Best Pressure Pool Cleaners of 2018

Suzanne Humphries ·
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We spent over 35 hours researching 10 pressure pool cleaners. We looked at the various aspects of their design, how they approach cleaning your pool and their accompanying warranty. We determined that the best overall pressure pool cleaner is the Pentair Kreepy Krauly Racer. It has four wheels, which gives it added stability, and its four jets not only aid in its mobility but also help loosen up dirt and debris from your pool. Its extra-wide throat helps it collect large debris and it can easily traverse stairs and walls.

Best Overall
Pentair Kreepy Krauly Racer
The Kreepy Krauly Racer is Pentair’s most robust pressure pool cleaner. It has a brush in front for scooping up big debris, making it an excellent choice if you have a lot of trees and shrubs producing debris near your pool.
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Best Value
Polaris Vac-Sweep 165
The Polaris Vac-Sweep 165 is the smallest pool cleaner from Polaris and a cost-effective solution for pressure-cleaning pools. Not only can it save you money, it is safe for vinyl and fiberglass pool surfaces.
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Best for Navigating Obstacles
Hayward Poolvergnuegen
The Poolvergneugen Pressure PoolCleaner’s four-wheel drive gives it the power to clear obstacles that may block other vacuums, making it a good option for pools that are exposed to a lot of debris.
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Best Overall

Pentair Kreepy Krauly Racer

The Pentair Kreepy Krauly Racer’s extra-wide intake throat and large bag are effective at scooping debris that makes it to the bottom of your pool.
There are four separate Venturi jets which propel dirt into the intake bag, giving it more cleaning effectiveness than many similar cleaners, which commonly have just three jets. The vacuum operates in forward and reverse mode, so it cleans efficiently without wasted motion. This pressure cleaner cleans thoroughly with backup jets that fire automatically every several minutes, as well as side thrust jets that steer the cleaner from side to side. It should clean an average-size home pool within a couple hours. The extra-wide tires give it enough traction to traverse inclines and roll over a drain, and LED lights let you see its progress at night as they reflect off the bottom of the pool. Its rotating scrubbing brushes are ideal for concrete pools but may damage softer surfaces like vinyl. The Racer requires a dedicated pressure line from a booster pump, so you must install one if you don’t have one already. It’s also one of the higher-priced models we reviewed. While some of the features are unusual, including its four jets, some, like the LED lights, are simply aesthetic.
  • It has four jets to propel dirt into the intake bag.
  • It has an extra wide throat to gather all types of debris.
  • Scrubbing brushes help to gather heavy debris.
  • A booster pump is required to operate it.
  • It could damage pools with soft surfaces like vinyl.
  • It’s a good choice for above-ground pools.
Best Value

Polaris Vac-Sweep 165

The Polaris Vac-Sweep 165 has to attach to an existing return line in order to work. Given that it’s the smallest cleaner from Polaris, it may get stuck in one area of your pool or become tangled in its hose. You may occasionally need to manually move it around once or twice during its cycle.
Additionally, because of its small footprint, you’ll need to perform more frequent maintenance on your pool’s filter, as the cleaner relies on it more heavily than other cleaners, otherwise it may back up during use. The Vac-Sweep 165 attaches to your pool’s return line and sprays water against the inner edges of the pool, then absorbs any loosened debris into its filter bag. The cleaner’s small and agile build allows it to easily adapt to steep contours and uneven surfaces. The cleaner comes standard with 32 feet of return hose, which should be adequate for the average-sized pool. Typically, this machine can clean a pool in three hours or less. Polaris also makes a similar model, the 65, which can be used for above-ground pools. The two models are similar in design, but the 165 can only be used on in-ground pools. Both are designed for smaller pools, specifically those up to 8 feet deep.
  • It can clean a pool in three hours or less.
  • It cleans in-ground pools up to 8 feet deep.
  • It doesn’t require a separate booster pump to operate.
  • It can only be used on in-ground pools.
  • The long hose is prone to tangling.
  • It may occasionally get stuck.
Best for Navigating Obstacles

Hayward Poolvergnuegen

The cleaner gets extra traction from tires with a deep tread. Marks on the tires notify you when the tread is low and the tires need to be replaced. It uses its own internal motor, so there is no need for a booster pump.
The front tires give it optimal traction to roll over bigger obstacles, such as large debris or your pool’s drain cover, and supply additional power to handle any surface in your pool. It uses a patented steering system to maneuver around walls, stairs, curves and other inclines your pool may have. Its hoses snap into place quickly and conveniently, and consist of six-foot interlocking sections that help prevent kinking and tangling during the cleaning cycle. The interlocking design should also help prevent leaking, maximizing pressure from the pump. The included tires are only suitable for concrete pools, but tape tires can be purchased separately for smoother surfaces such as vinyl or fiberglass.
  • Its patented steering system handles corners, stairs and walls.
  • The large, deep-treaded tires navigate well over obstacles.
  • The hose is designed in a way that helps prevent kinking.
  • Must purchase different tire treads for vinyl or fiberglass pools.
  • It isn’t as solidly built as other pool cleaners.
  • It’s designed specifically for in-ground pools.

Why Trust Us

We’ve been researching, evaluating and reviewing the best pressure-side pool cleaners since 2015. This time around, we spent over 35 hours performing online research – comparing features on manufacturer pages to those of other third-party retailers, scouring various online informational resources, reading customer reviews and watching informational tutorials.

We reached out to manufacturers to learn about how they approach these cleaners, from their engineering choices to how they support the product once consumers purchase it. We also contacted pool industry experts and everyday users to learn what they think of the devices, what their favorite brands are and what their experience is with pressure-side cleaners is overall. Long-time pool owner Cheri Vinson said she prefers the Kreepy Krauly Racer, which has done a thorough job cleaning her backyard pool for years.

All things said, our research and discussions have helped us gain further insight into why pressure-side pool cleaners are popular, along with which brands are the highest quality and most trustworthy. We considered what we learned from our discussions with manufacturers and users, as well as each cleaner’s features to bring you well-rounded reviews of pool cleaners that’re both high quality and an excellent value.

How We Evaluated

We recently spent over 35 hours researching and studying 10 pressure pool cleaners – something we’ve done for other three years – to learn everything we can about them and present to you our findings. We compared features on product pages, read customer reviews, and watched informational and review videos. In addition to talking to pool cleaner manufacturers, we also contacted pool supply stores and serious pool owners to talk to them about their experience with pool cleaners over the years. We wanted to get first-hand statements about these cleaners from the people who understand them best, and we gleaned why they choose pressure-side cleaners over robotic or suction options. We even got expert opinions about which pool cleaners work best for distinct types of pools and why.

Key Features to Look for When Buying Pressure Pool Cleaners

Suction Power
If your pool is exposed to a lot of debris, such as leaves from surrounding trees and dense landscaping, a pressure cleaner is more effective than smaller pressure side-suction cleaners, which are lighter and lack the power of a pressure cleaner. Consider the size of your pool, and what types of debris it’s prone to – whether it’s nearby trees, animals or something else – and find a pool cleaner that can handle the corresponding size and quantity of debris.

Pressure cleaners can handle larger pieces of dirt and debris that fall into the pool. However, they require more suction and must be used with a booster pump. Some have debris bags with multiple chambers, or ones specifically made for fine particles like silt, not for sticks or larger debris.

Booster Pump
Each pool cleaner model specifies whether it has an internal booster pump or requires an external one. Even if the vacuum has an onboard booster, you still need to have a booster line to connect it to. If it requires an external booster, you need to contact your pool professional to have one installed to operate the machine, which adds to the overall cost of the device. However, booster pumps do make your pressure pool cleaner more effective overall. They can make for a faster cleaning session, more consistent power and can even reduce wear and tear on the cleaner.

Pool Compatibility
If you have an above-ground pool, most pressure pool cleaners won’t work for you. Look for a pressure side-suction cleaner instead. Most pool vacuums are designed for 8-foot deep ends and a surface area of 10 x 10 feet. If your pool is larger than that, get a hose extension so the vacuum can reach all corners of the pool. If you have a vinyl liner, the manufacturer should specify if the vacuum is suited for that type of surface. Some rotary brushes can damage vinyl or tile.

It’s important that your pool cleaner can run autonomously so you’re not stuck monitoring it for several hours. You should ensure that the cleaner you choose has a long enough hose for your pool, or at least that it allows you to customize the length of it as needed. The best pressure pool cleaners should easily be able to handle the various terrains and locales within your pool, be it stairs, walls or any other curves or corners. A few cleaners have treaded tires and/or front-wheel drive, which in turn makes it easier for it to maneuver autonomously. Some units struggle or are completely unable to properly access and clean those areas, so be sure to choose a device that best suits your pool’s unique design. 

The quantity of jets a pressure pool cleaner has also greatly affects speed and mobility. Though thrust jets serve a dual-purpose for loosening stubborn dirt and sucking in debris, they can also affect the speed at which the cleaner moves and the direction it moves in. These jets are where water that the cleaner has already processed exits. Good pressure cleaners also have an in-line back-up valve, which can help remove it if it gets stuck.

Benefits of Using a Pressure Pool Cleaner

By investing in a pressure pool cleaner, you essentially allow yourself to spend more time playing and relaxing in your pool than manually cleaning it. Some cleaners even allow you to set up an automated cleaning schedule that can run one or more times per week, ensuring that your pool is always clean and ready for use. Additionally, out of the three types of pool cleaners – pressure, suction and robotic – it’s average for cleaning power, energy usage and most importantly, price. These cleaners can generally handle most pool and debris sizes.

In addition to cleaning your pool, pressure cleaners also help distribute filtered, clean water. Ones that come with their own debris bag collect dirt, leaves, acorns and other detritus, then carry it around while it cleans instead of leaving it for your pool’s filter to handle. This can likely save you money in the long run when it comes to pump and filter maintenance.

Pressure pool cleaners are fairly easy to repair. Many common issues can be resolved by you with minimal troubleshooting. Most manufacturers have installation manuals, user manuals, FAQs and other informational resources on their website.

Downsides of Using a Pressure Pool Cleaner

Though it isn’t the case for all pressure cleaners, most require a connection to a separate booster pump in order to run. Your pool’s booster pump is what gives some of these pool cleaners access to constant high pressure, which is what can make a real difference in removing stubborn dirt from your pool. Alternatively, you can use your pool’s existing pressure line, although that may not offer quite as much pressure.

Another downside to pressure side pool cleaners is additional costs. Though, upfront, pressure cleaners may not cost as much as their counterparts, they can incur other costs, especially if you don’t already have an existing booster pump. You may also need to pay for installation, additional hose or added pressure.