Pressure Side Pool Cleaner vs. Robotic: What to Buy?

If you’re a pool owner, new or old, you understand the importance of keeping your pool nice and clean. Though you used to have to resort to back-breaking labor to keep it clean and clear of debris, now you have all sorts of labor-saving options to filter your water and scrub every square inch of it.

Of course, now your problem is, how do you decide which type of cleaner to get? There are several different makes and models on the market. A surprising amount of design and ingenuity has gone into every one of them. Furthermore, they all have their tradeoffs regarding ease of use, cost, maintenance, startup costs, quality of cleaning job done, and customer service.

Pressure Side Pool Cleaner

In this article, we are going to focus on two of the most common varieties; pressure-side pool cleaners, and robotic pool cleaners. Pressure side cleaners have been around for longer, but robotic pool cleaners have become the favorites of many pool owners. Let’s discuss the pros and cons and other factors to help you decide which is best for you and your pool.

What’s The Difference Between Pressure Side Cleaners and Robots?

At first glance, it may seem like they are not all that different. Both of them are little wheeled contraptions that roll around your pool and clean it, right? However, they have major differences.

Pressure side cleaners usually require having a separate pressure line installed for them to use for propelling themselves through the pool. Many pools have this line from when they were first installed, but you should check to make sure you have one. Pressure cleaners are better at picking up large debris but do not scrub pool surfaces. They use the pressure of the filtered water they expel to move around.

Robotic Pool Cleaner

Robotic pool cleaners require only a power line to run, and they filter the water through an internal filter trap that you clean after running it. They also have scrubbing brushes to clean every inch of your pool surface, which they navigate with sophisticated scanning software to ensure they clean the whole pool. They are propelled by their own internal motors.

You Get What You Pay For

In addition to being simpler machines, pressure side cleaners are typically cheaper than robotic cleaners. A good robotic pool cleaner typically costs $100 more than a pressure side pool cleaner, with some higher-end models being much more than that. Furthermore, as they get older, robotic pool cleaners can be more expensive to maintain than pressure side cleaners.

It’s Hard to Beat a Robot’s Cleaning Ability

Of course, the price of a robot has good reasons behind it – they do a great job of keeping your entire pool sparkling clean! Though pressure cleaners do a decent job, robots have more tools and more technology to make good use of them.

Scanning software to navigate around every surface, treads, and brushes to scrub every surface right up to the water line, multilayer filters, even apps that let you drive the pool cleaner yourself are all an option in the world of pool cleaning robots.

Choosing the Right Pool Cleaner

Ease of Use, Maintenance, and Start-Up Costs May Vary

Pressure Side Cleaners are definitely easier to use if you have the pressure line already installed (if necessary). Because they are more focused on filtering water and larger debris, they are ready to go as soon as they are plugged into the pressure line. Robots are also easy once they are set up, but because they are smarter, they also need more information and practice before they hit peak performance.

Pressure side cleaners are simpler machines, which makes clearing their filter bags and replacing parts fairly simple. Some people have even described their pressure side cleaners as “bullet-proof”. Robotic cleaners can be very simple to keep clean and maintain depending on the brand, but there are also some robots where the filters are hard to clean, and the parts are expensive to replace.

Pressure Side Pool Cleaner

Customer Service Is an Important Consideration for Both Types

Whichever cleaner you get, you will want to look at the customer service record of the company. Some companies pride themselves on providing excellent customer service and machine support. This means being responsive when you need help to maintain your machine, of course, but it also means excellent online capabilities and service centers.

If the maker of your pool cleaner doesn’t have service centers near you, it may become very difficult to get replacement parts, even something as minor as a washer. If their website is a mess, or they don’t have ways for you to hear from other owners of their brand, you may have a hard time finding exactly what you need, to solve your problem.

Each Have Their Pros and Cons, What Matters is What Works For You

Simplicity or High-tech? The best cleaning job no matter the cost, or a durable little filter that won’t break the bank? Each of these types of pool cleaners has their strengths, and whichever you get will likely do a decent job of cleaning your pool. But it’s important to weigh your choices carefully.

A pool is a big investment, and the extra money to keep it pristine is almost always worth it. How you want to do that, and what issues you are willing to deal with while doing so, are good questions to ask. We hope that this article helps you understand your options a little more.

Suction Side, Pressure Side or Robotic


Our Top Robotic Pool Cleaner Picks

Our Top Pick: Dolphin Premier

The 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 Plus

Dolphin Nautilus CC Plus Automatic Robotic Pool CleanerThe 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.