Last Updated: May 10, 2021
Above ground pools are quite a bit smaller than inground pools but they can still be a lot of work to keep up, and you’ll need to do more work if your pool is in an area surrounded by trees. Above ground vacuums can be the perfect solution to a consistently dirty pool. Still, there are many varieties and styles to choose from, and it can be challenging to pick one that works in your pool.
We’ve chosen ten of the most popular brands of above ground pool vacuums to review for you. In each case, we’ll tell you what we like and don’t like about each one to help you get a better sense of quality. We have also included a short buyer’s guide, where we take a close look at above ground pool vacuums to see how they work.
Join us while we take a close look at above ground pool vacuums and discuss durability, vacuum type, range, and filters to help you make an educated purchase.
|Best Overall||Aquabot S2-40 Pool Rover Cleaner||
|Best Value||Hayward’ Wanda the Whale’ Above-Ground Pool Cleaner||
|Premium Choice||Dolphin Escape Robotic Above Ground Pool Cleaner||
|Zodiac Ranger Suction Side Automatic Above-Ground Pool Cleaner||
|Pentair Kreepy Krauly Suction-Side Above Ground Pool Cleaner||
The Aquabot S2-40 Pool Rover Cleaner is our top pick for the best overall above ground pool vacuum. This unassuming looking cleaner is designed for all pools and can clean round or square-shaped pools and won’t get hung up on your ladder or stairs. It does not connect to your filter system and will filter up to 80 gallons per minute under its own power. It could clean the pool up to 40 feet wide, and its filter can remove contaminants down to two microns in size. What it lacks in fancy looks it makes up for in durability.
As we reviewed this product, the only problem we had was that it would get tangled on occasion despite having the swivel that is supposed to prevent tangling.
The Hayward’ Wanda the Whale’ Above-Ground Pool Cleaner is an interesting looking device, and we believe it is the best above ground pool vacuum for the money. This installation only takes a few minutes and doesn’t require any tools. It features a unique turbine gear system to help balance the water flow and give you a more steady cleaning action. A unique bumper ring helps reduce friction when the cleaner bumps against the walls and helps it move back out into the pool more freely than other models.
While we were reviewing this model, one thing we didn’t like is that since it’s so small, the filter basket fills and clogs easily. Another problem we had is that the shoes come off easily. We were able to find one shoe after it fell off but lost another. It comes with a spare, so the company must know that this device is prone to losing the shoe.
The Dolphin Escape Robotic Above Ground Pool Cleaner is our premium choice Above ground pool vacuum. This fantastic device can clean up to a 33-foot wide pool. It does not connect your filter system, so you will not put any strain on your pump or clog your sand filter. It features one-button operation and will have your pool cleaned in about two hours. The large collection filter is easy to clean, and it also features a water release, which helps make it easier to remove it from the pool.
The only real problem we had with this unit was despite its swivel, the cord does get tangled quite a bit, and at times could prevent it from reaching it the entire floor of our pool.
The Zodiac Ranger Suction Side Automatic Above-Ground Pool Cleaner Resembles an ordinary pool vacuum but is entirely automatic. This device plugs in near skimmer basket and uses the suction power of your pump to move the unit around and vacuum your pool. It features a built-in deflector that will help prevent it from getting stuck on your stairs or your ladder, and it can clean a 32-foot pool. It’s easy to use; just set it in the water and turn on your pump. It’s lightweight enough to carry and remove from the water.
Attaching into your skimmer means it deposits contaminants in your filter and could lead to increased pump pressure. You cannot use this above ground pool vacuum with Intex pools because the deflector can puncture them. We tried this vacuum many times, and it only succeeded in getting the entire floor clean about half the time. The rest of the time, there would still be small areas of the pool where dirt remained.
The Pentair Kreepy Krauly Suction-Side Above Ground Pool Cleaner Has a strange name, but it’s a reliable tool to use in your pool. The pictures are unique skimming valve that automatically regulates the water flow to find the best balance between cleaning power and maneuverability. The flapper is the only moving part. There are no wheels to get lost or break or other components to wear out. This model will work with concave floors and will also climb walls.
While we were using this vacuum, we found that it often left missed spots. It cleans well, but it moves slow, and by the time it randomly scales walls, you could wait an eternity for it to clean the floor. Another downside is that all contaminants bypass the skimmer basket, which means leaves and twigs can go into your sand or even your pump. If you have a lot of such contaminants, you could clog your filter or damage your pump. We also found that this brand gets tangled often, which decreases range and increases the number of miss spots in the pool.
The Intex Auto Pool Cleaner As the name suggests is specifically for Intex pools, though you can use it on some above ground pools with slight modifications. It comes with a long 27-foot hose that should be enough for cleaning most Intex pools. It’s lightweight, so it’s easy to pull out of the water when cleaning is complete.
The downside to this cleaner is that it requires the use of your filter system, and it also requires the filter system to have a strong pump or to move the unit around effectively. Many stock Intex pools may not come equipped with a strong enough pump for this cleaner.
The Polaris Turbo Turtle Pressure Side Pool Cleaner is an automatic above ground pool vacuum that doubles as an attractive pool ornament. This brand uses a unique jet sweep technology that breaks up stuck on particles before vacuuming them. This device connects to the return jet on your pool, so it uses the power of your pump but does not use your filter. It’s effortless to install and doesn’t require any tools. It’s lightweight and isn’t hard to remove from the pool when finished.
We like that it didn’t use the filter, but the increased pressure on your pump could wear it down over time. The hoses that came with our model were pretty flimsy and blew out at the same after just a few uses. Another problem we kept having was that the hose would come off the turtle every few times.
This Polaris Vac-Sweep 65 Pressure Side Pool Cleaner is the last brand on our list to review for you, and you can use this model with any pool less than five feet deep. It’s easy to install, doesn’t require any tools, and uses your pools return jet so contaminants will not enter your filter. This brand also uses a jet sweep technology that loosens up stuck on debris before vacuuming it, for a cleaner surface.
We like the design of this brand and thought that the vacuum looked very professional. However, it tends to flip upside down while it’s cleaning, which was very frustrating, and it increases the amount of time it took to clean the pool by quite a bit. If you keep a continuous watch on it, you might be able to prevent this from happening, but then you may as well just vacuum the pool by hand. The opening to the bag is also skinny, and leaves would get caught in there and prevent the vacuum from picking up other contaminants. We also found that the hose is continuously tangled, which may contribute to the flipping over. Finally, our machine just died after about a month and a half, so it did not seem like a very durable machine.
Let’s look at the most important things to consider when choosing an above ground pool vacuum.
One of the most important things to look at is the type of cleaner it is, and there are three main types robotic, skimmer, and return line. Let’s look at the three types.
Skimmer type above ground pool vacuums is the kind that hooks into your pool skimmer and runs on your pool’s filter system. While most pool vacuums included with your pool is this type, We don’t usually recommend this type for automatic pool cleaners. The reason we don’t recommend this type is that the contaminants go directly into your filter system. In some cases, the pollutants can bypass the basket of your pool, and when this happens, leaves, twigs, and other debris can go directly to your pump or into your sand. Too much of this material can hurt your pump or clog your filter.
The other types do not require your sand filter, and the only time we recommend using skimmer type automatic pool cleaners is when you need to remove tiny debris that the other types are having a hard time picking up. Trapping particles smaller than sand in your filter is often the best way to remove them.
Return line automatic pool cleaners also use your pool’s filter system, but it does not send contaminants into your filter. These devices connect to the return jet on your pool, and they use that water jet to create a vortex or whirlpool that attracts and draws contaminants into a net where they are trapped. Often with these devices, you can buy finer nets to collect smaller particles. The return line above ground pool vacuum is an excellent general purpose cleaner. They are usually not very expensive, and they help reduce or extend the life of your filter sand by removing particles that may otherwise end up there.
The downside to these filters is that they randomly move around your pool and may miss spots or take an eternity to get everywhere, which also happens with skimmer style cleaners. If the filter in your cleaner gets clogged or becomes too full, it will increase your pump pressure. Clogged filters can burn out your pump if left unattended, and you need to have a powerful pump to use this type of cleaner, or will move slowly and not create a powerful enough vortex to attract and trap dirt.
These cleaners may also have a difficult time picking up small particles like sand or pollen. These particles, if picked up at all, may pass through the netting and back into your water.
Robotic above ground pool vacuums are the best for your pool because they do not require the assistance of your filter system in any way. These self-contained devices are electric and use a special cord for underwater use. Robotic cleaners often push water through nets to trap debris like the other kinds, but a robot will also use brushes to help scrub the floor and walls as it moves around your pool. Some robot cleaners can also use software for timers, cleaning modes, and also to help it navigate the pool to make sure it does a more thorough job while working more independently.
Unlike the other kinds where you can just buy longer hoses, the power cable limit your range on these devices. These are also the most expensive to buy, which makes it the most worrisome that it’s going to work correctly in your specific pool. These devices can also have a hard time with smaller debris like sand, and they can be quite heavy when trying to remove them from the water.
Besides the type of cleaner, you may also want to check to see If the device you are looking to purchase will climb your pool walls. Many automatic pool cleaners do, but several varieties do not. Wall cleaning is a more serious issue with the concrete found in inground pools, but many people like their nylon pools cleaned as well. In any case, most pools have steps and ladders that your above ground pool vacuum will need to maneuver around successfully.
While most of these devices feature simple construction, durability is going to be a significant concern due to the high cost of many of these devices. The chlorine and ultraviolet light found in swimming pools will quickly harden cheap plastic and cause it to become very brittle and crack. We’ve also experienced many wheels falling off, and brushes getting stuck.
We recommend taking a first-hand look at the device whenever possible, to make sure it uses high-quality materials with durable construction.
The last major component in an above ground pool vacuum that you need to be concerned with is the filter. We measure contaminants in microns and the effectiveness of the filter is measured by how small of a micron it can remove from the water. They filter that can remove a two-micron particle is better than a filter that can remove a 20-micron particle.
We recommend looking for a unit that has a good filter or at least one that allows you to change filters so you can purchase a better one later.
When searching for an above ground pool vacuum, a device with the ability to climb walls is nice to have, but it’s not as essential as it is for an inground pool. Nylon is much easier to keep clean then the cement, plaster, or pebble often found in inground pools. Plenty of debris still falls to the bottom, though, and you need a machine with the power to vacuum it up and maneuver around your pool without getting tangled on its cord or by your ladder or steps.
We recommend our top pick. The Aquabot S2-40 Pool Rover Cleaner Features 40 feet of hosing and can filter contaminants down the two microns in size. This device can cover a fairly large pool, and it can remove sand and other tiny particles from the water, reducing the need for chemicals. The Hayward’ Wanda the Whale’ Above-Ground Pool Cleaner is a great choice for the budget minded and provides you with many of the same features as their top choice and doubles as a pool ornament.
We hope you have enjoyed reading over this article and have learned something new about these devices. If we have helped narrow down your choices, please share these best above ground pool vacuums on Facebook and Twitter.
Featured image credit: POOL ROVER S2 40, US, JET, 115VAC 48VDC, BLUE, Amazon
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