Ready to buy a robotic cleaner - What does everyone have and like?

civicturbo

Well-known member
Apr 15, 2010
181
Las Vegas
I currently have The Pool Cleaner 4-wheel version suction side cleaner. After pulling it out of storage the tires are gummy and disintegrating so they need to be replaced, it's going to be over $120 for all four tires. Due to strong winds in Vegas and lots of trees we have a lot of stuff thrown into our pool and I really need to use the skimmer instead of having the suction hose constantly plugged in and cleaning the bottom. Went out for a swim last night and with the pool light on it just looked disgusting, on the surface and bottom, so the answer is to retire The Pool Cleaner and invest in a full-on robotic cleaner. The other thing I like about doing this is I would never think of vacuuming my pool manually to anything other than waste because it would fill the filter even with the leaf canister but that is exactly what my suction side cleaner does all day. I was thinking about getting one of the Water Cyclone filters but members here have had mixed opinions therefore I'm looking to go to the full robotic option.

My pool is about 32'x16' free-form straight angles, plaster, 9' deep end, wedding cake stairs. I prefer corded over cordless for reliability and cost, as well as lack of added expensive battery replacements to worry about.

What do you guys have and what do you like about it specifically? I'm looking to invest in something that's reliable and I can get parts easily. I'm capable of repairing and maintaining the unit myself as long as parts are available and there's documentation. I believe I spent about $400-$450 on my four-wheel drive pool cleaner, I know a robot will be more than that, looking at $1000 max budget as just this year we already had to buy a new VS pump, all new valves, chemicals (now crazy priced). I know some robotic cleaners are in the range of like $3,000, that is simply affordable.
 
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JoyfulNoise

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May 23, 2015
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I'm looking to invest in something that's reliable and I can get parts easily. I'm capable of repairing and maintaining the unit myself as long as parts are available and there's documentation.

If this is a requirement you will be unhappy. The robotic cleaners from Maytronics are not “repairable” in the traditional sense. Aside from the plastic and rubber components that are easy to repair but rarely need fixing there are 3 main components - power supply ($300), swivel cord ($200) and motor assembly ($450). None of those are repairable in the traditional sense because Maytronics doesn’t design them to be repaired but simply replaced. The motor assembly is most susceptible to failure from water incursion and once the electric motors in them get wet, they are shot. Maytronics keeps all internal spare parts off the market so you are forced to replace rather than rebuild. It’s their business model. Read the thread in my signature about it.

The robots generally last around 5 years if you get a good one. If you are ok with buying a new robot every 5 years ($800-$1000 for a modest robot with useful features), then go for it. But if you expect to be able to rebuild it to save money, you will be sorely disappointed …

I went back to a suction cleaner because I’m done with robots.
 

civicturbo

Well-known member
Apr 15, 2010
181
Las Vegas
If this is a requirement you will be unhappy. The robotic cleaners from Maytronics are not “repairable” in the traditional sense. Aside from the plastic and rubber components that are easy to repair but rarely need fixing there are 3 main components - power supply ($300), swivel cord ($200) and motor assembly ($450). None of those are repairable in the traditional sense because Maytronics doesn’t design them to be repaired but simply replaced. The motor assembly is most susceptible to failure from water incursion and once the electric motors in them get wet, they are shot. Maytronics keeps all internal spare parts off the market so you are forced to replace rather than rebuild. It’s their business model. Read the thread in my signature about it.

The robots generally last around 5 years if you get a good one. If you are ok with buying a new robot every 5 years ($800-$1000 for a modest robot with useful features), then go for it. But if you expect to be able to rebuild it to save money, you will be sorely disappointed …

I went back to a suction cleaner because I’m done with robots.
Thanks for the link to your thread, I read through almost all of the pages, it took me quite a while, Jesus what an ordeal, Thanks for taking a deep dive and dismantling the unit as well as sharing your findings. I didn't realize that these expensive robots were built to be a throwaway commodity at their high price point. I got into RC car motors modding my kids Power Wheels vehicles, I have learned about DC brushed motors, Dolphin absolutely shouldn't use that inside of a sealed enclosure, they did it to be cheap. Their business model as you described it really grinds me the wrong way as a small business owner I take pride in the handcrafted custom power products I build and I stand behind them with a 3-year warranty, my units are also always upgradeable and repairable nothing is ever permanently sealed or inaccessible. Dolphin's planned obsolescence for an expensive product and refusal to provide support/replacement parts is not a business I can support with my money and is very bad.

I think I will get the tires for my Pool cleaner and perhaps the Waterco Cyclone filter. I wish someone made a 5gal bucket sized leaf canister, I NEED IT! emptying the Hayward Large leaf canister I have EVERY day is a PITA. I did build a prototype years ago from a 5gal. bucket and lid and the suction flattened the bucket! It acutually did work for a few mins, I set it up like a wet/dry vac. The outlet port had a skimmer basket over it internally to trap large pieces and could have had a skimmer sock or hairnet wrapped around it for finner trapping. If anyone has the resouces to build this, feel free to take the idea.
 

MouseMan54

Well-known member
May 18, 2016
100
Riverside, CA
Additional 2 cents -
I have the cyclone filter and I'm not sure I'd do it again. It does catch noticeable dirt but I'm not convinced it was worth the additional resistance added to my flow for the filter itself and the additional bends - plus the plumbing clutter to add it to my equipment pad. Also, it's not as easy to clean out as implied. Nothing really comes out when you open that ball valve because the dirt plugs the opening. I have to unscrew the union where the ball valve spigot attaches and the use a pressure nozzle to squirt water in, stir up the dirt, let it drain, and repeat until clean. If you do decide to get one, check out the CircuPool version as I think it's generally cheaper. It's currently on sale. I believe its just a rebrand.

One other note - I've always used the Pentair inline filter. It's not five gallons, but I believe it's bigger than the Hayward.
 

Jimrahbe

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Jul 7, 2014
27,581
Bedford, TX
civic,

As always, there are almost always two side to every story. Matt sees his robot as a once in a lifetime investment. I see my robots the same as my salt cells, they are consumables.

I expect my salt cells to only last 5 to 7 years. I expect my robots to do the same thing. In some cases, they will last a little longer and in other cases not quite as long.

I have been using Dolphin robots for over 15 years. I like the way they work. They fit my lifestyle better than suction or pressure side cleaners. While I like working on my pool, I have no problem buying the tools that work best for me.

I always get a kick out of reading Amazon reviews. I have several Samsung products, and if you read the negative reviews, they all should have died years ago and probably set my house on fire. :mrgreen: But, that is just not the case, none of them, and several are many, many years old, have died yet. When I buy again, it will be another Samsung, as I can only go by my experiences, and not the negative experiences of others.

Thanks,

Jim R.
 

Newdude

Mod Squad
Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Jun 16, 2019
18,138
NY
If anyone is wondering, I Emailed Margaret at Marina tonight and they have the Prowler 920s (Dolphin s200 clone) in stock right now for $859.

@civicturbo calculate your pump electric for cleaning. If the robot lasts 5 years, you'll spend similar in electric alone. Maybe a good chunk more, plus the replacement parts now.
 
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JoyfulNoise

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May 23, 2015
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civic,

As always, there are almost always two side to every story. Matt sees his robot as a once in a lifetime investment. I see my robots the same as my salt cells, they are consumables.

I expect my salt cells to only last 5 to 7 years. I expect my robots to do the same thing. In some cases, they will last a little longer and in other cases not quite as long.

I have been using Dolphin robots for over 15 years. I like the way they work. They fit my lifestyle better than suction or pressure side cleaners. While I like working on my pool, I have no problem buying the tools that work best for me.

I always get a kick out of reading Amazon reviews. I have several Samsung products, and if you read the negative reviews, they all should have died years ago and probably set my house on fire. :mrgreen: But, that is just not the case, none of them, and several are many, many years old, have died yet. When I buy again, it will be another Samsung, as I can only go by my experiences, and not the negative experiences of others.

Thanks,

Jim R.

Sort of Jim. After taking apart the robot and seeing how poorly designed it is as well as learning from vendors that Dolphin actively keeps critical spare parts off the market, I disagree with their business model as it is based on screwing over a portion of their customer base. To me, that’s not a business I wish to support. I spent $450 on a brand new suction cleaner that could have been spent on a brand new motor assembly from Dolphin. Why did I choose the suction cleaner when I have consistently stated that robots are more efficient cleaners? Because I choose not to support a business that does not support its end users. When you look at the sum total of the Maytronics business model it’s to support their resellers at the expense of the end user and keep the robot owners hooked on the 5-year toss-it-in-the-trash-and-buy-new model … I can’t support that and people that are considering robots should at least be aware of what they are getting in to. If people want to view a robot as a luxury purchase that their happy to drop $1,000 on every 5 years, that’s fine. But there may be people out there like me that are a bit more frugal and like to see longevity and quality in the products they purchase. Both points of view are valid and I’m happy to be a lone voice of opposition if it helps one person make a better choice.

But thanks for highlighting the discussion and giving me a chance to better explain my reasoning 😉
 

Jimrahbe

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Jul 7, 2014
27,581
Bedford, TX
Matt,

I don't personally buy into your "Great Dolphin Conspiracy " theory. :mrgreen:

But it is another side of the story that people have the right hear. Thanks for your point of view.

We will just have to agree to disagree about the value of Robot cleaners.

Thanks,

Jim R.
 
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bertschb

Bronze Supporter
Dec 11, 2021
392
Arizona
Pool Size
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I think I will get the tires for my Pool cleaner and perhaps the Waterco Cyclone filter.
The MultiCyclone pre-filter works great if you have a suction cleaner or an in floor cleaning system and get a lot of dirt in your pool. The dirt has to either be suspended in the water (via an in floor cleaning system) or sucked into the filter (via a suction cleaner) for the MultiCyclone to work. Because of this, I don't think the MultiCyclone would do much if you had a robot. But, this is just speculation on my part as I don't have any experience with robots.
 

JoyfulNoise

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May 23, 2015
21,376
Tucson, AZ
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Matt,

I don't personally buy into your "Great Dolphin Conspiracy " theory. :mrgreen:

But it is another side of the story that people have the right hear. Thanks for your point of view.

We will just have to agree to disagree about the value of Robot cleaners.

Thanks,

Jim R.

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JoyfulNoise

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When you say suction cleaner, did you mean manual cleaning using the suction of the pump through the skimmer? Do you recommend any other cleaners?

My pool was built with a wall port that is a suction line directly back to the pump so that I do not have to block the skimmer. I use a Pentair Kreepy Krawly Sandshark as my suction cleaner. It works fine in my pool. Some other folks like the Pentair Rebel wheeled suction cleaner.

If you do not have a dedicated suction wall port, then using a suction cleaner requires the skimmer to be utilized for suction. That means more attaching and un-attaching the cleaner which most people find to be a hassle. If that's your situation, then a robot cleaner might be a better choice. As with all robots, it's best to get the cheapest one you can find with the features that you like because they do not last forever and you will need to replace them. The S200 type Dolphin robot seems to give the most bang for the buck without charging a lot for extra features that you likely won't use.
 
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cledee

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If this is a requirement you will be unhappy. The robotic cleaners from Maytronics are not “repairable” in the traditional sense. Aside from the plastic and rubber components that are easy to repair but rarely need fixing there are 3 main components - power supply ($300), swivel cord ($200) and motor assembly ($450). None of those are repairable in the traditional sense because Maytronics doesn’t design them to be repaired but simply replaced. The motor assembly is most susceptible to failure from water incursion and once the electric motors in them get wet, they are shot. Maytronics keeps all internal spare parts off the market so you are forced to replace rather than rebuild. It’s their business model. Read the thread in my signature about it.

The robots generally last around 5 years if you get a good one. If you are ok with buying a new robot every 5 years ($800-$1000 for a modest robot with useful features), then go for it. But if you expect to be able to rebuild it to save money, you will be sorely disappointed …

I went back to a suction cleaner because I’m done with robots.
If I didn't have 50 trees behind my yard, I would gladly give up the robot. I unfortunately will have to spend $700 every 5 years or so, since it would become a full time job to keep the pool clean.
 

JoyfulNoise

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If I didn't have 50 trees behind my yard, I would gladly give up the robot. I unfortunately will have to spend $700 every 5 years or so, since it would become a full time job to keep the pool clean.

$700 can buy you a very nice chainsaw with extra chains and a couple of quarts of chain oil .... and then you'll have lots of firewood for the winter ... ;)
 
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cledee

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$700 can buy you a very nice chainsaw with extra chains and a couple of quarts of chain oil .... and then you'll have lots of firewood for the winter ... ;)
They are on the neighbors side, I would have taken them down last year. May have to offer them a deal to do it.
 

jigneshsoni

Well-known member
Jun 21, 2022
84
New Jersey
My pool was built with a wall port that is a suction line directly back to the pump so that I do not have to block the skimmer. I use a Pentair Kreepy Krawly Sandshark as my suction cleaner. It works fine in my pool. Some other folks like the Pentair Rebel wheeled suction cleaner.

If you do not have a dedicated suction wall port, then using a suction cleaner requires the skimmer to be utilized for suction. That means more attaching and un-attaching the cleaner which most people find to be a hassle. If that's your situation, then a robot cleaner might be a better choice. As with all robots, it's best to get the cheapest one you can find with the features that you like because they do not last forever and you will need to replace them. The S200 type Dolphin robot seems to give the most bang for the buck without charging a lot for extra features that you likely won't use.
Thanks Matt. I am currently using my skimmer and I am just sick and tired of attaching and un-attaching like you mentioned. I also almost all the time run into challenges of not getting enough suction due to air in the water and then struggling with all the valves. Maybe most of the challenges is that I am still learning.

Now the problem with dolphin is I am reading a lot of negative things about how it does not last long, how it does not clean everything, etc etc. Also even in a perfect world it would still cost around $200 per year since it has a limited life. I am not sure I want to spend that kind of money per year especially when it does not do a perfect job. I mean even after spending that money if I still have to do cleaning myself, what is the point of it!

I am just confused and really don't know which direction to go from here.
 

JoyfulNoise

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May 23, 2015
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Thanks Matt. I am currently using my skimmer and I am just sick and tired of attaching and un-attaching like you mentioned. I also almost all the time run into challenges of not getting enough suction due to air in the water and then struggling with all the valves. Maybe most of the challenges is that I am still learning.

Now the problem with dolphin is I am reading a lot of negative things about how it does not last long, how it does not clean everything, etc etc. Also even in a perfect world it would still cost around $200 per year since it has a limited life. I am not sure I want to spend that kind of money per year especially when it does not do a perfect job. I mean even after spending that money if I still have to do cleaning myself, what is the point of it!

I am just confused and really don't know which direction to go from here.

Yeah, given your situation, a robotic cleaner makes the most sense. The only time I ever had to manually vacuum my pool was during the heavy-debris season which, around here, is not that bad. And once I took out a lot of the trees around my pool, the cleaning situation got a lot less frequent. I can't say for sure how it will work in your pool since NJ has a lot more vegetation than AZ, but it's likely the robot will do an admirable job and you'll only occasionally have to break out the manual vacuum. You'll still want to not leave the cleaner in 24/7 so putting it in and taking it out will be a task. Your season is also a lot shorter so if you do treat the robot well, it could conceivably last you a lot longer than 5 years. What kills these robots is water penetration into the motor assembly - once that happens, they are toast. But what minimizes that risk is not leaving the cleaner in the pool all the time, hosing it off and storing it in the off season so it's not subjected to a lot of thermal wear & tear.

The S200 type robots will do what you want - vacuum, scrub walls and water line. If you're ok with keeping the controls simple, it should do well enough for you.
 
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