Skip to content   Skip to footer navigation 

How we test pool cleaners

Here's how we get the results that help you buy the best pool cleaner for your pool.

Last updated: 15 December 2020

Your pool cleaner should be able to cope with your pool type, shape and size, but with so many to choose from it can be hard to know what to buy. 

Our experts put a selection of robotic and suction pool cleaners to the test to find out which can keep your pool sparkling clean.

Our expert testers

Our tester, James Thomson, has years of testing experience. He knows how to find out which pool cleaners are worth buying. 

When testing performance and ease of use, he uses pool cleaners in real-life situations to see how they compare when it comes to cleaning leaves, twigs, pebbles and sand from the bottom of a pool. 

How we choose what we test

With so many to choose from, what makes us choose one pool cleaner to test over another? As with most of our product testing, our aim is to test the most popular models on the market and what you're most likely to see in the retailers. 

We survey manufacturers to find out about their range of models and check market sales information, as well as any member requests to test specific models. 

From this information, we put together a final list that goes to our buyers. They then head out to the retailers and buy each product, just as a normal consumer would. We do this so we can be sure they're the exact same product any consumer would take home and not 'tweaked' in any way. 

How we test pool cleaner performance

How we test

Our tester, James Thomson, used a pebblecrete pool with curves and steps for the pool cleaner test. The pool and filter were cleaned prior to each test before dirtying the pool with a set amount of leaves, twigs, pebbles and sand (spread around as evenly as possible). 

Each cleaner is set up and placed in the water according to manufacturer's instructions and given six hours of cleaning time in the pool. 


The two main performance assessments are:

Cleaning: We measured how much debris was removed from the pool at the end of the cleaning cycle. Suction-based cleaners were stopped every hour and the contents of the filter basket was noted and removed. The robotic cleaners were set to run for their default time and the contents was noted and emptied at the end of their cleaning cycle.

Stoppages: If a cleaner stopped, it was fixed and restarted. The number of blockages, time out of service, cause of the stoppage and any debris removed was recorded. Each cleaner was penalised for each stoppage.

Ease of use

To assess ease of use, we:

  • assessed the quality of the instructions
  • ease of assembly
  • ease of clearing blockages
  • ease of adjusting the pool cleaner if required.

Test criteria explained

The CHOICE Expert Rating is made up of:

  • Performance (60%)
  • Ease of use (40%)
We care about accuracy. See something that's not quite right in this article? Let us know or read more about fact-checking at CHOICE
We care about accuracy. See something that's not quite right in this article? Let us know or read more about fact-checking at CHOICE