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How Pressure Side Pool Cleaners Work


P ools need regular maintenance, and the cheapest way to do it is to get the brush and the hand vacuum cleaner and get prepared for the job. If your pool is large, this operation can last hours, especially if you are dealing with an algae invasion, which would require more effort. However, if you decide to make a clever investment in a cleaning appliance that can do these tasks instead, you will gain more time and, in some cases, cleaner waters.

The offer is broad enough to allow you to select exactly what you need. If you are looking for a unit with complete autonomy, you can choose a robotic pool cleaner, which is powered by a built-in motor and comes with an advanced navigation system that allows it to cover the entire surface. Nevertheless, these systems can be very expensive and increase your energy bill.

This is why we are proposing a cheaper and more cost-effective alternative, namely a pressure side pool cleaner, which uses the pool’s filtering system in a wise way to get itself moving through the water. It is very popular among American pool owners, so maybe it’s time for you to try it too and discover how easy pool maintenance can be.

One way to increase the time between maintenance sessions is to preserve the water clean for longer. Check out our best solar pool covers and add a protective layer over your unit when not in use. They are powered by the sun, so the energy costs are zero.

Pressure side pool cleaner on the side of a pool Image

What Are Pressure Side Pool Cleaners

They are automated pool cleaning devices that connect to the return side of the pump’s system. We have just described them as automated, so what does this mean? It means that you won’t need to be present when they do their job. For better understanding, let’s explain how a unit of this type works:

  1. You connect it to the return pressure line or to a special pressure cleaner line, which is the last component of the filtering system. It has the purpose to send water back into the pool after it has been filtered.
  2. The pressure of the water drives the device around the pool, creating suction, which helps it collect debris into a special filter bag. At the same time, the cleaner helps distribute the clean water back into the pool.
  3. Additionally, the device loosens debris from the walls and floor, which are either captured in its filter bag or end up in the main filtering system.

Check out our selection of top-rated pressure side cleaners. One of these models could be your new help in taking care of the pool. Compare filtering capabilities and power, and pick one that can handle the size of your unit.


Types of Pressure Side Pool Cleaners

We have explained how this system works in general, but you will encounter two types of pressure-side pool cleaners. This division is a result of the way these units use water pressure, as not all of them rely only on the pool pump’s pressure. Here are the two types of devices:

Low Pressure Units

These are the classical models, which connect directly to the return line and rely on the pool pump’s pressure to run through the water. They usually require a lower pressure of 15 to 17 psi and come with a larger hose to keep the water pouring at high speed. In some cases, you may need to close all the other water return openings to increase pressure on the device’s side.

The biggest advantage of these units is that they don’t really influence your energy consumption, and can run for as long as the filters are on, which should be about 8 hours a day for excellent filtration. They don’t come with their own pump, and this means that you won’t need to spend money on maintenance or repairs. Plus, they are cheaper than high-pressure cleaners and much cheaper than robotic devices.

On the other hand, they aren’t a great fit for all pools. For example, they are incompatible with units that have floor returns and are not suitable for small pool filters that have a power under 1 hp.

High Pressure Units

These models come with a booster pump that makes them more independent and powerful. In order to get them installed, the return pipe needs to be cut and prolonged with a Tee fitting. This way, the water that has been cleaned and filtered reaches the pump, which pushes it further through a dedicated pipe. The cleaner gets connected through a hose to this pipe.

The advantage of these models is that they have timers and can turn on and off automatically, thus saving energy. Plus, they are not affected by factors like clogged pool filters or dirty baskets and manage to maintain good pressure all the time.

If you’ve decided for a high-pressure model, check out polaris Vac-Sweep 380, which is one of the most performant on the market. Provided with a large filter bag and a tangle-free cord, it is all you need to get rid of algae and pebbles.

Pressure side pool cleaner on the side of a pool Image

The Benefits of Using a Pressure Side Pool Cleaner

  • You will never forget to clean your pool – As these systems are automatic, once you have installed them, they will run through the water, dislodge debris and vacuum them, using water suction. The bag will capture the contaminants and store them until you remove the unit and empty it. However, you should remember that they won’t disinfect the water or clean the filter, so these are still your responsibilities. And you will still need to manually scrub the surfaces once in a while, especially if you are dealing with black algae or other hard to remove contaminants.
  • The pool filter will last longer – Only when you will empty the filter bag for the first time, you will be able to observe how much debris didn’t end up in the main filter. In time, these results will be visible in your pockets, as you will need to replace the filter more seldom and even increase the distance between maintenance jobs.
  • The power consumption will stay low – Low-pressure models are the cheapest to run in this category, and even if they may increase a bit the pressure put on the pool’s pump, they remain one of the most energy-efficient options. High-pressure models, on the other hand, do come with a pump that requires energy, but they incorporate timers that reduce running time and make them more economical.
  • Easy to install and maintain – In most cases, advanced plumbing isn’t required, especially if you pick a low-pressure model. And when it comes to cleaning them, it all resides in emptying the bag, which should first be left to dry out and only after discharged. This will make the operation much easier.

Pressure side pool cleaner on the bottom of a clean water pool Image

Possible Drawbacks

They do not scrub the walls – Even if they use water pressure to dislodge dirt, they don’t come with brushes and aren’t able to remove stubborn deposits. This means that you will still need to return to the old manual brush. This wouldn’t happen if you would choose a robotic cleaner, which would provide both scrubbing and water filtering.

High-pressure models require extra energy – As they come with their own pump, they generate supplementary costs, which often equate the costs of running a robotic model.

They put pressure on the pool’s pump – For a low-pressure model, the pump needs to work harder to propel it around the water. In time, this leads to wear and tear, and to more repair expenses.

They usually leave the water line uncleaned – Most models cannot climb all the way up, and this is why debris at the surface of the water isn’t filtered. It will be your job to skim them, even if they aren’t too large.

Pool vacuum cleaners use a similar principle and are highly efficient in pools where algae are a frequent problem. Check out our best vacuum cleaner models and learn how easy it truly is to maintain the water crystal clear.

Man handling the hose of a pressure side pool cleaner Image

Do You Need One? Which Type Would Suit You Better?

One thing is certain: one of these units would make your life a lot easier. But some questions come to mind, don’t they? Is a pressure side model better than a robotic model? And if it is, which option would be the best: the high or the low pressure?

Here’s a little test that will help you decide.

  • Do you need a unit that can do all the cleaning for you and do it fast? – If the answer is YES, then you need a robotic model. It is the only one that offers pool and wall scrubbing, water vacuuming, and waterline cleaning.
  • Do you have a limited budget? – Then you should totally pick a low-pressure side model. You will get it for less than $500, and you won’t need to pay for installation which can cost you some other $500 for a high-pressure model.
  • Are you looking to reduce energy consumption?Go for a low-pressure model, which uses your pool’s pump to run and doesn’t require extra energy. Although it may increase the power consumption a bit, it is far from reaching the costs of other models.
  • Are you looking for a device that is pretty fast and pretty cheap? – You should pick a high-pressure model, which is cheaper than a robotic model but faster than a low-pressure model.

The Bottom Line

Some users consider automated cleaning devices as essential for pool care, but it is still possible to have an impeccable unit by cleaning it in the old fashion way. Nevertheless, what these devices will help you gain is time, and we seem to be living in an era where time is the thing we lack the most. Investing in a pressure side model will bring you plenty of benefits, starting from the fact that it will keep the water cleaner and take some of the pressure that is put on the filter. But the most important is that you will pay less on it than on robotic alternatives and still get a great part of your chores covered.

Trystan Jensen
Trystan Jensen
Trystan is a trusted reviewer who has extensive experience in customer satisfaction gained while he worked as a market research analyst. He is well aware of what consumers want, as well as what they expect the most from the acquisitions they make. It is his personal interest in technologies that help improve life quality combined with his attentiveness to detail and customer experience that make Trystan an unending source of qualitative content.