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Robot Pool Cleaners – 5 Things To Look For

In the world of pool automation, few things perk up the ears more than the term, ‘robotic pool cleaner’. To some, it inspires imagery of a hot, android pool guy, to others it’s a 1960’s-style robot doing the chores while those who are more informed on such matters will think along the lines of small(ish) machines which simultaneously resemble a mini-tank and an oversized bug. But first…

What is a robot pool cleaner?

In the modern sense, a robot pool cleaner is a small, wheeled (or caterpillar-tracked) machine that crawls along the surfaces of a filled-up swimming pool, sucking up detritus such as leaves and dirt and scrubbing the floor and walls of the pool. The higher quality robots, also scrub the waterline, including waterline tiles.  In general they contain filter bags that filter as finely as a cartridge filter, polishing the water quite nicely. They are also able to move around in near-intelligent (non-random) patterns which helps them avoid getting stuck on things like ladders.   The better ones can climb and clean steps.  Some of them can get a little enthusiastic in doing this and you may find your robot to have climbed from the pool into an attached spa on occasion.  Robots are one of three basic types of pool cleaner (see  Choosing a pool cleaner).  They are a better choice than suction side cleaners, which interfere with filtration and with the proper skimming of the pool surface.   They are less convenient and more finicky than Pressure Cleaners, but have the advantage of lower energy use.  Pressure cleaners can be left permanently in the pool, however, robots should be removed after each use and stored out of direct sunlight.

robotic pool cleaner

How does a robot pool cleaner work?

Robotic pool cleaners all use low voltage electricity which is delivered by a floating power cord the length of which is determined by the size of the pool.   Cords can get tangled but the latest models have anti-tangle swivels in the cord.  This provides power to vacuum cleaning jest and scrubbing brushes, propelling the robot around the pool.  Some older pool robots mindlessly traverse the pool in a random pattern but the more-advanced (and expensive) models ‘learn’ the pool making cleaning faster and more efficient.  Most robots should clean the average pool in 90 minutes.

5 things to look for in a Robotic Pool Cleaner

  1. Intelligence

We’re stretching the term, ‘Artificial Intelligence’ (AI) here, but it’s certainly better to have a robotic pool cleaner whose intelligence can learn the pool and clean it optimally, rather than do random sweeps. . Many can now be operated via a remote control or phone app and can, in some cases, be directed to clean a certain spot, not entirely unlike a bomb-disposal robot. (If you’d like to know more about pool-related A.I. check out Pooled Energy’s system), which uses real AI to mange your pool and minimise its energy and chemical use.

  1. Water evacuation features

Pulling any inertia-rich, water-filled object out of a pool will challenge all but the buffest bodybuilder. Some robots, like Zodiac’s VX40 know when they’re being lifted beyond the waterline and use jets to fire the water out as rapidly as possible: providing some minor thrust-like assistance while simultaneously, rapidly reducing the robotic pool cleaner’s weight.   Most robots do not do this and it is best to carefully and partly lift them from the water, so that they can drain, before lifting them completely

  1. 4WD and caterpillar tracks

Different pools have different surfaces and different surfaces have different traction coefficients. This boils down to tiled pools being more slippery and requiring more traction. In these instances it’s best to choose a robotic pool cleaner that has caterpillar tracks, four-wheel drive or large rollers for extra grip. More grip allows for more control which makes for more-precise corner cleaning too.

  1. Algae removal and polishing the water

All robotic pool cleaners attempt to remove algae, dirt and leaves from the pool surfaces and filter the water to some extent. However, the more expensive models, like the K-Bot Saturn Series SX3 can clean your pool’s water to a much finer degree, as good as a cartridge but use more energy to do so . (If algae is a problem for your pool or you want clearer water with less energy use, peruse Pooled Energy’s solution.)

  1. Capacity

One major restriction with robots is the size of their internal vacuum bag and the amount of leaves and dirt that it will hold.  If the bag is big, the robot will be big, heavy and unwell. Pressure cleaners, especially the Jet-Vac [LINK] have a much larger capacity for leaves and gum nuts and the bag is considerably easier to change.


If you don’t have many leaves and are happy to occasionally vacuum the pool yourself, you may not need any sort of automatic cleaner although, most people like the convenience.  If you have the plumbing for it, a pressure cleaner is the most convenient and easiest to use and has the largest leaf capacity.   The next best choice is the robot, while we recommend that suction cleaners be avoided.  The most important thing in keeping the water clear and healthy is automated chemistry and energy management.  Pooled Energy’s system with energy management uses sensors and smart management to optimise both. While it won’t help with leaves and large detritus, this can largely be addressed with a pool sweep or pool cover. Either way, the dreaded green pool will become a thing of the past.

If you’d like to know more about how Pooled Energy can automatically maintain your pool and assuage the need for an expensive, robotic pool cleaner, click here to get in touch.


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