It's a steaming hot day and you're about to cool off with a quick dip. A long, tall glass of your favourite tipple is waiting poolside. Only one problem: the pool is filthy. Are you going to spend the next hour laboriously cleaning the slime, grime and leaves? Or will you hightail it to the nearest pool shop for a pool cleaner? I think we all know the answer to that.
Do your research before diving in
Pool cleaners sit in sun and chlorine for most of their working life (which does sound a little like a good holiday…) and can clock up more than 1000 km a year. Some cheaper models may not last the distance. When CHOICE tested pool cleaners in the past, we found several were prone to getting blocked and others neglected some areas of the pool.
Pool cleaners can't clean a very dirty pool, so you won't get out of this task altogether. Give the pool a good manual clean at the start of each swimming season or when you haven't run the pool cleaner for a while.
Suction, pressure or robotic?
There are three types of pool cleaner out in the market: suction, pressure and robotic.
Suction cleaners attach with a hose to your skimmer box and use the suction created by your filtration system to suck up grime. Most pool cleaners you'll come across are suction models.
There are two kinds of suction cleaners:
- Inertia driven suction cleaners clean in a random pattern. While they will cover every inch of your pool, it may take some time. They work well in pools with curved walls and no sharp corners. The popular Zodiac and Kreepy Krawler models are this type.
- Geared suction cleaners, such as The Pool Cleaner model, move in a pre-determined pattern and will clean your pool surface in the shortest time possible. They can easily get into tight corners which makes them suitable for smaller pools with lots of steps and sharp ledges. Geared cleaners have more moving parts than the random pattern models, so they will probably need more maintenance.
- Cheaper than other types of pool cleaners.
- Easy to install.
- If you leave them permanently in the pool, they fill up the skimmer box, meaning extra effort for the pump (and potentially damaging).
- When they are attached, the skimmer box isn't taking in anything from the surface of the pool - which means everything goes to the bottom, making more work for the suction cleaner.
Pressure cleaners are more powerful than suction cleaners. Most models operate with an additional booster pump which needs a separate hose connection in the pool wall. These can be expensive to retrofit so look at another model if your pool doesn't already have one. Pressure cleaners that connect directly into your existing pool pump may put strain on the filtration system.
- Can reach into tight corners.
- Collect everything from fine sand to rocks and leaves.
- Can be faster than suction cleaners.
- More expensive than suction cleaners.
- Probably need more maintenance.
Robotic or electric self-propelled cleaners
Robotic pool cleaners run on electricity so you'll need a power point close to the pool.
- Don't tend to filter water while cleaning.
- Probably the most expensive of the automatic pool cleaners.
- Can be inconvenient – you need to place them into the pool for a cleaning session and then remove them.
Other features to look for when buying a pool cleaner
Your pool cleaner should be able to cope with different pool shapes and sizes by adjusting hose buoyancy and main flow. Some have a deflector so the cleaner is less likely to get stuck in one place.
Make sure the hose reaches from one end of your pool to the other, plus a metre or two.
Ability to navigate steps
Some cleaners can climb steps if needed.
Some cleaners can be used while there is a cover on your pool.
Between $400 and $1200.