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Automatic Swimming Pool Cleaners – The Basics

Automatic swimming pool cleaners can save pool owners time by reducing the amount of hands-on cleaning, and help save money by reducing the amount of time the pump and filter system must run. While a separate filtration system will always be necessary to keep your pool water clean and clear, more is better. Herein lies the value of automatic swimming pool cleaners. Pool owners can simply put them in the pool, turn them or hook them up, and walk away. It’s as easy as "Set it, and forget it!" They clean dirt, debris, and even sand from the pool walls and pool floor. If used regularly, they allow you to spend more time enjoying your pool and less time maintaining it.
There are three types of automatic swimming pool cleaners: suction cleaners, pressure cleaners, and robotic cleaners. Each has its own distinct characteristics and qualities.
Automatic Suction Pool Cleaner. Suction cleaners operate by utilizing the vacuum power of the pool’s own existing pump and filtration system. They are the least expensive automatic pool cleaner to purchase and are the easiest to install because they do not require a separate booster pool pump. Their operation is also very simple: they clean whenever the pool filter is running. In fact, they are often left in the swimming pool throughout the swimming season. The downside? They are unable to clean walls or any pools without flat floors, and because they use the pool’s filter additional monitoring and cleaning of the filter is necessary.
Automatic Pressure Pool Cleaner. Instead of connecting to the pump and filter system via the skimmer like a suction cleaner, pressure cleaners hook up to the return fitting. This is because they operate like a high-tech strainer: they utilize a bag system to catch/filter the pressurized pool water pumped back into the pool, through the cleaner, as they travel around the pool. A benefit of this type of cleaner is that it uses no additional electricity to operate, and dirt and debris is collected in a bag separate from the pool filter. An additional benefit is their ability to clean both the pool floor and pool walls. Unfortunately, some swimming pool pumps are inadequate to simultaneously circulate the pool water and run a pressure cleaner, so a booster pump, and possibly a separate return line, may be required.
Automatic Robotic Pool Cleaner. Robotic cleaners are the newest and most popular type of automatic pool cleaner. They are standalone products that are fully automatic, computerized, and have internal drive motors and filtration system. Although they don’t tax and utilize the pool’s existing pump and filter system, the downside to these cleaners are the upfront costs, as well as the difficulty and expense of fixing them should one of their many parts break or malfunction.
If your automatic swimming pool cleaner is robotic—unless it is battery operated—make sure there is a nearby electrical outlet available. If not, extension cords should do the trick. Regardless of your external power requirements, begin using your cleaner only after following the manufacturer’s instructions on putting it together and getting it ready. After its cleaning cycle—which will likely be between 2 and 3 hours, but varies heavily depending on the size of your pool—check your pool water’s chemical composition and make adjustments as necessary. Remember, an automatic pool cleaner will help keep debris out of your pool and keep algae off the walls, but it can’t balance or add the chemicals!
While an automatic swimming pool cleaner will unquestionably make maintaining your above ground or in ground pool easier, it can’t take care of all the excess dirt and debris on its own. Don’t forget your pool leaf skimmer and nylon pool wall brush!