Robotic pool cleaners
When you're new to pool ownership, the task of selecting the right pool cleaner can be quite a daunting one. The decision often boils down to a series of questions: Should you opt for a manual cleaner or a suction-based one? What about pressure or robotic cleaners? The answers to these queries hinge on many factors, such as your pool's size, shape, material, and the level of debris it typically accumulates. Additionally, your budget and lifestyle preferences come into play. Do you have the time and inclination to dedicate a few hours each week wielding a telescopic pole for pool maintenance, or would you prefer to lie on your deck chair while a robotic cleaner does the job for you?
No wonder newbie pool owners are confused! But rest assured, buying a pool cleaner is easier than you think.
In this article, we explain how different cleaners work, who they're designed for and how to make the best choice for your pool. As a bonus, we've also included maintenance tips to keep your pool cleaner in tip-top condition.
Before we begin, let's discuss the four types of available pool cleaners. Even though they all keep your pool clean by removing leaves, debris, and bacteria, they differ in their cleaning methods. Let's take a closer look at how each one works.
These are the entry-level pool cleaning options operated directly by the user. A manual pool cleaner typically includes a vacuum head and hose attached to a telescopic pole connected to the skimmer box. When cleaning, the vacuum head is moved in sweeping strokes across the pool floor, working from the shallow to the deep end.
You can enhance the cleaning power by attaching scrub brushes to attack stubborn stains or debris. While manual cleaners are light, affordable and easy to use, they're labour-intensive, especially if your pool is big or dirty. Cleaning an entire pool this way can take hours, and rushing the process may leave debris behind. But for those who are strong (and patient), it's a great way to stay fit – or save on a gym membership!
Bonus tip: Manual pool cleaners are handy when adding pool flocculant to your water. They can pick up micro-particles that your filter system might miss, making them a more effective choice than automatic cleaners.
Suction pool cleaners are the most common automatic pool cleaners on the market. Designed for small debris, they attach with a hose to the skimmer box and move around using suction. As they move around your pool, they funnel water into the filtration system, effectively removing debris. Some even have rotating scrubbers to deal with stubborn stains.
In general, suction cleaners fall into two categories: mechanical (also known as geared) and non-mechanical (also known as non-geared or diaphragm). Non-mechanical suction cleaners, such as the Baracuda Manta, are good for large pools with curved walls. They move in a random pattern across the floor and partly up the walls.
On the other hand, mechanical suction cleaners like the Baracuda Tracker have wheels or tracks (i.e. gears). These allow them to move around tight corners, reverse out, climb walls and clean spots that non-geared suction cleaners can't reach. The result? A cleaner pool with fewer stops and starts.
Keep in mind: Suction cleaners only work when the pump is running and take about 4–6 hours to clean your pool. Plus, it would be best to keep emptying the skimmer baskets to allow the suction cleaner to work effectively.
Pressure pool cleaners are a step up from suction cleaners and are designed for pools with medium to large debris. They work with the pool's water return outlet or pressure line, with some models requiring a booster pump to operate, which can be installed when the pool is being built (this can be added later, though it can be costly).
Pressure pool cleaners have great pool climbing abilities, particularly on tile and fibreglass. They can reach tight corners, collect more debris and are known for their speed, typically taking about 2-3 hours to complete a cleaning cycle.
Important to note: While pressure pool cleaners offer excellent performance, they are typically more expensive and require more maintenance. However, they tend to have a longer lifespan (about 5–7 years), come with long hoses suitable for larger pools, and have readily available replacement parts.
Robotic pool cleaners are growing in popularity – and it's easy to understand why. Unlike other pool cleaners, they operate independently of the pool's filtration system, which extends the life of your pump and filters while reducing backwashing, saving you significant amounts of water annually.
Robotic cleaners are energy-efficient, using a low-voltage motor that consumes less energy than traditional suction pool cleaners. This can minimise energy consumption and lower your pool running costs by up to 83 per cent.
Moreover, they feature advanced filters that effectively capture more debris, reducing the need for additional chemical treatments and saving you money.
Important to note: Pool robots don't remain in the pool 24/7 like some other pool cleaners, making them ideal for people who don't like the look of hoses and cleaners in their pool. Many models even include an auto-lift system, like the Baracuda Adventura, for easy removal from the pool. Conversely, robotic cleaners are pricier than suction pool cleaners, and repairs can also be more costly.
All the pool cleaners in this guide will do a cracking job of cleaning your pool – as long as they’re installed correctly and used frequently. However, not all of the pool cleaners in this guide are practical (e.g. manual pool cleaners) or even affordable (e.g. pressure cleaners and in-floor systems). So we’ve decided to focus on two of the most popular pool cleaners on the market – suction and robotic. But before you do anything, here are some factors you need to consider when choosing between suction and robotic pool cleaners.
Suction pool cleaners operate for longer and remain in the pool when they’re not in use. This means that chlorine and UV can take their toll on the frame, hose and parts. As a result, they may only last 3–5 years, with cheaper models succumbing even sooner. Robotic pool cleaners, on the other hand, run for shorter periods and aren’t kept in the pool. As a result, they don’t experience the same wear and can last about 5–8 years – or longer if they’re premium or well maintained.
Suction pool cleaners can only run when your pool pump is on. This means your pump will use more energy while the cleaner is in operation. In general, suction cleaners use about 1000W to run. Robotic pool cleaners only use only 180W, giving you an 82 per cent saving on your energy bills. Plus, their built-in filter means less backwashing and water loss compared to a suction cleaner, which needs to use the pool’s filtration system.
Depending on the size of the pool and how dirty it is, suction cleaners can take 4–6 hours to clean your pool. This can slow down if you don’t empty your skimmer baskets. Robots, on the other hand, take 2–3 hours, and premium models can be as fast as 1 hour.
While suction cleaners work every time your pump is running, they can stall or get tangled, which means you need to untangle them. They can also miss dirt or stains if they’re ungeared and can’t climb up steps or walls. By comparison, robots can navigate the entire pool and provide 90–95 per cent coverage. They also have a swivel function and smart navigation, which navigate and map your pool with speed and ease.
Due to their simple design and popularity, suction cleaners are relatively cheap and range from $100 to $700. Spare parts are also easy to find and won’t cost you the earth. Robots, however, have more complex engineering, so they’re on the pricier side. These can cost anywhere between $700 and $3000 – and parts can also be expensive. As a general rule, the cheaper the cleaner, the shorter the lifespan, so keep this in mind when comparing models.
From manual pool cleaners to in-built systems, there are enough cleaners on the market to make your head spin. So how do you know which one is right for your pool? In general, suction and robotic pool cleaners are the best options for most backyard swimming pools. Not only are they popular, but they’re also effective, easy to use and affordable.
To get started, check out our table of recommended Baracuda suction and robotic pool cleaners. It should help you find the right cleaner for your pool type, lifestyle and budget. If you still can’t decide between suction and robotic, here’s a quick guide.
Below you can also see a comparison of our full range of Automatic Pool Cleaners based on different pool needs:
We hope you found this guide helpful and that you’re one step closer to buying the right cleaner for your pool. If you’d like to know more about Barracuda suction and robotic cleaners, view Baracuda Suction and Robotic cleaners or reach out to our friendly Customer Care team via LIVE CHAT.