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Automatic Pool Cleaners: What’s the Difference?

Having to manually take out and use a pool vacuum head to clean your pool at least once a week if not more, depending on the size of your pool, can take several hours to complete. With everyone being busy and wanting to spend the extra they do have relaxing, we are seeing more and more of our customers turning to automatic pool cleaners to help give them some more time back!

If you’ve ever been to someone’s house and seen a small under water robot having a grand time in their pool- that’s an automatic pool cleaner! They can work with your filtration system or on their own but they help keep debris and algae from building up in your pool. This helps to take pressure off of your filter (making it last longer and need less maintenance) and aids in keeping your pool crystal clear and splash ready!

Whether you have an above ground swimming pool or an in-ground swimming pool, there are 3 primary types of automatic pool cleaners to choose from!

  • Suction Side
  • Pressure Side
  • Robotic


Suction Cleaners

As the most wallet-friendly option, suction-Side Cleaners have wheeled their ways into the hearts and homes of many. This cleaner connects to your existing skimmer or dedicated suction line and travels around your pool sucking up debris to send through your pool’s filtration system. They are great for picking up mostly medium sized debris, and some models can even be set to pick up small debris such as silt or sand! Some even climb walls for expanded cleaning areas!

Suction-side pool cleaners require that the pool pump be running during operation. This means they’ll be using more electricity than the other types of pool cleaners we’ll be covering. Using one of these little guys means that you’ll have to clean your filter a little more frequently so if you have a DE filter, you will be adding more DE to your pool as well.


  • Easy maintenance
  • Lower cost
  • Great for smaller to medium sized pools
  • Less moving parts


  • Causes additional wear and tear on your pool pump and filter
  • Requires cleaning your filter more often


Pressure Cleaners

Pressure side cleaners use water pressure from a dedicated booster pump and/or pool pump to drive the cleaner around your pool, forcing debris into a filter bag where it can be easily collected and removed. Due to these bad boys having their own filter bag, add zero stress to your existing pool filter!

Pressure side cleaners are great for picking up medium and large debris. Finer particles will flow through the filter bag and end up being cleaned out through your existing filtration system.


  • Less filter and pump maintenance
  • Great for medium to large pools
  • Easy to maintain


  • Can require a second pump or booster pump
  • Requires pool pump to run


Robotic Cleaners

You could emphasis the term robot when referring to Robotic pool cleaners for extra cool points but these guys don’t really need the help!  First of all, they pick up debris of all sizes, so it can do the job you are buying it to do. On top of that, they do not hook up to any part of your pool’s existing filtration system! That’s right, neither your pump nor your filter will have any extra strain put on them to help the cleaner perform. How is this possible?! Robotic cleaners are self-contained filtration systems in and of themselves. Because of this they reduce your overall power costs and consumption making them the industry’s most energy efficient automatic cleaners. Premium models come equipped with awesome features like remote controls, waterline scrubbing, four-wheel drive, and programmable cleaning cycles.

Plug them in and put them in the water! No hooking up to existing equipment. No tools needed. Grab and go!


  • Superior cleaning
  • Energy efficient
  • Eliminates wear on pool equipment
  • Operates quietly
  • Remotes and storage caddy’s available


  • Higher cost upfront
  • Requires the filter to be emptied
  • Additional parts to be replaced when needed


For more information and pricing on automatic cleaners, click here!

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  1. Shirley says:

    Are the robotic cleaners better? They seemed to be priced higher. Can you swim with the Tiger Shark in the pool?

  2. jeffrey says:

    I regrettably have an above ground pool, and I am in the market for a robotic cleaner. I have read several reviews of the most well known models (pool rover and robo kleen), but have been able to find little information regarding some of the seemingly lesser known (or lesser used) products. So I was wondering if anyone has any experience with the AquaVac MakoShark 1500. It seems to cost more than the better known models, which is sometimes but not always an indication of better performance. If nobody is familiar with this unit, does anybody have any other recommendations or warnings for that matter?

  3. Bernard McClay says:

    I think that the Dirt Devil Rampage from Dirt Devil offers the most advanced technology in swimming pool cleaners. Dirt Devils reputation speaks for itself, having manufactured and sold great carpet cleaners.

  4. Molly says:

    Thanks for the options. Pool cleaning is a must.

  5. Albert says:

    the suction cleaner is probably the most popular type of cleaner on the market today. This is probably due to the fact that the suction cleaner is the least expensive and the easiest to maintain.

  6. victor678 says:

    I like Automatic Pool Cleaner.

    An automatic pool cleaner which takes the hassle out of having a clean and sparkling pool all year round.

  7. albertabanderson says:

    A pool cleaner is definitely i need for my new built above ground pool. Automatic Pool Cleaner can minimized the time cleaning the pool.

  8. phil kincaid says:

    Has anybody experienced a tiger shark cleaner actually cutting a vinyl pool?

  9. automaticpoolcleaners says:

    I agree with you that automatic pool cleaners are the most popular because of the ease

  10. Jimbob says:

    The Dolphin pool cleaner is problematic and requires expensive repairs on an ongoing basis. There must be a better product than this on the market. I was supprised Leslie Pools would sell this. It is junk.

  11. Scott says:

    Jimbob you should contact the manufacturer. We sell some of the Dolphin model and we have not had any problems with them however I am not familiar with the model that Leslie’s offers.

  12. We are looking for a good robotic type vacuum that can be used in salt water pools–any suggestions?

  13. PPA says:

    We use the automatic/robotic cleaners whenever possible. They are great and clean 90% of the debris, but you still have a spend a few minutes every now and then manually cleaning some of those pieces that don’t get picked up by the robot.

  14. Laci Carnes says:

    Anyone of our automatic vacuum cleaners will work wonderfully with a salt water pool system! Find your favorite, (give it a space-age robotic name), and enjoy!

  15. Cynthia says:

    I love my Dolphin pool cleaner! It is remote controlled even. I don’t worry about cleaning the pool because the Dolphin does it for me!

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