Best pool cleaners 2019: maximize your pool time

Best Pressure Pool Cleaners 2019 - Pressure Cleaners, Side Suction

We all love relaxing by or in a nice clean pool during those sweltering summer days, although when it comes to cleaning the pool we are less eager. A pool cleaner is a nice way to maximize the time you spend languishing in the sun, sipping on your home-made cocktails, but it is often hard to find the best pool cleaner for the job. This buying guide will talk you through how to find the best pool cleaners for your pool, by talking you through the common features a pool cleaner has, and what types of pool they are good for. 

If you are wasting daylight, and are in a hurry to get your fuzzy navel out, we found that the best pool cleaner overall 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. Although, we advise against this cleaner if you have a vinyl or fiberglass pool.

ProductPriceOverall RatingCleaningDesignWarranty & SupportPool Surface CompatibilityHandles Stairs + WallsBest for Debris SizeHose Length (feet)Wheel QuantityRear Hose SweeperTreaded TiresDebris Bag ChambersJet QuantityWorks Without Booster PumpBack-Up ValveWarrantyDirect SupportInformational Resources
Kreepy Krauly RacerView Deal5/59.8109.3ConcreteBothLarge304Single4-1 YearEmail
Polaris Vac-Sweep 280View Deal5/59.89.510Vinyl, FiberglassBothLarge313Single2-2 YearsPhone, Email
Poolvergnuegen PoolCleanerView Deal5/59.89.59.8Concrete, Fiberglass, VinylBothMedium404-Not ApplicableNot Applicable1 YearPhone, Email
Kreepy Krauly LegendView Deal5/5109.59Concrete, Fiberglass, VinylBothLarge304Single1-1 YearEmail
Polaris Vac-Sweep 180View Deal5/5108.510Concrete, Fiberglass, VinylBothLarge314-Single12 YearsPhone, Email
Kreepy Krauly PlatinumView Deal4.5/51099Concrete, Fiberglass, VinylBothLarge334-Single2-1 YearEmail
Kreepy Krauly Legend IIView Deal4.5/59.88.89Concrete, Fiberglass, VinylBothMedium264-Single21 YearEmail
Polaris Vac-Sweep 165View Deal4.5/59.38.810Vinyl, FiberglassBothSmall32Not ApplicableNot ApplicableNot ApplicableSingleAssembly2 YearsPhone, Email
Polaris Vac-Sweep 360View Deal4.5/5107.810Concrete, Fiberglass, VinylBothLarge313-Single3-2 YearsPhone, Email
Polaris Vac-Sweep 3900 SportView Deal4.5/58.87.810Concrete, Fiberglass, VinylWallsLarge313-Dual3-2 YearsPhone, Email

Best Overall

Pentair Kreepy Krauly Racer

Pentair Kreepy Krauly Racer

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.

The Pentair Kreepy Krauly Racer’s extra-wide intake throat and large bag are effective at scooping debris from the bottom of the pool.

Four separate Venturi jets propel dirt into the intake bag, giving it more cleaning effectiveness than many similar cleaners, which commonly have three jets. The vacuum operates in forward and reverse mode, so it cleans efficiently without wasted motion. This pressure cleaner cuts through the dirt and has backup jets that fire every few minutes. This, coupled with the side thrust jets that steer the cleaner from side to side make the automatic cleaning process very thorough. The hose is sections to allow you to build it to your pool size, to a maximum length of 40 feet.

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. The 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. The features of this pool cleaner have been included to maximize the functionality of the machine for the users comfort. It’s four jets cut through the work, and even though it’s LED lights appear aesthetic, they are great if you used the machine at night.

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Best Value

Polaris Vac-Sweep 165

Polaris Vac-Sweep 165

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.

To use the Polaris Vac Sweep 165 you have to attach it to an existing return line. This is the only way this pool cleaner will work. As this Polaris pool cleaner is so small, it has a tendency to get stuck in one area of the pool, and occasionally requires you to give it a nudge to move it along. So it does require some supervision, and isn’t an automatic pool cleaner you can leave unattended overnight. .

Due to it small footprint, you may have to undertake more maintenance of your pool’s filters. This is because it relies more heavily on the filter during use than other cleaners, adding to their wear and tear. The Vac Sweep works by attaching to your pool’s return line, and sprays water against the inner edges of the pool before absorbing any loosened debris into its filler bag. The small, agile build of this pool cleaner allows it to travel across the steep contours and even surfaces of a pool with ease.

The cleaner comes with a 32 feet return hose, which should be adequate for most pools. This machine can clean a 15 by 30 feet pool with an eight foot depth in three hours. 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 eight feet deep.

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Best for Navigating Obstacles

Hayward Poolvergnuegen

Hayward Poolvergnuegen

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.

This cleaner has deep treads on its tires that provide it with extra traction, so it can handle the steepest of slopes. Marks on the tires notify you when the tread is low and the tires need to be replaced. The pool cleaner 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. The Hayward pool cleaner has easy to attach hoses that snap into place in a quick and effortless manner. The hose consists of six-foot interlocking sections designed to prevent kinking and tangling during the cleaning cycle.

The interlocking design should also help to 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.

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Best for Large Debris

Polaris Vac-Sweep 3900 Sport

Polaris Vac-Sweep 3900 Sport

It’s extremely powerful.
It’s expensive.

The Polaris Vac Sweep 3900 sport is designed to handle the mountains of leaves and other bits of debris a storm can deposit in your pool. This three-jet pool cleaner circulates 40 gallons per minute, meaning it is great for heavy-duty pool cleaning.

It runs on three extra-wide tires to allow it easier access to the hard edges and small niches of your pool. The rear sweep hose and external backup valve also ensure this cleaner gets to every corner of the pool. The 5-liter filter bag gathers large leaves and other debris, reducing the strain on your pool's filter. The extra power does come with at an extra cost, as this pool cleaner is more expensive than other models. Still, if your pool needs some serious TLC, this pressure pool cleaner is worth the cost.

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Best for Vinyl & Fiberglass

Polaris Vac-Sweep 280

Polaris Vac-Sweep 280

It’s moderately priced.
Requires a booster pump to operate.

The Polaris Vac-Sweep 280 works with all in-ground pool surfaces, so it's ideal if your pool is made of vinyl or fiberglass.

This pool cleaner is powerful and lightweight, making it easier to assemble and store - offering convenience and power for a mid-range price. . It runs on a three-wheel base and has a rear sweep tail for reaching all the nooks and crannies. A 31-foot hose is included, but you can purchase a longer hose if you need it. However, this cleaner requires a booster pump to run and because it's so lightweight.The cleaner also has a tendency to flip on its side during cleaning, and so should be monitored periodically. . Although this pool cleaner has some minor flaws, it is the best pressure pool cleaner for vinyl or fiberglass pools, as it won’t damage your pool unlike other models.

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How we found the best pool cleaner

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 pool cleaners over robotic or suction options. We even got expert opinions about which pool cleaners work best for distinct types of pools and why.

Questions to ask when looking for the best pool cleaner

When you are buying a pool cleaner, here are some questions that will help you find the best pool cleaner for you. 

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 cleaner 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. 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.

How much do pool cleaners cost?

The pressure pool cleaners we evaluated cost an average $508. If your pool is particularly large you may need to purchase an additional hose, so the cleaner can reach every inch. Hose costs vary depending on how much hose you’re buying. Additional parts for your pool can also drive up costs, such as wall fittings which run about $10 or less and replacement bags and filters around $20.

Other types of pool cleaners

  • Manual pool cleaners: If you don’t mind doing the work yourself, a manual pool cleaner is a good, budget-friendly option. Best-suited for small in-ground or above-ground pools, these cleaners are fairly small. They resemble vacuums, as they are comprised of a vacuum head, hose and telescopic pole. You can add on a scrub brush or skim vac if your pool requires it. Manual cleaning is somewhat time-consuming, but it gives you more precise control over the cleaning process – you can get rid of every last bit of debris, without gambling on whether your automated pool cleaner will catch it. You can also use a manual pool cleaner between automated pool cleaning sessions, in case your pool has a couple leaves in it.
  • Robotic pool cleaners: Robotic cleaners are fully automated and self-contained. They move around your pool on their own, scrubbing the floor and walls as they go. This type of pool cleaner doesn’t need to be attached to your pool’s circulation system or any other port and uses an internal drive motor to move around. Robotic pool cleaners typically have an attached bag where they catch and store leaves, dirt and other small debris. Though they are beloved for how easy they are to setup and use – they are more or less ready to use right out of the box – they are notoriously fragile and require expensive repairs.
  • Suction side automatic pool cleaners: This type of pool cleaner is your best bet if your pool is susceptible to collecting small to fine particles like dirt or sand. However, it isn’t designed to handle larger sticks, leaves and other debris and clogs if it encounters them. A suction side automatic cleaner connects to a dedicated suction line within your pool rather than the main drain suction port, and it moves around by pulsing the surrounding water. These cleaners are inexpensive, have few parts and only take a few minutes to assemble.

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