Guide written by:
Patrick, Handyman, Bath
Automatic or human-controlled, running off a suction point or electrical connection, a pool cleaning robot is the most effective way to thoroughly cean your pool. Many variants are available, including wireless and solar-powered models. Free yourself from the drudgery of pool cleaning with a robot to suit your setup!
What different types of pool robots are there?
There are two main types of pool robot: hydraulic and electric.
Let's have a look at the similarities and differences:
- Hydraulic robots use the hydraulic force generated by filtration to move around and suck up dirt. These work autonomously, requiring no human input. The most high-performing models, known as hydraulic pressure robots, require the addition of a booster pump in the filtration circuit. The simplicity of their design makes them highly reliable.
- Electric robots also work autonomously, but use electrical energy to move around. This can be supplied by a mains connection or battery. Some electric robots have their charger in the pool with them and recharge themselves when they feel the need. Electric robots are usually programmable and some can be remote controlled. Top-of-the-range models can have up to three motors, separating movement and cleaning functions. Because of their more complex technology, electric robots require higher levels of maintenance than the hydraulic models. Some have sophisticated onboard electronics. Moreover, they cost significantly more than hydraulic robots.
Solar robots have also recently come on the market. Operating on battery power, a solar robot recharges in the sun's rays. However, they must remain on the pool surface to function, capturing floating matter before it reaches the bottom. This means you'll either have to have it running continually or resort to a different cleaning method for the pool bottom and walls. Solar robots therefore offer limited advantage beyond the environmental argument, and you'll have to keep your dipping net on hand!
What kinds of cleaning can a pool robot carry out?
Pool robots can clean the lining of your pool, often consisting of a liner, in various ways:
- By brushing, i.e. scrubbing the pool lining with one or more rotating brushes;
- By aspiration, i.e. simply sucking up the dirt.
Some pool robots just suck up the detritus after dislodging it from the bottom and walls, while others are equipped with brushes (usually rotating).
Of course the result is more thorough with a rotating brush scrubbing the surfaces and the residue sucked up afterwards!
Pool robots: hydraulic or electric?
In view of the sheer number of models on offer, it might seem a difficult task to choose a pool robot. Your choice of robot will depend on the type of swimming pool you have, the original installation and the scope for adding additional equipment if necessary.
Electric robots are among the most expensive. Also, if you want to prioritize having a reliable device that requires minimal maintenance, choose a hydraulic robot. They are less complex and the wear parts more affordable. Installation is also simpler than for an electric robot, and the device itself is lighter. If you want to get your children involved in pool maintenance, go for a hydraulic model!
If you opt for an electric robot, choose a two-motor model; this will provide even greater reliability as each motor receives less strain. Nevertheless, for above-ground pools a model with a single motor may well be sufficient. If necessary, check that the power supply cable has a node-free system. If your robot runs on battery power, it will be easier to install and gets round the problem of a trailing cable - meaning that the pool can still be used during cleaning. Some electric robots come with a trolley, given their substantial weight.
Tip: it might well be worthwhile to put up with the more limited performance of a hydraulic or pressure robot in order to avoid the significant additional expense of an electric robot. Before opting for a pressure robot make sure you have the option of installing a booster if your pool isn't already equipped with one.
What are the important characteristics of a pool robot?
Here are some other important criteria take into account when choosing your pool robot. Depending on the model, consider the following characteristics:
- Types of pool lining the robot is designed to handle
- Whether it's designed fora slopingbottom
- Filtration capacity (expressed in microns); the smaller the number, the more effective the filtration (2 being the finest, going up to 70)
- Pump flow rate
- Type of brush
- Whether it cleans the walls as well as the bottom and waterline
- Duration of cleaning cycle
- Option of remote control
- Residue storage (filter bag or cartridge)
- Movement control (automatic or human-controlled)
- Pipe length
- Suction mouth cleaning width
- Number of motors
- Whether it comes with a trolley
- Maximum pool basin size
What kind of brush to choose?
Some brushes, usually made of rubber, are better suited to rough surfaces such as on hard-shell pools.
The brushes are equipped with small flexible teeth or prongs, which can penetrate between the grains of the pool lining.
The same applies if you have a tiled pool.
This type of brush can easily clean tile joints.
If your pool has a liner, choose the less aggressive foam brushes.
What filter to choose for your pool robot?
Choose a swimming pool robot with its own separate filter, as it'll take the pressure off the pool filtration system.
The robot filter must be able to catch the smallest particles. Its tank (or bag) capacity must be sufficient to contain all the waste collected in one cleaning session. In particular, check that the robot is able to suck out slightly thicker, heavier waste.
The filter should be easy to clean as it will clog rapidly when coming out of winter storage and during autumn.
Some models of robot have separate waste bags for finer particles and bulkier waste such as autumn leaves.
What other criteria are important when choosing your pool robot?
Your pool layout must be taken into account. Some robots have difficulty cleaning in corners, for instance.
If your pool has a complex shape, choose a compact, upgradeable, programmable robot.
Don't forget pool walls and steps and if possible, choose a robot able to traverse them.
Make sure your robot's wheels or tracks are non-slip.
Some robots even clean the water line - a real advantage considering how quickly this area can foul up, especially in the case of skimmers.
Finally, you might want to consider the aesthetics of your pool robot... Some insist on elegance even in the most unexpected of places. Between you and me, it's not like it's a car!
Learn more about swimming pool maintenance...
To find out more about swimming pool maintenance, follow our editors' advice and check out their other guides:
Guide written by:
Patrick, Handyman, Bath, 12 guides
Professional maintenance and electronics training. I don’t ask to use my tools on the weekend. The car, the boat, the house with its electric appliances, the garden and its swimming pool, they all remind me that they need my attention. In the absence of an unlimited budget, I try to expand my areas of expertise. There’s nothing I like quite as much as being in the weekend workshop with my buddies. Everyone benefits from his experience which ends up being more-or-less successful, it must be said. But that’s part of the charm of DIY, helping each other and realizing a project in a pleasant way. So, if I can help you, it would be a pleasure.