I have had a Hayward Navigator for about 6 years. Last 2 years its not moved about very well, pool company has replaced all the obvious bits and improved things for a while ... and then it regresses.
So I think it is time to replace it - I would appreciate your thoughts and advice on what I should get as a replacement
I outline below my thoughts about what I think might suit me, in case that sways your advice, but that apart do please tell me what you think.
I've spent a good part of today reading threads on this tremendously helpful site and looking at product specs and reviews and it looks like a coin-toss between a suction cleaner and a robot.
We have a dedicated Vac pipe in the middle of the long side of the pool, and our existing Hayward Naviagtor is a suction cleaner.
The pool is covered with a floating bubble-blanket, and the pool itself is housed in a clear plastic dome-type building - so in principle no leaves and other large debris gets in. In practice a few larger pieces of debris get blown in through the door, but its infrequent and even then not many.
The YouTubes I watched of Dolphin seems to be to be a PITA to have to clean the filters, as I am used to a cleaner attached to the VAC pipe just needing the filter backwashed periodically - I doubt we do that more than twice a month, probably takes 5 minutes, maybe 10 mins.
When we swim we generally pull the pipe out leaving the cleaner dangling under water by the pool side, and then kick the pipe back in when we are done. If we have people coming for the weekend etc. I take the whole thing out of the pool and store it to the side, and then I have to get the air out of the pipe when I put it back in (I put the cleaner in the far corner at the deep end and by the time I've "walked" the pipe round the deep end and along to the VAC point in the middle of the far side the pipe is submerged and as I lower the final end towards the water if water, in the pipe, rushes up to meet me I know there is no air in the pipe So its not a big job ... and I probably only do it twice a month - every other weekend, let's say.
I have a leaf basket in-line in the VAC hose in the pool - so any large debris is caught in there, so I very rarely have to clean out the pump's leaf basket. Its surprising the muck that it catches, given that the pool is enclosed!
We have Solar Thermal panels that heat the pool, when they are hot enough they "demand" the filter pump to come on, there is also a 2 hours (middle of day) timer that forces the pump on (in case cloudy / cold weather). In practice solar brings pump on, in middle of Summer here in UK, 8 hours or more a day. We also have Photovoltaic panels, so I figure that the energy to filter / clean the pool is free. So a powered Robot or similar would be "free" too; given the run-time of the Solar Thermal I have no need for the cleaner to be "quick"
The existing Navigator cleaner, back in the days when it was working well!, ran just fine underneath the floating bubble cover. It is important to me that the new replacement does too. Also that it fan be left in the pool 24/7 (we take it out for the Winter around mid Ocotber and put it back when we open the pool around Easter time)
The Navigator does not climb the walls, nor the steps at the Roman End - I sweep them into the main part of the pool about once a week. A climber that cleaned the steps would be a bonus, but I expect the top step would mean it was out of the water?
Other than that, given that we don't have a wall-climber I don't think I need one. The pool is covered, we never brush down the walls (except if we get the chemistry wrong - e.g. leave friends house-sitting when we are away!! - and get Algae in the pool). I can't get the tide mark of sun-cream and water-hardness etc. off the waterline mosaics, even scrubbing with acid, so I doubt very much that a scrubbing pool cleaner will do either - unless you tell me otherwise?
It seems to me that the Robot is quite heavy to put into the pool, and to get out. I am sure I'd have no problem, not sure if my teenage girls would manage.
Price is not a consideration (I want something that means I spend the minimum amount of time attending to the pool), but all things being equal I will then buy on price and reliability. It looks to me that an M5 is three times the price of a Navigator or similar and I don't see any significant additional benefit.
The suction pipe becomes brittle after not-all-that-long (2 years?) and then when we get it out of the pool it tends to crack so we have a period of being annoyed that we keep on having to replace individual hose sections ... and then we replace all the remaining old ones!! and stop moaning for a couple of years. Clearly we would not have that problem with a robot.
I think a Robot would be easier to park in the corner of the pool whilst swimming (or even to get out and then just "chuck" back in the pool after) and it would be easy to turn it off [i.e. electrically turned off] so it didn't move about during swimming. Our suction cleaner is less good on that score - as explained we get the pipe out and leave the cleaner "in", but for anything other than just family swimming that's not very "pretty"; my kids are not up to opening the pump enclosure and turning off the VAC valve and turning up the Skimmer valve to compensate ... and getting the reverse process 100% right!! so its down to me or Mrs K to do that. I can't expect guests, ignorant of the system and process, to be able to do it either. So that might be better with a Robot, however its not often we want to have the cleaner completely out of the pool (and, as said, when we do I can do that some time before guests arrive)
Mrs K was quite taken with the Kreepy Krauly Shark (we had an old style Kreepy Krauly in a house-with-pool 30 ago, and it worked well - and climbed the walls well too ) so its a brand nam we have some respect for. Reviews seem to be mixed - but they are for M5 and Navigator too ...
I see The Pool Cleaner mentioned favourably on here, not seen it in the UK so no idea if I can buy it over here.
Sorry for long message, hopefully gives you all the info you need and based on your answers I can order a new cleaner tomorrow and have it here in time to get a nice sparkly pool by this coming weekend . Many thanks for your help.