If you want to keep your pool sparkly clean, healthy, and ready for the next pool party, you’ll need to invest in a good pool cleaner. There are several types of pool cleaners out there - all you have to do is choose the one that’s right for you! Not sure how to decide? Need more information about the available options? This product guide will help you get started.

There are three basic types of automatic pool cleaners out there: suction-side, pressure-side, and robotic. Each type has unique pros and cons, and the one that’s best for you will depend on several factors, such as:

  • Your budget. High-end, robotic cleaners with the latest “smart” features will cost more than, say, a no-frills suction cleaner.
  • Filter type. Some pool cleaners have bags or cartridges that need to be manually emptied. Others send the dirt and debris directly to your pool filter.
  • Power and plumbing. Do you want a cleaner that simply
  • Your pool’s design. Some pool cleaners do best in small or medium-sized pools. Not all cleaners handle stairs, corners, and curves the same way.
Type of Cleaner Power Source Filtration Method Price Pros Cons
Suction-Side Pool pump Pool filter/bagless $

Affordable.

No debris bag to empty.

No booster pump necessary.

Higher energy costs/expensive to operate.

You’ll need to clean you pool filter more often.

Pressure-Side Pool pump Debris bag $$

Good balance of price and performance.

Great choice for picking up heavy debris.

Debris bag must be manually emptied.

Most pressure-side cleaners require a booster pump.

Robotic Electricity Debris bag/ cartridge $$$

Energy efficient.

High-tech; “smart” features. Programmable.

More expensive than other types of cleaners.

Debris cartridge or bag must be manually emptied.

Suction-side pool vacuums

Like the name suggests, these pool cleaners are powered by the suction that’s created as water is pulled from your pool into the filtration system. The suction pulls the vacuum is around the pool floor, sucking up large debris and depositing it directly into your pool filter.

Fans of suction-side pool cleaners like that they’re bagless: Because these pull leaves and debris directly into the pool filter, you don’t have to deal with the hassle of emptying a debris bag every few days. These filters also score extra points for being one of the most affordable pool cleaners on the market.

On the flip side, some pool owners note that they’re not the most energy-efficient option: Because suction-side cleaners draw power from your pool pump, which can force it to work harder and drive up your electric bill. Others say the “bagless” feature means more time spent cleaning your pool filter.

Considering a suction pool cleaner? Here are three of our top picks:

The Pentair Rebel

The Pentair Rebel®

The Rebel features Pentair’s Slow Flow Turbine design, which helps prevent clogs and makes quick work of small and large debris. The Rebel’s compact design is ideal for angles and corners, and its specially designed tires roll easily over obstacles.

The Hayward Goby IG Suction Side Cleaner

The Hayward Goby IG Suction Side Cleaner

Engineered to be user-friendly and quiet, the Goby IG Suction Side Cleaner can connect to your pool’s skimmer or suction port in 10 minutes. The Goby is powered by your pool pump and comes equipped with an impressive 32 feet of hose.

The Zodia MX8 Elite

The Zodiac MX8™ Elite

The MX8 Elite’s strongest selling point is its Cyclonic Scrubbing Brushes, which promise to tackle super-fine, stuck-on, and otherwise tough-to-remove debris. This suction cleaner features thoughtful details like a wide cleaning path and replaceable scrubbing brushes, and it’s engineered to work with variable-speed pumps and solar power.

Pressure-side pool vacuum

Even if the term “pressure-side pool vacuum” doesn’t ring a bell, you’d probably recognize one of these cleaners if you saw it: They typically connect to the swimming pool pump via a hose, they usually have wheels, and they’re equipped with mesh bags that collect leaves, dirt, and other debris. These pool cleaners get their name because they are powered by the force – or pressure – created as water is pushed out of the filter and back into your swimming pool.

In general, pressure-side pool cleaners do a good job, and you can get a good, reliable model without breaking the bank. Just keep in mind that your pool pump will have to work a little harder to keep the water circulating and keep the pool vacuum moving – that’s why most pressure-side pumps are designed to work with a booster pump.

Need a boost? Call the pros.

A booster pump is a small pump designed to provide extra power for pressure-side pool vacuums. Using a booster pump to power your pressure-side cleaner will take some of the strain off of your swimming pool pump. Installing a booster pump requires electrical work and plumbing, so make sure to hire a professional to ensure that the work is done safely.

Think a pressure-side pool cleaner is right for you? Check out these three great options:

The Polaris TR28P

The Polaris TR28P

Designed for speed and efficiency, the TR28P is designed to work with a booster pump and features a large-capacity debris bag, dual jets for extra power, and a specially designed “tail” that pushes debris out of corners for easy removal.

The Hayward Trivac 500

The Hayward TriVac 500

This streamlined model boasts an extra-large, easy-open debris bag and an extra-wide suction inlet. The TriVac also features three jets and specially designed low-friction wheels to ensure a gentle clean. Add a Hayward booster pump (sold separately) for super-quiet, energy-efficient operation.

The Pentair Racer

The Pentair Racer®

LS. This pressure-side cleaner is a true powerhouse, featuring four jets and an extra-large vacuum intake. The Racer’s debris bag snaps on and off for easy cleaning, and its front-wheel drive design provides excellent traction. Pair with Pentair’s Boost-Rite pump to maximize power and minimize noise.

Robotic pool cleaners

The newest entry into the pool cleaner market, robotic pool cleaners typically plug into an ordinary electrical wall outlet, which makes them more energy-efficient than vacuums that draw power from your swimming pool pump or require the installation of a separate booster pump.

There are quite a few advantages to these high-tech models: Most robotic cleaners are programmable, and many have “smart” technology such as sensors that help them seek out dirt and grime, leaving your pool floor spotless. Robotic cleaners are also incredibly easy to operate. You basically drop them in the pool and let them do the rest.

While there’s a lot to love about robotic pool cleaners, all those high-tech extras do come at a price. Robotic pool cleaners are the most expensive option out there. Some pool owners also report that robotic pool cleaners can struggle with some types of pool surfaces like stairs and walls. Overall, Robotic cleaners offer the best cleaning experience if you are willing to make an investment.

Ready to take the plunge on a robotic pool vacuum? Try one of these:

The Dolphin M400

The Dolphin M400

A solid choice, particularly if your swimming pool is on the large side. The M400 features impressive innovations like its CleverClean navigation system and a double filter for superior debris removal. The M400 also comes with a caddy for easy storage and transportation.

The Dolphin S200

The Dolphin S200

For small- to medium-sized pools, the Dolphin S200 offers a powerful, high-tech clean. Like the M400, the S200 boasts superior floor, wall, and waterline cleaning. Features include dual brushes, a patented, anti-tangling swivel cable, and an energy-saving weekly timer feature.

The Pentair Prowler 920

The Pentair Prowler 920

Featuring programmable cleaning schedules, a built-in weekly timer, and a customizable filtration level, the Prowler 920 delivers power and performance. Additional features include dual scrubbers, a 60-foot, tangle-free bloating cable, and separate baskets for large and fine debris.

A few final thoughts about automatic pool cleaners

Whether you chose suction-side, pressure-side, or a high-tech robotic model, an automatic swimming pool cleaner is a convenient option that will help minimize the time you spend on pool maintenance (which means you have more time to enjoy your swimming pool with friends and family).

Each automatic pool cleaner has its own pros and cons. On a budget? A suction-side cleaner will get the job done without breaking the bank. Want the latest technology? A robotic pool vacuum will give you all the bells and whistles (and, probably, a smartphone app). Looking for a balance of price and performance? You can’t go wrong with a pressure-side cleaner.

Prefer to do things the old-fashioned way?

There’s nothing wrong with using a manual pool cleaner instead. Manual vacuums require more elbow grease, but they give you a great excuse to spend time outside by the pool. Check out some of our favorite manual cleaners here.

Still not sure which pool cleaner is right for you? To learn more, talk with your local pool professional. They can help you decide which vacuum fits your budget, lifestyle, and maintenance routine.