Looking for a more hands-off approach to a crystal-clear swim pool? Here’s a detailed look at the best automatic pool cleaners for every kind of pool.
Let’s get right to it: Nobody really wants to spend their time scrubbing the sides of their pool with a pool brush, watching the floating pool skimmer do its work, or constantly balancing the water.
Splashing around in the backyard pool, having drinks, playing with your favorite pool toys; that is the easy and fun part.
It’s what comes after that kinda sucks—cleaning and maintaining what is usually a watery paradise. One of the staples of taking excellent care of your pool, whether it’s an in-ground or above-ground pool, is keeping it clean.
There’s balancing the water, covering the pool properly with a pool cover to make sure heat and expensive pool chemicals don’t blow off in the wind, keeping the floating chlorine dispenser fill, and the day-to-day grind of cleaning debris, sand, dead insects, and the leftover integrity of the neighbor that got a little too piled up for his own good.
Let’s just come out and say it: Cleaning and maintaining the pool is the least exciting aspect of owning a pool, but it is still a very necessary one.
Fortunately, there are plenty of options for cleaning your pool that require a little less of a hands-on approach.
That’s where an automatic pool cleaner steps in.
In this guide, we look at the best automatic pool cleaners on the market. No matter if you have an above-ground or in-ground pool, there is anuatomiatic pool vacuum for you.
Let’s jump right in.
Dolphin Nautilus CC Plus Automatic Pool Cleaner
⭐ Best overall automatic pool cleaner
The Dolphin Nautilus CC is a certified killer when it comes to scrubbing down pool bottoms, sides, and stairs. And the hilarious part is that this is the entry-level model of Dolphin Nautilus CC’s.
Back to what we were talking about. This thing is a monster. To call it a Dolphin is a little misleading. Because it destroys gunk and algae and your cousin’s smartphone that he left at the bottom of the pool. It will do just fine (thank you very much!) in pools up to 50” long, and after turning your back for just two hours will have your pool looking spiffy and clean.
A lot of automatic pool cleaners will tangle themselves, but after three decades of being in the game, Dolphin pool cleaners are able to get the job done without tying themselves into knots thanks to a tangle-free swivel cable.
- See Also: 7 Best Accessories for Above Ground Swim Pools. Looking to make your backyard pool even more fun? Check out this guide to some great ways to crank up the good times.
Doesn’t matter what your pool is surfaced with, the Nautilus CC will scrub that sucka down. The ratings on Amazon speak for how exceptional this product is. With nearly 3,000 reviews, over 2k of them are 5-star.
This pool cleaner can be scheduled to run on its own and uses twin filter cartridges to do its thing. If you are looking for an affordable pool cleaner that gets the job done without some of the fun gimmicks and frills, the Dolphin Nautilus CC Plus just became your new best friend.
|✅ PROS||❌ CONS|
|Very easy to clean||WiFi models require more $$$|
|Can clean a full-size swim pool in about 60 minutes|
|Smartphone connectivity option for hands-off operation|
Dolphin E10 Automatic Pool Cleaner
⭐ Best automatic robotic pool cleaner for above-ground pools
Most robotic pool cleaners are designed specifically for inground swimming pools. But there are a few that are ideal for above-ground pools, and the Dolphin e10 is one such device.
Dolphin is one of the leaders in robotic pool cleaners (if you haven’t guessed by my fawning over the Dolphin Nautilus), with four decades of experience building industry-leading pool vacuums.
The E10 works with above-ground swimming pools up to 30’ in length and will have the floor of your pool cleaned in less than two hours. Debris and dirt are stored in the device; a quick-release system makes it easy to pull out of the water,
It’s also extremely convenient: there are no additional hoses or booster pump required to make it work, simply plug it in and drop it into your above-ground pool and let it do it’s thing.
While the Dolphin E10 is an absolute monster and tidying up the floor of your pool, it won’t clean the walls (although some users note that it will go up the walls a little).
Reviewers overwhelmingly love this pool cleaner, noting that it removes a lot of the messing around with pool covers, manual pool vacuums, additional pumps and filters, and so on.
Dolphin pool cleaners aren’t cheap—the E10 retails for around $600, which is often more expensive than cheaper above-ground pools themselves—but if you want a first-rate automatic pool cleaner that will save you a ton of time and energy, the E10 is our top pick for the best automatic pool cleaner for above-ground pools.
|✅ PROS||❌ CONS|
|Designed specifically for above-ground pools||Doesn’t come with the Ultra Fine filter basket|
|Light-colored treads won’t scuff liner||90-minute cycle may be too short for larger pools|
|Can vacuum pools up to 30ft|
|Optional caddy for easier transport|
Hayward AquaNut Automatic Suction Pool Vacuum
⭐ Best budget-friendly automatic pool cleaner
Hayward is one of the big players in the backyard swim pool market, making some of the best variable speed pool pumps and pool skimmers for pool owners.
The Hayward AquaNut is an excellent option for pool owners who want a budget-friendly vacuum. The treading on this puppy is designed to help stick to the bottom and the roller skirt at the front of the old vacuum keeps it tight to the surface of the pool.
It also comes in two different models; the two-wheel-drive model is ideal for pools that have flatter-bottomed pools, while the four-wheel-drive edition is better suited for larger pools with deep ends that have steep drop-offs.
Because we all have better things to do, the Hayward Aquanaut Suction Pool Vaccum has some pre-programmed routes to run, err, vacuum to make sure that it hits all of your pool’s floor space.
Getting started with the AquaNut is super simple; this is one of the fastest robotic cleaners I’ve set-up. The pricing also makes it an excellent choice for beginners and those looking for a high-performance automatic pool cleaner on a budget.
The key issue with this cleaner is that it won’t do walls.
|✅ PROS||❌ CONS|
|Available in 2- or 4-wheel||Won’t do walls|
|Perfect for beginner pool owners|
AIPER Cordless Automatic Pool Cleaner
⭐ Best cordless automatic pool cleaner
The convenience of an automatic pool cleaner is pretty awesome, but the AIPER Seagull SE takes it to another level by going cordless, which means no tangling and limitations on cleaning due to short cords.
The AIPER Seagull SE is basically an aquatic Roomba that performs best with flat-bottomed swimming pools. The way it works is fairly simple: charge it up, drop in the pool, go watch a 90-minute movie, and presto—clean floor bottom.
The 90-minute cycle is long enough for mid-size and some slightly larger pools, although full-size pools will likely require a “top up” cycle.
The AIPER Seagull SE is a significant improvement over the first-edition AIPER we tested back in 2020, adding a self-parking feature for when the battery is low (it will park next to a wall for easier retrieval if the battery is drained) and a handle on the back of the unit, making it much easier to fish out of the water.
Altogether, the AIPER Seagull SE is an awesome little robotic cleaner that is the ultimate in “hands-off” pool cleaning.
|✅ PROS||❌ CONS|
|Works with above-ground and inground pools||Doesn’t do walls or stairs; struggles with slanted pool bottoms|
|Simple set-up and programming||Good luck grabbing it if it dies mid-cycle|
|Upgraded filter tray||Not ideal for large and XL swim pools|
|Zero set-up; charge and go|
Zodiac MX6 Suction Pool Cleaner
⭐ Budget-friendly robotic cleaner that can clean walls
The Zodiax MX6 is a compact pool cleaner that requires less energy than other cleaners in its class. It is a suction-side vacuum that requires less energy and flow, making it best-suited for pools with variable and two-speed pumps.
The MX6 uses cyclonic suction to suck up pool dirt and debris, keeps itself running and untangled with swiveling attachment hoses. Zodiac backs the unit with a 1-year warranty, it comes with over 8m of quick-connect hose, and a flow regulator makes sure that the skimmer doesn’t need to be continually adjusted.
The Zodic MX6 has two things that will make it highly appealing to pool owners on a budget: the price is highly competitive and the MX6 can clean walls and stairs (something our other budget pick on this list cannot do).
In my experience, the ZX6 is effective at cleaning walls but can sometimes get hung up around the water’s edge, behaving like it’s trying to flop back out onto the pool deck.
As a result of this, the ZX6 isn’t quite as “hands-off” as the other robotic pool cleaners we have reviewed here .
|✅ PROS||❌ CONS|
|Straightforward assembly||Sometimes gets stuck at water’s edge|
|Solid value pick||Hose tangles and curls|
|Can do walls and steps||Requires more babysitting compared to other automatic cleaners|
|Easy to maintain and empty|
Automatic Pool Cleaners – FAQs
How does an automatic pool cleaner work?
Robotic pool cleaners are your best teammate when it comes to keeping your swimming pool clean and ready for action. These bad boys, once dropped into the water, roam the floor (and sometimes walls), picking up dirt, debris, leaves, and other organic matter that has found its way into the pool.
Instead of being attached to your pool pump or skimmer, they have their own power source. Plug it in, drop it in the water, and walk away.
Because they run on low voltage, they can be attached to an electrical source and submerged in the water.
With long power cords (each automatic pool cleaner comes with a cable for the unit that is usually around 30’ long), they have the ability to drive around the pool freely. In the case of the cordless automatic pool cleaners–such as the AIPER Seagull SE Cordless— they are able to forgo the power cord altogether but will require charging between cleanings.
Will my automatic pool cleaner get tangled?
This used to be a very common frustration. The robot would plunge into the water, and minutes later, the cord would get tangled on the pool ladder. The whole point of an automatic pool cleaner is that you don’t have to babysit it.
Automatic pool cleaners have improved markedly since those early days, with most vacuums now having a swivel and/or thick cords that significantly reduce tangling.
Some models do tend to tangle and curve harder than others—this was a complaint some reviewers had about the Zodiac MX6, for example–but most cleaners can avoid this with a swivel and set routes when vacuuming.
Can you swim when the automatic pool cleaner is in the water?
First, automatic pool cleaners use little to no electricity to operate (some, like the Hayward AquaNut, rely solely on suction). And second, the power cords for the units are plugged into a GFCI outlet.
These types of breakers are automatically turned off when a fault is detected, which means that you won’t get shocked when the cleaner is in the water. GFCI (ground-fault circuit interrupter) outlets are used in damp and outdoor locations, including bathrooms, garages, workshops, and yup, on the side of the house.
Do automatic pool cleaners suck up a lot of energy?
This is one of the sneaky benefits of this kind of pool vacuum. They take up a shockingly low amount of energy (and, correspondingly, cost little to run).
Robotic cleaners cost *usually* around a dollar per day to run (depends where you live and the price of energy, obviously), and because they can clean a significant amount of water, they reduce the energy and cost demands of your pool filter and pump.
This cost-benefit is especially apparent with larger swimming pools.
How much do automatic pool cleaners cost?
Robotic pool vacuums are a decent chunk of change, ranging from $400-$2,000 depending on how many bells and whistles you are after.
Even though it’s a bit of an upfront investment, using an automatic pool cleaner cuts down on the wear and tear of your pool filter and pump. Additionally, the time you save using this kind of pool vacuum is hard to guesstimate but adds up quickly over time.
Most pool cleaner manufacturers include a two to three-year warranty on the unit, so there is a distinct peace of mind that comes with throwing down your cold hard cash on a pool vacuum.
The Bottom Line
A lot of time and sweat goes into keeping your swim pool clean, filter and pump working properly, and balancing the pool chemistry.
While there are some things that will always require a manual touch, using an automatic pool cleaner is one way to lighten the load.
To recap our top choices:
⭐ The Dolphin Nautilus CC Plus is our top overall choice thanks to its excellent suction, ability to clean the floor and walls of your pool, and the available upgrades including Wi-Fi connectivity.
⭐ For above-ground pools, the Dolphin E10 Automatic Pool Cleaner is perfect thanks to the light-colored treads, easy set-up, and consistent suction.
⭐ The Hayward AquaNut—available in two or four wheels—is an excellent budget-friendly option for the pool owner focused on keeping the bottom of their swim pool clean.
Choose the best automatic pool cleaner for you, pour yourself a cold drink, and sit poolside while it does the hard work of cleaning your swim pool.
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