With so many different types of pool cleaners currently available to pool owners, it can be difficult to choose the one that is best for you. Today, we will explore the pros and cons of each type of pool cleaning system to help you choose the one that will work best in your pool. But first, why do we need a pool cleaner in the first place?

Why Are Pool Cleaners Needed?

Beyond their obvious function of tidying up the pool to make it look more aesthetically pleasing, pool cleaners provide three main benefits. These are:

  • Scrubbing the surface of the pool. Even if you keep the recommended amount of chlorine in your pool water, small amounts of algae will still cling to the surface of your pool. By scrubbing the liner, pool cleaners break up and remove this algae buildup; putting it back in the water where it can be more easily killed by the chlorine.
  • Adding fresh water into dead zones. A “dead zone” is an area with little to no water circulation in the pool. Dead zones are an issue as fresh, chlorinated water doesn’t typically get to them. This can lead to algae growth as the chlorine in those areas is quickly dissipated by the sun. By disturbing the water, pool cleaners allow for “fresh” water to enter these areas and prevent them becoming a breeding ground for algae.
  • Removing organic debris from the water. Having organic debris like leaves in the bottom of your pool is more than just an eye sore. They also allow for algae, phosphates and bacteria to more easily build up in the water; causing a bunch of potential water quality issues.

What Are The Different Types Of Pool Cleaners?

While there are seemingly hundreds of different pool cleaners on the market today, they all fall into one of 4 categories:

Manual Cleaners

Manual pool cleaners are simple vacuum heads that you attach on the end of the pole that you use attach your pool net to. The vacuum head is then attached to a hose which runs into the skimmer. A plate is then attached to the other end of the hose so that it forms a tight seal with the skimmer basket. Once set up, the suction from the skimmer will draw water and debris from the vacuum head into the skimmer basket. Once you’re done cleaning (or the skimmer basket is full enough that the vacuum head begins to lose suction) you simply shut off the pool pump and empty the skimmer basket.

Automatic Suction Side-Cleaners

Manual pool cleaners are what’s known as “suction-side” cleaners, meaning that they are powered by suction generated from the pool pump. Automatic suction-side cleaners are, therefore, simply automatic versions of manual cleaners. They are set up the exact same way, use the skimmer basket to collect the debris in the same way, but are designed to be able to move along the surface of the pool on their own. Rather than doing the work yourself, automatic suction-side cleaners can be set up and then left for hours to slowly clean the surface of your pool on their own.

Automatic Pressure-Side Cleaners

Unlike suction-side cleaners, pressure-side pool cleaners are attached to dedicated return jets rather than the pool skimmer and are powered by water pressure generated by their own dedicated pumps rather than the main pool pump. Specialized hoses attach the cleaner to its dedicated return jet, then the cleaner pump is turned on to set the cleaner in motion. As with automatic suction-side cleaners, these pool cleaners are designed to move around the surface of the pool on their own, slowly cleaning the entire pool by themselves.

Automatic pressure-side pool cleaners trap the dirt and debris they suck up in their own cleanable filters, rather than using the pool’s filtration system.

Robotic Cleaners

The newest type of pool cleaning system to hit the market is the robotic pool cleaner. These cleaners are similar to automatic pressure-side cleaners, except that they are powered by an electronic power pack, rather than a water pump. Simply plug the power pack into a GFCI-protected outlet and put the cleaner in the pool. From the power pack you can then program your cleaner to run for a set amount of time, after which the cleaner will shut itself off.

As with automatic pressure-side cleaners, robotic cleaners utilize their own built-in filters, rather than the pool filter.

How Do Each Type Of Pool Cleaners Stack Up?

So how do each of these pool cleaners stack up against one another? Which one is right for you and your family? Here are the pros and cons of each type of pool cleaner to help you choose the one that’s best for you.

Manual Cleaners

Manual cleaners are by far the cheapest of the different types of pool cleaners. They also require the most work to set up and actually operate, however. They also use your pool’s filtration system to clean the pool, which means that you will need to backwash your pool a little more frequently through the year.

Automatic Suction-Side Cleaners

Automatic suction-side pool cleaners are reasonably inexpensive and will take most of the work out of vacuuming your pool. They aren’t able to climb up the sides of the pool that easily, however, and don’t typically provide any brushing action to the surface of the pool; meaning that you will still need to manually brush the surface of the pool in order to properly remove any algae that has built up on it. As with manual cleaners, they also use your pool’s filtration system and will require some more frequent backwashing.

Automatic Pressure-Side Cleaners

Automatic-pressure side cleaners are fairly expensive and require the installation of a specialized pump and return line. For this reason, it is not very practical to install these cleaners on an existing pool that hasn’t been made with them in mind. They do, however, do a great job of cleaning the surface of the pool and can climb up the walls up to the water surface. Since they use their own built-in filters, you will also not have to backwash the pool as often if you clean it with an automatic pressure-side cleaner.

The specialized pumps used for automatic pressure-side cleaners are also much smaller and more energy efficient than typical pool pumps, meaning that they cost less to operate than an automatic-suction side cleaner will.

Robotic Cleaners

Robotic cleaners are also fairly expensive to purchase. Unlike automatic-pressure-side cleaners, however, they don’t require any special installation and can therefore be put into any pool. Their power packs are much more energy efficient than even the smaller pumps used by automatic pressure-side pool cleaners, meaning that robotic cleaners are by far the cheapest pool cleaners to operate. They also can clean the entire surface of the pool, up to the waterline, and use their own built-in filters so you won’t need to backwash your pool as often.

Wrapping Up

Keeping your pool clean is not just about looks. A clean pool is also much easier to maintain and will have fewer water quality issues than a pool with dirt and debris left in it. While there are many, many different pool cleaning systems available today, they can all be grouped into one of four types. Depending on your budget and the amount of time you want to spend maintaining your pool, each type of cleaner has their own unique set of pros and cons. If you still have any questions about pool cleaners, or pool maintenance in general, contact one of our pool care experts!

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