First time pool owner: In-floor vs. robot

yaypool2018

Member
Apr 10, 2018
18
California
Posting again here bc replied to an old thread:

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 32x14, rectangle, only 4' the entire pool, with a long ledge and small set of steps. Very clean lined and simple. Pebblefina. It is near several trees, so falling leaves 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. We truly want our pool experience to be as hands-off as possible.

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. Willing to also hire a weekly pool cleaning service.

Thanks in advance for your guidance!
 

jark87

Silver Supporter
Jun 5, 2011
267
Flower Mound, TX
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Jandy Aquapure 1400
I don’t know anything about in-floor cleaners, but like you, always look for the most maintenance-free solution I can find. Our pool is also surrounded by trees - a mix of oaks and cedar elms. The cedar elms have smaller leaves and seem to shed them almost all summer long. They also produce tiny seeds in the spring and fall. We have had our Polaris pressure cleaner for 13 years and it does a great job for all debris, including the small seeds. I’m in the minority, as most favor the robots now, but I like that the Polaris stays in the pool and I don’t have to drag it in and out of storage. No unsightly extension cords either. There is a hose that floats on the surface and yes, there’s an extra pump required, but it has been a great solution for us. If we have guests, I just disconnect the hose from the wall and store the cleaner behind the equipment partition. My brother-in-law switched to a robot when his cleaner pump went out and complains about dragging it in/out of storage. Wishes he had just replaced his cleaner pump.
 

Jimrahbe

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Jul 7, 2014
19,853
Bedford, TX
We truly want our pool experience to be as hands-off as possible.
If that is the case, I would not buy a pool... :poke:

In Floor Cleaning Systems add complexity to simple pool plumbing.. They tend to not live up to the marketing hype and do not clean the pool walls or scrub the tile line.

If I ever build another pool, there would be zero chance that it would have an IFCS...

I use this one...

You do not have to "drag" a robot in and out of the pool.. That is up to the owner.. I have three of them.. The two I have at rent houses are in the pool 24/7... I take them out once a week to clean the filters.. The one at my house, normally only goes in the pool once or twice a week.. When out, it is stored next to my pool equipment.

I am not a fan of any water powered cleaner, but would opt for a pressure side cleaner before any IFCS..

Thanks,

Jim R.
 
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Jimrahbe

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Jul 7, 2014
19,853
Bedford, TX
Yay,

If you use a robot, then you will have a cord about the size of a pencil on your deck when the robot is in the pool. My robot is plugged into the side of my automation system which is at my equipment pad.

Sounds like you are just looking for an excuse to buy the IFCS... If that is what you want, just buy it.. Our "job" is to provide you with our feedback.. Your job is to throw out the feedback you don't want... :mrgreen:

Thanks,

Jim R.
 

yaypool2018

Member
Apr 10, 2018
18
California
Haha thanks @Jimrahbe. Not looking for an excuse to buy the IFCS - just realize that's one thing I CAN'T add after they shoot the pool, whereas I could go with a robot anytime, so I'm just trying to be thorough and really appreciate your input!!
 

Jimrahbe

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Jul 7, 2014
19,853
Bedford, TX
Yay,

One thing that Robots do is scrub the water line tile.. So running them with the cover closed would have a lot to do with how your cover works.. The robot will stick its nose out of the water about 3 to 6 inches.. I don't know much about auto covers, so I am not sure there is that much space between the water and the cover.

That said you have to open the cover for while every couple of days anyway.. The pool needs to breath other wise the off-gassing has no place to go. With an autocover I would not see you needing to run the robot, or any cleaner, more that once a week..

If you do decide to add an IFCS, make sure to tell them you want it plumbed so that you can shut if off if wanted.. The major problem I have with them is that they are often integrated so deeply into the pool/spa plumbing that your pool can't function without it.. Makes sure you get normal pool returns in the side walls of the pool... And the ability to run with or without the IFCS.

Thanks,

Jim R.
 

duraleigh

Admin
Mod Squad
TFP Expert
Platinum Supporter
LifeTime Supporter
In The Industry
Apr 1, 2007
34,478
Sebring, Florida
I said in a post about a week ago, we NEVER here folks praising the IFCS. Lukewarm reviews if they are working, foul language if they are not :)

Robots are continuously praised on this forum from thousands of pool owners like you will be. It's hard to deny that advice.

I would also say that pool builders are seldom experts at taking care of a pool after it's filled with water......they are the go to guys for construction.....it's what they do, but their advice is often sketchy when it comes to taking care of a pool.

Pool ownership takes some attention to the pool and understanding of how they work. Hands off is seldom good practice to have a really pristine pool.
 

bmoreswim

Mod Squad
Gold Supporter
Platinum Supporter
LifeTime Supporter
Jul 16, 2012
6,543
Central MD
Pool Size
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An autocover and IFCS would be belt and suspenders for sure, if you will keep it closed most of the time. Both are very expensive and I would never get both. And everything an IFCS does a robot does for less money and complexity. I've already spent more time typing this than it would take me to nix the idea of an IFCS (autocover or not).
 

Kjp300

Gold Supporter
Jul 18, 2018
135
Canfield ohio
I run my robot with the auto cover closed. Have never had a problem. My pool gets a lot of use my grandkids live next door and they swim with their friends. I typically run it at night with the cover closed.
 

yaypool2018

Member
Apr 10, 2018
18
California
Great to know! Thanks @Kjp300 ! What brand of robot do you have? Where is your outlet? Wondering if the location of your outlet in relation to the pool helps you run it while your auto cover is closed? I am reading conflicting things...
 

Rich D

Bronze Supporter
Aug 3, 2018
960
MA
Read the replies on this post. I personally love my IFCS.

 

Rich D

Bronze Supporter
Aug 3, 2018
960
MA
My IFCS does clean the walls. It also pushes water all the way up to the tile line so that gets cleaned as well. I have never seen line on the tiles.
 

kazamali

Well-known member
May 28, 2020
45
Austin, TX
I love my IFCS system, but we got it because there was a huge rebate at the time of our pool purchase. Also we have bar stools inside the pool and from all accounts, that would have complicated things with a robot. Robots def work, but call me crazy, I just like the form over function since the IFCS does a great job anyway (mebbe I'm lucky?).
 

Geebot

Well-known member
Aug 19, 2013
931
Great to know! Thanks @Kjp300 ! What brand of robot do you have? Where is your outlet? Wondering if the location of your outlet in relation to the pool helps you run it while your auto cover is closed? I am reading conflicting things...
You plug the power supply into an outlet (120V) and then the robot into the power supply (12V). So you have about 6-8' of power cord to the supply (that's where the caddy comes in handy - you can mount the supply to it) and then 30'+ of cable to the robot. Maytronics has been teasing a new feature for a couple of years, which would be ideal for you, if it existed. It eanbles you to locate the power supply in a remote area and run a concealed low-voltage line to the pool. Still a "coming soon" feature after 2 years.

 

Turbo1Ton

Gold Supporter
Dec 26, 2019
376
NE Oklahoma
Pool Size
14500
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-40
I love my IFCS, so far. Pool is only 7 months old, so I don't have longevity on my side, but I have been extremely happy with it thus far. I brush my pool walls every few weeks, but don't see a lot of dirt/debris on them, or the waterline tiles. Occasionally I get small pockets of debris that either have to get kicked up when swimming or I grab the vac real quick and suck them up. So far, I would do it again. I did have to rework my plumbing so that I could isolate my IFCS if I ever needed/wanted to. I did not know enough, at the time, to request my PB do this for me. I would make sure to have the PB do this, as Jim suggested previously. You want to be able to operate the pool both with and without the IFCS.

I went with the IFCS because as the OP mentioned, you can't add it after the fact. I can always toss a robot in later. My PB had no issues adding it and didn't really have bad things to say about it. They were kinda ambivalent about it actually. Seemed that they would have preferred I go with the robot.

I would say that adding the IFCS, and the TFP pool care method, has allowed my pool to be as hands off as possible. I'm willing to guess the TFP method has more to do with that! I expected to be doing a lot more work, from remembering my father fight with out AGP when I was a child. I check the chems (pH, FC) every morning (others weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly as necessary), add acid when necessary, change skimmer hairnets every day or so, depending upon how much junk is there, brush walls every couple weeks, and check the leaf cannister on the IFCS once a week (currently, likely higher in the fall when the leaves start to drop).

--Jeff
 

Rich D

Bronze Supporter
Aug 3, 2018
960
MA
. I would make sure to have the PB do this, as Jim suggested previously. You want to be able to operate the pool both with and without the IFCS.
One more note on this. My IFCS does not do a very efficient job with the low rpm skimming operation. I do believe I should have had a additional skimmer (only 1 was installed). The IFCS does not make the whirlpool affect that brings the debris to the edge of the pool. So having the option to have a traditional side returns that create the whirlpool would be a big benefit. For most of the season it works great but in the heavy leaf times it does struggle a bit to keep it the surface clean. I leave my pump running at 1500 rpm all day on full skimmer. What I have found is that if I pause the IFCS on a zone at the opposite end of the pool then it does a incredible job of cleaning the surface. Better and faster than the whirlpool affect of most pools. So in the heavy leaf seasons I do need to take one extra step each morning and pause the system for the daily skimming operation. This gives me a pristine surface all day. So the ability to have a traditional skimming whirlpool could be helpful.