little yellow robot in water
Pool Cleaners

Best Above Ground Pool Robotic Cleaner [2020 Buyer’s Guide]

The best above ground pool robotic cleaner should be equipped with a powerful motor, filtration system, and a tangle-free cable design that allows it to do its job, efficiently, and quickly. In the past, these pool cleaners cost an arm and a leg, making it impossible for families on a tight budget to afford one. However, these days, robotic pool cleaners are more affordable than ever, which is why they have recently risen in popularity over the past few years.

However, not all robotic pool cleaners offer the type of power and cleaning efficiency you need to ensure your pool remains bacteria and debris-free. There are many models to choose from on the market these days, which can make it difficult for new pool owners to determine which style and model will work the best for their pool and their budget.

Fortunately for you, we’ve reviewed several of the best-selling robotic pool cleaners on the market and have narrowed it down to the top five models, each of which has a reputation for reliability, cleaning efficiency, and power.

How We Chose the Best

Not every pool cleaner will work for your specific pool type, and some pool cleaners are more versatile than others. If you have an abrasive pool surface, then you’ll need a model that’s tough enough to scrub off built on grime and algae. Additionally, if your pool is made out of a flexible material, then you’ll need a model that’s equipped with rollers and tracks that won’t damage the finish.

We did our research and found five robotic cleaners that are not only equipped with non-marring tracks and wheel systems but models that are also able to handle a wide variety of pool surfaces ranging from pebble to vinyl. In a pool cleaner, this type of versatility matters.

Below, you’ll find a comparison chart that details the differences between each of our models, including cleaning cycle length, price, rating, pool cleaner style, and filtration system type.

Top Robotic Pool Cleaners Comparison Chart

Product type Cleaning cycle Filter Style rating
Dolphin Nautilus
small cleaning robot Check For Availability!
Classic robotic 3 hours cartridge
Hayward Poolvergnuegen
white pool device with wheels Check For Availability!
suction 3 hours pool
Dolphin Escape
robotic cleaning machine Check For Availability!
Classic robotic 1.5 hours cartridge
Aquabot APRVJR
blue robot with small wheels Check For Availability!
Classic robotic 30 minutes filter bag
Aquabot Spirit
small cleaning device on wheels Check For Availability!
Classic robotic 2-3 hours filter bag

How to keep above ground pool clean is all about consistent care and maintenance. A seasoned pool owner knows that you have to provide routine maintenance on a daily basis, otherwise that type of environment can get hit hard with an algae bloom or it can even promote bacteria growth. Which is why we’ve chosen robotic pool cleaners that have a reputation for their hands-off cleaning cycles. However, even if you buy one of these powerful models we still recommend deep cleaning your pool once a month. You can learn more by reading our article on how to vacuum above ground pool.

Our buyer’s guide will also help you determine the type of pool cleaner and features to look for in your next model.

Now, read on to learn more about our top five models.

The Five Robotic Pool Cleaners that are Dominating the Market

Below you’ll find brief summaries of the reviews for each model that made it to our top five list. These summaries will give you a glimpse of the features and important specs each model has to offer.

Most Versatile-Dolphin Nautilus Automatic Robotic Pool Cleaner

small cleaning robot

Our Rating: (5/5)

The Dolphin Nautilus automatic robotic pool cleaner does not require a booster pump or the use of the pool’s pump in order to operate. This self-contained model features its own internal pump that works to propel it swiftly through the water for a fast and efficient cleaning cycle. But unlike lower priced models, this pool cleaner can handle it all including scrubbing and vacuuming the pool’s floor, walls, and even the waterline. Versatile, loaded with a ton of features and equipped with smart technology that allows the bot to scan your pool for a more efficient cleaning process, it’s no surprise that this model landed at the top of our list.

Leading Suction Pool Cleaner-Hayward Poolvergnuegen 896584000-020 Pool Cleaner

white pool device with wheels

Our Rating: (4.5/5)

This popular Hayward suction pool cleaner is designed for small and medium-sized above ground pools. But while it can’t quite handle larger pools like our top-rated robotic pool cleaner, it still offers the type of powerful, efficient cleaning cycle that all pool owners are looking for. Its lightweight design also makes it much easier to maintain, compared to full-sized pool cleaners. The cleaner’s four-wheel design adds much-needed stability and helps to prevent it from flipping over when climbing the walls. Not only is this pool cleaner affordable it’s also very versatile. This model can be used for fiberglass, pebble, vinyl, shotcrete, and tile pools.

Best Automatic Pool Cleaner-Dolphin Escape Robotic Above Ground Pool Cleaner

robotic cleaning machine

Our Rating: (4.5/5)

The Dolphin Escape by Maytronics is equipped with thick rubber tracks that allow the pool cleaner to reach every inch of a pool’s walls for a more methodical cleaning process. The pool’s smart scan technology called SmartNav will determine the size and shape of your pool, using its scrub brush system to remove algae and built up grime. SmartNav also prevents the cleaner from going over the same spot twice. Additionally, the extra-large filter cartridges are able to trap large and microscopic debris, which will help to prevent bacteria and algae growth.

Best Value-Aquabot APRVJR Pool Rover Junior Robotic Above-Ground Pool Cleaner

blue robot with small wheels

Our Rating: (4.5/5)

The Pool Rover Junior is one of our favorite models. Despite its smaller size it still provides the type of outstanding cleaning performance that we’ve come to expect from models by Aquabot. The pool cleaner’s lightweight compact design allows it to swiftly propel itself through the water, resulting in a much faster cleaning cycle. If that’s not enough, you’ll love its extra-long cable and swivel mechanism. This design will prevent the pool cleaner from becoming entangled in the cable. It’s two and three hour cleaning cycle options allow users to choose the cleaning cycle length based on how clean or dirty the pool water is. Easy to use, versatile, and compact, this model is perfect for the pool owner on a budget in need of a low maintenance model that’s packing some serious power.

High-Powered Jet Propulsion System-Aquabot Spirit Above and Inground Pool Cleaner

small cleaning device on wheels

Our Rating: (4.5/5)

Obviously, this model landed on our top five list mainly due to its powerful high-powered jet propulsion system. This type of power results in a faster and more methodical cleaning process. Not only is this pool cleaner powerful, but it’s also easy to maintain. The top filter access panel will make it easier for the user to remove and empty the filter bags, without having to take the pool cleaner out of the water. This model is also pretty versatile in terms of the type of pool surface materials and pool shapes it can handle.

Robotic Pool Cleaner Buyer’s Guide

Keeping your above ground pool clean can be a real challenge. But a clean pool in the summer months is everything. Keeping your pool free of dirt debris, algae, and dead bugs will provide users with a healthier swimming environment. However, if you don’t have time to devote to cleaning out your pool daily, then you’ll quickly find that you need to change out the water more than once a week, which can really do a number on your monthly water bill. Fortunately, the best above ground pool robotic cleaner can handle all the hard work for you. These machines will make pool maintenance less time-consuming and much easier.

Pool Cleaner Styles Available

A pool cleaner can make owning your own above ground pool a true pleasure. No longer will you have to waste mornings bent over the pool with a skimmer, desperately trying to remove debris.

Of course, not all pool cleaners are created equal, which is why it’s so important that you become familiar with the different styles, brands, and models available before you buy.

Suction Side

These pool cleaners are designed specifically for above ground pools and work by attaching to a vacuum line or they can hook up to a pool skimmer. The suction from the pool’s pump will allow the cleaner to propel through the water, sucking up leaves, dirt, and debris as it goes. Anything suctioned up by the pool cleaner is trapped in the filter. This design prevents the debris from returning back into the pool water. Suction pool cleaner are categorized as random pattern cleaners. Most are designed to also clean the floor of the pools and the sides. However, models with this capability usually come with a higher price tag.

While this type of pool cleaner is very easy to install and use, they’re better at cleaning the floor of a pool instead of the walls.  They also tend to struggle with suctioning up larger debris. If you choose this type of pool cleaner you will also need to stay on top of checking the pool filter and removing the debris promptly in order to prevent a clog. However, for the pool owner on a budget, these side suction cleaners can be a great option, as long as the buyer understands that they will need to still provide some level of hands-on maintenance.

Pressure Side

water cleaning device

Pressure Side Cleaners propel through the water via water pressure. This style of cleaner attaches to the pressure side return fitting, relying on water produced by the circulation pump. While some models are able to run off of an existing pool pump, some cleaners will need to use an additional form of pressure which is provided by a booster pump.

Installing these pool cleaners is much more complicated compared to side suction models. Additionally, models that require a booster pump will come with a higher price tag, which can also equal a higher installation cost. Yet, these cleaners work better when it comes to circulating clean water and have a reputation for being much stronger than side suction models.

These pool cleaners also come with their own debris bag, which is another huge plus. This means that any dirt or debris that’s collected by the pool cleaner will be directly stored in a dedicated bag instead of the pool’s filter. This can help to prevent any clogs or other issues with the pool’s pump. Of course, these debris bags must be emptied out routinely, but because they will not impact the pool’s filter in any way, they’re considered very low maintenance and a better option for pool owners who don’t have any time for pool maintenance.

Standard Robotic Pool Cleaners

Both side pressure and suction side pool cleaners are considered a type of robotic pool cleaner, but a self-contained pool cleaner is categorized as a standard robotic pool cleaner. These pool cleaners are essentially the cream of the crop. They’re electrically powered and self-contained. They also come with built-in computer chips and utilize other types of advanced technology that classify them as smart pool cleaners.

These pool cleaners can basically be programmed to clean out a pool using a specific pattern. Many of these pool cleaners are even able to memorize the shape of a pool in order to improve cleaning efficiency with every cleaning session. They can also work independently from a pool’s filter and pump and come equipped with their own debris bags or filter cartridges.

These pool cleaners are much more expensive than both the suction side and pressure side models because they offer the latest in smart pool cleaning technology. They also work more efficiently and much faster. The fact that they can be programmed to learn the shape of your pool is usually a big selling point for many buyers. Additionally, these pool cleaners are incredibly powerful and are able to vacuum up bigger debris with no problem. These pool cleaners can clean a pool’s waterline, walls, and floor.

Some lower priced models will come loaded with a set of fixed brushes for cleaning, which can work for smaller pools, but more advanced models can scrub and climb and come equipped with powerful jets that can keep your pool scum-free and in pristine condition.

Suction Power

One important spec you need to pay attention to when you’re shopping for a new pool cleaner is its suction power. This is often measured in gallons per minutes. If you want a model that can really get the job done then look for a GPM of at least seventy. The pool cleaner’s suction power is what you’re really buying it for. A model with a lower GPM won’t be able to adequately keep your pool clean.

Cables

Tangled cable is a common problem among lower-priced models. But models that have incorporated the mechanical swivel device won’t have this issue. While this type of mechanism can help to prevent the cables from becoming tangled, it can still happen. In order to avoid this problem, look for a model that comes with a dual drive motor system.

Filtration

Chemical products and tools for pool maintenance

When you’re looking at a pool cleaner’s filtration system, pay close attention to the micron value. The lower the value, the better. If your filter uses the low micron baskets or bags then the pool cleaner will be able to disinfect, polish, purify, and clean the water. Some pool cleaner manufacturers claim that their pool cleaners are equipped with filtration systems that have micron values as low as two, which is pretty impressive. While most new models of pool cleaners feature filtration systems that are easily accessible and easy to clean, it’s still important to pay attention to their micron number.

Jets

Not every pool cleaner will come with power washing jets, however, the ones that do tend to clean a pool more thoroughly. This feature will scrub the surface of a pool, reaching the areas that the brushes can’t.

How to Find the Best Brand

Finding the right pool cleaner isn’t easy, but if you want the best of the best, do your research and purchase a pool cleaner from a trusted brand. Use caution when it comes to cheap imports. Instead, go with a company that stands behind its products and offers a warranty that covers defects and repairs.

Extra Features

Extra features for pool cleaners include power supplies with additional programming and bot caddies that can make it much easier to remove a cleaner from the water. However, a pool cleaner with these types of bells and whistles will usually come with a higher price tag.

Pool Shape and Size

Obviously, the size and shape of your pool will also be a factor when you’re searching for the right pool cleaner. The size of the pool is what determines the amount of time needed to maintain it, as well as the energy consumption required and the power needed. It will also determine the length of cable needed and the type of pump strength required in order to get the job done.

If you have a smaller pool, then you’ll have more options, however, the standard robotic cleaners are usually the best option for small pools while suction based systems are a better choice for larger ones.

If there are special contours or many obstacles in your pool then you may end up putting your pool cleaner’s smart technology to the test. In some cases, you may find that the pool cleaner doesn’t work as efficiently as it should. Many types of suction based cleaners only feature one moving part which may be a better fit for pools with a non-standard shape.

What is a Filtration Rate?

A pool cleaner’s filtration rate is an important spec to consider because it will influence the water quality once the job is done. Look for a model that features a seventy gallon to eighty-gallon filtration rate per minute.

Power

Some pool cleaners will need more power than others. Robotic cleaners produced by leading brands such as Dolphin tend to require one hundred and eighty watts, which is reasonable considering how powerful they are.

A suction based system will feature a much lower power rating, but this is often a trade-off for cleaning efficiency.

Pool Cleaner Weight

An automated cleaner typically weighs in at ten to forty pounds. The weight of the pool cleaner can influence its stability and maneuverability. But if you’re looking for a model that features a solid construction and one that can withstand wear and tear, then you’ll want to go with a heavier model.

Beginner-Friendly

If you’re not exactly tech-savvy, then a pool cleaner that’s beginner-friendly is a must. The cleaner you purchase should be easy to use and should come with intuitive controls, a simple layout, and a user’s manual that can easily walk you through the set up process.

Price

Price is usually one of the main factors that will come into play when you buy anything. But if you’re looking for a top of the line pool cleaner then you can expect to pay more. A higher priced model will come with a better warranty, a durable build, and some great extras. Lower priced pool cleaners often don’t last nearly as long and may need frequent maintenance. In the end, a little peace of mind can be worth a higher price tag.

Installing a Robotic Pool Cleaner

While tech-heavy, these pool cleaners are actually pretty simple to use and install. The first step involves installing the carrier caddy. Once it’s been positioned correctly, connect the plug and cord. Place the pool cleaner into your pool and the bot is ready to go. However, before you start some models may require additional help in terms of programming it based on pool size, or setting its cleaning cycle.

These cleaners will take only ten to fifteen minutes to set up. Since many models feature a filtration system that works separately from your pool’s you won’t have to worry about connecting it. The pumps on each side of the pool cleaner will pull in water from the filter, after which the water is cleaned and pumped back into the pool. It’s as simple as that.

Emptying the cleaner’s filter bag or cartridge is something you’ll want to stay on top of. It can easily be cleaned by rinsing it out in warm water and allowing it to dry before placing it back into the pool cleaner.

Final Thoughts

The best robotic pool cleaner for above ground pools will feature a powerful motor, a variety of cleaning cycle options, and a filtration system that can capture both microscopic and large debris. It should also come with the type of unique features you need in order for it to thoroughly clean your pool and keep it safe for daily use. Fortunately for you, we’ve done all the research for you, so we’re confident that you’ll find the right pool cleaner that’s durable, efficient, reasonably priced, and able to keep your pool clean around the clock.