Pool cleaners, also known as robotic pool cleaners or automatic pool cleaners, are essentially a vacuum for your pool. More than that, though, they work automatically, allowing homeowners to take a more hands-off approach to pool maintenance. Their automation and the additional smart technology on some models is what truly sets pool cleaners apart from other tools used for pool cleaning.
The benefits of buying a pool cleaner
Jump to right section
- 1 The benefits of buying a pool cleaner
- 2 What to look for before buying a pool cleaner
- 3 Tips on how to choose the best pool vacuum cleaner for your needs
- 4 Pool Cleaner Reviews: Compare Best Model At a Glance
- 4.1 Polaris Vac-Sweep 360 Pressure Side Pool Cleaner
- 4.2 Dolphin 99996323 Dolphin Nautilus Robotic Pool Cleaner with Swivel Cable
- 4.3 Hayward Poolvergnuegen 896584000013 Automatic 2-Wheel Suction Pool Cleaner for Concrete Pools
- 4.4 BARACUDA G3 W03000 Advanced Suction Side Automatic Pool Cleaner
- 4.5 Dolphin 99996356 Triton Robotic Pool Cleaner with Caddy Swivel Cable
- 4.6 Zodiac MX8 Suction-Side Pool Cleaner
- 4.7 Hayward 500 Aqua Bug Above-Ground Automatic Pool Cleaner
- 4.8 Hayward RC9990GR TigerShark QC Automatic Robotic Pool Cleaner with Quick Clean Technology
- 4.9 XtremepowerUS Automatic Vacuum-generic Kreepy Krauly Climb Wall Pool Cleaner
- 4.10 Hayward 2025ADV Pool Vac Pool Cleaner, Ultra XL
- 4.11 Final Verdicts
The primary benefit of buying a pool cleaner is simplifying pool maintenance for homeowners. It takes a lot of work to keep your pool and filtration system. A pool cleaner is one of the most important tools you’ll use. While chemical treatments kill bad bacteria and viruses in the water, pool cleaners are made to trap much larger debris, like leaves, pebbles and any other commonly found large debris items found a home pool.
Aside of being a more convenient way to clean your pool, pool cleaners take the guesswork out of the whole ordeal for those who can’t or don’t want to learn the finer points of pool maintenance, or simply don’t have time to.
What to look for before buying a pool cleaner
The first thing to look for when shopping for pool cleaners is to ensure the pool cleaner you’re looking at is one that is suited to your pool type. Since most homeowners have inground pools, you’ll want to be sure that the pool cleaner you choose is suited to that purpose. There are also pool cleaners suitable to clean specialty pools, like diving pools, so keep that in mind as well.
Some pool cleaners are capable of fairly robust cleaning, such as sucking up small rocks and pebbles. Others, however, are only capable of tackling small debris, like grass and things of that nature. It’s important to opt for the pool cleaner that is able meet your needs. For instance, if you have a lot of trees in your yard, you’re going to want a cleaner capable of getting rid of leaves.
Generally, pool cleaners are designed for inground pool use. If you have an aboveground pool or a very shallow pool, ensure that the pool cleaner you’re considering can handle those applications without getting stuck or damaging your pool, as a more powerful cleaner may be too much for those pool types.
Pool cleaners may be electric powered or powered by your pool’s pump and filtration system. Both types work great. Instead of favoring one type over the other, you should really research each individual model instead, because that’s where you’ll find the differences in quality and ability.
Tips on how to choose the best pool vacuum cleaner for your needs
There are a few important things to keep in mind when looking for the best pool vacuum cleaner for your needs. Consider the following:
- The pool cleaner you get should be designed to work with your pool type
- Choose a pool cleaner that is capable of meeting your pool’s needs. For instance, if you have oak trees, they will be dropping leaves and acorns, so you’ll need a pool cleaner powerful enough to deal with that.
- Opt for a pool cleaner that is automatic for convenience
- Choose a smart pool cleaner that won’t get itself trapped or tangled
- For energy efficiency, choose a cleaner that doesn’t require a booster pump
Pool Cleaner Reviews: Compare Best Model At a Glance
Polaris Vac-Sweep 360 Pressure Side Pool Cleaner
Key Features of the Polaris Vac-Sweep 360
In-line backup valve
One of the downsides of an automatic pool cleaner is that they can get caught in their own cleaning whirlwind (or hose, or corner of pool, etc.) With the in-line backup valve, the Polaris Vac-Sweep 360 can free itself of corners and entanglements, eliminating this common problem completely.
The Polaris 360 is powered by triple jets and the clean water provided by the pressure line. The result is an automatic pool cleaner that doesn’t require a separate booster pump to clean powerfully and effectively, making it a very energy efficient option.
Because of the Polaris 360’s uniquely powerful operation, it has the capability to suck up larger debris like pebbles, which many other pool cleaners just aren’t capable of handling. The 360’s filter bag traps all of this large debris and prevents it from making its way into your pool’s filtration system, prolonging its health.
31-foot feed hose
If your feed hose is too short, your pool cleaner won’t be able to reach every nook and cranny of your pool. Too long, and your pool cleaner becomes clumsy and gets tangled. 31 feet is a pretty happy medium for most residential inground pools.
For inground pools
The Polaris Vac-Sweep 360 is specifically designed for inground pools. This focus is what allows it to be more energy efficient than some other pumps, such as being able to connect to the circulation system.
What to like about the Polaris Vac-Sweep 360 Pressure Side Pool Cleaner:
- Gets rid of leaves, pebbles and other large debris
- Traps large debris in filter bag
- Purpose-designed for inground pools
- Energy efficient, triple jet powered
- Works without a secondary pump
- In-line backup valve frees the Vac-Sweep 360 from getting trapped in corners
What to consider
- Overall, most people have a very good opinion of the Polaris Vac-Sweep 360 Side Pool Cleaner. Polaris is known for producing long-lived pool cleaners, which is great. However, because the pool cleaner as a whole will live a long time, a certain part might die before the pool cleaner itself does. This may result in you having to buy a replacement part. While this can be an annoyance, it’s important to note that this eventuality typically takes years to occur. It’s just something to keep in mind.
Dolphin 99996323 Dolphin Nautilus Robotic Pool Cleaner with Swivel Cable
Key Features of the Dolphin 99996323
For inground pools
As always, it’s important to choose the pool cleaner that best suits your needs. Dolphin 99996323 is an inground pool cleaner that is optimized for residential pools up to 50 feet in length.
While some pool cleaners clean your pool slowly over several hours, the Dolphin Nautilus works fast. It’s able to completely clean a residential pool in just three hours. This is perfect for when the weather has just gotten warm and you want to do a quick clean so you can hurry up and swim.
Pool cleaners clean your pool, but for them to work properly, you have to be able to clean them. The Nautilus features an easy-to-clean cartridge filter. Simply empty debris out of the filter and you’re good to go.
Typically, the best pool cleaners are going to have a swivel cable or hose, depending on the type of pool cleaner. The Nautilus has a swivel cable; this is what allows it to free itself when it gets trapped. The result is better cleaning (and energy) efficiency.
Some pool cleaners take a bit of effort to install, even if overall operation is simple. The Dolphin Nautilus is a plug-and-play cleaner. This means all you have to do is plug it in and it goes to work, virtually eliminating the complicated installation process.
What to like about the Dolphin 99996323 Dolphin Nautilus Robotic Pool Cleaner:
- Very efficient: The manufacturer claims it only costs 15 cents to clean a pool with this the Dolphin Nautilus.
- Swivel cable is a practical energy efficiency booster
- Swivel cable prevents the Nautilus from getting stuck
- Cleans a pool in under three hours
- Cleans walls and floors
- 12-month warranty—parts and labor
- Plug-and-play makes it easy to use for pool cleaning novices and professionals with limited time for pool and pool cleaner maintenance
What to consider:
- Some have found it’s not great with large debris; if your pool typically only collects smaller debris (dirt, small bits of leaves, etc.), then this won’t be an issue.
Hayward Poolvergnuegen 896584000013 Automatic 2-Wheel Suction Pool Cleaner for Concrete Pools
Key Features of the Hayward Poolvergnuegen 896584000013
Patented tire treads
The patented tire treads are one of the most visible innovations on The Hayward Poolvergnuegen 896584000013. With deep groves, they work like a Martian rover to climb over obstacles in their path and allow the cleaner to keep working uninterrupted.
Patented adjustable roller skirt
The patented adjustable roller skirt is another feature that is designed for more effectively navigating your pool’s terrain and maximizing suction over areas with different surfaces (like the main drain, for instance).
Patented self-adjusting turbine vanes
The Hayward Poolvergnuegen’s patented self-adjusting turbine vanes optimize power output so that The PoolCleaner can do its magic and get rid of big debris.
Preprogrammed steering sequences
The Poolvergnuegen comes with several preprogrammed steering sequences. These sequences are designed to ensure that the Pool Cleaner covers every inch of your pool surface, commanding it to turn and maneuver at key times for full coverage.
The three changeable throats on the Hayward Poolvergnuegen each have a different sized opening so that you can choose which throat to use based on the amount of suction you need. For instance, if you need maximum suction for large debris, you can choose the right throat for that to maximize efficiency.
What to like about the Hayward Poolvergnuegen 896584000013 Automatic 2-Wheel Suction Cleaner:
- 2-year warranty
- 2-wheel drive
- 5 horsepower pump
- Lightweight at 4.9 pounds
- Accommodates pool length up to 32 feet
- Turns every 8 to 10 feet for optimal coverage
- Three interchangeable throats for efficient suctioning
- Preprogrammed steering sequences
- Self-adjusting tire vanes
- Patented tire tread
What to consider:
- The main issue with the Hayward Poolvergnuegen is some find it doesn’t crawl up the walls as well as expected, though it’s important to note that the Hayward Poolvergnuegen seems to be optimized for square and rectangular pools, so if you have a different shaped pool, such as one with a curved wall, that could be a point of trouble.
BARACUDA G3 W03000 Advanced Suction Side Automatic Pool Cleaner
Key Features of the BARACUDA G3 W03000
The FlowKeeper Valve promotes water flow efficiency even when used with low horsepower pumps. It intelligently chooses when to conserve and regulate water flow so that even a low horsepower pump can be used to its maximum potential.
The Wheel Deflector is another efficiency innovation from Zodiac; it boosts efficiency by ensuring your pool cleaner doesn’t get helplessly stuck in a corner, but can instead free itself and get back to cleaning your pool.
Scuff-resistant Long-Life Hose
A pool is a pretty big investment, which is why you’re likely shopping for a cleaner to keep it clean in the first place. But a cleaner doesn’t do you any good if it damages your pool’s surfaces. This is why the Long-Life Hose is designed to prevent scuffs so your pool and the hose maintain their integrity.
Because the Zodiac Baracuda G3 W03000 is a suction-based cleaner, proper adhesion is crucial for optimal functioning. The 36-fin disc is designed to allow the G3 to better adhere to surfaces so it can make the most of its suctioning capabilities; furthermore, the unique 36 fins prevent the G3 from getting caught up in common pool cleaner entanglements and traps, allowing it to run more efficiently.
The Long-Life Diaphragm’s one-moving-part technology is perhaps the greatest innovation of the Zodiac G3 In-Ground Pool Cleaner. With only one moving part, the Long-Life Diaphragm doesn’t require wheels, gears or other noise-making parts, and therefore moves a lot quieter than many other inground pool cleaners.
What to like about the BARACUDA G3 W03000 Advanced Suction Side Automatic Pool Cleaner:
- 90-day warranty
- Runs quietly
- Easy two-step installation with no special plumbing necessary
- Quick-release cassette enables easy pool cleaner maintenance
- 36-fin disc prevents the cleaner from getting caught
- Long-Life Diaphragm with one-moving-part technology
- Long-Life hose doesn’t scuff pool surfaces
- Wheel Deflector prevents the G3 from getting stuck
- The FlowKeeper Valve optimizes efficiency even with low horsepower pumps
- Works with single, two-speed or variable speed pumps
What to consider:
- It’s optimized to clean small to medium sized debris only. While it may work with larger debris, it’s not really explicitly designed too, so you could run into issues with that. But again, if your debris is small to medium, this cleaner will work well.
Dolphin 99996356 Triton Robotic Pool Cleaner with Caddy Swivel Cable
Key Features of the Dolphin 99996356
For residential inground pools
The Dolphin Triton 99996356 is optimized to clean large residential inground pools with a length up to 50 feet. This is a big point in the Dolphin Triton’s favor, because there are a lot of pool cleaners out there, but many simply don’t have this capacity. The 60-foot cable is the perfect length for a pool up to 50 feet, because, ideally, pool cleaner cables and hoses shouldn’t be too long, as that will prevent the pool cleaner from getting entangled or ensnared.
Cleans all pool surfaces
The Dolphin Triton boasts robust cleaning capabilities, most notably its ability to clean all pool surfaces. From floors to coves to walls to stairs, the Triton has the agility and intelligence to tackle variable terrain.
The swivel cable on the Triton is one of the smart features Dolphin uses to keep their pool cleaners from getting tangled. For convenience, the Triton comes with a caddy to store the swivel cable when not in use. This also allows for portability.
The Dolphin Triton comes self-programmed, which enables it to efficiently scan your pool and deliver the best possible cleaning without missing any spots.
Unlike suction cleaners, the Dolphin Triton is plug-and-play. All you have to do to get it to work is plug it in and let it clean. It’s that simple. This is great for busy professionals and others who don’t have a lot of time on their hands for pool maintenance.
What to like about the Dolphin 99996356 Triton Robotic Pool Cleaner:
- 24-month (2-year) warranty with spare parts and labor
- It only costs 15 cents to clean your pool with the Dolphin Triton thanks to its highly efficient operation
- Cleans pools in under 3 hours, dramatically faster than some other pool cleaners
- Cleans pools up to 50 feet
- Comes with a 60-foot cable with integrated caddy
- Cleans all pool surfaces without getting trapped
- Cartridge filter system makes maintenance a breeze
- Suction rate of 4,233 gallons per hour
- Weighs only 18.75lbs: light enough to carry, heavy enough to sink to pool surfaces for proper cleaning
What to consider:
- Some report that the Triton gets stuck on drains, despite being overall all very capable of climbing; it’s unclear if drain type or other specific factors come into play.
- People find it’s actually better at getting larger debris than small debris such as algae and sand.
Zodiac MX8 Suction-Side Pool Cleaner
Key Features of the Zodiac MX8
Cyclonic Vacuum Technology
The Zodiac MX8 uses dual suction action to deliver greater vacuuming power, speed and area coverage, all while requiring 30 percent less water flow. The Cyclonic Vacuum Technology also enabled the MX8 to suck up larger debris that other pool cleaners may find difficult to tackle.
The X-Trax Tires contain very impressive tread that is somewhat reminiscent of a tank. With the X-Trax Tires, the MX8 is able to tackle any terrain, even vertical climbs so that every inch of your pool is covered and cleaned.
Even when using a low flow pump, Zodiac’s maX-Drive Technology creates incredible torque, allowing the MX8 to power through all pool surfaces and terrains to thoroughly clean your pool without getting tangled or trapped. Moreover, this technology allows the MX8 to clean pools of every shape and size. Many pool cleaners only allow for rectangular or square pools, and are unable to clean the walls of curved pools, so this is an important feature to consider if you have a round or kidney-shaped pool, for instance.
Energy and power efficient
Because it requires 30 percent less flow than other pool cleaners of its class and type, the MX8 is incredibly energy efficient. It only needs 20 GPM (gallons per minute) of flow to function) and works with variable speed, two speed and solar pumps. This superior level of energy efficiency is not only environmentally friendly, it will save money over time.
The Flex-Power turbine works with the MX8’s Cyclonic Vacuum Technology to operate at full suctioning power even when connected to low flow pumps.
What to like about the Zodiac MX8 Suction-Side Cleaner:
- One-year warranty
- Cleans all pool shapes, sizes and surfaces
- Tackles tough terrain, including vertical climbs, thanks to maX-Drive and X-Trax tires
- Optimized for high-powered suctioning even when connected to a low flow pump
- Long-life, twist and lock hose
- 39-foot feed hose
- Dual cyclonic action enabled by Cyclonic Vacuum Technology
- Optimized flow control per Flex-Power Turbine
- Highly energy efficient
- Works with your existing skimmer or vacuum line
What to consider:
- The main complaint with the Zodiac MX8 is that it doesn’t do well with very large leaves, especially palm leaves. It’s important to note, however, that most automatic pool cleaners simply can’t tackle palm leaves. Unlike other leaf types, palm leaves are gigantic, as opposed to simply large (like a maple leaf).
Hayward 500 Aqua Bug Above-Ground Automatic Pool Cleaner
Key Features of the Hayward 500 Aqua Bug
The Hayward 500 Above-Ground Automatic Pool Cleaner hooks up to your existing filtration system and can be installed in just ten minutes. This is great for busy parents who need a quick pool cleaner fix.
Deluxe bumper ring
The Deluxe bumper ring on the Hayward 500 prevents the pool cleaner from scratching or damaging the surfaces of your aboveground pool, which are typically more delicate than those of inground pools.
SmartDrive program steering
Instead of steering randomly and erratically, the Hayward 500 Above-Ground Automatic Pool Cleaner utilizes Hayward’s Smart Drive steering technology, which follows a pattern that is optimized to provide the best coverage and cleaning experience for your aboveground pool.
Improves water circulation
Because the Hayward 500 agitates and circulates the water as it cleans, pulling water at the bottom of the pool up to the top, it keeps the water in your aboveground pool fresher than if it were to just sit stagnate. While it may seem small, anything to improve the health of the water in your pool keeps your family that much safer.
Most people who buy aboveground pools do so because they have kids. Young children aren’t the best swimmers, so having a shallow-only pool just makes sense until your kids get older. Even quiet pool cleaners make noise—that’s just a fact. And their random movements may seem scary to kids. But with designs like the ladybug-inspired AquaBug or friendly-faced Wanda the Whale, skittish kids will begin to view your pool cleaner more as a friend than a foe.
What to like about the Hayward 500 Aqua Bug Above-Ground Automatic Pool Cleaner:
- Cute design aesthetic with kid-friendly designs
- Deluxe bumper ring prevents scratches
- Improves water circulation
- SmartDrive improves pool cleaning technique by following a proven efficient pattern of cleaning for better results
- Time saver for parents who just want an easy way to keep their pool clean
- Installation takes less than ten minutes
What to consider:
- The Hayward 500 is expressly designed for permanently installed aboveground pools. It’s not designed to be used with soft-sided aboveground pools. While the extra versatility to use on both pool types would be nice, soft-sided pools simply aren’t made to withstand the rigorous cleaning the Hayward 500 provides.
Hayward RC9990GR TigerShark QC Automatic Robotic Pool Cleaner with Quick Clean Technology
Key Features of the Hayward RC9990GR
Patented Quick Clean Technology
While the standard cleaning cycle on the Hayward TigerShark is only three hours, Hayward’s patented Quick Clean Technology allows the Tiger Shark to do a fast-clean cycle, competently cleaning your pool in just 90 short minutes.
The Hayward RC9990GR TigerShark is powered by an energy efficient 24 DC volt motor; this also provides added safety benefits for use in the water.
The TigerShark’s onboard pump amplifies its suctioning power tremendously, allowing it to tackle larger debris that’s often left behind by other pool cleaners.
Onboard smart computer
The TigerShark’s onboard smart computer technology enables the cleaner to scan your pool for size and determine the best preprogrammed cleaning pattern for your pool’s needs.
Easy to clean
The TigerShark uses a cartridge for its filtration system. To empty the TigerShark of debris after cleaning, simply open up the cartridge and remove the debris. This bagless technology is a great alternative and makes maintain your pool cleaner just a little bit easier.
What to like about the Hayward RC9990GR TigerShark QC Automatic Robotic Pool Cleaner:
- 3-year limited warranty
- Automatic shutoff after cleaning program is finished
- Easy to clean
- Easy to maintain
- 3-hour clean cycle
- 90-minute quick clean cycle
- Onboard pump
- Onboard computer scans pool for efficient cleaning
- 24-volt DC motor
What to consider:
- While most are pleased with the TigerShark’s ability to suck up leaves as well as small debris like sand, they tend to feel like the cleaning pattern is just too random.
XtremepowerUS Automatic Vacuum-generic Kreepy Krauly Climb Wall Pool Cleaner
Key Features of the XtremepowerUS
For inground pools
The XtremepowerUS pool cleaner is designed to work in inground pools of all shapes and all surface types, and accommodates pools up to 32 feet long.
Complicated pool cleaners aren’t ideal for the average homeowner, who just needs a straightforward device that gets the job done. This is why the XtremepowerUS automatic pool cleaner is able to be installed without tools, so you can simply attach it and watch it get to work.
Works with your existing filtration system
This cleaner attaches to your existing filtration system for power, which means there’s no electricity required. All you need is a 3/4 horsepower pump and you’re ready to go.
Climbs pool walls
Some suction cleaners or pool vacuums are great about getting the bottom of the pool clean, but they drop the ball when it comes to cleaning the walls. However, that’s not the case with XtremepowerUS’s pool cleaner, which is able to thoroughly clean your pool’s walls just as well as it cleans the floor.
What to like about the XtremepowerUS Automatic Vacuum-generic Kreepy Krauly Climb Wall Pool Cleaner:
- A generic version of the classic Kreepy Krauly design, which is popular with many longtime pool owners
- Easy installation, no tools necessary
- No electricity required
- Works with your existing filtration system
- Works on all types of inground pools, regardless of shape or surface type
What to consider:
- This cleaner isn’t designed to work in pools depths of less than 3 feet, so take that into consideration. If your pool depth is 3 feet and above, you’re good.
Hayward 2025ADV Pool Vac Pool Cleaner, Ultra XL
Key Features of the Hayward 2025ADV
Easy to install
The Hayward 2025ADV Pool Vac XL hooks up to your pool’s existing skimmer or suction port and is powered by your pool’s own filtration system. There is no need for secondary pumps or anything like that, and installation can take as little as 10 minutes.
While there are a lot of competent cleaners out there, many randomly scrub your pool, and end up leaving erratic patches of debris in places. This isn’t ideal, because you want your whole pool clean. This is where Hayward’s exclusive AquaPilot technology comes in. Instead of randomly roaming your pool’s surface, it’s intelligently preprogrammed to make smart turns and patterns, so that every inch of your pool gets cleaned.
Hayward’s advanced Turbine Technology allows the Pool Vac XL to run more silently than other vacuum-type pool cleaners. Better still, the turbines promote efficient energy usage.
The Hayward 2025ADV Vac XL is power by your existing pool pump. There is no secondary pump or electricity required, which increases the Pool Vac XL’s energy efficiency, saving you money.
Removes all debris types
Some pool cleaners are only guaranteed to remove certain types of debris; for instance, they can remove sand and algae, but they’re unable to pick up leaves. The Pool Vac XL, on the other hand, is able to remove all types of debris from leaves to dirt and more. What’s better is, it empties debris automatically into your pool’s own filtration system, so you don’t have to worry about what to do with debris once it’s vacuumed.
What to like about the Hayward 2025ADV Pool Vac Pool Cleaner – Ultra XL:
- Silent operation, thanks to Hayward’s turbines
- Lightweight enough to carry at 20 pounds, heavy enough to clean properly
- AquaPilot creates a smart cleaning program, more effective pool cleaning
- Energy efficient
- Easy installation
- Easy maintenance
- Removes all debris types for ultimate versatility
What to consider:
- While this is both a capable and consistent pool cleaner with great debris pickup, most complaints center around the hoses, which some feel are inferior to other Hayward hoses.
After completing this roundup of the best pool vacuum cleaners on the market today, one clear winner emerged: The Polaris Vac-Sweep 360 Pressure Side Pool Cleaner. Due to its great cleaning ability, energy efficiency, ease of use, and very few issues, it stands out as the leader of the pack, making it an easy choice for the best pool cleaner.