Suction-side pool cleaners combine performance and value to occupy the middle ground when it comes to pool vacuums. They aren’t as powerful or gadget-laden as robotic pool cleaners, but they can do a better job cleaning than pressure-side pool cleaners and don’t need booster pumps.
What’s most important, however, is that you get the right vacuum for your pool. That means doing a little research so you know if it’s appropriate, given the design and materials used in your pool and the kind of debris that usually winds up on its bottom.
We wrote reviews of some of the more common suction-side pool cleaners you’ll encounter while researching. We included a little buyers’ guide at the end to better inform you of what to look for. We hope you find value in all this and wish you the best luck in getting it right.
A Quick Glance at the Winners:
The 8 Best Suction-Side Pool Cleaners 2020 – Reviews:
1. Hayward ‘The Pool Cleaner’ Suction Pool Vac – Best for Inground Pools
There are probably a couple of basic things you’re looking for in a pool cleaner. The first is that it does a great job cleaning up. The second is that it doesn’t need a lot of attention. Otherwise, you’d just spend a lot of time doing it yourself.
Hayward’s Poolvergnuegen 896584000-013 hits both of those marks. It does a great job cleaning, and comes fully programmable so you can input how you want your pool cleaned. Aside from maintenance and cleaning it out, it’ll do the rest. One feature we really like is the turbine vanes that adjust themselves so that regardless of water flow, it’s got maximum cleaning power.
It also costs a lot of money, with a price rivaling some of the lower-end robotic pool cleaners. As the saying goes, if you want the best, you have to pay for the best.
2. Hayward ‘Wanda the Whale’ Suction Pool Cleaner – Best for Above Ground Pools
What’s appropriate for in-ground pools is not usually appropriate for above ground pools, and if you’ve got an above grounder (with a couple of exceptions), we’d recommend the Hayward 900 Wanda the Whale suction-side pool cleaner.
What we like most about it is its ease of use. You install it once in a process that takes a few minutes, and then leave it in the water. It works with your pool’s filtration system so that there are no bags or containers to empty. It also does a pretty good job cleaning up small debris like sand and dust.
You’ll have to follow Wanda with a pool skimmer, however, and grab the leaves and pine needles that have sunk to the bottom of your pool. While it sucks up dirt pretty well, it has a tougher time with bigger things. It’s also not recommended for soft-side pools.
3. Zodiac Baracuda G3 Suction Side Automatic Pool Cleaner – Best Value
Zodiac’s Baracuda G3 W03000 Advanced cleaner is our choice as best for the money. We liked it so much, in fact, that it’s also our runner-up for in-ground pools. If it did a couple of things better, we’d be sorely tempted to give it our top spot.
It cleans everything well, which is the first basic requirement for a pool cleaner. It’s got fins to keep it on track and keep it from getting hung up in corners and on stairs and ladders. This is a significant issue for lots of pool cleaners. It also delivers great value for what you pay for it.
We didn’t give it our top spot because it has issues cleaning in the deep end. This is common for in-ground pool cleaners in general, so it’s not a terrible mark against it. It’s also slow, and since you’re buying this to save time and energy, that means paying a little more attention to when it’s running. The hose connecting it to your pool filter’s suction power also has a bad habit of tangling.
4. Hayward AquaNaut Suction Pool Vacuum
The Hayward PHS21CST AquaNaut is a pure performer. It will clean and clean and clean. It picks up dust and leaves and can climb walls to scrub those right up to the waterline. It comes in two different models, one with two wheels and one with four. The two-wheeled cleaner is best for smaller pools, while the four-wheeled one is for bigger ones.
Beyond doing a great job cleaning, it can dodge underwater obstacles and is programmable to get the entire pool floor.
It’s one of the most expensive suction-side pool cleaners available. It’s also a bit on the heavy side, which probably explains why, when it gets into the deep end, it sometimes gets stuck there. If you’ve got a deeper pool, make sure it has plenty of power to get out of where it gets into.
5. Zodiac Baracuda MX6 Pool Cleaner
If you’ve got a two-speed or variable-speed pool pump, the Zodiac Baracuda Automatic MX6 is one you’ll want to look at. Its low-flow design will allow it to operate at its peak performance in these situations, whereas other pool cleaners’ abilities may fall off.
In a normal pool, it does a pretty good job cleaning basic debris. It’s also got tires made of actual rubber for better traction in moving around the pool.
Those tires are advertised as part of a pool cleaner that does a great job climbing walls. It would do a better job if it were just a little heavier. It’s light enough that as it starts to get higher in the water, the more prone it is to drifting off and sinking. It can also get stuck in tight spaces and the deep end. Larger debris is known to clog its hose, too.
6. Hayward PoolVac XL Suction Pool Vacuum
If you invest money in the Hayward 2025ADC PoolVac XL, you’ll get your money’s worth in terms of longevity. Given a little TLC from time to time, this one could last you more than a decade. It’s one of the longest-lasting pool cleaners we looked at. It also does a good job of cleaning up. If you’ve got large or small debris, it’ll scoop it up off the pool floor.
There are two things that dropped it down this far. It struggles to get up and down inclines, and it can get hung up pretty easily on things on pool floors. With in-ground pools, those happen to be fairly common things. So, despite the fact that it’ll last forever and clean up everything, it delivers subpar value.
7. Pentair Kreepy Krauly E-Z Vac Suction-Side Above Ground Pool Cleaner
There is one silver lining to the noise Pentair’s K50600 Kreepy Krauly E-Z Vac makes. It’ll always let you know when it’s turned on. That way, you’ll know to get right out and keep an eye on it, because this one needs a lot of attention when it’s working.
It’s easily blocked by obstructions on the pool bottom and gets caught on steps whenever it comes across them. The hose is also always tangling itself. When you run it, be prepared to pay attention to it all the time.
When it comes to cleaning, it does a good job on the small stuff: dirt, sand, algae … all of those and more. This will pay dividends if you live where there aren’t a lot of trees. It does a terrible job cleaning up large things like leaves, so if you live near a lot of trees, your experience will be a lot less pleasant.
8. INTEY Automatic Suction Pool Cleaner
There are three words to describe INTEY’s Pool Cleaner Automatic Suction Pool Vacuum: cheap, plastic, junk. It’s the most affordable pool cleaner we reviewed here, but it’s also the one with the most serious, glaring performance issues.
It starts with the hose, which is too short to be of great utility. It also has a nasty habit of getting tangled on everything. The cleaner stalls in the middle of cleaning cycles all the time, and when that doesn’t happen, the cleaner itself gets stuck on everything.
You can save a lot of money in the short term buying this one, but in the long run, you’ll wind up spending more because you’ll have to replace it pretty quickly. Give this cleaner a miss.
If you buy a suction-side pool cleaner, there are some handy tips and tricks you’ll want to know in order to get the right one. That way, you get the most out of your money and do the best to protect the big investment that is buying a pool cleaner.
Your first criterion should always be whether the pool cleaner you buy is compatible with your pool. For suction-side pool cleaners, this means making sure your pool’s filter will provide enough power to operate the cleaner. This is probably your cleaner’s sole source of power. You could always buy a booster pump, but that adds a lot of expense, so it’s just easier to get a cleaner that’s compatible with the filter pump.
You’ll also want to match the pool cleaner to your pool. Part of that is knowing how much hose comes with the cleaner and whether that will be adequate to clean all of your pool. It’s a pointless waste of money to spend a couple hundred dollars buying a cleaner that can’t reach every place in your pool.
Size of debris
Something else to consider is the size of the junk that gets into your pool, and whether the pool cleaner you’re looking at can clean it. Some pool cleaners are better at different sizes of debris. With suction-side pool cleaners, take special care if you get a lot of leaves in your pool. Some of them will do a great job pushing those into the pool’s filter system. Others are easily clogged.
You can find suction-side pool cleaners at a wide range of prices. It’s very possible that some at the lower end of the spectrum are perfect for your pool and represent great bargains. It’s also possible that you have very particular needs and must spend a lot to get the right pool cleaner. Don’t skimp, however. You could buy yourself the cheapest one available only to discover that it’s damaged your pool.
Hayward’s Poolvergnuegen 896584000-013 got top pick in our reviews of suction-side pool cleaners because it does a great job. It’s just also pretty expensive. Hayward’s Wanda the Whale got our nod for best suction-side cleaner for above ground pools for ease of installation and use. Just don’t get it if you have a soft-sided pool. If it were faster and the hose didn’t tangle as often, we’d be tempted to give the Zodiac Baracuda G3 W03000 Advanced our top spot. We call it best for the money instead. Hayward’s PHS21CST AquaNaut does a great job cleaning the entire pool, is programmable, and can avoid underwater obstacles. It’s also expensive and might get stuck in the deep end.
The low-flow design of the Zodiac Baracuda Automatic MX6 makes it a great fit for two-speed or variable-speed pumps, but it doesn’t climb quite as advertised because it’s a little too light. The Hayward 2025ADC PoolVac XL will last a long time and cleans well, but it struggles with obstructions and inclines. That means it has limited value. Pentair’s K50600 Kreepy Krauly E-Z Vac is loud and will get hung up on anything. It does a good job sweeping up grit, but leaves cause it problems. INTEY’s Pool Cleaner Automatic Suction Pool Vacuum looks like a bargain, but you’ll wind up spending more replacing it.
Table of Contents
- A Quick Glance at the Winners:
- The 8 Best Suction-Side Pool Cleaners 2020 – Reviews:
- 1. Hayward ‘The Pool Cleaner’ Suction Pool Vac – Best for Inground Pools
- 2. Hayward ‘Wanda the Whale’ Suction Pool Cleaner – Best for Above Ground Pools
- 3. Zodiac Baracuda G3 Suction Side Automatic Pool Cleaner – Best Value
- 4. Hayward AquaNaut Suction Pool Vacuum
- 5. Zodiac Baracuda MX6 Pool Cleaner
- 6. Hayward PoolVac XL Suction Pool Vacuum
- 7. Pentair Kreepy Krauly E-Z Vac Suction-Side Above Ground Pool Cleaner
- 8. INTEY Automatic Suction Pool Cleaner
- Buyer’s Guide