Best Pool Cleaners

For all reviews, we perform tests to check and evaluate technical parameters, including only proven data, and provide you with the best recommendations on pool cleaners. We test pool cleaners of different manufacturers, types, construction, and prices.

How We Test Pool Cleaners

Pool cleaners are the best helpers in the maintenance of in-ground and above-ground pools.

There are several types for each budget – manual, automatic, and robotic.

They can clean walls, floors, and water, reduce the load on the pool filter and pump by collecting debris, and perform water filtration during the cleaning cycle.

Automatic and robotic cleaners have the significant advantage of independent cleaning cycles without supervision, allowing you to spend more time having a rest.

Our reviews are focused on automatic (pressure and suction side) and robotic pool cleaners.

We also make some articles about skimmers, but their construction is slightly different, so not all tests described here are applicable.

The main purpose of our reviews is to provide reliable and valuable information about pool cleaners to help our readers choose the best models for their type of swimming pool.

Our reviews are based on tests that provide us with the necessary data for technical evaluations.

We have tested hundreds of cleaners and created the best tests to understand all the capabilities of cleaners. In this article, we want to provide a glimpse of our test procedure so you can trust us more.

For tests, we use three residential swimming pools – one in-ground square concrete pool, one oval in-ground tile pool with inclination and steps, and one round vinyl above-ground pool. We may use additional ones for special tests.

Navigation Test

We consider this parameter to be one of the most essential, and it contributes significantly to our evaluation. Automatic cleaners should cover all floors and other surfaces if applicable (not all cleaners can clean walls and waterlines).

We prepare our pools for several days to ensure the cleaning results are correct. We set a timer and a video camera to see how much time is required to clean the whole pool, what cleaning patterns are used, how slopes and stairs were cleaned, and if the cleaner is stuck on drains or in other places.

If the robot is equipped with sensors, it scans the whole pool at the beginning of each cycle, determines the dirtiest areas to pass through several times, and optimizes the cleaning time. But we do not evaluate such robots with higher ratings, as only the result matters in the end. As automatic robots can work remotely, the time of cleaning also does not matter; you can start cleaning while you are at work.

The perfect result is the whole area being fully cleaned without stops on drains and slopes. Such models will receive the highest rank. Specific cleaning patterns and problems (such as cable tangling) are always reflected in our reviews. The navigation test is connected with a cleaning, working time, and suction test. If the pool cleaner is compatible with a smartphone app, the cleaning path is available in the cleaning report and is used by us for evaluation as well.

Cleaning Test

This test is based on the estimation of how much dirt and particles are collected in one run of the cleaner, and it is performed with a navigation test.

If the result in the real pool does not satisfy us, we start the cleaning test in the transparent small pool and check where the problem is. Whether it is connected to the pool surface, low suction, brush, or debris of any size.

The cleaning test shows how the pool cleaner can collect different types of debris and scrub the pool surface from algae dirt. The scrubbing activity is especially essential for waterline cleaning, which is the dirtiest part of the pool. The cleaning test is connected with brush evaluation.

Suction Test

For this test, we use a digital gauge to check the real suction power of a pool cleaner. This parameter impacts significantly on the cleaning test.

We normally do not provide the results in our reviews; we combine these parameters in our overall rating of pool cleaner cleaning performance. If the cleaning performance is low, one of the reasons could be the low suction power. In case you have a suction or pressure side cleaner, you can adjust the setting parameters to improve.

Also, suction power depends on whether your filter is full or empty; we perform this test in all combinations to have the picture close to the real conditions in your pool.

Working Time Test

This test is connected with checking if the pool cleaner can clean the whole pool inside one cleaning cycle. It is mainly related to the cordless models, which stop working when the battery is low. Such models park at the wall and wait for extraction.

Also, in case of low battery, some models can’t stop climbing walls and waterlines (if applicable).

The working time could be less than promised by the Manufacturer, so we checked it. This test is performed inside the navigation test. Smart pool cleaners can finish the cleaning earlier or prolong it if required. For corded models, we start one more cycle if the first has an unsatisfied result.

We tried the second cycle after cleaning the filter and without cleaning it to see the difference and compare. During this test, we also check for pressure and side cleaners and time settings on the pool pump and filters.

Filtration Test

In this test, we check if the sucked dirt is captured in the filter basket, cartridge, or skimmer.

In robotic pool cleaners and pressure-side pool cleaners, the ability to keep the dirt is connected with a mesh size and filter construction.

Normally, the smaller the mesh size, the more dirt will be kept inside.

All dirt is sucked through a large suction port, so even the large leaves will be sucked and stay inside. If you have a lot of sand and pollen (we use these particles as well during tests) in the pool, you need to have an ultra-fine filter.

For the test, we use a combination of all debris sizes, including leaves, bugs, dirt, pollen, sand, algae, and much more. Suction-side pool cleaners do not have filter baskets; they use the existing pool filter system. So, this test is not applicable to such a type. We test all filters that are included in the package for the pool cleaner.

The results of this test also impact how the filter is cleaned. Our experience has shown that top-access filters are best for cleaning and easy access.

You need to take out the filter and keep everything inside. Nevertheless, all filters independent of construction are recommended to be cleaned only with a garden hose after each cleaning cycle. In the case of the weekly timer, the efficiency of cleaning at the end of the week will be lower as the filter basket is full.

Maneuverability Test

This test might be similar to a navigation test, but its purpose is to evaluate how the pool cleaner turns on angles, climbs the walls, and goes through and around any obstacles.

On our video reports and reports in the smartphone app (if applicable), we check the time, how much time was required to continue cleaning, and if some spots have been missed. We create additional slopes and set up different objects to understand the maneuverability.

The significant failure in this test is if the pool cleaner falls on its back, which is a requirement for a man’s help. The cable or hose tangling also impacts this test, as well as the navigation test.

Usability Test

For most users, this test is the most essential and determines how easy it is to use a pool cleaner. In this test, we check how to install the robot, start the cleaning process, how many options for the cleaning cycle are available, how to control the cleaning progress, and how to clean the cleaner afterward.

For cordless models, we also consider the ease and time of charging, the ability to clean the pool in one round without charge, and the possibility of using a weekly timer. For corded models, we estimate the storage conditions.

Suction and pressure-side cleaners are not leaders in this test, as they are more complicated in installation as you need to connect hoses and gauges and adjust the pump and filter to the cleaner settings.

Robotic cordless pool cleaners without installation and smartphone apps are the winners in such tests. Unfortunately, only some robotic pool cleaners have smartphone applications, but some are controlled only with one button on the body or the power station. Inside usability tests, we also reflect the location of buttons, LED status indicators, transparent lid for the filter, filter full-bin indicator, lightweight or not, handle location for extraction, water release technology availability, and other features that improve your pool cleaner usage.

Brushes Evaluation

When we check the brushes, we focus mainly on how they pick up dirt and debris and direct it to the suction port. It is also essential to evaluate their scrubbing activities.

We test these functions during cleaning tests; we provide areas with a lot of dirt stuck to the pool floor/walls/waterline as well as different floating debris to check the pick-up function. As a result, the brush maintenance and service life were also impacted.

We perform a row of tests of each type to evaluate average results; after all tests are performed, we check the brush condition, whether it was torn or damaged, and whether it requires a replacement. We compare our results with Manufacturer recommendations to give you the best advice. As we test our pool cleaners in different pools, our advice also includes recommendations on which brush is better for which surface and how many brushes are better for excellent results.

Advanced Technology Assessment

Normally, pool cleaners do not obtain many intelligent features. Robotic pool cleaners mainly have some, such as eco-mode, cycle selector, smart cleaning, weekly timer, or delay start. All these functions are available in smartphone applications, remote controllers, or control panels.

Unfortunately, there are no docking stations for pool cleaners that can do robot cleaning, including brushes and filters; the cleaner is better stored outside the water in a shaded place and can’t go inside the pool for cleaning automatically.

Result

In this summary, we openly have shown our tests methodically to prove that our articles are based only on reliable information. We do not evaluate product dimensions and color in tests as people have different preferences. We are trying to be objective and evaluate only technical parameters that impact the cleaning performance. We use several swimming pools and transparent model pools to check if the pool cleaner is capable of removing all sizes of debris and dirt and if it is comfortable for maintenance, operation, and cleaning.

We also do not judge the price, as owners have different budgets, pool sizes, and technical capabilities. That is why we have reviews of different pool cleaners, and you can choose the best one for you from many models.

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