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Take your pool cleaning routine to a new level of ease by investing in a robotic pool cleaner. These machines are designed to clean your swimming pool without burdening the skimmer or filtration system. Instead, a robotic pool cleaner is equipped with a power supply and filter media to clean common pool contaminants like dirt, algae, and small debris.
Robotic pool cleaners are most often used to clean inground pools, but some models can also clean the floor of above-ground pools. Keep in mind that above-ground robotic pool cleaners will typically not clean the sides of your pool, as they will in a tile, fiberglass, or cement inground pool. It's also important to consider the cleaning coverage you want and what "extra" features are most important. Basic robotic pool cleaners will clean the floor of your pool but may not be able to climb walls. You might need to invest in a more expensive model if you want both the pool floor and walls to be cleaned. Similarly, you might need to spend a bit more for a model that boasts customized cleaning modes, remote controls, and scheduled cleanings.
Keep reading for the best robotic pool cleaners on the market, no matter your needs.
Best Overall: Dolphin Nautilus CC Plus Robotic Cleaner
Pool Type: Inground | Cleaning Cycle Time: 2 hours | Cleaning Coverage: Floor, walls | Brush Type: Standard dual scrubbing | Filter Type: Large twin cartridges | Smart Capabilities: No
Uses its own power supply
Cleans floors and walls
No smart capabilities
The Dolphin Nautilus CC Plus Robotic Pool Vacuum goes about its business quietly, efficiently with very little user interaction required. It’s a great option for anyone that wants to keep their pool sparkling without spending hours on manual vacuuming or time spent tinkering on a suction-side pool vacuum.
Rather than relying on your pool’s skimmer system or vacuum line, the Dolphin Nautilus uses its own power supply to motor around your pool floor and climb the walls. It can tackle pools up to 50 feet in length and has a 2-hour cleaning cycle. This robotic pool cleaner has CleverClean technology, which scans and maps your pool floor and results in a systematic, thorough cleaning pattern.
Since this robotic pool vacuum isn’t connected to your pool’s skimmer, it won’t bog down your pool’s filtration system. Instead, the Nautilus CC Plus has onboard filters. It includes standard duty filters that can capture general debris, like small bugs, leaves, etc., and a set of finer corrugated filters that will take in pollen, dust, and other small particles. A hatch on top of the vacuum makes it easy to access and clean the filters as needed.
"This cleaner-bot really gets the pool sparkling clean, even after a big crowd of swimmers, and I don’t need to run it as often as I did with my previous one to maintain that level of freshness. I was also impressed by how quiet the machine is and how well it navigates the pool walls, tracking all the way up and down the sides and even breaking the waterline."—Sarah Vanbuskirk, Product Tester
Best Smart: Polaris 9650IQ Sport Robotic Pool Vacuum Cleaner
Pool Type: Inground | Cleaning Cycle Time: Varies | Cleaning Coverage: Walls, waterline | Brush Type: Dual rubber brushes | Filter Type: Extra large canister | Smart Capabilities: Yes
Compatible with smartphone or tablet
Can be used to spot clean
App indicates when to replace filter
Doesn't offer app notifications
If a robotic pool cleaner is the easier way to clean your pool, then the Polaris 9650IQ is the most intelligent way to get the task done. This smart robot pool cleaner is equipped with Wi-Fi that gives you app control of the vacuum's functions. Use the iAquaLink app on your smartphone or tablet to customize cleaning modes, check-in on the status of a cleaning session, or call the unit back to the side of the pool using the EasyLift system.
In addition, you can spot clean your pool using an on-screen controller or by using your phone as a motion controller—just tilt the phone in the direction you want the Polaris 9650IQ to travel.
These smart features are paired with powerful cleaning ability. The Polaris 9650IQ features 4-wheel drive to maneuver around obstacles and climb pool walls to reach the waterline. Dual rubber brushes loosen dirt and grime and an onboard suction system captures particles in a filter canister. In the app, you can see when it's time to clean the filter with the "dirty canister indicator" feature. Note that push notifications aren't available for the iAquaLink app, so you will have to check in to see the status of the filter manually.
Best for Inground Pools: Hayward W3RC9740WCCUB SharkVac XL Robotic Pool Vacuum
Pool Type: Inground | Cleaning Cycle Time: 3 hours | Cleaning Coverage: Floors, walls, coves, waterline | Brush Type: Not listed | Filter Type: 2 filter elements | Smart Capabilities: No
Cleans floors and walls
Long power cord
Easy access to filters
No smart capabilities
Release the Hayward SharkVac XL into your inground pool and let this robotic vacuum scour your pool floor, walls, and waterline for an effortless clean. This robotic pool vacuum for inground pools is self-contained and doesn’t need to be connected to your pool’s skimmer like a suction-side pool vacuum. Instead, it operates using a separate power supply with a 50-foot cord.
For inground pools up to 20 x 40 feet in size, Hayward SharkVac XL is a great choice. This model is programmed with smart steering technology that helps the vacuum efficiently cover the floor, walls, and any coves of your pool in about 3 hours.
An onboard sensor keeps the unit from leaving the water during a cleaning cycle, such as when approaching the shallow end of the pool or scrubbing tile at the waterline. And unlike some robotic pool vacuums that require you to flip the entire unit over to access the filter media, a top door on the Hayward SharkVac XL makes it easy to access the filters and quickly rinse them clean with a hose.
Best for Leaves: Dolphin Premier Robotic Pool Cleaner
Pool Type: Inground | Cleaning Cycle Time: 3 hours | Cleaning Coverage: Floor, walls, waterline | Brush Type: Dual scrubbing brushes | Filter Type: 4 types of filter media | Smart Capabilities: No
Collects large debris
Light indicates when to replace filter
Cleans floors and walls
No smart capabilities
Leaves pose one of the biggest challenges to robotic pool cleaners since not all models handle larger debris. However, the Dolphin Premier Robotic Pool Cleaner comes equipped with four unique types of filter media to capture everything from ultra-fine particles to larger items like leaves.
For pools frequently plagued by leaves, take advantage of the oversized debris bag. This bag allows the unit to collect leaves, acorns, twigs, and more, holding them in the mesh bag for easy emptying. You can swap between filter types easily by accessing the panel underneath the vacuum and inserting any filter media before starting the unit. A "Full Media" indicator light on the power supply alerts you when it's time to clean the onboard filter.
Dual DC motors power a pair of rubber scrubbing brushes, which scrub the floor and walls of your inground pool—up to the waterline.
Best for Vinyl Pools: Polaris F9350 Sport Robotic In-Ground Pool Cleaner
Pool Type: Inground | Cleaning Cycle Time: Varies | Cleaning Coverage: Floor, stairs, corners | Filter Type: Filter canister | Smart Capabilities: No
Safe for various pool floor types
Cleans floors, walls, and stairs
No smart capabilities
If you have a vinyl pool liner, you are no doubt looking for a robotic pool cleaner that can clean effectively but gently. The Polaris F9550 Sport is one model to consider, which roves about your pool on Aqua-Track tires considered safe for all pool surfaces, according to the manufacturer. However, keep in mind that some vinyl patterns can become worn by any repeated action or abrasion—even manual scrubbing or vacuuming. So it’s possible to see wear patterns from the cleaning action of any pool cleaner, robotic or not.
The Polaris F9550 Sport uses a rear propulsion system to get from one end of the pool to another, using ActivMotion Sensor Technology to make its cleaning more efficient. This robot vacuum is designed to navigate tight spaces, such as corners and stairs, though some vinyl pools may limit this ability. The onboard vacuum system captures debris inside of a filter canister, which is easily accessed from the top of the robotic pool cleaner.
Best Budget: Aiper Smart HJ1102 Cordless Automatic Pool Cleaner
Pool Type: Above ground, inground | Cleaning Cycle Time: 1 hour | Cleaning Coverage: Floor | Filter Type: Filter canister | Smart Capabilities: Yes
Quick cleaning time
Works for above and inground pools
Can't climb walls
For the same cost as many suction-side pool cleaners, you can have the convenience of a robotic pool cleaner with the affordable Aiper Smart HJ1102 Cordless Pool Cleaner. This model offers basic cleaning of your pool floor but take note that it can’t climb walls like most other robotic pool cleaners. Even still, it offers an effortless way to clean pools up to 538 square feet in just under an hour. Use it to keep debris under control and to ensure regular cleaning sessions in between pool maintenance visits.
A standout features of this budget robotic pool cleaner is its cordless design. While most robot vacuums use a long cord to connect to a power supply unit, the Aiper Smart features a rechargeable battery and eliminates the potential of a tangled cord. The built-in lithium battery recharges the unit in just 3 to 4 hours. If the battery runs low while this pool vacuum is doing its work, smart docking technology directs the unit to the edge of the pool, where you can easily lift it out for charging.
The Dolphin Nautilus CC Plus is our go-to choice for a robotic pool cleaner since it offers plenty of suction power and multiple filtration options to keep pools clean. However, if you’re looking for a frills-free option, check out the Aiper Smart HJ1102 Cordless Pool Cleaner (view at Amazon). Its cordless design means that you won’t have to worry about it getting tangled up, and it automatically returns to the side of the pool when the battery runs low.
What to Look for in a Robotic Pool Cleaner
Do you want the power to clean your pool with a swipe on your phone? Do you want to preprogram a cleaning schedule or access a quick-cleaning mode to get the job done in a flash? There are robotic pool cleaners that can do all this and more. Your budget, the size and the shape of your pool, and the amount of debris it generally collects should be factored into which features you want in a cleaner.
Some pool cleaners skim the top surface of your pool to get dirt and debris before it sinks, while others will crawl the sides and bottom to get anything that has sunk. You also want to consider the size of the basket that collects all the debris, mainly if your pool is surrounded by trees and plants that regularly deposit leaves and dirt into the pool.
Pool cleaners can vary widely in price. In most cases, the more functionality and features a unit has, the higher the price tag. Consider your budget and the size of your pool and how much debris you regularly find in it when determining how much to spend on a unit.
How do robotic pool cleaners work?
This type of pool cleaner uses its power supply and onboard filtration to clean your pool, with little user intervention required during a cleaning cycle. Robotic pool cleaners usually connect to a power supply outside the pool using a long power cord. Some are cordless. Once placed in the pool, the robot travels along the pool's floor and walls, collecting dirt and debris in an onboard canister, filter tray, or bag.
How long do robotic pool cleaners last?
These advanced pool cleaners involve plenty of moving parts and electronics, and the average lifespan of a robotic pool cleaner will vary depending on use frequency and maintenance. However, most people will find that a robotic pool cleaner lasts for at least 3 to 5 years, with some extending the longevity of their machine to 7 years or more with basic maintenance and occasional parts replacement.
How much do robotic pool cleaners cost?
On average, robotic pool cleaners cost between $500 and $1,200. Some budget robotic pool cleaners cost as little as $200 to $300 but are more limited in cleaning capacity and features. Options like advanced programmed steering, built-in Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, and multiple filter media types tend to increase the price tag of a robotic pool cleaner.
Why Trust The Spruce?
This article was researched and written by Erica Puisis, a professional writer specializing in products that elevate outdoor and indoor living. Erica has covered a variety of backyard products such as pools, hot tubs, solar panels, and patio furniture.