Finding the best robotic pool cleaner
Tales from the lazy pool owner: fire your pool man
I'm lazy, and fairly cheap -- not good combinations, if you have a backyard in-ground pool.
If you want to maintain your swimming pool, and fire your pool maintenance man, then you will be in the market for a pool cleaner. There are plenty of them on the market, but before you buy one and drop several hundred dollars, please check out the options I tried, since I've made a few mistakes and learned the hard way.
We live in the California desert, and summers are brutal. It’s gotten as hot as 126 degrees, which is why our pool is a necessity. After trying two different mechanical pool cleaners, we are now using a robotic pool cleaner that has paid for itself and couldn’t be easier to operate.
It saves me an estimated $125 to $150 a month (up to $1800 a year) to have someone come once or twice a week to clean the pool and check the chemicals. Anybody who can put fog on a mirror can do this job. The real issue is time, and robotic pool cleaners solve this problem for keeping it clean.
I started with the Sta-Rite Pool Shark, which connects to the pool’s intake, and relies on the pump to do its suctioning. It worked pretty well, but it only ran when the pool was on -- and when the pool was on, it wouldn’t skim, because our pool was built in the 1980s and didn’t have a side intake.
We came up with basket skimming device from the pool store that would split the suction between the skimmer and the pool shark, rendering them both, well, fairly impotent.
So I dumped the pool shark, which also started crawling up the walls and sucking air, disturbing the neighbors.
Then we used the Hayward Pool Vac, again, a suction side cleaner that would vacuum up leaves and dirt and deliver the debris to the pool skimmer basket or pump basket. The same problems occurred as the Pool Shark. On really windy days, when the pump would go on, the Hayward would go around until it choked on a small stick or three or four leaves. If it was worse, and continued to work, it would clog up the skimmer basket and when I got home from work, the pool was a mess and the Hayward needed to be cleaned.
So far, this wasn’t working.
Finally, in 2009, I went to the next level, getting a robotic pool cleaner. These can run well over $1,000, but I found one that was affordable at several hundred dollars less, the Nitro Wall Climber Robotic Cleaner. It plugs in a regular outdoor electrical outlet – although a Ground Fault Interrupter (GFI) switch is preferred. That way, if it were ever to short out, or supply a current into your pool water, it would automatically turn off.
Still, I don’t go in the pool with the thing plugged in.
No problem! It runs from one or two hours, depending on the cycle you select, and it vacuums up all the sand, leaves and gunk that the wind blew in. I plug it in, go inside and do whatever I want to do, and later, when I remember, I look outside and it’s clean.
That’s the kind of pool cleaner I was looking for! It allows me to be lazy.
A filter bag inside the unit cleans out easily with a garden hose and it takes me no more than 10 minutes. I empty the leaves, and hose it out, and snap it back in.
My unit came with a wheeled cart caddy, so I can wrap up the cord and put it away until next time.
This has more than paid for itself, and in the two years that I’ve been using it, it’s never stalled or hiccupped or worked other than perfectly.
I will not go back to a suction side cleaner. If you can scrape together the money to buy a robotic pool cleaner, you will save yourself time, money, and will enjoy your pool much more – without the pool man.
Where to find it!
This is the Nitro Wall Scrubber - a somewhat newer version of what I have, which also climbs the walls. This thing will pay for itself in less than 6 months, and save you money on electricity!