Pool Cleaner Buying Guide: Your environment, the type of pool, how often you use your pool and budget determine the type of pool cleaner you use. But first, just what is a pool cleaner? Well, it is a tool that removes debris from the floor, wall and waterline of your swimming pool. There are two main categories of pool cleaners today, i.e. manual cleaners and automatic cleaners.

A manual cleaner, by definition, is vacuum head fitted to a telepole and connected to a skimmer box. While they are cheap and efficient (in most cases the first choice), Manual Cleaners are time-consuming as you have to guide the machine (it’s as if you are doing the cleaning yourself). There two categories of Manual Cleaners, e.g. Suction and Venturi Cleaners.

On the other hand, Automatic Cleaners are about convenience. These machines do most of the job (from collecting sediment and debris) with the least human intervention. You’ll still need to lift them and operate them in some cases, but one thing is clear; you’ll spend more time swimming and less time maintaining your pool. Automatic pool cleaners fall into three subcategories, i.e. Suction, Pressure and Robotic pool cleaners. Of the three, Robotic pool cleaners are the most efficient but also the most expensive.

How Pool Cleaners Work

Now that you already have a brief idea what pool cleaners are and the different types, isn’t it time you understood their working principle? To get a clear idea, let’s look at the working principle behind the main categories, i.e. Manual Suction, Manual Venturi, Automatic Suction, Automatic Pressure and Automatic Robotic Pool Cleaner.

  • Manual Suction: Works by creating a vacuum that then pulls dirt and debris into the filter for removal afterwards. This type of Manual Cleaner depends on the pool’s circulation system and the suction to clean your pool. Don’t forget to connect the vacuum hose to the skimmer otherwise; your pool will remain dirty.
  • Manual Venturi: Works by creating a venturi suction by using water pressure generated either from the in-pool return jets or a garden hose. The venturi suction forces water upward at a high rate creating a current that lifts debris into the collecting These cleaners are your best choice for removing leaves, light and large debris
  • Automatic Suction: Has an inbuilt diaphragm cartridge that creates a hopping motion to propel the machine in water. Suction Driven in-ground pool cleaners also have a float system to handle varying pool depths. Now, irrespective of the design, most if not all Automatic Suction Cleaners can roam around the pool without human help; making vacuuming a more hands-off exercise.
  • Automatic Pressure: Works by harnessing pressure from the pool return lines or a booster pump. The pressure helps sweep debris into a collection container. Automatic Pressure Driven Cleaners depend on water pressure (forced through it) to move around the pool.
  • Automatic Robotic: Depend on electricity to work. As the name suggests, a Robotic Pool cleaner depends on a computer chip to clean your pool as you focus on other things. Different cleaners may pack various software and component, but the working principle of a Robotic cleaner remains, e. it depends on a computer chip and electricity and not the pool circulation system to clean. The bots can climb walls, scrub the waterline and handle any pool surface. Unlike other cleaners, these robots collect debris internally so that you can remove them after the cleaning.

Robotic Cleaners do not need dedicated lines, booster pumps or hands-on approach to work. The robots are self-propelled and require the least human to clean the pool. In fact, you only interact with the bot when powering it on, dipping it in water, pulling it out water and when cleaning the filters/cartridges. It’s important to note that such convenience comes with costs. Yes, Robotic pool cleaners cost a lot more than other automatic and manual tools.

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Pool Cleaner Buying Guide: How to Choose the Right Pool Cleaner

The next question we should answer after looking at the types of pool cleaners and their working principles is what to look for when settling on the best pool cleaner for and how to operate and maintain it once you buy it.

Which between the manual and automatic pool cleaner should you buy? Well, the answer depends on the size of the pool, the frequency of use and above all available budget. Both manual and automatic choices have pros and cons. Manual pool cleaners may be cheap, but they are time-consuming and labour-intensive. On the other hand, the automated tools work fastest (with the robotics leaving the largest pools sparkling after only 2 hours), but they are expensive.

Whichever way you look at it, pools themselves don’t come cheap, and it is only sensible you gave them the best available maintenance. Yes, manual pool cleaners are inferior to automatic cleaners in every sense of the word. The rule of the thumb, therefore, is to go for automatic pool cleaners.

Robotic vs Suction vs Pressure Pool Cleaners

Which automatic cleaner should you pick and why? To answer this, let’s look at the pros and cons of the three types of automatic pool cleaners available in the market today.

Suction Side Pool Cleaner has fewer moving parts, costs less and easy to maintain. The cleaners, however, require the pool pump to run and increases pressure on the pool’s pump system. So, while it’s cheap, be ready to spend a fortune replacing your pool filter system more often.

Pressure Side Pool Cleaner just like the Suction one is cheap, easy to maintain and relieves pressure on pool filter. The downsides? It may require an extra booster pump and can’t work unless your pool pump is running. You will spend more, in the end, seeing you may need a booster and leave your pool pump running the whole time (adding to your energy bills). It’s the case of cheap is expensive.

Below is a table with the summary of the pros and cons of each type of automatic pool cleaner

Pool Cleaner Pros Cons
  • Easy maintenance
  • Lower cost
  • Fewer moving parts
  • Increased pressure on the filter
  • Requires pool pump to run
  • Relieves pressure on filter
  • Lower cost
  • Easy maintenance
  • Can require extra booster pump
  • Requires pool pump to run
  • Superior cleaning
  • Energy efficient
  • Eliminates wear on pool equipment


  • Higher upfront cost
  • Requires the need to empty filter

Robotic Pool Cleaner apart from eliminating wear on your pool equipment offers superior cleaning not to mention saving over 90% on your pool cleaning energy bills. The only notable drawback to robotic pool cleaners has something to do with their costs. As you can imagine, these machines do most of the work on their own and to enjoy the technology and features to run the robot; you’ll have to spend more.

From the comparison above, robotic pool cleaners are clear frontrunners and have features that justify their price tag. You can’t sacrifice convenience and superior cleaning at the altar of cost or can you? I mean, your pool is where you spend quality time, wouldn’t you maintain it the best way possible? If your answer is yes, a robotic cleaner is all you need.

Pool Cleaner Buying Guide: How to Choose the Best Robotic Pool Cleaner

But come to think of it, what features define an excellent robotic pool cleaner? Remember, you are paying more and need something that gives you value for money. Below are the factors and characteristics to look for when buying a robotic pool cleaner:

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  • Ultra Quality Brushes: A good brush equates to thorough cleaning just as low-quality brush means shoddy removal of debris and dirt from the pool. You, therefore, can’t compromise on the brush. Settle for nothing other than rotating brushes or hard-bristle brushes for these can handle most of the popular pool surfaces.
  • HyperGrip Rubber Tracks: Your robot will struggle climbing walls and other irregular parts of your pool unless it is has a four-wheel drive and wide rubber wheels. You may want to insist on the HyperGrip technology found in some robotic pool cleaners for it is effortless navigation and climbing.
  • Anti-tangling Mechanism: You robot will be climbing stairs, vertical walls and moving inside your pool. These move movements might tangle the robot’s cord and bring the cleaning process to a premature end. To avoid this, only buy models that have swivel cords pr an anti-tangling software.
  • Lightweight: Granted these are automated machines, but even robots don’t just jump into and out of swimming pools. You will carry these machines to and from the pool hence the need to choose a useful but light model. Where you can, go for a robotic weighing below 16 lb
  • Deflecting Sensors: As smart as the robotic pool cleaners are, some do get stuck in corners or unable to go over obstacles. You are paying a lot, so settle for a pool cleaner that has obstacle sensors to allow for effortless maneuvering inside the pool
  • Programmable Timer: It’s not a robotic cleaner if you have to start it whenever you want to clean. The idea behind robotic pool cleaners is to make you concentrate on swimming as opposed to cleaning. You, therefore, need a pool cleaner with programmable timers; one that gives you the option to schedule daily or weekly cleaning so that your robot will automatically start and clean the pool at set intervals keeping your pool clean even if you are away from home.
  • Energy Efficient: Days are gone when the size of your pool cleaner determined it’s energy consumption. There are large robots with extra-large cartridges yet still consuming as little as 180 watts per hour. Go for the large but energy efficient machines, and you’ll save in the long run.
  • Durability: Considering how much robotic pool cleaners cost on average, you may want to pick the most durable. Go for a pool cleaner you can use for at least some seasons before repair. And to be safe, go for a pool cleaner with more than 12-month service warranty
  • Effective Cleaning Cycles: The best robotic pool cleaner is one that cleans your pool within the shortest time possible. But you don’t just need quick cleaning; a thorough one is more important. In other words, go for a robot that promises thorough and faster cleanup. Better still, pick a pool cleaner with multiple cleaning cycles depending on your cleaning needs
  • Can it climb wall effortlessly? By any means, buy a robotic pool cleaner that climbs walls with ease. Where possible, choose a robot that can climb pool stairs, clean the waterline and climb your pools’ sides

You already have a pool cleaner, so how should you go about operating it? From how long your pool cleaner should run in a day to

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How Long Should a Pool Cleaner Run?

Whether you are using the time consuming manual cleaners or taking advantage of any of the convenient automatic pool cleaners, you must be conscious of just how long your pool cleaner runs (daily or weekly). The longer or, the more frequent your pool cleaner runs the cleaner your pool remains but also, the more your energy bill increases.

The key is striking a balance between cleaning and energy costs. How do you achieve this you may be wondering? Well, for manual cleaners, let the pool filter system run for 12 hours a day. The robotic cleaners on the hand should run for at least 2 hours daily. The point is, only turn off the cleaner when your pool is clean to your satisfaction.

Salt water Pool Cleaner vs Chlorine Pool Cleaner

Before looking into which cleaner is best for your pool, let’s look at the differences between a saltwater pool and chlorine pool are. For starters, a saltwater pool uses a salt chlorine generator to sanitize the pool. The quantity of salt is often too low to detect. Chlorine pools, on the other hand, require you poor chlorine to keep the pool clean.

Chlorine, while it kills algae and bacteria if not keeping the pool sanitize, it irritates the skin most because of the pre-packaged harsh chemicals. With saltwater pools (it costs up to $1800 to change a chlorine pool into a saltwater one), however, you get something softer and one that doesn’t irritate the skin.

Having a saltwater pool, therefore, has clear advantages over a chlorine system. And many pool owners consider using a salt chlorine generator a modern and cost-effective way of maintaining a pool.

Water pool you have, there are cleaners for it. For instance, some cleaners can handle chlorine system while others can handle both saltwater system and chlorine pools. The best route will be taking a pool cleaner that can handle both saltwater and chlorine. The one that can handle saltwater pool may be expensive and offers superior cleaning.


Is having a pool cleaner worth the money? The simple answer is it worth every penny you spend. All you need is look at the alternative (i.e. waking up to scrub the pool on your own). How long it takes to clean a pool manually (without a pool cleaner) means you will be spending most of your days cleaning the pool instead of swimming.

The convenience and efficiency are worth whatever your investment in the long-term.


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