Are you looking for the best robotic pool cleaner you can buy today?
You’ve come to the right place!
Based on our extensive research and experience, below we review and compare the best robotic pool cleaners selling today. We’ve done all the hard work of reviewing and comparing the top robotic cleaners – so you don’t have to.
We aim to help you find and buy the best robotic pool cleaners that fits your needs, type of pool, unique cleaning issues, and budget.
Whether you want a cleaner for your above ground or in-ground pool, we have a few great recommendations below.
This buying guide also educates you on how to intelligently shop for a robot pool cleaner – including the most important features to look for and the best place to buy one.
What’s In This Guide
- What’s In This Guide
- The Best Robotic Pool Cleaners Compared
- Best Robotic Pool Cleaner Overall: Dolphin Premiere
- Best Robotic Pool Cleaner for an In-Ground Pool:
- Polaris 9550
- Dolphin Nautilus Plus
- Dolphin Sigma
- Dolphin Triton
- Dolphin Triton Plus
- Hayward TigerShark QC
- Hayward TigerShark Plus
- Pentair KreepyKrauly Prowler
- Best Robotic Pool Cleaner for an Above Ground Pool:
- Dolphin Escape
- Aquabot X4
- Aquabot Spirit
- Aquabot Pool Rover S2 40
- Aquabot Pool Rover Junior
- Best Robotic Pool Skimmer: Solar Breeze
- Best Cheap Robot Pool Cleaner: SmartKleen NC22
- Best Robotic Cleaner for Pools With Stairs: Dolphin Quantum
- Most Proven and Reliable Robotic Pool Cleaner: Dolphin Nautilus
- How We Rate Them
- What is a Robotic Pool Cleaner?
- How do Robotic Pool Cleaners Work?
- What Are the Benefits of Using Robotic pool cleaners?
- Robotic Pool Cleaner Vs. Suction Side Vs. Pressure Side Cleaners
- Why Buy a Robot Pool Cleaner?
- The Features that Matter
- Where to Buy a Robotic Pool Cleaner
- PUT YOUR FLOOR CLEANING ON AUTOPILOT
The Best Robotic Pool Cleaners Compared
Different robotic pool cleaners are optimized for certain types of cleaning environments. Some are ideal for in-ground tools while others are best for above ground pools.
Some are best for uniquely shaped pools with complex surfaces while others are ideal for pools with simple designs.
See the table below for a summary of our top picks for each category.
Best Robotic Pool Cleaner Overall: Dolphin Premiere
We chose Dolphin Premier as the best overall for two main reasons: its cleaning performance and high energy efficiency.
Essentially, it delivers what every pool owner wants in a robotic pool cleaner: a machine that cleans well without using too much power.
The Premiere is packed full of features aimed at enhancing its cleaning ability. Smart scanning software starts the cleaning session by mapping out the best path for the robotic pool cleaner to take.
Spinning brushes work on any stuck dirt and debris along the way while the powerful suction system vacuums and filters it. You can choose from four different types of filters depending on how dirty your pool is.
Rubber tracks (instead of wheels) provide a firm grip, allowing the cleaner to reach every spot in the pool for a thorough clean.
It will clean the floor, wall, corners, and waterline. The only place it falters is on the stairs where it does a less-than-perfect job.
Best Features Of Robotic Pool Cleaners
- Anti-tangle swivel cable. The cable can rotate 360 degrees as the cleaner turns. This prevents tangles that can stall the unit.
- 4 different filters. From fine sand and algae to large leaves and twigs, there is a filter for every kind of cleaning. Switching from one filter to another only takes a couple of seconds.
- HyperGrip rubber tracks. For easy navigation and maximum energy efficiency, the premiere has continuous rubber tracks, like those in a battle tank. Their strong grip is especially important when the cleaner is climbing walls.
- Big energy savings. The premiere has been designed with high-efficiency DC motors that require less energy than other motors. This translates into significant cost savings for you.
One of the concerns customers have is about the cleaner’s inability to clean the stairs properly.
Another common complaint is that the accompanying manual has poor instructions, forcing most users to resort to the internet for help on how to use the cleaner.
This Robotic Pool Cleaner Is Best For You If…
You want the absolute best in class, design, and performance.
If you don’t mind paying a premium for a high-performing in-ground pool cleaner, the Dolphin Premiere is your best choice.
Best Robotic Pool Cleaner for an In-Ground Pool:
The Polaris F9550 Sport robotic in-ground pool cleaner does look sporty both in appearance and performance. Everything from the wheels to the suction system has been primed for top performance, just as you would expect in a sports car.
In-ground pools are significantly tougher to navigate and clean compared to above ground pools. The Polaris 9550 uses its top spec features to handle the challenging environment and produce great results.
It means a sparkling clean pool with every inch, including the walls, stairs, and corners thoroughly cleaned.
It is on the higher end of the price range, but it quickly proves itself worth the price tag.
- Aqua-Trax tires and 4-wheel drive for easy navigation in pools with different types of surfaces. This also allows the unit to reach all areas, including tight corners and the walls.
- ActivMotion Sensor Technology that maps out the pool, allowing the robot cleaner to navigate in the most effective and energy-efficient manner. Thanks to these sensors, the Polaris 9550 can navigate easily regardless of the pool shape.
- A rear water propulsion system that helps in navigation especially around hard-to-reach sections of the pool.
- Vortex vacuum technology and scrubbing brushes work together to rid your pool of stuck dirt and large debris. This is especially beneficial for pools that haven’t had a clean in a while.
- A customizable 7-day timer. You can set up automatic cleaning cycles, ensuring that your pool remains clean even when you are away.
- Remote Control. Comes with remote control (ideal for spot cleaning) and a caddy for easy transportation and storage.
- Easy Lift System. You do not have to do the hard work lifting the unit from the bottom of the pool. Simply press a button, and the unit rises to the surface and drains itself automatically so that you can easily lift it onto the ground.
One improvement the manufacturer could make is the addition of a swivel cord. The 70-foot cable tends to get coiled up occasionally, requiring you to untangle it. But the tangling does not often happen, so it should not deter you from buying this cleaner.
You should also be careful when using the caddy. It feels flimsy and could break if not handled carefully. Always store it inside together with the robotic cleaner after every cleaning session.
This Cleaner is Best for You If..
You are looking for a high-performance robotic pool cleaner for your in-ground pool.
If you are willing to spend slightly more than usual for a cleaner pool, we highly recommend Polaris 9550.
Dolphin Nautilus Plus
The Dolphin Nautilus Plus is an update to the Dolphin Nautilus robotic pool cleaner. The Nautilus Plus model is larger, has a bigger top-load filter cartridge, cleans faster and comes with a weekly schedule.
It retains the reliability, excellent cleaning ability, and ease of use of the original Dolphin Nautilus.
Like the original Nautilus, the Nautilus Plus can clean in-ground pools of up to 50 feet in length.
To ensure maximum cleaning efficiency, it is equipped with CleverClean smart navigation that scans your pool and calculates the optimal cleaning path.
I’m not sure whether they’ve made the navigation technology smarter or the motor more powerful, but the Nautilus Plus cleans faster – 2hrs vs. 3hrs for the Nautilus.
Two scrubbing brushes remove dirt and grime stuck on the floor and walls while a powerful suction system sucks up the debris into the large cartridge.
It scales the walls with ease but has trouble going up the stairs. At most, it will only clean the bottom two stairs.
Top-load filter: They have moved the filter access from the bottom to the top, making it easier to remove and empty the filter cartridge. The cartridge is also bigger, meaning it can hold more dirt.
Weekly scheduler: You can program the Nautilus Plus to clean automatically every day, every other day or every third day. This scheduling is great if you spend a lot of time away from home.
Anti-tangle swivel: It put the robot with no risk of getting stuck on its own tangled cable. The swivel cable turns with the robot’s movements, ensuring it stays tangle-free.
Smart navigation system: The CleverClean system reduces cleaning time (which saves energy) while ensuring there are no missed spots.
As I’ve mentioned, Nautilus Plus has trouble with stairs. You may have to scrub those yourself.
The robot cleaner is also quite hefty, requiring some elbow grease to lift it out of the water and carry it to storage. A free caddy would have been nice.
As it is if you want one you have to buy it separately.
This Cleaner is Best for You If…
You want a reliable robotic pool cleaner with excellent cleaning performance.
While it is still not as high-tech as other pricier robotic pool cleaners, it delivers where it counts – keeping your pool clean.
Dolphin Sigma is one of the premium models from Maytronics.
It costs more than most other Dolphin models. For your money, you get a powerful robotic pool cleaner that cleans better than most other pool cleaners.
Extra features like the weekly scheduler and Bluetooth connectivity make this an even more worthwhile buy.
A majority of buyers on Amazon rate the Sigma’s performance highly.
There are a few complaints about the robot missing some spots and getting hung up on the drain, but generally, it does an excellent job keeping your pool clean.
The Sigma is equipped with the SmartNav 3.0smart navigation system. Instead of randomly moving about the pool, it calculates the most efficient path.
Thanks to the navigation system, it can deep clean a large in-ground pool in about 2.5 hours.
This cleaning includes the floor, wall, and waterline.
Dual scrubbing brushes remove debris from the pool surface while the powerful suction sucks the dirt through the filter and into the large top-load cartridge.
The Dolphin Sigma comes with two filters to tackle both fine and large debris.
Powerful but energy-saving motors: The 24-volt DC motors deliver more power while using less energy.
Independent tracks: The high-traction tracks can turn independently from each other. This tracking allows the robot to make tight turns, which is handy when cleaning corners and evading obstacles.
Bluetooth control: You can manually navigate the robot using your phone. You can also select a cleaning program or set the weekly scheduler via the app. However, the Bluetooth feature doesn’t work as advertised. A lag between transmission and reception makes manual navigation difficult.
Swivel cable: A robot doesn’t need any tangling cable to get the stack in the middle of a cleaning session.
Weekly scheduler: Set your Dolphin Sigma to clean daily, twice a week or three times a week even if you are not at home.
The biggest concern is the cost. If you are looking for a budget or even a mid-range robotic pool cleaner, this is not it.
If you are willing to spend more to enjoy the Sigma’s impressive capabilities, don’t put too much hope in the Bluetooth feature.
It’s handy for certain circumstances, but it feels more like a gimmick. They should have included a traditional remote control for manual navigation.
This Cleaner is Best for You If…
You want a powerful high-performance robotic pool cleaner that can keep your large in-ground pool clean.
You’ll have to pay more, but we think it’s worth it.
The Dolphin Triton is another highly rated robotic pool cleaner from Maytronics. It packs a lot of power, deploys smart navigation to scan the pool for efficient cleaning and scales the walls and steps with ease.
It comes with the reliability, ease of use and minimal-effort maintenance that Dolphin model is known for.
One of the most impressive things about the Dolphin Triton is how well it cleans the walls. Most robotic pool cleaners manage to go only halfway up.
The Triton goes up to the waterline while scrubbing grime and dirt off the pool wall.
As for the steps, it mostly manages the bottom steps. But depending on how your steps are designed and where they are located, it can sometimes get to the very top.
When it comes to the actual cleaning, the Triton relies on scrubbing brushes and a powerful suction system.
We love that it comes with two filters: one for everyday debris like leaves and the other for finer debris like algae and fine sand.
So you can select the right filter depending on the state of your pool.
The Dolphin Triton is a bit slow in cleaning – takes 3 hours vs. 2 hours of most robotic pool cleaners –but it leaves your pool clean.
Swivel cable: Prevents the 60-foot cable from getting tangled and getting the robot cleaner stuck.
Includes caddy: Makes moving the fairly heavy cleaner easier.
Two filters: Pick whichever filter is right for your pool. The 2-micron fine filter picks up algae and other tiny bits while the coarse 20-micron filter tackles leaves, twigs, and dirt.
The Dolphin Triton uses filter bags instead of cartridges. They are messier and more tedious to remove and clean.
Also, as I mentioned, the Dolphin Triton cleans slower than many other pool cleaners. So make sure you put it in the pool well ahead of time if you are planning to swim or if you have guests coming over.
This Cleaner is Best for You If…
You are looking for an affordable high-performance robotic pool cleaner that will clean your pool floor, walls and steps without missing a spot.
Dolphin Triton Plus
If the base Dolphin Triton model doesn’t feel quite powerful enough for your pool, the Triton Plus delivers more power but at a steeper price.
The most notable addition to the Triton is PowerStream, a waterjet-propelled system that improves mobility.
It also features a larger filter basket, two cleaning cycle options, and Bluetooth connectivity.
The Dolphin Triton Plus cleans large in-ground pools of up to 50 feet in length.
Thanks to its CleverCleanscanning and navigation system, it can handle pools of all shapes and pools with all sorts of features.
The navigation system allows it to calculate the most optimal cleaning path and avoid obstacles on the pool floor and wall.
Talking of the wall, the Triton Plus has no trouble going up the wall to the waterline.
One of the reasons it’s so good at scaling the pool wall is PowerStream. The robot produces jets of water in different directions to improve its grip on vertical surfaces.
The jets also improve the robot’s navigation on the pool floor, especially making turns and evading obstacles.
The Triton Plus has an active front brush that spins twice as fast as standard brushes to remove dirt and debris off the pool surface. It also scrubs away stubborn algae and bacteria, leaving your pool cleaner and healthier.
The filter basket is huge, collecting plenty of debris before it fills up. It has both fine and ultra-fine filters to capture all kinds of debris from algae to leaves.
Swivel cable: An anti-tangle swivel cable ensures the robot can move about without the cable getting in the way or getting it stuck. This seems to be a new addition to the Triton Plus. The earlier model used an anti-tangle algorithm instead that did not always prevent tangling. The swivel works much more effectively.
Two cleaning modes: You can select a 1hr quick cleaning mode or a standard 2hr cleaning mode.
Lightweight: The Dolphin Triton Plus is surprisingly easy to handle. Most people have no problem lifting it out of the pool.
Weekly scheduler: Select how often you want the robot to clean your pool automatically.
Bluetooth connectivity: Link the robot to your smartphone and use theMyDolphin app to select cleaning mode and set the weekly timer. You can also manually navigate the robot using your phone, but it’s tedious and takes some practice to get it right.
The Dolphin Triton Plus is pricey. If you are looking for a budget robotic pool cleaner, this is not it.
But it’s worth the price tag. It cleans so much better than other robotic pool cleaners.
Our only complaint is the Bluetooth feature. It’s not intuitive to use. It takes some getting used to before you can steer the robot manually using your phone.
But at least you can set the weekly timer and select cleaning mode if you don’t want to use the touchscreen on the power unit.
This Cleaner is Best for You If…
You want the best in-ground robotic pool cleaner you can get and don’t mind paying more for it.
The Dolphin Triton Plus is one of the best and most capable robotic pool cleaners.
Hayward TigerShark QC
If you don’t want a Dolphin pool cleaner, of which there are clearly many to choose from, Hayward is also a good brand.
Their TigerSharkrobotic pool cleaner rivals the top Dolphin cleaners.
We particularly love the TigerShark QC with Quick Clean technology, powerful suction, and smart pool scanning.
The Hayward TigerShark uses a powerful but efficient 24v motor to drive the robot and power a powerful onboard vacuum.
Brushes scrub algae and dirt off the pool floor and walls, while the vacuum sucks the debris into the sizable filter cartridge.
The TigerShark rarely gets stuck, whether on drains or when going up the walls. It also cleans the steps, though usually only the bottom ones submerged in water.
It takes about 3 hours for the TigerShark to clean a standard 20’ x 40’ in-ground pool. But if you get the QC model, meaning Quick Clean, there is an option for a fast 90-minute cleaning cycle.
Best Features Of robotic Pool Cleaner
Easy to clean cartridge: The patented filter system makes it easy to remove and clean the cartridge.
Efficient motor: The 24v motor outputs more power but uses less energy and saves you more money.
Two cleaning modes: Need to use the pool soon? Select the 90-minute quick clean cycle. Want a deeper and more thorough clean on the floor and walls? Select the regular 3-hour cleaning cycle.
The Hayward TigerShark lacks a swivel cable. So the cable does tend to tangle quite a bit.
To avoid this problem, lay out the cable straight from the power unit. Also, don’t lay a longer cable length than you need in the water.
Another issue is the filter system. Sometimes, the flap doors at the bottom don’t completely close, letting out some debris back into the water as you lift the robot out of the pool.
This Robotic Pool Cleaner is Best for You If…
You are looking for a powerful robotic pool cleaner that cleans well with minimal maintenance and guaranteed reliability.
Hayward TigerShark Plus
The TigerShark Plus adds remote control to the package. Everything else including filter size, cleaning power and overall capability is similar to the TigerShark QC.
The addition of a remote control adds a substantial amount to the price tag.
Unless you think the robot might be unable to cover most of your pool – maybe because of shape or pool features – the remote control is not worth the extra cost.
The robot’s smart scanning system ensures it covers at least 90% of the pool.
Just as good as the Hayward TigerShark QC.
It has similar features to the standard TigerShark with the only difference being the remote control.
The remote control has three buttons that let you manually navigate the robot.
Note: The standard TigerShark is not compatible with remote control, meaning you cannot get the remote control separately later.
This Cleaner is Best for You If…
You want a powerful robotic pool cleaner that you can manually navigate to clean difficult areas in your pool.
Pentair KreepyKrauly Prowler
If you don’t want an Aquabotor a Dolphin, the KreepyKrauly Prowler is a good alternative. It’s just as pricey as top Dolphin models but delivers impressive cleaning.
The main issue we – and many KreepyKrauly owners – have with the pool cleaner is its 45lbs weight. It’s not the easiest pool cleaner to get out of the pool.
The KreepyKrauly Prowler rivals the best Dolphin pool cleaners when it comes to cleaning performance.
It can clean a standard in-ground pool in two and a half hours. It uses brushes to get dirt stuck to the pool surface and a powerful suction system to vacuum it up into the large filter basket.
Despite its weight, it climbs walls with ease thanks to its high-traction treads.
Like most robotic pool cleaners, it has trouble doing the steps. In most cases, it only cleans the bottom two steps.
Two cleaning cycles: There’s an option of a 1-hour quick clean cycle where the KreepyKraulyonly scrubs the floor and an extended cycle where deep cleans the entire pool.
Filter-full indicator: Tells you when the basket needs emptying.
Weekly timer: You can set automatic cleanings whether you are home or not.
Auto-reverse: The robot auto-reverses whenever it gets stuck on the drain stairs or any other obstacle. You’ll rarely ever need to rescue it.
Remote control: Allows manual navigation for spot cleaning.
As I mentioned, the KreepyKrauly Prowler is heavy. It gets even heavier when it’s full of water and you are trying to lift it out of the pool.
Luckily, it comes with a caddy for easy transport and storage.
This Cleaner is Best for You If…
You are looking for a high-performance in-ground pool cleaner that’s not an Aquabot or Dolphin.
Best Robotic Pool Cleaner for an Above Ground Pool:
Generally, robotic cleaners for above ground pools are lower priced compared to those designed exclusively for in-ground pools.
That does not mean that you should buy any cheap above ground robotic pool cleaner. Look for a brand that puts performance and quality ahead of the price.
The Dolphin Escape is a great example of such a brand.
At the end of its 1.5-hour cleaning cycle, the Dolphin Escape does far better than a pool brush or a traditional pump driven cleaner.
To be completely honest, it will not clean to 100% perfection, and nothing really can. But it gets close. We would say it gets 98 percent of the dirt and most customers who have used it agree.
- Scrubbing brush. No matter how much gunk has stuck on your pool floor and walls, it does not stand a chance against the Dolphin Escape’s HyperBrush system. It ensures that every inch of your pool is left clean.
- Smart scanning. The Dolphin escape uses its SmartNav system to map out the pool shape and plan how to navigate it best and in a way that uses the least time and power.
- Easy to use. Firstly, Dolphin Escape has a lightweight design. It weighs 14lbs. Secondly, it has a carrying handle for easy transportation to and from the pool area. When it comes to cleaning and maintenance, the large filtration cartridge is easy to remove and clean.
If you have a really dirty pool – perhaps after a long winter without use – the Dolphin Escape will require more time to get a good clean.
After the first cycle, the pool will still have some debris and particles in it. Just put it in for a second cycle, and your pool should be ready for the summer.
Otherwise, in normal situations, a single cleaning cycle is enough.
This Cleaner Is Best For You If…
You are seeking an above ground robotic pool cleaner that will not disappoint. Dolphin Escape is a high quality, high-performance machine that does exactly what it promises.
Aquabot robotic pool cleaners are cheaper than Dolphin models but deliver most of the same features and cleaning ability.
The Aquabot X4 delivers a lot for half the price of a Dolphin Sigma or Premier including 4WD mobility, a swivel cable, a free caddy, and dual filters.
On top of it all, the manufacturer guarantees the reliability of the Aquabot X4 with a 3-year warranty.
The Aquabot X4 can clean above ground and in-ground pools of up to 60 feet in length.
Being a wheeled robotic pool cleaner (Most Dolphin cleaners use tracks), you’d think it would have trouble climbing walls.
But it covers every inch of the pool from the floor to the waterline.
Micro brushes scrub away at the dirt on the pool wall and floor as the robot moves, powered by the high-traction 4WD system.
It rarely gets stuck.
The integrated smart pool mapping system greatly improves the X4’s mobility and navigation, ensuring it covers as much area as possible in the shortest time.
An onboard pump filters the water at a rate of 85 gallons per minute. This mixes the water more efficiently, allowing the pool cleaner to filter out more debris out of the water.
The debris is dumped into two ultra-fine filter baskets that can capture particles as small as 2 microns.
The two baskets can hold up to 190 cubic inches of debris. The control panel will alert you when they are full.
The filters are easy to remove and clean.
4-wheel drive: Delivers more power and traction for effortless cleaning on all types of pool surfaces. It also gives the Aquabot X4 better wall climbing capability.
Caddy: Makes transporting and storing the robot easy and convenient.
Cleaning cycles: Select from 1, 1.5 or 2 hours depending on the size of your pool and how dirty it is.
Timer: Set the Aquabot to start cleaning automatically every 48, 72 and 96 hours. You can also use an external timer for more control.
Swivel cable Turns 360 degrees as the robot moves, ensuring it doesn’t tangle.
The Aquabot X4 does not clean the steps as well as other pool cleaners. It may only clean a bottom couple of steps or miss them entirely.
Users also say the robot doesn’t quite get the pool sparkling clean on the first run especially if it’s really dirty such as at the beginning of the season.
You may need two full 2-hour cycles to get all the debris.
This Cleaner is Best for You If…
You are looking for an affordable in-ground or above ground robotic pool cleaner with excellent cleaning performance.
This is another affordable pool cleaner from Aquabot. It’s cheaper than the AquabotX4 though not as good when it comes to cleaning ability.
It especially struggles with tiny debris and doesn’t scale walls up to the waterline.
But overall, it’s great value for money. We recommend it for smaller pools and pools that don’t get very dirty.
The Spirit features a powerful jet propulsion system, a feature normally found in premium robotic pool cleaners.
Instead of a complex mechanical system linking the wheels to the motor, the Spirit relies on jets of water to drive it around the pool floor and up the wall.
This makes the robot lighter, increases efficiency and improves durability.
The water jets also dislodge dirt from the pool wall and floor. But it doesn’t get all the grime stuck on the pool surface.
That’s because it lacks scrubbing brushes, a standard feature in most robotic pool cleaners. We don’t recommend the Spirit for pools that are prone to algae and stubborn dirt on the walls and floor.
Also, note that the Spirit only partially goes up the wall. So you’ll need to scrub the walls still now and then.
The onboard pump is quite powerful, filtering water at a rate of 85GPM.
Two filter bags at the bottom of the robot capture particles as small as 2 microns.
Removing and cleaning the filter bags is not that difficult but not as convenient compared to filter cartridges or baskets.
360-degree swivel: Keeps the cable from tabling.
NeverStuck™ Obstacle Guidance System: Improves mobility and keeps the robot from getting stuck on the drain and other pool features.
Two cleaning cycles: Select a 1hr or 2hr cleaning program depending on the size and state of your pool.
The Aquabot Spirit doesn’t have scrubbing brushes, which limits its ability to get algae and debris off the pool wall and floor.
It also has a limited ability to clean the wall and steps.
This Cleaner is Best for You If…
You are looking for a budget pool cleaner for your in-ground or above ground pool.
Aquabot Pool Rover S2 40
The Aquabot S2 40 is one of the most affordable robotic pool cleaners from Aquabot.
The S2 40 cleans above ground pools of up to 40’ in length. You can also use it on a small in-ground pool, but it will only clean the bottom (doesn’t climb walls).
The Aquabot S2 40 focuses mostly on the bottom of the pool. But it also cleans part of the wall.
It doesn’t have a fixed or active brush, so you’ll have to scrub algae manually, and other debris stuck on your pool floor and walls.
But it does a great job cleaning up leaves and dust suspended in water as well as grime at the bottom of the pool.
The pump filters water pretty fast (80 gallons per minute), which enhances water mixing and leaves the water cleaner.
Debris is dumped in a sizable filter bag. It’s a bit messy to clean, but at least it has convenient top access. You don’t have to turn the cleaner over to remove the filter bag.
Swivel cable: Keeps the cable straight and kink-free.
Hydrorobotic Technology: The robot relies on the force of water to move around the pool, eliminating the need for a complex and high-maintenance mechanical propulsion system.
2-micron filtration: The filter bag captures the tiniest of particles including fine dust, sand, and algae.
The filter bag is more tedious to remove and clean compared to a filter cartridge. But considering the low price tag, it’s a small sacrifice.
Another issue is the lack of a brush. The robot relies only on suction to pick up debris. It doesn’t clean hard-to-remove dirt on the floor.
This Cleaner is Best for You If…
You are looking for a robotic budget cleaner for your above ground or small in-ground pool.
Aquabot Pool Rover Junior
Are you looking for a low budget robotic pool cleaner for your above ground pool? We recommend the Pool Rover Junior from Aquabot.
While it lacks plenty of advanced features and it feels a bit flimsy, it does a great job in above ground pools.
There are some complaints about the newer 2017 model with users saying it breaks down often and doesn’t last as long as the older model.
The 1-year warranty should help with maintenance issues.
The Pool Rover Junior cleans flat-bottomed above ground pools of any shape.
It doesn’t have scrubbing brushes. Instead, it vacuums dirt resting at the bottom of the pool and floating in the water through a fine filter.
This works fine most of the time, but you may need to manually scrub the pool occasionally to remove stubborn grime and algae.
The filter bag is fairly big. It captures every kind of debris from leaves to dust and sand.
With a suction rate of 70 gallons a minute, the Pool Rover Junior works fairly fast. It can clean a standard above ground pool in 1 hour.
Hydrorobotic Technology: The robot uses water to propel itself around the pool. This requires fewer moving parts, making the robot lighter and easier to maintain.
Two-cycle options: You can select between a 2hr or 3hr cleaning cycle.
Adjustable axle: You can adjust the wheel pins to improve the robot’s mobility and reduce the risk of tangling.
Extra-wide wheels: The wide non-marring wheels work great on all types of pools surfaces.
Users are not too happy about the 2017 Pool Rover Junior. They say it doesn’t clean as well, and the build quality is lower.
But at least it comes with a 1-year warranty.
Beyond the warranty period, we don’t expect it to last for more than 2-3 summers.
This Cleaner is Best for You If…
You are looking for an inexpensive above ground robotic pool cleaner.
Best Robotic Pool Skimmer: Solar Breeze
Using a hand-held skimmer is tedious. Worse, you are likely to miss a lot of debris and particles that are floating on the water.
Here is a better alternative: the Solar Breeze Automatic Pool Skimmer.
Solar Breeze is a sun-powered pool skimmer that cleans your pool’s surface better, without needing you to put in any effort and without requiring any electrical connection.
The Solar Breeze skims the water capturing leaves, oils and other debris before they sink to the bottom where they are harder to remove.
Not only does it leave your pool cleaner, but it also relieves your pool pump and filtration system from doing all the work. If you have a robotic pool cleaner, you won’t have to use your pool’s system as often.
This reduces your energy and maintenance costs.
This robotic skimmer can capture up to 95% of debris floating on your pool. This includes leaves, twigs, suntan oils, pet hair and anything else that is floating around on the water.
In just 5 to 20 minutes, the water is left sparkling. This makes the Solar Breeze perfect when you need a quick clean before a swim or before guests come over.
- Solar powered. Yes, it uses the sun – a free source of energy – to power itself. When it is not skimming, it stores excess solar energy in a lithium-ion battery, allowing it to work late into the night. There is no need to connect it to a power source or recharge the battery.
- Smart sensors and software. It is equipped with sensors that allow it to easily navigate pools of any size and shape and cover every area. It also has a feature called Hunt-For-Sun. It enables the skimmer to automatically regulate its cleaning and charging cycle.
- Fine mesh filter. The skimmer will not only catch large leaves and twigs; it can also capture the smallest particles using its fine mesh filter.
Sometimes, the unit gets stuck in corners. But before you declare it a problem, check whether it is doing so deliberately (see the Hunt-For-Sun feature above).
If it remains stuck in the same place for too long, switch it off and on again.
This Cleaner Is Best For You If…
You have a pool that keeps getting littered with leaves and other forms of debris. If you have a tree near your pool, the Solar-Breeze will come in handy.
Generally, anyone with a pool (whether in-ground or above ground) will find this skimmer greatly beneficial. It is an easy way to keep the water clean and save energy especially if your pool is used often.
Best Cheap Robot Pool Cleaner: SmartKleen NC22
When shopping for a robotic pool cleaner, it is important to balance between cost and value. All too often, you will find cheap brands that may save you budget-wise but will leave you with endless frustrations.
You end up with a high-maintenance pool cleaner that doesn’t clean well.
The SmartKleen NC22 is an exception. It is low cost but does not disappoint.
While it is primarily designed for cleaning above ground pools, it can also be used in small in-ground swimming pools. It relies on smart sensors and software to navigate the pool and cover every inch.
You don’t have to worry about it not being ideal for your pool surface. It can clean fiberglass, concrete and vinyl-lined pools.
Through a combined scrubbing and vacuuming action, the SmartKleen robotic cleaner ensures that the pool is scrubbed clean and every bit of debris is filtered.
Most customers report that it is able to pick up almost everything from twigs and leaves to sand and algae.
Where it falls short is in cleaning the walls and steps. After it is done, you may still have to go in and do these sections yourself.
- Smart scanning. Instead of just wandering around aimlessly, SmartKleen relies on smart scanning sensors and software to determine the most efficient path to take. This enables it to cover every area in as little time as possible.
- Oversize filter bag. The extra-large filter bag easily traps all your pool’s dirt and debris from leaves and twigs to sand and algae. After the cleaning session, removing and cleaning the filter bag is a breeze.
- Lightweight design with quick drain system. This makes for an easier job carrying the unit to the pool. When it is done, it quickly drains any water inside, allowing you to easily lift it from the water.
The biggest issue among customers is the tendency for the cord to tangle when the unit is in operation.
Many users complain that they have to untangle the cord every 15 minutes. This makes cleaning tedious and time consuming. This can be quite annoying considering that a robot pool cleaner should be making your work easier.
The addition of a swivel cable would have made things a whole lot easier and less frustrating for customers. Hopefully, they will fix this issue in future versions of the product.
This Cleaner Is Best For You If…
You are looking for a pocket-friendly robotic pool cleaner that performs well. Apart from the cord issue, customers report that the SmartKleen robotic cleaner does a surprisingly good job for its price.
While you can get it for your in-ground pool, we strongly recommend it for those with above ground pools.
Best Robotic Cleaner for Pools With Stairs: Dolphin Quantum
Many robotic pool cleaners struggle with stairs. Some cannot climb them while others do a poor job of scrubbing them.
Dolphin Quantum is an in-ground robot pool cleaner designed for all-round performance. It will do a good job on the floor, corners, and walls of your pool and an equally great job on the stairs.
Dolphin Quantum scores highly in cleaning performance. By using various high-tech features, it ensures that every spot of your pool is left sparkling clean.
With two scrubbing brushes and a powerful suction system, nothing can stand in the way of the Dolphin Quantum. The availability of different filtration media allows it to scoop up both large and tiny debris.
- Dual scrubbing brushes. Rapidly spinning brushes attack stuck dirt, bacteria, and algae on the wall and made it easier for the suction system to vacuum them up.
- Multiple filters. You can easily change between different types of filters, depending on the kind of cleaning you need. The NanoFilter tackles the finest debris and algae while the standard filter will handle all the other debris including leaves.
- Strong-grip continuous tracks. Instead of wheels, the Quantum cleaner uses rubber tracks. These provide stronger traction for easier navigation especially on the walls, around tight corners and on the stairs.
- Smart navigation system. The SmartNav 2.0 system guides the Quantum’s navigation, ensuring that it covers every inch of the pool in the most efficient way.
When using the Dolphin Quantum, you might notice that it occasionally gets stuck around the pool drain. But it is usually only for a moment, and then it is off again. So it is not a major concern.
This Cleaner Is Best For You If…
You have an in-ground pool with stairs. The Dolphin Quantum cleaner is exceptionally good at tackling challenging areas including the stairs, corners, and walls.
If every cleaner you buy fails to clean the stairs properly, it is time you tried Dolphin Quantum. It will not disappoint.
Most Proven and Reliable Robotic Pool Cleaner: Dolphin Nautilus
Some robotic cleaners can be downright frustrating. They leave dirty patches in the pool, fail to collect all the debris, keep stalling mid-session, constantly require repair and so on.
When shopping for a robotic pool cleaner, you want one that not only cleans well but is also reliable. The Dolphin Nautilus from Maytronics cleaner perfectly fits that description.
It will serve you well for years without causing any headaches.
The Nautilus cleaner comes with a 60-foot cable that allows it to clean in-ground pools of up to 50 feet in length.
It is not the fastest robotic cleaner, but it is one of the most reliable. In a 3-hour cycle, it will pick up most of the debris in your pool.
It sometimes misses a few spots especially on the stairs and on the slope between the floor and wall. But it does an excellent job on the floor, walls, corners and along the waterline.
- Tangle-proof swivel cable. You don’t have to worry about the cable getting all tangled up during cleaning. As the unit moves, the swivel cable rotates with every turn to prevent knots from forming.
- Easy-access filters. The Nautilus has two sets of filters: a fine one for standard size debris and an ultra-fine one for tiny particles. This allows the cleaner to pick up almost everything in its path whether it is fine sand or large leaves. When the cartridges are full, removing and cleaning them is easy and quick.
The one slight fault of the Nautilus cleaner is the time it takes to finish cleaning. While most robotic pool cleaners have a 1 or 2-hour cycle, Nautilus has a 3-hour cycle.
This could be because it lacks a smart scanning system hence needs more time to learn the pool shape and size.
This could be an issue on those days when you need a quick clean.
This Cleaner is Best For You If…
You are looking for a reliable robotic pool cleaner that is priced affordably. If you want a cleaner that provides value for your money, Dolphin Nautilus is a top choice.
It does not have the most advanced technology nor does it come with the most impressive features but it delivers what it promises: a clean pool day after day.
How We Rate Them
We rate all robotic cleaners using the following 5-star scale.
1. Cleaning ability
This is the most important metric of all. We assess the ability of a robot pool cleaner to clean all areas of the pool, including the stairs and walls.
A 5-star rating means that the pool cleaner does an excellent job. This means scrubbing every spot and filtering all debris.
Of course, no pool cleaner has yet to achieve a perfect 5-star rating, but some come pretty close.
2. Energy efficiency
As they become more advanced, robotic pool cleaners are achieving increased energy efficiency.
By incorporating features such as efficient motors, strong-grip tracks, and smart scanning, manufacturers are helping pool owners save on energy costs.
A 5-star rated pool cleaner should have significant energy savings. The Dolphin Premier cleaner, reviewed above, is a good example of a highly rated pool cleaner in regards to energy efficiency.
3. Ease of use
Simply because they are high-tech robotic machines does not mean that pool cleaners should be hard to use.
The best 5-star cleaners come ready to use – just plug in, and it is ready to roll. If it feels like you need a degree in rocket science to learn how to operate a specific pool cleaner, it is not the right choice.
We ensure that our recommended pool cleaners are easy to set up, program, and maintain.
4. Value for money
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, we take into consideration whether a robotic pool cleaner provides value for money.
We compare its price range to its performance. If a unit is pricey but keeps frustrating users, it gets a low score. But if it performs well and fulfills the manufacturer’s promises – regardless of the price range – we give it a 5-star rating.
What is a Robotic Pool Cleaner?
It is a self-contained machine that cleans a swimming pool automatically.
By self-contained I mean it cleans the pool independently from the pool pump and filter. There are no hoses that connect to the pool’s water inlet or outlet.
The only connection is a power cable that runs from the robotic pool cleaner to a power supply unit outside the pool.
The machine works automatically, meaning you don’t have to do anything.
Once you put it in the water and switch it on, it moves on its own around the pool as it scrubs and vacuums debris into an onboard filter bag or basket.
How do Robotic Pool Cleaners Work?
I’ll explain it in 5 easy steps.
One, the pool cleaner has a propulsion system.
The system can be driven by a motor (a motor turns the wheels or treads) or water jets.
Water jet propulsion systems reduce maintenance load and make for a lighter robot cleaner but are not as powerful as motor-based systems.
Two, the robotic pool cleaner might have a scanning system. This system is only found in premium models.
The system calculates the shape of the pool and determines the best path to take. Scanning also allows the robot to know where it has and hasn’t cleaned.
Cheaper robots move randomly or in a preset pattern until the auto-off timer elapses.
Three, the robot pool cleaner might have a brush or two underneath.
The brushes scrub dirt and debris off the pool floor and walls. Some cheaper robots don’t have brushes.
Four, all robotic pool cleaners have vacuum/suction systems powered by a built-in pump.
The pump sucks the debris-containing water through the robot cleaner to filter it.
Five, all robotic pool cleaners have a filter or two.
The filters trap debris and other contaminants, which collect in a bag, basket or cartridge.
Your work is to lift the robot out of the water when it’s done cleaning, remove the filter bag/basket and clean it.
What Are the Benefits of Using Robotic pool cleaners?
Plug and play operation: There are no hoses to setup. Just put the robot in the water and press the power button on the power supply unit. No setup or installation required.
Saves energy: Because the robotic pool cleaner doesn’t rely on the pool pump or filter, you don’t have to switch on the pump every time you want to clean the pool. It also reduces the need for the pool pump to cycle the water as often since the water stays cleaner.
Saves you time and money: You don’t have to manually scrub and clean the pool, saving you precious weekend time when you should be relaxing. If you employ a pool boy or pool service company, you can fire them and keep your money.
Reduces pool maintenance and increases durability: A robotic pool cleaner does not put more burden on the pool pump, unlike other automatic cleaners. This reduces pool maintenance and ensures the pump and filters last longer.
A healthier pool: Your water will be cleaner, and you’ll find that you can use fewer chemicals. A robotic pool cleaner also reduces algae growth.
Robotic Pool Cleaner Vs. Suction Side Vs. Pressure Side Cleaners
Robotic Pool Cleaners: The cleaner is completely self-contained. Other than power supply from a wall outlet (via an AC/DC converter), the robot has everything else it needs including a pump, propulsion system and filter.
Suction-side cleaners: The cleaner connects to the suction side of the pool and relies on the start/stop pulse movement of water as it is sucked out of the pool to move. As it moves, it agitates debris on the pool floor. The debris travels through the hose, through the pool filter, and into the strainer basket. A suction-side pool cleaner relies on both the pool pump and pool filter.
Pressure-side cleaners: The cleaner connects to the pressure side of the pool and relies on the force of water coming back to the pool to move. As it moves around the pool, it agitates debris and sucks it into an onboard filter bag. A pressure side-cleaner relies on the pool pump but not the pool filter.
Why Buy a Robot Pool Cleaner?
It is understandable if you are skeptical about spending hundreds of dollars on a robotic pool cleaner.
But I can assure you that these amazing pool cleaners are not a gimmick. They are not a trick to get you to spend money on something you could easily do yourself.
A good robot pool cleaner can actually save you money while also doing a better job of keeping your pool clean. You also have to agree; it’s cool to have a robot clean your pool.
Here are 6 more reasons why you should buy a robot pool cleaner.
1. Save time and effort
Cleaning your pool the traditional way requires a lot of time and effort. Most homeowners will spend an average of 3 hours every week, scrubbing and vacuuming the pool.
This is the time you could be relaxing, working, or spending with your family. With a robot pool cleaner, you only spend a few minutes setting up the cleaner and cleaning out the filters.
The cleaner does all the rest.
2. A cleaner and healthier pool
Compared to a traditional vacuum cleaner, a robotic cleaner does a much better job cleaning the pool. Most cleaners these days are equipped with scrubbing brushes to ensure that even the most stubborn dirt is removed.
With a cleaner pool, you will find that you need fewer chemicals to keep the water clean. This cleaning makes for a safer swimming environment for everyone and especially children.
3. Fewer costs
Traditional pool cleaners cost a lot of money over time. For one, they often require additional accessories.
Secondly, they rely on your pools pressure pump and filtration system. This results in increasing your pool’s energy and maintenance costs.
A recent Oracle study found that homes with pools spend significantly more on power bills than homes without them. This was mostly because of pool pumps which come in second (after air conditioners) in home energy expenditure.
A robotic pool cleaner does not need any attachments or accessories to work. Furthermore, it does not require a connection to your pool. This reduces pool maintenance and energy costs.
4. Easy to use
Despite their high-tech nature, robotic pool cleaners are fairly easy to use. No complicated setup or installation is necessary. You just unpack it, plug it in and place it in the water.
Most cleaners have quick-access filters that are easy to remove and clean. Other than clearing the filters after every cycle, no other major maintenance is required.
Instead of spending three hours scrubbing and vacuuming the pool, a robot pool cleaner allows you to set it and leave it. You can do whatever you want while it cleans.
Some units have programmable timers. You can set them to clean automatically either every day or on certain days of the week. This means that you don’t even have to be home for the cleaner to work.
6. Better for the environment
Robotic pool cleaners are environmentally friendly. For one, your pool needs fewer chemicals, which is a good thing for the environment.
Two, robot pool cleaners are energy efficient, which reduces energy expenditure. This is another positive thing for the environment.
The Features that Matter
1. Type of pool (above ground or in-ground)
The first thing you should check when buying a robot pool cleaner is the type of pool it is meant for. Is it an in-ground or an above ground pool cleaner?
In-ground pool cleaners are often bigger, pricier and have more features. Above ground pool cleaners, on the other hand, are lighter, cheaper and more compact.
You will also come across cleaners that can be used in both types of pools. But unless you have both pool types in your home, I highly recommend getting a pool cleaner that matches your swimming pool.
Using the wrong type of pool cleaner will result in poor cleaning performance. A smaller above ground cleaner may be unable to handle the challenging and complex environment of an in-ground pool.
On the other hand, using an expensive in-ground cleaner for an above ground pool is overkill. You can achieve the same quality of cleaning with a cheaper above ground unit.
2. Ability to handle complex surfaces such as stairs and walls
Most robotic pool cleaners do a fine job scrubbing the floor and filtering debris out of the water, where many struggles are on the stairs, walls, and tight corners.
Avoid cleaners that cannot climb walls or reach tight corners. If your pool has a complex design with plenty of curves and stairs, make sure you buy a cleaner that can handle it.
Generally, you will not find a perfect robotic pool cleaner. Even the best ones do not do a perfect clean. But you can easily find one that does a close-to-perfect job. Start with our recommendations above.
3. Type of filters and filter basket capacity
The best pool cleaners today come with multiple filters to deal with different debris sizes.
The finest filters are able to capture particles and algae as small as 2 microns while larger filters are designed for larger debris such as leaves.
If you cannot find a cleaner with different filters, make sure the single filter available can handle both large and small debris.
Another important feature to look for is a large filter basket. Don’t get a cleaner with a small cartridge that fills up even before the cleaning cycle is complete.
A large filter cartridge is especially important if your pool is frequently dirtied by leaves and twigs.
4. Scrubbing brushes
At first, scrubbing brushes were reserved for premium in-ground pool cleaners. Today, however, even cheaper above-ground units have them.
Scrubbing brushes complement the cleaning efforts of the suction system, helping to get rid of any dirt and algae that have stuck to the pool’s floor and walls.
For a cleaner pool, buy a robotic cleaner with this feature. Most have a single spinning brush while more expensive ones may come with a dual brush system.
You may have to spend slightly more on a brush-equipped unit, but you will see the difference in your pool. Suction-only systems tend to leave a lot of grime behind, only picking up floating debris.
This can lead to unchecked growth of algae and bacteria, making your pool unhealthy, especially for children.
5. Smart scanning system
It is another feature that is no longer limited to expensive robot cleaners. Most brands are equipped with smart software and sensors that can map out the shape and size of a pool.
It allows the unit to navigate around efficiently and cover every inch of the pool, which results in quicker and better cleaning.
If you have a uniquely shaped pool, then this feature is absolutely important. Otherwise, the cleaner will just be meandering around, wasting a lot of energy without providing a thorough cleaning.
In the future, I expect robotic pool cleaners to get even smarter. They will navigate the pool more intelligently and perhaps communicate with other smart devices in your home. Perhaps they will also be able to test you how clean your water is.
Already, there are some robot pool cleaners that can be controlled remotely via your phone. The robot pool cleaner of the future will be far smarter, better, and more efficient than what we have today.
Not many people check the weight when buying a robotic pool cleaner. Remember you have to lift it into the pool and again out of the pool when it is done. If it is too heavy, handling it can be a problem, especially when you are lifting it out of the water.
If your preferred cleaner is heavy, consider getting a caddy too. This will help you move it around. Also, consider getting one of those cleaners that can float on their own at the press of a button. This makes it easier to lift it out of the water.
7. Cable length and design
The ideal cable length will depend on the size of your pool. The maximum cable length you will find for residential pool cleaners is 60 or 70 feet. It is long enough for a 50-feet pool.
In addition to the length, check whether the cable has a swivel design. One of the most common issues with pool cleaners is the tendency of the cable to get tangled as the robot moves.
A swivel cable rotates along with the cleaner’s movements. It prevents it from tangling. Avoid pool cleaners with a non-swivel cable. They can cause a lot of frustration since you have to keep untangling the cord.
8. Ease of use
How easy is it to operate the cleaner? Does it need a complicated installation? Does it require professional maintenance?
Look through customer reviews to determine whether users had an easy time plugging it in, removing the filter, cleaning it and so on.
Also, ensure that the pool cleaner comes with a manual containing clear instructions on setup and maintenance.
9. Bonus features
All the above features are essential basics. Some cleaners go beyond these to provide additional features.
One common bonus is a remote control. By using this, you can navigate the cleaner yourself, handy for spot cleaning — other extras to look for include self-floating and Bluetooth connectivity.
But be careful not to pay too much for unnecessary bells and whistles. Make sure any additional features you pay for are actually worth it.
Where to Buy a Robotic Pool Cleaner
There are two choices here: buying online or at a local pool supplies store.
Buying at a physical store has some advantages. You can see and touch the product before you buy it and directly ask any questions you may have.
Buying online, on the other hand, does not provide the privilege of examining the pool cleaner before you pay for it. Some manufacturers also provide shorter or no warranties for units bought online as compared to those bought from a local store.
But there are also many advantages when you buy a robotic pool cleaner online.
For one, you can compare among many different brands and models. Unlike a local store, an online retailer is likely to have a wider variety, thus allowing you to find a pool cleaner that perfectly fits your needs and budget.
You can also easily find the best price of a product, hence saving money.
Another huge benefit of buying online is the access you get to customer insight.
Customer reviews form a crucial part of the buying process. They can help you determine how good a product actually is and if it has any hidden flaws.
Basically, they will tell you what the manufacturer’s product description will not. Local stores lack this advantage, thus increasing the risk of buying a poor quality product or one that does not match your needs.
Then there is, of course, the fact that the pool cleaner will be delivered right to your home. You do not have to go anywhere to purchase a good robotic pool cleaner.
Both options are good. But weighing the pros and cons of each, buying online is much better and more convenient not to mention that it saves money.