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Robotic vs. Pressure Side vs. Suction Side Pool Cleaners

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A s soon as the temperatures go up comes the time to dive into the pool to cool off in a fun, healthy manner that keeps you active. As a pool owner, whether you build an in-ground pool or install an above-ground pool, you are aware that there is extensive upkeep work required on your part to keep the water sanitary and safe to swim in. So, it is not all fun and games with having a pool as creating safe swimming conditions can prove to be a big hassle.

Aside from constantly maintaining water balance by adding the right chemicals at the right time, you are routinely needed to clean the surfaces, skim the water, and ensure impurities are filtered out. Some still go for the old-fashion way where they use a brush and manual vacuum, but if you want to be more efficient with you time and cut on the effort you put into pool upkeep, you can use one of these products instead – the robot, pressure-wise, or suction-side cleaner.

But which is better? Does one specific cleaner type hold a considerable advantage over its competitors? In the following, we will find the answer to these questions together as we will break down the operating manner, pros, and cons of each product to help you make up your mind regarding what cleaning pool you should acquire.

What You Need to Know About Robotic Pool Cleaners

  • Initial cost estimation: While some models can go for as little as $250-$300, most cost over $500. With top-tier models like the Dolphin Premier, the price tag exceeds $1,000. However, considering the smart mapping, thorough cleaning capabilities, and the fact that most expensive products come with the latest in terms of features, the price tag is explicable and completely worth it.
  • Maintenance considerations: There is not much required from this point of view. You just have to take it out of the water when it finishes the cleaning schedule, wash the chemicals off of it, and empty the filter bag before you put it back in storage. When the brushes wear out, you should replace them as well.
  • Lifespan estimation: Generally, these products should last for up to 8-10 years if you run cleaning cycles three times per week and make sure to follow through with the aforementioned maintenance work.

See here the best robotic pool cleaners available at the moment. Fully autonomous and packed with the latest features and tech, these devices keep a clean pool without requiring your aid in the process.

How It Works

A self-contained unit that plugs into the electrical outlet for power, it is completely independent of the pool’s filter and pump, which makes it the preferred choice of many pool owners as it protects existing equipment and prolongs their lifespan. These robots use advanced software to map out the pool and travel over the surfaces to clean them while also filtering the water, most even being able to climb the walls and steps for complete cleaning.

Benefits

  • As the robot is completely autonomous, not relying on pre-existing pool equipment to run, it protects these expensive parts from early wear.
  • Scrub the surfaces while crossing over them, so you can cross off brushing the pool from your routine chores.
  • Traps impurities and gunk in the water, purifying it. What it collects is saved in a filter bag, helping the pool’s filter system as less strain is put on it.
  • The independent profile implies that the robot can be used for cleaning even when there are issues with the pool system. As long as there is power, you don’t need anything else to run it.
  • Unlike its competition, it cleans all the surfaces without any effort, including the floor, steps, and walls. However, check out the specs of the product as this is not valid with all available models.
  • Not much maintenance work is necessary. Aside from storing it away after use, cleaning it to make sure the chemicals you use for water balance won’t affect the robot’s body, routinely changing the brushes as needed, and discharging the debris collection bag, there is nothing else needed for you to do.
  • The cost-effective operation is a definite plus. Even though the product relies on electricity to run, it draws little of it, which implies that there won’t be any significant rise in power consumption as of using it.
  • It facilitates pool water circulation, thus helping spread the chemicals used for water balance better.

Drawbacks

✖ It is a costly investment upfront, hands down, there is no denying it, as most top-tier products can end up costing over $1,000. However, the wide variety of models ensures that you can find a suited option for you even if you don’t have much money set aside for this purchase.
The electric cord limits its mobility. Make sure that the product you buy features a cord that is at least 10’ longer than the size of your pool. This way, the robot won’t have trouble going over the entire surface of the water body.
✖ Some will find it bothersome to have to take it out of the pool after each use. You can skip on this for a few days if you go away from home and program it for a 7-day schedule, for example, but it is not recommended to make a habit out of leaving it in the water.
✖ It is unreliable when it comes to picking up large debris that floats on the water. Thus, you still need to skim the water to get rid of larger-size gunk.

Check out the Solar Breeze NX automatic skimmer to remove large-size debris from the water surface without actually going through with the chore yourself.

What You Need to Know About Pressure Side Pool Cleaners

  • Initial cost estimation: A lot more budget-friendly than their robotic counterparts, for the most part, pressure-side models can cost as little as $150, or as much as $1,000. Luckily, there is enough variety available when it comes to this market to ensure that you can find a quality product to suit your financial possibilities.
  • Maintenance considerations: Take it out when it is done cleaning to prevent corrosion or general damage from the water. Make sure that you take it for proper repairs when needed or that you replace damaged parts on time. Replacement parts are economical with these products, so upkeep won’t cost you much at all.
  • Lifespan estimation: The estimated lifespan is approximately 8 years with proper upkeep, and about 5 years if you do minimal maintenance. As you can see, there is more than enough time to enjoy the purchase no matter how caring or forgetful you are.

Don’t waste time searching through tens, if not hundreds of products but rather make your pick easier by checking out the best pressure-side pool cleaners here.

How It Works

It connects to the pressure side of the filter pump system, moving around to clean the surfaces using the water pressure for power. With most models, a booster pump is required in addition to the existing filtration system to improve water circulation. Woefully, this also adds to the installation cost of the product. But because it lessens strain on the pool’s filter, it makes up for the costly installation. As it goes over the surfaces, it collects debris and stores it in a self-contained bag. Moreover, it does a considerably better job of picking up large-size gunk rather than small debris.

Benefits

  • Powerful suction makes it the best when it comes to cleaning the floor.
  • Repair and replacement costs are inexpensive, which makes it perfect for those who have limited funds yet want to enjoy the luxury of having a clean pool with little effort on their part.
  • Less costly upfront as opposed to robotic cleaners.
  • The best option for picking up large-size debris like leaves, grass, or bugs.
  • Generally suited for medium- to large-size pools.
  • The hose is unlikely to tangle, so your supervision might not ever be required while the cleaner works.

Drawbacks

Most models need a separate booster pump, which implies that monthly electricity usage will raise after the installation.
✖ Pick up debris on the surfaces, but are completely unable to get rid of the floating gunk.
✖ Most models are unable to climb the walls or reach the tile line to clean them as well.
✖ Not effective at removing fine debris, like sand.

What You Need to Know About Suction Side Pool Cleaners

  • Initial cost estimation: Can cost as little as $100, the top-rated models reaching a maximum price threshold of $1,000 generally. There are options for all financial possibilities, so you won’t have trouble finding the right product from this point of view.
  • Maintenance considerations: The lack of electronic parts and fewer moving parts make suction-side pool cleaners less likely to break or suffer any sort of damage. Their more durable build makes them a good investment in the long run and ensures that no actual maintenance is required aside from taking the unit out of the pool when it is done.
  • Lifespan estimation: Higher-priced models are anticipated to last from 6 to 8 years. However, if you spent less than $300 on it, chances are it will serve you for an estimated 3-4 years.

Are you in need of a reliable product to vacuum the pool’s surfaces but confused about what you should get? Pick one of these top-rated pool cleaner vacuums and you are sure to make an investment that will serve you for years to come.

How It Works

It attaches to the suction side of the filter pump, dumping the gunk it collects directly into the filter. Unfortunately, this puts more strain on the pool filter, which means that a suction-side cleaner can compromise the lifespan of this equipment. When it comes to the pattern it follows, know that it goes around randomly when cleaning. It is recommended as a low-budget option to keep the pool clean without putting any effort into the task yourself.

Benefits

  • The most inexpensive to purchase from the three automatic cleaners we have talked about.
  • Does not raise the household current usage in the slightest as it runs off of the primary circulation pump suction.
  • Lack of electronic parts makes upkeep and repairs easy and low-cost.
  • Quite efficient when it comes to removing fine debris from the pool, including gunk like grains of sand.
  • Despite the cheap asking price, even cheaper models provide a long lifespan, their simplistic build proving to be quite reliable in the long-run.

Drawbacks

✖ Your best course of action is to install a dedicated line for it separately. Without proceeding this way, you must use the skimmer line to plug the cleaner, which takes the skimmer out of the equation. This is not recommended seeing how the skimmer plays an important role in eliminating surface debris and circulating the water.
✖ Without the dedicated line, the cleaner ends up cutting off even as much as 75% of the skimmer and primary drain suction power.
✖ It is recommended that you utilize a leaf canister to entrap debris and prevent it from entering the pipework. This implies additional costs, raising the initial setup price.

Conclusion – Which Is Better?

Well, in the end, it all comes down to personal preference. Nonetheless, if we were to make a clear recommendation, it would be the robotic pool cleaner. What makes it reign supreme, not only from our point of view but from that of many satisfied customers is the fact that it is a fully autonomous cleaning product due to its lack of reliance on existing pool equipment.

Unlike their competitors that rely on the pump and filter systems for power and mobility, the robot is independent of these parts. Thus, it helps increase their lifespan. Moreover, even though it runs on electricity, it does not draw much of it in its operating process, so you won’t notice much of a change when the bills arrive either. Needless to say, the main highlight it flaunts stands in its operation, the product being able to scrub surfaces and remove gunk and debris of all sizes from the water, all without requiring that you interfere in any point of its operation.

Keeping the pool clean and clear of debris is not sufficient to create proper swimming conditions as there is the issue of water chemistry to take into account as well. Thus, before you leave, make sure to read our article about pool water chemistry to learn how to play with chemicals to ensure a safe swimming environment.

Tobey Hunter
Tobey Hunter
Tobey is the editor-in-chief at Optima Institute, his prior experience as a niche product reviewer in air quality improvement systems helping shape his path to conduct thorough research toward selecting and analyzing products so that customers are satisfied with the provided recommendations. During his carrier, Tobey also gathered technical input that makes him well versed in understanding advancements in modern systems, helping readers in turn to better understand how modern devices help improve life quality.