Types of Pool Cleaners: Suction vs Robotic vs Pressure Models

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A swimming pool is one of the most expensive investments you can make in a home. It’s not just that it requires a lot of money to build; it also requires regular maintenance. A huge part of that maintenance is keeping it clean.

A pool cleaner is a great way to reduce the amount of time required to keep it clean, and many are programmable so that they work while you do something else. There are a few basic kinds of pool cleaners, each with its strengths and weaknesses. With a little work, you can know which one is best suited for your pool and your budget.

The 3 Types of Pool Cleaners

1. Robotic Pool Cleaners

robotic pool cleaner

The most powerful, most gadget-heavy, and thus the most expensive kind of pool cleaner is the robotic pool cleaner. These are generally the cream of the crop. People in the market for a robotic pool cleaner are looking for one they can program to operate on its own, tackle the hardest jobs, and leave their pools looking spic-and-span while they do other things.

Those people also have money to burn. Robotic pool cleaners promise a lot, and the companies that make them ask for a lot in return. If you’re shopping on a budget, you’ll probably need to move on to a simpler, less effective pool cleaner.

2. Suction-side Pool Cleaners

A suction side pool cleaner

Suction-side pool cleaners use the intake side of a pool’s filter system to clean debris. Most of them will pass debris – including bigger things – right through to the filter basket. Because they’re feeding right off the suction power of the pump, they can put extra wear and tear on your pool’s system.

They also tend to be a little more powerful than the next step down, the pressure-side pool cleaner. Unlike pressure-side pool cleaners, they don’t usually require a separate booster pump to operate properly.

3. Pressure-side Pool Cleaners

Pressure-side

Using water pushed by the pool filter pump, a pressure-side is the simplest of pool cleaner designs. These tend to be the crudest with the fewest gadgets. They usually require that you pair them with a booster pump to give them the power they need to clean your pool. They’re also the most limited in range because of this.

These tend to be the most budget-friendly pool cleaners. The value is hampered a bit by the fact that you need to buy a booster pump, but if your needs aren’t very substantial, a pressure-side pool cleaner can offer many advantages.

4. Above-Ground Pool Cleaners

Above ground pool
Image credit: Chris Grazioli, Flickr

Once, it was unheard of to have robotic pool cleaners for above ground pools. The reason is simple. Those kinds of pools are smaller and don’t need quite the power or features that robotic pool cleaners have to offer. Now there are models of all three major makes available. Just make sure that if you have an above ground pool, you get a pool cleaner intended for it.

The walls of the two types of pools are very different, so they require different designs in pool cleaners. Above ground pool cleaners also tend to be smaller and lighter for that reason. If you have an above ground pool with soft walls, be very careful in buying a cleaner. The wrong one can easily rip your pool wall.

Other Important Things To Consider

Your Pool Floor

pool floor
Image credit: CC0 Public Domain, Pxhere

The materials used in the floor of your pool will also help determine what pool cleaner you should buy. There are natural floors and synthetic ones.  One pool cleaner might be a complete dud in every kind of pool but the one you own, where it excels. A different pool cleaner might do well on every kind of pool floor but the one you own, where it might tear the material. Always tailor your choice for your pool.

Dirt Load

pool with leaves
Image credit: barefootpainting, Pixabay

Different kinds of pool cleaners will do a better job cleaning up different kinds of debris. Robotic pool cleaners do well picking it all up. Pressure-side cleaners tend to do a better job with fine materials and get clogged by leaves and bigger things. If you only get fine debris into your pool, you can go with a pressure-side pool cleaner to save some money while not worrying so much about finding one that can get leaves.

Investment

It’s not always a good idea to skimp when it comes to buying a pool cleaner. A pool is a big investment, and you’ll want to invest in the things that maintain it. It’s also not always a good idea to just drop as much money as possible on a cleaner. Sometimes you can get the perfect match for a pretty good price.  Go into the decision knowing how much money you have to spend.

Conclusion

In general, you can consider robotic pool cleaners the highest quality, followed by suction-side, with the three rounded out with pressure-side on the bottom. But don’t just assume that a robotic pool cleaner is the one you need. Consider the size of your pool, whether it’s above or in-ground, the floor, the kind of debris it attracts, and how much money you can spend.

It’s possible that after weighing all of that, you’ll find that the best pool cleaner is the absolute rock-bottom lowest-priced one. Or you could discover that you need an underwater tank that you program to operate on its own while you’re away. Regardless, best of luck in finding the right one for you.