Robot longevity vs Polaris 280

ComputerGuyInNOLA

LifeTime Supporter
Oct 20, 2012
698
Mandeville, Louisiana
I know everyone here loves their robot but I am curious as to the longevity and overall cost of ownership of a robot cleaner. My Polaris 280 has served me faithfully for 9 years. It stays in the pool 24x7x365. It is only removed to swim. Given that, it is giving me issues. at the very least it needs to be rebuilt but the cost of a full rebuild kit and a replacement hose adds up to nearly the cost of replacing it. I also read the average life of the pump is 10 years which means it will need replacing soon. How long has your robot lasted without needing extensive repairs or replacement?
 

JoyfulNoise

TFP Expert
Platinum Supporter
May 23, 2015
17,626
Tucson, AZ
Pool Size
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Chlorine
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Hard to say. We’ve seen bot owners go 10 years without any issues and others have had major repairs in year two. In the robot world, there’s very little rebuilding of anything - if the motor (brain) goes bad, it’s a monolithic unit replacement. If the power supply goes bad, you buy a new one. If the cable goes bad, new cable. Tracks and brushes can be easily replaced, filters last forever if they are well taken care of.

Robots will always cost more up front than pump-driven cleaners. However, robots operate at much lower power. I have a link in my signature detailing some of the costs and power involved. My robot uses under 250W of power for 2 hours and completely cleans my pool. That’s way less energy than running a suction cleaner or a pressure cleaner.

But if energy use isn’t a factor then it’s a matter of aesthetics. I hate seeing vacuum hoses in my pool. My bot runs once and I can pull it out of the pool for 3-5 days and have a spotless pool with no hoses around. To me, that’s important. To others, it’s “meh”.
 
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albertg

Bronze Supporter
Nov 3, 2019
64
Marietta, GA
I wish I could have a spotless pool with vacuuming only once every 3-5 days. I’m a new robot owner but I’ve been running almost every day being surrounded by trees. I sure hope it lasts a while because it has become my best friend.
 

ComputerGuyInNOLA

LifeTime Supporter
Oct 20, 2012
698
Mandeville, Louisiana
JoyfulNoise,

Thank you for the response. I was hoping more people would weigh in with their experience since so many people here promote robots. I think I will stick with a known and replace my Polaris 280 since it lasted 9 years. It served me very well and did an awesome job cleaning my pool and never needed anything beyond a tail brush.

Kindest regards,

ComputerguyinNOLA
 

SDor

Well-known member
Jun 14, 2018
91
Chicagoland
I faced the same decision a few years ago (bad pump and 15 year old Polaris) and decided to stick with the polaris. For me the main deciding factor was having to remove and store the robot after use, cost (upfront and projected maintenance with very expensive boards and drive units) and the fact I was pretty happy with the effectiveness. I think many of the robot fans live in arid climates where dirt is more of an issue than plant debris.

I did buy a more efficient booster pump (also quieter) and a 3900 which supposedly has beefed up internals vs 380s. I'm about 3-4 years in and happy with the decision.
 

SDor

Well-known member
Jun 14, 2018
91
Chicagoland
I gather that many on the forum leave the robot in the water for a few days (or weeks) at a time, but that didn't sound like a very good idea to me.

Good luck. The higher efficiency Polaris pump is a bit more expensive, and I've only seen it at Leslie's, but I'm glad I got it because it is so much quieter. I'm trusting that it's cheaper to run, but have no stats
 

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Tom Jensen

In The Industry
Jun 6, 2014
21
Atlanta
There are advantages and disadvantages to both. A good robot like the Dolphin is great. Polaris works great when they work but you have to the booster Pump to consider. If you need to buy Polaris and pump get a robot. I have converted the booster pump line numerous times to a return. Gives greater circulation. If you leave your Polaris in your pool 24/7 you’re aging your machine unnecessarily. It only needs about two hours a day. That’s 14 hours of use. If you run it 8 hours a day for 7 days, that’s 56 hours of use plus the time it’s just sitting in chlorinated water. If you run it less and take it out, it will last longer
 

SDor

Well-known member
Jun 14, 2018
91
Chicagoland
Sure a Polaris will last longer if you take it out when not in use (you probably should put it in the shade as well since UV from the sun also ages plastic), but I don't want to do this. That's kind of the point. A Polaris is "set and forget". Every few years you might spend $50 on some parts. However, you hear many people on this forum talk about having 10 - 15 year old units still running. +5 year old robots seem to be rare.

I'm not anti-robot. If you want one and it works for you, great. I was just sharing my decision process. My new pump and Polaris was maybe similar cost to a mid-tier robot, but I didn't change them both the same year so it didn't hit the budget all at once.
 

setsailsoon

Gold Supporter
LifeTime Supporter
TFP Guide
Oct 25, 2015
3,845
Stuart/FL
Pool Size
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Surface
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CircuPool RJ-30 Plus
Guess I'm in the minority here. When our experts rave about something I want try to find a way to try it... sometimes I have to figure out a budget way to do it but there wasn't really a cheap way to do this for the robot. I got mine a couple of weeks ago and the improvement to my pool is already obvious. I was also looking forward to getting rid of the large hose to operate the suction cleaner and I wasn't sure how it would compare to the wire. Happy to say this is nice too. Maybe because the cleaner only runs 2 hrs per day and I do that in the morning. So when we swim afternoon and night it's easy to just drag the cleaner to the side of the pool. I was concerned about the wire going across the pavers but when Jim R told me it's not very thick I was able to address that with this:

1590347306474.png

It really worked great. Even allows me to run the power washer over the cord with no concerns. See below.

Everybody has to do what works best for them I hope this helps people see both sides of the robot decision. And I hope I'm one of those that gets to have our "Mattie" around for 10 years.

Chris

1590347577723.png
 

ComputerGuyInNOLA

LifeTime Supporter
Oct 20, 2012
698
Mandeville, Louisiana
The whole point of this post was for people to weigh in about the longevity of robots vs PS Polaris cleaners. I don’t see anyone posting about a robotic cleaner lasting as long as my 280. I will stick with the Polaris. I run it for just 1 hour a day on my automation system. It cleaned fantastically well until this spring. To me, nine years is a long time for a device to run every day and be submerged in the pool the whole time. Thanks for everyones input.
 

JoyfulNoise

TFP Expert
Platinum Supporter
May 23, 2015
17,626
Tucson, AZ
Pool Size
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SWG Type
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I believe @Jimrahbe has three robots and one of them is close to 10+ years old and always in the pool (at a rental house I believe). Perhaps he could also share his experience.
 

setsailsoon

Gold Supporter
LifeTime Supporter
TFP Guide
Oct 25, 2015
3,845
Stuart/FL
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The whole point of this post was for people to weigh in about the longevity of robots vs PS Polaris cleaners. I don’t see anyone posting about a robotic cleaner lasting as long as my 280. I will stick with the Polaris. I run it for just 1 hour a day on my automation system. It cleaned fantastically well until this spring. To me, nine years is a long time for a device to run every day and be submerged in the pool the whole time. Thanks for everyones input.
I think that's a pretty good guess. Even though some have had them running about 10 years sooner or later the motor's going to leak or the cable will need replacing. On your Polaris you'll buy parts and fix anything. But the big parts on my Pentair Warrior SE cost more than a new complete unit. I'm OK with that because I didn't buy it for the price, longevity benefit. I'm hoping for at least 10 years of a easier, cleaner pool. If I get that I'll be happy.

Chris
 

JoyfulNoise

TFP Expert
Platinum Supporter
May 23, 2015
17,626
Tucson, AZ
Pool Size
16000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-40
One of my local pool shops sells both robots and pump driven cleaners (Dolphins, Pentair, Hayward, Polaris, etc., etc). They have loaner units that they will give to a prospective customer interested in a cleaner to try out and see how they like it. They also use the loaners for when a customer needs a repair and doesn’t want to be without a cleaner waiting for parts. If you still wanted to see what a robot is like, perhaps there are stores in your area that do that too.

Just a thought ...
 

Jimrahbe

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Jul 7, 2014
20,881
Bedford, TX
Nola,

To get right to your main point..

About 12 years ago I bought two old used Dolphin Diagnostic robot cleaner.. They were old when I bought them and I replaced the plastic bearings, tracks and brushes.. I used them for about 10 years or more before throwing them away and going with more modern units. These units were used at rent houses and spent their lives in the water, except once a week, when I cleaned their filter "bags". I built my pool about 6 years ago and at the time I bought a Dolphin Premier Robot.. That robot is now in one of my rent house pools and the other pool, and my pool, both have the newer S200s..

My guess it that the average life of a robot cleaner is 5 years.. That of course means some last longer, and some die sooner. Just a guess, but I bet it is pretty close.

There are all kinds of reasons and excuses to not buy a robot, and just as many for those that do buy a robot. I can tell by your questions that you are looking for justification to not buy one, which should be pretty easy to do. And you have outlined them above. I can't argue with most of them. But, as with everything, there are two sides to every story.. As an example:

You don't like the idea of seeing a 1/4' cable run across your deck.. Fair enough.. But, I personally take the other side... I hate to see a pile of trash in my pool.. I don't care what kind of cleaner it is. Look at new pool advertisements and you will quickly see they don't normally have any kind of cleaner in their pools. While I don't care if the robots stays in my rent house pools, at my house it, goes in once or twice a week, usually overnight and I take it out the next morning.. I admit that when the season is right, and stuff is constantly falling out of the sky, it might stay in all week, but 90% of the time is it not in my pool.

For me, I would buy a new robot every two or three years if I had to, before I would put a water powered cleaner in my pool. There is no way for me to prove it, but I believe that my robot will out clean your water powered cleaner every time. Based upon the remarks of the users here on TFP that have converted, I'd say I am about 98% correct.

I am all about "whatever works for you, works for me"... So, if you are happy with your pump, your filter, your cleaner, your whatever, then I am happy for you.

That said, if someone asks me what cleaner they should use, I am going to tell them a robot cleaner, as that is the cleaner that makes me happy.. :mrgreen:

Thanks,

Jim R.
 
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red-beard

Gold Supporter
May 27, 2019
798
Houston, TX
Not trying to sway you, but the full factory rebuild kit for a Polaris 280 is available on Ebay for around $240-250 or on Amazon for about $270. You have to be a little bit handy, but I fully rebuilt my 280 about 3 years ago. This year, it needed new tires and new bag, all in about $40.

I agree on the operating cost. My pressure side pump runs 2 hours a day for about 2kWh, or about 8 times that of Joyful noise. My VFD uses about the same power to run all day. On my electric plan, this is about $60 per year.

There is an article around some place where the flow disc is removed from the wall and water is diverted from a variable speed pump. The pump is then sped up until the wheels run at the correct speed. This should work, since it is flow, not pressure that runs these units.
 

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