One of the most frustrating things about having a pool in your yard is the constant battle against leaves, dirt and other debris which ensures your water is never clear.
No one wants to go swimming in a pool full of leaves and other junk, and nobody wants to waste their precious evenings scooping out all the debris with a net.
The solution is to invest an automatic pool cleaner; an excellent piece of pool technology that keeps your water clean without all the hassle, meaning your pool is always ready for swimming.
Read on to learn about the different models available, and our recommendations on the particular device best suited for your pool.
We hand-picked the following pressure-side pool cleaners based on their popularity, price-points and differentiating features.
A more complete review of each can be found later in this article.
Sometimes referred to as a booster pump cleaner, a pressure-side pool cleaner connects to the return outlet in your pool (or to their own separate booster pump).
The rushing water gives a pressure cleaner it’s momentum, as it navigates and filters out the contaminants in your swimming pool. The pressure generated by the water is where these cleaners get their name, stirring up the dirt and debris so it can be filtered out.
Using their own filter bags, these particular cleaners work independently of your existing pump and filter system, which means you’re free to leave them running without concern that a problem or a tangle will burn out your primary filter.
Once the collection bag is full, the pressure cleaner simply stops collecting debris until it has been cleaned out.
Operating independently in your pool, robotic pool cleaners are fast and efficient devices powered by tiny motors that remove dirt and debris from your pool.
You’ve got the choice of models which are entirely self-contained, as well as those that send all of the collected junk to your filter basket for easy removal and disposal.
Generally, all you need to do is plug your robotic cleaner into the power, and the installation is complete. Drop it into your pool, and it’ll start cleaning.
Suction pool cleaners are also known as pool vacuum cleaners because they connect into the suction plug in your pool’s filter system.
This creates a vacuum, working to suck and remove any dirt, leaves, and other debris that has collected in your pool, sending it into the filter basket for collection and removal.
Able to install in under 10 minutes, these types of cleaner are usually on the cheaper end of the scale, though they can get clogged with larger sticks and debris as they navigate your pool.
Pressure pool cleaners work a little differently to the other two models, instead of trying to vacuum or “suck” the dirty water to be filtered, it pushes it through.
Stirring up all the accumulated dirt in your pool, the water is brought into the device, before being pushed out through a filter bag. A key benefit to this particular process is that this also clarifies your water as the cleaner operates.
Different jets on the cleaner help it to navigate, stir up the water, and even provide a means of escape. By reversing the flow of water every few minutes, some pressure cleaners are smart enough to avoid getting stuck in a particular spot, so you get a complete clean in your pool.
The key difference with a pressure side pool cleaner is that it clarifies your water as it cleans. You won’t find this on a suction cleaner, and while some robotic cleaners do have this ability, they’re also a more expensive upfront investment.
What you do need to know is that running an additional booster pump for your pressure cleaner will create a more significant energy draw, and these particular types of cleaner are the most energy-demanding of the three.
But where they excel is truly cleaning your pool. Pressure side cleaners will filter everything from large debris to the finest dirt, operating fast when you want your pool cleaned in a hurry. Perfect if you need to clean your pool quickly before your friends turn up.
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.
Let’s go over some of the main criteria you should apply to your decision making process when looking for the perfect pressure side cleaner.
Before investing in a pressure side pool cleaner, make sure it’s capable of reaching every corner of your swimming pool.
What’s most important is the hose. It needs to be long enough that your cleaner can reach every surface in your pool, down to the very bottom of the deep end.
I also want to mention that there are particular models designed specifically for above ground pools and in-ground pools. Make sure you choose the right model for your pool type, otherwise it’s going to be inefficient.
Not all pressure side pool cleaners are created equal, and you need to pay attention to just how fast and effective it will be at keeping your pool clean.
You want a cleaner that’s able to scale not only the walls and stairs but is smart enough that it can avoid getting tangled and caught up in the dead ends of your pool. Otherwise, it’ll be up to you to manually clean these areas, which defeats the whole purpose.
Installing and running a second booster pump to power your pressure side cleaner is going to increase your monthly electric bill. And of the different types of cleaner, pressure cleaners have the highest ongoing costs.
But they’re also incredibly effective. Consider for a moment, the cost of a clean and healthy swimming pool. If you can’t use your pool because it’s dirty…
That’s wasted time, memories, and sunk costs you’re never going to get back.
Of course, certain cleaners will work with your existing return system, so they are more energy efficient, but this comes with a tradeoff. Less energy use means lower pressure, which makes it a more laborious task to clean your pool.
Most pressure side cleaners can be successfully installed in under an hour. The tricky part is the booster pump, and if you don’t feel comfortable installing this on your own, my recommendation is to hire an expert to set this up for you.
You should consider whether or not the device you’re buying comes with all the necessary extras you need to clean your pool. You may find out afterwards that a particular model needs a booster pump, a sweeper tail, or a variety of different accessories to get the job done.
It’s important to know what you need before you buy.
Expect to pay premium for a quality pressure side pool cleaner. They’re a unique product, designed to not only stand up to the harsh UV rays of the sun but continue to operate underwater for years on end successfully.
It goes without saying that the cheaper models aren’t always worth the price, and may give out in a single season (or less).
But if you’re willing to invest in a more premium product, made with a higher quality of materials, you can expect these to last for several years. With the right maintenance, many people have had their pressure side pool cleaners for 8 to 10 years.
So far we’ve covered what a pressure side pool cleaner is, why you need one, and what features are important to focus on.
In this section, we’ll be looking at specific products, each of which were hand-picked for review based on the same criteria I’ve outlined in this guide.
Designed by Polaris, the Vac-Sweep 360 is a powerful pressure cleaner that will work on all in-ground pools, of any shape and size.
Featuring their iconic three-wheeled design, this particular cleaner is able to sweep, scrub and even vacuum the bottom and walls of your pool using the brand’s triple jet system.
What I like best is that it connects into your existing pool circulation pump, which means you don’t need to buy a booster pump. The most significant downsides are that it can sometimes get stuck on the stairs, and the filters won’t remove fine debris from your water.
- Doesn’t require an additional booster pump
- Large intake helps capture big debris, like leaves and even acorns
- Compatible to connect with the TailSweep Pro
- Wheels can lock up, and it can get stuck on stairs
- The filter will not remove fine debris from the water.
Designed by Polaris, the Vac-Sweep 65 is a pressure cleaner explicitly designed for above-ground pools, with a working depth up to 5 feet.
Featuring an easy installation that connects straight into your existing filtration system, the unique filter bag trails behind this cleaner to collect leaves and debris before reaching your pump.
What I like best is the pressure jets which clean and sweep dirt out of hard to reach places in your pool, though many users have had trouble with this particular cleaner getting tangled in its own hose.
- Trailing filter bag helps remove large debris before reaching your filter
- Connects to the return jet instead of the pool skimmer line
- Hose is easily tangled, and the cleaner will trap itself and stop working
Designed by Hayward this pressure cleaner offers a thorough yet gentle clean of your pool, specifically for in-ground pools.
Featuring a large suction inlet and targeted jets to disturb and remove even the biggest debris, this pool cleaner will efficiently and effectively clean all areas of your pool.
What I like best is the unique back up system that helps this cleaner stay on track, while zooming in to all the hard to reach areas of your pool. The only downside is the quality, many users complained that the cleaner would start to malfunction after the first season.
- Extra-large filter bag makes it easy to remove collected debris
- Able to “back up” to stop cleaner getting stuck
- Not the most durable product and may only last 1-2 seasons
- Requires the purchase of a booster pump for installation
Designed by Pentair, this is a front-wheel-drive pressure cleaner with treaded tires to maximum traction on any in-ground pool surface.
Featuring a pressure valve to regulate water flow better, the tail hose scrubber is a nice touch to sweep and gently clean the floor and walls as the device moves.
What I like best is the built-in backup valve, which activates every 3.5 minutes to ensure the cleaner doesn’t get caught up in corners and steps. Though some users found this didn’t quite work as well as they hoped, with the wheels getting jammed and sometimes the device would get trapped in the deep end of their pools.
- Collects even small debris from the bottom of the pool
- Will last many seasons if properly maintained
- Some users experience the device getting stuck in the deep end
- Wheels can jam and need to be manually freed
- Requires the purchase of a booster pump for installation
Designed by Polaris, the Vac-Sweep 280 is a three-wheeled pressure cleaner, able to effectively clean the floor, walls, and stairs in your in-ground pool.
Featuring an easy installation, this is one of Polaris’ most powerful pool cleaners in their range, though you will need to purchase a booster pump for this particular model.
What I like best is how quiet and efficient this pressure cleaner is when it’s operating, and with the right care will last you for many seasons. Just be careful when you’re unboxing it, some users have complained about missing and broken parts.
- Lightweight design allows you to clean the walls and stairs in your pool
- Fast and easy setup, and will clean your pool within 3 hours
- One of the most durable and reliable options that will last several seasons
- You may need to purchase extra accessories (like the TailSweep Pro) for best results
- The wheels have been known to lock up and jam
- Requires the purchase of a booster pump for installation
After reviewing the top pressure cleaners in the market, the clear winner is the Polaris Vac-Sweep 280. Not only is it one of the highest performing pressure cleaners, but it’s also quiet, and you’ll hardly even notice when it’s running.
Plus, it’s simple to install. If you’re looking for a reliable and trustworthy pressure cleaner, that you won’t have to replace every other summer, this is the product for you.
In second place is the Polaris Vac-Sweep 360. Where this particular cleaner stood out was that you can set it up and get it running without installing a booster pump, and it’s lightweight enough to clean the walls and stairs in your pool properly. Compatible with extra cleaning accessories like the TailSweep Pro, it’s a smart choice if you’re looking for an easy to install pressure cleaner that gets the job done.
Buying a pressure side pool cleaner is a substantial investment, but one that will help you to simplify the ongoing maintenance tasks in your pool. Fast and effective in removing contaminants from your water, use a pressure cleaner and ensure your pool is always perfect for a swim.