New Pool - What type of cleaner? Robotic or Pressure Side?

Captchaos

Bronze Supporter
Jul 19, 2017
223
0
Maryland
#1
I'm in the very beginning stages of an inground gunite pool build which hopefully the digging will begin in about six weeks. It will be a free form pool, approximately 18x36 plus two sort of sunshelves/tanning ledges (making some dimensions in the pool 21.5' wide and 41' long). It will be 3.5' to 7.5'.

The pool builder has specified a Polaris 3900 and booster pump in the contract. I asked about robotic cleaners to which he stated his experience is that they last much shorter than pressure side cleaners because of being constantly submerged, but we can swap it out if desired and I can pay the difference if there is one. If we swap it out for robotic, plumbing and the booster pump for the pressure cleaner would not be built into the pool so I would never be able to reasonably add the plumbing for a pressure side cleaner if I decide to do so in the future.

I don't have any experience with pool cleaners as this is my first inground pool. I want to get it right, but also want to conserve electricity as much as possible. It seems very wasteful and a hassle to run both the regular pool pump and booster pump simultaneously for a pressure side cleaner versus just plugging in a robotic cleaner and tossing it in. In addition, if a robotic cleaner works well, I would have no reason to go back to a pressure side cleaner. It also seems to me that it should be less expensive or at least an even swap if you remove plumbing, a booster pump, and a pressure side cleaner for a robotic cleaner.

I know that most robotic cleaner manufacturers say not to leave them in the pool indefinitely. I have small children and will remove either cleaner from the pool frequently so that it doesn't get damaged so no additional hassle removing a robotic cleaner.

I've done a fair bit of research here and elsewhere on robotic cleaners and it seems that the majority of people are happy with robotic cleaners.

If you were to start over, would you go with pressure side or robotic? If you went with robotic, would you have the pressure side plumbing installed in case you ever wanted to use one?

Thanks in advance.
 

JoyfulNoise

Platinum Supporter
TFP Expert
May 23, 2015
14,336
10
Tucson, AZ
#2
Pressure side cleaners, for the most part, require your pump running and a booster pump. That’s a large amount of energy. By contrast, robotic cleaners use about 200-250W of electrical power and can usually clean a pool in about 2 hours. Robots are certainly more expensive and, if they fail outside the warranty period (2-3 years on many models), parts can be expensive.

I switched from a suction side cleaner to a robot last season and my pool is A LOT cleaner with the robot. I have a link to that thread in my signature. I saved money using a robot since it allowed me to reduce a lot of pump run time and speed so it will pay for itself in about 2-3 seasons.

Since this is before your pool is built, now is the time to get a robot. The incremental cost compared to what you’re going to spend in total on the pool is nothing. Robots are simply better than pump driven cleaners in my opinion.
 

Captchaos

Bronze Supporter
Jul 19, 2017
223
0
Maryland
#3
Thanks. I read your thread a couple of days ago and found it very helpful.

So you are saying that you will never go back to a pressure side cleaner, even if your robotics only last 2-3 years? I see you are in AZ so you probably use yours a lot more than I will in MD, having a shorter season.
 

JoyfulNoise

Platinum Supporter
TFP Expert
May 23, 2015
14,336
10
Tucson, AZ
#4
I had a suction cleaner which is different than a pressure cleaner. And no, I would not switch back. Given the reviews on TFP, I’m confident that my robot will last a long time as many users here have robots going on 10+ years old. The Dolphin robots are best-of-breed and only have a few components (power supply, cable & motor) that can go bad. So even if the motor failed after thecwarranty is up, I’d still get it repaired. I just like the freedom the robots give for cleaning and having a hose floating around my pool 24/7 just made it look ugly.

With a suction cleaner I have a dedicated suction port that I now use for occasional manual vacuuming. It’s very handy to have that as an option because, in the winter, I don’t use my robot. There’s so little debris that gets into my pool that I can go a week or two without vacuuming.
 

Jimrahbe

Mod Squad
LifeTime Supporter
TFP Expert
Jul 7, 2014
10,198
5
Bedford, TX
#5
Cap,

I love my robot cleaner, but would still recommend getting either a suction side vacuum port, or the pressure cleaner plumbing installed in a new pool. This would allow you, or the next owner, to switch back to 1970's technology if wanted. No equipment, just the plumbing...

Adding the plumbing should cost next to nothing as it is just PVC and a valve or two. The real cost of a pressure side system is in the pump and the booster pump. Just have the pool builder cap off any unused pipes..

When I built my pool, I had them add a suction side vacuum port into the wall of my pool. That was over three years ago and I have never used it, but I like the idea that it is there if I every needed it.

Thanks for posting,

Jim R.
 

jeffchap

TFP Guide
Bronze Supporter
Jun 27, 2012
1,760
0
Edmond OK
#6
I have a Polaris 280 pressure side cleaner, and the thing seems to be just about bulletproof. There's simply very little to them, and therefore not much to break. I leave it in 24x7 unless we're having a pool party.

Just my two cents worth. I've never had a robot so I can't really compare.
 

Captchaos

Bronze Supporter
Jul 19, 2017
223
0
Maryland
#7
Thanks for the replies. My builder specified all Jandy and Polaris equipment and linked me to the Polaris robotic cleaner webpage when I asked about them. I am assuming that is probably the only brand I'd be able to swap the 3900 with. I see some asking about the Polaris 9650iq, but it seems to be very new (and expensive).

He did specify a vacuum head, hose, and pole so I am assuming there is a suction line included already, separate from the pressure line for the pressure side cleaner.
 

Jimrahbe

Mod Squad
LifeTime Supporter
TFP Expert
Jul 7, 2014
10,198
5
Bedford, TX
#8
Thanks for the replies. My builder specified all Jandy and Polaris equipment and linked me to the Polaris robotic cleaner webpage when I asked about them. I am assuming that is probably the only brand I'd be able to swap the 3900 with. I see some asking about the Polaris 9650iq, but it seems to be very new (and expensive).

He did specify a vacuum head, hose, and pole so I am assuming there is a suction line included already, separate from the pressure line for the pressure side cleaner.
Cap,

I would NOT assume... most pools have either a suction port or a pressure side port.. not both. A vacuum hose can be used by plugging into the skimmer, but that is something that I find is a huge pain..

Thanks,

Jim R.
 

Captchaos

Bronze Supporter
Jul 19, 2017
223
0
Maryland
#9
I have a Polaris 280 pressure side cleaner, and the thing seems to be just about bulletproof. There's simply very little to them, and therefore not much to break. I leave it in 24x7 unless we're having a pool party.

Just my two cents worth. I've never had a robot so I can't really compare.
Thank you. I have also come across many people who say this as well. It seems like the easy choice, but I don't do easy (see my screen name). :D

My electric bill is high enough as it is, it seems like a real waste and hassle to have to worry about the pumps running every time I want the pressure side cleaner to run.
 

JoyfulNoise

Platinum Supporter
TFP Expert
May 23, 2015
14,336
10
Tucson, AZ
#11
Just note that a robot will clean more deeply than a pressure cleaner. My S300i has the integrated debris basket so it not only captures large debris like leaves and small pebbles but also very fine silt. Pressure cleaners typically only captures the big stuff.

If the builder can’t get you a Dolphin then specify no cleaner, get the money back on it (probably a few hundred bucks) and then buy the robot yourself. The pool builder adds nothing to the transaction except to be a middle man adding his cut...
 

YippeeSkippy

Mod Squad
LifeTime Supporter
Jan 17, 2012
8,974
0
Evans, Georgia
#12
My Dolphin also brushes my walls which Skippy loves as he doesn't have to do it. I'd skip the extra pump and trouble of a pressure side cleaner and go robot all the way.

Maddie :flower:
 

bmoreswim

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TFP Guide
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Jul 16, 2012
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Central MD
#13
I switched from a suction side cleaner to a robot last season and my pool is A LOT cleaner with the robot.
Me too, just replace suction with pressure. It is much better with our dust like debris. NO chance I’d go back. I would not bother with installing plumbing for one, though it doesn’t hurt I suppose. For me that would be like keeping an Apple 30 pin connector cord on my kitchen counter.
 

bmoreswim

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Jul 16, 2012
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Central MD
#15
Ha! Nada, except I don’t have any 30 pin devices. Did see a slide out keyboard phone on someone’s desk at work today though. Do you have one of those?
 

justinS

Bronze Supporter
Jan 25, 2018
131
0
tucson/az
#17
I am in the same position, get a kreepy krawler type cleaner or robot. did minimal research, KK around $250ish, dolphin on amazon $750. yes an extra $500, but even with a VS pump, that has to be a savings right? If I have enough money left from this OB, I am hoping to go with Dolphin, unless the TFP people talk me out of it
 

needsajet

LifeTime Supporter
TFP Expert
Jan 5, 2016
4,547
0
Sydney, NSW, Australia
#18
Welcome to TFP! Exciting times for you :)

Robot is the best choice by far on a new pool.

I would include the vacuum port somewhere near the middle of a long side, positioned no deeper than an inch or two lower than the bottom of the skimmer throat. If you do, have it plumbed back to the pad on a dedicated pipe. As mentioned, otherwise the PB will say and expect you to "just plug a vacuum into the skimmer" which is extra bother, and it will cost very little to put the pipe in, a self-closing fitting to finish it off in the pool, and a valve at the pad.
 

bmoreswim

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Jul 16, 2012
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Central MD
#19
It's not about the money. I've had both. Robot cleans better. By that I mean there is no dust-like debris wafting when I brush or walk after using the robot vs a KK. Both generally pickup leaves, etc.

So since you buy a cleaner to clean, I'd get the one that cleans better.
 

Saturn94

Well-known member
Mar 12, 2015
594
0
Virginia
#20
I have a Polaris 280 pressure side cleaner, and the thing seems to be just about bulletproof. There's simply very little to them, and therefore not much to break. I leave it in 24x7 unless we're having a pool party.

Just my two cents worth. I've never had a robot so I can't really compare.
Another satisfied Polaris 280 here. :)

The OP seems to really want a robot, though, and seems to be seeking confirmation that it’s a good option. There are many here that are very happy with their robot cleaner, so if cost isn’t an issue, I’d say go for it.

As for whether or not to include a pressure line if you go with a robot, I’d say skip it. A separate suction line sounds like a great idea for manual vacuuming. I wish we thought to do that when our pool was installed. Using the skimmer is a pain like others have said.