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How Robotic Pool Cleaners Work

A pool in the backyard is what most people dream of, and the lucky ones who do have one spend their summers in a more relaxing manner than the rest. However, as a pool owner, you do have responsibilities to take care of upkeep-wise, like ensuring safe swimming water and properly handling the pool equipment. Without routine cleaning, green and black algae grow in the pool, the filter system can get damaged because of debris that clogs it, and so on.

In the past years, the robotic pool cleaner has swept the market for pool care products through its ingenuity as it cleans the pool without needing supervision or help on your part. But how does this product work? It is worth the money, or is there more hype than truth related to the difference it makes? Learn this and more in the following, so stick with us until the end if you want to dive into the topic further.

How Does It Work?

While there are slight dissimilarities between models, as expected, the general idea with the product’s functioning is the same – the robot uses an electric motor or motors that propel it in the water for movement and create suction to pick up debris encountered. This means that it is fully autonomous, its independence from the pump making it a more appealing option than suction-side models as it does not strain the existing equipment. To work, you have to plug it into a regular household power outlet.

Warning: Beware that the size of the cord dictates the dimension pool with which the unit is compatible. If the cord is shorter than your pool’s size, it won’t be able to cover it completely.

While the device draws electricity to run, the motor is efficient with most products, so there won’t be a spike in the electric bills after you start using it. After you run it, the unit will proceed to suck the debris it finds in its path, retaining it in a filter bag. This way, clean water is distributed back into the pool, which ensures enhanced safety when you swim afterward. Most models even feature brushes that handle dirt and algae that are stuck on surfaces so that you won’t have to manually follow through with this chore anymore. The unit is thrust either by wheels or tracks. If you seek a model that can cover sharp corners effectively and doesn’t have a hard time climbing walls, go for tracks.

The rubber tracks of the Dolphin Quantum make it one of the most effective models in its niche when it comes to mounting and cleaning the pool’s walls.

Another mention-worthy aspect related to operation is that the device features computerized intelligence. How does this factor in? Well, using sensors and processing abilities, the device determines the most effective path to clean the pool in the least amount of time. Newer models even retain this information and improve it with each use to optimize the cleaning cycle.

What Are the Highlights of This Acquisition?

  • Save more time: Routine pool cleansing chores take quite a lot of time as you have to skim the water, clean the surfaces, get rid of the gunk in the water, make sure water balance is in check, and shock the pool. You can decrease the amount of time you dedicate to pool cleansing with this device as it brushes the surfaces and filters out impurities all on its own, all while you can mind other chores or simply relax.
  • Skimming leaves and debris is another chore that you can get rid of with another automated product, more precisely the Solar Breeze NX automatic pool skimmer. Best of all, it draws power from the sun, so it is 100% cost-effective!

  • Independent operation: Unlike pressure-side pool cleaners, for example, it runs independently from the existing pool equipment. Thus, the filter system of the pool is not put under any additional strain because of it. On the contrary, the robot helps extends its lifespan as it traps most gunk, collecting it in a separate bag to help the filter out.
  • Cost-effective: While expensive upfront (in most cases, at least), these devices end up salvaging you money in the long-run as opposed to suction-side and pressure-side models. How is that, you ask? Well, for one, they are very energy-efficient, so don’t expect to see a noticeable rise in the electric bill after use. Secondly, there is not much required in the way of maintenance either.
  • Mapping capabilities: Most modern models, like the Dolphin Premier, use advanced mapping technologies to map out the surface of the pool and estimate optimal routes to take when cleaning. This results in reduced cleaning cycle times, especially seeing how the unit won’t get stuck in corners, and less energy draw as the job is followed through with as quickly as possible.
  • Complex cleaning abilities: Scrub the floor? Check! Scrub the walls? Check! Scrub the steps? Check! Pick up debris? Check! Filter the water? Check! These are all cleaning services provided by top-tier models, so it is likely no need for further explanations as to why these products flaunt complex pool cleaning abilities.

Scratch off of your do-to list pool cleaning by using one of these top-rated robotic pool cleaners that come with the latest features and technologies. There are alternatives for all needs and budgets here, so you will find what you need in no time!

Are There Any Drawbacks to Consider?

Issue #1 – High asking price
Yes, you will indeed find quality budget models out there too, but the truth of the matter is that most models tend to cost well over $500, some even exceeding the $1,000 threshold. However, the price is indicative of the product’s durability, coverage, features, and technologies. Thus, the more you spend upfront, the more you get from the device as well, so it is a fair trade if you sit and think about it.

Issue #2 – Limited movement
It won’t be able to move indefinitely as it has a limitation presented by the length of the power cord. This is why you have to carefully look into this spec when you purchase to make sure you match the cord length to the pool size. Otherwise, the robot won’t be able to clean it properly, at least not without you switching outlets or having to figure out another trick to get the deed done.

Issue #3 – You are still required, up to a point
While the device handles cleaning the whole pool on its own, you are still needed to take it out when it is done, rinse it, and store it in a shaded, protected area. Leaving it in the water won’t be damaging if you do it over a short period, but doing so in the long-run compromises the length of its lifespan. Moreover, you cannot program it to run the same schedule forever. There are models, like the Polaris 9550, that can be programmed 7 days in advance. This comes in handy if you leave home for a while to go on a vacation, for example. But after that point, you are required to reset the cleaning schedule.

How Does It Compare to Suction-Side and Pressure-Side Pool Cleaners?

How do suction-side models work?

They rely on the pool’s pump to provide the suction they need to suck up dirt. They feature a long hose that connects to the skimmer at the water intake valve. This makes them water-based vacuum cleaners that go around the pool to clean it in a predetermined manner.

Want to see what your best options are? Then check out the top-tier pool cleaner vacuums here to take a better look at their functioning and learn what the market has best to offer product-wise.

How do pressure-side models work?

They rely on the pool’s pump and filter, utilizing the water on the pressurized side of the pump for propulsion through the water. As the pressurized water moves through the device, it creates suction to pick up debris, and powers the wheels for mobility. Their main advantage is that they feature filter bags, trapping the debris so that less strain is put on the pool’s filter system.

Interested in this type of product? See here the best pressure-side pool cleaners and what they have to offer if you are inclined toward making this purchase.

This is how the two other automatic pool cleaners work. While effective in their operation too, they pale in comparison to robot pool cleaners that are completely autonomous and put zero strain on the existing pool gear. This is enough reason on its own to establish the robot as the winner in the race. While the autonomous robot is more expensive initially, it makes up for this flaw in no time considering that it does not imply much in the way of maintenance, it does not wear out other parts, and it consumes little electricity to run.

Is There Any Maintenance Work Required?

Luckily, there is not much asked of you in way of maintenance work. This is a major upside with robot pool cleaners as not much time is wasted on upkeep, nor money. Except for when you are away from home for a few days and there is no one around to do it, what you should do is take the device out of the water when it finishes the cleaning cycle.

Clean the debris on it, and check the filter back to empty it of the collected gunk. Drain the cleaner and rinse it quickly to make sure there are no chemicals on its surface. Visually inspect the tracks and brushes to make sure there is no debris lodged in them (take it out if you find any). With time, the brushes will start to look worn out. Replace them when this happens. Store it in a dry, sheltered spot.

Lastly, unless it is a model that features a swivel cable that won’t tangle mid-operation, like the Dolphin Nautilus Plus, make sure to check up on the unit while it runs the cleaning cycle for the cord to not wrap around and be damaged. Other than these few chores, there is nothing needed of you to do.


With the information you have gathered here regarding operation and other aspects, namely pros, cons, maintenance, and advantages over other automatic cleaners, you can more easily pick the robotic pool cleaner that fits your needs and budget. Even though it is one of the newer entries on the market for pool care products, it delivers on its promises, which has made it an instant success among pool owners. After acquiring it, there is little left for you to do upkeep-wise, so you will have more time than ever to spend swimming and having fun.

Before you leave, check out our article on solar pool covers to learn how installing one can help keep the pool clean and aid the performance of the automatic pool cleaner, putting less strain on it as there won’t be as much debris to tackle anymore.

Braden Ewing
Braden Ewing
Braden is the editor-in-chief at, as well as the oldest member of the team. He has previous experience in sales as he worked at a local electronics store. While there, Brandon first encountered robotic devices for household use and become passionate about the subject. Since joining the team, he provided expertise regarding the latest technologies in the domain of automated cleaners, conducting proper research at all times to provide users with content that is relevant.

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