A Definitive Guide To The Different Types Of Pool Cleaners

types of pool cleaners

Pool cleaning might sound like an easy task. Skim a couple of leaves out of your pool, run the filter pump for a few hours – and you’re done, right?  This would be the ideal scenario. 

Unfortunately, what looks like a task you can complete within a few minutes can turn into hours of agony. 

Professional pool cleaning services can range anywhere between $60 and $90 per hour. Keeping in mind that bigger pools will require extensive cleaning, these prices can skyrocket in no time. Not everyone can afford to hire a professional for pool cleaning every once in a while. You could cut down on these expenses massively by obtaining quality pool cleaning tools.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll be discussing about different types of pool cleaners. We’ll also enlighten you by providing unbiased information regarding the pros and cons of each type. After reading this guide you will be able to make a smart decision.

Types Of Pool Cleaners: Suction Vs Pressure Side Vs Robotic

1. Manual/ Handheld Pool Cleaners:

The manual, or handheld pool vacuum cleaners, are probably the lowest range on the market. They can cost up to $500. If you’re not looking to overspend, the cheaper ones go as low as $30! A manual pool cleaner works best to clean an Intex Pool.

The downside of this is that most of the manual labor is left up to you. If you don’t mind rolling up your sleeves, this is the way to go. The manual pool vacuum cleaner consists of the vacuum head, a telescoping pole, the vacuum hose and a vacuum plate. 

Once assembled, you would need to connect it to your pool pump. You will need to run the vacuum head back and forth against the pool’s surface. It is literally like vacuum cleaning your house. You might need to set aside at least an hour of your time to ensure proper cleaning.

The Pros:

  • They are the cheapest option there is.
  • Easier and faster than using pool accessories or cleaning by hand
  • Manual pool vacuum cleaners can last from 3 to 8 years
  • Replaceable parts. If something breaks down, you can swap it out and keep going.

The Cons:

  • Very laborious, as compared to other options
  • Your pool pump needs to be running for it to work. Increased electricity bills.
  • Considerably slower than other options
  • Time-consuming for the owner.

Ideal For:

What sets this apart from other types of pool cleaners is the affordability. If you’re looking to save money – this is it. This would be an ideal purchase for a small to medium above-ground pool. It would not make sense to get this if you had a large pool. The greater the size, the more time you’ll need to spend covering the entire pool surface.

2. Robotic Pool Cleaners:

If you are looking for a more modern solution, be prepared to set aside a generous sum. Robotic pool cleaners initially made their appearance in the year 1980. Today, they are fully autonomous units that operate on their own and don’t require the pool pump to function. Some of them can even be integrated with apps, allowing remote control.

The robotic pool cleaners use efficient electric motors to propel themselves along the pool’s surface. The motor also allows the unit to generate suction. 

Most of the models are equipped with rotating brushes, which allows them to deal with stubborn dirt and algae. All of the debris and dirt collected is retained inside of the unit, thanks to its internal filter bags. They do require electricity to run and are powered via a large cord that plugs into your low-voltage outdoor outlet. The size of the cord determines the amount of pool surface the cleaner can cover.

The Pros:

  • Completely autonomous, mobile and energy-efficient
  • Requires nothing but a power source to run
  • Cleans and stores debris inside of a filter bag
  • They have different cleaning modes
  • Can act as the pool’s filtration system

The Cons:

  • They can get really expensive
  • Some of the units are heavy to lift or carry him
  • Not suitable for larger debris
  • Will not work well in a pool with uneven surfaces
  • Some of them don’t follow a logical path and will completely miss certain areas of the pool

Ideal For:

If you can afford it – the sky is your limit. The robotic pool cleaner offers you something other types of pool cleaners can’t. Completely autonomous, unsupervised operation. It excels at spot cleaning, making sure that your pool remains dirt and algae free. However, it struggles with larger debris and can easily become blocked by things like sticks, rocks and other obstacles. 

Consider these for your above-ground, as well as in-ground pools. They make different models for the two types of pool. The only differences are the cord length and suction power.

3. Suction Pool Cleaners:

Next in line are the suction pool cleaners. These are a large step away from your handheld cleaners. They are automated and they operate by using your existing pool filtering system. You would simply plug in the suction pool cleaner to your filtration system. The suction cleaner then moves around the pool surface, creating suction to draw debris straight to the filtering system.

Some models can even move along walls, which is particularly useful if you want to get those cleaned. Typically, you would plug this cleaner in for a few hours a day for maximum efficiency.

The Pros:

  • Easy to install and operate
  • Isn’t too expensive
  • Provides efficient cleaning with the use of suction
  • Works faster than the manual pool vacuum cleaner
  • They operate through the use of the pool pump, requiring no additional resources

The Cons:

  • They don’t have their own filter bag
  • They can easily clog up the pool’s filtration system

Ideal For:

This would be an ideal purchase for someone who owns a small to medium size pool. It is suitable for all pool types alike. It’s worth noting that the suction pool cleaner doesn’t do that well with larger debris. However, they can be used for cleaning above ground pool as well.

4. Pressure-Side Pool Cleaners:

Moving on to more powerful solutions among different types of pool cleaners, there is also the pressure side pool cleaner. It’s important to remember that there are two kinds. Low pressure and high pressure. The difference here is how they are set up to work. 

The low pressure pool cleaner is attached to one of the return ports on your pool and is exclusively powered by the pool pump. The high pressure pool cleaner, on the other hand, needs to have a dedicated line. In order to power the unit, a booster pump needs to be installed separately. It might be a bit complicated to install it, but the advantages are clear. 

The high-pressure pool cleaner offers a lot more in terms of cleaning power. The low pressure cleaner is still useful in clearing small debris, but more popular because of the low price.

The Pros:

  • Can clear dirt and larger debris alike
  • They move along the pool consistently, covering all areas
  • They collect debris and store it into their own filter bag
  • Some models can be set up to turn on or off at certain times
  • Some of the models in this range are surprisingly cheap but effective

The Cons:

  • Not all of them can climb walls too well
  • Sometimes, their hoses tend to get tangled. Those hoses are expensive to replace.
  • While they can clean pool stairs, sometimes they can get stuck there.
  • The high-pressure pool cleaner is not energy-efficient

Ideal For:

Depending on whether you choose the high-pressure low-pressure variant, this pool cleaner is applicable to all pool types. The high-pressure cleaner is optimal for larger pools. It can cover a lot of the surface quickly. It can clear a medium to large pool in 2 hours. The low pressure cleaner is a cheaper approach you may want to take. They are both decent and handling medium to heavy debris.

5. In- Floor Pool Cleaning Systems:

In floor pool cleaning system

Finally, here we are – at the high range. In-floor pool cleaning systems. They are built in straight into your pool’s shell. The floor of your pool is lined with pop-ups. They literally pop out of your pool’s floor to spray pressurized, filtered water in a certain direction. By working together, they gather and direct all of the debris towards the main drain of the pool. Up to 10 pop-up
s at once can activate to clear a certain area of the pool. 

Keep in mind that this is by far the most expensive solution there is. The starting price alone is set to $5000. The initial price can raise exponentially, based on your pool size and several other factors. 

Another thing to consider is that they are difficult to install on an existing pool. They are best installed along with the pool. If you already have a pool set up, you may want to carefully consider if this is really what you need.

The Pros:

  • A completely autonomous system that clears dirt and debris quietly and seamlessly
  • Can be customized to accommodate different pool sizes and shapes
  • No additional resources required. This means no hoses and no cords hanging around
  • Virtually invisible as the pop-ups retract after each turn
  • The speed at which the pop-ups work can be customized to suit different needs

The Cons:

  • Very expensive to install and maintain.
  • Much harder to install on an existing pool
  • Even one malfunctioning pop-up can prevent the rest from working efficiently
  • Difficult to repair

Ideal For:

If you are just installing your pool – you’re in luck! These systems are best installed along with the pool. If the pool is already installed, be prepared to shell out a huge sum. Installing this system on an existing pool is difficult. The cleaning system can be installed on virtually any type of an in-ground pool. Certain adjustments may need to be made. It would be an ideal fit for a large pool that happens to need a lot of cleaning on a regular basis.

Best Pool Cleaner Brands:

Now that you are aware of types of pool cleaners that exist, it’s time to take a look at some of the brands you can turn to:


The Hayward Pool cleaner company has been around since 1925. Its headquarter located in Elizabeth, New Jersey. This company has a rich history of providing top-of-the-line pool cleaning equipment and accessories. 

With more than 80 years in the water utilities industry, they remain innovative. They focus on energy efficient products but also offer cost-saving incentives. Their efforts have earned them the ENERGY STAR® Partner of the Year award in 2019.


Maytronics is a company dating back to 1983. Headquartered in Duluth, GA, USA. the company made a real breakthrough with the invention of the ‘Dolphin‘. The Dolphin is the company’s branded residential robotic pool cleaner. They mostly focus on robotized cleaners and have created some of the most powerful ones on the market. One of their products landed them the 2018 Piscine Global Innovations award. Their cleaners are considered to be top-of-the-line.


Polaris is a child company to Zodiac Pool Systems Inc, founded in 1999. Polaris has a very strong reputation for quality products and stellar customer service. For over 40 years now, they have the best automatic pool cleaner line. They are now the industry leader with their pressure-side cleaners. They are famed for their sturdy design, excellent performance and their patented three-wheel design.


XtremePowerUS is the youngest company of the bunch. Founded in 2004, it is the only brand in this group that doesn’t specialize in pool equipment only. Their line includes a lot of home improvement equipment in general. Things like chain saws, impact wrenches and pool cleaners. They are quickly becoming a dependable source of quality pool cleaners. Not a lot of information about the company is available online. Still, they offer good quality at a decent price.

Things To Consider Before Buying A Pool Cleaner:

Pool cleaners aren’t something you can just by randomly. With so many makes and models available in the market, some decision-making needs to be involved. So, before you set out to buy the perfect pool cleaner, here are some factors you need to consider:

1. Your Swimming Pool Type:

The type of your swimming pool will heavily affect the kind of cleaner you will be able to get. Not all the cleaners are compatible with all pool kinds. While most are made to support a greater variety of pool types, some of them just won’t work as well.

2. Above Ground vs In-Ground:

Certain types of pool cleaners are only intended for above-ground or in-ground pools. For example, you can’t install a pool cleaning system into an above-ground pool. If you contact the manufacturer, they can point you in the right direction. Don’t shop for them blindly and don’t assume every cleaner is intended for all pool types.

3. Your Pool’s Size:

Your pool size is also one of the contributing factors to your decision. A handheld pool cleaner won’t make a lot of sense and a huge pool. Conversely, a pressure side pool cleaner with a booster pump is overkill for a small pool.

4. Types Of Debris:

Think about the type of debris you’re looking to clean. Is it just dirt and algae? Is it leaves, branches and sticks? Not all of these can handle heavy debris. On the other hand, certain types of pool cleaners are made with heavy debris in mind. Monitor and check what kind of debris your pool mostly gets. This will help you make a good decision.

5. Cleaning & Maintenance:

Getting a pool cleaner is all about conserving time. You’re getting a tool that helps you do something that would take forever to do by hand. Most people think that you just turn on your pool cleaner and let it do the work. It’s actually much more than that. To make sure your pool cleaner will last longer, proper maintenance is in order. While some of them require little to no maintenance at all, certain types could take hours just to clean after each use. Be mindful of that before shopping for one.

6. Personal Preference

Look out for trouble areas in your pool. What gets dirty the most? All pool cleaners have one thing in common – they are all designed to clean your pool. But that doesn’t mean all of them will be able to reach tricky areas, like walls, the deep ends and the stairs. If you need spot cleaning and detailed, deep cleanses, you may need to invest more.

7. Budgeting And Warranties

Finally, there’s always the budget. The prices tend to skyrocket around versatile models powered by technology. Not everyone can afford to overspend in pool maintenance and most pool owners are actually looking to save money. However, be careful when setting your budget range. 

Finding suspiciously cheap pool cleaners might turn out to be a nasty surprise down the road. Also, be sure to take a look at the warranty offered. The warranty can be a good indicator of how long the pool cleaner is expected to last. Longer warranties mean better coverage and higher quality.

Final Words:

With this guide, you will be able to make an informed decision. The best practice would be to reach out to several manufacturers and compare prices. Be sure to ask for recommendations. The co
mpanies that provide pool cleaning equipment have been in the business for decades. You can safely trust their judgment and expertise.