases your costs. This booster will make the pool cleaner much more powerful than most suction cleaners.

The drawback to this style of pool cleaner is that it comes with many more moving parts and as most adults will understand, the more parts that move the more chances to fail and break will exist so budget for replacement parts.

The last thing is since it doesn’t send to the pool filter it has a debris bag which will require cleaning consistently to maintain performance, but you will spend less time cleaning your pool filter.

Robotic Pool Cleaners

These are little beasts for your pool, a robotic pool cleaner needs no pool or booster pump to function due to on-boarding everything. A robotic pool cleaner will have its own power supply that is plugged into the house electrical outlet to run.

Since it requires none of the pump and pool modifications this can make it incredible simple to install and use with your pool in minutes. Your pool robot has an internal pump motor and debris catch to get cleaning done fast and efficiently.

After the robot runs you will need to empty the contents of the bags for each cleaning cycle that it performs. The big caveat is that a robotic pool cleaners is typically the most expensive pool cleaner you can purchase, while also being one of the most efficient at cleaning large pools.

Robot cleaning a swimming pool - Robot Pool Cleaner Buying Guide
Robot cleaning swimming pool

3 Types Of Swimming Pool Vacuums

As with cleaners overall there is some tiers within the vacuum types that can be used in a pool to manage the cleanliness and appearance of your pool, they tend to get more expensive the more benefits they provide.

Manual Pool Vacuums

Just like the name implies this is a vacuum that you manually have to move around, this also means it is by far the cheapest option when it comes to getting a pool vacuum.

Similar to when you vacuum at home you have to push it around continuously to ensure you are cleaning the entire pool. Your reason for a vacuum is to help you to get suction for the debris which collects on the pool floor and walls.

Prices pulled from the Amazon Product Advertising API on:

One major benefit of having a manual pool vacuum is the reach and control it gives the user. You will have the ability to get in all the nooks and crannies of your pool. If you’re the type of person that likes to “get the job done yourself”, a manual pool vacuum will be the right choice for you. It can be very rewarding using a manual pool vacuum and you’ll get a workout in, too!

Automatic Pool Vacuums

These are able to run without the manual intervention, this will allow you to not need to manually clean by pushing the vacuum around the pool while roasting in the hot sun.

These are built to do all the work for you, they use suction power as a means of movement and to suck up debris on the pool floor and walls up and into the skimmer basket.

The beneficial part to automatic vacuums is that they run when the pool pump runs, this means you don’t have to remember to start them and they function autonomously from external assistance.

Prices pulled from the Amazon Product Advertising API on:

You will then hook up your vacuum to your pool’s existing filtration system similar to how you would normally with a manual vacuum as a set it and forget it. When you come back a few hours later, you’ll find your pool floors and walls sparkling clean.

Robotic Pool Vacuums

Just as with the above around robotic pool cleaners a robotic vacuum is the most automated version of pool cleaner possible in today’s world. They will do almost all the heavy lifting to ensure your pool is clean which allows you to go enjoy the pool anytime.

It doesn’t rely on you setting up pumps or hoses like with many of the others. On a robotic vacuum, all you have to do is take it to the pool and drop it in and it will begin to work. This allows it to clean effectively, efficiently, and without you having to get wet or roast. 

There are some valuable benefits to choosing to add a robotic pool cleaner to your pool, not just the fact that it is amazingly convenient. These robots can help by saving your pool filter and extending its life since the robot filters the debris in its place then you just replace simple cartridge on your robot.

Criteria For Choosing a Robot Pool Cleaner

By finding the best option and purchasing your robot pool cleaner, you will give yourself much more time to enjoy your pool while at the same time extending its lifespan.

You want to have automated pool cleaning if you are able to afford one due to the ability to reduce algae build up, reduce strain on your pool filter while sparing you the heat, and gross sweaty-ness of cleaning it.

Budget

Price ranges are very wide from the $2-300 range with minimal features to the $2000 perfect for everything and anything models. Your budget will dictate where you start and mostly the features it will come with.

The higher end models will be purely focused on the in ground pools and typically will be at least $500 and will ramp up fast to give high end performance for bigger or odd shaped pool coverage.

If your pool fits these criteria then you have to seriously start with the models at this minimum price range.

While it seems cost prohibitive at first after the first couple months saving versus the overall costs of an ongoing pool cleaning service and the additional need to clean it yourself it is valuable.

Most above ground pool cleaners will cost less as the size of above ground pools is typically vastly smaller with specific shapes and sizes that need to be cleaned, there is less variability required to be managed.

Type and Size of Pool

Most robot pool cleaners are built and designed for either above ground or in ground pools. There are some that will work for either pool type but you want to make sure you know the one you purchase works for your pool.

Typically you would want to buy one that is a perfect match for your pool as the more “generic” your cleaner is the more “generic” your performance will be.

Most will only be able to successfully clean a certain overall pool size, if you have a larger pool you will need a pool cleaner that can match the size and depth. If these don’t match it may take more than one cycle to actually completely clean your pool.

Cleaning Features

Most pool robots will use heavy duty brushes to scrub the floor and walls along with a vacuum to suck up the debris. You should not spend money on a robotic pool cleaner if you don’t get both features at a minimum.

Almost every model in the high price tier will be able to clean the entire pool from floors, walls, and waterline without issue. Make sure if you have stairs that you check on the model having the ability to clean stairs and corners as that isn’t always a feature in cleaners.

Wheels or Treads

One variable that does exists but may not be a super big issue is that there are models that use wheels and some that use tank like treads. If you have drains that sit high on the bottom of your pool this could matter to performance.

The problem is that tank style treads could get high pointed on higher drains which causes the wheels to be unable to gain traction on the ground where wheels would just roll over it and continue on.

Top Access Removal

You want to have quick access to the cartridges or filters along with water to leave the robot. A Top access lid or hinge allows for simple filter removal and water drainage so it is simple to remove from the pool when done.

Filter Setup and Ease of Use

When you are looking to choose a pool cleaner you want it to have filters that are re-useable for value sake along with being large enough to clear only when the cycle completes successfully.

While reading through models for this post I found that many now will just skip filter bags and instead have moved to filter boxes that you can just take out and wash out with a hose and replace, that is amazing!

Programming and Scheduling

With the more expensive options in robotic pool cleaners you get options for programming and scheduling cleanings. This feature allows you to decide how and when it should clean your pool, so think about when you aren’t using it, super nice!

Programming has become a standard in the higher end robots but scheduling is still more of a feature and isn’t standard for any pool cleaners so keep your eyes open if this is something you can’t live without!

Some neat things have been coming with the ability to use a remote control to actually control behavior of the robot cleaner to ensure it hits all the points you need in your pool!

Power Cord Tangling

One large thing you need to understand about a robotic pool cleaner is how the power cord runs and is attached to the bot while it is cleaning. The cord powers the cleaning but it can get easily tangled if it isn’t running efficiently for your pool robot.

Most robotic pool cleaners will not have this issue because they have fixed it, most commonly by using a swivel on the cord which helps to ensure the cord can’t tangle.

Let’s face it if you have a tangled cord all the time it kind of defeats the purpose of having an automated pool cleaner as it only creates irritation.

Self Contained Filtration

Most pool cleaners will have a filtration system built in that allows it to help lessen the strain on your pool filter. This will allow your pool filter and system to have less strain and have a much longer lifespan.

Vendor Support

Don’t choose a cheaper robotic pool cleaner without thinking about support later as many options on Amazon aren’t name brands and come from China.

As you may understand you may save some money upfront but over the long term, you may end up with a much more expensive less valuable product, pay attention to the manufacturer, and their warranty options.

Replacement Parts

When your pool robot gets to be a few years old you will more than likely start to need some replacement parts. If you buy from a reputable brand then you will have an easier time finding parts at a good cost.

Some of the more consistent parts that can fail are going to be things like the power cords failing, filters, and brushes. These are typically not too expensive but when it is an off-brand you may have to pay more to find a suitable part or replace it outright.

Best Pool Cleaning Robots By Need

Lets dive into helping you make a good choice based on your needs where there is thousands of options each one of these will be a homerun for you enjoying your pool time.

Best Robotic Pool Cleaner for Vinyl Pools

When you have a vinyl pool liner you need your automatic pool cleaner to be gentle on it and to not be a cause of damage. This means that you want your focus on the pool cleaner to be on tank treads to be kinder on the material.

Additionally, you are looking for your pool robot to have no pointy edges or rough points as these can puncture or damage the vinyl. You definitely don’t want to get any pool robot that is built for concrete as the cleaning is built to be tougher to dig into the little spots in concrete.

Always read the details of a pool cleaner to make sure that it calls out the ability to work and clean vinyl without causing issues so that you know you have the best one for your pool.

When working out what is the best for vinyl pools it is very hard to say since each pool can be a little different but the Aquabot Pool Rover has some pretty outstanding reviews and is a non-marring wheel based pool cleaner which lists vinyl and above ground as one of its high points!

Aquabot Pool Rover Pros

  • Low-Maintenance
  • Self-Contained Filtration
  • Designed for Efficiency and Improved Pool Health
  • Works Quickly, Without Supervision

Aquabot Pool Rover Cons

  • Suction on this unit is good, but it dies fast
  • May need to untangle the cord after every cycle

Please note that most of the pool robots can clean a vinyl pool surface, but check each product description along with reviews before you make your purchase.

Best Robotic Pool Cleaner for Gunite Pool

When you own a gunite pool you want a robotic pool cleaner that is able to clean thoroughly but not destroy the plastered outside as you don’t want to lose that smooth outer shell we would suggest the Dolphin Cayman or the Dolphin Quantum.

Sale
DOLPHIN Cayman Automatic Robotic Pool Cleaner with Single Button Operation and Large Capacity Top Load Filter Basket Ideal for In-ground Swimming Pools up to 33 Feet
  • Effortless operation. Easy-to-use, light weight in-ground robotic pool cleaner with a 2 year limited quality assurance, ideal for pools up to 33 feet.
  • Cleaning made convenient. Schedule the Cayman to automatically clean your pool each week using the 3 settings- every day, every other day, or every 3rd day
  • Intelligent clean. CleverClean Technology scans your swimming pool and uses advanced algorithms to efficiently clean your pool’s floor and walls without letting obstacles get in the way.
  • Dirt doesn’t stand a chance. Single, active brushing scrubs away the toughest, stuck-on-surface contaminants. The large, top loading filter basket traps and locks-in large leaves and debris, leaving your swimming pool sparkling clean in just 2 hours
  • No hoses or booster pump required. The Cayman is 8X more energy efficient than suction and pressure cleaners, saving you energy with every pool cleaning.

Both the Cayman and the Quantum are rated for Gunite pools which means they are a perfect match for your pool and to help ensure it won’t wear on it and cause additional problems.

Best Robotic Pool Cleaner for Leaves

If you have large trees in your yard that drop leaves then choosing a robotic pool cleaner is more challenging as you need a robot that can both catch leaves and not get clogged by them at the same time.

For me this is the Polaris 9550 Sport 4WD as this robot comes with 2 different catches, one for big things like leaves and a finer micro catch for smaller particles which means there is less chance of getting clogged.

Best Robotic Pool Cleaner for Above Ground Pool

The Dolphin E10 was designed specifically for above ground pools of up to 30′ wide. This pool cleaner is able to complete cleaning your pool within 1.5 hours allowing you to play sooner!

DOLPHIN E10 Automatic Robotic Pool Cleaner with Easy to Clean Top Load Filter Basket Ideal for Above Ground Swimming Pools up to 30 Feet
  • The easy way to a clean pool. The Dolphin E10 robotic pool vacuum cleaner was designed specifically for above-ground swimming pools, making it the perfect solution for pools up to 30 feet. Backed by a 2-year quality assurance, get a worry free clean.
  • Take back your free time. The Dolphin E10 will have your pool cleaned in a quick 1.5 hours. Just imagine how much you can get done with one less chore on your to-do list.
  • Dolphin does all the hard work for you. The E10 was designed to clean your pool, effortlessly. With superior filtering and floor scrubbing capabilities, you can relax knowing your pool will be sparkling clean and free of debris
  • Save energy with every pool cleaning. The E10 does not require any additional pumps or hoses to get the job done. Dolphins are super energy efficient with an average operating cost of 5 cents per hour.
  • With more than 35 years of cleaning the world’s residential swimming pools, Dolphins provide pool owners with a hassle-free cleaning solution of unmatched performance and longevity. Get back to what really matters; spending time with family and friends.

The E10 also doesn’t require any additional pumps or hoses to complete its work and get the job done. Dolphins are all super energy efficient with an average operating cost of 5 only cents per hour!

Best Robotic Pool Cleaner for Inground Pool

I am a huge fan of the Nautilus CC Plus, check out the Dolphin Nautilus CC Plus review here, this is due to the Nautilus series being very good in-ground residential pool cleaning robots.

The Nautilus CC Plus has nice features like the aforementioned top loading filters for easy and fast access instead of bottom loading. It features the anti-swivel so the cord has far less chances of getting tangled up and causing you grief to fix it.

Dolphin Nautilus CC Plus Robotic Pool [Vacuum] Cleaner - Ideal for In Ground Swimming Pools up to 50 Feet - Powerful Suction to Pick up Small Debris - Easy to Clean Top Load Filter Cartridges
  • Hello, free time! Let the Dolphin Nautilus CC Plus robotic vacuum cleaner take over your pool cleaning duties for good. Easy to use and ideal for in-ground swimming pools up to 50 feet, this cleaner will leave your pool sparkling clean in just 2 hours. Spend more time enjoying your pool and less time cleaning.
  • The clean you need without the hassle. The Nautilus CC Plus was designed to clean your pool, effortlessly. With dual scrubbing brushes and superior filtering capabilities, you can relax knowing your pool’s floor and walls are left exceptionally clean.
  • Ditch the pumps and hose. Unlike the energy hogs that are pressure and suction cleaners, Dolphins are independent cleaning machines and do not rely on any additional equipment to get the job done. Save energy with every pool cleaning.
  • Clean your pool with the touch of a button. Schedule the Nautilus CC Plus to clean your swimming pool each week using 3 settings- every day, every other day, or every 3rd day. Pool cleaning has never been easier!
  • With more than 35 years of cleaning the world’s residential swimming pools, Dolphins provide pool owners with a hassle-free cleaning solution of unmatched performance and longevity. Get back to what really matters; spending time with family and friends.

Unfortunately the Nautilus CC Plus doesn’t have a remote control and it is missing the more advanced features like Bluetooth.

The Nautilus CC Plus is a popular model (Check out our review), yet it is only available for purchase from online retailers over here.

Best Robotic Pool Cleaner with Remote

For this you may see a favorite along our lists which is the Polaris 9550 4WD Sport, it wins in this as it features a motion sensing remote control! Instead of using old fashion things like a directional button, you instead use VR style hand motions to send the pool robot in a direction of your choice!

Best Robotic Pool Cleaner with Bluetooth

The newest and most insane robotic pool cleaner with Bluetooth also features WiFi, the Dolphin Nautilus CC Supreme!

The Nautilus CC Supreme is Wi-Fi connected so you can use the MyDolphin Plus App for interactive cleaning to make your pool perfect, no matter where you are.

DOLPHIN Nautilus CC Supreme WiFi Operated Robotic Pool [Vacuum] Cleaner - Ideal for In Ground Swimming Pools up to 50 Feet - Easy to Clean Top Load Filter Cartridges
  • Triple threat cleaning action. Equipped with powerful motors, three scrubbing brushes, and superior filtering capabilities, the easy to use Dolphin Nautilus CC Supreme robotic vacuum cleaner pushes the limits of swimming pool cleaning. This next level robot masterfully cleans the floor, walls, and waterline for a stunningly clean pool.
  • Interactive pool cleaning. This premium cleaner is WiFi connected so you can set advanced cleaning schedules, choose between cleaning cycles, delay start, and spot clean using the MyDolphin Plus App on your phone. Whether you’re in the backyard or at the office, make your pool perfect from anywhere, any time.
  • From an impromptu pool party to the calm after a storm, the Nautilus CC Supreme has you covered. Choose between the quick clean, focusing on the floor only, the standard cleaning for floor, walls, and waterline, or the enhanced clean for extra scrubbing time.
  • Plug and play for an uncompromised clean. Since this cleaner works independently from your pool’s system, you don’t have to worry about external factors such as low pressure or a damaged pump impacting the cleaning performance. With an average operating cost of 5 cents per hour, save energy with every pool cleaning.
  • With more than 35 years of cleaning the world’s residential swimming pools, Dolphins provide pool owners with a hassle-free cleaning solution of unmatched performance and longevity. Get back to what really matters; spending time with family and friends.

Equipped with powerful motors, three scrubbing brushes, and superior filtering capabilities, the Nautilus CC Supreme pushes the limits of pool cleaning!

Best Robotic Pool Cleaner Under $500

For myself in this price range I like the Hayward AquaNaut Pool Vacuum which should work for just about any small to mid-range pool you may have.

Hayward W3PHS41CST AquaNaut 400 Suction Pool Cleaner for In-Ground Pools up to 20 x 40 ft. (Automatic Pool Vaccum)
  • HANDLES LARGE DEBRIS WITHOUT CLOGGING: Patented V-Flex variable vane turbine technology eliminates clogs and maximizes power at almost any flow
  • EXPERTLY NAVIGATES ANY SURFACE: Patented high-traction tires with rugged treads provide superior climbing power and motion on all surfaces
  • MAINTAINS CONSTANT SUCTION: Patented adjustable roller skirt maintains optimal suction on uneven surfaces
  • ADVANCED STEERING CAPABILITY: Multiple pre-programmed steering sequences ensure complete pool coverage
  • OPTIMAL SUCTION AT VARIOUS FLOWS: Three easily interchangeable throats improve debris passage and suction performance, making it ideal for use with variable-speed pool pumps

The AquaNaut features self-adjusting variable vanes that maximize power at almost any flow and allow for easy passage of large debris, keeping it going longer.

Final Thoughts on Buying a Pool Cleaning Robot

I would suggest that anyone who have a pool find a way to help in keeping it clean, whether starting with just a suction-side pump or jumping into a full scale robotic pool cleaner.

This has been an amazing find for my home pool giving me back much more time to just enjoy the pool, you know, the reason you want a pool!

I now spend time every day outside with my family and not worrying about cleaning continuously that using the pool daily would end up requiring, definitely jump into your robotic pool cleaner today!