Automatic Pool Cleaners

Photo courtesy of Solar Pool Technologies

Weekly maintenance tasks such as skimming, brushing, and vacuuming the pool’s surface, as well as monitoring the water’s chemical levels, are crucial to preventing the growth of algae and maintaining a pristine pool environment. To help reduce maintenance efforts for clients, respectable pool builders will often discuss the use of an automatic cleaning system during the planning stages of a project.


Automatic Pool Cleaners
There are different types of automatic pool cleaners, including suction-side cleaners, pressure-side cleaners, robotic cleaners, and in-floor cleaning systems. Suction-side and pressure-side cleaners use the suction from the pool’s filter system (suction-side) or the pressure from a dedicated booster pump (pressure-side) to propel themselves around the pool and draw debris into the pool’s pump basket or an attached filter bag. These automatic cleaners are compatible with simple, small- to medium-sized pools that have no sharp angles or obstacles that the cleaner could get trapped in or around.

Large, more sophisticated pool designs require a robotic cleaner or in-floor system. Robotic pool cleaners are self-contained units that run independently from the pool’s filtration system; they operate on a rechargeable battery, solar power, or a water-safe electrical cord that is plugged into a standard or GFCI-protected outlet. These cleaners contain an internal microprocessor that analyzes the size and shape of the pool and then systematically guides the unit around to ensure all areas are effectively reached.

Robotic pool cleaners can navigate any shape or size pool and are able to climb features such as stairs, benches, tanning ledges (baja shelves), and steep slopes. A variety of models are available to accommodate different needs and pool surfaces, including units with foam or bristle brushes for scrubbing vinyl and fiberglass pools and versions with powerwashing jets for cleaning tile and plaster surfaces since brushes can scratch these finishes.

Some of today’s luxury pool designs are too complex for even the most advanced robotic pool cleaners. Pools with islands, swim-up bars, lazy rivers, built-in spas, and multiple levels pose navigational hurdles for roving pool cleaners. In such cases, an in-floor cleaning system is generally planned for and installed during the pool’s construction.

In-floor systems consist of submerged jets that are assembled along the floor, steps, and other underwater areas of the pool where dirt and debris are likely to settle. Cleaning cycles are set via a timer, and when activated, the recessed jets emerge and spray high-pressure streams of water that push debris to the deep end of the pool where they are filtered by the main drain. At the same time, finer particles are stirred up and suspended in the water to be filtered by the pool’s circulating system. Once the cleaning cycle is complete, the jets retract and the pool’s interior returns to a smooth, level surface.

In-floor systems must be installed during construction or renovation and add a few thousand dollars to the cost of a project; however, many pool owners find the luxury and convenience of an in-floor system to be worth the investment.


About the Expert: Tom Dankel has over 30 years of experience in producing superior automatic pool covers. Vice president of Aquamatic Cover Systems, Gilroy, Calif., since 1982, Dankel has been at the forefront of the industry, aiding in the development of innovative pool cover products. In fact, Dankel worked with the founder of Aquamatic Cover Systems in the creation of the first automatic pool cover prototypes and on early production techniques.

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