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The 3 Different Types of Automatic Pool Cleaners (Pros and Cons)

From manual to robotic and suction-side to pressure-side, find out which among these pool cleaners will work best for your swimming pool and cleaning needs.

Person cleaning the swimming pool with a pool cleaner.

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How To Choose The Best Automatic Pool Cleaners

Two men at the side of the pool looking at the water as one of them cleans it with a pool cleaner.

Having a swimming pool in your backyard is a great thing. While dipping in it during the hot summer months or having pool parties at night with friends and family is fun, cleaning its surface and maintaining a crystal clear and clean water can be a daunting task.

Keeping your swimming pool clean is necessary. But let’s admit it, like most pool owners, you probably don’t like the idea of getting down and dirty and spending precious hours brushing and scrubbing it. You’d rather spend those time enjoying the welcoming cool water of your pool or doing something else altogether.

Fortunately, that’s one thing to worry about these days, thanks to automatic pool cleaners. These devices are designed to help save you valuable time and make the process of pool cleaning a lot easier and more efficient.

When deciding on which pool cleaner to choose, you have to consider your budget, the shape, and size of your swimming pool, as well as the different dirt and debris it accumulates.

Furthermore, there are several factors that come into play. When shopping around for one, ask yourself the following questions first:

  • Do you have an in-ground or above pool?
  • What sorts of debris do you usually get?
  • What features are you looking for in a pool cleaner?
  • How much are you willing to spend on its running cost per month?
  • Do you have a specific budget? The cost of pool cleaners can range from $100 to $300.
  • Do you prefer a robotic pool cleaner or a manual pool cleaner?

Pool cleaners are available in a wide range of options, so you’ll surely find a unit suitable for your budget and needs. On this guide, you’ll find helpful information to narrow down your choices and to ensure you’ll end up with the best unit. Also, you may want to check out this video guide before making any purchase.

What Are The Different Types Of Pool Cleaners?

One of the first things you need to decide on is whether you want a manual or automatic.

Manual pool cleaners include brush attachments, surface skimmers, and vacuum units. You will use these together with a telescopic pool that allows you to reach your pool’s deepest surfaces.

On the other hand, you need to manually hookup and place an automatic pool cleaner to your pool, and then the device will operate on its own. These pool cleaning equipment have three main types; robotic, pressure, and suction.

Robotic Pool Cleaners

Robotic cleaner placed on the side of a pool.

Best Robotic Pool Cleaner change the pool cleaning game. These innovative devices can effectively keep the water in your pool crystal clear and its surfaces crystal clear with little to no effort on your part. They work well with almost all pool shapes and sizes and can handle both small and large debris and particles.

Robotic cleaners come with their own motor. They also have an integrated microprocessor that lets it assess the shape and size of your swimming pool, and then create a method for a thorough and effective cleaning for the best results. There are even models on the higher price range that you can pre-program using a convenient remote control.

These pool cleaners are available in several types for your above ground or in-ground pool. They can be quite expensive though so it’s vital to pick a brand and model that best fits the size and type of your pool. Discover this info here to learn more about choosing the best robotic cleaner for your pool.

How Do I Install It?

Installing a robotic cleaner is extremely easy. The first thing you need to do is to install its carrier caddy. Once you’ve placed it in position, simply connect the unit’s cord to a plug. Put the robot in your pool, sit back, relax, and watch it do its job. Make sure to read the manufacturer’s manual before starting though, since the cleaning cycle of most machines needs to be set or programmed to achieve a productive operation.

How Does It Work?

Using these pool cleaning robots are very easy. Simply follow the manufacturer’s installation guide, plug it in properly, and you’re all set. There are models that can tackle stairs, walls, and your pool’s waterline. You don’t even have to worry about its filtration system since it works independently and separately.

The unit has pumps on its side that pull the water into its filter, before pumping it back clean into your pool. It’s what also propels the cleaner to move around your swimming pool cleaning and sucking all sorts of dirt and debris. It comes with a built-in filter bag where all those debris is stored.

Once you’re done cleaning, empty and clean the unit’s filter bag by rinsing and washing it with water. Let it dry to keep its pristine condition.

What Are Its Cleaning Benefits?

  • Efficiency and Versatility. These machines are specially designed to take on all types of debris. You can also use them on sorts of pool surfaces. They come with innovative and highly advanced features including a scanning and built-in filtration systems which enables them to work on their own for the most favorable results.
  • Low Maintenance. They’re not just convenient and comfortable to use, they’re also low maintenance. Just empty its filter bag, ensure it’s clean of debris and dirt, rinse it, and it’s ready for another round.
  • Eco-Friendly. This is probably one of the best features of robotic pool cleaners. They don’t emit any form and type of toxic chemicals that may be incorporated into your pool water, which can harm both your health and the environment.
  • Saves Energy and Time. These pool cleaners don’t utilize the filtration system and pump of your pool, so your energy costs will be reduced. They are also designed to work in a timely and fast manner, thus cleaning your pool will take less time.


  • Energy efficient.
  • Easy and convenient to use with little effort from the user.
  • Can clean pool walls, stairs, floors, and coves.
  • Reduces the wear and tear of the circulation equipment of your pool.
  • Can clean both small and large debris efficiently.


  • More expensive than other types.
  • You may need to do some maintenance work if your unit comes with a lot of moving parts.
  • The robot’s movement will depend on its electrical cord attached to a plug.
  • Cords and cables are likely to tangle.
  • You have to clear its filter often for continuous operation.

Suction Pool Cleaners

Suction pool cleaner at the bottom of the pool.

Suction pool cleaners are the most economical type of automatic pool cleaner and a good choice for most pool types. It’s also the most common pool cleaner used for both above and in-ground pools. These devices can handle all kinds of debris such as stubborn algae and various harmful forms of bacteria.

You attach it to a dedicated suction located at the side of the circulation system of your pool. It works like an underwater vacuum and uses the force produced by suction to move around your swimming pool, and at the same time scrubs your pool surface. These pool cleaners work well at removing sediments like leaves and pebble tec.

There is a wide range of suction pool cleaners available for your needs and pool surface type, and come in the following types:

  • Automatic Suction Pool Cleaner. This is the more powerful type which you need to attach to a skimmer. It’s reliable and effective at cleaning the pool corners, steps, walls, and stairs, as well as tackling any obstacles during the process. It can take on any pool shape and size as well.
  • Handheld Suction Pool Cleaner. You need a rechargeable battery to power this type and works well on small to medium-sized swimming pools. To extend its reach and for best performance, you need to attach it to a telescopic pole. Installing it is quite simple and using it is very convenient as well since you don’t have to worry about long cables or cords getting tangled or in the way. It is highly recommended for every day or spot cleaning, and for maintaining the clear and clean appearance of your pool.

How Do I Install It?

It will only take a few minutes of your time to install a suction pool cleaner. Most available models are also pre-installed already, and usually, do not require a lot of accessories and attachments to function.

Depending on the brand or model you’ll purchase, the hose that comes with it may vary. The most important aspect that you need to maintain with these pool cleaners is its water flow to ensure they’ll work effectively and accurately.

How Does It Work?

Pool cleaner hose floating in the poolwater.

You need to attach the hose that comes with your suction pool cleaner to a skimmer port or your pool’s fitting lines where its water is carried out for filtering. However, there are some swimming pools with separate suction cleaner lines. If this is the case, you can just attach the cleaner to the wall fitting directly.

Once everything is set, the cleaner will randomly move around your pool floor, sucking every debris that comes in the way. It is driven by the water flow as the suction takes care of all dirt and debris. As it goes through the suction port in your pool pipes, large and regular-sized debris is stored in the skimmer basket, while smaller particles are accumulated in the filter.

The valve suction may need to be changed to ensure it has enough power to push the cleaner around your pool. You also need to turn the pool pump on for the unit to function. When you’re done with the cleaning, empty the skimmer basket out where all the dirt and leaves collected are stored. It’s a simple task that will ensure your pool cleaner will remain reliable.

What Are Its Cleaning Benefits?

  • Effective at Taking Care of Small Particles. This type of automatic pool cleaner has proven itself to be reliable at sucking all forms of debris, especially tiny and small dirt that causes the hazy and cloudy appearance of your pool. It’s also effective at removing algae. There are even high-end units armed with features that can scrub and sweep even the tiniest of particles.
  • It Can Clean Walls. These pool cleaners have the ability to climb your pool walls, ensuring every area of your pool is covered and thoroughly cleaned. This will save you the daunting task of scrubbing the walls manually.
  • Cost Effective. One of the best benefits of opting for a suction cleaner is its price and maintenance cost. It’s the cheapest pool cleaner, and you don’t need to add extra parts or accessories for it to work. This means less maintenance and repair costs on your part.


  • Very affordable.
  • Easy to maintain and repair since it comes with less moving parts.
  • Can save you money.
  • Handles small to medium-sized debris efficiently.
  • Has the ability to climb walls.


  • Not ideal for drains and stairs.
  • You need to empty the filter or skimmer basket regularly, or it’ll reduce the flow rate and increase pump load.
  • It may get stuck on pool corners.
  • You need to turn on the pool pump for it to work, which can increase its running cost.
  • Your pool filter will experience more wear and tear.

Pressure Pool Cleaners

A net above water and a pressure pool cleaner at the bottom of a pool.

Automatic pressure cleaners are also known as a booster pump cleaner. They are ideal if your swimming pool collects large items and debris such as leaves, bugs, acorns, twigs, and pebbles. So if your pool is under a lot of trees or you live in a windy area where plenty of debris tends to end up in your pool, this is the best option for you.

This system is commonly used by people with pools that have a powerful pressure side port. Buf it this is your choice of pool cleaner, you can make it work in a couple of ways:

  • Directly connecting it to the main circulation pump of your pool.
  • Using a separate booster pump.

Whichever method you choose, there are numerous pressure pool cleaners available out there for each that you can buy. However, using a booster pump can provide you with a higher and consistent power. It is also the least likely to get affected by filthy filters, making it a more effective process.

It comes with an onboard bag that requires regular emptying for it to work properly. You also have an option to attach a sweep hose to it for reaching stairs and small areas. It’s a pricier option, and you may find the installation a bit challenging, but it does work pretty well.

How Do I Install It?

The installation of the two methods of this automatic pool cleaner type is the same. Here are the steps you to set it up:

  • Ensure your pressure line is reliable, adjust hose if necessary to ensure it fits the deepest part of your swimming pool. Cut the hose if it’s a bit long.
  • Adjust the floats if it doesn’t end with the hose.
  • Assemble your pool cleaner by first removing its mender nut from the hose, and then place it on the feed pipe.
  • Pull out the cleaner’s bag and connect it to the feed hose.
  • Ensure everything is securely tightened. Adjust if necessary.
  • Test the cleaner in your pool. If everything is working properly, your device is ready to do its cleaning task.

How Does It Work?

Using a net to remove some debris from the pool while a pool cleaner is underwater.

A pressure pool cleaner utilizes water pressure of your pool’s water to pump and drive it back to our pool where it will then vacuum all sorts of debris in it. All dirt and debris collected will go straight to the attached filter bag of the unit.

During the process, the water coming in will be divided into three parts. Some will be sent straight to the cleaner’s sweeper tail located on its back. It’s what collects minute debris from the surface of your pool, and delivers it to the filters.

Some water will go down its thrust jet, also found on the back of the unit. It’s what guides and propels the machine to move in random patterns. A third of the water will go down a port or venture located at the base where leaves and other large debris are pulled into its filter bag while it runs.

The cleaner has an in-line backup valve in its feed hose so that it can take care of obstacles that get in its way and for changing its cleaning pattern and reversing the flow.

What Are Its Cleaning Benefits?

  • Main Filter Will Experience Less Clogging. The operation involves large debris going straight to the pool cleaner’s filter bag, so dirt and debris are systematically managed and will not hinder the cleaning process. This type is ideal if you’re always dealing with large particles such as bugs, twigs, and bugs.
  • Wear And Tear Of Filter Are Reduced. The cleaner works separately on the main filter system of your pool. Using it means the deterioration of overusing it is lessened, especially if there’s a need for you to clean your swimming pool regularly. The dirtbag that comes with the unit where all debris is stored is also a big help since there’s no need for the device to use the filter contributing to its longer lifespan.


  • Affordable price tag.
  • Simple to repair and maintain.
  • Operates independently on the main filtration system of your pool.
  • Durable.
  • Great at tackling large debris.
  • Has its own filter bag.


  • Will only run if the pump of your pool is running as well.
  • Some models may need an added booster pump.
  • Small particles like sand may clog the back-up valve.
  • Prone to constant hose tangling.
  • Has a tendency to get stuck in cleaning ladders and stairs.

Things To Keep In Mind

Steps in testing the pool water.

Before taking the plunge and getting an automatic pool cleaner, here are some things you need to keep in mind:

  • Most models will require some level of assembly from you. So always check this when you’re shopping around for the best pool cleaner.
  • Before adding chemical solutions, always remove the cleaner, particularly the pool shock. There are chemicals that can damage your unit.
  • After adding a chemical solution, wait at least four hours before using your automatic cleaner.
  • When you’re done cleaning the filter, run the circulation system of your pool for about five minutes to flush it, and then hook up your cleaner.
  • Do not forget to remove your automatic pool cleaner before diving in your pool. It’s not safe to swim in a pool with wires and hoses floating around.