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Published Jul. 9, 2020

Few things ruin a summer day faster than jumping into a dirty pool. Keeping your backyard oasis clean requires regular maintenance, but why go to that back-breaking effort when you can let a pool vacuum do the job for you? Though manual pool cleaners are great for smaller pools and for scooping up the occasional smattering of leaves and other debris, robotic pool cleaners do a great job of keeping any pool in tip-top condition..

The best pool vacuums on the market today do their job quickly and efficiently with very little input from the user. Turn it loose for a few hours and it will clear away litter and debris while cleaning the floors, walls, and, in some cases, even the stairs. Some draw power from a wall outlet,, but others rely on a rechargeable battery. Either way, simply drop it in the pool, turn it on, and walk away while it does the work for you.

Less expensive options use pressure or suction to clean. They usually are not self-contained devices but hook up to your filtration pump or a water jet. These can take longer to do the job, but clean as well as robotic versions.

We took a deep dive into some of the best pool vacuum cleaners available today and came up with a solid list of options for any pool. Read on to discover which one is best for you.

How We Picked the Best Pool Vacuums

Methodology

With so many pool vacuums on the market it can be tough to narrow down the options. How did we choose these models? As a frequent reviewer of household and outdoor products, I’ve gained experience over the years in what to look for, such as brand reputation, ease of use, and how a product really holds up in real-world conditions. For this review, I evaluated a few dozen of the best pool vacuums on the market before settling on the few listed here. 

We started with the basics: Can it scrub a pool in a reasonable time, is it easy to clean afterward, and is it easy to use? We also considered the weight of the vacuum, knowing that you’ll have to lift it out of the water on a regular basis. The length of the vacuum’s cable, the size of the debris it can handle, and how easy it is to get replacement parts or additional pieces, such as longer hose sections, also weighed in our decision.

In the end, choosing a pool vacuum for your needs should come down to your budget, ease of use, product  warranty terms, and the reputations of the manufacturer and retailer. Make sure you’ll receive great customer service, either through the company itself or through a retailer.

The Best Pool Vacuums: Reviews and Recommendations

Best Overall: Dolphin Nautilus CC Plus Robotic Pool Vacuum Cleaner

Intensely Powerful

This robotic vacuum makes easy work of large pools, cleaning in two hours. DOLPHIN

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Why It Made The Cut: This powerful vacuum cleaner is practically a “set it and forget it” option that makes quick work of any mess.

Specs: 

●  Cycle Time: 2 hours

●  Cable: 60 feet

●  Suction Rate: 4500 GPH

●  Weight: 19 pounds

Pros:Cons:
  •   Cleans a typical pool in two hours
  • No WiFi connection
  • Great for larger pools
  • Short power cord
  •  No pump or hose connection required
  • Might have trouble cleaning stairs
  • With easy-to-use top-load filter cartridges, dual scrubbing brushes, and three pre-programmed settings, this mighty pool vacuum from Dolphin is a superlative scrubber. Set-and-forget programming makes it easy to clean your pool in just two hours each day, every other day, or every three days. The tangle-free swiveling cable allows for easy movement in the pool, even as it climbs the walls. The large twin cartridges pull in even larger debris in pools as long as 50 feet.

    Though it’s a good idea to remove a pool vacuum from the pool once it’s done the job, you can leave the Nautilus CC Plus in the water as long as a week, provided you clean the filters regularly. The power supply is water-resistant, not waterproof, so you’ll want to ensure it stays about 12 feet from the edge of the pool. For added safety, we recommend using a rolling storage cart to hold the power supply. Some have found that a water-rated extension cord allows this cleaner to reach all areas of the pool.

    Best For Small Pools: Polaris F5 Vac-Sweep 280 Pressure Side Pool Cleaner

    Small and Effective

    This small cleaner can nonetheless handle some large debris. Polaris

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    Why It Made The Cut: This lightweight pool cleaner gets the job done in three hours or less if you’ve got a smaller pool, but you’ll need a booster pump.

    Specs: 

    ●  Cycle Time: 3 hours

    ●  Cable: 31 feet

    ●  Weight: 6.2 pounds

    Pros:Cons:
  • Small and lightweight
  • Needs a booster pump
  • 2 ¼ inch vacuum inlet for large debris
  • Cord might be too short
  •  Zippered bag for debris removal
  • This tiny but powerful vacuum and sweeper from Polaris features a 2 ¼-inch inlet to suck up large debris as it sweeps and scrubs the floor and walls of a pool. A single-chamber bag with a zipper contains the debris and fortunately, is a snap to empty. The sweep hose gets into tight corners that other vacuums can’t reach, and at 31 feet long, allows the vacuum to cover the whole pool in three hours or less.

    This vacuum requires a dedicated booster pump, which can almost double the price and requires maintaining two gadgets instead of one. Users might find that a water-rated extension cord is necessary to help the vacuum make its way across even a smaller pool.

    Best for Large Pools: Hayward W3PVS40JST Poolvergnuegen Suction Pool Cleaner

    Powerful and Versatile

    This vacuum is pre-programmed to make sure it cleans the whole pool. Poolvergnuegen

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    Why It Made The Cut: This robust pool vacuum delivers constant suction and optimal water flow for maximum cleaning. Its interchangeable throats mean it can remove most any debris. 

    Specs: 

    ●  Cycle Time: 2-3 hours

    ●  Cable: 40 feet

    ●  Weight: 6.6 pounds

    Pros:Cons:
  • Self-adjusting turbine for constant power
  • Small parts might break off
  •  Adjustable skirt and tire treads
  • Hose might not stand up to heavy suction
  • Pre-programmed steering sequences
  • This robust pool vacuum features pre-programmed steering for regular reversal of the unit, ensuring superior pool coverage. The large tires sport unique treads for maximum traction in areas where lesser units might get caught up, such as main drains. Roller skirts provide constant suction, and the self-adjusting turbine assures optimal water flow for maximum cleaning. The vacuum comes with three interchangeable throats to ensure excellent control of just what the vacuum sucks up in the pool. 

    It’s available in two-wheel or four-wheel models, and even the larger version is a lightweight at about 6 pounds. Small parts inside this vacuum might become dislodged or break with heavy use; but replacement parts are readily available and the user manual is clear on the design and construction of the vacuum, thus helping ensure easy repairs for the owner.

    Best Value: Zodiac G3 Suction-Side Inground Vacuum Pool Cleaner

    Unique Suction Power

    Best for smaller pools, this affordable vacuum works with a range of pumps. Zodiac

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    Why It Made The Cut: The unique disc design and low-speed pumps makes this mighty little pool cleaner easier to drop into a pool and forget about than more labor-intensive options.

    Specs:

    ●  Cycle Time: 3-6 hours

    ●  Cable: 39 feet

    ●  Weight: 17.9 pounds

    Pros:Cons:
  • Unique disc design adheres well to surfaces
  • Can’t handle large debris
  • Works best with low-speed pumps
  •  Clogs can shut down the machine
  •  Valve automatically regulates water flow
  • This mighty little vacuum from Zodiac offers a plethora of unique features, including a FlowKeeper Valve that regulates water flow, a 36-inch fin disc that increases suction on the floor and walls, and a wheel deflector to help it navigate tight corners. It’s best for small and medium-sized debris, as big stuff can cause clogs. Low-speed pumps are best for this vacuum. The diaphragm has a longer life than other models might, as it uses just one moving part. It’s compatible with any one-speed, two-speed, or variable-speed pump.

    The 39-foot feed hose is great for smaller pools, but anyone with a large pool can buy affordable extensions that ensure better coverage. Though the scrub disc might need replacing eventually, it tends to have a long life, thus saving money in the long run. Instructions might be a bit spotty, so it pays to go online and watch videos on operation and maintenance to make the most of this vacuum.

    Best Cordless: PAXCESS Cordless Automatic Pool Cleaner, Robotic Pool Cleaner

    Long-Lasting Battery

    This easy-to-use, battery-powered vacuum comes with a powerful bottom brush. PAXCESS

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    Why It Made The Cut: A powerful 5000mAh rechargeable battery with a run time as long as 90 minutes makes this effective pool cleaner a more hands-off option than other models.

    Specs: 

    ●  Cycle Time: 60-90 minutes

    ●  Cable: None

    ●  Weight: 12.1 pounds

    Pros:Cons:
  •  Long-lasting battery eliminates the cord
  • Only 60-90 minutes of life in the battery
  •  Very light at only 12.1 pounds
  •   Hollow wheels can collect debris
  •  Always stops the cleaning cycle near the edge for easy retrieval
  •   Can’t handle extra-fine dust, stairs, or walls
  • Find more freedom in cleaning with this cordless PAXCESS model, which uses a long-lasting battery to run for up to 90 minutes of cleaning after a five-hour charge. The lightweight 5000mAh battery can last for years even with daily cleaning. The vacuum can cover about 16 meters per minute, features two large suction doors, and uses a powerful bottom brush to scrub up dust and dirt. When it’s time to recharge,  this vacuum returns to the edge of the pool, making retrieval a snap. The lightweight unit is easy to pull out of the water.

    To recharge the battery, simply plug the vacuum into a 110-volt outlet—just make sure the charging port is dry before plugging in to avoid corrosion of the charging pins. The one downside of this unit is it can’t suck up ultra-fine dust and doesn’t do a good job with algae, and it will not clean stairs or side walls.

    Best Wireless Pool Vacuum: DOLPHIN Mercury Automatic Robotic Pool Cleaner with WiFi Control

    Smart and Quick

    Schedule pool cleaning from your phone with this speedy model. DOLPHIN

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    Why It Made The Cut: This heavy-duty pool cleaner features WiFi controls accessed from a smartphone and can get the job done in an hour.

     Specs: 

    ●  Cycle Time: 2 hours (or 1 hour quick clean)

    ●  Cable: 60 feet

    ●  Weight: 27.5 pounds

    Pros:Cons:
  •  Quick-clean function takes just 60 minutes
  • Very heavy and could be difficult to lift
  • Smartphone/WiFi capability
  • Can have trouble with corners
  •  Single filter in an easy-click basket
  • Anyone who wants the ease of a smartphone connection to handle their pool cleaning duties should consider this model from Dolphin, which uses WiFi to seamlessly control cleaning schedules, spot cleaning, and starting cleaning cycles. Though a typical cleaning takes two hours for a pool of up to 50 feet, a quick clean cycle can clear major dirt and debris in half that time. It works quite well on vertical surfaces, thus making waterline scrubbing one of the perks of this model.

    After the dual scrubbing brushes are done with their work, pull the machine from the pool with the rapid water-release function, then clean the filter with one pull on the basket for removal. Though it is ideal to remove the Dolphin from the pool between cleanings, you can keep it in the water for as long as a week, assuming the filter is cleaned regularly.

    Things to Consider Before Buying a Pool Vacuum

    Before you invest in a pool vacuum, be sure of what you’re getting. Look for an energy-efficient model that’s easy to use; you don’t want a machine that will run for hours but only clean one part of the pool. Seek out pool cleaners that are easy to clean with a lift-off debris container that won’t drip or drop leaves and other crud back into the water.

    Also consider the weight of the vacuum. There has to be a balance between a cleaner heavy enough to fight off buoyancy to clean the bottom of the pool but light enough for you to easily lift it from the water. Battery-powered units tend to be a bit lighter, but they might not clean as well as those that plug into an outlet and tend to be heavier.

    Finally, consider the features you need. Do you require an extra-long hose? More suction for a pool that tends to collect a lot of debris? Do you prefer a unit that allows you to program cleaning times? How about the ability to control it with your smartphone? The ideal pool vacuum will not only clean your pool but fit seamlessly into your life as well so you’ll rarely think about it.

    FAQs

    How often should I vacuum my pool?

    At least once a week is the minimum, and twice is better. Depending upon the conditions of your pool, it might be a good idea to clean it every day to keep up with dirt and debris.

    Is it okay to leave my pool vacuum in the pool?

    You should remove your vacuum from the pool after the cleaning cycle. Leaving it in the water can lead to discoloration, corrosion of some parts, and a shortened lifespan.

    How long does a pool vacuum last?

    With good maintenance, your pool vacuum can last anywhere from five to ten years, on average. Some last even longer.

    Final Thoughts

    When choosing the best pool vacuum, consider those that are largely hands-off, easy to clean, and can easily handle the size of your pool. Easily-replaceable parts and filters are a bonus.

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