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Thread: Functional Benefit of an Robotic Pool Cleaner vs Manual Cleaning

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    Question Functional Benefit of an Robotic Pool Cleaner vs Manual Cleaning

    Hi, before I dive into my question, this isn't a post about which robotic pool cleaner is the best or which one do you like, or what the advantages of one model is over another. Rather, this is a specific question related to my setup and the decision to make a purchase of a robotic cleaner based on the short term and long term functionality of it vs manual cleaning. It is with this that I ask you, when answering, to disregard the marketing of time savings and ignore the idea of the cost of the cleaner.

    Hopefully my pool will tag in below, but if not, some useful information. I'm running a DE filtration system and maintaining pristine chemistry through (admittedly) over sampling, control charts and event records. The water is crystal clear. There is no visible loss through 40'. At night I do not see the light beam from the LED lights nor do I see any significant diffraction of light from a focused source (i.e. flashlight).

    I vacuum by hand twice a week and brush the walls every 10 days or so. For my 20x40 pool it takes me about 1.25 hours, start to finish. I also brush around the skimmers, returns, intakes, and ladder. When vacuuming, I can never tell where I have vacuumed because the bottom is very clean. Most materials settle to the bottom and includes your typical leaves, sand, bugs, and the toads that just didn't make it. The cleaning is performed using the standard hose to skimmer (into the filter). There is no back washing of the filter (it's a DE), rather I'll open and clean off the DE mid season and at the end of the season. The recommended pressure increase to clean is +10 psi from startup and has never increased more than 4. Irregardless, the filter is cleaned mid-season.

    So, is there a functional benefit (supported by metrics) of getting a robotic cleaner? Is there a detriment? Based on research, I have some follow up questions that may help define what I mean by 'functional'.


    • Is an RC more efficient at cleaning?
    • Will a RC increase fine particles in the pool over time? - When I manually vacuum the water is going through the DE filter. Research on RC shows a 50-70 filtration screen. Although small particles may not be visible, they can agglomerate.
    • Does a RC cause more, less, or equal wear and tear on the liner and seams?
    • It has been said that an RC removes particles so it doesn't enter the filter thereby saving wear and tear on the filter. However, I have seen no metric on this. With my (oversized) filter and the fact that manually vacuuming has not increased pressure, how real is this? Are we talking an extra 10% of life out of the main cartridge?


    I think answers to these may help the decision to by a RC or not. Then, the follow up question would be which one, for which I've already done that research.

    I'm not sure I'll get a lot of responses here, and that's ok. It may just be that those are difficult questions to answer. It seems as though marketing (which is fancy for the art form of smiling while lying) sells these based on the personal time savings, which is why I haven't found a solid answer to these questions. If that is the case, so be it, and good to know.

    Please refrain from explaining the time savings. This is not a factor for which I'm interested in.

    Thanks for your time.

    Paul

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    Mod Squad jblizzle's Avatar
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    Re: Functional Benefit of an Robotic Pool Cleaner vs Manual Cleaning

    If time savings is to be ignored, then I see no reason to change what you are going since that is the major driver.

    Your questions:
    - A RC would be more efficient in the sense that your pool pump would not need to be running to clean the pool. But, if you are vacuuming when the pump would be on anyway, then this is not a factor
    - Some RC can filter pretty small particles, I do not see why the cleaner would cause more smaller particles in the pool
    - I think the RC could possibly cause more wear when they get in a corner and the brushes just spin in one spot
    - No idea about life of the filter, but I can say that in the last year or so that I have been using a suction cleaner instead of a robot, I am having to clean my DE filter WAY more often. Like every month or so now compared to maybe 2 times per year.

    I do want to add a note that we recommend cleaning filters based on a 20-25% pressure rise over the clean pressure. Waiting +10psi is an old (and very bad) rule of thumb which is just waiting way too long.
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    Re: Functional Benefit of an Robotic Pool Cleaner vs Manual Cleaning

    Thanks.

    Yes, the pump is on all the time, variable speed. I run it at a lower flow at night. Coupled with the UV system, this keeps the combined chlorine very low without the need to shock and has been extremely successful.

    What RCs go below a mean pore size of 30 Ám?

    Thanks for the additional guidance. Actually, changing it out half way through the season was about the 20-25% mark that you recommended. As I have also discovered the +10psi can reduce the flow WAY too much. So, I measure the flow periodically while I learn the system.

    Thanks for your responses. I appreciate it.

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    Mod Squad jblizzle's Avatar
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    Re: Functional Benefit of an Robotic Pool Cleaner vs Manual Cleaning

    Remember, we are not big fans of UV systems around here. You still need to make sure you are maintaining an adequate FC level as a function of your CYA level according to the FC/CYA Chart.

    It also sounds like you are running your pump much longer that you technically need to (only a few hours a day is needed for chemical distribution), although that is what is keeping your water so crystal clear. Maybe some interesting reading: Determine Pump Run Time

    I have not idea what the pore sizes in any robots are.
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    Re: Functional Benefit of an Robotic Pool Cleaner vs Manual Cleaning

    Time is the biggest factor. I pull the robot out of the deck box, plug it in and drop it into the deep end. I hit the switch and let the robot do all the work. I then am free to go the gym, or just do other chores. Filter is always dirty when I pull it out and the pool is as sparkling as if I used my old routine of manually vacuuming. What is your time worth to you? Should be the real question.
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    Re: Functional Benefit of an Robotic Pool Cleaner vs Manual Cleaning

    You spend 2-1/2 hours a week doing something that I spend 10-15 minutes (max) a week on. So over the course of my roughly 20-week pool season you're putting in about a workweek of cleaning (50 hours to my 5 hours). My pool looks crystal clear. Are there 5-micron particles floating around in it? I'm too busy enjoying my pool to worry about that. On the weekends I can run to the cleaners and run to Costco to stock up on pool snacks/drinks in less time I would have spent manually vacuuming and then jump in and chill. You can either spend your life trying to achieve some imaginary standard or spend your time enjoying yourself. Your call.
    Geebot
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    30K gal, InGround Plaster Finish, 3.5'-9.5', Maytronics S300 Cleaner

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    Re: Functional Benefit of an Robotic Pool Cleaner vs Manual Cleaning

    Thanks. But, my request was not to consider time and focus on the functional benefits.

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    Re: Functional Benefit of an Robotic Pool Cleaner vs Manual Cleaning

    Quote Originally Posted by Phizy View Post
    Thanks. But, my request was not to consider time and focus on the functional benefits.
    You're basing it on your own standards, so nobody can give you an answer that you like. You want efficiency, a robot is the very definition of efficiency. If you're fine with spending your time cleaning then keep it up, but I assure you that your pool will not be cleaner than mine.
    Geebot
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    Re: Functional Benefit of an Robotic Pool Cleaner vs Manual Cleaning

    Yes. I was upfront about that in the beginning. The very first response did answer all my questions directly. If you have anything to add to those, please feel free.

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    Re: Functional Benefit of an Robotic Pool Cleaner vs Manual Cleaning

    Hi. After talking with a variety of people I've understood what the RC can and can't do. Bringing it back to my original goal of this posting, I have a few follow up questions. Some of these have already been answered more or less in brushing vs vac, importance of brushing, and can I stop brushing, but hopefully my questions can tie everything in together. Remember, unless specifically noted, "time savings" is out of scope.

    It seems as there is a general recommendation to brush the pool even with appropriately maintained pool chemistry.
    Is that true with a liner pool as well?
    With regards to the floors, sweeping does not vacuum, but does running a manual vacuum provide the same effect as sweeping but with the added benefit of suction?

    Realizing that manual brushing and vacuuming is not expected to be 100% replaced by an RC:
    Does an RC allow for the reduction of brushing of a liner pool?

    Models such as the S300i and Active 30i, and others, have an active brush which rotates twice as quickly. From watching some videos, this appears to have a significant amount of touches to the surfaces that may not be obtained through manual methods of brushing or vacuuming unless slow methodical care is applied.
    Is that a true assessment?

    There appears to be a benefit to filters by removing debris rather than sucking it into the filter. Although the basket will take the majority of the material a fair amount still passes through the filter.
    Given that the pressure of the filter does not rise more than 25%, as recommended, is there a benefit to using an RC to prevent this small material from getting to the filter?
    Given that a DE filter will filter down to smaller mean particle sizes than the RC filters can is there a measurable benefit/detriment to using an RC to "stir up" the fine material and hoping it gets to the filter, or vacuuming it directly to the filter?


    My pool has two skimmers, opposite sides, one in the shallow one in the deep. Opposite to those on the sides are returns. there are two deep end drains and two additional returns on the stairs.
    Is there a benefit with overall pool circulation with an RC?

    Given that my pool is generally very clean with very little material on the bottom, and with all considered, if, due to busy schedules, but maintaining appropriate pool chemistry, I an unable to manually vacuum the pool more than once a week, or once every 9 days, would an RC now provide a benefit in between manual cleanings?

    Realizing that hard to reach spots will always need manual attention, if an RC is used regularly 1 -2 times a week, does this reduce the overall manual cleaning?

    Thanks everyone.

    Paul

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    Re: Functional Benefit of an Robotic Pool Cleaner vs Manual Cleaning

    I will comment on your last question. I do not know where my vacuum hose is. I think my vacuum attachment is in the garage, I'm not sure. I have not manually vacuumed since 2013. I use the leaf rake to get large things like walnuts, sticks and the like then run my Nautilus Dolphin before I use my pool. I still make time once a week to brush the entire pool surface.
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    Re: Functional Benefit of an Robotic Pool Cleaner vs Manual Cleaning

    Ha. I like your point of view. Can you comment as to why your still brush though?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Bruce View Post
    I will comment on your last question. I do not know where my vacuum hose is.... I still make time once a week to brush the entire pool surface.

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    Re: Functional Benefit of an Robotic Pool Cleaner vs Manual Cleaning

    I understand that certain types of algae can attach to the walls and form "shells" that protect them from chlorine. Also, brushing makes sure the water circulates right at the walls and floor. I also find it meditative.
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    Re: Functional Benefit of an Robotic Pool Cleaner vs Manual Cleaning

    Thanks. That is what I read as well and was wondering if the RC would take care of that as well.
    I agree with the meditative aspects.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Bruce View Post
    I understand that certain types of algae can attach to the walls and form "shells" that protect them from chlorine. Also, brushing makes sure the water circulates right at the walls and floor. I also find it meditative.

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    Re: Functional Benefit of an Robotic Pool Cleaner vs Manual Cleaning

    I have a Dolphin DX5+S & I'm extremely glad I bought it.like you, I was manually vacuuming my pool. You would be surprised how much fine particles you are missing. The day my RC came in, I had just cleaned my pool that morning. Since I had my gadget, I wanted to try it out.when I pulled the RC out, I pulled the filters out to check them. I was expecting to see minor amount in them but they were completely full. Hope this helps
    84' perimeter 16' x 31' gunite in-ground pool with blue quartz finish, travertine coping, 8'-6" x 18" raised beam and 14' of 12" raised beam with 2 scuppers, built in June, 2015. 385' of Houston Tan acrylic decking. 2 H.P. Tristar variable speed pump, Hayward 4025 cartridge filter and Dolphin DX5+S robotic cleaner

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    Re: Functional Benefit of an Robotic Pool Cleaner vs Manual Cleaning

    What RCs go below a mean pore size of 30 Ám?
    The Polaris models (I have 9550 Sport) have multiple filter options. The optional fine sand/silt filter will work down to 60 microns. I got this filter as my new pool had LOTS of red clay in it (live in GA). I was amazed at how well it worked on this and other fine particles. Sorry, not 30 though.
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    Re: Functional Benefit of an Robotic Pool Cleaner vs Manual Cleaning

    Thanks for the replies. Perhaps I should reword my questions a little more succinctly:

    If the chemistry in a vinyl liner pool is maintained appropriately, is frequent brushing required? If so, can brushed be substituted with an RC or substituted with manual vacuuming?

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    Re: Functional Benefit of an Robotic Pool Cleaner vs Manual Cleaning

    Quote Originally Posted by Phizy View Post
    If the chemistry in a vinyl liner pool is maintained appropriately, is frequent brushing required? If so, can brushed be substituted with an RC or substituted with manual vacuuming?
    I have fiberglass, but would be similar. I run my RC 2-3 times/week depending upon how the pool looks and if we're having company. I occasionally run two cleaning cycles in a row if there is a lot of dirt in the pool. We use the pool 6-7 days/week - depending upon weather and have lots of trees around - which also means lots of bug -just 5 toads this year so far.

    It will clean the sides up to the water line very well. It can clean the lower steps, but not the top. My pool has a 4" ledge at the 3 1/2' line the whole way around the pool, which it can not really brush, but the propulsion jet in the rear helps blow loose dirt off of it. So about 1/week I will brush the ledge, the steps and my built in loungers, the bottom drains (sometime stuff stuck to it) and table before I run the RC. If there is a lot of dirt in a corner, I will brush it away from corner.

    So the RC does not do 100%, but WAYYY less than doing it all manually.
    38'x16' Fiberglass pool - 3.5' - 8' deep - 19,000 gallons. AutoPilot Total Control SWG (RC-52 cell), Pentair SuperFlo VS, Pentair SD70 Sand Filter, Coverstar Automatic Cover, 10' board, PAL Treo lighting, Polaris 9550 Sport robot, Lamotte ColorQ Pro 7 test kit.

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    Mod Squad pooldv's Avatar
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    Re: Functional Benefit of an Robotic Pool Cleaner vs Manual Cleaning

    Agreed. A robot will reduce the need for brushing but not eliminate it. Some areas will still need brushing and brushing the whole pool occasionally is probably a good idea. And of course observing the conditions in the pool is the best tool. If you see anything on the surface give it a brush.
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    Re: Functional Benefit of an Robotic Pool Cleaner vs Manual Cleaning

    Thanks.

    As for the toads GaryT58, up here in the North East I've been up to about 60. I'm on the edge of conservation wetlands though.

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