Best Robotic Pool Cleaner: A Review & Buying Guide for 2019

If you’re a pool owner, I don’t need to tell you how frustrating it is to keep it clean. No matter what you do, the elements are working against you. Sending dirt, leaves and a whole host of other debris into your pool, which quickly settles on the bottom.

But instead of getting annoyed, you just need the right tool for the job. Robotic pool cleaners are one of the best ways to remove all of this debris and get your pool sparkling clean again.

Read on to learn why so many people opt for robotic as their first choice for a pool cleaner and discover just how easy it is to keep your pool ready to swim.

Top Picks for Robotic Pool Cleaners

We hand-picked the following robotic pool cleaners based on their popularity, price-points and differentiating features.

A more complete review of each can be found later in this article.

What is a Robotic Pool Cleaner?

A robotic pool cleaner is one of the latest innovations in pool cleaning technology, operating underwater to filter and remove silt and other debris from the base of your pool.

Once installed, it follows a planned route to navigate across the entire area of your pool (some will even climb the steps and walls) to scrub and remove any debris it finds.

Just plug it in and set it running, and sit back as you let the power of technology do its job.

What Types of Pool Cleaners Can You Buy?

Now you’ve got more than one option once you start comparing pool cleaners, and the robotic versions are just one specific type.

Let me run you through each, before explaining why a robotic pool cleaner is a smart choice.

1. Robotic Pool Cleaners (duh!)

The Ferrari’s of pool equipment, robotic cleaners are a premium solution to ensure your swimming pool is swept free of dirt and other debris to be perfect for swimming.

Powered by tiny motors that run the scrubbing and cleaning tasks, robotic pool cleaners are a highly efficient product. Some models will send the collected junk through a hose to collect in your filter basket, while others are entirely self-contained.

You will need a power source to run a robotic pool cleaner, but despite this additional draw, these powerful cleaners typically feature low-wattage motors, to help keep the on-going electrical costs down.

2. Suction Pool Cleaners

Towards the cheaper end of the scale, you’ve got the suction pool cleaner, which some people like to call a pool vacuum, as it operates much the same way.

These cleaners connect directly into your existing pump and filter setup, which makes them very simple to install. They begin working as soon as they’re dropped underwater.

Available in manual versions that need to be steered, as well as automatic upgrades which are programmed to follow a track throughout a pool, suction pool cleaners are one of the most cost-effective options for keeping your swimming pool free from debris.

3. Pressure Pool Cleaners

Operating slightly differently to the robotic and suction options, pressure pool cleaners are designed to hang suspended in your pool, creating a flow effect in your water.

Requiring the installation of a second pump to stir up the silt, all of the dirt and debris is agitated before being channeled through the device for filtration.

Featuring their own filter bags to reduce the impact on your existing pump and filter, these types of cleaners are also quite effective at removing floating particles too, which makes for a cleaner pool, and a more enjoyable swim.

Why Choose A Robotic Pool Cleaner?

While suction pool cleaners are a cheap and effective option for many pool owners, compared to a robotic cleaner they will have a slightly higher running cost. They add an additional draw to your pump, and may even reduce the life of your filtration system thanks to the extra wear and tear.

Pressure pool cleaners are a great design, but the ongoing running costs of a second pump make these the most expensive option. You’re effectively doubling the power needs of your pool while the pressure cleaner is working.

Robotic pool cleaners have been designed for smart operations, low power usage, and typically remain entirely self-contained so they won’t stress or age the other parts of your pool. If you’re happy to invest a little more in a premium option, robotic pool cleaners are an intelligent choice.

What to Consider When Buying a Robotic Pool Cleaner

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 robotic pool cleaner.

Is It Suitable For Your Pool Size?

Despite not needing a connection to your pump or filter, robotic pool cleaners do have one limitation, the length of their power cord.

You need to buy a model that gives you enough length to reach all of the stubborn areas of your pool, as well as getting to the depth at the deep end. Before buying anything, measure out your pool, and make sure the cleaner you buy has a cord long enough.

How Fast & Efficiently Does It Clean?

It’s important to consider if your walls need to be scrubbed by the cleaner, as some models will struggle to reach your walls adequately, and may even not be able to climb your stairs.

I’d also think about the programming. If you’ve got a timer or cleaning schedule you can program, it can just do its job in the background.

Oh, and make sure it’s smart enough to avoid problems like breaching the surface or figuring out how to reverse from a corner or a jam. You don’t want to have to keep manually putting it back on track.

How Much Does It Cost To Run?

Because a robotic pool cleaner plugs into your power source, it’s going to create an additional draw for the motors and will increase your monthly power bill.

But you can mitigate the cost by looking at the particular wattage requirements of different models. Manufacturers have been able to use tiny motors that require very little energy to operate, which helps keep your ongoing running costs down.

Some brands will even give you an approximation of the power cost of their model while it’s in use, which you can use to help make the right choice before you buy.

How Difficult Is Setup/Installation?

If it takes more than a minute to install a robotic pool cleaner, something is wrong.

All you need to do is unbox it, plug it in, drop it in the water and switch it on. It’s pretty straightforward and is a key reason many people like these cleaners, they’re so easy.

What I would also recommend thinking about is how easy it is to empty and clean the collection filters, because this is a task you will regularly be doing (often as much as twice a day if your pool is particularly dirty). The simpler it is to remove and clean the filters, the better.

How Long Will It Last?

Buying a quality product with a good warranty is essential for a robotic pool cleaner, especially since y they’re relatively expensive. You want to know if it does break, the company has your back and will help out to get it fixed or replaced.

I’d recommend staying away from the cheaper models, you’re going to want to invest in a durable pool cleaner that can not only stand up to the harsh UV rays, and works perfectly underwater.

Lots of users have commented their robotic pool cleaners have lasted years, while cheaper models often give out after just a season or two.

Reviewing the 7 Best Robotic Pool Cleaners

So far we’ve covered what a robotic cleaner 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 robotic pool cleaner products, each of which were hand-picked for review based on the same criteria I’ve outlined in this guide.

Here we go…

#1. Hayward RC9740CUB SharkVac Robotic Pool Vacuum (Automatic Pool Cleaner)

Designed by Hayward, the SharkVac is able to keep pools up to 50 feet free from debris on the pool floor. At only 21 pounds, it’s also one of the lighter models you’ll find.

Filtering your water through two separate filters before storing debris in the internal basket, the convenient top-loading access makes it simple to remove the filters for cleaning.

The best part about this robotic pool cleaner is their sensor technology, which stops the cleaner from accidentally surfacing and putting the motors through any unnecessary stress. But I’m not a fan of the inability to scale the walls, and some variety in the programming settings would be nice (it’s just a basic on/off switch).

Pros:

  • Easy to remove filter through the top hatch
  • Works effectively on large pools up to 50 feet

Cons:

  • Only cleans the pool floor, it cannot scale walls
  • The power switch is a simple on/off, no timer or schedule abilities

#2. Dolphin Nautilus CC Plus Automatic Robotic Pool Cleaner

Designed by Maytronics, the Dolphin Nautilus CC Plus weighs in at only 19 pounds and is a smart pool cleaning device for pools up to 50 feet.

Featuring their CleverClean scanner technology, once you’ve dropped it in your pool sensors calculate the size and dimensions to determine the most efficient cleaning path.

What I like best is the patented swivels on the power cable, which helps to avoid twists, loops, and tangles as this robotic cleaner operates, you really do get an uninterrupted clean. The downside is the filters can get clogged with large debris, and the device will have trouble cleaning your pool steps, often getting stuck.

Pros:

  • Easy to remove filter through the top hatch
  • Dual scrubbing brushes to dislodge dirt on pool walls and floor
  • Filters remove all particles greater than 2 microns

Cons:

  • Doesn’t effectively clean pool steps
  • Filters can clog easily

#3. Hayward RC9950GR TigerShark Automatic Robotic Pool Cleaner

Designed by Hayward, the TigerShark is an effective robotic cleaner for most pool types, able to tackle pools up to 40 feet in length.

Featuring a 3-hour cycle to reach every inch of your swimming pool, this cleaner can even scrub the walls up to the water line. Using a 24-volt motor to keep the power needs (and running costs down), you still get a great clean without sacrificing efficiency.

What I like best is their filter system, it’s one of the easiest to remove and rinse off with your garden hose once it needs a clean. The downsides are the size, at 40 pounds it’s a bulky cleaning device, and some users have noticed it will get stuck once it hits the main drain of your in-ground pool, as it can’t get past it.

Pros:

  • Option to upgrade to a remote-controlled model
  • One-year warranty on all parts and labor
  • Very easy to clean out the filters

Cons:

  • Heavy for a device designed to be continually pulled out of your pool
  • Will get stuck when hitting pool drains

#4. Polaris F9550 Sport Robotic In-Ground Pool Cleaner

Designed by Polaris, this is a heavy-duty robotic cleaner with some of the best-in-class features you’d expect for a premium model.

Offering a 7-day programmable timer, hand-held remote and a powder-coated alloy caddy to help you maneuver the 43.6-pound beast in and out of your pool, this is your solution to ensure your pool remains free of dirt and debris.

What I like best is the ActivMotion Sensor Technology which makes this cleaner perfect for free-form pools, and the water propulsion that flushes dirt from stubborn corners and stairs. The biggest downside is the expense, it’s a premium solution, and that comes with a hefty price tag. It’s also really heavy.

Pros:

  • Can chart its own course in real time
  • Will clean everything up to your waterline
  • Highly programmable allowing you to set and forget

Cons:

  • Heavy for a device designed to be continually pulled out of your pool
  • Premium cleaner with an expensive price tag

#5. Pentair 360032 Kreepy Krauly Prowler 830 Robotic Inground Pool Cleaner with 60 Foot Cord

Designed by Pentair, this robotic pool cleaner provides a thorough and fast clean, sucking up everything from algae to dirt, rocks and large debris.

Featuring Bluetooth wireless technology, you can schedule your pool cleanings without needing to remove the device from the water.

What I like best is the auto reverse functionality, which saves this cleaner from getting stuck on the stairs and obstacles that would stop other cleaners in their tracks. The downside is the weight, at 45 pounds it’s one of your heaviest options, and sometimes the programming gives errors about full filters when they’re really not, it’s a little too sensitive.

Pros:

  • Costs less than $0.20 a day to operate
  • The remote control is smart and easy to use
  • Very difficult to get this cleaner stuck

Cons:

  • Heavy for a device designed to be continually pulled out of your pool
  • Sensors are too sensitive and can give wrongful errors

#6. Dolphin Triton Plus Robotic Pool Cleaner with PowerStream and Bluetooth

Designed by Maytronics, this robotic pool cleaner is one of the lightest yet powerful models on the market, thoroughly cleaning pools up to 50 feet in 2 hours.

Featuring strong PowerStream jets to help the device climb pool walls, the second motor runs active brushing scrubs to dislodge stuck dirt and contaminants from every surface.

What I like best is how easily it connects to my smartphone. I can set short clean cycles if I need to do a fast clean, and even direct it in the water to spot-clean trouble areas. The downside is the power cord lacking a swivel (they use programming to avoid tangles), and some users have had problems successfully connecting to the cleaner with their app.

Pros:

  • The quick clean mode allows a fast scrub when time matters
  • Extremely lightweight in its class
  • Active brushing helps remove caked on dirt and grime

Cons:

  • Can experience connection problems with the app

#7. Dolphin 2018 Premier Robotic In-Ground Pool Cleaner

Designed by Maytronics, the Dolphin Premier is one of the most advanced robotic pool cleaners on the market and will help you achieve a new level of clean in your pool.

Featuring Smart-Nav software to scan and target 100% of your pool surfaces, the combination of strong scrubbing brushes with a powerful vacuum eliminates all dirt and debris from your floor, walls, and even the water line.

What I like best is the 3-year warranty and the fact that this pool cleaner will not get tangled. It can rotate a full 360 degrees, so you’ll never find it stuck. But cleaning it is a bit of a task, the different filters are fine and time-consuming to get these clean.

Pros:

  • Bright LED indicator signals when the filter needs to be emptied
  • Offers the most comprehensive clean of your pool
  • 3-year warranty

Cons:

  • Heavier than some alternatives at 36.2 pounds
  • Filter bags can be time-consuming to clean

Our Winners

There’s no doubt the Dolphin Premier is the best-in-class robotic cleaner for your pool. It’s the flagship model from the brand, and for a good reason. You will get a phenomenal level of clean that other models just cannot match. If you’re looking to have a spotless pool, this is the best option for you.

The Runner Up

It was a close race, but the Kreepy Krauly Prowler is our runner up, thanks to its ability to just keep working. That it can stop and reverse where other cleaners get tangled and stuck, and the remote control is also a nice touch. If you’re looking for a reliable robotic pool cleaner, this is another excellent buy.

Investing in a robotic pool cleaner is a smart move, especially if you want to keep your pool perfectly clean, without the hassle of doing it yourself.

Keep Reading