Best Robotic Pool Cleaners for Leaves

Once summer arrives, the last thing you want is to be doing laps around the edge of your pool, skimming for leaves and debris. This is the time for outdoor activities, and cleaning your pool is definitely not at the top of your list. Now is the time to invest in a robotic pool-cleaning partner.

Of course, the other option is to fill your pool in, and take in the view of the vast concrete mass that replaces it, but again, this is not exactly conducive to all of the fun summer activities ahead. You could also ditch all of the trees and other plants dropping their leaves into your pool, but we are going for a vacation vibe, not a prison one. Looks like a pool robot is the logical answer after all.

The mere notion of the robotic pool cleaner is promising, as its main goal is to do your most backbreaking (and let’s face it, boring) chore for you. It will also probably do the job more quickly…and better.

Now that you have decided to treat yourself to this handy little device, a little bit of research needs to be done to determine which robotic pool cleaner is right for you and your pool. Which one is the fastest? Do you want one with smart technology to show off to your neighbors? Which one isn’t going to break after one summer? Luckily, we had the same questions, and did our due diligence in getting them answered.

Our Recommended Robotic Pool Cleaners

Best Overall: Dolphin Nautilus CC Plus Robotic Cleaner – Available on Amazon
This model has an easy set up and is easy to use, as well as dual filters. The Dolphin Nautilus is definitely the top pick when it comes to operation and actual filtering of debris.

Best Smart: Polaris Sport Robotic Pool Vacuum Cleaner – Available on Amazon
Due to the “smart” nature of the Polaris Sport, it is one of the costlier models; however, with that comes the ease of “setting it and forgetting it” – almost the entire cleaning process is automated.

Best for Above Ground Pools: Aquabot Pool Rover Junior
Built simply, but strong, this model can process up to 80 gallons per minute. Small particles are filtered into a built-in (and replaceable) bag, so disposal is a snap.

Best for Inground Pools: Hayward SharkVac XL Robotic Pool Vacuum
This model removes algae and dirt with ease, thanks to its smart steering technology and two-step filtering process.

Best for Leaves: Dolphin Premier Robotic Pool Cleaner
Featuring a large attached bag primarily for collecting leaves, there is no doubt the Dolphin Premier is superior when it comes to leaf removal. While it is great for leaves, it’s powerful scrubbing brushes make it tough on pool floors as well.

Best for Vinyl Pools: Polaris Sport Robotic In-Ground Pool Cleaner
Featuring slightly gentler brushes, this model provides an ideal cleaning program for vinyl pools. Its tires are even specifically designed to work with any pool surface material.

Best Budget: Aiper Smart Cordless Automatic Pool Cleaner
This model features a 50-minute cleaning time and is cordless, so each session is quick and a breeze to wrap up. This model also has a few key smart features, such as parking itself along the pool wall when its battery is low.

Why buy a robotic pool cleaner?

Your pool cleaning routine depends on many things, but the primary factors tend to be how much time and money you are willing to spend. One of the easiest (albeit most expensive as well), is to hire a professional to clean your pool regularly, and depend on their equipment. This is not always affordable or accessible, so it may be wise to invest in reliable pool cleaning equipment yourself. The best pool equipment these days tends to fall in the robotic cleaner category.

The cheaper option is definitely handheld nets and brushes, or even manual vacuums. Cleaning your pool this way can become an all-day task, however, and this equipment is rarely designed ergonomically. We then look to automatic pool cleaners to combine all of these tools into one device, one that won’t break our backs!

These devices can sometimes be on the spendy side, but it is possible to find a budget friendly option. It is also helpful to remember that these are an investment for a number of reasons:

They save time. Many of us lead hectic lives, with familial obligations, full-time jobs, and who knows what else. It is rare to have a ton of spare time for pool maintenance, especially when your only free time is on the weekend.

They can help prevent health issues. As previously mentioned, the traditional manual pool cleaning tools are rarely designed with our bodies in mind. The repetitive motions that come with using them can cause strain and injury to backs and joints, or exacerbate previous injuries. Additionally, many individuals have pre-existing physical limitations and disabilities that can prevent them from using these tools in the first place.

They provide a far better clean than we can. Unless you are getting in your pool with an oxygen tank and a scrub brush, it isn’t really possible to replicate the results that a robotic cleaner achieves. These appliances optimize the scrubbing and filtration processes, and some even include smart navigation for efficiency.

They can take strain off of your pool pump. Unlike other pool cleaners/vacuums, robotic cleaners do not rely on your pool pump for power. They usually have their own internal power source, as well as their own filters, which can take a lot of unnecessary strain off of your pool’s pump, and prolong your pool system’s life.

They are greener. Robotic pool cleaners are a more energy efficient option for maintaining your pool, due to their reliance on internal power systems. They also keep your pool clean more regularly, meaning fewer chemicals need to be used over the lifespan of your pool.

What to Know Before Buying A Pool Cleaner For Leaf Removal:

There are several different models of pool cleaners designed to collect and remove leaves, dirt, and debris. They can have a variety of features, and these days, no two are exactly alike. That said, it is important to consider these most essential features when looking for a cleaner that will target leaves:

Types Of Swimming Pool: (In-Ground Or Above Ground):

The first step is to identify what type of pool you have, and what the best pool cleaner is for that type. When researching, be sure to include the type of pool you have in your online queries. It is important, however, to pay attention to the descriptions of cleaners you find, as the popularity of each product will not necessarily be a good indicator that you should buy. For example, some pool cleaners only work on in-ground pools, and could be detrimental to above-ground pools. To avoid any damage, make sure to pay attention to each product’s specification.

Types Of Pool Cleaner (Suction Side vs. Pressure Side vs. Robotic):

Currently, there are four types of pool cleaners available to you, and all of them are capable of collecting leaves. The first type is manual, which includes all of the handheld tools, like nets and brushes. The other three types are pressure side, suction side, and robotic.

Pressure Side Pool Cleaner: This type of pool cleaner relies on water pressure to make

its way around your pool. Its booster pump expels water to help move it along the walls and floor of your pool. This water pressure can also aid in the filtration of the pool water.

This type of cleaner is perfect for leaves and other large debris that can get left in your pool. Their built-in filter systems also help keep any collected debris from getting into your pool’s filter. These cleaners tend to be strong and durable, and their use of water pressure makes them very efficient.

Some models of pressure side cleaners, like the Polaris Vac-Sweep 280, need to be connected to a booster pump to operate properly. The booster pump increases water pressure in the device and allows it to pick up large debris, as well as move around. That said, make sure that your booster pump is compatible with any pool cleaner you are thinking about buying.

Robotic Pool Cleaners: These handy little appliances are the most popular for a reason: they are completely self-contained, with some models only needing to be plugged in. They have their own filter systems and can move around by themselves, so they tend to be very efficient. We definitely recommend these if you are trying to collect leaves and smaller debris.

Suction Side Pool Cleaners: This type of pool cleaner tends to fall on the less expensive side, primarily because it relies on your pool’s infrastructure to run. A suction-side pool cleaner needs to be connected to your pool’s filter. This does make them pretty versatile as long as your pool has a filter: these cleaners are great for in-ground and above ground pools because they clean using suction.

Buyer’s Guide

One would think that shopping for a pool cleaner to eradicate leaves would be a simple task. However, there are many factors to look into, and determining the best value can be complicated as a result. That being said, the best pool cleaner is one that meets your specific needs. Price comes in second, when you are able to determine which features you are willing to forego, and which features you simply cannot. The following guide takes you through each feature you may need to consider:

Is your pool above ground or below?

Identifying the type of pool you have is the first step to finding the right pool cleaner. The appliance is for your pool after all. This is where online ranking lists and reviews are unable to help you. You cannot simply grab the most popular model, because it may not be compatible with your pool. That said, keep your pool type in mind when shopping.

In our research, we had in mind an average sized in-ground pool. For example, the Polaris Vac-Sweep 360 is not designed for an above ground pool, and we do not recommend purchasing if you have one. If your pool is above ground, or on the larger side, you may want to seek models that are specifically designed to tackle those types of pools. Fortunately, if you are shopping for a cleaner for an above ground pool, most models very budget-friendly.

Different Pools Require Different Maintenance

If you are seeking a pool cleaner specifically for removing leaves, you ought to think about removing other debris as well for the best value. Dirt and pollen are a given, and I am sure they are not the only particles getting into your pool. You will want to take your pool’s surroundings and the type of debris your pool usually has into consideration.

Additionally, it is important to think realistically about how often your pool is in use. The more traffic it gets, the more it needs to be cleaned; if you are throwing multiple pool parties every summer, consider a cleaner that can handle more frequent cleanings.

Suction vs. Pressure vs. Robotic models

Now that you have identified the type of pool you have and the typical debris your pool cleaner will undertake, your own wants can come to the forefront. The actual type of pool cleaner is up to you.

A suction-side pool cleaner uses your pool’s own suction hose to remove debris. Because they become an extension of your pool, they are fairly easy to maintain. For the same reason, they put more pressure on your pool’s filter.

A pressure-side pool cleaner uses water pressure to operate, usually via a pressurized hose that fills with water filtered by the cleaner itself. Unlike the suction-side models, this type doesn’t add wear and tear to your pool filter, but it may require a booster pump to work optimally.

Robotic cleaners are more self-contained than their counterparts, so they do not require any additional hoses or pumps. They tend to be a bit more expensive, as they are the “complete package” so to speak. That said, the robotic cleaners get a much better result because they are designed to do the whole job themselves.

Time is Money, and Money is Money

These handy little appliances can cost a pretty penny, but it is helpful to remember that they can save you a lot of time. If your time is something that you cherish, a pool cleaner can be a great investment.

There is, maybe unfortunately, a direct correlation between the amount of time you want to save and the amount of money you will have to spend on a cleaner. If you are not up for the financial commitment, it is fine to compromise with a simpler pool cleaner, and spend a bit more time with it.

Maintenance costs are also an important thing to consider. Pool cleaners tend to have quite a few moving parts, and these will need repairing or replacing some time down the road. Additionally, you may need to purchase additional parts at the time you purchase your pool cleaner, simply because they are not included. This can include filter bags, or even extension cords if the built in cord is not long enough for your needs.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I vacuum leaves out of my pool?
Yes! You just need the appropriate equipment, and follow the right steps to properly remove leaves and debris from your pool. Appropriate tools include pool cleaners and manual tools alike. One could use a net to remove leaves and other particles from the surface, but you may require a pool vacuum to get the debris at the bottom of your pool. The Polaris Vac-Sweep 360 and the Dolphin 2018 can each do just that.

Do robotic pool cleaners pick up leaves?
They do, but they cannot always collect all of them. It depends on the cleaner, but those with larger intake receptacles and finer filtering systems can reliably remove leaves, as well as twigs, dirt, pollen, and more.

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