Best Robotic Pool Cleaner for the Money
For all the pool owners, pool cleaners, and public pool workers out there, how do you maintain your pool’s cleanliness? Skimming the surface to lift any floating leaves and twigs is all nice and good, but what about the stuff at the bottom?
Perhaps you’ve heard of suction cleaners and pressure-side cleaners before. These systems work pretty wonderfully at keeping our pools free of sunken and floating debris. However, if you want to go all out to keep the water surface, walls, and base spotless, then a robotic pool cleaner is the way to go.
Why choose a Robotic Pool Cleaner?
The two other automated pool-cleaning systems that are commonly used are suction cleaners and pressure-side cleaners. In all honesty, these two work like a charm in many instances. However, they do have a few drawbacks such as easy clogging and maintenance issues.
On the other hand, we have robotic pool cleaners. Certain models may be a bit expensive, but when it comes to convenience, they truly pay for themselves.
First of all, unlike suction and pressure-side cleaners, a robotic pool cleaner doesn’t need to be installed or attached to your pool’s circulation system. Modern robots are completely independent of your pool’s pump and filter. They can travel horizontally to clean the bottom of your pool and even have propellers which launch them vertically to “vacuum” any residue clinging to the walls. Some models have filtration systems which can suction huge amounts of water and pass it through its debris bag, picking up invisible pieces of debris to keep your pool water clean.
Secondly, they’re super safe, despite running off of an electric motor. Robotic pool cleaners run on a relatively low voltage – around 24 volts in many models – through GFCI outlets. If these outlets detect even the slightest electrical imbalance, it’ll cut the power to the robot and prevent it from becoming a toaster. Essentially, it’s practically impossible for you to get zapped when using these robots.
Our Top Robotic Pool Cleaner Picks
Our Top Pick: Dolphin PremierThe Dolphin Premier Robotic 2018 is among the best automatic pool cleaners you can find available on the market today. Along with cleaning the bottom of the swimming pool, the device is flexible enough to climb up the walls and clean those as well. It comes with smart control having a weekly timer so that your pool will be cleaned without you having to remember to set the cleaning. It also offers a tangle-free swivel, so you will never come home only to discover that the robotic pool cleaner got stuck in a corner and didn’t do an adequate job.
Our "Budget" Pick: Dolphin Nautilus CC PlusThe Dolphin Nautilus CC Plus is an "affordable" robotic pool cleaner. The robot can thoroughly clean an average swimming pool in about 2 hours. Once in operation, the sensors can also detect barriers in the base of your pool, avoid them and return to the charted path without minimal interruption in its cleaning routine. Some robotic pool cleaners would cost you a fortune to do this, but the Dolphin Nautilus CC Plus does this at the price of a top-end pressure-side pool cleaner, without the few 100 dollars’ extra costs for a booster pump.
Robotic Pool Cleaner Buying Guide
Of course, the convenience of a robotic pool cleaner comes at a price, even if prices have dropped dramatically over the last few years. However, since they can be quite costly, it’s important to consider the most important factors and compare them between models to ensure you’re truly getting the most bang for your buck. In this section, we’ll go over the various specs and features to look into when shopping for a robotic pool cleaner.
Some robotic pool cleaners can learn the ins and outs of your pool. They scan the entire pool and know where the stairs, pump, and suctions are. They’ll navigate through your pool without you needing to lift a finger.
Robotic pool cleaners are more aware of their surroundings than they are of themselves. Older robot models tended to cause damage to their power cords by twisting and turning every which where. Fortunately, the latest models come with a swivel cord which allows the robot to turn and do flips underwater without twisting its cord.
Anybody who’s ever been to a pool knows just how grimy and slippery the walls can be. The best robotic vacuum cleaners should be able to travel vertically and scrub the sidewalls free of moss and grime. They’ll also travel up and brush your pool stairs to keep them from becoming slipping hazards.
Even though modern robotic pool cleaners come with propellers to launch them forward and upward, it’s the wheels that allow them to move. The best models come with four-wheel drive and rubber tire for maximum traction. When cleaning slippery substances like moss, a robot with 4WD and cross it effortlessly while giving it a thorough scrubbing.
Different robotic pool cleaners come with different cleaning cycles, typically between 3 and 8 hours. Longer cleaning cycles consume more energy and are meant to clean larger pools. To save a few bucks annually on energy costs, make sure that your robot cleaner is either set to a certain cleaning cycle or has a fixed cleaning cycle that matches the size of your pool.
Since microscopic particles don’t just linger on the surface or cling to the walls or base of your pool, it’s important that your robotic vacuum cleaner has a filtration system. The system should move tons of water through a filter/debris bag to capture anything and everything that doesn’t belong in the water. The amount of water moved through the filter – measured in GPH (gallons per hour) – should suit the volume of your pool. Some models filter 4,000 GPH while others can do 8,000 GPH.
Robotic pool cleaners are tied down by a power cord which connects to a central control panel. You can schedule cleaning times, run spot-cleaning tasks, and even withdraw the robot from your pool with a push of a button on the panel. However, if you’d like a bit more freedom and convenience, look for a robotic pool cleaner that comes with a remote control. This allows you to give orders to the robot from a distance and without having to wait around the control panel all day. Some models even let you manually control the robot using the RC.
To enhance the convenience factor of robotic pool cleaners, some models are programmable to up to 7 days. You need to set the cleaning schedule to whatever day you’d like the robot to begin. When the day comes, the robot will automatically begin its cleaning routine with or without your supervision. However, the robot needs to stay submerged in the water for the entire week. Good thing they’re completely waterproof and leak-proof.
Robotic vacuum cleaners offer just what you’d expect from a robot. They’ll jump in your pool without hesitation and begin their cleaning cycle. They don’t need to be hardwired into anything, except for the filtration system to get rid of microscopic residue. Since robotic vacuum cleaners can be quite costly, it’s important that you pay extremely close attention to see what sort of features it comes with. We’re happy to say that most modern robotic vacuum cleaners come with everything you could ever hope for – self-learning abilities, scheduled cleaning cycles, vertical and horizontal maneuverability, and a 360° swivel cord.