Nobody wants to swim in a dirty pool. Not only is that nasty, but it’s also unsafe. Your oasis needs to stay clean at all times, so buying the right equipment is essential. That’s why most pool owners use a pressure side pool cleaner to get the job done automatically. It’s quick, easy, efficient, and hygienic.
Meanwhile, there are multiple options available and none of them are made the same. Even your favorite brand has different models to choose from, which means you’ve got some homework to do.
So, what is the best pressure side pool cleaner, and how do you find one before the end of summer? Here’s what you need to know.
What is a Pressure Side Pool Cleaner?
A pressure side pool cleaner is a sophisticated piece of equipment that moves around your pool’s perimeter and on the bottom surface to remove dirt and debris from the liner and water.
Unlike suction cleaners, these utilize water pressure as it cycles and recycles through a separate booster pump. However, you can get pressure cleaners without booster pump assemblies as well.
Traditional suction cleaners draw from your pool’s main filtration system to work, and then the debris is deposited right back into your pump basket when it’s done.
On the other hand, pressure pumps use natural forces to pick up debris without overtaxing your other equipment. Thus, they’re often preferred over other cleaning devices because they can increase the longevity of your pool.
DID YOU KNOW: High-end pressure side pool cleaners are commonly used to tidy up Olympic-sized swimming pools after a fierce competition.
Top Pressure Side Pool Cleaners of 2021
To find the most practical pressure cleaner for your pool, it’s important to compare a few options to learn about the differences. Then, you should compare the features and pick one that’s compatible with your existing system. So, here are the two top-selling choices to help get you started:
#1. The Polaris Vac-Sweep 280
This is one of the best pressure side pool cleaners because of its simple construction and user-friendly design. Powerful and compact, it features a three-wheel base that diligently skims the bottom and sides of your pool regardless of its shape or size. Plus, it automatically sweeps and scrubs the surface as needed without your direct interaction, with a large debris bag for difficult jobs.
The Polaris Vac-Sweep 280 comes with a 31-foot feed hose that has a 2.25-inch vacuum inlet for optimal compatibility with other equipment. It’s made for all in-ground pools but requires a separate booster pump to function properly. However, the in-line back-up valve means this mighty machine can clean continually without interruption.
#2. The Polaris Vac-Sweep 3900 Sport
This high-quality pressure side pool cleaner requires a separate booster pump to work, but it also offers the strongest vacuum power of any Polaris pool cleaning system on the market. In fact, the dual chamber SuperBag provides an additional 40 GPM of constant filtration, with 50% more torque than the non-sport model.
Thanks to the enhanced PosiDrive system, the Polaris Vac-Sweep 3900 Sport can outlast many other pool cleaning machines. It offers a five (5) liter debris capacity and a 31-foot feed hose to skim the entire perimeter. Plus, this sporty version now includes the TailSweep Pro feature which gets the surface sparkling clean without spraying water into your yard.
Pressure Side Pool Cleaners Worth Mentioning
If you need some more options to consider, check out these other pressure side pool cleaners first:
#1. The Polaris Vac-Sweep 380
It’s powered by triple jets and a long 31-foot hose. Plus, the 380 is compatible with TailSweep PRO and has an all-wheel belt drive that cleans efficiently using a separate booster pump.
#2. The Eritephma Pool Pressure Side Sweeper
This one is more economical, making the Eritephma appropriate for smaller pools and easier cleaning jobs. It needs a booster pump to work right but comes with all the accessories you need to get started.
#3. The Polaris Vac-Sweep 65
The 65 is one of the best cleaning machines for above ground pools up to five feet deep. It doesn’t need a booster pump and the filtration bag is extra-large for picking up sticks, leaves, and insects quickly. Best of all, this machine installs in minutes without expert help and uses patented technology to loosen dirt and debris from hard to reach places.
#4. The Polaris Vac-Sweep 280 Zodiac
This machine offers the most powerful water pressure as long as you have a compatible booster pump. Plus, the 280 Zodiac can clean your entire pool in three hours or less and replacement parts are extremely affordable.
Things to Think About Before Buying
As a pool owner, it’s your responsibility to maintain the liner, walls, and water at all times. However, that’s virtually impossible if you choose the wrong pressure cleaner. So, here are the top five things you should consider before buying one:
Most pressure cleaners come with an adequate hose to reach every nook and cranny of your pool. Still, it’s important to double-check the length and make sure it’s long enough for the job. On average, you’ll want a hose that’s at least 30 feet long.
If you have a vinyl, fiberglass, or concrete in-ground swimming pool, you’ll need a pressure cleaner that can climb the walls and stairs. Otherwise, you’ll only clean out some of the debris and it will eventually flow right back into the water when you’re done.
Backup valves can help redirect your pressure side pool cleaner so that it washes the entire surface without getting stuck on uneven surfaces. These valves also prevent clogs when picking up large debris and they can even shorten the cleaning session over time.
Some pools lack the water capacity to run certain pressure cleaners, and that may mean you’ll have to buy a booster pump separately. It simply hooks to your pool’s existing filtration system to boost water pressure, but it may need to be installed by a professional for best results.
Automatic pool cleaners shouldn’t break easily, which means they need to be durable and well-built. Look for machines made from high-quality, long-lasting materials and try to find something that comes with a limited manufacturer’s warranty if you can.
NOTE: Finding replacement parts is relatively easy, and most local pool dealers can repair broken pressure cleaners quickly.
How Do Pressure Side Pool Cleaners Work?
Pressure side pool cleaners begin working once they’re attached to the return side of your pool’s pump. Using water pressure from the filtration system, these cleaning machines propel themselves around surfaces with a continual vortex to wipe, scrub, and sweep away dirt.
Most of the time, pressure cleaners for pools feature sturdy wheels to help them maneuver under water. They also come with a large capacity filtration bag, a long sweeping hose, and a return-jet hose for optimal versatility. So, these machines are generally useful for picking up leaves, insects, and other medium to large debris.
That’s actually why many of them come standard with a backup valve. It prevents the machine from getting stuck because of lacking water pressure or clogs in the hose. The valve will momentarily stop water from flowing to the machine, causing all of the water to blast through a small hole in the side instead. This, in turn, propels the pressure cleaner to a new spot in your pool – all by itself.
What Does A Pool Booster Pump Do?
Booster pumps help to improve the water pressure that propels your cleaning machine. They also increase the flow rate for faster finished projects, so they’re usually essential regardless of which model you choose. Meanwhile, they work just like a traditional fan, with rapidly moving blades to boost movement and raise the internal water pressure at the same time.
They’re generally attached to your swimming pool by an expert but that’s not because they’re heavy, dangerous, or complex. It’s because your automatic cleaning machine needs an airtight connection to harness enough pressure for smooth movements. And since the average booster pump only puts out about 1 horsepower or less, it’s crucial to make a good connection.
FUN FACT: Properly installed booster pumps can last between 8 and 12 years before needing repairs or replacement parts.
Do You Need a Booster Pump for Polaris?
In most cases, you will need a separate booster pump to use a Polaris pressure side pool cleaner. For example, the 280 and the 3900 Sport both require one for optimal functionality. However, some models may not require them at all. So, be sure to read the owner’s manual of the machine you pick to find out more.
Which Is Better: Polaris 280 or 380?
There are many factors which determine whether the Polaris 280 or 380 is better. Usually, it all depends on how big your oasis is and how dirty its surfaces are. For example, the 280 model is generally ideal for regularly used swimming pools because it not only works continually but also offers an in-line backup valve to ensure constant pressure.
At the same time, the Polaris 380 is powered by triple jets which means it’s a little faster and more powerful than its predecessor. Both are designed for in-ground pools but neither one has an additional chamber for enhanced filtration. Meanwhile, you can’t use either one without a booster pump, so the same amount of equipment is often needed.
Tips for Maintaining A Pressure Side Pool Cleaner
Prolong the life of your pressure side pool cleaners by maintaining them properly. Just because they’re built to save you some manual labor doesn’t mean they’re invincible. So, start by keeping the machine as clean as possible with routine maintenance to help it work perfectly for many years to come.
Here are a few simple troubleshooting tips to get you started:
- Remove the filter bag often and let it dry in the sun before dumping out the debris.
- Use a garden hose to dislodge large debris that might be studied in the bag or valves.
- Buy two debris bags so you can swap them out quickly with little downtime.
- Always check for a snug hose connection but avoid over tightening.
- Adjust the RPMs to match the manufacturer’s suggested specifications.
- Finagle the trust, in-line filter, and flow restrictors if your machine isn’t moving properly.
- Lift the machine out of the water when testing the sprayers and valves.
As always, try to register your manufacturer’s warranty within 30 days of the purchase date to avoid cancelation. Then, contact the maker directly if you have specific questions.
Putting It All Together
Finding the best pressure side pool cleaner means understanding how they work and then comparing several models to consider the differences. Since these machines are essential to responsible swimming pool management, it’s also important to think about your needs and budget.
Remember, some pressure cleaners require a booster pump which may cost extra. However, the time and energy you save can help you discover new ways to invest your money.