Pool season comes with all the fun times and a lot of work too. Cleaning out the leaves and other debris, ensuring optimum swimming pool chemistry and regular cleaning can take a toll on both your time and money. If you employ professional pool cleaners the cost of maintaining your own pool goes up further. This is where an automatic pool cleaner can come in handy.
Not all automatic pool cleaners are the same. And the best one for you completely depends on the type of pool you have, the plumbing system, and your budget. There are three different types of automatic pool cleaners. The pressure side pool cleaners, the suction side pool cleaners, and the robotic pool cleaners. Each one works with a different mechanism and comes with its own set of pros and cons.
Understanding the pool’s pumping system
Before we delve further into these, here’s a quick round-up of how the swimming pool circulation works. The pool pumping system works similar to the circulatory system of our bodies. Wherein blood is pumped by the heart and clean blood is returned to the body. The pool pumping system works similarly. Skimmers draw the water through the pool while a centrifugal pump drains it. Large debris is removed by the basket in the skimmer and stops it from entering the impeller in the pump. This water is further cleaned by the force from the pump’s impeller. The clean water is then returned to the pool. Some pool circulation systems also treat and heat the clean water before it goes back in the pool. With an idea of how the pool pumping system works, it will be easier for you to decide which type of pool cleaner is best for you. We are going to talk about and review the top suction side pool cleaners in this article. And arm you with enough information to buy just the right one and how to care for it.
What are suction-side pool cleaners and how do they work?
Suction-side pool cleaners are the most popular as well as the least expensive compared to the other two types. In fact, the first automatic pool cleaner ever used was a suction-side one. As the name suggests it works with the suction action of your pool’s pumping system. The suction power of the pool pump, through which water passes through the filter propels the suction-side pool cleaner and gives it motion. The cleaner moves around the pool in a random path and extracts the dirt and debris. A hose is attached to a hole below the skimmer basket. Some pools also have dedicated suction cleaner line. It is usually located somewhere in the middle of the pool’s length. With this dedicated line, you can directly plug in the cleaner to the wall fitting.
Once the hose is attached the pool’s pumping system creates suction under the cleaner. Think of it as an underwater vacuum cleaner that does not require you to move it around. As the cleaner moves across the swimming pool, it catches debris, dirt and more. These get sucked through the pipe, the hose and collects at the pump’s skimmer basket. If the debris is really small it might even pass through the skimmer all the way to the filter.
Advantages of a suction-side pool cleaner over pressure-side and robotic cleaners
- They are the easiest to install
- Have fewer moving parts hence require less maintenance
- Most models climb and clean walls easily
- Works very well with small debris
- Does not require any additional booster pumps
- Lower electricity consumption
Top 10 Suction Side Pool Cleaners List
This is a great product from Hayward which is both efficient and effective. It comes with the POOLCLEANER™ technology and the patented self-adjusting turbine vanes. This feature ensures that the cleaner moves even at low pressure. The folding design of the vanes helps larger debris to easily move through the cleaner.
Other great features include the pre-programmed internal steering system and the adjustable skirt. Its steering system enables the cleaner to stop and reverse periodically, thus making it cover the entire pool. And also prevents it from getting stuck in one place. The adjustable skirt helps clean effectively even with uneven surfaces by going over the obstacle while the suction motion continues. Its tires come with robust treads to help the cleaner navigate uneven surfaces and slopes.
This was one of the easiest to install of all the suction-side pool cleaners we reviewed. Designed for in-ground pools, it also had a very quiet operation. It comes with self-adjusting valves (Flowkeeper valves)that regulate the water flow automatically and ensure effective cleaning even with a low HP pool pump. It has a round disc design with 36-fins that provide adequate adhesion and help navigate drains and other fittings.
It is a great choice for first-time automatic pool buyers because of its ease of installation and low intervention operation. The maintenance too should be less often as it has only one moving part. You might need to buy a separate leaf skimmer to add to the cleaner if you get a lot of large debris and leaves.
A good suction-side pool cleaner this has the price advantage with effective cleaning. It comes with 10 hoses and is easy to install. It works well with 1 HP pool pump and does not require any other power source. Its flapper moves freely thus avoiding any debris to get stuck. The cleaner works well both in-ground and above ground.
The cleaner easily climbs walls and is able to clean them effectively. It is not meant to clean pool stairs and tends to have navigation issues. You will also need to ensure that there is no air in the hose during operation. To avoid this leave the cleaner in the pool. We found the cleaner to be more effective on screened pools as it doesn’t work on getting rid of leaves.
The AquaNaut suction pool cleaners from Hayward have the same patented technology as the Pool Cleaner series. That gives the machine its self-adjusting vanes. Enabling the cleaner to work well even with low water flow. The foldable vanes also allow easy passage for large debris to pass through.
The cleaner also has the Haywards patented roller skirt which enables the cleaner to navigate uneven surfaces while maintaining an effective cleaning action. If must be wondering what is the difference between Pool Cleaner and Aqua Naut model. The operating mechanism for both cleaners is the same. the only difference is in the colors they are available in and the handles and hubcap designs.
A reliable pool cleaner for above ground pools it comes with a fun design. It comes with a patented microprocessor based Smart Drive program. Which ensures that the cleaner takes the quickest path across the pool to complete the cleaning cycle as quickly as possible.
It also comes with a bumper ring and a unique turbine system. This allows the cleaner to easily move away from the walls and gives it a gentle overall movement. It comes with 32 feet of hose and can be installed in about 10 minutes. Though it has a quick, quiet and effective performance we did face issues with the cleaner staying at a particular spot. We had to rescue it and set it on course.
This is another powerful and affordable cleaner from Hayward that comes with its patented Smart Drive technology that ensures an efficient pre-programmed operation. This technology makes the cleaner move in pre-set patterns or movements that ensure a quick and efficient cleaning cycle. The cleaner was able to complete a cycle in 3-4 hours for a medium-sized pool.
This pre-programmed drive also avoids tangling of the hose too. The hose that comes with the unit is good enough for a 40 feet pool. The best part for us was the quiet operation and ease of installation. Do keep in mind that this is built for concrete pools.
A great option from Pentair this cleaner works well with all kinds of surfaces. It has been designed to clean the pool right from the water line to the bottom surface. The cleaner regulates water flow with its automatic valve. It maneuvers around stairs, ladder and other tricky surfaces with the help of its roller straps.
This a really powerful device and is affordable too. Designed for in-ground pools its cleaning cycle is quiet and effective. Once set-up and running it will need none or minimal intervention from you. The best feature of this cleaner is its ability to clean small and large debris, fine dirt or sand and leaves too.
A great choice in above-ground cleaners the Pentair 360100 Kreepy Krauly Lil Shark is designed for above-ground pools. This a new design from Pentair and a very powerful device. The best feature is its dual-band of nylon bristles. These bristles not only help clean the debris and dirt but scrub off the toughest of grime and dirt.
It comes with Pentair’s Programmed Cleaning resulting in an efficient and effective cleaning cycle. It also covers a wider area and cuts a 10-inch wide path. A 32 feet hose is provided with the product. Another easy-to-install device, it does not require any kind of assembly. You can just plug it and set it up to clean your pool.
This Pentair suction-side pool cleaner comes with sure flow turbine design. The design is responsible for providing a clear passage to the debris and thus avoids clogging. It also has a programmed cleaning cycle to give you an efficient operation in the shortest possible time. The cleaner works well even with low flow pumps owing to its enhanced hydraulic design.
The cleaner works with all kinds of pool surfaces right from vinyl, fiberglass, tile, and others. Its dual action roller skirt enables effective cleaning and easy navigation through all kinds of surfaces and obstructions. We found it very effective in cleaning and climbing walls and tight angles.
Another product from Pentair with its SmartTrac programming technology. This allows the device to navigate inclines and obstacles more accurately and quickly. It is designed for in-ground pools and can easily climb walls. The unit comes with a 34-feet hose and has an easy installation. It has a 12-inch wide cleaning path that allows for an efficient cleaning operation and also quickens the cleaning cycle.
While the cleaner worked well and stuck only once for us. It might not work as well if you have a lot of leaves. It is a good idea to have a screen if your pool tends to get a lot of leaves and acorns.
Now that you have info on the top suction-side cleaners available in the market, here’s a little guide on how to pick the right one.
Points to keep in mind when selecting a suction-side pool cleaner
- Size and type of pool: The type of pool you have and its size are the foremost things to consider when buying any kind of automatic pool cleaner. Suction-side pool cleaners are best suited for small and medium-sized pools. You will also need to check if a cleaner is meant for in-ground or above-ground pools. Most suction-side cleaners work with all kinds of surfaces including vinyl, fiberglass, and concrete. We would still advice to check for your pool surface type.
- Length of the hose: Most cleaners come with a hose that works well with any medium sized pool. But a hose that is too long can lead to tangling and a one tad bit short can impair cleaning the entire pool. A lot of products these days come with a detachable hose that you can assemble based on your needs. But we suggest you pick the one which is suitable for your pool size and easily reaches the end of the pool from the skimmer. Do check if your favorite model has an option to buy a longer one.
- Price: While you might be spoilt for choice with different types and brands of pool cleaners available in the market. Pick one that suits your budget. A pool cleaner is not a one-time expense and will incur a few other costs overtime including maintenance, power and more. Suction-side pool cleaners are the most affordable and have low maintenance costs too. So, once you decide on choosing a suction-side cleaner, shortlist the ones that are within your budget.
- Durability: Do check for the warranty offered by the manufacturer. A good rule of thumb is to go for a cleaner with a longer warranty from the manufacturer.
- Debris: If your pool collects a lot of large debris a suction-side pool cleaner will need more care and your skimmer too will bear the impact. Any suction-side pool cleaner will work well for smaller debris. If you live in an area with a lot of leaves, acorns and other large debris frequently accumulating in your pool, invest in a cleaner with more powerful suction. You can also get a pool screen to ease the pressure on the cleaner and your pumping system.
How to maintain and care for your suction-side cleaner
With fewer moving parts caring for a suction-side pool cleaner is simpler and easier. Just keep in mind the following easy tips to make your suction cleaner work well and last longer.
- When installing a suction cleaner always start with a clean filter.
- Always remove the pool cleaner before you plan to do a chemical shock.
- Regularly check all inlet for any trapped or accumulating debris.
- If reinstalling make sure the plumbing line has been flushed.
- Reduce wear and tear by running the pool cleaner only as long as needed.
- Disconnect the hoses before storing and always lay them flat.
- Store both the cleaner and the hose in a dry shade/cover away from the sun.
- Always disconnect the pool cleaner while swimming or when you are cleaning or backwashing your pool filter.
- Maintain a clean pool pump and ensure that your skimmer basket, pool filter and your pump basket are clean before each cleaning cycle.
- Check all parts regularly and replace them as needed.
While you take time to decide which automatic pool cleaner to go for, it is important to ensure a healthy and clean pool. Both cleaning and maintaining the chemical balance is important to ensure your pool is clean and safe. A good practice is to check the pH and chlorine levels daily.
Safe and happy swimming!