Now for another piece of swimming pool equipment that has come along in leaps & bounds over the last few years.

Automatic pool cleaners have always been very popular. The very first auto cleaner was the Kreepy Krauly, which was invented in 1974. Since it’s inception there is now a huge range of pool cleaners on the market.

The problem with this style of cleaner is that they mostly rely on the pool pump for suction. A suction plate is placed in the skimmer box & a 40mm flexible hose connects the cleaning unit to the plate. An older option is to have a separate vacuum port & independent pump. This is no longer popular due to high running costs.

So what’s the problem with suction cleaners?

Well for one if your connector hose isn’t primed properly you will pull a whole lot of air into your system when you turn your pump on and get an air lock. How your system has been plumbed will determine if this is easy or difficult to fix. This is the main reason that people leave their hoses in the pool, which is not only unsightly but dangerous to children swimming as well.

The connector hoses themselves are prone to splitting over time from exposure to chemicals & UV rays and are not cheap to replace; They have a terribly annoying habit of getting stuck in corners & on steps; Higher running costs; Even if you run an energy efficient pump it is unlikely that on it’s lowest settings it will drive a suction cleaner; Running any 240 volt pump obviously will cost you money.

Where does to dirt that suction cleaners pick up go? Well generally into your filter! If using a sand filter you then have to backwash your pool. This costs money because not only are you dumping water down the sewer but a portion of your chemicals as well. If using a cartridge filter you will have to clean it around every 4-6 weeks & you will reduce the life of your cartridge dramatically. This is probably why cartridge filters have had an undeserved bad rap over the years. ( More on filters later! )

What’s the solution?

Robotic Pool Cleaners!

There are a lot of choices now with many types of robotic cleaners on the market. There seems to be a new model springing up every 2nd week!

Some only clean the floor & bottom of the walls while the more expensive ones will cover the floor & walls.

Let’s have a quick look at how they work.

They have their own independent motor & filter bag contained in the unit. A transformer plugs into a 240-volt outlet. A sealed cord then runs from the cleaning unit to the transformer. This provides the 24-volt power that drives the cleaner. Even though they only run on 24-volts they still pack a punch with the motor pushing around 260 litres a minute through the bag & out the top of the machine. After you switch the cleaner on at the transformer it runs for 2-3 hours. It will then switch itself off.

Look for cleaners that have mapping & scanning technology. Some claim to be robotic cleaners but without mapping & scanning they are really only electronic cleaners that cover the pool at random. They have so many advantages over a suction cleaner that the extra expense is well worth it in my opinion.

Rarely, if ever, will they get stuck anywhere on a pool. There is no need for hoses or having a connection to a suction point. The best ones will filter water down to 2-5 microns through the internal bag so your water still gets filtered without using your pool filter! Debris is caught in the internal bag instead of in your filter, reducing the need for backwashing & extending the life of any type of filter. It is also much easier to clean the cleaner than the filter.

They are cheaper to run as they use 24-volts of power compared to a 240-volt pump to run a suction cleaner. Because of the large amount of water they push out through the top of the machine they create constant water movement in your pool. More water movement means less algae growth in any pool. The water pushed upwards through the water column forces any floating debris particles to the top of the pool. If the pool filtration is running these get pushed into the skimmer box. In this regard they work like an in floor cleaning system without the $8,000.00 price-tag.

Of course you have to keep the internal bag clean. This should be done once or twice a week depending on the condition of your pool water.

The cords can be prone to twisting, which can be minimized by making sure you don’t have too much cord in the water to confuse the cleaner and some cleaners also have swiveling joints to reduce ‘twist’.

You should also take the machine out of the pool after it has done its cycle.

Small amounts of work for big rewards I reckon.