Best Above Ground Pool Vacuums & Robotic Cleaners: Buyer’s Ultimate Guide

above ground pool vacuum and robotic cleaners

In this article, we discuss the 8 best above ground pool vacuums and robotic cleaners. In order to offer you a detailed review and help you make the most informed decision possible, we’ve personally used all the best above ground automatic pool cleaners in the market. We’ve compiled all of our findings in this exhaustive guide to pool vacuums and robotic cleaners.

Before we jump in and discuss the various robotic cleaners specifically, here’s a little bit of an intro for those who don’t know what they are. A robotic pool cleaner is basically an automatic vacuum cleaner that collects debris, soil, and other particles from the surface of the pool. They are all meant to do one thing — keep your pool as clean as possible.

There are a lot of pool vacuums and robotic pool cleaners in the market. In fact, there are so many that the search can be confusing. In this article, we’ve narrowed down your search to the 8 best above ground pool vacuums and robotic cleaners. Read on to learn more about them!

Dolphin Escape Robotic Pool Cleaner
  • Dolphin Escape Robotic Pool Cleaner
  • ★★★★★
    Our rating
  • Price: see Here
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Hayward 900 Wanda
  • Hayward 900 Wanda
  • ★★★★★
    Our rating
  • Price: see Here
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Pentair K50600 Kreepy Krauly
  • Pentair K50600 Kreepy Krauly
  • ★★★★★
    Our rating
  • Price: see Here
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1. Dolphin Escape Robotic Above Ground Pool Cleaner

The Dolphin Escape Robotic Above Ground Pool Cleaner is our Editor’s Choice because it’s one of the most popular and effective — not to mention cool — robotic cleaners out there. This robotic cleaner debuted in 2016, and it has since established itself as one of the leading engineered robots in the market. Read on to learn why it’s the best above ground automatic pool cleaner.

Product Highlights

  • Weighs 14 pounds.
  • Debris cartridges hold over 60% more debris than other cleaners.
  • Hypergrip Continuous Tracks for running efficiently in water.
  • Hyperbrush Dual Scrubbing Brushes to clean thoroughly.
  • SmartNav 2.0 Scanner for smart navigation.
  • 24 Volt DC motor consumes 180 watts of energy.
  • 4-Year Warranty is guaranteed.


This robotic pool cleaner is extremely portable and weighs only 14 pounds. In terms of performance, it’s unbeatable.

This automatic pool cleaner comes with large debris cartridges that allow it to hold over 60% more debris than the standard robotic cleaners. These cartridges can be lifted through the top-access door when they need cleaning.

The Hypergrip Continuous Tracks further establishes it as the best wheel cleaner in the industry. The inbuilt Hyperbrush Dual Scrubbing Brushes help clean even the minutest of grime and dirt that might contaminate the water.

This technology makes the brushes spin twice as fast and thoroughly as those in other automatic pool cleaners, thus removing all algae and other difficult-to-remove stains.

It can also map out the most efficient trajectory and path for cleaning with the help of its SmartNav 2.0 Scanner.

These features ensure that this automatic pool cleaner works smarter and faster to clean the pool as opposed to simply working harder.

The Good

You no longer have to worry about manually scrubbing your pool, or about algae-infested waters. All you have to do is toss this automatic pool cleaner into the pool and you can come back to find sparkling clean water. The process takes just about 90 minutes.

The Bad

The price tag might pinch certain people.


  • Can completing cleaning within 90 minutes.
  • You simply plug the chord into a power source, place the cleaner in the water, and walk away. No assembly or installation necessary.
  • The motor uses very little energy.
  • The navigation system helps it cover every inch of the pool floor.
  • The treads prevent it from getting stuck.
  • The filtration system is extremely powerful.


  • It cannot climb pool walls.
  • Slightly expensive.

The Hayward 900 Wanda the Whale robotic pool cleaner is one of the most innovative products on this list. As the name suggests, it’s designed in the shape of a whale with the hose sticking out of its top.

It’s an ideal pool cleaner to be used in households with a lot of young children. This is our Best Value product because its packs incredible features at a low cost range.

Product Highlights

  • Available in three designs — Wanda the Whale, Aquabug, and Penguin.
  • Deluxe bumper ring to minimize friction.
  • SmartDrive for easy navigation.
  • Easy to install.
  • Contoured head design.


This pool cleaner has a unique turbine and gearing system which manages to provide a balanced water flow. This is ideal because you can be assured of a gentle yet uniform movement within pool. It functions quietly without any disruptions.

It has a contoured head pattern which allows the pool cleaner to steer around and navigate effortlessly and complete cleaning the pool quickly.

Additionally, it also has a deluxe bumper ring which helps protect it from obstacles and bumping into walls. It lowers the friction and sets it on the right steering path again.

It has a SmartDrive programmed feature so it can effortlessly navigate the pool’s terrain and map out a path that would be most efficient. The water from the pool is sucked out from the bottom of the pool and filtered, proving efficient pool water circulation.

This pool cleaner requires minimal installation. You can take it off the package and set it in water to start cleaning. It can start working within 10 minutes of being received.

This automatic pool cleaner can be aligned with your existing filtration system and needs at least 1500 gallons per minute to run efficiently.

The Good

Several customers stated that purchasing Wanda the Whale was the best decision they made. You simply need to fill the hose up with water, which takes a few minutes, and then it’s ready to clean!

The Bad

Some customers stated that you shouldn’t purchase this product if you have a pool with a wavy floor or a dish-shaped floor. It only works for flat bottom pools. In case of a wavy or dish-shaped pool, it might get stuck and the wheels might damage the pool bottom..


  • Great design for households with kids.
  • Takes about 10 minutes for installation and use.
  • Smart navigation system.


  • The hose is not big enough for a 30ft pool. Need additional hoses to be attached.
  • Not ideal for wavy or dish-shaped pools.

3. Pentair K50600 Kreepy Krauly

The Pentair K50600 Kreepy Krauly is our Budget Pick because it’s the cheapest automatic pool cleaner in the market. This pool cleaner is highly efficient and is extremely convenient as well. It helps remove all debris and grime from your pool without any intervention from you.

Product Highlights

  • Superior hydraulic design to ensure optimum usage.
  • The flapper is the only operational moving part.
  • Free skimming valve available to regulate water flow.
  • Random pattern coverage feature.
  • Needs to be used in combination with a pool pump with at least 0.75 horsepower.


The best aspect of this top rated above ground pool vacuum is that it has a single moving part, so it doesn’t break down often.

There’s a skimming valve which allows it to run at a uniform pace regardless of the water pressure. The random operating pattern feature ensures every inch of the pool is taken care of.

A 32’ hose ensures that it can cover the complete above ground pool. This automatic pool cleaner is ideal for users with a large pool and a pool pump that runs at least 2000 gallons per minute.

The Good

Despite the cheap price, customers often comment on how it lasts several years because the design is extremely durable.

The Bad

It’s not completely noiseless. While running, it produces a faint whirring noise.


  • Extremely durable because of a single moving part.
  • Extremely cheap.
  • Random pattern coverage.


  • Must be used in combination with a pool pump.
  • Produces a faint sound.

4. Hayward Aqua Critter

The Hayward Aqua Critter Automatic Above Ground Pool Cleaner is yet another efficient, budget-friendly, and family-friendly offering by Hayward, one of the best companies for automatic pool cleaners.

This automatic pool cleaner is designed in the shape of a giant yellow bug with the hose attached to its back.

Product Highlights

  • The hose is 16ft long.
  • Attachable skimmer cone is provided.
  • Comes with a smart navigation system.
  • Takes about 2 hours to clean above ground pools.


This automatic robotic cleaner comes with an attachable head, a hose divided into eight 4ft sections, and a skimmer cone.

The smart navigation system has a pre-programmed pattern which helps efficiently clean the bottom of the pool inch-by-inch, while vacuuming up leaves, soil, debris, etc.

It’s ideal for fat-bottomed pools but it can also work in dish-shaped pools. However, the pool pump must at least have a horsepower of 0.75. This pool cleaner can be done with the cleaning in about 2 hours.

The Good

Customers were thrilled that this pool cleaner worked immediately and efficiently. All you have to do is attach the hose and put the adapter on the above ground filter intake. That’s all that’s necessary to get it working.

The Bad

Some customers stated that its turbine ballbearings are not sealed, which means sand can get it to stop working. You then have to take it out and clean the sand out manually.


  • Attractive design.
  • Easy installation.
  • Takes only 2 hours to clean an average sized pool.
  • Smart navigation system.


  • The hose is only 16ft long. Need additional hoses to cover the whole pool.
  • Sand at the bottom of the pool gets it stuck.

The Zodiac Ranger Suction Side Automatic Above-Ground Pool Cleaner is a decent above ground pool vacuum and automatic cleaner.

It can be used both for flat-bottomed pools and dish-shaped pools of 72 inches. It’s also extremely quiet in operation and easy to maintain.

Product Highlights

  • Comes with a 32 feet hose.
  • Flowkeeper™ Valve and Insta-Skim Compact feature helps in water flow self-regulation.
  • Deflector wheel to prevent it from getting stuck.
  • Single moving part — the diaphragm.
  • AG disc for effortless navigation.


This pool cleaner doesn’t have to be assembled as it comes in a single unit, along with a 32 feet hose. You just have to connect it to the water hose to start the propulsion and it can start cleaning out the pool automatically.

It comes with a Flowkeeper™ Valve and Insta-Skim Compact feature which helps in self-adjusting with the flow changes. Even if the gallons per minute rate of the pool pump lowers for some reason, this automatic pool cleaner won’t stall.

The Deflector wheel can help it navigate efficiently and prevents it from getting stuck on corners, stairs, or ladders.

Since this automatic pool cleaner has a single moving part — the diaphragm — maintenance is easy. A single moving part also ensures that the product works quietly and you don’t hear any hammering or flapper sounds.

The AG Disc ensures that the cleaner can glide across the bottom of the pool effortlessly and also go up the sides and around the steps, thus cleaning the entire pool.

The Good

Customers were happy about the fact that the installation and use of this product is self-explanatory. They stated that the instruction manual was worthless because no instructions are necessary.

The Bad

It shouldn’t be used in soft-sided pools because it gets tangled with Intex skimmers in the pool.


  • Has only one moving part so minimizes maintenance needs.
  • The water flow is self-adjusted.
  • Can also clean the crevices and pits in pools.


  • Doesn’t come with an adapter.
  • Needs manual assistance as the inbuilt navigation isn’t very strong.
  • Is not as thorough as other products.
  • Not ideal for soft-sided pools.

6. Smartpool NC22 SmartKleen

The Smartpool NC22 SmartKleen is one of the best automatic pool cleaners in the market. This pool cleaner weighs just 18 pounds and it has a tough exterior that doesn’t get damaged easily. It can move efficiently around pools of all shapes and sizes, big or large.

Product Highlights

  • Comes with a 40 feet cord.
  • Shuts off automatically after 2 hours.
  • Extremely light at 18 pounds.
  • It has an intelligent navigation system.
  • Quick drain system.
  • Extra large filter bag.


This pool cleaner comes with an intelligent navigation system with which it can determine the terrain all on its own. It does not need to bump into a wall to determine that its direction needs to be changed, it can do so on its own.

The light weight means it can be used on all surfaces such as vinyl, fiberglass, and concrete pools. And the quick-drain system makes it extremely convenient for removal from pool.

This automatic pool cleaner comes with a 2-hour auto shut off feature because that’s all the time it requires to clean the whole pool. After that, you don’t need to worry about manually turning it off.

It has an extra large filter bag so you don’t have to remove it too often. And it comes with a 40 feet power cord so it can clean the whole pool without being limited by the cord.

The Good

Customers stated that even a single cycle from this pool cleaner is enough to get rid of all debris, no matter how big or small.

The Bad

Service is an issue with this pool because the individual parts are hard to come by. Even if you get the parts, it’s hard to find service that can look into it.


  • Extremely efficient cleaning.
  • Cord is long enough for big pools and it never gets stuck or tangled.
  • Has extremely strong suction abilities that can also suck large leaves in.
  • Can get rid of all green algae growth.
  • Completely quiet.


  • Hard to find individual parts.
  • The plastic rod sewn into the green debris bag sometimes breaks off in places. It’s not a big enough issue that it doesn’t work anymore, but it’s not the most durable.

The Aquabot APRVJR Pool Rover Junior is one of the most revolutionary above ground robotic pool cleaners when it comes to features. However, it comes lower in this list because it’s a lot bigger, heavier, and more expensive than most other similar products.

Product Highlights

  • Comes with a 40 feet floating cable.
  • Built-in micron fine reusable filters.
  • Can clean pools within 1 hour.
  • Automatic shut off after 2 hours.
  • Extra-wide non-marring wheels.
  • Runs on a 24-volt pump.


The Pool Rover Junior comes with a 40 feet long floating cable and a power supply transformer.

This is one of the best automatic pool cleaners for pools of all shapes — round, oval, or rectangular. However, the pools should be above ground and flat-bottomed. It takes just about 1 hour for this pool cleaner to be done, and it requires no hoses.

It’s powered by a 24-volt pump motor that can be controlled with a single button. And it provides both the pool cleaner’s vacuum suction and the jet-drive propulsion. There are 2 filtration intake valves. They can pick up all forms of debris and refuse, from large leaves to grains of sand and dirt.

The HydroJet Directional Guidance allows users to input a cleaning pattern for greatest efficiency. This automatic pool cleaner comes with large non-marring wheels that can effortlessly roll over any surface. It also has a patented E-Z swivel device so that it doesn’t get tangled up with the cables.

It is completely automatic and you don’t need to manage it manually. After 2 hours, it shuts off on its own so you don’t have to worry about turning it off manually. The automatic shut off also increases energy and water efficiency.

The Good

The best aspect of this automatic above ground robotic pool cleaner is that it doesn’t rely on a pool filtration system. It comes with its own 24 volt pump.

This is an added advantage for people who don’t have a powerful pool pump or want to use the robotic cleaner when the pool pump isn’t turned on.

The Bad

This pool cleaner has trouble navigating in dish-shaped pools. It either gets stuck or it can damage the pool floor.


  • Energy and water efficient because of the 2-hour auto shut off.
  • Runs smoothly on any surface.
  • Has an independent 24-volt pump.
  • Long cable.
  • Powerful suction force.
  • Filter bag is large and easy to clean.
  • HydroJet Directional Guidance for navigational efficiency.


  • Heavy.
  • Expensive.
  • Difficulty in navigation.

The Aquabot POOL ROVER S2 40 is one of the most reasonable and best automatic above ground pool vacuums in the market. It’s designed for all above ground pools up to 40 feet in diameter.

Product Highlights

  • Can clean pools up to 40 feet in diameter.
  • Filters 80 to 85 gallons of water per minute.
  • The filter can be removed and reused.
  • Comes with an EZ swivel cable.
  • Designed to increase maneuverability.


This robotic pool cleaner has the power to filter about 80 to 85 gallons of water per minute. The package also includes a 40 feet hose which ensures that your entire pool can be cleaned in a single go.

The filter bag is attached at the top of this pool rover so it can easily be reached and cleaned. The vacuum and filtration system are powerful and can easily filter both small and large debris with considerable ease, be it small particles of dust and sand, or large pebbles and leaves. Once the filter bag is full, it can easily be machine cleaned and used again.

In addition to cleaning the floors, it can also clean walls with a radius of 6 inches. However, unlike some rovers, it can’t climb walls. Any attempts to climb walls will leave it flipped on its back.

It’s also one of the most chemical and energy efficient products out there and conserves users up to 30% chemical usage and 40% electricity usage.

This automatic robotic cleaner can clean the whole pool within 2 hours.

The Good

One of the best aspects of this pool cleaner is that the manufacturer is extremely reliable. If it stops working, the manufacturer pays to have it shipped back and get serviced.

The Bad

This is not the most powerful product and you need to be careful with it. For example, you should start it off from the shallow side of the pool so it can slide down to the deeper end eventually.

However, if it starts from the deep end and climbs up while vacuuming, it will slow down and might slide back down.


  • Complete automatic. No human intervention necessary after installation.
  • Extremely portable and lightweight.
  • Vacuum suction can attract both small and large debris.


  • This pool vacuum can get stuck around ladders, steps, corners, etc.
  • Not too powerful and has trouble climbing up slopes.
  • Servicing and replacement of parts is difficult.

Final Thoughts

So now you know all there is to know about automatic above ground pool cleaners. In this article, we’ve given you a detailed overview of the 8 best above ground pool vacuums and robotic cleaners.

If you have any questions regarding automatic pool cleaners, you can look for an answer in the FAQ section. However, if you don’t find an answer there, you can leave a question down in the comments section. We’d love to hear from you.

So now that you’re all caught up in the technicalities of pool cleaners, get yourself a robot and dip into your crystal clear pool!

People also ask

How can I know which is the best pool vacuum and robotic cleaner for me?

The answer to this is highly relative. It al depends on your specific requirements. There are a lot of different types of automatic pool cleaners out there, and they all have their pros and cons. What works for you might not work for someone else, and vice verse.

In order to determine if a robotic pool cleaner is right for you, check its features and product specifications. Try to find out which features are relevant to you and which aren’t. Once you know that, you can start shortlisting some products based on their reviews and your budgetary constraints.

How do robotic pool cleaners actually work?

Basically, an automatic pool vacuum and robotic cleaner is a vacuum cleaner that works in the bottom of your swimming pool. All the different types of automatic pool cleaners are meant to make the process automatic so no human intervention are necessary. However, there are three types of pool cleaners and they work in different ways.

Suction-Side Pool Cleaner: The suction-side pool cleaners works through the suction generated by pool pumps. For this, you need to have a powerful pool pump already.

Pressure-Side Pool Cleaner: These include a hose attached to the dedicated return line of the pool. So the water returns back to the pool after passing through the filtration system. The force generated by this filtration system is enough to keep the pool cleaner moving while simultaneously generating a vacuum that can suck up all debris and particles into a filter bag.

Robotic Pool Cleaner: These are some of the most advanced and independent pool cleaners in the market. They don’t need to be attached to the swimming pool’s pump because they have a motor of their own along with a filtration system. They can be programmed to clean in set paths and can also be controlled remotely.

Is there an advantage of using robotic pool cleaners over other types of automatic pool vacuum cleaners?

There are a lot of benefits of using robotic pool cleaners:

  • They are completely independent so you can turn them on, put them into the pool, and then do your own thing. They don’t need to be monitored at all.
  • After a set amount of time, most robotic pool cleaners stop on their own. This conserves energy and chemicals, making them cost efficient.
  • If you have a robotic pool cleaner, you don’t need an additional pump because they come with their own motors and filters.
  • It produces far less noise than other automatic pool vacuum cleaners.
  • Some robotic pool cleaners can even scale and scrub the walls of the pool — to an extent — which makes them far more efficient.
  • You can control them remotely if you want them to go over a certain path. If not, you can allow them to work along the preprogramed navigation path.

Isn’t it risky to put an electrically powered robotic cleaner into the pool?

Robotic pool cleaners run on low-voltage sources of energy and pass through ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) outlets. This ensures that your robotic cleaner can work safely underwater. If the GFCI detects any electrical imbalances in the water, the robotic cleaner automatically shuts off. So you don’t need to worry about electrocution.

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I am Nicholas Stanley a swimming pool enthusiast with more than 22+ years of swimming pool construction and maintenance in corporate, residence and spa. I have initiated this website Pools point to share my experience by trustworthy product reviews, pool related how-to guides, DIY tips ans tricks to maintain the pool. I want my readers and customers to be aware of all the technicalities of pool and pool related equipment's.


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