Since there are not really any reviews of the cheap suction side cleaners posted in here, I thought I would do a review on mine for those like me who cant afford robots and more expensive cleaners.
Barracuda Ranger by Zodiac
Bought off Amazon for $119.00 with free shipping, which is the cheapest place I found it. Our local Pool store had it on a "special summer sale" for $169.00.... which is ludicrous. hate to see the "non sale price"....
Setup is easy. I keep the Ranger in its box. I walk out to the end where my skimmer is, assemble the Ranger by sliding the big blue wheel over it, and attaching the first section of hose. I then attach the other 9 sections while feeding it into the pool as the Ranger sinks to the bottom. Once all the hose is connected, I hold the end over my return, knocking all the air out of the hose. You'll know you got all the air when the Ranger surfaces, kicks out the air, and sinks again. Then its a matter of simply hooking the hose and adapter into the skimmer. The whole process takes about 2 minutes.
So far, I am happy. It cleans dirt off of ~90% of my pool floor. It WILL NOT climb the walls, which for me is really not a big deal, and in fact, I would just prefer it not, so that I can leave it unattended and not worry about it climbing out and my pump losing prime. I simply take 5 minutes of my time, grab a wall brush and walk around my pool and brush the walls real quick before I deploy the Ranger if I feel my walls are dirty. We should brush our walls more anyway. If you want a wall cleaner, this IS NOT the cleaner you want.
I dont have many trees around, so its mainly dirt in my pool. The Ranger does a fine job of picking it up. My pool has a 6 ft 6 inch deep middle and the Ranger has no issue venturing down there and cleaning. I had some Stabilizer down there when I first deployed it, and it sucked up every granule.
The Ranger is very quite, with only a very soft "click-cluck" sound that you really only hear when its close to surface or near a wall.
The Ranger moves at a pretty decent speed. It cleans my pool in about an hour or so. It doesnt move too fast to where it stirs up the dirt either.
Only issues I have with it:
For my 32 foot pool, it only came with 10 3 ft sections, so it wont reach across the whole pool. Fortunately, I have a skimmer on each end and until I order another couple of 3 ft hose sections (im about to) I simply move it down to the other skimmer when im ready for it to get the other end. It should have probably came with 2 more sections IMHO, as a 32 ft pool is pretty standard.
It doesnt do the best job at getting the liner coving. (The curved area between the wall and floor) That is mainly because the big wheel on it that guides it down the wall, keeps the suction disc about 4 inches away from the wall. This is most likely the same reason the Ranger wont climb the wall either. If I have dirt near the wall, I brush it away before deployment of the Ranger. For my pool this is only about every 3rd cleaning that I have dirt collect around the wall.
To complicate the above matter more, anyone who has an oval above ground knows that where the buttresses are, the walls are a bit wavy. This further inhibits the Ranger from getting close to the walls. Again, not anything a quick brushing wont take care of.
Another issue with it, and I would imagine any suction side cleaner, is that it will stay on one side of the hose the whole time as it cant cross under the hose when it loops back. Its not a huge issue, once I feel it has gotten one side of the pool clean, I simply unhook the hose from the skimmer, pass it under itself, and hook it back up. The Ranger will then do the other side. Again, not a big issue to me, as it takes 10 seconds to correct, but if you are wanting a "full automatic vacuum" this is not for you.
It does kinda stink that you have to unhook all the hose sections every time, rather than being able to roll the hose up. (The instructions strictly say NOT to roll the hose, but to unhook all sections and lay them flat) I imagine this is to keep the hose from wanting to curl one way or another in the pool and hindering the Ranger from going where it wants to go. After a few times, putting the hose together and taking it back apart is not a big deal either.
It does occasionally get hung up on my confer curved steps.
The disc also must be stored flat so it wont warp, so make sure you have space on a shelf or in the box to lay the Ranger where the disc is kept flat.
The cleaner will NOT work on low speed. As with most suction side cleaners, high speed is needed, and on my pool, I close the valve on the second skimmer, further adding more suction, and it really makes the Ranger perform.
Is it worth the $119.00? To me, absolutely. Its not perfect, but it gets 90% of it clean and is easy and fast to install and operate.
Will I buy another one? As long as it lasts at least 3 seasons, I would. If it kills over by the end of this season, probably not. I look at things on a yearly cost basis. $40 bucks a year for 3 years for auto vacuuming my pool seems worthwhile. $120 a season is a bit high for me.
Hope this review helps those looking at the cheaper suction side cleaners.