BEST POOL VACUUM: 5 GREAT PICKS
On a hot day, nothing beats a dip in your pool, but maintenance can be a drag. You want the best pool vacuum to make upkeep painless, yet the options are overwhelming.
If you need help selecting a pool vacuum that will fit your pool, budget and needs, read on.
WHY GET A POOL VACUUM?
The answer to, “why get a pool vacuum?” is if you don’t, you’ll soon be swimming in a green, soupy mess instead of enjoying your own personal oasis. Really, pool vacuuming isn’t an optional activity.
At the very least, you’ll need some kind of system in place to regularly remove debris and get rid of algae build-up, whether you’re planning on doing it yourself, or you’re using a pool service.
Pool vacuums come in different styles, from the 100% human-powered to a robot with more smarts than your laptop, but the idea is the same regardless of the type: using suction and a cleaning head, the vacuum collects debris and puts it somewhere you can get rid of it.
If you have no idea what pool vacuuming is or how to do it, check out this helpful how-to video.
HOW DO I KNOW WHAT KIND OF VACUUM I NEED?
If paying a pool service is out, your pool is more than 10,000 gallons or you have limited time to do your own maintenance, then an automatic pool vacuum may be worthwhile investment.
Automatic pool vacuums save you from having to hook up and clean the entire surface on your own. Instead, after the vacuum has done its work, you empty out its trap, or clean out your filter and that’s the extent of your involvement.
Pool vacuums have gotten really fancy (and some are pretty pricey), so doing some research before you drop a few hundred bucks is smart.
Before you get sticker shock, though, remember that even the most expensive cleaners will pay for themselves in a couple years when compared to the cost of hiring a pool service.
SHORTCUT TO REVIEWS
A SEA (POOL) OF CHOICES
When trying to choose the best pool vacuum, consider how dirty your pool gets. Ask yourself some questions :
- Is it surrounded by lots of trees that shed their leaves into the water?
- Does it get a lot of direct sunlight and algae growth?
- Do you have a lot of stairs that collect gunk?
- Are you strong enough to lift something in and out of the water?
If you answered no to those, then a simpler, less expensive option may be all you need. If you had lots of yeses, then consider which products will be able to handle the mess.
There are three kinds of “automatic” pool vacuums: suction-side cleaners, pressure side cleaners, and robot cleaners, each with their pros and cons. The best fit for you depends on your budget and how much cleaning you really need to have done.
($) Suction-Side Vacuums
Move around and clean using suction from your pump and filter system.
($$) Pressure-side cleaners
Move around and clean using suction from your built-in pump and an additional booster pump.
($$$) Robotic pool cleaners
Have their own motor and pump, and don’t use your pump/filter system.
Let’s look at some of the best offerings for each of these categories.
Zodiac Barracuda G3
This is a suction-side cleaner that works with cement, pebbled, or tiled in-ground pools.
- The Barracuda is the least expensive of any of our picks and has the fewest moving parts, meaning there’s less to break or have to replace.
- Despite being a suction-side cleaner, the design of the Barracuda means it cleans well even if your pool pump doesn’t have a lot of horsepower.
- The cleaning head is protected by a “deflector wheel,” which helps to keep the head from getting fouled up in ladders or corners.
- If you have a raised anti-vortex main drain cover, the Barracuda will often get stuck on it. Most pools are now being required by law to use raised anti-vortex drains because they’re safer for swimmers.
- Because the hose included comes in multiple sections, even if you install it correctly it could have air leaks that keep the cleaner from working well
- If you’re not very familiar with how your pumps and skimmers work, it can be frustrating to get the Barracuda dialled in with the proper pressure to keep it cleaning efficiently.
SO WHICH DO I BUY?
For overall utility, the Smartpool NC72RC comes out ahead of the others.
If you can afford it, a robotic pool vacuum is a real time-saver and the NC72RC has a good balance between price and features.
With its different cleaning modes, you can use it more or less depending on how much scrubbing your pool needs.
Unlike the Polaris, NC72RC doesn’t need to be hooked into the pump, skimmer or filtration system in order to work, making setup especially easy.
Compared to the bulky Turbo T and Nautilus, the NC72RC’s low weight means that even though you have to remove it after it’s finished, it’ll be easier to get out.
And because it uses a bag rather than screens like the Nautilus, it can clean for longer and pick up bigger debris.
If a sparkling pool with minimum hassle is your goal this summer, then the Smartpool NC72RC might just be a home run.