Robotic pool cleaners and pool vacuum cleaners can do a much more thorough job than water propelled pool cleaners that bounce around at random. Some pool cleaners can map the bottom of the pool and ensure that they clean every inch, while most are smart enough to not get stuck in the corner or get caught on anti-vortex pool drains. What are the best robotic pool cleaners and robotic pool vacuum cleaners on the market? There is a lot to consider. Can it climb walls? Does it have a remote control? What is the cartridge capacity? How long does a cleaning cycle take? The following guide on the best automatic pool cleaners looks at the key pros and cons to highlight these important considerations and the differences between the models to help you make your choice.
Top Robotic Pool Cleaners for InGround Pools
1. Dolphin 99996323 Dolphin Nautilus Robotic Pool Cleaner
This robotic pool vacuum cleaner costs around eight hundred dollars at full price, but it can be found for as low as six hundred dollars on sale. This unit costs as much as the Nautilus Plus at full price, but this unit is more often on sale.
This pool cleaner can clean pools up to fifty feet in length. It can clean scrub the walls and floor while vacuuming up leaves and debris, and it does so in around three hours unless the pool has layout that is difficult for the unit to maneuver in. It won’t climb curved pool walls after a while and it cannot navigate steep drop offs.
This pool cleaner can scan the pool and cover the entire floor. It is plug and play, so it doesn’t need to run off the water pump.
One factor to consider before you buy this unit is the that the body rubbing against the side of the pool may leave black streaks, and you have to pay extra for the manufacturer to switch it to a white body. Getting this pool cleaner serviced after the one year warranty ends is a challenge.
Conversely, the unit has an easy to clean filter and can hold a large volume of debris.
2. Hayward TigerShark QC RC9990GR Swimming Pool Robotic Cleaner
This robotic pool cleaner costs around fourteen hundred dollars at full price but can be found for as little as nine hundred dollars on sale. Unlike its rivals, you can buy a caddy for the unit for around a hundred dollars.
The Tigershark has a somewhat longer than usual fifty five foot power cord. It is able to suck up almost all debris, and the filter is easy to clean with a garden hose. Replacement parts like filters can be found online. It lacks a bag for holding the debris, which some consider a plus.
The unit is intelligent enough to determine the most efficient pool cleaning pattern that uses the least power.
Replacing belts and rollers when they wear out after a few years is a challenge, but this model does last several years, whereas many rivals fall apart after a year or two of heavy use.
3. Polaris F9450 Sport Robotic In-Ground Pool Cleaner
This pool vacuum has much more capacity than its rivals. You can get replacement leaf canisters and sand and silt canisters. This is a plus if you need a vacuum that does a better job cleaning up silt brought in by the wind other vacuums don’t contain very well. Both filter canisters do a good job of picking up all the debris like pollen, shredded leaves and fine particles. It doesn’t do as good of a job picking up whole leaves. One of its weaknesses is not climbing the walls as well as the manufacturer promises.
One of the strengths of this unit is the ability to program it with a seven day cycle, such as telling it to clean on one schedule on weekends when the kids use the pool more to a different schedule during the week days so that it is done before you get home from work.
4. Dolphin Quantum Robotic Inground Pool Cleaner
What makes the Dolphin Quantum one of the best automatic robotic pool cleaners on the market?
This robotic pool cleaner has one of the most advanced navigation systems, allowing it to cover every inch of the pool floor and most of the walls and steps without repeating its route. Its wheels let it travel over uneven floor surfaces, curves in the bottom of the pool and pool drains. Its water propulsion jets allow it to partially climb the walls to scrub both the walls and often the tile line. Its broad cleaning path with water jets that pull debris into the scrubbers ensures that it picks up nearly all debris large and small. Its navigation system ensures it cleans the entire pool in as short a time as possible and uses dramatically less electricity than its rivals.
It costs around $1100 at full price, and while rarely on sale, some retailers offer rebates for it. Maytronics, the manufacturer of the Dolphin pool cleaner line, has a several year warranty but doesn’t honor it for units sold through a number of websites, but you may be able to buy a warranty through those websites. It works in fresh water and salt water pools equally well, and maintaining it like replacing filters is easy. The only minor downsides for this unit are that given its price tag, you don’t get the remote control or caddy with it. The unit is compatible with the standard Maytronics pool cleaner caddy.
5. Hayward RC9740 SharkVac Robotic Pool Cleaner
This pool vacuum cleaner costs around seven hundred dollars at full price. It comes in at a little over five hundred dollars on sale, so this is the best robotic pool vacuum for someone on a budget. You can buy this model with a caddy for an extra fifty dollars. Replacement filters are around fifteen to twenty dollars apiece. This unit is easy to find replacement parts like drive belts.
This unit doesn’t rely on the water flow to run; it is electric.
This unit can adjust its own cleaning pattern and is able to navigate most pool configurations. It doesn’t get stuck in the deep end of the pool and instead gets the shallow end equally clean, too. Its weakness is trying to clean steep walls without flipping over; if it flips over, it spills the debris and dirt it had already picked up. This pool cleaner can avoid most types of drains. It is easy to use.
A fast cleaning cycle is a top priority for many but the ability to create an effective cleaning pattern is also very important.
6. Pentair 360032 Kreepy Karuly Prowler Robotic Inground Pool Cleaner
The Pentair 360032 Kreepy Karuly Prowler has a lot of the features that you may come to expect having learnt about the other options – such as the tough cleaning brushes and the wireless remote for extra control – but it also has an extra-long 60ft cord and promises to scrub, vacuum and filter a pool in just 2.5 hours. Where users are particularly impressed is with the auto reverse feature – a simple piece of intelligence to help it out when it reaches corners and obstacles.
Clearly this robot is not as fast as machines like the Polaris Sport and Hayward SharkVac but this is not the main concern for buyers. The issue with this machine is the small capacity, which does decrease its ability to be fully convenient and hassle free slightly. Despite this, it is pretty easy to clean it out when it is full and the inclusion of a the LED full cartridge indicator helps too.
This is the most expensive pool vacuum cleaner on this list if you pay full price. It has a list price of around nineteen hundred dollars. Fortunately, it is regularly marked down to have that price, so you can find it for less than a thousand dollars on sale.
It is heavy, it is bulky, and it can do a thorough job of cleaning your pool in less than three hours. This pool cleaner does not do as good of a job with silt as the Polaris Sport with a silt specific canister.
You can program a cleaning schedule or spot clean using the remote.
The filter is easy to clean, and this unit comes with an indicator to let you know when the filter is getting full.
7. Smartpool Direct Command Robotic Pool Cleaner Model NC72RC
This pool cleaner comes with a remote control that lets you control where it goes so you can clean spots it missed or areas that need particular care.
This vacuum has several modes. The fast one hour track can clean the pool quickly before the kids get in or before you have company. It has a three hour cleaning cycle that is more thorough. And the remote control mode that lets you clean things as you see fit. Or switch to remote control mode to get the spots the other modes missed.
This vacuum has a longer cord than the Dolphin Nautilus, a sixty foot cord.
This unit has a longer warranty than many of its competitors.
One of the challenges buyers face is the hassle of lowering it into pool. The cord periodically tangles up, and you have to take it out of the pool to fix this.
8. Dolphin Triton Robotic Pool Cleaner with Caddy Swivel Cable Model 99996356
This pool vacuum cleaner is unique in that you can switch from a filter with an optional kit; this is especially useful if it is constantly catching debris that otherwise clogs the filter quickly. The filter bags, though, are not as durable as the filter.
This pool cleaner comes with a caddy that some other manufacturers require you to buy separately. It can scrub the sides of the pool as it rolls around on the bottom, but it doesn’t really climb the walls to scrub them.
It comes with a remote for cleaning cycle selection, but it isn’t as good for spot cleaning. Unlike some of its rivals, you can buy a replacement remote if the one that comes with it is accidentally dropped in the pool.
9. Dolphin Premier Robotic Pool Cleaner
This is an expensive pool cleaner. It can be found new on sale or refurbished for around a thousand dollars, and this cost doesn’t include a pool caddy or extra filter bags. One of the strengths of this product is the modular design that lets many people swap out filter bags and media, replace treads and make other repairs themselves. Another benefit is the ability to get replacement filters or larger debris bags from the manufacturer online.
This vacuum does a decent job navigating every inch of the pool bottom, making its way out of the deep end and up onto the steps. However, it will only make half the way up the average pool wall and rarely makes the tile line.
Put in the high grade filters and bags, and this vacuum can contain the mold and algae it picks up. These items do come at an extra cost, but the pool vacuum does come with a basic filter and debris bag.
Perhaps the greatest draw of this robotic pool vacuum cleaner is the versatility and flexibility in controlling it. It comes with several different programs for cleaning the pool, and you can set one schedule for the weekend and a different one for the week. And you can buy a remote that lets you send it back for spot cleaning.
10. Dolphin Oasis Z5 Robotic Pool Cleaner
The Dolphin Oasis Z5 Robotic Pool Cleaner is a model that continues with Dolphin’s desire to produce a machine that provides a highly effective clean through intelligence – in this case via the CleverClean scanning. This robot promises to go from floor to waterline and into coves and users are impressive with its abilities and cleaning power. Some say it can get 99% of dirt, that 1% being the bits in the corners, but they can get around this with help of the remote control.
All of these reported benefits help to reiterate the point that just because a model has a little rosette for being a top seller, it doesn’t mean that other devices should be overlooked. Criticisms of this machine are actually very hard to come by; at the time of writing this guide, the Oasis Z5 has nothing but 5 star reviews on Amazon and it is just the small number of reviewers that brings it down. There is some concern about a weakness in the construction of the caddy, as if this was the designer’s afterthought, but this should not be a problem with some care.
11. Dolphin Primal X3 Robotic Cleaner
The features of the Dolphin Primal x3 Robotic Cleaner start to get familiar as there are standard components that give Dolphin its reputation, such as the use of full pool scanning – for that now trademark efficient cleaning pattern – and the swivel cable and weekly timer. Buyers love that this device really can be left to its own devices and that they can return to the pool to find all of the surfaces in a much better condition. Unlike many of the models that will be mentioned further on in this guide, the Primal X3 climbs to the water line with ease and is even reported to have cleaned some steps – a real rarity in even the best robotic pool cleaners.
This ability to plug it in and let it go really is a must for pool owners that want the most convenient cleaner with the least hassle but there is one flaw with this particular Dolphin model that limits this appeal – the filters need cleaning out far more regularly than hoped for. This is not too much of a chore to carry out, it is just the frequency over other models with larger cartridges that is the issue. Furthermore, there are some buyers that say it is not as good at collecting larger items like stones and big leaves.