Types of Pool Cleaners

Types of Pool Cleaner

With five types of pool cleaners to chose from, it can be confusing for pool owners to know which one will best suit their situation.  While either one will help keep your pool clean, all function differently with each having advantages and disadvantages.  Knowing these differences will help you decide upon the right pool cleaner for you. 

Lets take a look at the various types of pool cleaners



The most economical of the five types of pool cleaner is the manual pool vac.  Consisting of a vacuum head that is attached to a telescopic pole and a hose which is hooked from the head to a suction fitting on the wall of the pool, it can work well for people who have an above ground or small in-ground pool who don’t mind putting in a little extra effort. 

Manually navigated along the floor, sides and steps of the pool to suck up dirt and debris, users of manual pool cleaners will generally need to spend a few hours each week to keep their pool clean and sparkling. 

While some manual pool cleaners come with vacuum heads that are designed to scrub pools with aggregate or plaster surfaces, caution needs to be taken when using these as they can damage vinyl-lined pools. 


The most popular type of pool cleaner is the Suction Pool Cleaner.  Easy to set up and maintain, it is generally less expensive than the other types of automatic pool cleaner.  Working by way of a hose which is connected to the pool’s skimmer or side port, suction is generated by the pool’s pump with the unit moving up and down the pool in random patterns, drawing in dirt and debris before depositing these into the filter. 

Some suction-side pool cleaners come with brushes which can be used to loosen algae and debris that has become lodged on the pool’s floor and walls.  A downside of the suction pool cleaner is that it is not especially efficient at collecting large quantities of leaves, therefore it would not be the best choice for a pool that is surrounded by lots of greenery. 

Relying on suction generated by pressure from the filter, it is important that the pool filter of a suction pool cleaner be kept clean for it to work optimally.  For pools that typically accumulate a lot of debris, an in-line strainer basket can be used to capture this before it can make its way into the filter pump basket. 

Because a suction-side pool cleaner depends upon the pool’s pump to operate, it will only be as powerful as the pool’s pump and filter system allows.  Most pool pumps, however, are of a size that can accommodate suction cleaners. 

A potential problem with this type of pool cleaner occurs if the pool it is used in has only one skimmer.  When this is the case, skimmer action has to be suspended during the cleaner’s operation. 


A little more expensive and generally considered to be more efficient than the suction-side pool cleaner, is the pressure-side pool cleaner.  While slightly more difficult to install than a suction-side pool cleaner, once in place it is convenient to use. 

Equipped with either two, three or four wheels, the pressure-side pool cleaner propels itself across the pool, collecting debris as it goes.  Most have a whip or tail that agitates the water as the unit moves around, flushing smaller dirt particles into the skimmer or main drain. 

With a larger opening than a suction-side cleaner that can be up to 1 1/2 inches in diameter, the pressure-side pool cleaner is quite capable of picking up larger leaves and debris. 

The hose of this type of cleaner is hooked up to the pool’s return, the area where water merges into the pool from the filter.  Operating by way of pressure, an additional or booster pump is often recommended to push dirt and debris through the pool into either the filter or, more commonly, an internal disposable debris bag located on the top of the unit. 

Models that use a bag are especially efficient, as the collected debris bypasses the filter, eliminating the risk of clogging. 


Quick and easy to install, the robotic pool cleaner is highly functional.  With no need to calculate hose length or suction measurements and no pressure lines to contend with, this type of cleaner is suitable for all types of pools.  It is also the only type of pool cleaner that can be operated without the pool’s circulation system being activated. 

Powered by electricity, a transformer is used to convert the electrical current to a level that is safe.  With on-board motors, pumps and in-built filters, the robotic pool cleaner works by collecting debris stirred up by its rotating rollers and brushes as they scrub the walls, floor and steps of the pool. 

Some robotic pool cleaners use power-washing jets in place of brushes.  Not only are these models capable of accessing corners and seams that brushes cannot reach, they also do a fine job of cleaning porous surfaces. 

Due to their very large openings that can measure up to eleven inches in diameter, robotic pool cleaners are ideal for use in pools that tend to collect large pieces of debris.  Versatile, this very efficient pool cleaner also does a great job of gathering fine sand, silt and pollen. 

Portable, many models come with a remote control for easy and convenient operation.  Placed into the pool when it needs cleaning and removed afterwards, it does not need to be connected to a filter or pump. 

Coming with a removable debris bag for collecting leaves, dirt and debris, the robotic pool cleaner also helps to circulate pool water.  Some of the better robotic pool cleaners will even scrub the bottom of the pool. 


The in-floor pool cleaner is a top-of-the-line system with a price tag to match.  Put simply, this system works for a pool in much the same way as an in-ground sprinkler systems work for a lawn. 

Set to activate at intervals determined by the pool owner, recessed jets lift up from the floor of the pool, spraying water into specified zones.  These water streams direct large debris towards the drain at the deep end of the pool, whereupon they are filtered out.  During this process, smaller particles of debris are agitated and filtered by the unit’s circulation system.  At the completion of the cleaning cycle, the jets retract back into the floor of the pool. 

While little maintenance is required once this system is installed, the actual installation requires a lot of work since a network of pipes needs to be set within the pool floor.  Because of this, installation of an in-floor pool cleaning system is best carried out during installation of the pool or as part of a major resurfacing project. 

Now you know a little more about the various types of pool cleaners, it will just be a matter of deciding which will be best for your requirements.

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