The battle against dirt and leaves floating in your pool can feel like a never-ending struggle. A constant war against a slew of debris invading your watery paradise.
But with the right tool, removing the “floaties” from your swimming pool is an easy task. You just need to invest in the right pool skimmer.
Read on to discover how to remove the junk floating on the surface of your water, and ensure your swimming pool is always ready for a swim.
We hand-picked the following pool skimmers based on their popularity, price-points and differentiating features.
A more complete review of each can be found later in this article.
A pool skimmer is your answer to remove the floating debris from your swimming pool.
It works by creating movement in the topmost layer of water, slowly but surely drawing all of the leaves, dead insects and other junk into a filter for collection and easy disposal.
Most pool skimmers connect right into your existing pump and filter setup, providing an easy installation for one of the best devices to keep your swimming pool clean.
The suction effect is so delicate you won’t notice it during a swim, but it’s more than enough to filter and remove all of the floaties you just don’t want in your pool.
Of course, there are a few variations of pool skimmers on the market, and each come with vastly different costs, applications and features.
Let’s take a closer look at your options.
At the basic end of the scale are manual pool skimmers, which are mainly just a heavy-duty net strung up on the end of a long pole.
Maneuver the net around the water, and scoop out the leaves and other debris.
It’s pretty straightforward, and while some models will connect to your pump to provide suction and better filtration, most are not this complex.
Manual skimmers are perfect if you want to remove large pieces of debris from your pool, or a little more control with your skimming.
Next comes the automatic pool skimmers, which are the most common variety and what you’ll most likely see running in any given swimming pool.
Connecting into your pump and filtration system, these pool skimmers create movement using suction just below the surface of the water to draw and collect any floating debris to the device so it can be filtered out of the water.
Some options are free-swimming and will roam around your pool as they work, while others require a more comprehensive installation and are fixed at a certain point of your pool.
The newest models of pool skimmers are known as self-contained models and are a remarkable bit of pool cleaning technology.
Able to filter out small and larger pieces of debris, self-contained skimmers are typically solar powered and have their own internal pumps for collecting and filtering your water.
They don’t require any installation and can be just placed in your pool and set running.
The downside is these are by far the most expensive option, and will also need to be cleaned far more regularly than their automatic pool skimmer counterparts.
It’s important also to mention at this point that the type of pool you have will influence which is the right pool skimmer to buy.
There are free-floating models designed to work on all types of pools, but there are also specific pool skimmers designed exclusively for both in-ground and above-ground swimming pools. Before you buy any pool skimmer, make sure it’s compatible with your pool.
Above-ground skimmers have clamps to affix to the side of your pool, while in-ground pool skimmers are usually concreted in and become a fixed structure.
The best choice for a pool skimmer really depends on what you’re looking to achieve.
Manual pool skimmers are a great option for clearing large debris, but they’re not really useful at removing fine particles and dirt.
Self-contained skimmers will do wonders to improve your water clarity, but they’re expensive and need to be regularly emptied.
If you’re looking for the best “all-round” option, my advice would be to go for an automatic pool skimmer. They can be left running even when you’re not around, and you have options with large collection baskets, so they don’t need to be emptied as frequently.
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 pool skimmer.
The most important consideration when buying a pool skimmer is to ensure its compatible with your type of swimming pool. Because not all skimmers will be.
But not only is it essential to understand which models will work on an above-ground or in-ground pool, but some skimmers are also exclusively designed to work with certain brands of pools and pumps (I’m looking at you Intrex). Of course, you can always buy extra connectors to help compatibility, but this is an additional step that’s not always ideal.
Other pool skimmers require additional equipment and must be attached to a pool suction cleaner to work. And there may even be flow requirements for your pump to ensure a skimmer is able to clean effectively.
The effectiveness of your pool skimmer removing floating debris is the ultimate test of its performance. After all, that’s what you’re buying it for.
Consider the size of the particular pieces of debris that will be caught in the filter. Some models are great at filtering leaves and larger objects, while some models will only take out smaller particles (under an inch).
There is a trade-off with pool skimmers. Larger holes in the filter allow greater water flow and suction, while smaller holes are needed to trap tiny debris. Choose the right pool skimmer for the particular needs of your pool, and if all else fails, you could always use a nylon pool skimmer sock when you need a fine mesh filter for any automatic skimmer.
An effective pool skimmer will fill the filter with collected debris rather fast, so you want it to be easy to access this part of the device so it can be cleaned out.
Especially in a pool with a lot of debris, you may need to remove the filter multiple times a day until the leaves, dirt and other floating items are entirely removed.
It’s also essential there are easy access points to give your pool skimmer a proper cleaning and extend the life of your device. The simpler this is, the easier your life will be.
Automatic pool skimmers are generally pretty straightforward to install, they connect right into your existing pump and filter setup and begin working.
The installation can get more complicated once you start comparing fixed options, but in my experience, most companies provide detailed instructions to follow, and there are many guides on YouTube demonstrating how to do this properly, for almost every model out there. Just consider how much work you want to put in to install it.
Finally, you want to ensure your pool skimmer is highly durable and will last as long as possible under the harsh rays of the sun every day.
Look for pool skimmers constructed from high-quality materials, preferably with some sort of UV protection, so the device doesn’t start to degrade as soon as you start using it.
With proper maintenance and care, a good pool skimmer can last anywhere from a few seasons to several, especially if you’re able to easily replace the filters (this is usually the first item to go).
So far we’ve covered what a pool skimmer is, why you need one, the different types available, and what features to look out for.
In this section, we’ll be looking at specific pool skimmer products, each of which were hand-picked for review based on the same criteria I’ve outlined in this guide.
Without further ado…
Designed by PoolSkim, this pool skimmer features not only a patented design but has won awards thanks to its ability to draw the debris from the surface of your pool.
Harnessing the power of the water flowing through your pool, it creates a venturi suction which draws all of the floating debris, even from the corners and dead spots. If you need down close to the water when it’s operational you can see the whirlpool effect it creates.
Constructed from high-quality PVC and polyurethane connectors, what I like most is how durable the pool skimmer is, it will last season after season. The only downside is the filter mesh, it’s not really fine enough to catch the finer dirt which passes through.
- Floats on the surface and automatically adjusts to changing water levels
- Connects in easily to most standard pool pump sizes
- Durable enough to run 24/7 and always keep your pool clean
- Mesh in the net isn’t fine enough, and it’s not very strong
Designed by SkimmerMotion, this pool skimmer connects to the suction cleaner you’ve already got (or should have), as a floating accessory removing surface debris.
Featuring a sleek and practical design, the input channels are designed to stop larger debris (bigger than one inch) from entering and potentially jamming the filter mechanism.
What I like best is that this is highly compatible with most pool suction cleaners, and is designed and made in the US. The downside with this particular model is it piggybacks on the suction from your pool cleaner, so it’s not as effective as some of your other options.
- Follows your pool suction cleaner to reach all areas of your pool
- Highly compatible with most suction cleaners
- Larger debris can cause the skimmer to jam and clog
- Requires a separate suction cleaner to connect to work
- Not the most powerful suction effect
Designed by ProTuff, this pool skimmer is a manual alternative, ideal for targeting the biggest pieces of debris floating in your pool.
Constructed from a solid 18″ aluminum alloy frame, the plastic rim ensures you won’t damage or scratch your pool liner, while the heavy-duty net bag is deep and durable.
The best thing about this pool skimmer is the lifetime guarantee from ProTuff. If anything ever fails, get in touch, and they will send a replacement part free of charge (a practice unheard of in the pool industry). The only downside is this net isn’t particularly good at scooping out the finer debris and silt.
- Easy to use and no installation required
- Heavy-duty construction will ensure season after season of use
- Comes with a 100% lifetime guarantee
- Manual option requires you to remove the debris yourself
- Not particularly good at removing fine silt and debris
Designed by Intex, this is a wall-mounted pool skimmer which has been created explicitly for use on above-ground pools, to connect to the Intex pool system.
Requiring a pump with a minimum flow rate of 800 GPH, the skimmer has a filter which can be easily removed to clean and dispose of the filtered material.
What I like best is this pool skimmer mounts to the frame of your swimming pool so it can stay running while the pool is in use, yet still remain out of the way.
The biggest downside is that it’s primarily for Intex pool owners, you will need to buy connecting pieces to get it to attach to other pumps.
- Relatively easy to assemble and install for a fixed pool skimmer
- Effectively removes surface debris and leaves
- Bracket is not particularly strong, and the skimmer can work loose
Designed by Gator, this pool skimmer is will randomly move around the water as it targets the removal of dirt and leaves from all corners of your pool.
Featuring easy installation, this skimmer connects to the suction cleaner you’ve already got for your pool and is readily compatible with nearly every model on the market.
What I like most about this pool skimmer is its versatility. You can use it on any type of swimming pool, above or below ground, and it will target leaves and the removal of other fine particles with the filter. The downside is you will need a pool suction cleaner for this skimmer to connect to; otherwise, it’s not an option.
- Can filter and remove even the finest dirt particles from the water
- Initial assembly and installation is rather easy
- Requires a separate suction cleaner to connect to work
Designed by Hayward, this pool skimmer is one of the most reliable options on the market, a heavy-duty option that works 24/7 to keep your pool surface free of debris.
Constructed from durable UV resistant materials, it comes with all the pieces of equipment you need to install this successfully in your above-ground pool.
What I like best is the large collection basket which allows this pool skimmer to run for an extended period before it needs to be changed, perfect for larger pools. The only downside is it can take a little longer to install than some of the other options, and it requires you to cut into your pool liner (a frightening experience) to fit it.
- Fixed pool skimmer that is out of the way while you swim
- Heavy-duty and designed to last over the long-term
- Installation can be tricky
- Only suitable for above-ground pools
Designed by Pooldevil, this pool skimmer works to create a circular flow in the top layers of water, drawing everything on the surface through the filter bag.
Featuring an easy installation which can be done in a minute or two, the tubing of this skimmer automatically moves to the side of your pool, so it’s out of the way for swimming.
What I like best is the fine mesh filter that will catch even the smallest particles, to ensure your pool is perfectly clean. The downside is the effectiveness, it requires a strong pump for the suction to work, and it’s not particularly good in large pools.
- Can filter and remove even the finest dirt particles from the water
- Initial assembly and installation is straightforward (1 – 2 minutes)
- Filter net can work loose too easily and release the debris
- Needs a high-powered pump to filter effectively
Considering everything needed for the best pool skimmer, our recommendation for most pool owners is to buy the PoolSkim Pool Skimmer. One of the most durable products on the market, it works to catch all manner of floating debris, and with the addition of a nylon pool sock to the filter, you’ll even be able to remove fine particles and dirt from your water.
In close second is the manual option from ProTuff, the pool net leaf skimmer rake. Instead of installing and facing the cost of yet another piece of pool equipment, this net makes it easy to remove larger pieces of debris in your pool. It’s quick and easy to operate, and with the lifetime guarantee, it really is the last manual pool skimmer you need to buy.
Investing in the right tools makes it easy to keep floating debris out of your pool, and ensure the water is always crystal clear, and perfect for a swim.