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Different Types of Pool Cleaners | Robotic vs Pressure vs Suction

Millions of Americans have swimming pools in their backyards. Many of these are in-ground pools while some are above ground pools. Regardless of the type of pool you have, you can enjoy swimming in a pool that is well maintained and has fresh and clean water. There are chemicals that you can add to the pool to kill the bacteria and other invisible organisms. But what about visible dust and debris? Manually cleaning them is a tedious job. If you don’t have the time or energy to do this, you can hire help (either freelancers or contractors). There is an alternative to this. You can get an Automatic Pool Cleaner. But the catch is there are several types of Pool Cleaners for you to choose.

So, in this guide, we will explore the world of Pool Cleaners and take a look at different types of pool cleaners. We will also understand the differences between the pool cleaners along with their pros and cons.


Everyone who has a swimming pool likes to relax in the pool with family or friends. But when it comes to the maintenance of the pool, they procrastinate. This is because, until recently, the common way to clean debris off of a swimming is by using leaf rakes and handheld pool vacuums.

Cleaning a swimming pool using these vacuums is not that different from using home vacuum cleaners. Just maneuver the vacuum’s suction head across the pool’s bottom surface and sides.

The section head contains brittles and the vacuum system has a special compartment to collect the debris.

For debris floating on the surface, you can use a leaf rake and collect them. You can also use a brush attached to a telescopic pole to clean even the deepest parts of the pool.

The problem with all these cleaning methods is they are manual jobs. You have to spend a lot of time and energy to clean the pool. Who would want to do that in this day and age?

Manual cleaning and maintenance is one of the main reasons why people without pools are hesitant to build or buy swimming pools.

Automatic Pool Cleaners

If you are one of those people that we mentioned earlier, who hates cleaning pools, then you are in luck as Automatic Pool Cleaners are becoming widely available and inexpensive.

An Automatic Pool Cleaner is a device that does all the cleaning job of a pool without your assistance. Automatic Pool Cleaners are a necessity rather than luxury. It can save up to three hours of your precious time. Some other benefits of Automatic Pool Cleaners are:

  • Circulates cool water to surface where the heat from the Sun warms it.
  • Conserves water as it regularly replaces hot water on the surface with cool water from bottom (prevents evaporation of hot surface water).
  • Helps in distributing the chemicals to all parts of the pool.

There are several types of Pool Cleaners. Some use the suction power of the pool pump while some need a separate pump (known as Booster Pump) to pressure-feed the system.

Some pool cleaners work in a random pattern while some follow a pre-programmed pattern. Some cleaners work well in concrete pools while some work only in vinyl pools.

Irrespective of the type of pool cleaner, they all can help you save time and clean the pool very efficiently with minimal effort from you.

The choice of an Automatic Pool Cleaner depends on the suction power of the pump, type of debris you need to clean, and the size – shape of the pool. To help you understand more about Automatic Pool Cleaners, we will now see different types of pool cleaners along with their pros and cons.

Types of Pool Cleaners

In the basic classification, pool cleaners are of two types: Manual Pool Cleaners and Automatic Pool Cleaners. As Automatic Pool Cleaners are becoming more accessible, we will focus on this type.

Further, we can divide Automatic Pool Cleaners into three types. They are:

  • Suction-Side Pool Cleaners
  • Pressure-Side Pool Cleaners
  • Robotic Pool Cleaners

Let us now see more about these three types of pool cleaners.

1. Suction-side Pool Cleaners

Suction-side Pool Cleaners are very simple to operate and also the least expensive of the three. This type of pool cleaners depends on the existing plumbing system of your pool. This is the most common types of pool cleaners that you can find in residential pools.

When we say “Suction-side”, we are referring to the plumbing section (pipes and fittings) that brings water to the filtering section. A filter pump “sucks” water out of the pool and sends it to the filter.

Coming to the Suction-side Pool Cleaner, in slightly older systems, the suction-side vacuum unit connects to the water intake port of the filter pump, which is the skimmer, with the help of a flexible hose.

But in slightly modern systems, there will be a separate vacuum port to connect the suction-side vacuum cleaner hose. When you turn on the filtration pump, it creates a suction under the suction-side vacuum unit.

As a result, the suction head moves randomly around the pool and sucks up the debris. The filtration pump’s strainer basket will collect larger debris while the pump filers will trap smaller debris.

There is one major problem with Suction-side Pool Cleaners. Most Suction-Side pool cleaners have only one skimmer. So, when we are cleaning the pool, the skimmer is temporarily suspended. This means it will not collect the floating debris. Also, if there is a lot of debris, the filter pump basket will fill up quite quickly.


  • Least expensive of the three types of pool cleaners
  • Can use with in-ground and above pools
  • Very easy to install, operate, and maintain
  • Can climb walls
  • Works efficiently for small and medium-sized debris


  • Not suitable if pool has stairs
  • Filter Pump motor must be powerful
  • You have to frequently clear the filter (skimmer basket)
  • Severe wear and tear on pool filter
  • Filter pump must be on for this to work, which can increase cost of operation

2. Pressure-side Pool Cleaners

Automatic Pressure Pool Cleaners are also known as Pressure-side Pool Cleaners. If the “Suction-side” refers to that section of the pool that “sucks” water for filtration, the “Pressure-side” of the pool is the side that returns water to the pool after filtration.

In this type, the cleaner is attached to the pressure-side of the pool’s water circulation system, either an existing return port or a dedicated port. Hence the name Pressure-side Pool Cleaner.

Simple systems don’t need any extra pumps and they use the circulation pump as for boosting. Such systems are known as Boosterless Pool Cleaners. These systems are not that effective as there will a significant pressure drop.

In order to efficiently clean, most Pressure-side Pool Cleaners use a dedicated booster pump. These are known as Booster Pump Pool Cleaners.

This system creates a high water pressure and the water is split into three ways. They are Sweeper Tail, Thrust Jet, and Venturi.

The high-pressure water drives the cleaner head in random directions. This creates a “Venturi” effect and vacuum the debris into a collection bag. Most Pressure-side Pool Cleaners have wheel on the cleaner unit for easy movement on the pool’s floor.

The water pressure will also push some debris to the surface, which is then collected by the pool’s filtration system. Pressure-side Pool Cleaners are suitable for residential as well as small-sized public pools.


  • Doesn’t rely on pool’s filtration system
  • Very easy to clean, repair, or maintain
  • Cleaner unit has its own debris collection unit (filter bag)
  • Can collect large debris from the bottom of the pool


  • Might require additional pump (Booster Pump)
  • Booster Pump or Circulation pump must run
  • Slightly expensive than Suction-side Pool Cleaners
  • Not effective for small debris (might even clog the valve)

3. Robotic Pool Cleaners

We have seen several domestic cleaning robots. Such robots can be a hit or a miss with a reputation of “exotic toys” and they are struggling to gain attention of the masses. Robotic Pool Cleaners doesn’t have this problem.

They are very well established among pool owners for a long time. One simple reason for this is the environment they work. Most pools have a simple geometric shape, which is usually rectangle.

As a result, a Robotic Pool Cleaner doesn’t face too many challenges in terms of obstacles. Only a simple obstacle detection mechanism and some powerful motors to drive the robot around the pool, that’s it.

Nowadays, Robotic Pool Cleaners are slowly taking the top-spot when it comes to sales of Automatic Pool Cleaners. You can use them day and night and they don’t rely on the existing infrastructure of the pool (filtration system, circulation system, etc.).

They are also completely autonomous. Just drop the cleaner in the pool and turn it on. There will be two motors (one motor is for propulsion and one acts as a pump) that usually operate at a much lower voltage than 120V AC Mains for safety reasons.

It will propel using a motor, sucks water and debris using a pump, and collects the debris to a filter bag. There will also be a roller brush on the cleaners that helps in scrubbing the pool floor and walls.

Modern and advanced Robotic Pool Cleaners have intelligent microprocessors and software that can map the entire swimming pool and can even climb walls to clean them.

An important suggestion while using Robotic Pool Cleaners is that do not use the pool’s pump so that it won’t disturb the debris. The cleaner can easily collect the debris that is settled at the bottom of the pool.

You can bet Robotic Pool Cleaners as both Corded electric and cordless electric. While the corded Robotic Pool Cleaners are itself significantly expensive, the cordless models are even high-priced.


  • No monitoring required
  • Very easy to use
  • Highly efficient
  • Can collect small and large debris
  • Cleans pool floor and walls
  • Works independently. Doesn’t indulge the pool’s plumbing infrastructure
  • No impact on wear and tear of pool filter


  • Most expensive of the three
  • Must turn off the pool pump while cleaning
  • Needs frequent maintenance as all debris sits in the robot’s filter

Robotic vs Pressure vs Suction | Which One To Buy?

Now that we have seen a little bit about the three common types of pool cleaners that can automatically clean the pool, let us move further and compare Robotic vs Pressure vs Suction pool cleaners and see which is the best option for you.

1. Pool Type and Size

The first important factor is the shape, size and type of your swimming pool. Basically, we have two types of pools, in-ground and above ground. If you have a above-ground pool, then chances are it doesn’t have any plumbing system (filtering, circulation, etc.).

In this case, you can simply go for a Robotic Pool Cleaner as it is the only option that doesn’t use any existing pump infrastructure. As Robotic Pool Cleaner are very expensive, you have plan carefully as per your budget. Or just use a manual cleaning method.

For in-ground pools, you can use all the three types of pool cleaners. It will boil down to additional parameters such as cost, amount of debris, maintenance, etc.

2. Operation

Of the three, the Robotic Pool Cleaner has the simplest operation. It works independently and requires minimal intervention from your end.

Both Suction-side and Pressure-side Pool Cleaners make use of the filter pump, booster pump, or other special inlets/outlets of the pool. In case of Suction-side Pool Cleaner, the filter pump must be on and also the filter has a huge wear and tear

Coming to the Pressure-side Pool Cleaner, an additional Booster Pump creates pressure to clean the pool, which means more electricity usage in both cases. The pump filter doesn’t get as busy as in case of Suction-side Cleaner.

3. Maintenance

All the three types of automatic pool cleaners that we mention here require very less maintenance from your end. However, cleaning or replacing filters (either at the pump or at the cleaner itself) is a must in all these cleaners.

If we see to the core, the robotic pool cleaner has the least maintenance of the three.

4. Price

This is the important factor. Suction-side Pool Cleaner are the least expensive of the three while Robotic Pool Cleaners the most expensive.

If you are on a strict budget, then Suction-Side Pool Cleaners are your best bet. The pump filters will take a toll in the longer run but that’s part of the deal.

Depending on your budget (and other factors, of course), you can choose any of the three Automatic Pool Cleaners. But we highly recommend you to invest in a decent Robotic Pool Cleaner as it will serve you well without any stress on the filtration or circulation systems.


Whether you already own a swimming pool or planning to buy/build one, cleaning and maintenance of the pool is an important part.

If you have the time and energy to clean the pool, you can do it yourself at least possible cost. But in this day and age, we find it very hard to allocate our precious time to clean pools.

This is where Automatic Pool Cleaners come in handy. In this guide, we saw the basics of Automatic Pool Cleaners, different types of Pool Cleaners, along with their advantages and disadvantages.

After that, we listed out some important factors to consider while buying either of the three types i.e., Suction, Pressure, or Robotic.

We hope this guide helped you in understanding about different types of pool cleaners and their pros and cons. If you feel we missed something or want us to add any extra features/points, do let us know in the comments section. It will not only help us but also other readers.

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