Can I use a robot pool cleaner in my vinyl pool?
One of the questions we ran into a lot while putting together our robotic pool cleaner buyers guide was: What is the best robotic pool cleaner for vinyl pools? While everyone is comfortable with using robotic cleaners on more sturdy surfaces, there remains a little uncertainty when it comes to a vinyl pool liner as there seems to be a fear that they may increase wear and tear and shorten the lifespan of a pool.
Well great news, while you may fear that a robotic cleaner will not be safe to use on a vinyl pool surface; the truth is that the majority of robotic pool cleaners are perfectly safe to use in a vinyl swimming pool.
The brushes on a robotic pool cleaner that spin furiously to lift dirt, debris and algae are usually made of soft rubber, as are the wheels or tracks that drive the robot. So excitingly, this means, is you basically have your pick of the bunch.
So with that said, which one is best? Well, a lot depends on your vinyl pool and your budget, as common sense dictates. So first off, let’s take a quick look at above ground pools.
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Last update on 2022-09-08 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
Finding the best robotic pool cleaner for vinyl pools
Best robotic pool cleaner for an above ground vinyl liner pool
In our best robot pool cleaner round up, we recommend 4 above-ground pool cleaners, any of which will do a good job, however, the stand out was the Dolphin E10.
The E10 vinyl pool cleaner offers excellent cleaning performance for the price with many of the features such as tracks, SmartNAV and super-powered scrubbing brushes that you’d expect from models twice the price. From microscopic dirt particles to algae building on tile and vinyl surfaces, you can rely on these devices to clean your swimming pools.
Click here to check the latest price of the Dolphin E10 on Amazon.
The one downside to this pool robot is that it is not designed to clean walls.
In fact, you will struggle to find an above ground pool cleaner that does. However, we did notice many people who were reviewing the Dolphin E10 commented that it did, in fact, climb the walls.
If you really want your walls cleaned, an alternative option could be to buy a mid-range in-ground pool cleaner that will also work in above ground pools. One example would be the Dolphin Nautilus CC. Which we are coming onto in a moment.
Other robotic great pool cleaners
Obviously, the Dolphin E10 as mentioned above, but if you have a smaller pool and want a cheaper option, also check out the Aquabot Pool Rover Hybrid. The performance isn’t up there with the E10, but it is still a nifty little machine and a few $$s cheaper.
Best robotic pool cleaners for in-ground vinyl pools
So the first thing you have to consider is size, while a robot that is designed for 50-foot vinyl pools can clean a 20-foot one, you can’t take a robotic cleaner designed for a 20-foot pool, let it loose in a larger swimming pool and assume it will take longer, sadly it doesn’t work like that. So that said:
Best robotic pool cleaners for Small to mid-size vinyl pools: up to 30 feet
If you have a smaller pool, we can’t look past the value offered by the Dolphin Nautilus CC. It has outstanding cleaning power while being up to 8 times more efficient when compared to many other cleaners.
It also scrubs your pool walls (which is why it could be a good option for above ground), has smart clean technology and scheduling features so you can set and forget. To put it simply, this is one of the best pool cleaners on the market.
A couple of other small features of the Dolphin Nautilus CC I want to point out that are favorites of mine, even though they may seem inconsequential, but a lot of thought has gone into making it easier for swimming pool owners.
The patented swivel cable means it won’t tangle up, so you don’t have to worry about that and the top-loading filter basket means you don’t have to fiddle under the robot cleaner to empty it, such a simple idea and it works.
The obvious thing that the Dolphin Nautilus CC robotic pool cleaners are missing is the connectivity of remote control or Bluetooth, which enables manual control should you see a spot that the robot ’hasn’t managed to clean properly. But all in all, this robot offers outstanding value.
It’s worth noting if you are looking for a great value robotic pool cleaner but have a pool over 35-feet, there is also the Dolphin Nautilus CC Plus available which is a similar robot, just beefed up for bigger pools and great value when compared to other cleaners in its size bracket.
Click here to find the best price for the Dolphin Nautilus CC on Amazon.
You may also want to consider the Dolphin Proteus DX4 as a great value choice.
Other great robotic pool cleaners
The Hayward SharkVac robotic pool cleaner can be a great value option. Hayward is another brand that builds quality products.
While this robotic pool cleaner doesn’t feature any “wow” features, it focuses on what it is built to do, which is clean your pool with minimal effort on your part.
For a higher price, there’s also the Dolphin Nautilus CC Plus with a variety of features (from an excellent filter system to high suction pool cleaning capabilities).
Best robotic pool cleaners for large vinyl liners: over 30 feet
Now our favorite energy efficient pool cleaner of the moment is the recently reviewed Dolphin Sigma, it’s a beast of a cleaner with triple motor pawer and all the bells and whistles you could want. However, it carries the price tag to match, you can find the latest price on Amazon here.
The Sigma is designed for any type of pool, including granite and pebble, so while there is no doubt you will get a great clean, it may be a little bit of overkill.
For vinyl pools, you don’t need so much power so we’d recommend looking at the Dolphin Premier.
It is a tried and tested unit with an excellent history, and you can’t overlook the fact that the Dolphin Premier is a few hundred $’s cheaper than the Sigma. We actually have a full review of the Dolphin premier here.
Other robotic pool cleaners to consider
If you wanted something that offers great value, be sure to take a look at the Paxcess automatic pool cleaner, which we have a full review of here. It is a well-built robot for pools up to 50-feet.
Now you may have noticed that our recommendations all come from Maytronics Dolphin range of robotic pool cleaners.
Well, there is a good reason for that, pool cleaners are what they do, they have been doing them for years, and you can generally trust that when you are buying a Dolphin pool cleaner, you are purchasing a quality product backed by a warranty.
Typically when this is the case, a company will take advantage of its market position, charge too much, which then leaves the market open to competitors. However, the Dolphin robotic pool cleaner price isn’t inflated and still offers excellent value.
Essentially, if you’re looking for the best pool cleaners on the market, you’re likely to find what you’re looking for in a Dolphin product.
There are definitely some other brands worth considering, the Kreepy Krauly, for example, the Aquafirst X4, which we awarded the best value to in our round-up. But generally, with a Dolphin pool cleaner, you can buy with confidence.
In general, when buying, be sure to consider the main properties of a pool cleaner; for example, you’re going to want to make sure that you purchase a robot that can clean pool surfaces, walls and the pool floor.
Its cleaning cycle and ability to clean up dirt, debris, algae and other impurities is also a necessity too. There are plenty of factors to consider, which is why as a pool owner, you need to focus on the important aspects of pool cleaning as well as fun and interesting features.
How to choose the right robotic pool cleaners for vinyl pools?
Let’s look at a few more things to consider before you settle on the right automatic robotic pool cleaner for you, like:
Size of the vinyl pool
Make sure the robot you buy can handle your pool. As I mentioned earlier, while a robot that is advertised to clean pools up to 50-feet would have no problem with 30-feet vinyl pools, it doesn’t work the other way.
A common question is, why can’t I just leave it on longer? The main 2 reasons are the smart navigation won’t properly scan the pool to know where to clean, so a software issue. The other one (much more simple) is cord length. These robots need a power source, so the cable has to stretch far enough to enable complete cleaning.
What about the difference between in-ground and above-ground pools?
Taking everything mentioned earlier on about in and above ground pools, you should hopefully have a better idea of which kind of robotic pool cleaner will be most suitable for your needs. Don’t forget to take into consideration the pool type in terms of material too, whether it’s
vinyl liners or tiles.
It’s also worth mentioning that some models have a minimum depth requirement, so keep this in mind if you have a deeper swimming pool.
Pick the features that are important to you
As you’d expect, the more features you want, the more expensive the robot gets. At one end is the Dolphin Sigma robotic pool cleaner, at the other, the Aquabot pool rover and in between is about $1000. There’s no doubt that whether you have inground pool or above ground swimming pools, you’ll have to splash a little cash for a quality robot.
Some features to look out for in higher end automatic pool cleaners include:
- Remote/Bluetooth Control
- Cleaning scheduling
- Wall climbing
- Waterline scrubbing
- Stair cleaning
- Top-loading filter cartridges (and different filtering systems, from a micro filter bag to a booster pump filter)
- Quality filter bags (ranging from the more common debris bags to more high-end bags that can hold all the dirt particles and leaves in its cleaning path through the pool water)
- Smart pool mapping
- High quality scrubbing brushes
- Swivel technology power cable
- Cleaning capabilities on different surfaces (from vinyl pool floors to tiles)
So have a think about what really matters to you. If you spend a lot of the summer out of your house, attending kids baseball camps or out a lot for work, maybe one with automatic robotic pool cleaners would be beneficial, so you know it will clean without any input, however, if you are home a lot, this may not be so important.
Another obvious consideration, how much to spend on you robotic cleaners? While the initial outlay for a higher-end pool cleaning robot can seem quite a lot, often, the higher end ones are very efficient machines and cost very little to run. This is why pool owners are typically better off going for a good robot pool cleaner, even if it can come with a higher price tag.
If you find that all of these options are a little out of your price range, you could also consider a suction pool cleaner.
Consider this: Are they worth the money?
From the filtration system to maintenance needs, there’s no doubt that there are a wide variety of features that a robotic cleaner can offer. If you want to get the most bang for your buck, it’s important to consider the features and quality that a particular pool cleaner has to offer.
Of course, look what other people are saying about a pool cleaner before you commit, a fantastic resource for this is Amazon. The reviews on Amazon are from real customers who give real honest feedback on the product they’ve purchased. As with anything, maybe take the very worst and the very best with a pinch of salt. Look to the middle ground and see what the average review looks like about the pool cleaner you are looking at.
You wouldn’t buy a car made by Nikon, would you? They make cameras, other companies make pool cleaner robots, it’s good to stick to specialist brands. While I have said a lot about Dolphin in this article, it is worth pointing out the one thing they seem to struggle with is customer service. If you do have a problem, while they are happy to sort it, it seems making that initial contact can sometimes be a bit of a frustration for many people.
Be sure there is a warranty
Even the best machine can go wrong. In mass-produced products there will be the odd pool cleaner with faults, so be sure that the product has a solid warranty. All of the Dolphin models above have a minimum of a 1-year warranty as standard, with the more expensive pool cleaners sometimes having up to 3-years.
Final thoughts on choosing the best robots for vinyl pools
So there you have it, our recommendations for the best vinyl pool cleaners you can find. There are simply so many features to take into consideration, but whether you want high suction pool cleaners, quality filtration system, an incredible navigation system or all of the above, you’ll find that there’s something out there for you.
Matt is the founder of the Little Robot Shop, who has spent much of the last decade hacking home cleaning with various robots and devices to make keeping his home clean as easy as possible. Not an easy task with two young children.
When not working on the Little Robot Shop website or YouTube channel, he works as technical support and product specialist for a fast-growing digital company. He does his best to get his younglings to code, which will be an essential skill in the future.