Friday, February 1, 2013

Automatic Pool Cleaners

There are three types of automatic pool cleaners; suction side pool cleaners, pressure side pool cleaners and robotic pool cleaners.  Let’s take a look at each one. 

Suction Side Automatic Pool Cleaners; These are cleaners that attach to the suction side of your plumbing. The suction side refers to the pipes and fittings that bring water out of the pool to be filtered; that water which is being “sucked” out of the pool by the filter pump. These cleaners attach to one of the suction ports at the pool. Usually, this port is the skimmer, or your pool may have a separate vacuum port where the cleaner’s hose can attach. With the hose attached and the filter pump running, suction is created on the underside of the cleaner.

The cleaner moves randomly, or automatically around the pool with motion created by a device that gives a stop/start pulsing of water. As the unit travels, debris is sucked up through the neck and then the hose, past the suction port, through the pipe, and stops at the filter pump strainer basket, while smaller debris passes through to the filter. Adjustments on the hose, the unit itself and flow volume will create different cleaning patterns, so as to maximize pool coverage.

Pressure Side Cleaners; These cleaners are those that attach to the pressure side (return) of your circulation system. The water that is being pumped or “pushed” back to the pool powers these units which have their own hydraulic power plant inside. Being on the pressure side, these units have distinct advantages. They are helpful in distributing clean, filtered water around the pool and having their own debris bag means that they don’t compromise the filter system. Even with the bag full, a pressure cleaner still operates, stirring debris up. It just won’t suck up any more debris until the bag is emptied.  

Robotic Pool Cleaners; These are self contained electric cleaners, which are put into the pool when there is a need for cleaning. Common brand names include Aquabot, Dolphin and Aquavac. A transformer is plugged into a wall outlet, and a long (50 ft) cord from the unit plugs into the transformer, receiving low voltage power to operate the cleaner. This power operates two motors; a pump motor which draws debris into the unit’s filter and a drive motor which moves the unit around the pool. The advantages to owning a robot cleaner include their self contained filter, which is easily cleaned. They also do quite well with their coverage. Some units are computer chip controlled, and some even have remote controls so you can steer the unit from a lounge chair! Being that they are the only cleaners not attached in any way to the pool’s circulation system, they produce no resistance or back pressure on the filtering. Their cost can be more than suction or pressure side cleaners.      

So which is the right automatic pool cleaner for you? All three types will get the job done. If you purchase a suction side automatic pool cleaner you may need to backwash, or clean your filter more often as a result of the debris being sucked into the filter system. The pressure side automatic pool cleaners work off the return line of your pool’s circulation system adding clean, filtered water all around your swimming pool. Because a robotic pool cleaner is self-contained (functions independent from your pool’s circulation system) you may find you do not need to run your pool’s filtration system as often as before.

The other factor in choosing the automatic pool cleaner that is right for you is your budget. As the pool cleaner increases in functionality you can expect an increase in price. Suction side cleaners are generally the least expensive, robotic cleaners the most expensive, and pressure side pool cleaners falling somewhere in between.