To tackle the pool cleaning chore, many have found relief in using automatic pool cleaners since they make cleaning a lot easier and are way less tedious to deal with opposed to using vacuum heads, scrub brooms, leaf nets, and other manual tools. See our selection of the best automatic cleaners for both above ground pools and in-ground pools.
1Best Robotic Pool Cleaners 2020
A lot of pool owners can agree that cleaning their pool is a huge chore, but with a robotic pool cleaner, also called independent robotic cleaner, you can tidy up your pool just by setting it in the water and letting it do its job. The best ones clean your pool’s floor and walls up to the water line and should only leave a minimal amount of cleaning left such as scrubbing the stairs.
Most units can be expensive, but cleaning ability and ease of use were considered in the options below. To learn how to install a robotic cleaner, you can click here (video) for more information.
High-end, newly-redesigned popular cleaner
Middle-ground machine with scanning technology
If you’ve got the funds, this in-ground robotic pool cleaner has all the bells and whistles. This cleverly named Kreepy Krauly Prowler provides superior cleaning power thanks to its advanced design scrubs, vacuums, and filters that help remove debris and algae. Its 60-foot long cord allows for it reach around most big in-ground pools and cleans them in less than 3 hours. The prowler 830 has a nifty wireless remote so that you can have easy and complete control over the device and allows you to schedule regular cleanings, and you don’t even have to be at home while it cleans.
The auto-reverse feature prevents the Krauly from getting stuck in corners, steps, and ladders for a consistent performance. To save on pump energy costs, the integrated filter reduces the run time of your primary filtration system, additionally minimizing damage. The cleaner has plug-in convenience and doesn’t require any installation, booster pumps, or hoses. When you need to clean the Kreepy Krauly, the full cartridge indicator lets you know when it needs to be attended to.
Weighing about 45 pounds and measuring in at 19 in. in length x 19 in. in width x 23 ½ in. in height, the Pentair Kreepy Krauly is praised by many users for its incredible cleaning ability and the handy wireless remote that comes with it. Although some mentioned that it can tend to drain some dirty water back into the pool as you take it out of the water, it’s a small amount and isn’t a huge issue.
Out of 30 reviews, this pool cleaner received a rating of 4.3 with 83% of users giving it a 4 or a 5 based on the device’s cleaning power and effortless usability. The other 17% gave it a 3 or less because they noticed it didn’t clean corners thoroughly and had a problem with the full filter indicator. Click here to see the customer reviews for yourself
- Cleans entire pool in less than 3 hours
- Wireless remote allows for scheduled cleaning
- Easy assembly
- Can drop some debris back into the water when pulling it out
- Debris canister is a bit small
EDITOR’S PICK Dolphin Escape Robotic Above Ground Pool Cleaner
Weighing only 14 pounds, this robotic above-ground pool cleaner keeps your pool’s floor tidy and free of any dirt or algae with its advanced HyperbrushTM technology and unparalleled dual 24-volt DC motor efficiency. Its frame is lightweight and ergonomic for a cleaning cycle of 1.5 hours making it an ideal choice for above-ground pool owners.
Another bonus of this cleaner is that you can also use it for in-ground pools due to its wall climbing ability. The cleaner’s cable is up to 40 feet long and the device includes SmartNav 2.0 robotic scanning to minimize any missed spots and corners. The size of the Dolphin Escape cleaner is 22.2 x 17.7 x 12.5 inches and is great for any above-ground or in-ground pool surface.
Many users have said that while it takes a couple of rounds to clean their pool completely, the cleaning ability of the Dolphin Escape is amazing. It’s reported to be easy to set up and clean, but some users have noticed that the front end sometimes comes up because there’s not enough weight on the front to keep it flat on the pool floor.
Out of 22 customer reviews, the Dolphin Escape Robotic Cleaner has a rating of 4.1/5 stars with 77% giving it a 4 or a 5. The most common positive review was about the cleaner’s effortless usability and cleaning power, while the 9% who gave it a 3 and the 14% who gave it a 1 were mostly indifferent towards the cleaner’s filter (which wasn’t the best at picking up fine particles) and length of the cord. Click here to see the customer reviews for yourself
- Picks up debris such as leaves, twigs, and algae thoroughly
- SmartNav 2.0 robotic scanning for consistent cleaning
- Easy to use and clean
- Filter doesn’t pick up fine particles
- Rises on back wheels occasionally
This pool cleaner has a 40-foot long floating cable and a built-in 2 micron fine reusable filter bag to filtrate even the smallest particles the device comes across. Designed to clean residential above-ground pools, the Aquabot Pool Rover features the Aquabot pump that can filter 70 gallons per minute providing amazing suction power. Its convenient power supply has 2 or 3 hour options and is safe for all types of surfaces including vinyl liner pools.
Because of the cleaner’s patented “hydrorobotic technology” that propels it forward with the powerful force of water, this means fewer parts are being utilized which ultimately means fewer repairs. It’s also easy and simple to use, and the adjustable axle pin lets the cleaner cover more space and prevent any cables from tangling or getting stuck. The Aquabot Junior Pool Rover weighs about 26 pounds and measures at 18 x 21 x 19 inches with extra-wide non-marring wheels for consistent cleaning.
Many users have turned to the Aquabot Pool Rover due to its decent cleaning ability and effortless filter cleaning, which is mostly evident if you don’t have a huge pool. Users that do have a big above-ground pool noted that it doesn’t traverse the entire area sometimes and can get stuck in the deep end.
This pool cleaner is rated 3.5 based on 741 user reviews, with 61% giving it a 4 or 5. These users favor the cleaner’s ability to pick up a lot of debris and dirt while the other 39% who gave it a 3 or less were mainly frustrated with the device’s cord getting tangled and its occasional inability to reverse, making the device take a little longer to clean the pool. Click here to see the customer reviews for yourself
- Easy to use and clean
- Micro filter system picks up even tiniest debris
- Cord has a tendency to get twisted up
- Occasionally won’t reverse and leaves certain parts of pool uncleaned
2Best Suction Pool Cleaners 2020
This type of cleaner looks like a fancy broom head with a hose attached to it. Although they are automatic and can clean walls as well as pool floors, most do so in a non-linear fashion so they can miss some spots. On the other hand, these units are some of the least expensive pool cleaners and you can find one both for your in-ground or above-ground pools.
To learn how to install one, here’s a video that shows the process.
Wheeled unit that doesn’t get stuck in corners
Quiet, affordable unit (not for soft-walled pools)
This nifty cleaner has a 4-wheel drive and is built to clean larger in-ground pools and pools with deep ends up to 20′ x 40′. Its patented self-adjusting turbine vanes allow it to provide maximum cleaning power at any flow and allows passage of large debris. The cleaner’s adjustable roller skirt optimizes suction even on uneven surfaces, and the tire treads give it the strength to climb up pool walls and coves while managing obstacles. Its multiple pre-programmed steering patterns make sure the cleaner covers the pool entirely while delivering optimum cleaning ability.
The device itself weighs 6.6 pounds and its dimensions are 41 x 13 x 13 inches. Many users have mentioned how simple the design is which makes for easy repair and how good its cleaning performance is. Although, there were a few concerns about the cleaner’s ability to pick up large debris such as small rocks.
The Hayward pool cleaner is rated 4.3 stars out of 850 reviews with 80% giving it a 4 or a 5. There was a lot of praise towards the cleaner’s wall climbing ability and easy setup, but with the other 20% who gave it a 3 or less, they were disappointed in how it doesn’t pick up large debris too well, and if it did, it would slow the cleaner’s performance. Click here to see the customer reviews for yourself
- Quiet and efficient cleaning power
- Easy to operate and repair
- Doesn’t get stuck in corners
- Doesn’t climb all the way up walls, but otherwise covers most of pool
- Can slow down if large debris gets picked up
The great thing about this pool cleaner is that it has a single moving piece, which makes for low-cost maintenance considering you only need to replace one part during repair. It works quietly but powerfully at low-speed pumps for maximum cleaning efficiency. The FlowKeeper valve automatically regulates water flow and allows the cleaner to swallow up small and medium-sized debris, keeping your pool floor, walls, and steps tidy.
The unique wheel deflector lets the cleaner maneuver around tight corners while the scuff-resistant durable hoses eliminate scratches and marks on all kinds of pool surfaces. Also, if you have lights, drain covers, fittings and other pool fixtures, the cleaner’s 36-Fin disc increases adhesion to the pool’s surface so it won’t get stuck. The device weighs around 19 pounds and measures out to be 41.5 x 8 x 18 inches, along with 10-12 hoses included with the cleaner.
Most users have had a good experience with this cleaner, saying that it’s great quality and very user-friendly with effective cleaning ability both on pool floors and walls. Although, it was brought up a couple of times that it doesn’t rotate at the hose which can cause it to get stuck on one side of the pool, but this was said to be fixable if the inner sleeve that holds the diaphragm is loosened.
With a rating of 4.3/5 stars and over 1,200 reviews, 81% of users have given this cleaner a 4 or above with much favor towards its quick and quiet cleaning power after simple installation. The 19% who gave it a 3 or less mentioned that it would sometimes get stuck in certain areas thus meaning they have to check on it periodically it to make sure it continues cleaning. Click here to see the customer reviews for yourself
- Cleans silently and thoroughly
- One moving part allows for easy replacement or repair
- Setup is almost effortless
- Can sometimes get stuck on steps
- Does not rotate at the hose
For those with above-ground pools, the Zodiac Ranger effectively cleans pool including dished-out bottoms up to 72 inches (but not recommended for Intex/soft-wall pools). Its technology consists of only one moving part which omits that annoying flapping or hammer noise that other side cleaners can have, so you can watch the Ranger work quickly, effectively, and quietly. The cleaner’s deflector wheel keeps it from getting stuck in corners and on steps and ladders, and installation is easy since it comes preinstalled with 32 feet of feed hose.
The Zodiac Ranger’s AG disc makes it glide smoothly along the pool floor, up the sides, and around steps for a thorough cleaning performance. Additionally, the FlowkeeperTM valve and Insta-Skim compact self-adjusting flow control valve automatically regulates water flow for top-notch operation. The cleaner weighs a light 15 pounds and its size dimensions are 16 x 9.5 x 40.5 inches.
Plenty of users have noted the cleaner’s quiet performance and full pool coverage after easy assembly. A couple of people have expressed frustration with having to adjust the hoses for full coverage, but this is pretty evident with any pool cleaner since not all pools are the same.
Out of 325 customer reviews, the Zodiac Ranger has a rating of 3.9/5 stars. 72% of those who gave it a 4 and above loved how quiet the cleaner is and its ability to clean virtually the whole pool. Others who gave it a 3 or less didn’t care for adjusting the hoses and also found it inconvenient that it doesn’t include hoses and adapters for Intex pools. Click here to see the customer reviews for yourself
- Quiet operation
- Effortless assembly
- Cleans entire pool within a couple of hours
- Hose may be too short for some
- Hoses may need trial-and-error adjusting
- Need an adapter in order to work in Intex pools
3Best Pressure Pool Cleaners 2020
Using a pressurized vacuum, these cleaners use the water pressure that’s generated by your pool pump or a booster pump to clean your pool floor. Jetted water is used to sweep along the sides and they suck up dirt from the bottom and guide it all into a bag, which filters the water as it returns back into the pool.
Be mindful that the more powerful units need a separate booster pump to work for a more effective cleaning job, but since some pools don’t need maximum pressure to keep clean, we included an option for a cleaner that doesn’t need one. For help on installing a pressure side cleaner, here’s a helpful video.
Attractive, big-name option, requires a booster pump
Floating unit with a sweep bag
BEST OF BEST Polaris Vac-Sweep 380 Pressure Side Pool Cleaner
This pressure side cleaner works with all in-ground pools, but requires a Polaris booster pump and is powered by triple jets for greater vacuuming power and faster cleaning. The Polaris Vac-Sweep 380 head and hose ensures that debris and algae is swept, scrubbed, and sucked up from pool floors and walls. The entire device is packed in multiples of 16 units with a single chamber filter bag, included with a 31-foot feed hose with a vacuum inlet of 2 ¼ inches.
If the Vac-Sweep ever gets cornered or stuck, an in-line backup valve automatically frees it and keeps its performance consistent. The whole device weighs around 16 pounds and measures out to be 9.8 x 20 x 22.5 inches.
This is a fairly popular side pool cleaner and many of its users notice it pulls up much more debris than the older 280 and 360 models and you don’t have to supervise it since the hose rarely gets tangled and the cleaner is big enough to maneuver around without assistance. There were some concerns about the hose sweeper coming off when the pump was active, and the cleaner does sometimes splash water outside of the pool.
Out of over 1,700 customer reviews, the Polaris Vac-Sweep 380 cleaner has a rating of 4.4 stars. 85% have given it a 4 or 5, mostly favoring the cleaner’s smooth and quiet operation and ability to climb up walls and steps. The 15% of users who gave it a 3 or less didn’t like the fact that you have to buy a separate booster pump and that there were little to no instructions on how to adjust hoses and such. Click here to see the customer reviews for yourself
- Picks up small to big pieces of debris effortlessly for great coverage
- Setup and installation is a breeze
- Has a little trouble with odd shaped pools
- Separate booster pump required
Having a similar look to the Polaris Vac-Sweep 380, the Pentair Kreepy Krauly is an optimal choice for in-ground pools. For peak cleaning performance within 1-3 hours, the cleaner uses water pressure to move around and vacuum your entire pool with a booster pump that’s sold separately. The four wheels keep the device from tilting over while the front wheel drive allows for sturdy traction as it travels across the pool floor and walls.
The large intake throat and high-capacity filter bag can easily handle large debris such as sticks and rocks, and the bag can simply be removed for cleaning from the top of the cleaner with its twist-lock design. To avoid getting stuck on steps or in corners, a built-in backup valve comes on every 3.5 minutes to ensure a complete cleaning. The cleaner also comes with a tail hose scrubber that gently sweeps and scrubs the pool floor and walls. Its overall weight is 23 pounds and its size dimensions are 23.5 x 23.5 x 11 inches.
While there are some who complained about having to buy the booster pump separately, the positives about this cleaner were mostly about its durability and its ability to traverse steep inclines really well. The line might tangle sometimes and it seems very sensitive to the position of the rear jet, but overall it covers most if not all of an in-ground pool’s surface.
Out of 117 reviews, the cleaner received a rating of 4.2 with 80% giving it a 4 or 5. These positive remarks pointed out how smoothly the cleaner works and how isn’t even remotely stopped by a large piece of debris. The other 20% gave it a 3 or lower since it doesn’t go all the way up walls and they don’t like the inconvenience of having to buy a separate booster pump. Click here to see the customer reviews for yourself
- Has no problem pulling up small to large debris
- Can climb up walls and steps with ease
- Line can tangle sometimes
- Have to buy separate booster pump to operate
This pressure side pool cleaner works in most in-ground pools that are vinyl or fiberglass, even if they have uneven floors. Installation can be done in a matter of minutes, and the cleaner also includes a 1.5-inch threaded return line and 24 feet of float hose which is long enough for pools with a 24-foot diameter. is powered by the pressure of clean water returning to your pool while leaving the filter and the skimmer free to clean up any dirt and contaminants.
In less than 3 hours, the Polaris Vac-Sweep 65 vacuums the bottom and sides, operating with pumps and filtration systems that are usually found on above-ground pools. Debris such as leaves and small rocks are trapped by the detachable debris bag that trails behind the cleaner before they clog the filter. The whole device weighs 14 pounds and measures out to be 22.5 x 7.5 x 23 inches.
Many users have said that this cleaner does a pretty decent job, but acts as more of a glorified skimmer. It does seem to get rid of debris on the bottom of the pool really well and the hose was more than long enough for most, but it does tend to flip over and spray water everywhere if put at maximum pressure and it actually puffs dirt into the trailing bag rather than vacuum it up.
Based on 307 customer reviews, the Polaris Vac-Sweep 65 has a rating of 3.6/5 stars. 62% of users gave it a 4 or 5 due to its thorough cleaning ability of debris in a just a few hours. The other 38% who gave it a 3 or less were mostly frustrated with the cleaner flipping over and spraying water at the highest pressure setting along with occasionally getting tangled. Click here to see the customer reviews for yourself
- Trailing bag is effective at picking up dirt and debris
- Operates quietly, no pulsating noise
- Hose can get tangled
- Maximum pressure setting can make cleaner flip over
Types of Pool Cleaners
There are three main types of cleaners to choose from: suction and pressure cleaners are powered by your pool’s water filtration system of the filter pump and the robotic cleaner is completely independent as it cleans.
These units use their own power source and can be fully programmable. Unlike pressure and suction side cleaners, this is the only cleaner type that doesn’t depend on the pool pump or filtration system to work. While these can be some of the most expensive types of units, you’ll also find that they are highly efficient and often have more features than pressure and side cleaners.
A waterproof electrical cord tethers the cleaner while they traverse the pool floor and walls along with being equipped with their own internal filter bag. Robotic cleaners usually have two different motors where one is for the wheels and brushes while the other is for the suction pump. After cleaning, the filter bag can be emptied out, but if the pool is especially dirty, the bag might have to be emptied a couple of times in one day.
- Energy efficient
- Great at devouring fine particles
- Four wheel models ideal for uneven surfaces
- Power cords are long, potential tripping hazard
- More expensive than pressure and side cleaners
Suction (Side) Cleaners
These cleaners are normally the least expensive type and they completely depend on the pool pump and filtration system. After hooking up the hose from the pump to the cleaner, you then just drop it in the pool and let it do its thing. Even though it moves randomly, it’ll eventually get through the entire pool, including the walls.
Similar to a vacuum’s beater bar, suction cleaners use rotating brushes that loosen up debris and algae that then get pulled into the pool’s filtration system. The cleaner design is simple and user-friendly, making it one of the most popular pool cleaner types.
- Not many moving parts for long lasting performance
- Additional parts not required for operation
- Easy maintenance
- Filters need cleaning often
- Slowest automatic cleaner
- Pool pump needs to be running for cleaner to work, uses more electricity
Pressure (Side) Cleaners
These units are a bit more intricate than the other two types of cleaners, which means they’re also a bit more on the expensive side. But, they are more versatile for any type of pool no matter what filtration system you have and they use a filtration bag instead of the filtration system itself to sift out debris.
Pressure side cleaners use the suction from the filter pump along with having its own built-in pump that cranks up the pressure within the device. This maximized pressure means more dirt, algae, and debris will be cleaned off the pool floor.
- Come with their own filter bags
- Efficient at picking up large debris
- Clean faster than suction cleaners
- Don’t thoroughly collect fine particles
- Less effective at cleaning pool walls than robotic and suction cleaners
- Need booster pumps to work so they consume electricity
Which Type is Most Recommended?
Of all the three types of pool cleaners that were mentioned, robotic cleaners are probably the type we would highly recommend. In comparison to suction and pressure side cleaners, the reasons why are because:
- They save the most energy since they don’t need a running pool pump to operate.
- Cleaning time is significantly reduced because of its efficient cleaning sequences.
- They gather all kinds of debris from small particles like sand and silt to big pieces like rocks, sticks, and dirt clumps.
- They have their own filter so you don’t have to stress about it putting more work onto your existing one.
- They have the most features of any pool cleaner.
- Your existing pump and filter will live longer since they don’t need them to operate.
- They do their job the fastest compared to pressure and side cleaners.
Factors to Consider
Before you go off and buy one of the mentioned types of cleaners, you should take note of some things that can affect the performance of your chosen pool cleaning unit.
- Pool Type – Not everyone has the same type of pool in their yard, and pool cleaners obviously work best in a pool they were primarily designed to clean. Pools can either be above-ground or in-ground, and fortunately, we’ve listed robotic, suction, and pressure cleaners designed for both types.
- Pool Size – Some cleaners aren’t designed for pools of a certain size, so it’s important to know which type of cleaner best suits the size of the pool you own. Suction side cleaners are best for smaller to medium sized pools while pressure cleaners are great for medium to large pools. Robotic cleaners, especially units with an intelligent navigation feature, can generally handle pools of any size.
- Pool Surface – Pool surfaces can either be made of vinyl, concrete, fiberglass, tile, and sometimes even pebble, but not all cleaners will work for certain types of surfaces. We’ve listed cleaners such as the Aquabot Junior Pool Rover robotic cleaner that works with all types of pool surfaces and the Zodiac Ranger suction side cleaner that can only work with non-vinyl/non-soft surfaces.
- Debris Compatibility – Some pool owners don’t get much debris in their pools other than sand, dirt clumps, and the occasional leaves, while others get sticks, rocks, and other large litter. If you tend to get large debris, a robotic or pressure cleaner is more ideal. If you get more fine particles in your pool like sand or tiny bits of gravel, suction cleaners do a better job.
Depending on the type of automatic pool cleaner you choose, there are many nifty features that can boost cleaning productivity.
2-Wheel Drive – 4-Wheel Drive – Bump bars – Filter bag – Timer
- 2-Wheel Drive – Because 2-wheel cleaner models are smaller and more compact, they’re not as efficient in cleaning a large pool. These are best for smaller pools and have a surprisingly thorough cleaning ability if you have loose dirt and scum.
- 4-Wheel Drive – These are way more efficient than 2-wheel drive models since their 4-wheel system gives them the power to use larger and more sufficient brushes. Their design allows for increased suction capability, not to mention their extra grip makes them better at traversing wall and stairs.
- Bump bars – Bump bars simply extend outwards from the cleaner, like the antennae on an ant, telling it when to move if it gets close to a wall or steps. If you want the cleaner to go up the walls and in corners, these bump bars can be detached.
- Filter bag – Mainly robotic or independent pool cleaners have single and dual filter bags or canisters. More advanced models with dual filter bags transfer the vacuum stream into the empty one, and when they’re both full, the cleaner turns off and waits to be emptied. Some models can also benefit from leaf canisters such as the Hayward W560 PoolVac Navigator leaf canister if you want even more cleaning efficiency. This canister in particular fits onto any Hayward pool vacuum or any 1.5″ cleaner hose.
- Timer – This is a pretty handy feature on robotic pool cleaners where basic programming allows you to set a time in which you want the cleaner to operate, and more advanced models can even let you set a daily schedule. There are also remote-sensing units where you can point a remote control at a certain area of the pool and the cleaner will commence cleaning there, later returning back to its original starting area.
As any pool owner would know, manually scrubbing and skimming a pool can be tedious and sometimes we just don’t have time to do it. With an automatic pool cleaner, you’ll have less frustration and more freedom since they do all the work for you. Ultimately, you would want a cleaner that can handle the types of dirt and debris your pool regularly encounters.
If you don’t tend to get much dirt in your pool other than sand and small leaves, suction cleaners would be the optimal choice. If your pool constantly gets large debris such as sticks, rocks, and dirt clumps in it, then pressure or robotic cleaners would prove to be the most useful.