Developing the habit of doing regular maintenance is a must for any pool owner. Neglecting this task is the quickest way to having your beloved investment become an eyesore. A pool with decaying leaves and a sickly green color from overgrown algae definitely isn’t something you want to be looking at.
The best pool vacuums will revitalize and maintain the quality of your pool. This guide contains all of the information you need to find yourself a nice one. In the latter half of the article, we also have a few notable pool vacuums for your consideration.
- How to Vacuum an Above Ground Pool
- How to Pick a Good Pool Vacuum
- The Best Pool Vacuums in 2021 Reviewed
- 1. Dolphin Nautilus CC – Best to Buy Pool Vacuum
- 2. PAXCESS Cordless Automatic Pool Cleaner – Best Value Pool Vacuum
- 3. Water Tech Pool Blaster Max – Best Above Ground Pool Vacuum
- 4. Zodiac Baracuda G3 W03000 – Best Pool Vacuum Head
- 5. Dolphin CC Supreme – Best Inground Pool Vacuum
- 6. U.S. Pool Supply 14” Swimming Pool Vacuum Head – Best Manual Pool Vacuum
- 7. Dolphin Nautilus CC Plus – Best Pool Vacuum Robot
- How to Vacuum With a Sand Filter
How to Vacuum an Above Ground Pool
Above-ground pools are popular among homeowners due to their cheap installation cost, mobility, and customizability. You can break down an above-ground pool and store it in a shed for the winter or to free up lawn space until you need it again. For people who have kids, the adjustable depth is excellent for safety.
The process of vacuuming an above-ground pool is similar to that of an in-ground one with only a few minor differences.
We mentioned in our maintenance guide all of the equipment you need for cleaning out a pool. The list of tools you need for an above-ground pool isn’t any different: a telescoping pole, a pool vacuum head, a vacuum plate, and a vacuum hose.
While picking a vacuum head, take into account what kind of pool it can work with. Many above-ground pools are made from plastic or fabric-like materials that can easily rip and tear if the brush of your vacuum head is too abrasive. Check the manufacturer’s manual to see if it is compatible with the material of your pool.
How to Pick a Good Pool Vacuum
Consider the Design of Your Pool
There are three important variables in a pool’s design: size, shape, and depth.
The size of your pool will tell you how wide the head of your vacuum should be. The wider the vacuum’s head, the more debris and dirt it can pick up per sweep and the more time you’re going to be able to save.
Your pool’s shape is a good indication of the optimum design for your vacuum. If you have a linear pool (rectangular or box-shaped,) a four-sided vacuum head like the U.S. Pool Supply 14-inch vacuum head will do the job wonderfully.
But if your house has a free-form pool (with curvy shapes like circular, heart or crescent-shaped,) consider getting a disc-shaped vacuum head such as the Zodiac Ranger or half moon-shaped like the Aquatix Pro. They will conform to the curvature of your pool better to suck out debris from the side walls.
As for depth, pool vacuums are depth-rated. Make sure your vacuum of choice can handle the deepest portion of the pool.
How Much Time You Have for Pool Cleaning
If you have plenty of free time and don’t mind getting wet for an hour a week, a manual pool vacuuming kit will be a sensible investment.
For those who are busy or just don’t want to put in the extra work, you can invest in a robotic pool vacuum. Though the upfront cost could be steep, it will be worth it if you crave the convenience and are willing to splurge.
The Kind of Debris You Often Deal With
If you live in a wooded area and regularly find dead leaves and twigs in the water, search for vacuums that can deal with large debris. You should also invest in a net skimmer to take out debris and other refuse your vacuum can’t take out.
And if the largest threat to your pool is sand and dirt particles carried into the water by the wind, find a vacuum that can deal with small particles and debris.
The Best Pool Vacuums in 2021 Reviewed
Here is a brief list of all the pool vacuum models featured in this review article:
- Dolphin Nautilus CC – Best to Buy Pool Vacuum
- PAXCESS Cordless Automatic Pool Cleaner – Best Value Pool Vacuum
- Water Tech Pool Blaster Max – Best Above Ground Pool Vacuum
- Zodiac Baracuda G3 W03000 – Best Pool Vacuum Head
- Dolphin CC Supreme – Best Inground Pool Vacuum
- U.S. Pool Supply 14” Swimming Pool Vacuum Head – Best Manual Pool Vacuum
- Dolphin CC Plus – Best Pool Vacuum Robot
|Dolphin Nautilus CC||33 ft (10 m)||Dual-layered filtration||1-year warranty|
|PAXCESS Auto Pool Cleaner||860 sqft (79.8 sqm)||Fine reusable filter||2-year warranty|
|Water Tech Pool Blaster Max||None||Multilayer filter||1-year warranty|
|Zodiac Baracuda G3 W03000||None||None||1-year warranty|
|Dolphin CC Supreme||50 ft (15.24 m)||Double basket, dual-layered filtration||3-year warranty|
|U.S. Pool Supply 14” Vacuum Head||None||None||1-year warranty|
|Dolphin CC Plus||50 ft (15.24 m)||Dual-layered filtration||2-year warranty|
1. Dolphin Nautilus CC – Best to Buy Pool Vacuum
- Relatively affordable
- High cleaning performance
- Plug-and-play control
- Maneuverable caterpillar tracks
- Only compatible with in-ground pools
- Non-waterproof power supply
- Mediocre filtration
The Dolphin Nautilus CC is loved by consumers for its full autonomy. Unlike your Roomba, which requires some manual inputs from time to time, the Nautilus CC only needs you to switch on the power and drop it into the water. The robot will take care of the rest from there using its high-powered suction motor and motorized brush rolls.
The Nautilus CC has the power needed to handle in-ground pools about 33 feet (10 meters) in size. It is worth noting that the Nautilus CC model was designed specifically for in-ground pools only. If you’re looking for an above-ground pool vacuum, see the Nautilus CC Plus version.
Suction is high and a motorized brush roll is located at the front of the unit (Dolphin call it a “high-speed scrubber”). Thanks to the powerful brush, the Nautilus CC has no problem dealing with stubborn dirt. As long as the robot can reach the dirty spots, it can scrub them out in seconds.
The Nautilus CC is surprisingly lightweight for its size and bulk, weighing about 10 pounds (4.5 kilograms). It is light enough to be carried by most people and you shouldn’t have a lot of trouble fishing it from out of the pool once it’s finished the job, either. That’s all thanks to the quick water release mechanism Dolphin has integrated into the robot’s design.
When the robot is submerged, its internal space will be filled up with water. If you took it out of the pool with the robot’s innards still flooded, it would be extremely heavy with the added water weight. The water release mechanism forces the water out, thus, making it easier for you to handle.
The Nautilus CC draws energy from an independent power unit via a 30-foot power cord. This unit can sustain the robot’s operation for about 2 hours before it clocks itself out. But be mindful of the fact that the power unit is not waterproof and so should be stored and used as far away from the pool as possible.
A plug-and-play remote controller is available for you to control the robot. Plug the command line (about 60 feet in length) into the remote and connect it with the robot, the controller will light up and give you the ability to reconfigure the robot from there.
Three scheduling options are available from the remote controller: clean every day, every other day, or every third day.
The robot is equipped with caterpillar tracks for easier maneuvering under water. Aside from improving maneuverability, the tracks also help the robot climb the walls and the pool’s steps to take out all of the dirt and debris there.
The filter basket can be accessed with a handle at the top of the robot. It is here that you will find the dual-layered filtration system. The first layer handles all of the large debris such as dead leaves and twigs. Smaller particles such as sand and dirt managing to bypass the first filter will be caught by the second filter.
Despite the claim of high filtration efficiency, customers are not happy with the robot’s filter. When compared to the ultra-fine filters available in higher-end units, the standard filter inside the CC has only mediocre filtering ability. As a result, many have to spend extra money to get the ultra fine cartridge. Though it will certainly drive up the cost, the ultra-fine filter will be worth it in the long run.
The Nautilus CC is covered by a 1-year warranty.
2. PAXCESS Cordless Automatic Pool Cleaner – Best Value Pool Vacuum
- Lightweight and compact
- Great cleaning performance
- Compatible with a variety of pool types
- Adjustable water jet nozzle
- Simple operation
- Adequate filtration
- Can’t climb walls
- Not suitable for intensive cleaning work
This robot can output a surprising amount of cleaning power for its size and doesn’t do a half-bad job at filtering either. But performance isn’t the greatest offering of this small, unassuming robot. Instead, its magic almost all lies in the design.
It is not powered by a bulky power unit like in the case of the Nautilus CC. Instead, the PAXCESS is completely cordless and uses a 5,000 mAh rechargeable battery. Without being constrained by a power cord, the PAXCESS is much more versatile and convenient to use than others on the market.
The robot’s maximum cleaning surface is 860 square feet (79.8 square meters) and has a maximum operating depth of 6.6 feet (2 meters.) Don’t take these numbers at face value, however, since customers have reported great performance in large pools with depths as great as 9 feet (2.7 meters) and more; use them for reference only.
It can be used to clean up in-ground pools, above-ground pools, and soft pools (made from soft materials like fabric.)
Unlike the Nautilus CC whose caterpillar tracks allow it to climb up walls, the PAXCESS’ conventional rounded wheels prevent it from doing the same thing. The robot can climb pool slopes about 15 degrees steep.
When it comes to raw cleaning power, it can handle larger debris like leaves, twigs as well as finer particles like dust, dirt, and sand just fine. Two suction doors are positioned at either end of the robot (front and back) to draw in debris and waste. Meanwhile, a motorized brush wipes down the surface beneath the robot.
Though it is a recommendable robot for daily pool cleaning and maintenance, it can’t do intensive cleaning work. If your pool is littered with debris after a bad storm, for example, the PAXCESS will definitely struggle to keep up. Keep your expectations simple.
The company has also stated that it’s not designed to handle algae.
The PAXCESS is much smaller than other pool vacuuming robots and it is on the lighter side, weighing about 12.1 pounds (5.5 kilograms) out of the box. Most people will have no problem hauling it around or pulling it out of the water.
The robot uses a water jet to move around. At the front is a water intake, which will draw in water, pressurize it, and shoot it in a jet flow through the nozzle at the back. The back nozzle can be manually adjusted between 0 to 40 degrees so with some tinkering, you can set a custom cleaning route for the robot.
Operation is simple with only a single switch knob. Located directly on top of the robot, you turn the switch counter-clockwise to power on the unit. Once the power light starts flashing, you can lower the robot into the water and 18 seconds later (for safety), the robot will start working.
The battery will sustain the robot’s operation for 60 to 90 minutes. Once the battery drops low enough, PAXCESS will automatically traverse to the edge of the pool. There, it will keep station and wait for you to fish it back out for recharging.
The PAXCESS has a fine reusable filter that’s effective for debris and particles down to 180 microns (only a tad larger than a strand of human hair.)
Maintenance is simple. Take off the top cover of the filter basket, take out the filter, and rinse it with a garden hose. Once it’s spick-and-span, click it back into the robot and it’ll be ready for work again.
The robot comes with a 2-year warranty policy.
3. Water Tech Pool Blaster Max – Best Above Ground Pool Vacuum
- Can handle small cleaning jobs
- Lightweight and compact
- Simple control
- Long battery life
- Great (but improvable) filtration
- Can’t handle large cleaning tasks
While large debris and leaves can be easily handled by a skimmer net, smaller debris and finer particles such as dirt and sand are far more challenging to clean up. That’s where the Water Tech Pool Blaster Max comes in.
It has the cleaning power necessary to take out the tougher debris and dirt particles floating in the water. The filtration system also does a wonderful job at retaining captured waste for disposal.
In addition, you will benefit from the lightweight and compact, anti-fatigue design. The Pool Blaster Max is also cordless for safety, as there’s no power cord to trip you up as you move around the pool.
The vacuum’s minimum operating depth is 1.1 feet (0.3 meters). Suction is generated by a Water Tech P30 motor, which does the job well enough against small debris and dirt particles. However, like we mentioned before, it is not suitable for large debris clean-ups.
Pool Blaster Max doesn’t come with a brush, so all of the cleaning power it has comes from the suction motor.
The Pool Blaster Max weighs 5.5 pounds (2.4 kilograms) and is lightweight enough for most people to use without significant fatigue. The vacuum is meant to be used in conjunction with a telescopic pole, which isn’t included as part of the purchase.
The vacuum is powered by a rechargeable Lithium-ion battery and can provide continuous power for about 60 minutes. Once drained, it will take roughly 4 hours for the vacuum to be charged up again.
There’s no fancy control scheme for the Pool Blaster Max. All it has is a single ON/OFF power button.
Though the vacuum is shipped with a reusable filter (called “X-Treme Multilayer Filter” by the company), most customers decided to augment the filtration capability of their vacuum further with some additional purchases.
The Sand and Silt Bag can be used if you regularly have to deal with very fine debris and particles the standard filter may not be able to pick up. If you merely want to strengthen your filter’s debris and dirt capturing ability, you can opt for the Micro Filter Bag. It will work alongside your standard filter for greater filtering efficiency.
The company provides a 1-year warranty for the Pool Blaster Max.
4. Zodiac Baracuda G3 W03000 – Best Pool Vacuum Head
- Compatible with low-horsepower pumps
- Strong suction
- Tight adhesion against cleaning surface
- Reliable with only one moving part
- Only compatible with in-ground pools
The Baracuda G3’s greatest offering to the user is its ability to efficiently pick up debris even while operating on a low suction flow. You can hook up any single, two-speed, or variable-speed pump and as long as there is airflow, this suction head will work.
The second notable thing about the Baracuda G3 is its autonomy despite not having special guidance electronics like Nautilus robots. It takes advantage of the suction flow’s inertia flowing through its diaphragm to scoot around your pool without needing you to manually guide it along the way.
The vacuum does a great job eliminating dirt and small to medium-sized debris within in-ground pools. As a matter of fact, according to one review, the suction of the Baracuda G3 is powerful enough to even suck up a roof shingle.
The vacuum head can maintain this power even when it’s attached to a low-powered pump, thanks to the “FlowKeeper Valve.”
The FlowKeeper serves as an automatic regulator and will adjust the water flow based on how much power the pump has. Thus, you will always get optimized suction flow regardless of your pump’s horsepower.
The vacuum is not rated against algae and only works with in-ground pools.
The vacuum head weighs 18.16 pounds (8.2 kilograms.) That’s surprisingly heavy for a vacuum head so small. Nonetheless, considering the fact that it’s automated, the weight isn’t going to be an issue for you personally.
The highlight of the Baracuda G3’s design is the “36-Fin Disc.” The disc sits at the bottom of the vacuum head and gives the vacuum its distinctive, alien-like silhouette. This spiky disc helps the vacuum adhere itself tightly against whatever surface it’s on, whether it’s the pool’s bottom or the sidewalls.
Additionally, the vacuum also comes with a “Wheel Deflector”. You can mount this circular part near the hose inlet at the top of the vacuum head. Aside from helping the vacuum to maneuver around tight corners, the Wheel Deflector also prevents it from getting stuck.
There is only one moving part in the Baracuda G3’s design, located in the “Long-Life Diaphragm”. Because the whole design only has one significant point of failure, the Baracuda G3 is much more reliable than its competitors. According to many users, this vacuum head can last on average from four to five years constantly submerged.
Since it is a vacuum head, Baracuda G3 does not have integrated filtration.
The warranty period for the Baracuda G3 is 1 year.
5. Dolphin CC Supreme – Best Inground Pool Vacuum
- Strong cleaning performance
- Multiple cleaning modes
- WiFi and smartphone-compatible
- Caterpillar tracks provide excellent maneuverability
- Water resistant power supply
- Robust filtration
- Long warranty
- Quite heavy
- Has numerous parts you have to manually clean
The Dolphin CC Supreme is the highest-end pool vacuuming robot that Dolphin has available in its portfolio.
Though it is sold at an incredibly premium price, all of the features it offers have garnered positive ratings from customers who had taken the plunge. With strong suction, an array of three high-speed brushes, and three cleaning modes, the robot can thoroughly and efficiently clean up your pool. The CC Supreme variation will also give you WiFi connectivity and the ability to control it through a smartphone app (MyDolphin Plus App.)
Compared to the baseline Dolphin Nautilus CC which only has a 33 feet cleaning range, the CC Supreme has almost doubled the effective range at 50 feet max. Thus, if you have a large-sized pool, the CC Supreme will fit right in.
When it comes to pure cleaning power, the CC Supreme has it in excess. It sports a substantial suction motor to inhale all of the floating particles in the water. Like previously mentioned, the robot is also armed with an impressive array of three cleaning brushes to expunge ground-in dirt and take out large debris.
Via the smartphone app, you can customize the cleaning cycle of the robot using three modes: Quick, Standard, or Enhanced.
When the robot’s tuned to Quick Mode, it will run for 1.5 hours and focuses more on scrubbing the pool’s floor.
In Standard Mode, the cleaning time is extended to 2.5 hours and the robot will clean all parts of the pool from the floor to the walls and waterline.
Lastly, the Enhanced Mode is used when you need the robot to be as thorough as possible with its cleaning. The robot will clean up to 3.5 hours and it will make sure that every square inch of your pool is spotless.
Because the CC Supreme is packed with much more components and features than the baseline Nautilus CC, the poundage is a tad heavier. The CC Supreme’s dry weight (out of the box) is about 15 pounds (6.8 kilograms.)
Despite the company’s manual listing it as weighing 45 pounds (20.4 kilograms,) this is actually the weight of the vacuum when it’s filled up with water once submerged. Don’t be intimidated, however, because it’s very unlikely that you will ever have to bear the vacuum’s full weight. The robot has a quick water release mechanism you can use to purge its internal compartment when you fish it out of the water.
The robot moves around your pool using two caterpillar tracks, which also allow it to climb up the pool’s side walls.
An independent power supply provides power to the robot using a 60-foot long power cable. The power unit of the Supreme version is water resistant against splashes. However, you still have to protect it against full-blown rain, showers, or standing water.
The robot can connect to your house’s WiFi. Once connected, you can pair it up with your smartphone using Dolphin’s app and take control of the robot. The app allows you to do a variety of operations, from setting up the cleaning schedule, and adjusting the cycle, to switching cleaning mode.
The Nautilus CC Supreme’s filtration system is very robust and has a double basket design. Unlike the standard Nautilus CC which holds only a single filter basket, the Supreme version has two filter baskets working together. Each basket holds two filters (one for large debris, one for finer particles.) For this reason, the filtration efficiency of the CC Supreme has received a lot of praise from consumers.
But the double basket system does present a small inconvenience. The four filters together with two basket casings make for 6 different components you have to clean and maintain once in a while.
The company has a 3-year warranty for the Nautilus CC Supreme.
6. U.S. Pool Supply 14” Swimming Pool Vacuum Head – Best Manual Pool Vacuum
- Provides decent suction
- Basic and reliable
- Not compatible with fabric pools
If you seek something more reliable and basic than pool vacuums or robots, the U.S. Pool Supply 14-inch swimming pool vacuum head will do. Just plug a vacuum hose into the fitting, connect your telescopic pole with the metal handle and you’re ready to clean. Suitable for those who don’t mind putting in some extra work and want to save some money.
Not much can be said about the U.S. Pool Supply vacuum head. Suction is decent and can snag up debris from the bottom of the pool. The design ensures that the suction doesn’t flow anywhere other than through the suction nozzle at the bottom.
The vacuum head— made primarily from plastic with only a few metal components— weighs 0.06 pounds (0.02 kilograms.)
The U.S. Pool Supply vacuum head has a series of transparent plastic wheels at the bottom for easier navigation. Since the plastic material is tough and relatively abrasive, this vacuum head should only be used for solid (concrete, vinyl, etc.) rather than fabric pools. For those with pebble tec pools, though the vacuum head will perform fine, the wheels will be worn out quicker.
The U.S. Pool Supply vacuum head comes with a 1-year warranty.
7. Dolphin Nautilus CC Plus – Best Pool Vacuum Robot
- Smart navigation tech (CleverClean)
- Strong cleaning power
- Extended range
- Caterpillar tracks for better maneuverability
- High-efficiency filters
- Only available online
- Non-customizable power supply
The middle-ground in terms of value between the baseline Nautilus CC and the high-end Nautilus CC Supreme.
On the surface, performance and design of the CC Plus is the exact same as the standard Nautilus CC. The Plus version has roughly the same cleaning performance as the baseline Nautilus CC with the strong suction and multitude of brushes. Filtering performance of the Plus is also not all that different in comparison to the Nautilus CC.
The key differences and the biggest selling points lie in the vastly extended range (33 feet to 50 feet) and the compatibility with above-ground pools.
The CC Plus can be used to clean pools as wide as 50 feet (15.24 meters.) Using the standard 2-hour cleaning cycle, the CC Plus will clean up your pool (including the side walls) nicely from dirt and debris.
Like previously mentioned, aside from in-ground pools, the CC Plus version can also clean up above-ground pools. A huge improvement over the baseline CC which can only clean up in-ground pools.
The Nautilus CC Plus weighs 19 pounds (8.6 kilograms) from out of the box. When filled up with water, it’s certainly going to weigh double, even triple this amount. Fortunately, the CC Plus inherits the quick water release mechanism to clear the robot’s internal space from water when you need to bring it out of the water.
The Nautilus CC Plus uses a separate power supply, which offers a weekly timer. Unfortunately, you can neither adjust the cycle timer nor set a start time delay. The power supply also doesn’t offer you any advanced programming features.
Navigation ability of the CC Plus has also been considerably improved with the “CleverClean technology”. Essentially, this technology allows the robot to scan the pool to figure out the most optimum path it can take to clean up in record time.
The robot will take full advantage of the caterpillar tracks it’s equipped with as it moves around. The tracks allow it to climb up the pool’s side walls as well as traversing the pool’s steps, sucking and scrubbing every step of the way.
The filtration system of the CC Plus is virtually identical to the baseline CC version. It uses a dual-layered filtration system, which includes one filter to take out debris and another to handle small dirt particles.
The CC Plus is shipped with an ultra-fine filter. You don’t have to spend extra on one like you do with the baseline Nautilus CC.
The vacuum comes with a 2-year warranty.
How to Vacuum With a Sand Filter
Sand filters are the most common type of pool filtration there is. In a sand filter, your pool water is forced through layers of filtration-grade sand, which will remove all of the dirt, debris, and even bacteria from out of the water. Having a sand filter is one thing, knowing how to use one properly is another matter entirely.
Here are the steps you can take to effectively use your sand filter:
Remove Debris From Your Pool
First, use a skimmer net to take out all of the debris in the water. Take out all of the dead leaves, twigs, and other materials floating in your pool. They can clog up your vacuum head if left unchecked, so it’s best that you preemptively take them out.
Set Up Your Vacuum Head And Prime Your Hose
Attach your vacuum head to the telescopic pole. Once you have assembled everything, lower the vacuum head into the water.
Once that’s done, lower the hose into water (without it being attached to the vacuum head.) Bubbles should start floating from out of the hose and stop seconds later when the hose is filled up with water. This process is called priming: removing the air from out of the hose.
It’s important that the hose is filled up with water and all of the air cleared. Air pockets inside of the hose could clog up the pump.
Attach Your Hose Into the Suction Port
Connect the hose with the pool’s suction port. If your pool doesn’t have a suction port, you may have to vacuum with a skimmer.
Move your telescopic pole with the cleaning head around the pool. Clean up the floor as well as the side walls until it’s pristinely clean.
Switch Off the Pump
Immediately switch off the pump once you’ve finished vacuuming. This is an absolutely crucial step, forgetting it can result in expensive disasters. The pump’s valve could be broken, for example.
Disconnect the Hose From the Suction Port
Disconnect your hose from the suction port. Be sure to hold the hose vertically as you do to ensure that all of the pool water is completely drained.
Backwash Your Sand Filter
Turn the filter valve to the backwash setting. The sand layers inside of your filter might have been filled up with debris and dirt from the pool. Backwashing will purge all of the dirty water from out of the filter and into a drain.
Once the valve’s set, turn on your pump and allow the filter to backwash until all of the water inside of the filter is dried up.
From the backwash position, set the filter valve to the rinse position to take out all of the remaining dirt and debris. The rinsing process will take several more minutes.
Set back the filter valve to the “Filter” position to return your filter to normal filtering operation.
We hope you have found helpful information in this best pool vacuum buying guide and reviews. Pool maintenance is a lot of work, but the amazing view of a pool at home and a cool dive on the weekend are worth all of the effort!