We are planning a new pool build, and I am having a tough time deciding on the best system for keeping the pool clean. We are still gathering quotes from builders, but my preferred builder did not see the need for an in-floor cleaner for our pool. Our planned pool is 40x14, rectangle, with a long ledge and small set of steps. Very clean lined and simple. Likely plaster. It is near several trees, so falling needles/leaves/grass clippings etc are a real concern. But we will have an automatic cover, so the pool will always be covered when not in use. The builder suggested a robotic cleaner would be better suited for the larger debris (as opposed to a lot of sand and dirt) and didn't think we had enough steps and nooks and crannies to require an in-floor system. He also believes more parts = more repairs, so keep the electronics as simple as you need them. But he is also very accommodating and willing to go with whatever we choose.
My concerns with a robot are, of course, the aesthetics. But also the extra work. I cannot overstate this - we are not looking for another daily maintenance item.
So how exactly does a robotic cleaner work. It plugs in - do I need an outlet somewhere nearby? Is it typically a concealed one in the ground near the pool (another aesthetics issue)? Do I have to plug and unplug the robot constantly, or can I just leave it plugged in all the times (except when company is over)? I assume I can't run it with the pool cover on. So do I need to open the pool, toss the robot in, leave it running for a few hours, then come back and take it out to close the pool? Do I have to empty it? Daily? More often than an in-floor cleaner?
Some of these questions may seem silly, but I've never had to actually deal with the maintenance of a pool before. And I'd frankly like to continue to avoid dealing with as much maintenance as possible lol. But I also want a clean pool, so if the robot will do that BETTER than an in-floor system... well, I'm torn. If the in-floor system definitely cleans better, then sold. I haven't gotten a price on it yet, but everything I've read online says it is just a few thousand more, which seems worth it given the overall cost of the pool (ugh). But if it isn't suited to my pool shape/style/location, please let me know!
And another question about in-floor systems - much of the marketing promotes in-floor systems ability to help a heated pool circulate and heat the water better and more evenly. Which is great, for the 3 months (tops) of the year I may occasionally switch on the heater. Being in the south, I will have the chiller turned on far more often in an attempt to keep the pool cool while it is sweltering outside. Does the in-floor system help as much with a chilled pool?
I really appreciate any advice as I try to select the right system!