Pool Cleaner Reviews - The Best Robotic Pool Cleaners
Dolphin Oasis Z5 Pool Cleaner Overview
The Dolphin Oasis Z5 is the latest robotic pool cleaner to be launched by Maytronics, the manufacturer of Dolphin pool cleaners. If you are unfamiliar with robotic pool cleaners, they are basically just a self-propelled cleaning robot that is dropped down into your pool. It then powers up and vacuums water from the bottom of the cleaner and expels it on the top, thereby suctioning itself to the pool as it moves along. Generally it will both filter the water it is suctioning to remove debris and particulate matter, as well as scrub the pool surface with a variety of brushes to help remove stuck on dirt and algae. The higher end cleaners will also be able to adhere to the walls and clean up to and along the waterline. This is a great feature to have because most often the bottom of the pool gets the dirtiest, followed by the waterline.
We love almost everything about the Dolphin Oasis Z5, primarily because it is a top-of-the-line cleaner that includes all of the features that are needed to clean virtually any pool from bottom, to sides, to waterline, as well as along slopes and coves and step. It utilizes split-brushes to give it the most nimble steering and turning, features top access filter cartridges, will clean any pool surface type, includes a remote control, includes a caddy, and comes with a full 3 year warranty. And all of this for a price that is truly amazing when compared to other cleaners with similar features.
Pool Cleaner Brushes
The Dolphin Oasis Z5 features split brushes with two types of brush material - PVC and foam rollers. The PVC brushes allows the cleaner to effectively brush and clean any pool surface type, and the foam rollers helps it to adhere and not slip as it climbs walls and gets up to the waterline. The split brush is important because it helps the cleaner maneuver and turn around all obstacles quickly and easily. Pool cleaners with a non-split brush can still turn in your pool, but it is a more involved and time consuming process because the cleaner will generally come to a complete standstill, power down the impeller motor to lower the suction rate, then one side of the cleaner will float up quicker than the other side, then the motor powers up and it pulls the unit back down again to the bottom only now the unit has turned slightly and it will be on a new path. This will work, but it is quite a bit slower than having a split-brush unit like the Dolphin Oasis that can spin the brushes in two directions at once to rapidly turn the unit in place.
Pool Cleaner Filters / Filtration
The Dolphin Oasis comes with top loading cartridge filters of two types - mesh and super fine. We liked the top loading cartridges because of the ease of removing and cleaning them. Instead of pulling the cleaner out of the water and tipping it over on its side, you just pull it from the pool and set it down, pop open the top two halves, and quickly and easily remove the filters. Then you can just give them a quick rinse with a hose or in a utility sink and put them right back in and off you go. Couldn't be easier than that. The two types of cartridge materials are a good option so that when you are first cleaning a very dirty pool (such as opening it up in the spring) you use the mesh filter and it mostly cleans the larger debris such as leaves, pine needles, and band-aids (yuck!) Then after a couple cycles you can switch to the fine filters and it will transform murky water into crystal clear water. Both types of filters come stock with the cleaner so you don't have to decide which one might work better.
Pool Cleaner Scanning - Smart Tracking for Any Pool Shape
The Oasis has the latest and greatest Dolphin pool scanning technology. This means that as you use the cleaner it learns the pool shape and will optimize the paths it takes to clean evenly and with minimal wandering or guesswork. Cheaper cleaners generally aren't as intelligent and will use a random pattern rather than a computerized tracking system - this will work to clean a pool.... eventually. Smart tracking is much faster and efficient and makes sure to get to every corner and slope and cleans more evenly. Other cleaners we've tried have seemed to favor sections of the pool (the deep end for instance) and will crawl around endlessly in those sections while neglecting to climb out and get the other sections. We tried the Oasis in two different backyard pools, one which was mostly rectangular and the other kidney shaped, and it cleaned all areas equally well and didn't get stuck in one area.
Dolphin Oasis Dual-Drive Motor
Along with split brushes, the Dolphin Oasis also features dual-drive motors. What does this mean and why should you care? Well with dual-drive motors this means the cleaner has 2 motors inside of it instead of just one, and two is better than one, right?! One motor on the Oasis powers the impeller which suctions and filters the water. The other motor powers the drive system and moves the cleaner along the pool. Having two motors helps the cleaner do both of those functions better instead of relying on a single motor to perform both propulsion and filtration.
Pool Cleaner Remote Control
The Oasis comes standard with a remote control. Once we figured out that you need to point the remote at the power supply unit instead of at the cleaner itself (oops), it worked like a champ. While a remote is not necessary for the cleaner to do it's job, it was nice to have as an option. You can use the remote to override the standard cleaning cycles and drive the unit directly to any spots or sections in the pool that seem like they might need a cleaning. This would seem to be especially nice if you just want to do a super quick spot cleaning - maybe because there are a few leaves down by the drain and you've got people coming over in half an hour for instance. You could also use the remote to have the cleaner race your spouse to the diving toys, but this is not a manufacturer recommended usage. (Boo!) Jokes aside, the remote worked great and guiding the cleaner with it was simple and intuitive.
Pool Cleaner Warranty - 3 Years
The Dolphin Oasis comes with a 36 month / 3 Year full bumper to bumper warranty. This is a best in class warranty that shows how confident Dolphin is about the performance, durability, and longevity of the Oasis. Be warned that some pool cleaners only come with a 1 or maybe 2 year warranty. And sometimes that warranty only covers the motor. Even worse, many pool cleaners come with no warranty at all for purchases that were made online. We aren't completely sure why this is done, but if you are shopping around for a new pool cleaner be sure to verify if the warranty is valid for an online purchase. You may be surprised to find that if you didn't buy the cleaner from your local pool store, you will be completely out of luck if you need to have warranty service. But not to worry with the Oasis - it has a valid 3 year warranty for any purchase whether offline or online.
Other Oasis Z5 Pool Cleaner Features
A few other features that come with the Oasis are the following:
Cable swivel - This keeps the 60 foot long power cable from tangling while the cleaner is doing it's thing in the pool.
Cleaning cycles - The Oasis has either a 1 or 2.5 hour cleaning cycle you can select depending on how thorough you want it go clean for any given use.
Caddy cart - Came with pool unit caddy that was easy to put together and let's you move the unit around easily and keeps the water and dirt from running down your legs on the trek from the shed to the pool and back.
Pool Surface Types - Good for any in-ground pool surface.
Pool Size - Recommend for pools up to 50 feet or so.
Pool Shape - Good for any in-ground pool shape (we tested in rectangular and kidney shaped and had fanstastic results.)
Final Thoughts - How Did the Dolphin Oasis Perform?
As mentioned earlier, we tested the Oasis in two different backyard pools. One was a rectangular pool with a gunite surface. The other was a kidney shaped pool with a tile lining. This seemed like a pretty good test because of the varying shapes and surfaces (gunite being very rough and the tile very smooth and slick.) The Oasis was dropped into both pools, set to the 2.5 hour cycle, and then we mostly just sat back and watched and waited for it to do its thing. The cleaner appeared to run around somewhat randomly for the first 10 or 15 minutes, then settled into a more structured pattern as it cleaned. It went easily into all sections of the pools and had no trouble climbing out of the deep and steep end of the tile pool. It also climbed walls with no problem and was able to climb right up and partly out of the water as it slided along the waterline. The brushes spin along the waterline to clean the muck that accumulates there and it did a very thorough job cleaning the ring around the pool. It also did a great job cleaning along the bottom (which is where most gunk settles), and you could see it leave clean tracks behind it as it drove along the bottom, especially for the first portion of the cleaning cycle.
Neither pool had many leaves in it, so we threw a few handfuls in to test how it would clean larger debris. Once the leaves were waterlogged enough to actually sink (we had a bet on how long that would take - 14 minutes) the Oasis was able to suction them up with no problem. Now if your entire pool floor is covered in leaves or pine needles, I'm not sure how it would perform then, but with a typical amount that you would find between cleanings the Oasis did great. I've seen other cleaners just push leaves along or blow them out of the way entirely without ever picking them up. Not an issue with the Oasis.
Lastly was pool clarity. This was harder to see at first because we sat poolside for the entire time watching the unit, but you could definitely see a huge difference by the end of the cleaning. In fact, at one of the homes my friend's wife came out just as we were packing up and she commented on how much better she could see the bottom of the pool and that it looked much bluer and that she didn't even realize how murky the water had become. This is going to happen as a pool is used and lotion and dust and chemicals get saturated into the water. So being able to run the Oasis with the fine filter in the pool to clear things up, even if there isn't visible dirt, is a great feature and makes the whole pool experience much more pleasant and enjoyable.
Final Analysis - The Dolphin Oasis Z5 has performed above and beyond our expectations, especially for the price point it is being sold at (currently retailing around $1200). You can spend closer to $2000 for some similar cleaners, but you won't get much more for your money in our opinion. The Oasis cleaned like a champ, was extremely easy to use, features the latest and most advanced options, comes standard with a remote and caddy, and has a 3 year no-worry warranty. Seems hard to go wrong if you decide to choose one.