robotic cleaners cost year = cost of unit / warranty period

vinouspleasure

Active member
Jul 8, 2008
36
Hi,

after reading 100s of web reviews here is my analysis of cost per year for robotic units:
cost per year = cost of unit/years of warranty

my reasoning is that the motors on these units fail at a very high rate and once the unit is out of warranty the cost to repair is too high. I'd guess the mean time between failure for a pool robot is about one year. So once a pool robot is out of warranty, it will probably fail within a year. add in the cost of shipping to repair centers and I think the formula above is roughly correct.

Here's an example of how the formula can help guide purchases. I'm considering the dolphin dx5 with a two year warranty for $750 vs. the dolphin supreme m4 for $1200 with a three year warranty. So the dx5 cost/year is $750/2 = $375 while the m4 is $1200/3=$400. The m4 for $25/year seems well worth the extra spend. also, since the cost is tied to warranty period, it's very important to make sure your credit card will provide a year of extended warranty at no cost.

another point worth making is that robotic manufacturers have access to real data whereas my data is just anecdotal. I wonder if they have any incentive to improve motor longevity. The best financial outcome for the manufacturer is a robot failing the day after the warranty ends.

best,
vp
 

jblizzle

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
May 19, 2010
43,238
Tucson, AZ
Re: robotic cleaners cost year = cost of unit / warranty per

Although even under warranty, you may be expected to pay to ship the unit to a repair facility, which is not cheap.

Mine appears dead at 3.5 years. Paid $1000 plus shipping of the power supply during warranty period.

Might try a suction cleaner next. It would only have to last a little over a year to cost less than most robots.
 

vinouspleasure

Active member
Jul 8, 2008
36
Re: robotic cleaners cost year = cost of unit / warranty per

Yes, pc2 would probably last 5 years with $70 per year in repairs. So maybe $150 per year.
 

tpcorr

Well-known member
Jun 6, 2008
81
Re: robotic cleaners cost year = cost of unit / warranty per

Anecdotal evidence is dangerous due to it's very nature. Also, I've found that many forums are populated by those folks having a problem and seeking an answer. So I'd surmise that the failure rate may not be as high as it would seem from the numerous forum posts about robot unreliability. That being said, let me give you my strictly anecdotal experiences with cleaners.

I, for many years, maintained my dad's in-ground pool, a modest 18 x 36 rectangular Grecian end pool. He had a Polaris pressure side cleaner, although my names for it can't be reprinted here. I found it a huge hassle to keep this thing running properly, so I would usually vacuum manually , and toss the Polaris in, just to keep my dad happy that his investment in the cleaner hadn't gone to waste.

When I got my own pool I knew 2 things for certain: I didn't want to ever vacuum manually, and I didn't want the hassle of making a pressure side cleaner work. So, I got an Aquabot turbo RC. Other than replacing the drive belts every couple of years, which is a DIY task, the cleaner worked flawlessly for about 10 years. Bear in mind I'm in NY, so my swim season is only about 4 months. But having a sparkling clean pool is important to me, so I ran this thing long and often. And it never failed me, well at least until the end.

So I bought another type of Aquabot last summer. If I get another 10 years out of this one, it's money well spent. To use your formula, my first Aquabot, cost about $850, when you factor in the replacement belts I purchased over the years. So it cost me about $85 per year. I spend about that much per season in chlorine.

Anecdotal , for sure. May your mileage vary; definitely. But for me, the ease of use of the robot, and the way it cleans make this a no brainer for me. Which as my wife will tell you is a good thing, since she frequently questions mine.

Tom
 

JasonLion

TFP Expert
Platinum Supporter
LifeTime Supporter
May 7, 2007
37,879
Silver Spring, MD
Re: robotic cleaners cost year = cost of unit / warranty per

My robotic cleaner is on year six, long past using up it's one year warranty, and it hasn't had any problems at all.
 

duraleigh

Admin
Mod Squad
TFP Expert
Platinum Supporter
LifeTime Supporter
In The Industry
Apr 1, 2007
34,518
Sebring, Florida
Re: robotic cleaners cost year = cost of unit / warranty per

My robot almost mirrors what vinouspleasure is talking about. Blue Diamond remote....4th season, motor failure. Repair cost was around $450.

Not sure if the repair center still has it or not but I'm done with it. The "authorized factory repair center" also worked on lawn mowers, etc. and took about 3 weeks to even look at my robot. Tech I spoke with was obviously a "parts replacer" and I think looked in the "Manual of Plausible Answers" for his diagnosis.
 

vinouspleasure

Active member
Jul 8, 2008
36
Re: robotic cleaners cost year = cost of unit / warranty per

Believe me, I'm aware of the nature of anecdotal evidence as well as the skew towards negative web reviews. Two thoughts, your 10 year old NY unit would have lasted about three years in a Geo like florida (10/(12/4)). The other thought is that an enterprising pool web site could put together an online survey of pool cleaners. It would be very useful and drive a lot of traffic. For now, how about a sticky here?

Make and model
Year bought
Months per year cleaner is in use
Warranty period
Years of service
Yearly maintenance costs
Rate your overall satisfaction 1-5
 

kenandshari

LifeTime Supporter
Aug 1, 2010
134
Savannah, GA
Re: robotic cleaners cost year = cost of unit / warranty per

We started with a robot and then moved to a pressure side cleaner. The robot was a Smart Pool Nitro Wall Climber and it was a great cleaner for the entire 18 months it lasted. It it went in for repairs two times under warranty. Once, we were without it for about a month in July during a period when we somehow got mustard algae - how's that for timing! The third time it failed was right after the warranty ran out. We bought a new motor (online for around $150 I think) and replaced it but it failed again soon enough. It was a really great cleaner when it worked and I will say that we really loved it. Plug it in, put it in the pool for its cycle and the pool is clean. the bag was easy to clean out as well and it picked up everything from fine dirt to acorns, leaves, and even sand. Perhaps we got a dud, or perhaps the short life had something to do with the old adage that water and electricity simply do not mix. Following the last out of warranty failure we disassembled the motor (nothing to lose at that point) and discovered that the manufacturer puts one of those silica moisture absorbing packs inside the motor casing as a preventative measure leading me to think that some moisture is expected to seep in. We also discovered what appeared to be salt water corrosion on the metal parts of the failed motor inside the casing. Unfortunately, the reliability issues we experienced soured us on the product as they made cost of ownership simply too high in the end.

Late last summer we replaced the Nitro with a Polaris 360 pressure side cleaner. We have a VS pump so adjusting the speed for the Polaris was a bit of a PITA during the initial set up, but after we figured that out and programmed it into the control box its been relatively simple cleaner to operate. We keep our pool open all year and used the Polaris over the winter to keep the pool looking good. It has been in operation for the better part of a year now with no issues. The only real complaint we have is you can not run solar heat and clean the pool simultaneously like we could with the Nitro, but that is kind of minor really.

I wish we'd have had a better overall robot cleaner experience as you did with the Aquabot. We really did like the robot a lot, but in the end longevity means more to us. Individual mileage may vary.
 
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