All pool cleaners should be adjustable to some degree to cope with the myriad of different pool shapes and sizes. These adjustments can be weights to adjust the hose buoyancy, a flow indicator to judge how strong the pressure is coming from the pump and a flow regulator at the skimmer box to adjust the main flow.
Some pool cleaners are supplied with a mechanism (such as the Zodiac, Kreepy Krauly and Astral) to deflect it from the corners of a pool so the cleaner is less likely to become stuck in one place. This is useful for pools with tight corners.
All the cleaners come supplied with a set of hoses, sometimes in one long piece and sometimes in sections that need to be joined together. Look for one that supplies enough hose to clean the length of your pool. It should have enough to reach from one end of the pool to the other, plus a metre or two. For all the tested products you can get additional hose sections.
How you store your hoses can directly impact on how well the cleaner performs. Always store hoses in straight lengths; if they are stored curled up they can keep a ‘memory’ of this shape and influence the direction the cleaner takes in the pool.
Observe commonsense precautions when using a suction pool cleaner: always turn it off when you’re clearing a blockage and remove it from the pool when people (particularly kids) are swimming.
Easy to install
You can install a pool cleaner yourself or have it installed by your local swimming pool maintenance store. We found all the models easy to install except the Kreepy Krauly, which required a little more fiddling to assemble. All of them come with hoses to attach them to the pool’s skimmer box, and all the hoses are supplied in sectioned lengths, except the Kreepy Krauly, which comes in a single length.
Once assembled and installed, the only time you should have to deal with the pool cleaner is to put it in the pool to clean it and remove it when clearing a blockage or using the pool.
None of the pool cleaners claims to be able to clean a very dirty pool, so you might need to clean it yourself at the beginning of each season or if you haven’t run the cleaner for a while.
In addition, regardless of how much research and design has gone into the pool cleaners, they find it difficult to deal with every situation they’re exposed to and all need a little help at times. We subjected the cleaners to difficult test conditions using a variety of common pool debris to see how they’d cope:
- The two best cleaners, the Zodiac and the Kreepy Krauly, took a while to clean the pool but hardly required any attention to clear blockages.
- Both The Pool Cleaner and Pentair were also good but required a little more attention to clear blockages.
- The Hayward and Klever Kleena both had difficulty during the cleaning process due to frequent blockages. We found these last two were less likely to stick to the walls and more likely to need pulling apart when they were stopped by a blockage.
Inertia driven cleaners are claimed to take a random cleaning path and geared cleaners a designed one. However, in our test two of the best cleaners, the Zodiac (inertia) and The Pool Cleaner (geared), both had a habit of patrolling the same areas over and over. The pool cleaner tends to follow the direction of the hose attached to the skimmer box and you might need to intervene if you notice it continually moving over the same area.
If your pool has steps, only the Zodiac managed to climb the lower pool steps and clean them.
Both the Zodiac and Hayward do not recommend use with a pool cover. The The Pool Cleaner, Klever Kleena, Kreepy Krauly and Pentair say that their cleaners should operate without issue in a pool with a pool cover.