DO FIBERGLASS POOLS NEED AUTOMATIC CLEANERS?
Most of the time folks find fiberglass pools so easy to maintain that automatic pool cleaners are not necessary. According to a polling of 85 of our American Fiberglass Pool owners, they spend less than 45 minutes a week keeping the pool clean of debris and doing water testing. That is not much time at all considering all the family swimming enjoyment the pool brings on an everyday basis. Of course, there are times that owners have lots of trees at or near the pool. That’s when pool cleaners are typically needed. There are several types of pool cleaners on the market so let’s take a few minutes to examine the good, better, and best of these.
1. AUTOMATIC SUCTION CLEANERS
This type of cleaner is operational by typically connecting to your skimmer or in some cases a dedicated suction line on the side of the pool. They basically act like a movable main drain. These cleaners agitate themself as it moves around the pool. The debris it picks up goes directly into the pool filter so it can actually remove much smaller particles than a pool cleaner with a bag on top of it. In almost every case there is no plumbing to alter to utilize the units and it does not require the addition of a booster pump. The cleaner will accordingly be less expensive to install and will not need electricity to operate other than your dedicated pool pump already in place. The primary drawback is that pools with larger debris, especially leaves, pine needles, and twigs need not apply. It becomes a real pain when the larger debris fills up your pump basket and clogs up. In these cases, a leaf trap can be installed in the cleaner hose, unfortunately these also tend to clog up so the unit stops working and your pool will lack circulation. This type of cleaner also requires that your filter be clean. If not, the cleaner’s ability to operate will suffer dramatically since your pump will not have sufficient suction to drive the cleaner.
Rating: GOOD Cost: $500 – $1200
2. PRESSURE SIDE CLEANERS
These types of cleaners are driven by the water returning to the pool from your pool equipment system. The pool pump can be used as the driver, but most commonly a booster pump works better. These cleaners are designed for the driving pump to force debris up into a bag that will contain the debris until it is emptied. A pressure side cleaner does not suck things into your pump basket or filter. This means less cleaning / backwashing etc. This type of cleaner does a much better job if your pool is in an area where trees and heavy debris are located. As mentioned earlier, the bags do not do well with smaller particles like sand and silt. This type of unit is not particularly good on scrubbing the walls. Lastly, they tend to occasionally get caught on in pool ladders and corners.
Rating: BETTER Cost: $1800 – $2500
3. ROBOTIC POOL CLEANERS
These units are driven by internal motors. They run electrically. This is generated from a transformer that just plugs into a wall outlet. The electricity is converted to either 6 volt or 12 volts by the transformer that is provided with the unit. The down side is that the long cord between the unit and the transformer will drape over the pool deck and into the pool. The debris vacuumed into the cleaner goes directly into self-contained filters within the unit. The computer within the unit “memorizes” the shape of your pool within hours so it rarely covers the previously cleaned areas twice. The top of the line units even possess a remote control that will allow you send the cleaner directly to a spot it may have missed. Robotic cleaners are the absolute best when small debris, sand, or silt are in the pool. They are also the only unit that brushes / scrubs the pool walls and floors as it operates. They can even scrub the tile line! If you use a robotic cleaner for 2 hours a day, it is not uncommon for most pools to be able to reduce the pool pump and filter operation for the same amount of time. These robotic units are VERY powerful and in my opinion are worth every penny they typically cost.
Rating: BEST Cost: $1000 – $2500
A cleaner yet to be mentioned is the “in floor” type. My own opinion is that while they may work well in some cases, the expense of the installation ($5000-$10,000) is not as rewarding as one should expect for the cost. So lastly, here are some tips to remember when using any type of auto pool cleaner.
A. ALWAYS remove the entire unit including cords and hoses from the pool when you are ready to swim.
B. ALWAYS store the unit in an area out of direct sun light.
C. ALWAYS purchase a unit that has an “ON SITE” warranty plan. Just so you know, the
deals you find online almost all require that you ship the unit somewhere in outer
Mongolia for warranty work and it takes months to get them back in many cases.
So there you have it, my professional opinion on pool cleaners. I don’t believe that most
American Fiberglass Pool buyers need one. Have you had a different experience with pool
cleaners? Is your opinion different from mine? Take a moment and send me a reply!