The 8 Best Automatic Pool Cleaners of 2021

best automatic pool cleaner

Swimming pools are loads of fun! The less-fun news: you’re going to have to clean your pool on the regular. Sure, you could always do it the old-fashioned way. Scrubbing, skimming and vacuuming as the sun melts off your sunscreen… Or you could just spring for one of the best automatic pool cleaners.

Investing in a good pool cleaner will end up saving you time and money, and can even reduce the amount of chemicals you use in your pool. Dive in for a roundup of the best rated automatic pool cleaners of 2021.

Our Top Picks

Dolphin Premier Robotic Pool CleanerBest Overall: Dolphin Premier Robotic Pool Cleaner
The Dolphin Premier blows other automatic pool cleaners out of the water. 
Hayward Poolvergnuegen Automatic Pool CleanerBest Budget: Hayward Poolvergnuegen Automatic Pool Cleaner
An affordable pool cleaner that’s also very fun to say, the Poolvergnuegen is our best budget pick.
Zodiac Baracuda T5 Duo Inground Swimming Pool CleanerBest Suction-Side: Zodiac Baracuda T5 Duo Inground Swimming Pool Cleaner
The Zodiac Baracuda is a good non-robotic option for small to medium pools.
Polaris Vac-Sweep 360 Pressure Side Pool CleanerBest Pressure-Side: Polaris Vac-Sweep 280 Pressure Side Pool Cleaner
Self-contained and convenient, the Polaris Vac-Sweep is our recommendation for pressure-side cleaner.
Pool Rover Jr. Robotic Vacuum CleanerBest for Above Ground Pools: Pool Rover Jr. Robotic Vacuum Cleaner
The Pool Rover Jr. does a very grown-up job keeping above-ground pools clean and sparkling.
Pentair GW9500 Kreepy Krauly Great White Inground Pool CleanerBest In-Ground: Pentair GW9500 Kreepy Krauly Great White Cleaner
The Pentair Kreepy Krauly has a loyal following and an affordable price point.
DOLPHIN Nautilus CC Robotic Pool CleanerBest for Vinyl Pools: DOLPHIN Nautilus CC Robotic Pool Cleaner
The catchphrase of the ultra efficient Dolphin Nautilus says it all: “Sucks debris, not energy.”
Polaris F9550 Sport Robotic In-Ground Pool CleanerBest for Fiberglass Pools: Polaris F9550 Sport Robotic In-Ground Pool Cleaner
The Polaris Sport works excellent on fiberglass, plus any other non-standard pool shape or surface.
 

A Closer Look: Best Automatic Pool Cleaners

1. Dolphin Premier Robotic Pool Cleaner

The best automatic pool cleaner overall

Dolphin Premier Robotic Pool Cleaner Best Automatic Pool Cleaners

Brand: Dolphin | Cord: 60 Ft | Type: Robotic | Filter Rate: 4500 GPH | Pool Size: Small to Large | Pool Type: In-Ground | Pool Surfaces: Gunite/Plaster, Fiberglass, Vinyl | Price: 💰💰💰💰

If you’re asking the question, “what is the best automatic pool cleaner?” look no further for an answer. Yes, the Dolphin Premier is expensive, but this robo-Dolphin delivers everything you could possibly want from a state-of-the-art pool cleaner

Not only does the Dolphin Premier offer multiple filter options and incredible energy efficiency, but this little powerhouse also has features that help avoid the pitfalls of other cleaners. This includes an underwater robotic cable swivel to avoid tangling, and a HyperGrip track system that eliminates wheel slippage. 

This auto pool cleaner even has its own algorithm! The SmartNav technology “scans and calculates the optimal pattern for faster cleaning and improved efficiency and finds the fastest, most thorough path to clean with unparalleled precision.”

  • Extremely effective
  • “Worth every penny”
  • Cleans steps, walls, seats and waterline
  • Best robotic pool cleaner for leaves and other large debris
  • Heavy
  • Poor customer service
  • Remote and caddy are separate purchases

2. Hayward Poolvergnuegen Automatic Pool Cleaner

The best budget automatic pool cleaner

Hayward Poolvergnuegen Automatic Pool Cleaner Best Automatic Pool Cleaners

Brand: Hayward | Hose: 33 ft | Type: Suction-side Cleaner | Filter Rate: 2100 GPH | Pool Size: Small to Large | Pool Type: In-Ground | Pool Surfaces: Fiberglass, Vinyl, Gunite, Tile, Other | Price: 💰

With its easy installation and quiet operation, the Hayward Poolvergnuegen (gesundheit!) is our choice for best budget automatic pool cleaner. For an affordable auto pool cleaner, the Poolvergnuegen has an advanced, internally programmed steering system, sturdy tires with advanced tread design, and an adjustable roller skirt to help maintain suction and maneuver past obstacles. 

It’s a solid budget pool cleaner that also works well for larger pools.

  • Made in the U.S.A.
  • Higher quality hoses
  • “Quality item at a great price”
  • Works for pools of all shapes and sizes
  • Does a better job in shallow end than other auto pool cleaners
  • Doesn’t climb steps
  • Little customer support

3. Zodiac Baracuda T5 Duo Inground Swimming Pool Cleaner

The best automatic suction-side pool cleaner

Zodiac Baracuda T5 Duo Inground Swimming Pool Cleaner Best Automatic Pool Cleaners

Brand: Baracuda | Hose: 36 ft | Type: Suction-Side Cleaner | Pool Size: Small to Medium | Pool Type: In-Ground | Pool Surfaces: Vinyl, Tile, Fiberglass, Gunite | Price: 💰

If you’re looking for the best automatic pool cleaner for a small to medium-sized in-ground pool, the Baracuda is a contender. (Plus, you get a cool song in your head every time you refer to it!) This suction-side pool cleaner is powered by your pool’s circulation system, removing dirt and debris while it maneuvers around drains and jets.

It’s also a good value, as it is significantly less expensive than its robotic counterparts. The Zodiac T5 was specifically designed to minimize moving parts, which cuts down on maintenance and replacements. 

Other bells and whistles include: 

  • Cyclonic Leaf Catcher
  • Large capacity canister
  • Automatic drain valve
  • Squeegee basket
  • Ergonomic handle
  • Long-life hoses
  • Quiet 
  • Good value
  • Great suction
  • Easy installation
  • Especially effective at removing sand, grass and small particles
  • Doesn’t always clean evenly
  • Gets stuck on stairs and ladders
  • Sometimes flips itself over in corners

4. Polaris Vac-Sweep 360 Pressure Side Pool Cleaner

The best automatic pool cleaner

Polaris Vac-Sweep 360 Pressure Side Pool Cleaner Best Automatic Pool Cleaners

Brand: Polaris | Hose: 31 ft | Type: Pressure-Side Cleaner | Pool Size: Small to Medium | Pool Type: In-Ground | Pool Surfaces: Vinyl, Fiberglass | Price: 💰💰

The Polaris 360 Vac-Sweep scrubs sweeps and vacuums your entire pool automatically, all in around 3 hours.  

One of the biggest upsides of this pressure-side pool cleaner is its self-contained, high-capacity debris collection bag. Being able to empty all the debris and dirt — large and small — from a centralized location is convenient and means minor wear and tear on your pool filter.

The disadvantage of pressure-side cleaners is that many require a booster pump to operate at full capacity. However, the 360 model of the Polaris Vac-Sweep connects to a dedicated pressure line and doesn’t need an additional pump. (Note that the similar 280 model of this pool cleaner does require a booster pump.)

  • Moves quickly
  • Rarely gets stuck
  • Easy to assemble
  • Good value, good price
  • Can’t climb walls
  • Spotty customer service
  • Struggles with fine debris particles
  • Sometimes sprays water outside of pool
  • Doesn’t work well for pools with lower pressure

5. Pool Rover Jr. Robotic Vacuum Cleaner

The best automatic pool cleaner for above-ground pools

Pool Rover Jr. Robotic Vacuum Cleaner Best Automatic Pool Cleaners

Brand: Aquabot | Cord: 41 ft | Type: Robotic Cleaner | Pool Size: Small to Medium | Pool Type: Above-Ground, Flat Bottom | Pool Surfaces: Fiberglass, Vinyl, Tile, Gunite | Price: 💰

It’s lightweight, quick, affordable, and easy to use. The Pool Rover Jr. is not only our pick for the best above-ground automatic pool cleaner — it’s also one of the best robotic pool cleaners for the money.

Like all robotic cleaners, this vacuum takes the strain off of your pool’s filter system, which can help save money on chemicals and other pool expenses over time. 

The Pool Rover Jr. features an auto-timer, a reusable filter bag, and extra large non-scuffing wheels. And once Junior gets going, it can filter up to 80 gallons per minute!

  • Easy setup
  • Works well for algae
  • “Small but powerful”
  • Can stall
  • Doesn’t clean walls
  • Need to manually set the locking pin
  • Not as durable as other pool cleaners

6. Pentair GW9500 Kreepy Krauly Great White Inground Pool Cleaner

The best in-ground automatic pool cleaner

Pentair GW9500 Kreepy Krauly Great White Inground Pool Cleaner Best Automatic Pool Cleaners

Brand: Pentair | Type: Suction-side Cleaner | Pool Size: Small to Medium | Pool Type: In-Ground | Pool Surfaces: Fiberglass, Vinyl, Gunite, Tile | Price: 💰💰

For our best in-ground automatic pool cleaner pick, we bring you the Pentair Kreepy Krauly Great White. (It also wins the category of “best pool cleaner that can’t decide whether to use an insect or shark metaphor.”)  

The Great White’s super-effective brushing, cleaning and powerful vacuum come at a more moderate price point. It’s developed a bit of a cult following. It’s all about the turning mechanism — which is well-suited not just for flat bottom pools, but also pools with a dish incline or a hopper bottom.

  • Great investment
  • Easy and dependable
  • “Works way better than I ever expected”
  • Many have used the Great White for years
  • Gets stuck on steps
  • Doesn’t climb walls
  • Parts expensive to replace
  • Sometimes avoids shallow end
  • Comes with a low-quality hose

7. DOLPHIN Nautilus CC Robotic Pool Cleaner

The best automatic pool cleaner for vinyl pools

DOLPHIN Nautilus CC Robotic Pool Cleaner

Brand: Dolphin | Cable: 50 ft | Type: Robotic Cleaner | Filter Rate: 4000 GPH | Pool Size: Small to Medium | Pool Type: In-Ground or Above-Ground | Pool Surfaces: Vinyl, Fiberglass | Price: 💰💰

When deciding which was the best robotic pool cleaner for vinyl pools, we took into consideration lightweight automatic cleaners that prevent excessive wear and tear on the surface of a pool. (Vinyl is pretty sturdy, but not quite as tough as other pool surface materials.)

Enter the gentle but thorough brushes of the Dolphin Nautilus. This pool cleaner also has an auto timer feature, an extra large filter basket, and is easy to clean and carry. The catchphrase of the Dolphin Nautilus is “sucks debris, not energy,” because it uses a fraction of the energy of non-robotic automatic pool cleaners. 

Finally, you know it’s a good sign when owners give their pool cleaner a name, like one gentleman who refers to his Dolphin Nautilus as “Frank the Tank” or another who named hers “M-O” after the robot in Wall-E.

  • Good job on walls
  • Very energy-efficient
  • Super easy to operate
  • “Cleans my entire pool and leaves it spotless”
  • Bad instructions
  • Trap door gets jammed
  • Not as effective for curvy pools or stairs

8. Polaris F9550 Sport Robotic In-Ground Pool Cleaner

The best automatic pool cleaner for fiberglass pools

Polaris F9550 Sport Robotic In-Ground Pool Cleaner

Brand: Polaris | Cable: 70 ft | Type: Robotic Cleaner | Pool Size: Small to Large | Pool Type: In-Ground | Pool Surfaces: Fiberglass, Vinyl | Price: 💰💰💰💰

It’s compact and sporty; fully customizable and features a programmable timer. It’s the Polaris Sport, our pick for best robotic pool cleaner for fiberglass pools — and in particular, larger pools. 

With its four wheels and “ActivMotion Sensor Technology,” the Polaris F9550 is an excellent choice for bigger pools and curvy or custom shapes. And while it is our fiberglass pool pick, it works just as well on any other pool surface type, scrubbing floors, walls, and tiles with ease. 

Features include:

  • Vortex Vacuum Technology
  • Extra large capacity filter canister
  • Rear water propulsion system
  • Dirty canister indicator
  • Lift system for easy removal from pool
  • Waterline only cleaning cycle
  • Waterline cleaning
  • Easy retrieval from pool
  • Simple operation and programming
  • Compact caddy for transport and storage
  • Expensive
  • Cord gets tangled
  • Poor customer service
  • Remote is slow to work
  • Difficulty with ultra-small debris particles

Our Process

For this guide on best automatic pool cleaners, our team spent 7 hours researching the most popular options from over 30 brands and manufacturers big and small. We then read about two hundred user reviews (both positive and negative) to discover what shoppers thought about each automatic pool cleaner. After comparing this data, we narrowed our list down to the top 8 on the market. You can count on this research to guide you to a mindful purchasing decision.

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Further Reading

Types of Pool Cleaners
Types of Pool Cleaners
The Benefits of Saltwater Pools
The Benefits of Salt Water Pools
Best Water Softener Systems
The 10 Best Water Softener Systems
Saltwater Pools vs Chlorine Pools
Salt Water Pools vs. Chlorine Pools
Adjusting the temperature on a Gas or Electric Tankless Water Heater
Gas vs. Electric Tankless Water Heaters
Best Robot Vacuum Cleaners
The 7 Best Robot Vacuum Cleaners