What are the best pool vacuums for above ground pools? What advanced automatic pool vacuums work just as well in an above ground pool as an in ground model? What pool cleaners work for the seasonal pool as well as the permanent in ground units?
In this article, we’ll look at some of the best units on the market based on their functions, intended usage and price range. Each unit in this list is a best in category, and we list several units because this is not a one size fits all product.
Above Ground Pool Cleaners
1. Dolphin Escape Robotic Above Ground Pool Cleaner
The Dolphin Escape above ground pool cleaner debuted in 2016. At roughly five hundred dollars, it offers above average features for a mid-market price range. It is “plug and play”, since you don’t have to buy any accessories for it to work or even a power supply. Just plug the forty foot power cord into the wall and put the robotic pool cleaner in the pool. Its efficient motor uses less power than average, and it finishes most above ground pools in an hour and a half or less.
It has a good enough navigation system to cover every inch of the pool bottom as quickly as possible, though it cannot climb pool walls. Its treads prevent it from getting stuck on a slick spot or folds in the pool liner, and it won’t rip up the pool bottom, either. It is light weight enough for most users to carry it without a car, and you can use the water release valve to make it even lighter. The filter cartridge captures most debris, even most algae, though the brushes can’t remove thick layers of algae on the pool bottom.
The manufacturer has a thirty day return policy and one year warranty, though this offer depends on whether or not you buy it through an authorized dealer, so if you buy the Dolphin Escape from an unauthorized online retailer, that warranty and return policy may not be in effect.
This is the best above ground robotic pool cleaner for those who want a better than average unit for a mid-market price tag.
2. Zodiac Ranger Above-Ground Pool Cleaner
One of the major attractions of this unit is that it comes pre-assembled with over thirty feet of hose, so the only step for use is connecting it to the water hoses that propel it. It can adjust itself as the flow changes due to demand, so it won’t stall if something else lowers the GPM flow rate temporarily.
The Zodiac sweeper works quickly and reliably, rarely jamming or needing to be relocated. If you need to pull it out of the corner or move it out of the way, the ring around the head makes it easy to move. It doesn’t get stuck on ladders or corners. It doesn’t get stuck in dished out bottom pool. It can climb the sides of the pool to clean those as well as the bottom of the pool.
The only major warning about the Zodiac automatic suction side pool cleaner is that this pool cleaner should not be used in soft-sided pool, and this unit gets tangled with Intex skimmers that hang in the pool.
When the plastic disks around the vacuum head start to curl up from wear over time, the unit needs to have that part replaced, though by that time, the rest of the vacuum will fail not long after.
3. Hayward 900 “Wanda the Whale” Above-Ground Automatic Pool Cleaner
The “Wanda the Whale” pool cleaner is so named because it is designed to look like a whale. This makes it a good choice for above ground pools filled with young children that might otherwise be afraid of the pool cleaner. The Hayward automatic pool cleaner is available in “Diver Dave” and “Aqua Bug” designs as well, but this one is noted because it is marked down more significantly on sale. In short, it is one of the cheapest models by this manufacturer, with the same performance.
This unit costs a little over two hundred dollars at full price, but it is often marked down as much as 40% to around $125.
This pool vacuum moves quietly and smoothly, so it won’t bother kids or pets. It has a drive that ensures it reaches most of the pool’s bottom in its pass.
The unit is easy to install, and it doesn’t need a booster pump to run. It can run off your existing pool filter if it has decent power and nothing else running off the water flow; this product needs at least 1500 gallons per minute to run at a decent speed.
This pool cleaner is not a good choice if the pool has a wavy bottom or dish shape that can trap the pool cleaner; its hard wheels will spin and potentially rip up the pool bottom in those cases.
4. Pentair Kreepy Krauly E-Z Vac Suction-Side Pool Cleaner Model K50600
This vacuum pool cleaner costs around $215, but it is found on sale for around $130. This unit has only one moving part, so it rarely breaks down. It comes with a skimming valve so that it can run at the same speed regardless of variations in water pressure. It only works well if connected to a pool pump with at least three quarters of a horsepower.
The unit has a random operating pattern intended to make sure it covers every inch of the pool. It comes with 32’ of hose so it can cover very large above ground and in ground pools. You can buy more hose and run the unit as long as the pool pump has sufficient power for it. The Pentair Kreepy Krauly is the best choice for those who have a 2000 gpm or higher power pump and want to clean a larger above ground pool.
One of the minor annoyances with this design is the noise it produces. If you want a quiet, unobtrusive pool cleaner, the “Wanda the Whale” is a better choice.
5. ARKSEN Swimming Pool Cleaner Vacuum
The Arksen pool cleaner costs a little over $200 at full price, but on sale it can be found for less than a hundred dollars – and that is including the hosing. The Arksen is the best above ground and inground pool cleaner for those on a budget if you can get it on sale.
It doesn’t have wheels that can damage the bottom of a vinyl pool. It can work in both above ground and in ground pools.
It can connect to an existing pool system without any additional pars as long as the hoses and connections match your existing filtration system. This pool sweeper needs at least 1600 gallons per hour of power to run. Don’t connect it to a system with that amount of power that is also driving the skimmer or other items.
This unit is considered best for pools less than thirty four feet long.
6. Smartpool SmartKleen Robotic Pool Cleaner Model NC22
The Smartpool Smart Kleen robotic pool cleaner costs around six hundred dollars at full price. On sale, it can be found for a little over three hundred dollars. This pool cleaning robotic vacuum has the same intelligence as a Roomba robot vacuum cleaner; it is capable of determining its location and the shape of the pool and cleaning all of it. The unit can change direction and rarely gets trapped.
This robotic pool cleaner is lighter than some of its rival heavy-weights, so it is safe for vinyl pools as well as fiberglass and concrete pools.
It is rated for pools up to twenty eight feet long and six feet deep. Don’t use this pool cleaner in very deep in ground swimming pools, but it has no problems with most above ground swimming pools.
The only challenge this automatic pool vacuum cleaner faces is service. It is hard to get parts for it and find people who can repair it.
7. Aquabot Pool Rover Junior Model APRVJR
The Aquabot Junior is smaller than its more expensive and bigger siblings. This robotic pool vacuum costs around three hundred dollars at full price, but it can be found for around $275 on sale. For example, the Aquabot pool rover costs around four hundred dollars.
This automatic pool vacuum comes with forty feet of floating cable. It can handle all flat surface above ground pools; don’t put it in dish shaped pools or it may have trouble navigating.
The unit quickly cleans the bottom of pools. It picks up debris like leaves and twigs well, but it doesn’t do as good a job picking up dirt and silt. Conversely, it is easy to clean, both the debris bag and filters.
Because it uses a 24 volt pump, this pool cleaner doesn’t rely on the pool filtration system to power it. This is valuable in the cases where using a pool pump powered unit requires putting in a more powerful pool pump or you want to run the pool cleaner even if the pool pump is shut off. This unit has a two hour automatic shut off to save electricity.
8. Pool Rover Model S2 40
This unit can handle longer above ground pools up to forty feet long. This unit can handle walls with a radius if the radius is at least six inches. However, it won’t scrub up to the water line like the unit’s larger siblings. If it tries to climb the walls, it can flip over and get stuck that way until manually corrected.
It can pick up big debris like acorns, leaves and so forth. It can pick up silt, but you have to empty the bag more often when it does or else the unit loses suction. To get the best coverage, start the pool cleaner in the shallow section of the pool. It uses the same propulsion system for powering the wheels as the vacuum, so if it tries to climb up from the shallow end while still vacuuming, it slows down greatly and may slide back down to the deep end.
One problem the Pool Rover shares with others on this list is getting the unit serviced as it starts to wear out. If you can replace the wheels and filter bags yourself, this isn’t an issue.
One point in favor of the manufacturer is that if the unit dies shortly after you get it, they ship it back at their own expense instead of some companies that make you pay the shipping for a twenty pound or more pool cleaner to get it looked at.