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.
Our aim is to help you find and buy the best robotic pool cleaner 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
- Best Robotic Pool Cleaner for an Above Ground Pool: Dolphin Escape
- 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
- 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 robot 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 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 strong 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.
- 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 properly clean the stairs.
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 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.
Price: About $1,100
Best Robotic Pool Cleaner for an In-Ground Pool: Polaris 9550
The Polaris F9550 Sport robotic in-ground pool cleaner really 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.
This 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.
- Comes with a 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 happen often 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.
Price: About $1,000
Best Robotic Pool Cleaner for an Above Ground Pool: Dolphin Escape
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 by any cheap above ground robot 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, 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, the 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.
Price: Around $500
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, 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.
Price: Around $1000
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.
Price: About $350
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 make 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 a 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.
Price: About $1,000
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.
Price: About $700
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 certain 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 price range – we give it a 5-star rating.
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 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 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 increases your pool’s energy and maintenance costs.
A study found that homes with pools spend significantly more on powerbills 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 struggle is 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 micron 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 has 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
This 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.
This 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, 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 even 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. This 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. This 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 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. This allows you to 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 are able to compare among many different brands and models. Unlike a local store, an online retailer is likely to have a bigger 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.