Is It Worth Buying an Automatic Pool Cleaner?

Kenneth Wilson

Maintaining a pool is not an easy job and comes with several responsibilities. You have to regularly balance the pool water chemistry, shock your pool, and manually clean the pool surface, floors, and walls.

These tasks are time-consuming and require a lot of effort. Some of you have more important things to do than cleaning your pool. We may not be able to automate balancing and shocking, but there are new devices that can clean our pools for us - and they are called automatic pool cleaners. 

Some people doubt that these automatic pool cleaners can really do the job. Let’s find out more about this device and see if it is it worth investing in it or if the money is better off going to a professional pool company to get the job done.

Automatic Pool Cleaner: Definition and Types

An automatic pool cleaner is a type of vacuum cleaner used in pools that collects dirt or debris without having to rely on human effort. How it works depends on its type and there are three different types of automatic pool cleaners: 

Pressure-Side Cleaner

This type of cleaner is one of the most popular ones in the market. It uses the water pressure from the pump and filtration system to move around and force dirt or debris into the filter bag. Some cleaners need a separate pump or opt for one so it’s not taxing on their pool's systems.

There are different kinds of pressure-side cleaner on the market. You may find more expensive models if you want additional features such as a rubber wheel for a better grip or a filter bag with a zipper.


  • Low-maintenance and durable
  • Suitable for larger pools
  • Fast and effective cleaning
  • Capable of easily removing large debris
  • Collected debris doesn’t go to the filtration system
  • The hose doesn’t get tangled easily
  • Does not put a lot of wear and tear on the pump system


  • Constantly need to check and empty the filter bag
  • More expensive than suction-side cleaners

Suction-Side Cleaner

This device is more similar to a vacuum as it cleans the pool by creating suction using the filtration and pump system. It has wheels and roams across the pool floor and walls, collecting debris into the filtration system.


  • Easy to install and use
  • Effectively removes small debris
  • Some models can clean the walls and waterline
  • Less expensive


  • Collected debris goes to the filtration system
  • Cannot remove dead leaves or large debris
  • The hose can easily get tangled
  • Constantly need to clean the filter
  • Doesn’t support large pools
  • Taxing on the filtration system

Robotic Pool Cleaners

Compared to the first two types, a robotic pool cleaner doesn’t need to be attached or won’t use your pump and filtration system as it has both systems built-in. They move with their motorized wheels and follow a cleaning pattern instead of randomly moving around like the first two types. They will need to be attached to a low-voltage transformer that is plugged into an outlet.

Some models also come with features such as remote control, waterline scrubbing, advanced programming of cleaning cycles, storage caddies, self-docking, rapid water release, and remote monitoring.


  • Cleans up both large and small debris
  • Works with a standard electrical grid
  • Does not cause wear and tear on filtration or pump systems
  • Cleans the walls, tiles, and steps
  • Captured debris doesn’t go to the filtration system
  • Follows a specific pattern
  • Most models filter the water while cleaning


  • Expensive
  • Increases your energy bill
  • Need to manually place and remove the device from the pool

Here's a video that shows how the three different types of cleaner work:

How much do Automatic Pool Cleaners cost?

It depends on which type of automatic pool cleaner you want to get. The least expensive type you can get is a suction-side cleaner, which costs around $100 to $400. This type may be the cheapest but it would also do the most harm to your pump and filtration system. You also have to constantly clean your filter for it to work.

For pressure-side cleaners, you can get these for $200 to $900. The price will largely depend on the additional features you may or may not get. The most expensive ones are robotic pool cleaners which can cost $500 to $1,000. There are models less than $500 but the more expensive ones will have the best features you expect from the most technologically-advanced type.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Owning an Automatic Pool Cleaner


  • Helping Hand: This device does not work alone but it can help make it easier for you to finish your pool cleaning chores.
  • Cleans the hard-to-reach places: We often need a telescopic pole to clean the deep parts of our pool. This may not clean the pool surface and other parts of our pool but they can effectively get rid of debris found at the bottom of the pool.
  • Advanced Features: There are automatic pool cleaners that come with advanced features so it can clean the waterline, work remotely, self-dock, and follow a specific cleaning pattern.
  • No need to buy the power source: Any of these types will run using your pump system, filtration system, or electricity. You don’t need to install or buy a device to make these devices run.


  • Expensive: Unless you have the budget for a robotic pool cleaner, the cheapest type cannot clean large pools or remove large debris.
  • Taxing on the filtration and pump system: Since some of the types rely on our pool’s systems, it will be taxing on our pump and filtration system.
  • Higher electricity bill: If you opt for a robotic pool cleaner, aside from the cost of buying one, you will also have a higher electricity bill.
  • Cannot do the job alone: This device can only help clean but not take over the job. You will have to manually start and watch over most models.
  • It does not clean the pool surface: You will still have to skim your pool surface because these devices can only clean the floor and walls. Some models can’t even pick up certain dirt and debris on the walls, steps, or corners.

The Verdict

If you're planning on buying an automatic pool cleaner because you want to stop cleaning your pool, then you shouldn't get one. You can’t rely on automatic pool cleaners to do all the cleaning alone as you have to watch over these devices.

It’s still best to handle all the tasks of cleaning and maintaining your pool, especially if it’s not that big. Getting an automatic pool cleaner may save us some time as they lessen the dirt or debris we have to clean. However, you will still have to skim the pool surface as they only clean the walls and floor.

If you really don’t have time, the money is better off going to a professional pool maintenance company, especially if you have a limited budget. They can handle all the tasks quickly and efficiently thanks to their experience and skills. The hundreds you will spend on an automatic pool cleaner can probably cover months of professional cleaning.

Kenneth Wilson
November 15, 2019

Kenneth Wilson

Retired contractor. Currently residing in Southwest Florida. Now in semi-retirement, I write and manage this blog focused on helping home owners make savvy decisions when it comes to finding contractors and getting their projects done. I also operate remodeling design service for homeowners.

Ask The Author Your Questions In The Comments!

  • My suction side Hayward navigator pool cleaner does not pull up leaves. It gets jammed and has to be pulled from the pool and cleaned out. Would a robotic type be a better solution?

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