Robotic surface skimmers...anyone?

BowserB

Silver Supporter
Jul 29, 2018
143
Katy, Texas
Here are four solar/battery skimmers I've found: Solar Breeze NX2, Skim Devil, SolaSkimmer, and Skim King. Recently I think another was announced at a show in New Orleans, but I don't remember the name of it, and from what I recall, it's not even shipping yet. The market leader seems to be Solar Breeze, but it also seems to have a huge QC issue, with units failing after just a couple months, then replacements failing a couple months after that. On Amazon, the Solar Breeze NX2 has only 57% 5 star rating, and those are mostly new. 21% are one star, and a number of those are re-reviews followups on good turned bad. The others are largely unknown.

I would be willing the pay the premium price that some go for--as much as $700. All I ask is that they work for at least three-four years, preferably five. From the YouTube videos I've seen, the Skim Devil looks like it could be the best overall, but it's sold out until spring. Of course, I don't know what that means. Maybe it didn't work, and a new model will be available in the spring? Or high demand? From one of the YouTube videos I learned it's made in Europe (no country specified), but I don't know what that might mean.

Does anyone have a report on any of these machines? Something to cruise around collecting small leaves, dandelions and other plant materials, gnats, dead flies from mating flights, etc. would be really nice. But not if it lasts only a few months. Thanks.
 

Katodude

Silver Supporter
Aug 22, 2017
403
West Palm Beach/Florida
I have a Solar Breeze NX2 since April and it has worked flawlessly. I have had two other Solar Breezes before. Each has lasted a little over 2 years. The NX2 seems to be built significantly better than my two previous models so I believe it will last longer. I wont be able to confirm that until 2 years from now. However, I did buy the current model with a 2 year warranty and the credit card will extend that a year. So if it goes before 3 years I am covered. If it lasts 4 years then ok, it lasted 4 years which is not bad. I will then buy a new one which should be better, and have more features.

The reports of them just working several months sound overblown. I would recommend buying direct for the company rather than Amazon, just to make sure you get the better warranty and have a good direct relationship.
 

BowserB

Silver Supporter
Jul 29, 2018
143
Katy, Texas
Good point, Kato, about buying direct. Amazon, as I recall, is not even the seller in most of the bad reviews but rather a third party on Amazon, although they are at least "verified purchase" through Amazon. In the back of my mind I can't help but wonder about how people use and maintain these machines and whether that is a factor. I spent $1,200 on a Maytronics Dolphin M500 robotic cleaner, and I handle it accordingly. After use, I rinse it thoroughly with fresh water and store it on the caddy as recommended by the mfr. As much as we depend on chlorine for its anti-algae and anti-bacterial qualities, we need to remember that is just as powerful a destructive chemical to things we don't want destroyed--like anything metal, O-rings, plastic of many kinds. I don't care if the M500 can be scheduled to run and be left in the pool.

So, Kato, how do you use, maintain, and store your Solar Breeze? If you tell me you drop it in the pool in March and take it out in November, then I know this product is a Crud shoot. You win or you lose depending on how the dice roll. Thanks for your reply.
 

mguzzy

Well-known member
Jul 8, 2015
795
OV, CA
I was intrigued so I did a search and found this vid...


I have two redwood trees that drop long fronds, for lack of a better description.. this gizmo would be clogged in 10 min... and I can only imagine the reaction my dogs would have. 🐶
 

Katodude

Silver Supporter
Aug 22, 2017
403
West Palm Beach/Florida
So I keep it in the pool 12 months of the year. My pool is open all year round. I take it out once a week to dump the stuff it has caught. I give it a good rinse and then back in the pool. So it is in the pool 24 hours a day. I do remove it from the pool when we are swimming and playing in the pool.

Lately the solar panels are looking a little cloudy so I will probably take it out this weekend and use some headlight cleaner or something like that to buff them out.
 

BowserB

Silver Supporter
Jul 29, 2018
143
Katy, Texas
Thanks, Kato. You comment should be reassuring, but what you are doing is what I assumed caused early demise of the 21% who gave one star at amazon. Other than yours and Amazon, the only reviews I can find are web people who got a free test sample to use for a week or two. Yours is a help, though. Thanks.

By the way my comment about a "crud shoot"...crud is not what I typed. I guess the system auto corrected what it saw as a "bad" word. Clearly not aware of the other meaning of c*** shoot!
 

Katodude

Silver Supporter
Aug 22, 2017
403
West Palm Beach/Florida
I cant speak for any of the other owners, but this is my 3rd Solar Breeze. Each of the other two lasted over 2 years, so I have zero early failure issues. Now over two years is still not long enough, and I am hopeful this one lasts longer. It is clearly build much better than the previous two. I also got a 2 year warranty from the manufacture and have extended that with my credit card.

Of course as I write this I think this would be a good candidate for Asurion or any of those after market warranty companies. Be nice to get 5 years out of one of these.
 

textommyboy

Well-known member
Jun 21, 2014
128
Pearland/Freeport, TX
I second Katodude's Solar Breeze NX2 comments. We recently replaced our original Solar Breeze after almost 3 years with the NX2 and it definitely feels more solid and does the job of collecting debris/bugs on the surface very well. We've only had the NX2 for a couple of months but so far, so good. Similar to Katodude we leave the NX2 in the pool year round (except when we're in the pool or running the Dolphin cleaner) and clean it on a weekly basis. We've only used the chlorine tab tray dispenser once and it seemed to work fine. The NX2's debris tray also stays on the unit much better than the previous generation. Overall we're happy with it and would recommend it to others.
 

Katodude

Silver Supporter
Aug 22, 2017
403
West Palm Beach/Florida
So a couple of things forced the retirement of the older models. Eventually the batteries die, but they are replaceable. Also the older models had issues with their gears that degraded and wheels stopped turning or one of the paddles stopped. This has been supposedly rectified in the latest model but we will see.

I could have sent the older models back to have them refurbished but I figured what the heck they gave me a better deal on the new model since I was a legacy customer and I got to have all the fancy newer features.
 

Exlonghorn

Gold Supporter
Jun 16, 2019
57
Houston
I had my Solar Breeze for a year before the paddle wheel gears gave out and stopped propelling the unit. Sent the unit back and they replaced the parts under warranty, but it took over a month in the middle of summer. The solar panels are also clouding over at 18 months. There are plenty of products that have solar panels that can go YEARS being outside 24/7 without this problem, so I consider this another function of a cheaply-built product. The latest issue is that when I move the power switch to the OFF position, the unit simply starts running in the opposite direction...a bizarre flaw in the design that should be impossible. The design is really good, but the materials in the first generation unit are pretty poor. I suppose I'll try the second generation when this one finally die out again, but I'm going to closely look at the latest reviews before deciding.
 

Katodude

Silver Supporter
Aug 22, 2017
403
West Palm Beach/Florida
I had my Solar Breeze for a year before the paddle wheel gears gave out and stopped propelling the unit. Sent the unit back and they replaced the parts under warranty, but it took over a month in the middle of summer. The solar panels are also clouding over at 18 months. There are plenty of products that have solar panels that can go YEARS being outside 24/7 without this problem, so I consider this another function of a cheaply-built product. The latest issue is that when I move the power switch to the OFF position, the unit simply starts running in the opposite direction...a bizarre flaw in the design that should be impossible. The design is really good, but the materials in the first generation unit are pretty poor. I suppose I'll try the second generation when this one finally die out again, but I'm going to closely look at the latest reviews before deciding.
The panels clouding over is something that still happens on the new one. They recommend cleaning the panel with CLR and then applying a light coat of WD-40. I just did this and it seemed to work nicely. We will see how long that lasts, but I guess some regular maintenance of the device is required.
 
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Exlonghorn

Gold Supporter
Jun 16, 2019
57
Houston
The panels clouding over is something that still happens on the new one. They recommend cleaning the panel with CLR and then applying a light coat of WD-40. I just did this and it seemed to work nicely. We will see how long that lasts, but I guess some regular maintenance of the device is required.
thanks for the tip...I'll do that this weekend!