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Best pool cleaners 2021: Highly-rated robotic and pressure pool cleaners

Best pool cleaners 2021: Highly-rated robotic and pressure pool cleaners
(Image credit: Getty)

Looking for the best pool cleaners? You’re in luck. The best pool cleaners effectively clean your pool without you having to lift a finger. 

In this guide, we have reviewed pressure-side pool cleaners and robotic pool cleaners from the likes of Pentair, Polaris, and Paxcess – each of which come with their pros and cons. Many of the best robotic pool cleaners are designed to be dropped in your pool and left to their own devices. They are engineered to give you peace of mind and leave your pool looking fresh. But some of the best pool cleaners that are robotic often prove more expensive than their pressure-side pool cleaner counterparts.  

As the name suggests – pressure-side pool cleaners have a lot of suction power and can rid your pool of dirt, sand, and larger pieces of debris in no time. Pressure-side pool cleaners often come with three or four wheels. For some, the best pool cleaners have four wheels as it helps the pool cleaner grip your pool floor – whether it’s concrete, tiled, or made from limestone – and it can stop the device from tipping. Many of the best pressure-side pool cleaners also come with a backup valve that cuts in every few minutes or so. This stops the pool cleaner from getting stuck and forces it to retrace its steps, picking up pieces of dirt it may have missed along the way. 

To find the best pool cleaners for you, we would suggest noting what type of pool you have. Is it above-ground or in-ground? Secondly, what type of debris is your pool prone to? If it’s larger pieces of dirt, like leaves, rocks, or sticks, consider a pool cleaner that has a large throat and masses of suction power. Also, consider how often the pool cleaner will need emptying and how it is powered. Some of the best pool cleaners require a booster pump for an extra hit of power. 

To check out other swimming pool gadgets, discover our guides on the best pool alarms and the best solar pool covers

1. Polaris Vac-Sweep 360: Best pool cleaner for performance 

Polaris Vac-Sweep 360

(Image credit: Amazon)

Polaris Vac-Sweep 360

The Polaris Vac-Sweep 360 is a powerful device that will ensure your pool is left squeaky clean every time.

 Large inlet 
 No booster pump needed 
 Users say it has a leaky hose 
 You need to buy an additional return line 

Despite being compact in its design, the Polaris Vac-Sweep 360 is a powerful pressure-side pool cleaner. Special features include a big inlet which measures in at around two and a quarter inches. This means it is wide enough to capture stones and other pool debris before they get sucked into your filtration system. Its auto back-up feature means it also won’t get stuck whilst cleaning your pool. 

The Vac-Sweep 360 comes with Polaris’ iconic three-wheel track design. This helps it move effortlessly around the pool and up the walls. According to the brand, it can leave a pool debris-free in under three hours. 

But perhaps one of the most valuable points about the Polaris Vac-Sweep 360 is its impressive Amazon reviews. The pool cleaner scored an average of 4.4 stars out of five, with most users highly rating the machine because there is no need to use a booster pump. If you’re looking for the best pool cleaner for an in-ground pool, you will find it in the Polaris Vac-Sweep 360.

2. Pentair LX500G Kreepy Krauly Legend II: Best pool cleaner for compatibility  

Pentair LX500G Kreepy Krauly Legend review

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Pentair LX500G Kreepy Krauly Legend II

The Pentair LX500G Legend II works well on in-ground pools that are made from concrete, fiberglass, and tiles.

 Low running cost 
 Works across different surface materials 
 Has a ‘flimsy’ hose, according to reviews 
 Short warranty  

Coming with the Pentair name, the LX500G Kreepy Krauly Legend II is one of the best pool cleaners on the market. It is the second series of the brand’s Legend collection and has four wheels, which stops any tipping that might occur with other three-wheeled models. 

This is one of the design features that makes the device really compatible with all different kinds of pool surfaces. It also comes with a front-wheel drive, meaning it has great traction. Another bonus with this model is the fact it doesn’t require a booster jet. Its powerful dual-jets create a strong vortex to suck up all the dirt and move the Legend II around the pool. 

One of the negatives about this pool cleaner that seemed to be voiced with a handful of users reviews was its ‘flimsy’ hose. 

3. Polaris Vac-Sweep 3900 Sport: The best pool cleaner for big pools  

Polaris Vac-Sweep 3900 Sport pool cleaner

(Image credit: Amazon)

Polaris Vac-Sweep 3900 Sport

The impressive pool cleaner from Polaris can vacuum up to 40GPM through its filter bag.

 Big debris bag with a five-liter capacity  
 Requires a booster pump 

The Polaris Vac-Sweep 3900 Sport is nothing to be scoffed at. Being able to suck up to 40GPM through its dual chambers, this pool cleaner is super powerful. If you have a large pool, this will be the best pool cleaner for you. 

It comes with a massive five-liter debris bag and has grippy wheels to crawl across the pool floor and walls with ease. The device comes with the brand’s one-of-a-kind ‘TailSweep Pro’. This clever design feature stops pool water from spraying sidewalks, the lawn, or people as the machine cleans. 

There are not many cons to this Polaris Vac-Sweep 3900 Sport. But the major negative feature about this device is the fact it requires a booster pump to perform so that means an added expense. If you don’t already have a booster pump this could cost you around $300. Add that to the device’s already steep price tag of around $900 and this pool cleaner will cost you more than $1100. However, if the price isn’t an issue then give this powerful pool cleaner a go. 

4. Zodiac 6-130-00T Polaris Turbo Turtle: The best pool cleaner for above-ground pools 

Zodiac 6-130-00T Polaris Turbo Turtle

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Zodiac 6-130-00T Polaris Turbo Turtle

Have an above-ground pool that’s no deeper than five-foot? This quirky turtle cleaner is the best pool cleaner for you.

 Colorful design  
 Gets tangled in its own hose  
 Not suitable for deep pools 

If there was an award for the most creative looking automatic pool cleaner, the Zodiac 6-130-00T Polaris Turbo Turtle would win every time. The device by the well-known water solutions brand, Polaris, was made for above-ground swimming pools. 

The turtle works by using the pressure of super fresh and clean water flowing back into your pool. Whilst the brand’s patented design in the form of a jet assembly, helps to loosen any muck around the pool corners or sides. It has a filter bag attached to it which crawls the bottom of the floor to pick up any debris. All you have to do is empty this bag and reattach it ahead of its next clean. 

Whilst there are lots of positives about this device, a handful of users who bought the turtle claimed this is a pool cleaner you will have to keep an eye on. That’s because users claimed it sometimes gets ‘tangled’ in its own hose. 

5. Paxcess Automatic Robotic Pool Cleaner: The best robotic pool cleaner  

Paxcess Automatic Robotic Pool Cleaner

(Image credit: Amazon)

Paxcess Automatic Robotic Pool Cleaner

The device is one of the most affordable robotic pool cleaners on the market.

 Robotic pool cleaner 
 Automated cleaning schedule 
 Can mark the interior of your pool  
 Doesn’t work as well on corners 

If you’re after the best robotic pool cleaner, you’re in the right place. That’s because the Paxcess comes with many bonus features pressure-side cleaners just don’t have. This includes the ability to clean above-ground pools and in-ground pools, a scrubbing brush at its front, and an electric motor to help propel it in the direction it needs to go in. 

The Paxcess Pool Cleaner also has intelligent programming, which means you can place it into the pool and set it to clean every one, two, or three hours. All you have to do is plug it in and watch it get to work. 

Some of the user reviews for the Paxcess Pool Cleaner were negative.  Despite averaging a score of four out of five stars, some users claimed that the sponge rollers left black marks over their pool floor and sides and scuff marks as the robotic pool cleaner scaled the sides. However, it is worth noting that this wasn’t the case for all users. Plus, the Paxcess is a great price for a pool cleaner that’s robotic.

What makes a good pool cleaner?

What is the suction power of the pool cleaner?

If your pool is exposed to a lot of debris, such as leaves from surrounding trees and dense landscaping, a pressure pool 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. 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.

Does the pool cleaner need a 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.

Is the pool cleaner compatible with your pool? 

Most pressure pool cleaners don’t work in an above ground pool. 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 pool vacuum can reach all corners of the pool. If you have a vinyl liner, the manufacturer should specify if the pool vacuum is suited for that type of surface. Some rotary brushes can damage vinyl or tile.

Does your pool cleaner have good mobility?

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.

Pool cleaners that are equipped with tires that have deep treads or front-wheel offer great mobility, and are less likely to get stuck. This means they are ideal choices if you want to leave the cleaner unattended. 

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 pool 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

A pressure pool cleaner is a time saving device that will allow you to spend a greater amount of time playing or relaxing around your pool rather than 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 –  a pressure pool cleaner scores well across cleaning power, energy usage, and most importantly, price. These pool cleaners can generally handle most pool and debris sizes.

In addition to cleaning your pool, pressure cleaners also help distribute filtered, clean water. Pool cleaners 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

Most pressure-side pool cleaners need a separate booster pump to run, although this is not always the case. 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. Even though 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.