Advertisement

The 8 Best Robotic Pool Cleaners of 2023, Tested and Reviewed

Dotdash Meredith and Yahoo Inc. may earn commission or revenue on some items through the links below.

Plus, expert advice on how to keep your pool looking fresh and tidy.

<p>Real Simple / David Hattan</p>

Real Simple / David Hattan

Having a pool can be a wonderful thing, especially in the summertime when there’s nothing better than a relaxing dip in the water. But maintaining a pool can require a lot of work, which is why we recommend investing in a robotic pool cleaner to help you with the cleaning process.

“The purpose of a robotic pool cleaner is to automate the process of cleaning a swimming pool,” says Phil Whitman of Proactive Pool Solutions in Raleigh, North Carolina. “By using a robotic pool cleaner, pool owners can save time and effort compared to manually cleaning their pool.”

After all, “these machines use electric motors to move around the bottom and sides of the pool, while scrubbing and vacuuming up dirt, debris, and other contaminants,” which improves both “the overall cleanliness and clarity of the pool water.”

To help you find the best robotic pool cleaners on the market, we tested 18 options, rating them on factors like value, design, ease of use, and more. We also got expert advice from Whitman on what to look for when shopping for these types of cleaners and how to maintain them.

Best Overall Robotic Pool Cleaner: Dolphin Nautilus CC Plus Robotic Cleaner

Buy at Amazon.com

Buy at Walmart.com

What Stands Out

  • It’s a highly effective, easy-to-use cleaner that works remarkably fast.

What Could Be Improved

  • It doesn’t do waterline cleaning.

In our opinion, you can’t do better than this top-rated robotic pool cleaner from Dolphin. It’s a powerful, easy-to-use device that’ll have your pool looking amazingly fresh in just two hours’ time, and it works in pools of all shapes and surface types. Just plug in the robot, drop it in the water, turn on the power, and it’ll start cleaning immediately.

This cleaner is just as effective when scrubbing off the walls as tackling the floors, thanks to its intrinsic navigation technology that scans the pool to find the best path—which we confirmed gets more and more accurate over time. We found that this cleaner picked up a significant amount of dirt and debris, including leaves, and left our pool looking immaculately clear and clean. Plus, due to the machine’s lightweight design and sturdy handle, we were able to lift in and out of the pool very easily.

You can maintain the cleaner simply by removing and rinsing the top-load filter basket—just make sure to check the filter status often to make sure it hasn’t become clogged. And while this cleaner is certainly pricey, it’ll save you hours of time you would have spent cleaning, so it’s worth the splurge if you can.

Price at time of publish: $899 

Pool Type & Size: All types, up to 40 feet | Cleaning Coverage: Floor and walls | Cord Length: 60 feet | Weight: 20.8 pounds

<p>Real Simple / Anna Knief</p>

Real Simple / Anna Knief

Best Budget Robotic Pool Cleaner: Aiper Seagull SE Cordless Robotic Pool Cleaner

Buy at Amazon.com

Buy at Aiper.com

What Stands Out

  • This simple, no-frills pool cleaner is cordless.

What Could Be Improved

  • It only cleans floors, not walls or waterline.

Robotic pool cleaners are, in general, quite expensive, and there are very few quality options under $500. After testing, we think the robotic pool cleaner that offers the most bang for your buck is the Aiper Seagull SE, a simple cordless device that features powerful dual-drive motors and two brushes to locate and lift up leaves, pollen, debris, and more. It also has four 3-color LED lights that show the device’s status, as well as self-parking tech that allows it to stop near the pool’s edge when the cycle is done or battery is running low.

We especially love that this product is cordless, which is a not so common feature. Plus, it’s very good at navigating on its own, and is also much quieter than other robotic pool cleaners—in fact, we tended to forget about it while it was working. And while this device is far better suited for floors than walls, we found that it still made a big difference in our pool’s cleanliness. It doesn’t come with a slew of features, but it’s very easy to set up and drop into the pool (thanks to an included hook), and it runs for over 90 minutes on one battery charge.

While it may not be the most heavy-duty cleaner out there, it’ll more than do the trick for low-maintenance cleaning. Plus, the lack of a cord is really a game-changer.

Price at time of publish: $300

Pool Type & Size: All types, up to 40 feet | Cleaning Coverage: Floor | Cord Length: N/A | Weight: 7.6 pounds

Best Smart Robotic Pool Cleaner: Dolphin Explorer E50 Robotic Pool Cleaner

Buy at Pelicanshops1.com

Buy at Poolwarehouse.com

What Stands Out

  • Its user-friendly interface and app make it super easy to control.

What Could Be Improved

  • It’s the highest-priced cleaner on our list.

If you want to make your pool cleaning as simple as possible, opt for a smart device like this robotic cleaner from Dolphin, which can be controlled from anywhere thanks to a user-friendly and easy-to-set-up app. Just download the app, plug in the cleaner, and drop it in the pool—it’ll do the rest of the work for you. You can also use both the fully customizable interface and the app to schedule cleanings and switch through cycles, making this truly a hands-off cleaning experience; it’ll even notify you when it’s done cleaning.

This cleaner comes with three distinct cleaning modes (quick, regular, and ultra) so you can customize it to your needs. It uses a powerful suction motor to collect grime and leaves, and its double-filtered waste basket means even the finest debris is picked up. It attacks both floors and walls (as well as stairs) with equal effectiveness, and its built-in scrubbers work particularly great on waterlines. Plus, it’s light enough to easily drop in the pool with one hand.

The only con is that it’s very expensive. If you can swing it though, you’ll probably never need another pool cleaner again, since this one does it all and is fully customizable. One tester described this as “the Ferrari of cleaners,” and we have to agree.

Price at time of publish: $1,599 

Pool Type & Size: All types, up to 50 feet | Cleaning Coverage: Floor, walls, and waterline | Cord Length: 60 feet | Weight: 19.2 pounds

Best Cordless Robotic Pool Cleaner: Aiper Seagull Pro Robotic Pool Cleaner

Buy at Amazon.com

Buy at Aiper.com

What Stands Out

  • It requires minimal oversight and can run for 180 minutes straight.

What Could Be Improved

  • It doesn’t have a user-friendly interface or app.

Dealing with a long cable can be annoying, so if you’re looking for cordless robotic pool cleaner, we recommend the Aiper Pro. Not only does it not require a cable for use, it comes 100 percent assembled, features a precise four-wheel drive system, and can navigate all pool areas efficiently.

Setting it up is a breeze, as it’s incredibly easy to drop in and comes with a hook that can attach to your cleaning pole. Once it’s in the water and you’ve chosen which of the three modes you want, it’ll run totally on its own, not requiring you to do anything but wait for it to finish up. Truly, there's really nothing you need to deal with other than charging it ahead of time.

Speaking of charging, this compact robot can run for up to 180 minutes straight. During that time, it’ll use its navigation system to cover everything from the walls to the waterline, and you can set the device to run on a fixed pattern. When it’s finished, it’ll move to the pool’s side to stop and turn off the light.

On the downside, we found the interface to be a bit confusing, and it’s not controlled by a remote or app. Still, from a convenience and ease of use point, this robot satisfies.

Price at time of publish: $899

Pool Type & Size: All types, up to 3200 square feet | Cleaning Coverage: Floor, walls, and waterline | Cord Length: N/A | Weight: 21 pounds

Best Robotic Pool Cleaner for In-Ground Pools: Dolphin Nautilus CC Supreme Pool Cleaner

Buy at Amazon.com

Buy at Walmart.com

What Stands Out

  • It’s Wi-Fi-enabled, and the app is very easy to set up and use.

What Could Be Improved

  • It sports a notably high price tag.

Have an in-ground pool that needs some maintenance? Check out this top-notch option from Dolphin, which is a Wi-Fi-enabled device that can be managed and adjusted from an app on your phone.

We found the multiple automatic and manual cleaning options to be easy to understand and use, even for tight spots in the pool that required tricky maneuvering. The scrubbing brush was very impressive, and the robot’s navigation system made it always stay on course. Additionally, the filters were very easy to remove and clean, and the long cable never got twisted and caught up during testing.

Size-wise, this cleaner is not too bulky or heavy, and simple to place in and remove from the pool. The app is a majorly convenient feature that saves lots of time, since you can keep tabs on the cleaning as it goes and make sure the filter isn’t too full. This device does sport a very high price tag though, so it won’t be for everyone. But if you can swing the cost, this cleaner is very much worth the money due to how easy it is to operate and how thoroughly it cleans.

Price at time of publish: $1,499 

Pool Type & Size: In-ground only, up to 50 feet | Cleaning Coverage: Floor, walls, and waterline | Cord Length: 60 feet | Weight: 25 pounds

<p>Real Simple / Julee Evans</p>

Real Simple / Julee Evans

Best Robotic Cleaner for Above-Ground Pools: Dolphin Escape Robotic Above Ground Pool Cleaner

Buy at Amazon.com

Buy at Walmart.com

What Stands Out

  • It’s very compact and lightweight compared to other pool cleaners.

What Could Be Improved

  • It can’t handle large-sized pools.

Although this robot cleaner from Dolphin can work in pools of all types, it’s especially designed for above-ground pools, due to its notably small size and lightweight feel. It runs on low-voltage motors that save energy, and uses smart robotic scanning to clean all areas of the pool efficiently. We found it easy to operate, and were impressed with how it collected 100 percent of the debris and leaves in the pool. It even flattened the pool liner a bit as it circulated through the pool.

Additionally, the large filter cartridge is easy to access and clean, and the cleaner’s continuous rubber tracks allow it to navigate the pool without getting stuck or taking on water. While this cleaner doesn’t fold up, it’s compact enough that storing it when not in use is no problem. Due to its smaller size, it won’t be the best option for anyone with a particularly large or deep pool, but if you have a smallish area to cover, it’ll definitely come in handy.

Price at time of publish: $679

Pool Type & Size: All types, up to 30 feet | Cleaning Coverage: Floor | Cord Length: 40 feet | Weight: 14 pounds

Best Robotic Pool Cleaner for Debris: Dolphin Premier Robotic Pool Cleaner

Buy at Amazon.com

Buy at Walmart.com

What Stands Out

  • It’s a powerful yet gentle cleaner that moves around smoothly.

What Could Be Improved

  • It doesn’t come with a lot of special features, despite the high price tag.

For pools that tend to get filled with a lot of debris, this cleaner from Dolphin will make a big difference. It’s a seriously powerful cleaner featuring dual scrubbing brushes that can effectively scour every inch of your pool in a three-hour window (it even picked up a rogue pool toy). The long cable won’t tangle easily either, and it helps the device move smoothly around all areas of the pool for a thorough yet gentle cleaning.

Starting up the robot takes just a few seconds, and despite its significant power, we found that it’s lightweight and easy to move around. Additionally, the handles help the robot right itself when it gets stuck, and there are three filter options to choose from so you can customize the type of cleaning you want.

This cleaner doesn’t come with a remote or app, and it’s limited in special features. Still, you can set it to clean on a weekly schedule through its interface, and check when the filter is full via an indicator light. At the end of the day, it’s a big expense, but it makes a huge difference if you have a lot of debris in your pool.

Price at time of publish: $1,499

Pool Type & Size: All types, up to 50 feet | Cleaning Coverage: Floor, walls, and waterline | Cord Length: 60 feet | Weight: 20 pounds

<p>Real Simple / Anna Knief</p>

Real Simple / Anna Knief

Best Robotic Pool Cleaner for Algae: Aiper Elite Pro Cordless Robotic Pool Cleaner

Buy at Amazon.com

Buy at Aiper.com

What Stands Out

  • It’s great at picking up small debris and is ultra lightweight.

What Could Be Improved

  • It has a long charge time and isn’t the best at tackling large debris.

Got algae? Consider this great cleaner from Aiper, which will impressively tackle all the algae and other small debris present in your pool. It’s a cordless, battery-powered device that can run for up to 120 minutes without needing a charge, and has a dual motor system that keeps it going smoothly in all areas of the pool. This pool cleaner is very lightweight at just 10 pounds, which makes it super easy to just drop it in the pool and store it after use. It’s also noticeably quiet, and barely made a noise as it worked.

Since this cleaner runs on batteries, you will have to wait a few hours for it to fully charge before use, which may be annoying to some folks. But if you’re willing to wait, you’ll be glad you did; this device cleaned our pool wall and floor with no trouble, and was a beast at cleaning algae. While we were very impressed at its ability to pick up small debris, it’s not the best choice if you primarily want to clean up larger debris, like leaves. When it’s done or low on battery, it’ll park itself near the pool walls, so you can easily retrieve it by hand or with the included hook.

Price at time of publish: $650

Pool Type & Size: All types, up to 1300 square feet | Cleaning Coverage: Floor and walls | Cord Length: N/A | Weight: 9.9 pounds

Final Verdict

For a reliable, fast-acting robotic pool cleaner, we recommend the Dolphin Nautilus CC Plus Robotic Pool Cleaner, due to its ease of use, lightweight design, and overall effectiveness. For a less expensive model, check out the Aiper Seagull SE Cordless Robotic Pool Cleaner, a quiet and cordless cleaner that’ll more than do the job.

Related:The 7 Best Pool Cleaners of 2023, Tested and Reviewed

Our Testing Process

We tested 18 different robotic pool cleaners over a span of several months, using the pools of our real world testers. First, we prepared the pools for use, performing such tasks as performing a backwash, cleaning filters and pump baskets, and making sure chemical balances were correct.

Once the pool was ready for use, we set up the robotic pool cleaner. We started by timing how long setting up the pool cleaner took, from unboxing it until all the pieces were assembled. For battery-powered robotic cleaners, we immediately charged it and timed how long that process took. For Wi-Fi-enabled pool cleaners, we downloaded the applicable app and registered the model.

We used each pool cleaner at least once a week, depending on pool usage, over a span of 2-4 months. Before each cleaning, we took note of what type and how much debris was present in the pool. During the first cleaning we observed the entire process, taking note of the cleaning path and areas that the robot was able (and unable) to get to. For every other cleaning, we both observed the robot and also left it unsupervised during stretches of the cleaning process.

After each cleaning, we recorded how long the process took and how clean the pool was afterwards. We also performed any maintenance required, such as emptying the collection bag and cleaning the filter. Over the course of the testing period, we considered the robotic pool cleaner’s ease of use, design, noise level, effectiveness at cleaning, and ease of maintaining. We also evaluated the cord length and whether it was prone to tangling, as well as whether the robot got stuck at any point.

How to Shop for Robotic Pool Cleaners Like a Pro

Pool Type

Most robotic pool cleaners can work well in both in-ground and above-ground pools, but some models are specifically designed for use in only one of those types. Smaller cleaners in particular are better for above-ground pools since they require less space, but be sure to carefully look over the cleaner you’re considering before buying it to see if it’ll work in your particular pool.

Cleaning Coverage

Many robotic pool cleaners can cover pools up to 50 feet, with some going as high as 60 or 75 feet. The amount of coverage a robot can manage has to do primarily with “the capacity of the debris container,” explains Phil Whitman of Proactive Pool Solutions. The bigger the container, the more debris a cleaner will be able to collect and the greater area it’ll be able to cover.

Additionally, you’ll want to consider the areas of the pool you want to be cleaned. Less expensive robotic pool cleaners, like the Aiper Seagull SE, only clean the pool’s floor and not the walls or waterline. If you want a robotic pool cleaner that cleans all three areas, you should expect to pay quite a bit more—in fact, only one cleaner on this list cleans floors, walls, and waterline and costs under $1,000: the Aiper Seagull Pro.

Cord Length

While some robotic pool cleaners are battery-powered and cordless, most models have long cables that need to be attached to a power source. Expect the cord to be anywhere from 30 to 75 feet, although you can always connect them to an extension cord if needed for greater length.

Features

Robotic pool cleaners can sport many different features, all of which are worth considering. Some common features include:

  • Advanced navigation technology such as sensors or mapping, which can “help the cleaner navigate the pool more efficiently and ensure complete coverage,” says Whitman.

  • Programmable cleaning cycles and modes that you can customize based on your pool’s needs and size. “The ability to set and customize cleaning cycles can help ensure efficient and thorough cleaning,” Whitman says. You’ll typically find this feature in models that are Wi-Fi-enabled and can be controlled from an app.

  • High-level suction power and scrubbing ability, which allows the cleaner to “effectively remove dirt, debris, and algae from the pool surface and walls,” says Whitman.

  • Energy-efficient motors that can “save on electricity costs and reduce environmental impact,” says Whitman.

  • Remote controls or apps that let you conveniently control the robot from afar. Several of the models we recommend can be connected to an app, like the Dolphin Explorer E50, our Best Smart pick.

More Robotic Pool Cleaners to Consider

Dolphin Nautilus CC Robotic Pool Cleaner: This lightweight device cleans thoroughly and comes at a relatively low price point. Still, the cable isn’t particularly long and it only covers pools that are 33 feet in length—and there is no way to spot-clean trouble areas of the pool.

Hydrus Roker Plus Cordless Robotic Pool Cleaner: A popular (and very budget-friendly) cordless option, this cleaner is lightweight and straightforward, requiring little attention or maintenance. However, it only cleans floors, and in our testing it kept getting stuck by the ladder and confused by the slope.

Questions You Might Ask

Is a robotic pool cleaner worth it?

Absolutely, says Whitman. “One of the biggest advantages of a robotic pool cleaner is that it can save you a lot of time and effort compared to manually cleaning your pool,” he notes. “Instead of spending hours brushing and vacuuming the pool yourself, you can simply drop the cleaner into the water and let it do the work for you.”

Additionally, robotic pool cleaners tend to be energy-efficient (making them more cost-effective in the long term) and convenient, since you can often control them remotely and schedule their cleaning times. And of course, there’s their effectiveness: “Robotic pool cleaners are designed to thoroughly clean the bottom and walls of your pool, as well as remove debris and contaminants that might be missed by other types of cleaners,” says Whitman. “Overall,” he adds, “if you value your time and want to enjoy a clean and clear pool without spending a lot of effort, a robotic pool cleaner can be worth the investment.”

Can robotic pool cleaners clean larger debris?

It depends on the cleaner, says Whitman. “Most robotic pool cleaners are designed to pick up smaller debris like dirt, leaves, and insects. However, some models come with larger intake ports or debris bags that can handle bigger debris like twigs, pebbles, and small rocks,” he explains.

If you do have a lot of large debris in your pool, “look for a robotic pool cleaner that has a large debris bag or basket, and powerful suction or scrubbing capabilities,” Whitman says. “You may also want to consider a model with a clog-resistant design or a manual cleaning mode, which can help you remove larger debris that might get stuck in the cleaner's intake or brushes.”

If you have a lot of debris in your pool, we recommend the Dolphin Premier, which has a large debris bag, impressive suction, and dual scrubbing brushes for extra effectiveness.

How much should you expect to pay for a robotic pool cleaner?

“The cost of a robotic pool cleaner can vary depending on the model, brand, and features,” says Whitman, but “generally, you can expect to pay anywhere from $300 to $1,500 or more for a robotic pool cleaner.”

He adds that lower-priced models “typically have fewer features and may not be suitable for larger or more complex pools. They may also have shorter warranty periods or be less durable than higher-end models.”

Pricier models, meanwhile, may boast numerous special features and “be better suited for larger or more challenging pool configurations, and typically come with longer warranty periods,” he says.

Take Our Word for It

This article was written by Rachel Simon, a writer for Real Simple, Better Homes & Gardens, The New York Times, and many other publications. To write this article, we tested 18 robotic pool cleaners over a span of several months and evaluated them on ease of use, effectiveness, value, design, and more. For expert insight, we spoke to Phil Whitman of Proactive Pool Solutions in Raleigh, North Carolina.

What Is Real Simple Selects?

Next to each product on this list, you may have noticed a Real Simple Selects seal of approval. Any product appearing alongside that seal has been vetted by our team—put through tests and graded on its performance to earn a spot on our list. Although we buy most of the products we test, sometimes we do get samples from companies if purchasing a product ourselves isn’t an option. All products go through the same rigorous process, whether they are purchased or sent by the company.

Love our recommendations? Check out more products that have earned the Real Simple Selects, from humidifiers to cordless vacuums.

For more Real Simple news, make sure to sign up for our newsletter!

Read the original article on Real Simple.