There’s nothing worse than gearing up for a swim, and when you’re just about ready to jump in, you look down to see a thick layer of dirt in your pool.
But there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. A way to effectively remove the layer of silt and other debris in the water, with minimal effort on your part. The pool vacuum.
Keep reading, and I’ll share everything you need to know before buying a pool vacuum, to help you select the best possible model for your swimming pool. Start one of these bad boys up, and your pool will be clean and sparkling again in no time.
Top Picks for Above Ground Pool Vacuums
We hand-picked the following above ground pool vacuums based on their popularity, price-points and differentiating features.
A more complete review of each can be found later in this article.
|XtremepowerUS Automatic Suction Vacuum-generic...||$81.64||Buy on Amazon|
|Zodiac Baracuda G3 W03000 Advanced Suction Side...||Buy on Amazon|
|Zodiac Ranger Suction Side Automatic Above-Ground...||$158.49||Buy on Amazon|
|Hayward RC9740CUB SharkVac Robotic Pool Cleaner,...||$688.31||Buy on Amazon|
|Dolphin Escape Robotic Above Ground Pool Cleaner||$639.00||Buy on Amazon|
|POOL ROVER S2 40, US, JET, 115VAC/48VDC, BLUE||$319.00||Buy on Amazon|
|Polaris Vac-Sweep 65 6-130-00 Pressure Side...||$185.43||Buy on Amazon|
What is an Above Ground Pool Vacuum Cleaner?
Pool vacuum cleaners aren’t all that difficult to explain, they’re a specific type of pool product, designed to vacuum and remove dirt, leaves, and any other accumulated debris from inside your swimming pool.
Installed with either a connection into your pump or plug straight into a power point, pool vacuum cleaners operate underwater to clean your pools different surfaces effectively.
Of course, the collected material will need to be regularly emptied from either your pool filter basket or the internal collection device of your vacuum, but this is usually a simple process.
If you’re looking for an effortless way to keep dirt from collecting in your pool, you need a pool vacuum.
What Types of Above Ground Pool Vacuums Can You Buy?
When it comes to choosing an automatic pool cleaner for your above-ground swimming pool, there are many different types, and each come with their own specific features.
1. Robotic Pool Vacuums
At the premium end of the scale are your robotic pool vacuums. Much like a Roomba you’d buy for your living room, these cleaners are designed to navigate and work underwater in your swimming pool much the same way.
Typically powered by a connection to a low-voltage power source, tiny motors inside the device are used to scrub your tiles and suck up any dirt that’s found.
Because of their ability to be programmed, these pool vacuums are a highly efficient option ensuring no part of your swimming pool is left uncleaned.
2. Suction Pool Vacuums
Suction pool vacuums are another choice for pool owners and a common feature in many above-ground pools. When people talk about their pool cleaner or their “creepy-crawly”, this is the product they’re actually referring to.
Now you’ve got both manual and automatic options for a suction vacuum, but both types are designed to connect straight into the existing pump you’ve got in your pool. It’s a fast installation that can typically be done in minutes.
The complexity of a suction pool vacuum varies considerably depending on the particular model, some opt for durability via simplicity and have only a single moving part, while others are equipped with brushes, wheels and many options to clean your pool better.
3. Pressure Pool Vacuums
Pressure pool vacuums offer a unique twist for keeping your pool clean, floating midway in the water these devices work by creating a pressure-induced suction effect, causing your water to steadily flow through the filter and capture any debris along the way.
Depending on the particular model, some pressure pool vacuums will need a booster pump to increase the water pressure to provide an optimum clean. Especially in larger pools, the secondary pump will help the cleaner move and filter all of the debris.
Because of the flow of water required (and potentially the second pump), pressure pool cleaners have a higher running cost than the robotic and suction vacuums, and if you choose a model that needs a booster pump, we do recommend getting a professional when it comes to installation.
Which Type Should You Use For Above Ground Pools?
Ultimately the best type of pool vacuum will depend on your specific cleaning needs.
Suction pool vacuums work best on small to mid-sized pools, and are cheap and efficient to run, though they don’t always reach every single corner of your pool and can put additional wear and tear on your filter pump.
Robotic pool vacuums are a more premium option and remain the most cost-efficient to use over the long term, with programmable options to ensure a fast and effective clean while they typically remain fully self-contained.
Pressure pool vacuums are the most cumbersome, many of which require the installation of a second pool pump to generate the vacuum effect, and as such, have higher ongoing maintenance costs than the robotic or suction models.
What to Consider When Buying an Above Ground Pool Vacuum
Knowing which type to look for will narrow down your options, but it doesn’t help you measure the nuances that make or break a product.
Now let’s go over some of the main criteria you should apply to your decision making process when looking for the best above ground pool vacuum.
Is It Suitable For Your Pool Size?
Where many buyers go wrong with a pool vacuum is choosing a model which doesn’t cater to their particular pool size.
Manual pool vacuums may be enough for a smaller pool, but if you’ve got a rather large swimming pool, my advice would be to find an automatic suction or robotic option so the cleaner can follow a program and clean every inch.
The hose length (or power cord) will also play a role, as pool vacuums will need to connect into either your pump or a power source, to work. Make sure it’s long enough to reach all areas of your pool before you buy.
How Fast & Efficiently Does It Clean?
There’s no point buying a pool vacuum if it’s not going to do an excellent job of cleaning your pool, and there are two key areas to watch out for.
The first is to realize that not all cleaners will be able to get up on the walls of your above ground pool to clean it. If this is a particular concern, you may need to look specifically for models which offer this when doing your pre-purchase research.
The second is just how well the vacuum will get back on track once it encounters a problem. The last thing you want is a cleaner that interrupts itself every time it hits an obstacle in your pool and needs to be reset.
How Much Does It Cost To Run?
Suction vacuums plug into your pump and filtration system in your pool, and while they don’t require external power, they make your pump work a little harder, and a little longer, so it’s understandable there will be a slight bump in your monthly power bill.
Robotic pool vacuums are typically entirely self-contained; however, they will require a power source to run their internal motors that power their cleaning (and propulsion) throughout your pool.
Pressure pool vacuums have the highest ongoing costs of the three types of cleaner, as they require a large flow of water to clean effectively. Again, many will also require a second “booster” pump to generate the necessary pressure, which will increase your monthly power bill.
How Difficult Is Setup/Installation?
Pool vacuums are not all that difficult to set up and install, you just need to unbox your new piece of pool equipment, connect it up and drop it in the water.
Robotic pool vacuums typically only need a power source, so they really are a plug and play solution, while the suction models that connect into your pump aren’t much more difficult.
It takes less than ten minutes to connect the hoses to your pump and get a suction pool vacuum working then you just need to turn it on, and it’ll start suctioning out the debris.
Pressure pool vacuums connect in one of two ways. Low pressure models will only use your return line, while most models require a dedicated cleaner line and the addition of a second booster pump, which we recommend you have a professional install.
How Long Will It Last?
Extending the life of your pool vacuum is a smart move, and it starts with buying a quality product. Cheaper options are often made from inferior materials, which do not hold up over time. With equipment like this, you really do get what you pay for.
Many pool vacuums offer warranties of a year (or more), and with proper maintenance and regular cleaning, before it’s put away, you can expect to get more than a few seasons out of one, although cheaper options may only last one or two.
Reviewing the 7 Best Above Ground Pool Vacuums
So far we’ve covered what an above ground pool vacuum is, why you need one, the different types available, and what features to look out for.
In this section, we’ll be looking at above ground specific pool vacuums, each of which were hand-picked for review based on the same criteria I’ve outlined in this guide.
#1. XtremepowerUS Automatic Suction Climb Wall Pool Cleaner – 75037
Designed by XtremepowerUS, if you’re looking for a suction pool vacuum to collect all the dirt and debris from your pool quickly, this is a fast and efficient option. Motoring at 8 to 12 feet a minute, it’s one of the quickest pool vacuums of this style.
Now you’ll need to connect this vacuum into a pump offering 1,600 GPH or higher, but it’s straightforward to install as there are so few moving parts. Plug it in, and it’ll start cleaning.
The best part of this vacuum cleaner is the additional hoses you’re given when you buy, allowing you to set it up effectively in pools up to 30 feet in diameter. Though the downside is how well it handles obstacles and steps, it can get stuck trying to navigate these.
- Fast-moving vacuum cleaner for a swift and efficient clean
- Connects into existing pumps for a quick and easy installation
- Often gets stuck when encountering steps, walls, and ladders
#2. BARACUDA G3 W03000 Advanced Suction Side Automatic Pool Cleaner with Additional Finned Disc
Designed by Baracuda, the sleek design of this suction pool vacuum ensures it’s not only remarkably quiet while in use, it’s streamlined to help it move underwater.
With only one moving part, it’s a highly durable vacuum that will remove the dirt and accumulated debris that’s been collecting in your pool.
It features a self-adjusting flow valve to ensure you’ll get the best possible suction, even if you’ve connected it into a pump with a lower flow volume.
The simple design is the best part of this pool vacuum, there’s not a whole lot that can go wrong once it’s installed, though large debris has been known to jam up the intake on the diaphragm. Oh, and it’s not particularly quick either.
- Gives pool owners with smaller pumps an option for vacuums
- Will not leave wheel marks or scuff your pool liner
- The simplistic and straightforward design is highly durable
- Large leaves and other debris can jam the intake
- Not the fastest moving pool vacuum
#3. Zodiac Ranger Suction Side Automatic Above-Ground Pool Cleaner
Designed by Baracuda, the Zodiac Ranger is a quiet yet effective suction vacuum cleaner, allowing you to keep your pool clean without the annoying hammer or flapping noise you often get with other pool vacuums.
Featuring a unique deflector wheel to stop the device getting caught up in steps, ladders, and corners, it comes ready-to-go out of the box with 32 feet of feed hose. Just plug it into your filter pump, drop it into your pool and it’ll start cleaning.
The best part about this pool vacuum is its ability to regulate water flow through two individual valves, ensuring a high level of suction to remove dirt and other debris best. The only downside is the diaphragm, as the only moving part this can often clog with large leaves, or fail to get enough momentum to move around your pool.
- Plugs straight into existing pump and filter setup for fast installation
- Quiet operation without the hammer noise of other models
- No external power source is required
- Will not work on Intex or other soft-sided above-ground swimming pools
- Diaphragm easily clogged if the pool contains large debris
- May struggle to get enough momentum to move around your entire pool
#4. Hayward RC9740CUB SharkVac Robotic Pool Vacuum
Designed by Hayward, the SharkVac is a robotic pool vacuum giving pool owners an easy and efficient option to clean the dirt and other debris from the floor of their pools.
Collected debris is sent through two filters and collected in an internal basket, which is accessed through an easy top-loader for removal and cleaning. At 21.5 pounds it’s a rather heavy machine, with a 50-foot floating power cord to clean pools up to 50 feet.
What I like best is the smart sensor which detects when the vacuum is approaching the waterline, it protects the motor from burnout while extending the life of the product. The biggest downside is the weight, and that it’s only really good at cleaning your pool floor.
- Top access door makes it quick to empty collected debris
- Long power cord designed for use on even large swimming pools
- Quite a heavy vacuum which can be difficult to lower into your pool
- There are no timer or scheduling abilities for this vacuum
- Not particularly effective climbing the pool walls
#5. Dolphin Escape Robotic Above Ground Pool Cleaner
Designed by Maytronics, the Dolphin Escape is an ingenious robotic pool vacuum, offering advanced cleaning options like HyperBrush scrubbing and a smart navigation scanner to optimize the cleaning patterns on pools up to 40 feet.
Using a set of tracks instead of wheels for better grip as it cleans your pool, a unique feature of this product is the cartridge-based debris catcher, holding 60% more volume than similar models, it’s also easier to clean than a typical filter bag.
What I love best is how simple it is to use, you just need to plug it in, toss it in your pool, and let the vacuum get to work. The only downside is it’s not particularly good at cleaning your walls, and you’ve only got one 90-minute cleaning cycle to select.
- Top access door makes it quick to empty collected debris
- Super-lightweight at only 14 pounds it’s incredibly efficient
- Uses a 24-volt motor that runs on 180 watts, roughly $0.05 of energy use per hour
- There are no timer or scheduling abilities for this vacuum
- Not particularly effective climbing the pool walls
#6. Pool Rover S2 40
Designed by Pool Rover, this is a robotic pool vacuum able to successfully clean pools up to 40 feet in length, filtering a whopping 80-85 gallons per minute.
Featuring one of the finest filters on the market, you’re able to remove debris down to the smallest level, as it works to remove fine dirt and bacteria larger than 2 microns. With wheels to help the vacuum propel through the water, it also comes with a 2-year warranty.
What I like best is this pool vacuum is entirely self-contained, and it’s fast and efficient to clean even larger above-ground pools. The biggest downside is the power connection. It’s simple and lacks a timer, and you have to take special care to ensure the power box is not rained on when you’re using this vacuum as it’s not waterproof.
- Partially cleans walls with at least a 6-inch radius
- Comes with a 2-year warranty
- Filter bags are so fine it takes time to clean these out properly
- Power box doesn’t allow for a timer and is not waterproof
#7. Polaris Vac-Sweep 65 6-130-00
Designed by Polaris, this pressure pool vacuum has a patented a jet sweep assembly, or in simple terms, it blows water against the walls to loosen and collect even large debris.
Zooming around the surface of your pool the collection bag trails behind, sweeping even large twigs, leaves and pebbles for removal. Out of the box it services pools up to 24 feet in diameter, vacuuming the sides and bottom of your pool in under 3 hours. It also plugs into your pump return line (not the skimmer plug).
What I like best is the design allows it to work effectively even if your base pool liner is folded, uneven or just not level. The biggest downside is how easily the hoses can tangle, and it’s really only able to be used on pools 5-foot or shallower.
- Works even with an uneven pool liner
- Runs off the return jet (and not the skimmer)
- Only works on pools 5-feet or shallower
- Hoses are easily tangled
For most above-ground pools the Pool Rover S2 40 is your best buy for a pool vacuum. The combination of a highly powerful filter that processes 80 to 85 gallons a minute, it’s also sleek and efficiently designed. You won’t find a better option to keep your pool clean.
The Runner Up
For a more cost-effective solution, the Baracuda G3 W03000 is a smart buy. One of the most durable pool vacuums on the market, the single moving part ensures makes it a reliable cleaner that will last you season after season. There’s just so little that can go wrong.
Stop getting frustrated at the dirt building up in your above-ground pool. Buy a pool vacuum and discover just how easy it is to keep it clean.