The best robotic pool cleaners for 2024


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In the waters of pool maintenance, robotic pool cleaners are unmatched for their convenience and efficiency. Unlike simpler suction-based systems, which move randomly and require a connection to your pool’s existing pump and filter, robotic pool cleaners navigate autonomously to rid your pool of dirt, algae, leaves, and other debris in less time. Many of the best robot pool vacuums also include high-tech features like scheduling and app control, and because they’re completely independent from the pool’s system, they’re easy to set up and sustain. In this list, we’ll go over some of our favorite options on the market to help you choose the best robotic pool cleaners for specific needs.

How we chose the best robotic pool cleaners

While there are many brands and designs of robotic pool cleaners on the market, many of which cost less than what this list features, we compiled these products with a heavy emphasis on build quality, longevity, and brand reputation. These cleaners are subjected to harsh conditions and chemicals in our pools, which makes more expensive and better-built models worth the additional upfront cost. We’ve featured products from well-known brands like Maytronics’ Dolphin and Polaris, which have been operating since 1983 and 1972, respectively. We also considered hundreds of customer reviews to gauge the longevity, durability, and overall user-friendliness of all the models on our final list.

The best robotic pool cleaners: Reviews & Recommendations

Like any outdoor accumulation of water, natural or otherwise, pools are subjected to a variety of elements—from temperature fluctuations to direct sunlight, as well as interactions with plants, wildlife, people, and a host of other environmental factors. Proper and frequent swimming pool maintenance with some type of pool vacuum is key to staving off buildups of algae and dirt in your pool that can stress your filtration system or develop into more stubborn muck that requires a harsher, more labor-intensive deep cleaning. The following are our top picks.

Best overall: Dolphin Nautilus CC Plus


Specs

  • Cable Length: 60 feet
  • Weight: 19 pounds; 33.5 pounds with accessories
  • Pool Type: In-ground
  • Maximum Pool Size: 40 feet
  • Cycle Time: 2 hours
  • Wireless Features: N/A

Pros

  • Uses easy-to-replace top-loading filters
  • Two-hour cycle length with weekly scheduling option
  • Compact and lightweight design

Cons

  • Doesn’t indicate when the filter is full
  • Inconsistent performance on steps depending on size and design

The Dolphin Nautilus CC Plus offers one of the best price-to-performance ratios in the robotic pool cleaner market thanks to its high-performance cleaning capabilities and rugged set-and-forget design. Like many of the best robotic pool cleaners, the Nautilus CC Plus requires very little user interaction to complete each two-hour cleaning cycle, each of which is initiated by simply placing the unit in the pool and turning on its power supply. At the end of each cycle, the unit’s top-loading mesh filter system allows users to clean up and reset the system with very little effort. While we love the Dolphin Nautilus CC Plus for its compatibility with all types of pool surfaces, in-ground and above-ground, and its ability to climb and clean pool walls and the waterline, several reviews state that it performs inconsistently when climbing and cleaning steps. It also lacks a full filter indicator and wireless reporting and control capabilities, making it necessary for proactive users to monitor its status during and after cleaning cycles.

Best premium: Polaris 9650iQ Sport

Polaris 9650iQ Sport on a plain white background.

Specs

  • Cable Length: 70 feet
  • Weight: 21 pounds, 42 pounds with accessories
  • Pool Type: In-ground
  • Maximum Pool Size: 60 feet
  • Cycle Time: Variable
  • Wireless Features: Wi-Fi

Pros

  • Four-wheel drive offers improved obstacle avoidance
  • Extra-long cable allows for cleaning of larger pools
  • Remote control, canister indicator, and other features via app

Cons

The Polaris 9650iQ Sport is a capable and durable robotic pool cleaner that pairs high-tech connectivity and control features with a beefy design that can clean pools up to 60 feet long, making it a worthy investment for busy users with larger pools. Users can take full command of this robotic pool cleaner’s cycle length, schedule, and even steering using a proprietary smartphone app, which also monitors the status of the cleaner’s five-liter canister. Once on your home Wi-Fi network, it’s also controllable using smart-home voice commands via Amazon Alexa and Apple Siri, adding an additional layer of convenience and flexibility. During operation itself, the Polaris 9650iQ Sport proves to be very thorough and efficient thanks to its four-wheel drive design that traverses slopes, steps, walls, and other irregularities with relative ease. At $1,341, it’s definitely not the cheapest option on the market, but the Polaris 9650iQ Sport’s feature set certainly gives you your money’s worth and makes it the best splurge unless you need to step up to our commercial pick below (which makes the Polaris a best value in comparison).

Best cordless: Betta SE

Betta SE on a plain white background.

Specs

  • Cable Length: N/A
  • Weight: 14.5 pounds
  • Pool Type: In-ground, above-ground
  • Maximum Pool Size: Not published
  • Cycle Time: Continuous
  • Wireless Features: Remote control

Pros

  • Compact and lightweight cordless design
  • Solar-powered design automatically charges and cleans
  • Remote-control enabled

Cons

  • May take longer to clean and charge in cloudy environments
  • Only skims the surface of the pool

While many cordless robotic pool cleaners rely upon user intervention to recharge, the Betta SE operates continuously and with complete autonomy thanks to its integrated solar panel. The Betta SE is a pool skimmer only, so it can’t remove algae or other underwater buildup from pool walls and floors like most robotic pool cleaners. However, it offers continuous cleaning coverage of the water surface, keeping pools free of floating leaves, bugs, pollen, and other debris that may eventually sink and contribute to underwater buildup. The Betta SE may have trouble operating in cloudy environments and take frequent charging breaks without direct sunlight, but when the sun is shining, its UV-light-resistant body allows for an extended operation life at the pool’s surface.

Best commercial: Dolphin Wave 80

Dolphin Wave 80 on a plain white background.

Specs

  • Cable Length: 78 feet
  • Weight: 24.5 pounds, 54 pounds with accessories
  • Pool Type: In-ground
  • Maximum Pool Size: 68 feet
  • Cycle Time: 1.5 hours, 2.5 hours, 3 hours
  • Wireless Features: Remote control

Pros

  • Very powerful and efficient cleaning performance in a durable design
  • Lift-out filter design offers quick and easy cleaning
  • Includes a rolling caddy for storage and transport

Cons

If you’re looking to buy a robotic pool cleaner that can make short work of the dirtiest high-traffic pools at condominiums, hotels, and other multiunit communal spaces, the Dolphin Wave 80 is an incredibly capable option that offers the best price-to-performance ratio in its class. This commercial-grade pool cleaner features an extra-long 78-foot cable that allows it to clean pools up to 68 feet in length and comes with a remote control for selecting cycle length, steering manually, and more. The Wave 80 weighs in at 24.5 pounds, which may be restrictive to some users when lifting the unit from the pool, but an included rolling caddy makes it very easy to move the cleaner from point A to point B without breaking a sweat. While it’s much pricier than the other options on this list, the Wave 80 features the best of what high-performance commercial robotic pool cleaners have to offer in terms of build quality, longevity, and ease of use.

Best budget: Aiper Seagull SE

Aiper Seagull SE on a plain white background.

Specs

  • Cable Length: N/A
  • Weight: 10.4 pounds
  • Pool Type: In-ground, above-ground
  • Maximum Pool Size: 30 feet
  • Default Cycle Time: 90 minutes
  • Wireless Features: N/A

Pros

  • Automatically returns to pool edge at end of battery cycle
  • Charges quickly and begins cleaning when placed in pool
  • Includes pool hook for removal and retrieval

Cons

  • 90-minute cycle time may not be enough for larger pools
  • Won’t climb or clean walls and stairs

The Aiper Seagull SE offers underwater pool cleaning performance in a cordless design at a wallet-friendly price point, making it a fantastic option for pool owners on a budget. After the Seagull SE completes its 90-minute cleaning cycle, it returns to the pool edge after which it can be retrieved using an included hook. It takes roughly 2.5 hours to complete a charging cycle, after which it’s ready to drop in the pool and clean once again. At this price point, the Seagull SE lacks many desirable features, including the ability to clean walls or traverse steps and slopes. It also lacks any wireless capabilities, making it less flexible than more expensive options overall. Still, if you’re looking for an autonomous cleaner that can scrub the bottom of your pool on a budget without the need for cable management, the Seagull SE is definitely worth considering.

There are many factors to weigh when deciding on the best robot pool vacuum for you. These are the ones we considered to be most important when conducting our research:

The size of your pool

The most significant limiting factor to the operation of a robotic pool cleaner is its proximity to wall power. Robotic pool cleaners require direct connection to an electrical outlet and are typically outfitted with a power cable of a specific length corresponding to their filter size, cycle time, and rated pool size. Before buying a robotic pool cleaner, compare its specified maximum pool size and cable length with your intended space of use to ensure you get the most out of your system.

Advanced features

While most non-wireless-enabled robotic pool cleaners have preset cycle times designed to optimize cleaning a range of pool sizes, some users may prefer the flexibility of a model that can be controlled remotely. The Polaris 9650iQ Sport is our top choice for premium features like variable cycle length, manual controlling, and filter monitoring, all of which can be accessed over Wi-Fi via a smartphone app.

Volume of pool debris

If your pool tends to collect a higher-than-average quantity of leaves or other ambient debris, you may want to consider a robotic pool cleaner with a larger-capacity filtration system. This will ensure the cleaner can complete a full cycle before requiring user intervention. The Polaris 9650iQ Sport and Dolphin Wave 80 are our favorite picks for pools that collect lots of debris.

Will a cordless robotic pool cleaner work better for your needs? In pools or areas with limited access to wall power, a cordless robotic pool cleaner outfitted with onboard batteries may be better for your needs. Our budget pick, the Aiper Seagull SE, performs very well despite its relatively short 90-minute cycle duration. If you’re only in need of pool surface skimming, the Betta SE is an even more sustainable cordless option due to its solar-powered design.

FAQs

Q: How much do robotic pool cleaners cost?

Robotic pool cleaners cost anywhere from around $200 to over $5,000.

Q: What’s the difference between robotic pool cleaners and suction pool cleaners?

The main difference between robotic pool cleaners and suction pool cleaners is that suction cleaners connect to a pool’s existing suction and filtration system to operate, while robotic pool cleaners operate and clean independently of your pool’s systems. While robotic pool cleaners can clean a pool much faster than the passive action of a suction cleaner, they have their own internal debris filters that require routine cleaning and maintenance.

Q: Is it okay to leave a robotic pool cleaner in the pool?

While robot pool cleaners are designed to spend most of their operational life in water, removing yours from the pool after each cleaning cycle is the easiest way to ensure you get the most out of its potential lifespan. It’s also a good idea to store robotic pool cleaners out of the sun to minimize the impact of UV damage to its components.

Final thoughts on the best robotic pool cleaners

Robotic pool cleaners are designed to replace manual and passive pool cleaning systems as an easy-to-use, easy-to-clean alternative. For our money, the Dolphin Nautilus CC Plus delivers the best bang for your buck due to its well-rounded feature set and absence of bells and whistles. If you prefer a premium cleaning experience with more flexibility, the Polaris 9650iQ Sport has the best wireless connectivity and app control options we’ve tested. For pools that see a lot of traffic or are constantly inundated with debris, a tougher commercial robotic pool cleaner like the Dolphin Wave 80 is well worth the investment thanks to its consistent performance and durability. If you’d rather save some money or dive into the robotic pool cleaner market with a more compact cordless option, the Betta SE and Aiper Seagull SE are our favorite battery-powered robotic pool cleaners.

Why trust us

Popular Science started writing about technology more than 150 years ago. There was no such thing as “gadget writing” when we published our first issue in 1872, but if there was, our mission to demystify the world of innovation for everyday readers means we would have been all over it. Here in the present, PopSci is fully committed to helping readers navigate the increasingly intimidating array of devices on the market right now.

Our writers and editors have combined decades of experience covering and reviewing consumer electronics. We each have our own obsessive specialties—from high-end audio to video games to cameras and beyond—but when we’re reviewing devices outside of our immediate wheelhouses, we do our best to seek out trustworthy voices and opinions to help guide people to the very best recommendations. We know we don’t know everything, but we’re excited to live through the analysis paralysis that internet shopping can spur so readers don’t have to.





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