Best Pool Vacuum Cleaner for 2021: Top 9 Reviews & Buying Guide
A swimming pool is one of the most desirable features a home could have. Nothing beats the luxury of being able to take a refreshing dip during the summer months right in your own backyard or simply just lounging around the pool area to unwind.
However, you need proper maintenance to get the most of your home’s swimming pool to extend its lifespan and keep it squeaky clean and inviting year round. Thus, one of the must-haves equipment for pool owners is a reliable pool vacuum cleaner.
For pool owners awash with cash, hiring their own pool maintenance guy to keep their pools clean and healthy is a workable solution. But for the rest who can’t afford such indulgence, getting their own pool vacuum is the most practical option. Automated pool cleaners, for instance, do the work with minimal intervention. They can be divided into three different types, namely suction-side vacuum, pressure-side vacuum, and robotic pool cleaners.
- 1 Suction-side Pool Cleaners
- 2 Pressure-side Pool Cleaners
- 3 Robotic Pool Cleaners
- 4 Our Top Picks for In-Ground Pool, Above Ground Cleaners and Robotic Cleaners
- 5 Best Products for Inground Pool Cleaner Fanatics
- 6 Best Value for Your Money: Polaris F9450 Sport Robotic Inground Pool Cleaner
- 7 Best Budget Pick: Zodiac BARACUDA G3 W03000 Advanced Suction Side Automatic PoolCleaner
- 8 Best Products for Above Ground Pool Vacuum Lovers
- 9 Best Overall Pick: Smartpool NC22 SmartKleen Robotic Pool Cleaner
- 10 Best Value for Your Money: Aquabot APRVJR Pool Rover Junior
- 11 Best Pick for the Budget Conscious Buyer: Hayward 500 Aqua Bug Above-Ground Automatic Pool Cleaner
- 12 Best Products for Fans of Robotic Pool Cleaners
- 13 Best Overall Pick: Aquabot Turbo T Robotic In-ground Pool Cleaner
- 14 Best Value for Your Money Pick: Dolphin Nautilus Plus Robotic Cleaner
- 15 Best Mid-Sized Pool Pick: Hayward TigerShark Quick Clean Robotic Pool Cleaner
- 16 Final Notes for Buyers
Suction-side Pool Cleaners
As its name suggests, this type of cleaners sucks dirt and debris along with some of the water at the bottom of your pool. These cleaners are basically powered by the pool’s pump system and needs to be attached to the skimmer or a dedicated cleaner line. Many pool owners prefer suction-side mainly because they are generally cheaper compared to the other two types. However, one disadvantage is that larger debris such as leaves and sticks might clog their throat mechanism.
Pressure-side Pool Cleaners
This type of pool cleaners uses water pressure to clean your pool floor. They either use the pressure from the existing pool pump or employ a secondary booster pump to increase water pressure even further. The water pressure creates what is called the “venturi effect” forcing dirt and debris into the bag. Compared to suction-side models, pressure-side cleaners are more effective in getting larger debris from the pool. However, they are also more expensive than the former.
Robotic Pool Cleaners
These cleaners are generally larger than the previous two types. The main difference is that you don’t have to connect it to the pool’s pump or filtration system. It has to be powered by a separate electricity source. It is also more high-tech since it has a microchip that allows you to program some of its features such as the cleaning pattern or the timer function. In addition, these devices are usually equipped with sensors so they are able to navigate and clean your pool floor more efficiently. Unfortunately, all these features also mean that this type of cleaner is usually the most expensive of them all.
Our Top Picks for In-Ground Pool, Above Ground Cleaners and Robotic Cleaners
Of course, pool vacuum cleaners can also be classified depending on the type of pool you own. If you are looking for the right pool equipment for you, we’ve come up with our top picks for different categories, namely inground pool cleaners, above ground pool vacuum and general robotic pool cleaners. Take a look at our handpicked choices and see if they’re perfect for your needs.
Best Products for Inground Pool Cleaner Fanatics
Best Overall Pick: Dolphin Triton Robotic Pool Cleaner
The Dolphin brand is known for its high-quality pool equipment and the 99996356 Dolphin Triton Robotic Pool cleaner does not disappoint. What’s impressive for this cleaner is that it’s a plug-and-play device; you won’t need to connect it to the pool’s system to get it up and running.
It has a 60-foot cable that allows it to clean inground pools of up to 50 feet in length. It also features a patented tangle-free swivel system so you don’t have to worry about its long cable getting tangled during operation. It’s also very cheap to operate as it will only cost you around 5 cents per hour to run this equipment.
The only drawback we can think of is the $2,000 price tag which puts it in the more expensive end in its niche. But with an intelligent scanning technology that can calculate the most efficient pattern to clean your pool, it’s definitely worth its price as it can clean your pool in less than 3 hours, thanks to its high 4,233 gallons per hour suction rate.
Best Value for Your Money: Polaris F9450 Sport Robotic Inground Pool Cleaner
The Polaris F9450 Sport Robotic In-Ground Swimming Pool Cleaner Vacuum 4-Wheel Drive is your best bet if you are looking for a cleaner that offers the best value for your money. Designed with the user in mind, it is packed with features to make pool cleaning automated and very convenient.
For instance, this cleaner is ideal for busy householders as it has a 7-day programmable timer which means you can just enter the desired settings and basically forget about it while it diligently follows your instructions. It also features the Vortex Vacuum technology enabling it to powerfully suck out dirt from your pool as well as the ActivMotion Sensor® Technology so it automatically senses its position leaving no surface untouched.
However, some customers say that it sometimes flips over when cleaning the pool’s walls. But with its highly efficient cleaning capability as well as its sports car-like design, most owners just overlook that minor flipping over issue and buy it for its overall solid performance.
Best Budget Pick: Zodiac BARACUDA G3 W03000 Advanced Suction Side Automatic PoolCleaner
Some homeowners are not really after all those cool features one can find in high-end models. For those who prefer to keep things simple, the Zodiac BARACUDA G3 W03000 Advanced Suction Side Automatic Pool Cleaner fits the bill.
The W03000 is a suction side type of pool cleaner so it’s understandable why it is also one of the most affordable options in the market today. Yet, it a very capable equipment that delivers a solid performance which explains why more than a thousand Amazon buyers gave the product a high satisfactory rating of 4.1 out of 5 stars.
As expected of a suction side cleaner, one potential issue for this product is that large leaves might get stuck in its diaphragm. But considering its low maintenance and durability, many users simply view the occasional clogging a minor issue.
Best Products for Above Ground Pool Vacuum Lovers
Best Overall Pick: Smartpool NC22 SmartKleen Robotic Pool Cleaner
Versatile and packed with useful features, the SmartPool NC22 SmartKleen-Robotic Pool Cleaner is our top pick for above ground use. It is specifically designed for mid-sized pools up to 14' x 28' x 6' deep and works with all types of surfaces such as fiberglass, vinyl liner, and concrete.
It features a smart navigation technology which means it is able to steer itself without waiting to bump into walls for a fast and efficient pool cleaning. It also sports of a Quick Drain system which makes it super easy for the user to remove the equipment out of the pool. In addition, it has a big filter bag enabling it to trap debris very easily.
On the downside, it does not have a timer function. However, it does have a two-hour auto shutoff feature for safety, which could be inconvenient if the cleaner did not finish the task in two hours,which means you need to restart the device to finish the cleaning operation.
Best Value for Your Money: Aquabot APRVJR Pool Rover Junior
If you want to decrease the maintenance-related downside of your swimming pool, then the Aquabot APRVJR Pool Rover Junior Robotic Above-Ground Pool Cleaner is for you. This highly efficient equipment can clean your mid-sized pool in less than 1 hour and is packed with high-tech features earning it a spot in this exclusive list as our best value for your money pick.
For instance, it has the finest filtration system in the industry capable of scooping up even algae, bacteria, slit or sand with its 2-micron fine reusable filter bag. Thanks to its exclusive Hydro-Robotic Technology to propel it through the water as it cleans, this device will require fewer repairs throughout its lifetime because it has fewer parts.
Before you head to the store to get this cleaner, you need to know some of the more common complaints. For example, some owners don’t really like the fact that you have to clean the filter bag after each use to prevent rotting, In addition, this product is designed for use on flat-bottomed pools and may not work perfectly on curve-bottomed ones.
Best Pick for the Budget Conscious Buyer: Hayward 500 Aqua Bug Above-Ground Automatic Pool Cleaner
One of the most easily recognizable cleaners on the market is the Hayward 500 Aquabug Suction Above-Ground Pool Cleaner. As its name suggests, this equipment really looks like a hardworking bug. At under $150, it is also one of the most affordable devices on the market today which makes it perfect for budget-conscious pool owners.
This ultra-quiet cleaner is also very versatile and can be used to clean pools with concrete, tile, vinyl or fiberglass surfaces. It features the patented SmartDrive programmed steering to clean your pool more efficiently. It is also very easy to use and installation can be done in less than 10 minutes. Just connect it to your pool’s existing filtration system and it’s good to go.
Given its very affordable price, you can’t really compare it with high-end pool cleaners. One common complaint is that you’ll need to purchase the Hayward leaf canister to scoop out larger debris. Some owners also warn that it won’t work with Intex pools.
Best Products for Fans of Robotic Pool Cleaners
Best Overall Pick: Aquabot Turbo T Robotic In-ground Pool Cleaner
If you are looking for a cleaner that has it all and willing to pay the premium for the best features, then the Aquabot Turbo T Robotic In-ground Pool Cleaner is probably the pool cleaning equipment you are looking for. This is a powerful cleaner has no problems in sucking out dirt and debris and does it very efficiently with a very low operating cost.
The Aquabot Turbo T features dual off-center vacuum ports and an onboard filtration system so it clears your pool of various dirt particles and bacteria as small as 2 microns without clogging. It comes with a long cable making it suitable for cleaning pools up to 50 feet in length. It cleans intelligently thanks to its microchip controlled movement and can even climb 90-degree angles so it can even clean stairs and pool walls.
Unfortunately, it is currently being offered on Amazon at slightly under $1350 so it might be beyond the budget of some buyers. As it is designed for use on in-ground pools, it will not fit the needs of homeowners with above ground pools.
Best Value for Your Money Pick: Dolphin Nautilus Plus Robotic Cleaner
Maytronics is a well-known pool equipment brand that has consistently produced high quality yet reasonably priced products over the years. The Dolphin Nautilus CC Plus Automatic Robotic Pool Cleaner does not disappoint because not only is it affordable, it also comes packed with top-of-the-line features.
It boasts of the CleverClean technology which scans your pool and plots out the most efficient pattern to ensure that the entire pool floor is cleaned at the shortest time possible. It uses ultra-fine filters to ensure all dirt and debris is taken out of the pool leaving only clean and crystal clear water.
At 19 pounds, it is a bit on the heavy side and getting it out of the pool will take some effort. However, most owners say that its weight is only a minor issue considering that it does it is dependable when doing its job.
Best Mid-Sized Pool Pick: Hayward TigerShark Quick Clean Robotic Pool Cleaner
If you have a slightly smaller pool, then the Hayward RC9990GR TigerShark QC Automatic Robotic Pool Cleaner is a must-check. This equipment is specifically designed for pools of up to 20' x 40' in size.
The TigerShark is a very efficient and dependable pool cleaner that is very easy to use as it does not need to be connected to the pool’s filtration system. You can use it right after unboxing, just plug it in and it’s ready to keep your pool spotlessly clean. Users love the auto-shutoff feature as they don’t have to worry about turning it off after it runs its round of cleaning.
Pool owners who have tried this product say they find its cartridge system is easier to deal with than those products using filter bags. However, it does have its share of areas that can be improved on. For instance, it’s a bit on the heavy side so a caddy would be very handy. Unfortunately, the caddy does not come with the package and has to be purchased separately.
Final Notes for Buyers
So, which pool vacuum cleaner is perfect for you? We can’t really make the decision on your behalf but we’re here to help.. If you have an in-ground pool then you can choose among these recommendations we presented under the “Best Products for Inground Pool Cleaner Fanatics” section. Otherwise, you can choose among the 3 cleaner we’ve discussed under the “Best Products for Above Ground Pool Vacuum Lovers” section of this guide.
Please note that we’ve included products at different price levels. This is to ensure that you will always have a high-quality pool cleaner option no matter what your budget may be.
Before finalizing your buying decision, please go over the specification and features of the product in more detail. If an expensive cleaner contains some features that you don’t really need, it is more practical to go for a lower-priced model that contains only the specs you really want.