A pool is a wonderful luxury – but cleaning it can be a real pain! So why not let a gadget take the strain?
Here we take a look at the best robotic pool cleaners on the market today. They’ll keep your pool spick and span with the minimum of effort. And to help you choose, we’ve included a buying guide to identify the features you should be looking for.
Ready? Let’s get started!
At a Glance: Our Top 7 Picks for Robotic Pool Cleaner On the Market
Best Overall : Dolphin Nautilus CC Plus Robotic Pool Cleaner
“It will cover both the floor and walls of your pool, collecting any debris in its path.”
Best Budget: Zodiac MX6 Robotic Pool Cleaner
“Gets consistently positive reviews and costs less than $300.”
Best for Inground Pools: Polaris F9550 Sport Robotic Pool Cleaner
“Its amazing navigation system uses what Polaris call ActivMotion Sensor Technology, This allows it to map even freeform pools.”
Best for Leaves: Dolphin Nautilus Automatic Robotic Pool Cleaner
“Has an extra-large filter basket that will trap dead leaves”
Best Suction: Hayward RC9955 TigerShark Robotic Pool Cleaner
“It will handle pools up to 20 feet by 40 feet, even navigates stairs with ease. “
Best Smart: Dolphin Premier Robotic Pool Cleaner
“This pool cleaner uses what it calls “advanced algorithms” which aim to ensure every inch of your pool is cleaned.”
Best for Vinyl Pools: Aquabot X4 Robotic Pool Cleaner
“There’s four-wheel drive and non-slip treads to keep the robot stable on walls and slippery surfaces, It will even climb up tiles.”
The Best Robotic Pool Cleaner On the Market of 2020
1. Best Overall : Dolphin Nautilus CC Plus Robotic Pool Cleaner
Made by the giants of pool maintenance, Dolphin, the Nautilus CC Plus is an excellent all-round robotic pool cleaner on the market.
Its scheduler allows you to choose when you’d like it to get to work. Select from every day, every other day, or once every third day.
It looks like a little blue tank, trundling around on a rubber mat that acts as the cleaning surface. It will cover both the floor and walls of your pool, collecting any debris in its path. The mat is also coarse enough to scrub away any tough dirt.
The dirt and debris is collected in a large top-loaded filter. When your robot has finished its tour of duty, it’s simple to lift out the cartridge and empty the mess. The Nautilus CC Plus also comes with extra cloth filters. For our money, these work better than the cartridges.
If all this wasn’t clever enough, it uses patented technology to scan your pool. That means it shouldn’t miss any part of the surface as it’s cleaning. There’s an anti-tangle cable to keep it moving smoothly too.
Running costs here are very economical. The design is eight times more energy-efficient than traditional suction or pressure cleaners. It works best on swimming pools up to 50 feet long. And it comes with a two and a half year manufacturers’ guarantee.
That all sounds pretty impressive. So is there anything to watch out for?
Well, although this will climb walls, it will struggle with anything but the shallowest steps. If you’ve got a bench, you’ll almost certainly need to go and free your robot when it gets stuck on top.
The cable could usefully be longer too. There are, of course, safety issues when using an extension lead. Just make sure you use it to plug the dedicated power supply into the mains. That way you won’t have any issues with the robot dragging the extension reel into the pool.
What We Like
- Scheduler allows you to pre-set cleaning at regular intervals
- Can clean both the walls and floor of your pool
- Highly energy efficient
What We Don’t Like
- Will struggle with deeper steps
- The power cable isn’t as long as we’d like
2. Best Budget: Zodiac MX6 Robotic Pool Cleaner
If you’re looking for a pool cleaner that won’t break the bank, consider the MX6 from Zodiac.
Best suited to pools with dual or multi-speed pumps, this uses a clever low-flow design. That makes it highly energy efficient. In fact, it uses less energy than any other pool cleaner in its class.
It’s a compact little gizmo, so it’s easy to carry. And when you place it in your pool, it’s able to climb walls effectively. To do that, it uses an articulating turbine blade made of robust rubber. It won’t handle steps or benches though.
The MX6 uses cyclonic suction to pick up dirt and debris, and it’s pretty effective.
If your pool has larger leaves in it, you may find it gets clogged up quickly. But cleaning it out is very easy. A trapdoor allows you to get to the innards without having to break the whole thing apart. And once clean, it will get right back to work.
You’ll need to do a bit of assembly when it arrives, but happily, it’s an easy job. There are full-color illustrations and step-by-step instructions in the user manual.
It comes with quick-connect swiveling hoses, an automatic weir valve, a flow regulator valve, and a hose float and protector. You’ll also get a 90 degree twist lock elbow and seven 1.2 meter lengths of hose.
One thing to be aware of, though, is that the hoses that come with the cleaner aren’t air-tight. That can over-pressurize your filter housing. If that happens, you’ll find the unit doesn’t work anything like as quickly as it should. Replacing the hose will deal with the problem.
You won’t get any bells or whistles with this one. There’s no option to schedule cleaning, for example. But it is an effective little cleaner at an excellent price on the market. And it’s cheap as chips to run too.
What We Like
- Energy-efficient and economical to run
- Compact and easy to assemble
- Trapdoor makes it simple to clean out any blockages
What We Don’t Like
- Won’t cope with steps or benches
- You may need to replace the hose for best results
3. Best for Inground Pools: Polaris F9550 Sport Robotic Pool Cleaner
If you’ve got the cash to splash (pardon the pun) the Polaris F9550 might be the pool cleaner for you.
Its amazing navigation system uses what Polaris calls ActivMotion Sensor Technology. This allows it to map even freeform pools, so it will clean every inch without missing a spot. And it comes with 70 feet of cable, so it will cover larger pools too. It’s recommended for a maximum length of 60 feet.
It has impressive suction, allowing it to pick up both fine dirt and larger debris. And its rear propulsion system means it can get into tight corners and awkward spaces under stairs or benches. It can even flip itself back over if it gets stuck on its back.
There’s four wheels drive too, with good quality tires that give it traction on all types of pool walls. It comes with a seven-day reprogrammable timer and a remote control. If you like the idea of lounging poolside as you set your robot to work, this is a great option.
You will, though, need to put in a bit of practice to use the remote control effectively. It’s weirdly counter-intuitive: push it one way, and the robot moves the other.
And less fun than messing about with the RC is the effort needed to get the robot in the pool. This might be a small machine, but it’s heavy – even without any water inside. When it’s time to lift it out, be prepared to tense those muscles.
All in all, though, this is an effective cleaner on the market. Just remember that it’s strictly for in-ground, not above-ground pools.
What We Like
- Clever navigation system maps pools and cleans without missing a spot
- Four wheels drive and good traction on all surfaces
- Seven days reprogrammable timer
What We Don’t Like
- The remote control is tricky to use
- It’s heavy – especially when it’s full of water
4. Best for Leaves: Dolphin Nautilus Automatic Robotic Pool Cleaner
The fourth pool cleaner from Dolphin to make our list, the Nautilus shares a number of features with the CC Plus and Premier.
It has the same large cartridge filters, the same anti-tangle cable, and the same dual scrubbing brushes. And it uses the same technology to map your pool and calculate the approach to cleaning it.
It is, though, considerably less expensive than either of its cousins. So why is that?
Well, the one obvious omission here is the programmable schedule. There’s just a single button to press when you’re ready to clean. It’s simplicity itself – but you won’t be able to pre-set cleaning intervals.
The standard cleaning cycle takes three hours, rather than two hours with the CC Plus.
And in this case, the cartridges are loaded from the bottom instead of the top. That makes removing and replacing them a slightly more awkward job.
On the plus side, it’s a little lighter than the CC Plus. It weighs in at 16.5 pounds, against the 19 pounds of the more expensive model.
If you like the main features of the other Dolphins but want a more economical option, it’s worth a look.
What We Like
- CleverClean technology maps your pool and calculates the best cleaning cycle
- Cartridge filters are effective and easy to clean
- Lighter than many other cleaners
What We Don’t Like
- No programmable timer
- Bottom-loading cartridges can be awkward to remove and replace
5. Best Suction: Hayward RC9955 TigerShark Robotic Pool Cleaner
One of the priciest pool cleaners on the market, you’ll need deep pockets for Hayward’s TigerShark Plus. But if your bank account will stretch to it, it’s well worth a look.
It will handle pools up to 20 feet by 40 feet. And unlike many of its rivals, it navigates stairs with ease. Just be aware that it needs to be submerged in order to work. That means it won’t clean steps near the surface of the water.
The on-board pump produces strong suction to suck up leaves and debris. These are collected in a patented filter cartridge system. When it comes to cleaning it out, just slide out the cartridge, open it up and rinse it with a hose. A couple of sharp taps will dislodge any stubborn dirt.
The cartridge isn’t the biggest, though. It will be fine for most routine pool cleans. But for the first clean of the season, you’re likely to need to stop and empty it several times.
The 24 Volt motor is energy efficient and economical to run. A single cleaning cycle takes four hours.
It comes with a wireless remote control to guide it into awkward spots. Alternatively, there’s an option to buy it without one and save yourself a bit of money.
One irritation is the design of the debris compartment. This is covered with two flap doors that open with the force of the suction. The idea is that when you turn off the cleaner, the doors shut tight.
The only problem is that if you have any twigs in your pool, they can stop the doors from closing. If that happens, you’ll find some debris falls back into your pool when you lift out the cleaner.
It won’t release a lot, so this isn’t a major problem. But if you’ve got overhanging trees near your pool, it’s something to be aware of.
What We Like
- Can successfully navigate up walls and steps
- Strong suction makes short work of dirt and debris
- Wireless remote control makes it easy to guide the robot into awkward spots
What We Don’t Like
- The capacity of the cartridge isn’t as big as you’d get with a filter bag
- Watch out for twigs wedging open the doors to the debris compartment
6. Best Smart: Dolphin Premier Robotic Pool Cleaner
If you like the idea of a pool cleaner with different filter options from the market, check out Dolphin’s Premier model. This one offers the choice of fine or ultra-fine cartridge filters or a large fine filter bag.
But what do you gain from those different options?
Well, the cartridges are very easy to lift out of the machine and clean. Just give them a couple of knocks to loosen the dirt, then rinse out with a hose. And if you want your robot to clean fine debris and algae, choose the ultra-fine filter.
The downside is that they’re not that big. If you want to be able to empty the machine less frequently, a filter bag is the better option. It will cope with large leaves as well. And an LED will flash to show it’s full, so you’ll know when to empty it out.
This pool cleaner uses what it calls “advanced algorithms” which aim to ensure every inch of your pool is cleaned. And you won’t have to worry about tangled cables stopping it its tracks. There’s a patented anti-tangle design to keep it moving freely.
It’s economical to run too. 24 Volt DC motors require only about 10% of the power of conventional AC motors. It works well for pools up to 50 feet long.
It has a direct drive belt that is less prone to wear and tear. And instead of wheels, it uses tracks with heavy grips to help it climb up the sides of your pool. They’re made of hard-wearing rubber, and reduce slippage by up to 40% over conventional wheels.
It uses two spinning scrubbing brushes to clean the 99% of dirt that sits on the pool floor and walls. It will complete its cleaning cycle in about three hours. And there’s a programmable timer. You can set the robot to switch itself on and run daily, or once every two or three days.
Last but not least, it comes with a three years warranty for peace of mind.
So is there anything not to like?
Well, it won’t cope with steps. And if your pool walls curve upwards from the floor, it will struggle to climb them.
It’s heavy enough to be awkward to lift out of the pool. And we’ve heard of some issues with small amounts of debris falling back into the water when you do.
But if you have a pool with walls at a right angle to the floor, this will clean it well. And it won’t make a big impact on your energy bills.
What We Like
- Choice of multiple filters for everything from algae to large leaves
- Anti-tangle cable keeps it moving smoothly across your pool
- Programmable timer can be set for cleaning at regular intervals
What We Don’t Like
- It will struggle to climb walls that are curved at the base
- It’s prone to releasing small amounts of debris when removed from the pool
7. Best for Vinyl Pools: Aquabot X4 Robotic Pool Cleaner
If you’re looking for a good value robot from the market, the Aquabot X4 should be on your shortlist.
For well under the price of the Dolphin Premier or TigerShark Plus, you’ll get both a robot and a caddy. It’s just as energy efficient as those models too. And if you’re worried that the lighter price tag means lower quality – don’t be. The Aquabot comes with a three years warranty.
It also comes with its own pool mapping system, called AutoX. This assesses the shape of the pool and calculates the best cleaning cycle to balance speed and impact.
It has powerful pumps that cycle 85 gallons of water per minute. These are combined with strong jets and rotating micro brushes that loosen dirt and debris from the pool walls and floor.
The filter system uses fine mesh baskets to capture particles down to 2 microns. That’s less than one thirtieth of the width of a human hair! The baskets will hold up to 190 cubic inches of debris. And when they’re full, the control panel will sound an alert.
There’s four-wheel drive and non-slip treads to keep the robot stable on walls and slippery surfaces. It will even climb up tiles.
And you won’t have to worry about lugging your cleaner to and from the pool. The caddy included in the package has space for the robot, its floating power cord, and the power supply.
There are, though, a couple of niggles to watch out for.
The first concerns the filter baskets. Sure enough, they catch fine dirt – but they’re also hard to cleanout. Debris gets stuck in nooks and crannies. And trying to rinse them with a power washer risks damaging the mesh.
And some people have reported that the robot takes a bit of time to learn the shape of their pool. That means it will miss the odd spot for the first few cleans.
Overall, though, this is an excellent pool cleaner for a very competitive price on the market.
What We Like
- Lots of features of more expensive cleaners at a keen price
- Powerful jets and rotating microbrushes are great at removing dirt and debris
- Caddy included in the package
What We Don’t Like
- The filter baskets are a bit awkward to clean
- It may take a few cleans before it learns the shape of your pool
Buying Guide – How To Choose A Robotic Pool Cleaner
That brings us to the end of our product reviews. If you’re still uncertain which of these robotic pool cleaners is best for you, read on. Our buying guide will walk you through the things to consider before you choose.
How big is your pool?
Let’s start with the basics. You’ll need a pool cleaner that’s able to clean your whole pool. The key thing to look for here is the length of the cable.
And remember, you’ll need enough cable to get from the powerpoint to the pool too. Add an extra ten feet to account for that. So if you have a 40-foot long pool, look for a robot with a cable that’s at least 50 feet.
What kind of debris will your robot have to deal with?
In this case, it’s all about the filter.
If you have overhanging trees with large leaves, you’ll need a robot that can carry a big filter bag. Palm fronds, for example, will get stuck in cartridge filters. You’ll have to stop and clean them out before you can continue.
If, however, your pool is in direct sunlight and you’re plagued with algae, look for an ultra-fine filter. That will make sure tiny particles don’t just wash straight back through.
And if you need more flexibility, some robot pool cleaners can handle different filters. Dolphin’s Premier model, for example, offers fine and ultra-fine cartridges, as well as a bag.
Consider cleaning time
There are two elements to this.
The first is how long you’re prepared to wait for your robot to finish cleaning. The cleaning cycles of the models on our list vary from two to four hours. Some robots also offer the option of a shorter cycle if you’re in a rush.
The second thing to ask yourself is whether you want to pre-program the cleaning time. The Dolphin Nautilus CC Plus and Premier both offer this option. It does, though, come with a significant added cost.
Ready for a clean pool?
That brings us to the end of our list of seven of the best robotic pool cleaners on the market out there today! We hope you’ve found the answers to all your pool-cleaning questions!
Our top pick is the Nautilus CC Plus from Dolphin. We love its powerful cleaning, energy efficiency and wall-climbing skills.
For budget watchers, we recommend the Zodiac MX6. It’s compact, easy to use, and couldn’t be simpler to clean.
And if you’re prepared to spend the big bucks, check out the Polaris F5950. Its pool-mapping technology is the business – and it’s great for big pools too.
Now it’s time to go shopping. Get ready to enjoy a crystal clear pool all summer long!