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Swimming Pool Cleaner Type Comparison Guide

Customer’s often call us here at PoolSupplyWorld and ask us a simple question: which pool cleaner is right for me? To answer this we’ve put together a simple guide to ensure you pick the best pool cleaner for your pool.

Before we can make a proper product recommendation to our customers we often ask them a few simple questions to determine which cleaner would suit them best. In this article, you’ll read about the different pool cleaner types and the pros and cons of each. After, you’ll answer a few basic questions that will help you determine which pool cleaner is the best for you.

Here are the three basic pool cleaner types:

Suction Side Pool Cleaners – [$99 - $399]

Suction-side cleaners attach to the suction line of your pool’s plumbing system. They clean using suction power to pull debris from the floor and walls. The unit then picks up and deposits this debris and passes it through to your skimmer and pool filtration system.

Pros:

  • Lower cost
  • Great for smaller to medium sized pools
  • Less moving parts

Cons:

  • Causes additional wear and tear on your pool pump
  • Continuous use of your pool pump to clean your pool
  • More taxing on your pool filter system

 

Pressure Side Pool Cleaners – [$300 - $999]

Pressure side cleaners use water pressure from a dedicated booster pump and/or pool pump to drive the cleaner around your pool and force debris into a filter bag where it can be collected and easily removed.

Pros:

  • Less pool filter and pump maintenance
  • Great for medium to large pools
  • Many available replacement parts

Cons:

  • Often requires a second pump or booster pump

 

Robotic Pool Cleaners [$329 - $ 1499]

The most popular choice and most recommended cleaners are Robotic Pool Cleaners. These cleaners have a self contained filtration system that doesn’t put any additional wear on your existing pool equipment. Another benefit of owning a robotic cleaner is the ease of use. Just plug-in the cleaner’s control unit into an outlet, submerge the cleaner underwater, press the power button, and let the cleaner do the rest! Hate cleaning those filthy pool walls? Most high end models will even clean them for you.Suction-side cleaners attach to the suction line of your pool’s plumbing system. They clean using suction power to pull debris from the floor and walls. The unit then picks up and deposits this debris and passes it through to your skimmer and pool filtration system.

Pros:

  • Better cleaning & filtration
  • Energy efficient
  • Operates quietly
  • Longer warranties
  • Remotes and storage caddy’s available

Cons:

  • Higher prices
  • Having to remove and insert the cleaner from the pool when needed
  • Might be excessive for your size pool

 

So now that you know the pro and cons of the various pool cleaner types. Which pool Cleaner should you purchase?

Here are a few questions to ask yourself before making your purchase.

Are you looking to replace or upgrade?
What do you dislike about your current cleaner?
What features do you like about your current cleaner?
Are you tired of a high energy bill?
What is your budget for a new cleaner?

Need more help? We would love to help you choose the right pool cleaner. Feel free to leave a comment below or get in touch with us HERE.

Thomas Tran is a leisure product specialist; he loves helping customers find items that perfectly fit their pool & spa needs. In his free time, he is training to become a street fighter 4 champion. When he’s not training on his Xbox 360, he watches cartoons with his 2 year old daughter.
  • Sara

    I am looking into getting either the Barracuda G3 or the Great White. I read something about the Great White not doing well with 90 degree wall/floor angles. I have a geometric approx. 32 x 15/17 with 90 degree walls and lots of baha steps…gunite finish. Which would you recommend? Thanks.

    • PoolSupplyWorld

      Hi Sara, thanks for your excellent question. We would recommend the Barracuda G3 as this cleaner will do well in your pool and will not have any trouble performing in your geometric pool. You are correct in that the Great White cleaner would not be a good choice and would struggle with your wall/floor angles. Please let us know if we can be of any further assistance.

  • Jen

    I have an older model of the Dolphin Pro and the teeth inside the belt for moving it along the pool are worn and some even missing. Can I extend it’s life by replacing the belts and do you sell these replacement belts and if so, cost? Thanks much…Jen

    • PoolSupplyWorld

      Hi Jen, you should certainly be able to extend the life of your older model Dolphin Pro by replacing the belts — replacing the belts on a cleaner is like changing the tires on a car — but we would need to know the specific model cleaner you have so we can find the proper replacement parts. If you could please provide us with the model number of your cleaner, we’d be happy to help you find its proper replacement belts.

  • Robin

    Would you recommend purchasing a leaf canister to go along with the Kreepy Krawly classic?

    • PoolSupplyWorld

      Hi Robin, thanks for your excellent question. We would only recommend purchasing the Hayward Large Capacity Leaf Canister with Mesh Bag if you have a lot of debris in your pool. If you do not have much debris, it’s not necessary. Please let us know if we can be of any further assistance.

  • Anonymous

    Can I use a Great White in a above ground pool?

  • Butch

    Had the pool fiberglass now what sweep do I use the krepy crawly will not work?

    • PoolSupplyWorld

      Hi Butch, there are a number of automatic pool cleaners that would work for your in-ground, fiberglass pool, and selecting the proper one for your application will depend on which cleaner type you prefer (suction-side, pressure-side or robotic) and your budget. Some Kreepy Krauly cleaners will work with fiberglass surfaces, while others will not. Which Kreepy Krauly cleaner are you currently operating? Please contact us and let us know your preferred type of cleaner and budget, and we’ll be more than happy to steer you toward the automatic cleaner that is right for you.

  • Michael

    y concrete in-ground pool gets a green algal coating,. Which pool cleaner would you recommend/ thank you. Michael

    • PoolSupplyWorld

      Hi Michael, thank you for your question regarding a pool cleaner recommendation for your algae-coated pool. The Water Tech Blue Diamond Robotic Pool Cleaner is great for picking up algae on pool floors and walls, and is ideal for cleaning pools up to 50′ in length. If you are interested in a suction side cleaner, the Kreepy Krauly Great White features scrubbing brushes perfect for loosening algae before vacuuming it out of your pool.

      In addition, if your pool walls and floors are covered in algae, it is highly recommended to treat it with algaecide. Algaecide 60 ZAPPER Non-Metallic 1 qt will kill all forms of algae without staining pool surfaces, and should work to help eliminate the algae in your pool. We hope this has helped, and please let us know if we can be of any further assistance.

  • Paul

    I have a standard 17×35 vinyl lined pool and I am looking to by my first automatic pool cleaner. I find the price of the suction side units very tempting, but am wondering if I should “buck up” and get a robotic cleaner instead. Thoughts?

    • Paul

      Just an FYI, the suction side units I am considering are the Hayward XL and the Polaris ATV. Do you have a recommendation on either one?

    • Paul

      The two robotic cleaners I am considering are the Polaris 9300 and the SmartPool Nitro XL, thoughts?

    • PoolSupplyWorld

      Hi Paul, as you will note in this blog, suction-side and robotic pool cleaners both have pros and cons, and while suction-side cleaners will do a pretty good job cleaning your pool and are relatively simple to install, we highly recommend robotic cleaners for their ease of use, comprehensive cleaning ability and independent filtration system.

      That said, based on feedback from our customers, the Polaris 9300 is a good choice for pools with large debris, but not the best option if your pool accumulates smaller particles, like sand and silt. Based on performance and reliability, we would recommend the 9300 over the SmartPool Nitro XL, but we would consider the Aquabot Turbo T2 over either. The Turbo T2 will handle large debris, like leaves and twigs, but can also filter particles as small as two microns, compared to the 9300′s 100 micron capability. The Turbo T2 features a self-contained, reusable 34-quart capacity filter bag, and can clean any pool in as little as one hour.

      If you decide you would prefer a suction-side cleaner, we would recommend the Baracuda MX8 over either the Hayward Pool Vac XL or Polaris ATV. The MX8 features advanced drive and traction technology that allows it to maneuver even the toughest to reach spots in a pool. It also has a wider cleaning path for larger debris consumption. If your pool accumulates large leaves or twigs, we would recommend using a Baracuda In-Line Leaf Catcher Canister along with the MX8 to help alleviate stress and clogs in your skimmer or pump strainer basket. Should you install a Leaf Canister with your MX8, you will also need a Baracuda MX8 Pool Cleaner Leaf Catcher Hose Adapter for proper installation.

      If you have further questions or would like additional assistance selecting the right cleaner for your pool, please feel free to give us a call for immediate assistance.

    • Paul

      Thank you VERY much for the incredible feedback. I stumbled across a Polaris 9300/9300xi Sport Pool Cleaner Ultra Sand and Silt Filter Canister – R0535800 on your site. I assume this would be interchangable with the out of the box filter? After removing large debris, I could change out the filter and remove the find debris? Thanks again for all your help!

    • PoolSupplyWorld

      Hi again Paul, we’re more than happy to help! The Polaris 9300/9300xi Sport Pool Cleaner Ultra Sand and Silt Filter Canister is meant to be used in place of the standard filter canister, and enables the Polaris 9300 to pick up finer debris, though its filtration capabilities are still only 60 microns (compared to 2 microns for the Aquabot Turbo T2). If your pool doesn’t get a lot of very fine particles in it and you deal more with large debris, like leaves and twigs, the 9300 paired with the Ultra Sand and Silt Filter Canister should get the job done. Please let us know if we can be of any further assistance.

  • Art

    We have a 24′ by 16′ lagoon shaped in-ground cement pool with no square corners other than the steps and seats surfaces. The side walls are approximately 3.5 to 6 feet high. What pool vacuum cleaner robot would you suggest. We are looking at the navigator pro series w/ the inline filter attachment for leaves etc.

    • PoolSupplyWorld

      Hi Art, if you are interested in a suction-side cleaner for your 16′ x 24′, 6′ deep lagoon-style concrete pool, the Hayward Navigator Pro sports an advanced design and will provide precision scrubbing and vacuuming of your pool floor and walls. Suction-side cleaners attach to either your pool skimmer or a dedicated suction line, and rely on your pool’s filtration system for operation. The Hayward Large Capacity Leaf Canister with Mesh Bag is a great pairing for the Navigator Pro, as it will help keep large debris out of your pool skimmer and pump basket.

      If you’re looking for a robotic pool cleaner, the Polaris 9400 is an excellent choice for pools with medium to large debris, like leaves. Robotic cleaners require no installation, plug directly into a standard GFCI outlet and operate independently of your pool pump and filter, which helps save on energy while prolonging the life of your equipment. The Polaris 9400 features four-wheel drive technology that gives it better traction and maneuverability. It will clean pool floors and walls up to the waterline, and is pre-programmed with cycles of 1-1/2 and 2-1/2 hours. The 9400 also comes with a convenient caddy cart, for easy transport and storage.

      If you have any further questions on the best automatic cleaner for your pool, please feel free to give us a call for immediate assistance.

  • Tim

    I have a 5 year old polaris 360 and its not working as well as it use to. I am looking for a good replacement. I have mine on a timer and it is used daily. I do get occasional large debris. My pool is also lake shaped and the 360 spends way to much time at either end and misses the middle. Any suggestions would be appreciated. It is on a booster pump. Does anyone make a pressure side similar to the robotic 9300?

    • PoolSupplyWorld

      Hi Tim, the Polaris 360 is designed to operate without a booster pump, and the cause of its not working could be due to your using it with a booster pump. A booster pump creates too much pressure for the 360, which can negatively impact its performance and ultimately damage the cleaner or your pool.

      Pressure-side cleaners are designed differently than robotic cleaners, but if you’re looking for a pressure-side cleaner that utilizes a booster pump and will deliver somewhat similar performance to the Polaris 9300, we would recommend the Polaris 3900 Sport. The 3900 features a sleek body design, WideTrax tires, for better maneuverability and traction, and provides 50% more torque than other pressure-side cleaners. It also boasts a three-jet propulsion system, for better, faster cleaning performance. If you have any further questions on the best pressure-side cleaner for your pool, please feel free to contact us directly for immediate assistance.

  • Jason

    I have a lagoon shape pool, approximately 40×20, 8′ deep. I was looking at the Polaris 9300, Aquabot Supreme and the Scrubber60. I get a lot of dirt, that is my biggest concern. Would you recommend one over the other, or a different unit?

    • PoolSupplyWorld

      Hi Jason, for your 20′ x 40′, 8′ deep pool, with dirt as your primary concern, we would recommend the Polaris 9300 paired with a Polaris 9300/9300xi/9400 Pool Cleaner’s Ultra Sand and Silt Filter Canister. The 9300 is ideal for pools up to 20′ x 50′, and the Ultra Sand and Silt Canister will ensure it efficiently scrubs away the dirt on your pool floor and walls. The 9300 comes with a caddy cart, for convenient transport and storage, and works with all pool surface types. Please let us know if we can be of any further assistance.

  • david sperle

    I would like to buy a robotic pool cleaner, I have used 1 that I borrowed from our pool guy and it work great in our pond, water depth is about 16 inches, but it did’nt work in the other pond because water depth is only about 7.5 inches, both ponds have nice pool bottoms (pebble tech finish), my question is does anyone make a low profile model that would work in only 7-8 inches of water

    • PoolSupplyWorld

      Hi David, robotic pool cleaners are designed for use in swimming pools only, and we would not recommend using them for any other application as doing so could affect the performance of the cleaner and also void its warranty. Please let us know if we can be of further assistance.

  • Juan

    I have a new pool which is 17X24ft and goes from 3 to 6ft deep. The pool is rectangular in shape. I have a dedicated vacum line with an eight variable speed high effciency motor. What type of pool cleaner do you recommed?

    • PoolSupplyWorld

      Hi Juan, We would recommend a robotic cleaner. They use less electricity and have a lower long term cost than other cleaners while also being the most effective kind of cleaner. What kind of debris do you have most problems with in your pool? Is it mostly leaves and larger debris or sand/silt and smaller debris?

    • Juan

      Thanks for your reply. For now, weve noticed it to be more sand/silt and smaller debris. The leaves that make there way into the pool are small in size and quantity. With that said, do you still recommend the robotic cleaner?

    • PoolSupplyWorld

      Hi Juan, We would recommend the Blue Diamond robotic cleaner linked here

  • Andrew

    I need to replace my pressure suction cleaner and booster pump due to age. I have an odd shaped pool and the current Polaris 280 I have gets stuck in the odd corners. I’m trying to decide between replacing or moving to a robotic cleaner. Cost is not an issue so shold i make the move?

  • Ruth Whitehead

    What could we use on a pop-up pool? The pool pump & filter system are not strong enough to get the leftover dirt & minerals (rust) out of the bottom of the pool. Also have a lot of trouble with bugs not being pulled through. This is temp solution till we can move up to larger pool, so want to be able to use products with another type pool. Suggestions? Thanks.

  • Jim Williamson

    Funny. My Hayward is far better than my mom’s expensive robotic system because of the superior filtration. Think about it. If the filter bags on the robotics were so good why even have a separate filter system. The fact is the you simply can not filter algae and small particles with a bag. That is why we have large filtration devices on pools.The small particles on the robotics can cause algae plumes in the pool as the are thrown into the pool by the poor filtration. Can’t compare the filtration differences.

    • http://www.poolsupplyworld.com/ Daniel Henson(PoolSupplyWorld)

      Hey, Jim, thank you for your comment. It really varies from robotic to robotic as they all have different grade filter bags/cartridges. This blog is comparing specifically just the cleaners themselves(robotic vs. suction vs. pressure), separate of the typical pool filter component. Using a robotic cleaner does not remove the need for standard pool filtration or circulation. You must be sure to frequently empty those robotic cleaner cartridges/bags to ensure your getting all the extra debris out.

  • Terri Newmark Benton

    We have a 20×37 mountain lake irregularly shaped gunite 3 to 10′ depth with loveseat in deep end and steps in shallow end. Summer use only and pool has full sun exposure . Have had 4 Polaris in 26 yrs and tired of dealing with movement/pressure issues no matter what we do to maintain/repair it.. Debris is usually small and have silt/sand from nearby road. We have lots of leaves but not many reach the bottom.. I skim daily. Also have hickory nuts early in the season. and idealy would want a cleaner that could pick them up. Run Polaris every day to keep water circulating . Thinking strongly about going robotic. Closest outlet is about 10 feet from pool. Want a cleaner that will climb walls and completely cover pool. Not concerned about the steps as the Polaris gets stuck on the bottom one anyway until back up valve pulls it off ( pain in the butt) and I brush them and the love seat. Don’t need bells and whistles like 7 day timer or remote to keep cost down. What do you recommend? Thanks

    • Dylan (PoolSupplyWorld)

      Hello Terri! Right off the bat my recommendation for you would be Kreepy Krauly Prowler 820 (360031).

      http://www.poolsupplyworld.com/Kreepy-Krauly-Prowler-820-Robotic-Automatic-Pool-Cleaner/360031.htm

      This cleaner does come with a 60′ cord that should ensure it reaches all the farthest corners of your pool. The filtration is top of the line and will have the best capacity to collect that tiny silt/sand that is getting into your pool. Nice thing is the Prowler 820 is currently running in the mid $700′s, which makes it one of the most affordable robotic cleaners amongst it’s peers.

      If you have any further questions about this cleaner or any others, then please let me know. Take care!

  • noice19

    Hello, I am looking for an automatic cleaner for my 18′ above ground pool. I can’t decide between a Hayward aqua bug and the Polaris vac-sweep pressure cleaner. I do not get a lot of large debris in my pool but we get a lot of algae along the bottom of the pool. I am looking for something with a super simple set-up that will brush the algae off the bottom and also pick up debris. The pool also has a very uneven bottom.

    • http://PoolSupplyWorld.com/ Whitney (PoolSupplyWorld)

      Thank you for visiting our blog! I would love to help you pick the right cleaner for your pool and needs. Both are great cleaners that would work great for picking up algae and small debris. The major difference is the functionality of these two cleaners. The Hayward AquaBug is a suction side cleaner that cleans the bottom of the pool and the Polaris Vac-Sweep 65 is a pressure side cleaner that cleans the bottom and walls of the pool. The Polaris Vac-Sweep 65 will do better if you have a very uneven bottom. You shouldn’t have any problem with installation on either model. Both will come with step by step instructions and as always we will be here to help if you have any problems. I hope I was able to provide some helpful information! Please let me know if there is anything else that I can do to help!

  • Sanjiv B

    I have a 16×32 Ovall shaped inground pool with Vinyl liner . The pool is surrounded by trees so there is lot of leaves falling . The Pool is 3 to 8 feet deep and walls are at 90deg.
    The Pool also has steps coming into it .
    which automatic robotic pool cleaner would you recommend

    • Dylan (PoolSupplyWorld)

      The 90 degree angles for the walls are going to be a bit tricky and tough to overcome. Pool cleaners aren’t necessarily designed for that straight 90 degree incline, and would have difficulty climbing the walls each time in the pool. Now there are a few cleaners out there that are going to be a bit more capable of making this climb, albeit not consistently.

      The Dolphin DX5 Plus is an excellent robotic cleaner choice and comes with the dual motors to provide the best possible wall climbing power. Along with a remote control, caddy cart, and pinpoint turning control; the DX5 Plus would be my best possible choice.

      http://www.poolsupplyworld.com/Dolphin-Dynamic-DX5-Plus-Robotic-Automatic-Pool-Cleaner—Includes-Digital-PRO-Remote-Control/Dynamic-DX5-plus.htm

      Thanks!

      • Sanjiv B

        Is remote the only difference between Dx4 and Dx5 or is there something else ?

        • Dylan (PoolSupplyWorld)

          The DX5 Plus model does offer a remote control that allows steering of the cleaner, and provides upgraded dual motors. The standard DX4 or DX5 will only come with a single motor rather than dual motors.

          Also, the DX5 series does include a caddy cart for convenient transportation and storage.

  • John Nags

    What is the best automatic robot vacuum cleaner for a Grecian sport pool (18×36)? I want something that can clean the floor, walls and waterline. I am torn between a Dolphin and the Tigershark QC and DolphinTriton or Advantage Plus. I was also looking at the Polaris 9300 but the other have two cleaning brushes.

    Thanks.

    • http://PoolSupplyWorld.com/ Whitney (PoolSupplyWorld)

      There are definitely a lot of options we have for a Grecian pools. One of the robotic cleaners that we have had the most success with is the Dolphin DX5 Plus. The Dolphin brand is very much a HUGE component in the robotic cleaner industry. I like this model the best because it comes standard with dual motors and the PRO remote control. The dual motors will will take care provide a lot of power to make it all the way up the walls and to the waterline while the remote allows you to manually drive the cleaner to hard to get places in the pool. This cleaner has a lot of great features and works perfect for Grecian pools with an affordable price tag for a robotic pool cleaner. I hope I was able to provide some helpful information. Please let me know if you have any other questions!

  • GK

    I have a pebble tech pool, irregular dhsped with lots of training ledge and steps, 9′ deep and about 23k gallons. I live in the Atlanta area and have leaves, pollen, gumballs, as well as small pebbles grom the gunnite-pebble tech liner. I have one of the Polaris pump cleaners that I’ve taken for repair and thry say has nothing wrong but it won’t cover 1/2 the pool and never has enough power to leave the deep end. We want a great robotic cleaner that does everything and is very dependable. What is your suggestion? I’m also looking for a good pool alarm. Thank you

    • Dylan (PoolSupplyWorld)

      My favorite robotic pool cleaner to recommend will be the Dolphin DX5. I find this cleaner to be very reliable and have great traction when covering the entirety of the pool. Any pool cleaner may have issues with ledges and steps, in which case I might recommend a model that has a remote control to help you steer the cleaner to any potentially missed areas.

      The Dolphin DX5 Plus would be an ideal choice as it does include the remote that would ensure you are able to have your cleaner reach every corner of the pool

      http://www.poolsupplyworld.com/Dolphin-Dynamic-DX5-Plus-Robotic-Automatic-Pool-Cleaner—Includes-Digital-PRO-Remote-Control/Dynamic-DX5-plus.htm

      For a pool alarm there are a few further questions that would need to be considered. I would recommend contacting one of our sales reps directly at 800-772-0467. Thanks!

  • Cinda Meter

    Hi we have a vinyl in ground 18×40 lazy L pool. Looking for robot vac best for sand and silt. What are your suggestions?

    • http://PoolSupplyWorld.com/ Whitney (PoolSupplyWorld)

      Good morning Cinda! The Dolphin Dynamic DX5 Plus would work great for your pool. This model was designed to work great with any free form pool or any non-traditional pools such as the lazy L shape. As far as picking up small debris this model comes standard with an ultra fine porosity filtration bag that is going to lock in all of your sand and silt. It includes a digital PRO remote control and an 36 month warranty. This way you can manually steer the cleaner around the pool for areas that need a little extra work. It really is our best deal for an high quality robotic pool cleaner. You can see this model here:

      http://www.poolsupplyworld.com/Dolphin-Dynamic-DX5-Plus-Robotic-Automatic-Pool-Cleaner—Includes-Digital-PRO-Remote-Control/Dynamic-DX5-plus.htm

      We would love to answer any more questions you have about this model or any other model you are interested in. You can always reach us at 1-800-772-0467. Thanks!

  • Michelle

    HI: I have a small 8000 gallon courtyard pool in the Florida panhandle. Lots of pine trees, pollen, bark, leaves, and sand make it into the pool. The pool was constructed for a direct connect polaris cleaner but I am told that an additional electrical panel would be required. It was suggested that I obtain a robotic vacuum, specifically a tigershark. I noticed that you often suggest the dolphin. The pool (14×19) is rectangular near the steps and arched on the far side, 4 – 4.5 ft deep, with 3 benches and four steps. Would you have any recommendation?

  • Bonnie Gregg

    Can I use an in ground automatic pool cleaner in an above ground pool

  • PoolSupplyWorld

    Hi Andrew,
    Someone will be contacting you shortly to get some more information and help decide which cleaner will work best for your pool. Please let me know if you have any questions! -Christian