Dilemma, pressure side cleaner (used 3900), new 280 or robot for renovated pool (last year)

ShinDiors

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Jul 16, 2021
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So we renovated this abandoned backyard pool (in my signature_) without much knowledge. It had a broken booster pump and broken Polaris 280 and all, so the pool company just replaced it with a new booster pump. With the pandemic price, the equipment of these cleaners are through the roof these days, so we haven't really used the booster pump at all, just manual brush and suction side vacuum.

I bumped into a used polairs 3900 for $450 with extra parts and extension hose etc, which is about 1.5 hr driving distance away (3900 is $900 for new unit). Looking at brand new 280 would be $550 right now (it was $500 last season). From reading the forum, I feel the consensus is robot cleans better and those Polaris would need much mantianence, repair and rebuild down the road.

What's my best bet in my scenario, given that I already have this one year old booster pump and plumbing. If pressure side cleaner, seems like 3900 is larger and more powerful, and seems to have more posts about problems compared to the simply 280 model. So far we have been coping with manual vac and brush OK (granted, the pool may not be as clean), so I wouldn't consider this would be a rush purchase.

Any advice? Thanks a lot.
 

ajw22

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I would not advise you buy any used pressure side cleaner. The performance of all of them deteriorate over time as they live int he water. All you are buying is someone eases problems they are dumping.

This year I replaced my 10 year old Polaris 380 with a new one after I had rebuilt it a few times and it had gotten sluggish moving around the pool. The new one moves well and climbs walls and steps again. I like the cleaner and it stays in the pool and runs daily.


Many folks here like their robot cleaners but many have motor or electronic problems within a few years.

I think the 10 year cost of ownership between the two types of cleaner is pretty much a wash.

So pick whichever one you think will work better for you. There is no one best cleaner.
 

ShinDiors

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Thanks Allen. I've seen your experience sharing posts about this topic. Guess the major obstacle for me to go robot immediately was the fact that booster pump was almost brand new (installed but never really ran it), and the cost of replumbing it after removing the pump out. Willing to try out pressure side cleaner first but the current price is so inflated...

Chatted with the seller on that used 3900 (only taking her words for it), 2nd owner, used for 1.5 yr (0.5 yr old from first owner), so far so good. Used with a larger pool so need hose extension.

Reading the forum quite a bit, it seems that in the earlier years consensus was that 3900 being new but less reliable compared to 380/280. 380 has more power compared to 280. Is that still the case? 380/280 over 3900? I understand that a lot of folks recommend the higher end Quatro Sports too...
 

ajw22

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The Quattro Sport has had reliability problems with its feed hose.

I think the Polaris 380 is a good compromise and better then the 280.

The price on the 380 has gone up by 10% in a few months since I bought mine. But then prices on everything is going up. Today I bought new filters for my AC units that I paid $35 each last year and they were $45 this year. A few years ago I was paying under $30/ filter.

If you need something you buy it and pay the price. If you don't need it then don't buy it. It may be cheaper or more expensive in the future.
 

SDor

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Jun 14, 2018
162
Chicagoland
I have a 3900. This model fixes most of the "maintenance" items from the earlier models (280, 380). That is, the wheels are chain driven (no belts to stretch) and the internal water management is a single piece of molded plastic rather than a bunch of hoses with zip ties that tend to fail every few years. I've had mine for 9 years, and I replaced the water management module a year to two back. Aside from that, no problems. I might be on my 3rd bag, and 15th tail scrubby. The early models had problems with the chain coming off the drive line, but they fixed it in later models. When I bought mine, all the on-line reviews were horrible because of the chain issue. I haven't looked at reviews since because mine has been fine. I guess if they're recent reviews, then maybe I have been lucky.

Because of this, I'd go with the used 3900 assuming it looks decent. You can replace all the important internal moving parts for $167 (see rebuild kit on Amazon), and the previously mentioned water management unit is $30. I guess you might need to replace the tail at some point, but mine is still going strong after 9 years. Last time I had mine opened up (replacing the water management unit), the chains were still shiny silver (no rust). There's no electronics so as long as you can use a screwdriver, it is pretty user serviceable, and the parts are not crazy expensive (although, everything pool related seems to be expensive).
 

red-beard

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You are better spending the money on an "S200" level robot. The robot also uses less power. It might not be an issue with a pool that is not year round. But 2-3 hours a day with the Polaris at ~1300-1500 Watts = more money than I spend on my Variable Speed Pump!!!
 

Rocket J Squirrel

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I've had all of the above-mentioned Polarises. I bought the 3900 in Oct. 2013 to replace the worn-out 280 the previous owners left. Because I keep copious notes in Quicken, I can see that I bought replacement tails & bags for the 3900 several times, and had to replace the hose, backup valve, the quick disconnect, pressure relief, and wall fitting once each, bought the rebuild kit once, which did not include everything needed, then bought the missing items which were bearings & wheels. That's right, the rebuild kit does not include the items most likely to wear out.

After all that, I decided I did not want rebuilding the 3900 to be my hobby, and replaced it with the Quattro in March 2021. The Quattro requires precise tuning of the water pressure it gets for optimal results, but it cleans noticeably better than either of the 3-wheeled units I had before. I haven't had any reliability issues with the hose (yet). It's the exact same hose the others use, minus the backup valve. The Quattro's Achilles heel manifests if you try to pull it out of the pool by the hose. That's a weak point that will break. There is an actual handle you need to use to remove the Quattro from the pool.

So I've only had the very expensive Quattro a year, but it performs better than any other pressure-side cleaner I've had. If you're committed to using the booster pump, this is your best choice in terms of cleaning power.
 

Homebrewale

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I have posted this previously. The main reason I like my robot over my previous Polaris 380 is the fine dirt that it picks up. The fine dirt like pollen just goes through the Polaris bag.
 

Rocket J Squirrel

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The main reason I like my robot over my previous Polaris 380 is the fine dirt that it picks up. The fine dirt like pollen just goes through the Polaris bag.
The Quattro mimics robots in several ways, including this. It has coarse and fine dirt filters. I'm always surprised how much stuff the consistency of sand ends up in the fine filter. Hopefully it's not scrubbing off my plaster.
 

ShinDiors

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Jul 16, 2021
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You are better spending the money on an "S200" level robot. The robot also uses less power. It might not be an issue with a pool that is not year round. But 2-3 hours a day with the Polaris at ~1300-1500 Watts = more money than I spend on my Variable Speed Pump!!!
Our pool season here is end of April to beginning of Nov. Normally how long should we run the polaris and do we still need to brush or manual vac at all?
 

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red-beard

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My pool took 2-3 hours to clean with the polaris 280. The Robot did the same, but only 200 Watts. And it cleaned better.
 

SDor

Well-known member
Jun 14, 2018
162
Chicagoland
How long you run your Polaris really depends on your pool's environment. Lots of debris and dirt, run it more. Less, run it less. Once the pool is open, I mostly have plant debris which the Polaris does fine with, and I run it for about 1.5 hours / day. Sometimes, this is probably overkill. Other times, it misses a few things. The only times I manually vacuum is pool when opening and if I have to SLAM as the Polaris doesn't do well with dead algae. I do brush the walls if they ever start feeling a little slimy (which is usually an indication that I've been lax on the pool upkeep).

This year, I'm trying a robot (Pentair 920) to see if I can get out of manually vacuuming ever as I really dislike doing it. One day into it, so far, so good. The robot's coarse filter seems to get clogged with the fine dirt after about 45 minutes of running. It's mostly fine clay dirt with worms and rolly-pollys, but cleaning the filter a couple times a day beats the vacuum. It is still not clean so maybe my opinion will change once I'm done with the process. I do plan to go back to the 3900 after opening because I like the "set and forget" ability, and I am wary about leaving the robot in the pool all the time. Then again, the robot folks around here say I will never go back. It probably depends on how the 3900 + pump hold up.
 
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