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What Is the Best Robotic Pool Cleaner? (Updated 2017 Edition)

What is the best robotic pool cleaner on the market today?  If you’re looking for an objective answer, you’ve landed in just the right place.

Best Quadcopter Under 50 Dollars: alex munkachyAbout Robot Fanatics

In 2016, I decided to put my robot expertise and bargain hunting skills to good use and start this site.

The reviews you’ll find on Robot Fanatics are blunt and to-the-point.  My main goal is to help you look for information and find the best bargains.

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How Does a Pool Robot Work?

They use their clever autonomous brains to search for dirt.  Every one of the robots on the top 7 list are intelligent.  They all have microcontroller brains connected to sensors that enable the robot to scan the surface of your swimming pool.

They use their “arms” for balance.  The best cleaner robots come equipped with inflatable or foam arms.  They use these arms for balance when scaling walls.

They are powered by energy efficient DC motors.  The robotic technology used to create pool bots represents a giant leap forward in swimming pool maintenance.  Old school “dumb” 2000 watt pool cleaners ran off of A/C electricity.  But pool bots typically only need 100 – 200 watts.  That’s only 2 light bulb’s worth of energy!

They are totally self-contained.  All the machinery a pool robot uses is contained inside of its body.  So once you get a good pool robot, you’re all set.  No need for extra pumps or other pricey pool cleaning equipment.

What Is the Best Robotic Pool Cleaner?  Here Are the 5 Major Pool Robot Brands

which robot pool cleaner is the best1.  Dolphin / Maytronics

Best quality: intelligence and reliability 

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2017 Dolphin Premier Robotic In-Ground Pool Cleaner
List Price: $1,197.00
Price: $1,097.00
You Save: $100.00
Price Disclaimer

Dolphin dominates the pool robot industry.  Over 40% of all pool robots are made by Dolphin.  They have been in the pool robot business since 1982– one year before Super Mario leapt into existence.

The crazy thing about Dolphin is that their catalog is full of literally hundreds of different pool bots.  It seems like every time one of their engineers wants to experiment with a new feature, they go ahead and roll out an entire new model.

The most important Dolphin robots to remember are Premier and Nautilus.  Premier is Dolphin’s flagship high-end pool robot and Nautilus is his more affordable little brother.  Dolphin robots tend to be more clever and more reliable than other pool robots, which is why Dolphin is currently the #1 brand in pool robotics.

Fun fact! Maytronics was formed by a group of hippie farmers.  

aquabot vs dolphin2.  AquaBot

Best quality: power

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AquaBot is an American company that also came into existence back in the early 80s.  AquaBot’s flagship pool cleaning robot is the Turbo T4.  The remote control compatible version of the Turbo T4 is called the Turbo T4RC.

AquaBot wants to sell to people who are health conscious, which is why they recently rebranded themselves with the “Keepers of Pure” slogan.   AquaBot pool robots are especially good cleaners, featuring high power pressurized jets, 2 micron filters and other features that help you keep your pool clean.

what is tigershark aquavac3.  Hayward / AquaVac

Best quality: speed

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Hayward Industries is a huge manufacturing company that specializes in industrial thermoplastic valves and process control products.  Hayward acquired AquaVac back in 2007.  AquaVac is even older than AquaBot and Dolphin.  The subsidiary started making automatic pool cleaners in the 60s.

The best pool robot in the AquaVac catalog right now is TigerShark QC.  The “QC” in the model name stands for Quick Clean.  TigerShark really is fast, but that’s probably because it lacks the cleaning power and filtration capabilities of other pool robots on the market.

4.  Zodiac / Polaris

Best quality: looks

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Polaris F9550 Sport Robotic In-Ground Pool Cleaner
List Price: $1,959.99
Price: $993.13
You Save: $966.86
Price Disclaimer

Zodiac is a more than 100-year-old California based conglomerate that owns a handful of different pool related brands. Polaris is a subsidiary of Zodiac.  But the branch is relatively new, and there’s not much information about Polaris online.

One thing about Polaris pool robots, though, is obvious: they are all very sleek and futuristic looking.  The flagship Polaris pool robot the Polaris 9550 Sport is that it has a unique gyroscope enabled controller.  The 9550 Sport remote can detect its position, so if you tilt forwards, backwards or side to side the robot moves in that direction.  In my opinion Polaris pool bots tend to be heavy on sizzle and short on steak, but to each his own.

is irobot better than dolphin5.  iRobot 

Best quality: cuteness

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iRobot Mirra 530 Pool Cleaning Robot
List Price: $799.99
Price: $799.99
Price Disclaimer

Roomba maker iRobot recently entered the aquatic robot fray in 2007 with its first ever pool cleaner, the iRobot Verro.  The debut of the Verro didn’t attract much publicity.  But apparently, iRobot sold enough Verros to try again with a new version of the Verro called the Mirra.

In my opinion, iRobot still has a lot to learn when it comes to swimming pools.  The Mirra is clever, but it doesn’t have a very effective ballasting system yet.  It’ll take a few years from iRobot’s engineers to figure out how to make good submersible robots.  But when they figure it out, iRobot will be dangerous.  Watch out, Maytronics!

What Is the Best Robotic Pool Cleaner?  Watch These 7 Informative Videos

To help you find out how each of the robots in the list above operate, I’ve embedded the best quality video I could find for each bot.

Watching a few of these videos should give you some idea of how a pool robots navigate floors and crawl up and down walls.

If you’ve never seen an aquatic robot in action before, prepare yourself for a mind-blowing experience.  The robot revolution has begun!

1.  Dolphin Premier

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2.  AquaBot Turbo T4RC

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3.  TigerShark Quick Clean

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4.  Dolphin Nautilus

Check Amazon for Dolphin Nautilus deals and discounts

5.  Polaris 9550 Sport

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6.  Dolphin Supreme M4

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7.  iRobot Mirra

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Features to Look For In a Pool Robot

1.  Buoy system

Most pool robots have some type of inflatable or foam balancing “arm” that allows them to stay steady when cleaning vertical surfaces.

Foam or air?  Foam buoy systems tend to fall apart or loosen with time.  Air powered plastic buoys are much better.

aquabot floaters
The AquaBot has foam floaters.

 

pool-robot-review
The Dolphin Premier’s plastic air floaters are much more effective

2.  Tangle avoidance mechanism

Dolphin pool robots hardly ever get tangled up.  That’s because Maytronics Dolphin pool feature a patented swiveling cord system.  The unique floating swiveler makes it nearly impossible for the robot to get wrapped up.

dolphin swivel cord

3.  Debris capacity

Generally, big pool robots can be changed less often than small ones.  The highest capacity pool robot around right now is the AquaBot T4.  Instead of filter canisters, the Aquabot has a gigantic filtration bag.

But Dolphin doesn’t want to be outshined in any area, which is why they recently came out with a “Multi-Media” filtration technology.  It sounds pretty fancy, but basically all it is is an optional bag filter that you can use with the Dolphin Premier.

4.  Filter hole size

When it comes to filter holes, smaller = better.  The smallest robotic pool filters are 2 microns.  Both AquaBot and Dolphin pool bots typically feature 2 micron filters.  AquaVac’s TigerShark cleans faster than any other pool robot on the market, but that’s probably because its filter holes are bigger and water (and chlorine resistant germs) can move through them easier.  TigerShark bots use 5 micron filters.

If you’re concerned about getting all the yucky microscopic parasites out of your pool, definitely go with a bot that uses 2 micron filters.

5.  Bottom vs top loading filters

Easy-to-clean pool bots feature top loading pool filters.  Bottom loading filters are just a bit harder to clean because you have to flip your bot over on its back to get access.

6.  Wheel type

Bots from rookie pool robot manufacturers like iRobot and Polaris feature oversized wheels.  But pool robot makers that know what they are doing use treaded wheels.  Treaded wheels have much more traction and stability compared to other types of wheels.

7.  Remote control type

If your robot is truly intelligent, you’ll never have to use a controller.  But if you feel a sudden urge to boss your pool robot around, a remote comes in handy.  Most pool robot controllers are fairly simple and resemble R/C car controllers.  Fancier kinds use gyroscopes or allow you to switch up the robot’s cleaning routine from afar.

8.  Brush configuration and type

AquaBot’s the only pool bot on our list that has four independent brush rollers.  Because each brush has its own motor, the AquaBot Turbo T4 is very good at scrubbing.

Of course, it is possible to be too good of a scrubber.  If you have a vinyl pool, you’ll want to get a robot that has a smooth cleaning brush option.  If you turn a robot with a heavy duty brush loose on a delicate surface, you’ll be tearing your hair out later when you have to call in a pool repairman.

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Different pool robot brush types

Other Factors to Consider

Warranty.  Before you buy an expensive pool robot, you’ll want to take a long hard look at the waranty. Right now, Maytronics Dolphin has the best warranty out there– a 3 year bumper-to-bumper guarantee.

Electricity usage.  All pool robots are very efficient.  But, there are some differences.  The most efficient pool robots use about 100 watts of electricity.  Heavy duty types use about 220 watts.  The difference is very minor, but it may be worth considering.

The Best Pool Robot for the Money

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With its advanced filtration, solid construction and innovative features the Dolphin Premier is the pool robot to beat.  It’s pretty pricey, though.

If you don’t want to spend a lot of money and you just want a robot that will scoop the leaves out of your pool, go with the TigerShark by Hayward.

TigerShark struggles a bit in complex environments, but it does just fine in small below ground pools.  The good thing about TigerShark is that it’s quite quick.  Few other pool cleaning robots can clean a pool in 90 minutes.

The downside of the TigerShark, though, is the fact that its filter holes are quite large.  The TigerShark uses 5 micron filters.  Most robotic pool cleaners have 2 micron filters. Check to see if the TigerShark is on sale.

What Is the Best Robotic Pool Cleaner for a Fiberglass Pool?

A gross problem known as “pool ring” hits fiberglass pools particularly hard.

The good thing about a fiberglass pools is that its surface is resistant to staining.  The the bad thing is that instead of clinging to your pool’s walls and floor, the icky stuff floats to the top and gravitates to the sides.

To get rid of pool ring, you need a pool robot that will float all the way up to the top of the water line.  Dolphin Premier does a great job of going all the way up because it’s got an excellent ballast system.  So does TigerShark.

Any Questions?

If you have any questions about pool robots, just let me know.  I’ll look up the best answer and get back to you as soon as I can.  Contact me via Facebook or email me at munkachy [at] gmail.

About Alex Munkachy

Hello and thanks for visiting Robot Fanatics! The aim of this site is to introduce people to the fun and interesting world of robotics. Please like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @RobotFanatics.