If you want to cut down on pool cleaning costs and keep a happier, cleaner swimming pool, you should consider the best pool vacuum robot. These bots are designed to roll around the bottom and sides of your pool, filtering out debris while also cleaning the surface to help remove any new algae or other problems. The best pool vacuum robots clean efficiently with smart navigation systems, suction brushes and fast cleaning times. As we tested the top 15 pool cleaners, we looked for all these features and more to ensure we gave you the best recommendations.
The best of the best, and our #1 pick, is the Dolphin Nautilus CC Plus, with it’s 60-foot swivel cable, intelligent mapping system, and thorough 2.5 hour cleaning cycle. This pool bot is both easy to use and very effective with 360-degree filtration, two different filters for fine and coarse particles, and cartridges that are simple to clean. That makes this model a great choice for more challenging pool shapes – but lets take a look at other factors that may be important to your unique situation.
- 1 Top 5 Best Pool Robot Vacuums Compared
- 2 How We Choose the Best Pool Vacuum Robot
- 3 Why You Should Buy a New Pool Vacuum Robot
- 4 What to Look for When Buying the Best Pool Vacuum Robot
- 5 Mistakes to Avoid
- 6 What Else You Should Think About
Top 5 Best Pool Robot Vacuums Compared
#1 Dolphin Nautilus CC Plus – Top PickWHY WE LIKE IT: The Dolphin Nautilus CC Plus robotic pool cleaner is easy to use and provides a comprehensive clean on all surfaces of your pool, plus the waterline. It can also smartly map out your pool for a more efficient cleaning process.
The Nautilus CC Plus provides 70 gallons per minute of suction power, making it a great choice for medium- and large-sized pools. With dual scrubbing brushes, this vacuum can clean all of your pool’s surfaces with ease, including the waterline. While this cable isn’t as long as others on this list, you still get 60 feet of range and a tangle-free design. The cable features a 360-degree swivel so you don’t have to worry about tangles or unnecessary wear and tear.
The Dolphin Nautilus CC Plus can clean your pool completely in around 2 hours, which is about standard for most pool vacuums. Where the vacuum shines in this category is its CleverClean smart navigation technology. The Nautilus CC Plus uses CleverClean to map out your pool’s surfaces and clean them in the most efficient way possible. This automatic robotic pool cleaner features a 2.5 year warranty that covers it against any manufacturer’s defects or workmanship issues.
#2 Polaris F9550 Sport – Honorable MentionWHY WE LIKE IT: The Polaris F9550 Sport robotic pool vacuum is a powerful, efficient pool robot vacuum that comes at a super-affordable price. With premium features like 4 wheel drive and a rear propulsion jet that helps the vacuum clean hard-to-reach spots, you can be sure you’ll get a comprehensive clean with this product. If you’re looking for something powerful and affordable, look no further than the Polaris F9550.
The F9550 features a powerful motor that produces 75 gallons per minute of suction power. This is enough to handle large pools with ease, but the vacuum also provides a few features that help more with cleaning. The 4 wheel drive functionality helps the vacuum travel around the pool and the AquaTrax tires provide more grip for climbing walls. The F9550 also features ActivMotion Sensor Technology, which maps out your pool and keeps the vacuum cleaning in the most effective route possible. And with the rear propulsion jet, this cleaning robot can easily clean hard-to-reach areas like stairs and corners.
The Polaris F9550 features the longest cable on our list, measuring in at 70 feet long. While it’s not a swivel cord, which can get tangled more easily, its position on the vacuums body is designed to prevent tangles and knots. This robotic pool vacuum also includes a sturdy and durable caddy that you can use to transport the device and store the cable. With a cleaning time of around 2 hours, this pool vacuum falls right in the run of the mill range. It can clean effectively with smart navigation features and it even includes a 7-day programmable timer, which gives you a ton of flexibility in how often you clean your pool.
#3 Dolphin Premier – Best for In-Ground PoolsWHY WE LIKE IT: The Dolphin Premier is a remote controlled premium robotic pool vacuum that offers power, high suction capacity and advanced navigation functionality. With dual brushes and multiple filter options, this robot pool vacuum will clean your pool to a sparkling finish with ease.
Measuring in at 75 gallons per minute, the Dolphin Premier robotic pool vacuum can handle a lot of cleaning without sacrificing efficiency. This level of suction power can easily clean dirt, debris and leaves, making it perfect for pools that get extra dirty. It also features multiple filter options: oversized, bottom-load fine and ultra-fine. This gives you more versatility to clean the pool in the way you want to. If you want to target leaves and large debris, use the oversized filter. If you need to clean up dirt and sand, the ultra-fine filter can handle it.
This cable measures in at 60 feet, which is impressive on its own. However, the best feature about this pool vacuum’s cable is its swivel functionality. This prevents tangling and extra maintenance for you in the long run. The amount of time this robotic in-ground pool cleaner takes to clean your pool is one of its lowest-rated factors, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s bad. This pool vacuum can clean your pool in 3 hours, which can slow you down from getting back to swimming. However, it does provide a super comprehensive clean with its smart navigation algorithm. For such an expensive product, you might expect to get a longer warranty, and you’d be correct with this one. The Dolphin Premier carries a 3-year warranty that protects against manufacturer’s defects.
#4 Zodiac MX6 – Best BudgetWHY WE LIKE IT: There’s no two ways around it. Pool robot vacuums can get expensive, but the Zodiac MX6 is here to break that mold. It offers super efficient cleaning power at an extra-affordable price that won’t break the bank.
The Zodiac MX6 is one of the most popular automatic pool cleaners available today because of its compact size paired with efficient and powerful cleaning capacity. It comes equipped with a proprietary X-Drive Navigation system, which allows it to more accurately map your pool’s surfaces for a more efficient clean. The robot cleaner is also quite energy efficient for an added bonus.
As with many robotic pool cleaners, though, the Zodiac MX6 can struggle a little bit with larger pieces of debris and sometimes it forgets about its smart navigation functionality. We saw it start running in circles a few times during use, but this is easily corrected. Clean time is fairly short, as well, clocking in at around 2.5 hours for an average-sized pool. Overall, if you need a pool cleaner on a budget, you absolutely can’t go wrong with the Zodiac MX6.
#5 Dolphin Escape – Best ValueWHY WE LIKE IT: The Dolphin Escape offers plenty of premium features that efficiently tackle dirt and grime in above-ground pools, like the HyperBrush scrubbing, durable rubber tracks and smart navigation system. If you’re looking for value, you’ll find it here.
The Dolphin Escape embodies the idea of offering premium functionality at an affordable price. We were most pleased with this above-ground pool cleaner’s ability to quickly and intelligently clean entire above-ground pools in around 1.5 hours, which is blazing fast. Due to its dual motors, HyperBrush scrubbing power and high-grip tracks, this robot pool cleaner can move more efficiently than most options we tested.
One of the most impressive features, though, was the Escape’s SmartNav mapping system. As the robot starts cleaning your pool, it begins a scanning process to ensure it cleans every inch. Unfortunately, this cleaner can’t clean the pool walls since it lacks the necessary suction, but we were able to overlook this downside by how clean it kept everything else. The Dolphin Escape can even tackle large debris like big leaves and dirt clumps with ease.
How We Choose the Best Pool Vacuum Robot
One of the features we take a close look at is navigation. A pool bot isn’t much good if it can’t accurately read your pool shape and make sure surfaces are cleaned equally. The best options use digital mapping to scan the pool accurately, and then run a circuit without bumping into anything (something our Dolphin pick does particularly well). Great models can also scoop around the waterline and handle curves with ease.
Then we took a look at cleaning and filtration. Filtering out debris is nice, but we prefer to see rubberized brush rolls that can take care of algae and other serious pool problems too. Filter systems can either be bags or cartridges, but they should be large and easy to rinse out at the end of a cycle. And when it comes to cleaning, powerful suction is also important! Our top picks have efficient pumping systems that can move a lot of water in a short time.
Design is important as well. Simple designs that don’t require extra hook-up accessories or tubes are important: Our top picks all have pre-formed shells that don’t have any easily breakable parts, and are simple to open up if necessary. This can also affect the warranty: The durable design of our Dolphin pick is one reason that the warranty is a full 2 years instead of just one year. Hayward, meanwhile, offers up to a 3 year warranty depending on the model that you ultimately choose.
We also pay attention to, for lack of a better word, handling. These pool bots are larger than many people realize, and then need to be easy to place in the water and (this part is important), and easy to safely remove without trouble or injury. Handles and lightweight designs are particularly important here. Our top pick got the weight down to 16.5 pounds, which is great compared to the 18-20lb range that most models come in at.
While it’s sometimes hard to tell based on photos alone, one of the most important components of pool vacs is the cable. Cables should never tangle or get caught while the vacuum is running through its program. Models need to have swivel cables that re-orient themselves when necessary to avoid this…and they need to be long enough for your pool, preferably 40 feet or longer depending on your setup – and as you can imagine, more complicated hidden swimming pools may require even more cable than that.
Why You Should Buy a New Pool Vacuum Robot
The right swimming pool robot vacuum can save you money on cleanings, if you know what you’re doing and choose the right model for your pool. This is especially true if you have a pool that tends to struggle with debris (near to trees, frequently uncovered, in a windy area, etc.) and can benefit from frequent cleaning. The less time debris spends in the pool, the less chance of problems like algae developing, so frequent bot cleanings can contribute to the longevity of your pool – and it may not even cost that much electricity.
A pool robot vacuum can also catch grime, slime, and other problems that you or a pool cleaner may not notice, especially if equipped with fine filtration beyond just a mesh screen. This is particularly useful for extra-large pools where the in-pool filter may not be able to handle everything effectively.
What to Look for When Buying the Best Pool Vacuum Robot
Surface Material Compatibility
- While we tried to pick models that work well on all common surfaces, pool vacs are all designed the same way. Pool surfaces can be vinyl, fiberglass, gunite-style concrete, pebble-and-tile, and more. We don’t have time to go into the advantages and disadvantages of these surfaces right now, but all you need to know is you want to look for a model that’s properly rated to handle your pool’s particular type of surface.
- The last thing you want is a bot that has a chance of damaging your pool surface, because nothing is more annoying or expensive to fix over the long term. One reason our Hayward pick is so pricey is that it’s made to work on just about any surface, without causing damage.
Cable Length for You
- Cable lengths can vary quite a bit – and so can your needs, depending on the setup. Most models have a “control unit” that you install or plug in, and then a cable that runs from the control unit to the bot. Based on where you plug in the control unit, your cable needs to be long enough for the bot to cover all the surface area of your pool.
- Unfortunately, there’s no easy way to judge this other than taking some precise measurements before buying – and choosing a longer cable to make sure there’s no problem.
- If you know your own system well enough, choose a spot where your control unit can be place (according to your electrical setup), and then measure the distance to your pool. Add the distance that the bot will need to travel inside the pool – this can vary based on bot behavior, but adding in a couple lengths from the longest side of your pool should be enough. When in doubt, call out an electrician or pool expert to ask for help.
Above Ground vs. In-Ground
- An above ground pool vacuum robot is generally designed for smaller spaces and easier cleaning jobs, since above ground pools tend to be smaller setups. In-ground pools are larger, and tend to favor larger bots with larger filtration capacities. Our top models are designed to work well both for in-ground and above ground pools, but it’s important to note the difference.
- Any time you mix electricity and water, you need assurance that the device is going to be safe. Certifications help ensure your peace of mind on this matter. There are many different certification options (CE, UL, ETK, CSA), which are typically defined by region.
- Make sure that a model has been certified for your region – multiple certifications show a brand that understands safety is important.
- Does the pool bot come with a remote control, or do you need to manually turn it on or off? Remote controls are generally more useful, however, there’s wiggle room here for personal preference. If you’d rather not keep track of a pool remote at all times, manual controls may be more your style – especially if you’re already in the pool when you need to switch the bot’s program over.
- Mobility is a general factor that focuses on how well the pool bot handles and turns. Soft turns with high-quality mapping are usually better, because they clean corners more effectively and avoid the possibility of cable tangles more reliably. The bot should also be able to easily find traction and climb your pool walls to the water line without being dislodged.
Mistakes to Avoid
Ignoring Power Supply. Control panel installation and cables are an important part of pool vacuum cleaners, so you need to pay close attention to their requirements. Take a look at specs like output voltage (24 V DC, for example, is a common requirement) and make sure your electrical system can support it. This is especially important for models sold internationally, which may have varying power requirements.
Never Rinsing the Filter. Rinse out the filter after every use! That’s why filter bags and canisters are there – they need to be cleaned out so that your pool bot operates effectively. Otherwise, you aren’t getting your money’s worth because the pool bot can lose suction and cleaning capacity when the filters are backed up.
Not Taking Safety Precautions. Pool vacs add a bot and long power cords to your pool area. Be very careful when it comes to tripping or stumbling hazards. Even falling onto the bot in the pool can result in some serious injuries. Pool bots should be used while the pool is empty, but we know it can be tough to find time when a pool is both uncovered and not in use. Be careful no matter what.
Forgetting Other Pool Care: A pool bot does filter out dirt and scrub the walls, but that’s all it does. You can’t just forget about other types of pool care. Whether it’s you or a pool service, you need to make sure that the chemical balance of the pool remains optimal and that run times and temperature are both set as recommended. Improper chemical balances or temperatures will cause problems with algae and decay no matter how many pool bots you throw in.
What Else You Should Think About
When looking for the best pool vacuum robot, remember to find one that works with your pool size, pool surface materials, electrical system, and pool shape. That’s a lot of variables! Research is your friend here – and remember, you can always call a pool cleaner or similar service and ask about which of our picks would be best for your pool situation. This little video gives you an idea of how to start your pool vac, and there are also many resources on maintaining your pool chemical balance. Speaking of maintenance, you can save money with careful DIY maintenance on your pool bot – just remember to take safety precautions!
Keep in mind that robot pool vacuums and floor robot vacs are two different models (it sounds obvious, but please don’t get them confused). If you want to learn about today’s latest robot cleaning options to automate cleaning inside your house as well as outside, check out our feature on Neato vs. Roomba.
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