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How Do Robotic Pool Cleaners Work?

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An automatic pool cleaner is a vacuum cleaner that cleans the swimming pool by collecting the sediments and debris automatically, as the name implies. The cleaning of the swimming pool enhances hygiene, reduces the chance of infection, and keeps your pool clear and sparkling. Robot pool cleaners are one classification of automatic pool cleaners, along with suction side and pressure side cleaners (see Types of Robot Pool Cleaners).

Overview of Robotic Pool Cleaners

The robot pool cleaner is useful in that it effortlessly removes debris in the swimming pool and are convenient and easy to use. Though the cleaners are small, they are very efficient at picking up debris such as dirt, leaves, and sediment. Some models are more adept at navigating poos as they have better wall-climbing capabilities. As the robot moves around the pool, brushes are normally used to clean any grime or dirt from the floors, steps, and walls.

Robot pool cleaners are the leading type of self-automated pool cleaners. An electrical motor is found in the robot cleaner creates a suction to gather the leaves and debris. With the help of the suction system it has, it can draw water inside its body and then pushes out clean and clear water on its other end to help with propulsion. As the propulsion system moves the robot, the rotating brushes are working feverishly to clean the sides and floors of the pool. Some models are better at this than others, so ensure you are getting a cleaner that can do what you need.

Lightbulb pulling on power outletEnergy Consumption and Navigation

Notably, robot cleaners use little power as they incorporate efficient motors that enable them to work effectively by creating suction and propelling the machine simultaneously. For the drive motors to operate effectively, an internal microchip is pre-programmed to enhance their functionality. When the machine reaches a wall or the waterline, the chip will make the machine to change its direction.

They can quickly move around sharp corners, climb walls and steps, and generally navigate pools very well. Sensors, normally in the bump bars, help the robot to detect obstacles such as walls, large debris, or the top of the waterline. The downward-facing sensor is the most common, as it helps the device from slipping over a ledge, such as steps.

Common Features

Most models have varying features to choose from that suites your specific needs. Some features include faster cleaning modes, scheduled cleaning, and smartphone integration. An app on your phone can be used to operate the robot cleaner by giving information regarding the status of the pool cleaner. Additionally, you may come across some models that feature a remote that can be used to better control the robot with a one-button activation.

Robot pool cleaner near stepsHow Much Human Interaction?

A separate filter bag, usually attached to the cleaner, stores the debris and is often a simple task to empty. Depending on the model, the trash bin can hold varying amounts of debris. When researching a new robot cleaner, ensure you pay attention to the size of the bin. Some models may need to be emptied more frequently than others due to size limitations.

Users must be somewhat attentive to ensure the robot lasts a long time. Once the cleaner has finished its cleaning cycle, it should be removed from the pool, rinsed off, and stored in a cool area. Aside from removing and putting back in the pool, the robots are mostly hands-free and save a huge amount of time for pool maintenance. Furthermore, while they have a steep entry price, they are much cheaper over time than hiring a pool service.


Overall, robotic pool cleaners are great tools to eliminate some of the drudgery of keeping a clean and sparkling pool. Technology has progressed to a point that these little devices can do almost as good of a job as a professional service at a fraction of the price. While they do require some human interaction, it isn’t much more than what you would experience in managing the pool service. They are almost completely hands-off and require only light maintenance and human interaction to keep your pool clear.

The different models come in varying abilities and are often better suited to certain pools. Some models work better on in-ground pools (see our best rated robot pool cleaners for inground pools comparison) while others work best on the above-ground models. Furthermore, each model has its own features that may or may not be what your pool requires. Ensure that you are getting a tool that works well with your pool to keep your pool maintenance to a minimum.