You will agree with me that the debate of the best pool cleaners is between Polaris 360 vs. 380. These two are the most popular pool cleaners in the market today. But still, you will find the predecessor, Polaris 280 which is still a force to reckon despite being an old model.
To enable you to get the most out of this pool cleaners comparison review, we have divided it into three section.
- 1 1. Polaris Vac-Sweep 280 – for small to medium sized in-ground pools
- 2 2. Polaris 360 – the best pool cleaner for you
- 3 3. Polaris 380 – it requires a booster pump
- 4 Polaris 360 vs 380 Face to Face Comparison
- 5 Polaris 280 vs. 360 vs. 380
- 6 Who’s the winner? Polaris 360 vs. 380
- 7 How do I know which Polaris VacSweep do I have?
- 8 How to choose the right Polaris bag
- 9 Final Words
1. Polaris Vac-Sweep 280 – for small to medium sized in-ground pools
The Polaris 280 is a popular pressure-side automatic pool cleaner designed for small to medium sized in-ground pools.
The shape doesn’t matter as it tags along with a flexible 31ft. hose.
One important thing to note when buying this cleaner is that it requires a booster pump to work efficiently. In as much as you may find it to be cheaper than the Polaris 360, the booster pump costs mean otherwise.
One thing you need to be careful with is the coverage of the pool cleaner. The Polaris 280 comes with two propulsion jets and a three-wheel design.
In the market, you will find three Polaris Vac-Sweep cleaners;
- The F5 (standard),
- F5B (Black Max),
- F5T (TankTrax).
Perhaps the only shortcoming of the Polaris 280 is that it will sprinkle water out of the pool. But a quick fix is to attach the TailSweep pro attachment.
2. Polaris 360 – the best pool cleaner for you
This is perhaps the best pool cleaner you can buy as it requires no booster pump like Polaris 280 and 380.
So, however expensive you may find it, it’s the best option since you won’t be buying a separate booster pump for maximum efficiency.
Regarding performance, the 360 is a much-improved version of the 280, with 3 propulsion jets, belt drive system, and so much more.
But still, there are a few things that Polaris ought to have improved. For example, this model comes with a smaller vacuum opening meaning it won’t capture very large debris.
The Polaris Vac-Sweep 360 Series has two models;
- Polaris F1 (Vac Sweep 360)
- Polaris F1B (Black Max)
This cleaner is best for those who don’t have an existing pump so if you have one already, save the few bucks by going for either the 280 or 380.
3. Polaris 380 – it requires a booster pump
It is a great choice for anyone who is just looking for the pool cleaner; maybe you have a pump already.
But structurally, it is very similar to the Polaris 360 with just a few differences which we’ll talk about later on.
Much of the new features the Polaris 360 has are also here.
- Thee include the 3-jet propulsion,
- belt-drive system,
- back up valve
- and so on.
Polaris 380 has many parts, and consequently, it requires more maintenance.
The best feature of Polaris 380, however, is the ability to clean the floor, walls, and steps as well making it the most comprehensive Polaris in our review today.
Polaris 360 vs 380 Face to Face Comparison
Now, with a glimpse of what each model offers, let’s now put them to a contest and see who’s the winner.
Our approach here is to consider all the important factors and features that should influence your purchase decision.
So, without wasting more time, here’s the Polaris 360 vs. 380 face-off. We will also be bringing the 280 into the picture just in case you may need it.
Installation (pump requirement)
Before buying any pool cleaner, make sure you ascertain its compatibility with your pool system. Here, an important consideration is whether it needs a booste r pump or not.
Polaris 280 requires a booster pump to function efficiently.
The Polaris PB4 60 is the most recommended pump, but still, you can choose from the wide range of booster pumps from other models.
Let’s find out what’s the best Polaris that will handle all your pool cleaning needs.
The Polaris 280 can clean the pool floor and walls. Many websites claim that it can clean the step, but this is not true.
There is nothing much different from the Polaris 360. It can also clean the floors and walls so for the steps, you need an alternative.
Polaris 380 is the unlikely here as it can handle floors, walls, and steps as well. This I one thing that makes the 380 a force to reckon even though it requires a separately bought booster pump.
Among the pros of Polaris 280 is a larger vacuum inlet with a 2-1/2-inch diameter. It is perfect for homeowners who are always dealing with leaves and other large dirt debris.
Polaris 360 comes with a smaller vacuum opening. It has a 2-1/2-inch diameter vacuum inlet which I a disappointment for such an expensive pool cleaner. But you can argue that the difference is negligible.
Just like the 360, Vac-Sweep 380 also comes with a smaller 2-1/4-inch diameter vacuum inlet. This is among the reasons why the old Polaris 280 is still a force to reckon.
Polaris 280 comes with two propulsion jets that are efficient, but not the very best. This is best explained by the rather long 3-hour cleaning cycle compared to the 2-1/2-hour cleaning cycle.
The new Polaris 360 comes with 3 propulsion jets instead of two giving it an edge over the older model. The three jets give it more power and hasten cleaning as the cleaner’s movements are swift.
Polaris 380 also has three propulsion jets for more power and speed.
Drive mechanism (belt vs shaft drive)
Polaris 280 comes with a three-wheel design and the standard Classic tires. Unlike the new models, it has a shaft drive system which is simple to maintain but not as swift as the all-wheel-drive system.
Polaris 360 comes with an entirely new approach with only the Classic three wheels as the feature it shares with the predecessor. The most significant addition is the fact that this is now an all-wheel belt drive pool cleaner.
Nothing is new in the Polaris 380 as it also features an all-wheel belt drive system and Classic wheels just like the 360. If you want a more robust cleaner than these two, go for the Polaris 3900 Sport that comes with an all-wheel PosiDrive system with stainless steel chain and WideTrax tires.
But do all of the three come with a backup valve?
Polaris 280 comes with a backup valve, and it works quite efficiently. The good thing is that the valves are not maintenance intensive like in the 360 and 380.
When it comes to the Polaris 360, we also have the backup valve, but with valves that are somewhat less durable and require constant checking and unblocking.
The last cleaner also comes with a backup valve and this time round, its role goes beyond freeing the cleaner. Polaris Vac-Sweep 380, the backup valve also gives the cleaner the climbing power for getting to the steps.
Polaris 280 is the best here because it has lesser moving parts. On top of that, the filter bag captures the large dirt debris before they reach the filter thus elongating the life of your filtration system. The valves are not maintenance intensive also.
The Polaris 360 has so many parts, and that means intensive maintenance. Fortunately, there is also a filter bag for capturing the large dirt to prevent them from overwhelming the filter.
Polaris 380 also has many parts, and consequently, it requires more maintenance. Here again, we have the filter bag which enhances the filter life and performance. The valves also need frequent maintenance and so do the three jet.
Accessories and attachments
Polaris 280 comes with its single chamber bag included in the package, a 31ft. hose, sweep hose with scrubber, back up valve and pool wall fittings. However, the TailSweep Pro is not included.
If you want this attachment, you have to get it separately. As for the bags, there is a wide range of options to choose from. We have the standard option, the zippered, silt bags, and so on.
Polaris 360 will also come with the standard single chamber bag included, but there is a wide range of bags to choose from depending on your needs.
Other inclusions are a larger sweep hose with scrubber, pool wall fittings, and the backup valve. This pool cleaner also works with the Polaris TailSweep Pro, but it is not included in the package.
Lastly, we have the Polaris Vac-Sweep 380, and this one is not in any way different from the Vac-Sweep 360. The TailSweep Pro is not included, but it is compatible with it.
Other accessories supplied are a single chamber bag, as usual, sweep hose and scrubber, back up valve and pool wall fittings.
Polaris 280 vs. 360 vs. 380
The Polaris Vac-Sweep boasts a wide range of pool cleaners. But one thing you will notice is that the pressure-side pool cleaners in that series are quite similar.
These are the Polaris 180, Polaris 280, Polaris 360 and Polaris 380.
So, what are the major features they share?
- Three-wheel design – First, the three pool cleaners have a three-wheel design, with Classic tires. The 3900 Sport, however, has WideTrax tires.
- Single chamber bag – You also notice that Polaris built the three with a single chamber bag design. We’ve seen improvements in the 3900 Sport also as it comes with a large dual chamber bag.
- UV-body construction – We also liked the durable UV resistant materials that Polaris used in all the three cleaners. They can stay in the sun all year round without getting damaged or start fading.
- Sweep hose tail – They also come with a sweep hose tail that gets in the deep corners ensuring your pool is dirt free. But the two new models have a larger sweep hose.
- Backup valve – This is also another standard feature available for all the three pressure pool cleaners.
- TailSweep Pro compatibility – The three cleaners are compatible with TailSweep Pro, but unfortunately, none comes with the tool included. You have to buy it separately.
What’s the difference?
When assessing the differences between these three pool cleaners, we will segment them into two.
First, we will look at the difference between the older Polaris 280 and the two new Polaris cleaners in the 300 Series. After that, we will find out the difference between the two new cleaners again, i.e., Polaris 360 vs. 380.
Polaris 280 vs. 300 SeriesPropulsion – Polaris 280 comes with 2 venturi jets for propulsion while Polaris 360 and 380 now have 3 jets. Drive system – There has been a shift from the shaft driven wheels to belt driven wheels in the two new models. Vacuum inlet – The old Polaris 280 is a great deal here as it comes with a 2-1/2-inch diameter vacuum inlet meaning it can capture larger debris. Price – Definitely, the two new Polaris models will attract a higher price tag with the Polaris 360 being the most expensive.
Polaris 360 vs. 380Booster pump – You need a booster pump for the Polaris 380 to function efficiently while the Polaris 360 doesn’t need one. Cleaning priority – Polaris 360 has been designed to clean pool floors, and walls only. On the other hand, Vac-Sweep 380 can handle floors, walls, and even the steps.
Who’s the winner? Polaris 360 vs. 380
On the other hand, Polaris Vac-Sweep 380, just like the 280 requires a booster pump to work efficiently.
So, which between the two cleaners should you buy?
Well, when looking at value for money, the Polaris 360 is the winner because it doesn’t require a booster pump. But then, this is not a statement that makes sense if you already have a booster pump fitted.
On the other hand, the Polaris 380 is an excellent deal for those who already have a booster pump. But the most significant feature is its ability to clean the steps alongside the floor and walls.
How do I know which Polaris VacSweep do I have?
There will come a time you will need to buy replacement parts. What if you don’t know the exact model of Polaris Vac-Sweep you have?
Here are simple ways through which you can identify which Polaris cleaner you have.
If the serial number starts with ‘K,’ that is a Polaris 380 while ‘L’ will be a Polaris 360. On the other hand, the Polaris 280’s serial number starts with a ‘C.’
Besides the serial numbers, you can also do a physical examination and tell the differences. Polaris pressure side vacuums have three Classic wheels. While the latest model, Polaris 3900 Sport has WideTrax wheels.
You can also inspect the jets to see the number. Old models like the 280 have two jets while the 360 and 380 have three jets.
How to choose the right Polaris bag
- All-purpose bags – Thee are the standard bags r=that comes with the Polaris 180, 280, 360 and 380. They can handle everyday dirt and debris and should last you for a year or so.
- Leaf bags – If you constantly have to deal with foliage, get the leaf bags. They can hold leaves and twigs comfortably.
- Silt bags – As the name suggests, thee are best for areas where there is a lot of sand and silt and other fine dirt particles.
- Super bags – These are not for use with the 280, 360 and 380. They are meant for the Polaris 3900 Sport, and one difference is that they are double-chambered.
Indeed, Polaris 360 vs. 380 is the main conversation when buying a pressure side pool cleaner. While the two look so similar, the differences are profound.
We’ve now come to the end of this Polaris 280 vs. 360 vs. 380 comparison review. Which model is your best and why? Talk to us in the comments section below!