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Thread: Advice on Replacement Pool Cleaner please

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    Advice on Replacement Pool Cleaner please

    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.
    22,000 Gallons / 100,000L 40' x 20', Roman end, IG Marbelite, Covered (Greenhouse type thing!), Sand filter, Built a long time ago, Hayward Navigator cleaner

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    Patrick_B's Avatar
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    Re: Advice on Replacement Pool Cleaner please

    Welcome to TFP!

    I would look into Maytronics. I'll be forthright and tell you I'm very biased having little experience,mbutnthis year with my M5 supreme has been nothing short of stellar. I can't imagine being happier with a pool cleaner. Good luck in your choice, and enjoy the forum.
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    Re: Advice on Replacement Pool Cleaner please

    Thanks. Good to hear that you are happy with M5, I've read plenty of good reports on here.

    Although you may not have a comparison point what do you think about:

    My suction hose cleaner needs no time spent on housekeeping, I just backwash the filter as normal. A Robot needs the filters cleaning (How often, in a covered pool - maybe not that frequently?) Getting Robot out of the water and back in after swimming: VAC hose has to be primed with water so more effort to put back in (but most of the time we swim with it in the pool, so its "not often" for us). Videos I've seen make the Robot look [comparatively] cumbersome to get out of the water. That said, no one current gets the VAC cleaner out of the water except for me / Mrs K (because we need to change pump settings etc.) so by comparison "anyone" could get the Robot out of the water - just power it off and yank it out.

    I don't think there is any benefit to me of a climber for my walls / water line - we almost never brush them. It would be a small benefit to have a climber get up the steps in the Roman end. So perhaps I could get a non climbing robot like the M3 - which I think is a lot cheaper than an M5

    I'm still struggling with M5 costing around 3x as much as a suction cleaner - I'm not seeing any great benefit (except speed of cleaning, which is a non-issue for me). I could spend the money saved on Steaks and Beers!!

    Maybe the Fine Filter on M5 would be an improvement? We've had a pool here since we moved in 10 years ago, and we were 10 years at a previous house with a pool, and we've been very happy with the pools. I'm not sure that we would care much if it was "even more sparkly" and in UK 90F temperatures are as rare as Hen's Teeth, so we don't have high water temperature chemistry to worry about (with Solar Thermal panels the pool keeps itself at about 92F), and thus perhaps the benefits of a fine filter removing stuff that might soon become a problem at high temperatures may not be relevant to us over here?

    Our pool maintenance is very simple (and from what I read on here I guess many would see it as very slapdash!) We check pH/Chlorine etc. once a week, and add chlorine about twice a week - we have a feel for now much it needs depending on pool usage numbers. We do have floating tablet dispenser in the pool providing some continuous top-up, but from experience we know the chemistry doesn't change very quickly, so our current housekeeping regime takes almost no time at all. I don't want to increase that (e.g. by having to clean filters on a Robot once a week, let alone any more often than that). Perhaps I am misinformed about how often Robot filters need cleaning? Most of the reviews I read are, for good reason, along the lines of "My pool was filthy, I've had the Robot for a week now and its amazing, I clean the filters every day" ... well with a filthy pool that would be the case, maybe for folks with a clean, covered, pool its way WAY less frequent?

    Any & all opinions would be appreciated
    22,000 Gallons / 100,000L 40' x 20', Roman end, IG Marbelite, Covered (Greenhouse type thing!), Sand filter, Built a long time ago, Hayward Navigator cleaner

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    Patrick_B's Avatar
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    Re: Advice on Replacement Pool Cleaner please

    You said money was no object!
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    Re: Advice on Replacement Pool Cleaner please

    Yeah, but I qualified it. I expect to get some tangible benefit for any extra money spent

    I've been doing a Pros and Cons to help me decide, and this is where I think I am at:

    Getting cleaner 1) out of, and 2) back into, the water:

    Suction Cleaner:

    1) Have to change the pump settings. Therefore my kids swim with the cleaner in the water, or hoses draped alongside the pool and cleaner dangling in the water (which, in fairness, would not be their first choice). It can be got out, by me, "early morning" on days when we will be having guests. Currently a "me/Mrs K only job" because of pump setting changes

    2) Have to prime the hose with water. Have to change the pumps settings back. Thus also a "me/Mrs K only job".

    ROBOT:

    1) Turn of electricity. Pull it out of the pool
    2) Dump it back in the pool (no priming needed). Turn on electricity.

    Anyone can do that.

    CONCLUSION:

    Robot definitely better


    Climber:

    Would clean the walls. I think of marginal benefit to us,we've never had a problem with the walls, but maybe it would keep the pool cleaner and thus less chance of Algae outbreak.

    It would climb and clean the Roman End steps - but probably not the top step (because, by then, it would be out of the water)

    CONCLUSION:

    A Nice-to-have, we've managed just fine sweeping the steps for 10 years ... but the kids feel the need to get any beetles off the steps before they will get into the pool, so they'd prefer clean steps.


    Housekeeping:

    Suction cleaner: Clean the leaf-trap (in the suction hose) periodically (approx. once a month), and backwash the filter (say twice a month, but that won't change if I had a Robot). All collected debris goes into one or other, so no other maintenance unless a rock blocks the impeller in the cleaner - it's a covered pool. We don't get rocks in the pool! a pair of swimming goggles is much more likely though ... I guess that would block a Robot too.

    Robot: Main pump filter still needs backwashing as normal. Robot has separate filters, so they would need cleaning. My "sense" is that that might be as often as once a week, and might take 5 minutes (I like the approach of people that say they bought a spare filter set, so just swap them over and chuck the robot back in the pool and then, at their leisure, rinse the dirty one under the tap ready to replace next time.

    CONCLUSION:

    Robot is more work, but it may be marginal. If you tell me that Robot filters need cleaning several times a week it would be a major CON.


    Cleaning speed:

    My understanding is that a Robot is much much quicker. We run our pump 8 hours a day on sunny days, PV electricity is free, so a Suction cleaner gets more than enough run-time. Fast run time of Robot is of no benefit to us, except when the pool is dirty (an algae outbreak that we didn't catch in time) as it would then clean it much faster. Might that make the difference between getting the pool clean for weekend guests ... or not?


    Cost:

    Robot cost difference is typically 3x as much (although the M3, non-climber, is not much more than Suction cleaner). If lifetime of Robot is much longer then it would be worthwhile. The M5 (and presumably the M3 too, I haven’t checked) appear to have easily user-replaceable parts for everything. Clearly our existing Navigator doesn't - it went back to Pool Company 3 times for maintenance before they got it working reliably, and now it has started to walk-slow again - but, that said, it worked flawlessly for 5 years. No telling if, in practice, a Robot would actually be more easily maintained for a longer life (but that would, to me, justify extra cost)

    I could just decide that one of the costs of having a pool is to replace the Suction Cleaner every 5 years.


    FINAL CONCLUSION:

    I think the ease of put-in / get-out of pool means a robot is worthwhile - anyone can then do that, the kids can do it every time they swim if they want to. Also speed of cleaning is a minor gain for when we have a dirty pool unexpectedly - but that is rare (less than once a year, maybe only one-year-in-three), Finaly it will probably clean all-but the top step, a minor benefit to us.

    I'd pay 50% more for a Robot than a Suction on that basis.

    I'm off to look for a reasonably priced Robot, e.g. M3, and if I find one I'll buy that, otherwise I'll buy a suction one (deciding between Kreepy Karly Shark, another Hayward Navigator, or some other recommended model)

    K
    22,000 Gallons / 100,000L 40' x 20', Roman end, IG Marbelite, Covered (Greenhouse type thing!), Sand filter, Built a long time ago, Hayward Navigator cleaner

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    Patrick_B's Avatar
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    Re: Advice on Replacement Pool Cleaner please

    I'll agree it may be overkill, but a good robot outperforms a suction cleaner any day is all I'm saying. Worth the money? Buyers choice...
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  7. Back To Top    #7

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    Re: Advice on Replacement Pool Cleaner please

    Thanks, I have drawn the same conclusion. However, in the back of my mind is that we have been perfectly happy with the Suction solution we've had for many years - clean pool, tiny effort, so my replacement choice is mostly based around any gain I get on personal time, rather than an Even Cleaner Pool

    I looked around for prices here in the UK:

    Replacement Hayward Navigator GBP 320.00
    Newer model Hayward PV50S GBP 330.00
    Dolphin M3 GBP 700.00
    Dolphin M4 GBP 1120.00
    Dolphin M5 GBP 1639.00

    so, for me, even the M3 is twice the price of a suction cleaner ... and the M4 would be 3.5x

    Spoke to a very helpful salesman (Peter @ Swimming Pool Supplies - Spa Chemicals - Pool Chemicals and Covers - Swimfix if anyone is interested). My discussion covered what models they sell, what gives them the most grief [several brands that they just don't bother to stock any more] and my needs. He said that Maytronic products were outstanding, in comparison to others and, here in the UK at least, the support he gets from the local distributor (Certikin International Ltd ) is superb; I definitely attach a value to that.

    I'd like to try the improved convenience of putting into / taking out of the pool, so I bought an M3.

    Peter's opinion was that climbers spend a very small amount of their time climbing, as the designers realise that most of the dirt in the pool is on the floor

    Peter's expectation, given my covered pool, is that I should only need to clean the filters weekly, maybe less often.

    Only negative is that the cable length means that my pool is borderline for size, so I'm probably going to have to mount the control unit in the middle of the long side of the pool, which is not ideal for me - I'd prefer "out of the way" at the deep end.

    swimfix.co.uk don't stock spare filters, so they are looking into spares for me. I liked the post I read from someone who said his housekeeping routine was to yank the robot out, swap the filters, and then clean the dirty ones at his leisure ready for next time. Over this side of the pond vendors don't think "Service" like you folks in the USA, so its no surprise to me that they don't stock spare filters - I just cant believe that they don't try to sell them with every sale they make - mark up on spares could happily be "High" as they have a captive customer at that point. Oh well ... move to the USA is the only way to fix that I guess

    It should be here tomorrow, I'll let you know how I get on. As a former Suction Cleaner owner I will at least be able to give my opinion on the difference with a Robot.
    22,000 Gallons / 100,000L 40' x 20', Roman end, IG Marbelite, Covered (Greenhouse type thing!), Sand filter, Built a long time ago, Hayward Navigator cleaner

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    Patrick_B's Avatar
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    Re: Advice on Replacement Pool Cleaner please

    Nicely done! I truly look forward to hearing how it goes.

    You never know why/when you may need a spare set of filters, but if you're moderately careful I reckon you could get years out of them given your situation. By then, perhaps you can find them, or someone abroad to help you out. Please send me a PM reminder when you have a chance to post a report on the new cleaner. Anxious to hear about it. Congrats!
    TFP Moderator
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