If you own a pool, you know the importance of routine cleaning and maintenance. If you own an above-ground pool with a vinyl finish, you may be wondering if you can use a robotic cleaner. The short answer is yes, but you must make sure that the robotic cleaner is designed for vinyl finishes.
Our Top 5 Best Robotic Cleaners For Above-Ground Pools
1. Best Budget: Ofuzzi Winny Cyber 1000
2. Best Seller: Aiper Seagull SE
3. Premium: Dolphin Nautilus CC
4. Fastest Cleaning Time: Paxcess Automatic
5. Best for Leaves: Wybot Automatic Pool Cleaner
Robotic Cleaners for Above-Ground Pools Compared
Fastest Cleaning Time
Best For Leaves
How Do Robotic Cleaners Work?
Robotic cleaners for above-ground pools are either battery-operated or operated by a waterproof electric cord (110V). Battery-operated cleaners use either rechargeable or disposable batteries. These durable cleaners have an average life span of about five years.
There are several advantages to using a robotic cleaner in your portable pool. First, they’re automatic, so you don’t have to clean your pool manually. Several models also have smart features so you can operate the cleaner from a phone app. These smart features include navigation, so your cleaner learns your pool and picks the most efficient path to clean, which means the cleaner operates less.
There are different types of robotic cleaners. Some have wheels and only clean the bottom of the pool, while the higher-end models operate on tracks, which allows them also to clean the sides and surface of your pool. Keep in mind there are differences in cleaners for inground and above-ground pools.
Above Ground Vs. Inground Robotic Pool Cleaners
|Above Ground Robotic Cleaner
|For shallower pools (up to 5 feet deep)
|For deeper pools (up to 8 feet deep)
|Shorter cord (30 feet+)
|Longer cord (up to 70 feet)
|Cleans flow and cove
|Cleans walls and floors
First, when we talk about above-ground pools, there are several types on the market, like Intex, Summer Waves, Bestway, and many more. These pools are constructed from different materials, such as fiberglass, reinforced plastic, and steel. Some have vinyl liners, others don’t.
The difference between inground pool robotic cleaners and above-ground cleaners is the structure of the pool, the finish of the pool, and the length the robotic cleaner can go if it is electrically operated.
Inground vacuums are designed to clean to depths of 8 feet, while above-ground cleaners are designed to clean to depths of 4-5 feet. Pools deeper than 8 feet require a special cleaner.
Inground cleaners’ electrical cords can reach up to 70 feet to accommodate the length of inground pools, while above-ground cleaners should have at least 30 feet of cord, the most common size of above-ground pools.
When looking for an above-ground pool cleaner, make sure the model write-up specifically says it’s for above-ground pools. These cleaners are designed to clean the floor and the cove, while an inground model will clean the floors and the walls.
Why Choose A Robotic Cleaner?
Here’s why you might consider a robotic vacuum for your above-ground pool:
- They clean better than automatic cleaners
- Save time over manual vacuums
- Last longer than other cleaners
- Have smart features for more control
- Less hassle than automatic cleaners
Using a robotic cleaner in your above-ground pool will produce a noticeably cleaner pool than suction or manual cleaners. You’ll also save time since you don’t have to operate a robot cleaner manually. Robotic cleaners are also more durable and have a longer life span than other cleaners.
The advanced smart features are worth every penny, and some of the features allow you to operate the robotic cleaner from your phone, making cleaning your portable above-ground pool convenient and hassle-free.
What To Look For In An Above-Ground Robotic Cleaner For Your Pool?
Above-ground robotic cleaners are designed differently than in-ground cleaners. The bottom meets the walls at 90° in above-ground pools. They are less curvilinear, and there are no complicated steps or curves that your robotic cleaner needs to navigate. Above-ground robotic cleaners are simpler in design for these reasons.
There are several things to consider when looking for a robotic cleaner for an above-ground pool:
- Electrical or battery operated
- Active or passive brushes
- Smart or manual navigation
- Battery life should be 1 ½ hours or more
- Small or large debris container
Most of these decisions are personal preferences, but the brush style you choose depends on the type of debris you have. More on that later.
The size of the debris container is an important feature to look for in robotic cleaners. A smaller debris container is okay for smaller, everyday debris like sand or silt. You’ll want a bigger container if you routinely get larger amounts of debris in your pool.
Cordless robotics run on batteries or solar power. The solar-powered models aren’t as popular as battery powered and only clean the pool’s surface. Rechargeable battery-operated cleaners typically run 1-2 hours and have a charge time of around 4 hours. Disposable battery-operated cleaners typically take double “A” batteries with a runtime of up to 4 hours, and the batteries usually last about one month.
If you’re going with a cordless option, make sure the battery life is at least 1 ½ hours. Since above-ground robotic cleaners are less powerful than inground robotics due to not having to climb walls or back out of deep ends, they will take longer time to clean.
One of the many benefits of a robotic cleaner is that they have brushes so that the pool gets brushed and vacuumed at the same time. Most models have passive brushes which simply spin with the cleaner’s movement. Active brushes are motor driven and do a better job scrubbing.
Navigation & WiFi
The models with smart navigation are Wi-Fi compatible, and they learn your pool, enabling them to choose a more efficient route while cleaning. The smart features also allow you to operate the cleaner from your phone. Manual operation means you must place the cleaner in your pool each time you clean it. Manuals get stuck easier on stairs or crevices because they lack the technology to maneuver around obstacles.
Some cleaners will map the pool. The cleaner will detect the pool’s shape and any obstacles. This will result in a visual map for the user to see. The user can then set preferences as to how the cleaner operates.
Where this is useful is if a particular area of the pool gets more dirty, you could set the cleaner to focus more on these areas and less on the areas that aren’t as dirty. Which, of course, makes the robotic cleaner more efficient.
Pool Size, Shape, and Finish
The size, shape, and finish of a pool are major factors in choosing a cleaner for your above-ground pool. Robotic cleaners and their vacuum heads come in different sizes to match the shape of the pool and include weights to stay on the bottom of the deep end. The most common shape of an above-ground pool is either round or oval, making the decision easier because the same size vacuum head will clean both.
You want to go with a rectangular head if you have a rectangular shape. A full moon-shaped head is not able to get into the corners too well, and you’ll end up with sediment buildup.
Robotic cleaners are safe to use on all pool finishes. A lot of above-ground pools have vinyl finishes, and robotics are fine to use and will even help smooth out any wrinkles. Weighted heads are not a concern with above-ground pools because they aren’t that deep.
The Best 5 Above-Ground Robotic Cleaners Reviewed
Honestly, this was a hard list to narrow down. The reason is that there are so many great robotics on the market. However, there is such a thing as too much cleaner for an above-ground pool.
What I mean is that there are some powerful robotic cleaners out there with extremely long cords. Your above-ground pool simply doesn’t need all that. So, this list has narrowed down the robotics that is specifically designed for above-ground pools. The cord length, the features, and the functionality are all well-suited to your above-ground pool.
Since these cleaners are specifically designed for above-ground pools, all you have to do is decide between specific features for your pool. What kind of debris do you have? Do you want high-tech features? Do you want a cleaner that climbs walls? This list has the best of each of those specific features.
1. Best Budget: Ofuzzi Winny
- Cost-effective robotic cleaner that offers good overall cleaning performance
- Battery life of over 90 minutes
- Bluetooth capabilities for convenient control & customization
The Ofuzzi Winny is an economical robotic cleaner that cleans well. It is battery-operated and is great at picking up pollen, sand, silt, and leaves found in above-ground pools. I wouldn’t use it for a big debris problem, as the filter would have to be cleaned multiple times during the cleaning process, but it is a decent cleaner overall, especially for the price. The battery run time is just over 90 minutes, which is plenty of time to clean an above-ground pool.
It is backed by a 2-year warranty, making it a safe bet for regular cleaning. The cleaner has Bluetooth capabilities and mapping you can follow on your phone. This option also lets you adjust the settings and choose one of the three cleaning modes.
- Decent suction
- 45-minute battery life
- Long charging time
2. Best Seller: Aiper Seagull SE
- Low cost & excellent value best seller
- Bluetooth controls & mapping options for tracking & customization
- 90 mins battery life & only 2.5 hours to fully charge
The Aiper Seagull SE is a popular model with many good reviews across multiple review sites. It’s cordless, but unlike most cordless cleaners, it has a fast-charging time of 2.5 hours and can clean for 90 minutes. It also has a self-parking feature, so it parks near a wall when the battery is low for easy retrieval with a hook. Its unique design makes it ideal for cleaning round above-ground pools up to 33’ in diameter.
As for cleaning, the Seagull has two motors and two independent brushes that easily pick up debris. It’s a great cleaner at a mid-range price that includes a 12-month warranty. The Bluetooth is easy to set up, and the mapping feature lets you see where it has been cleaned and where it’s going and choose between the cleaning modes.
- Powerful cleaner with a long cleaning cycle
- Good filtration system
- Scrubs well
- Doesn't climb walls
- Tends to get stuck near steps
3. Premium: Dolphin Nautilus CC
- Smart navigation & mapping technology for easy control & monitoring
- Powerful wall climbing & scrubbing capabilities
- Great cleaning & compatible with all pool surfaces
The Dolphin Nautilus CC is at the top of every “Best of” list, and for good reason. This cleaner is a powerful wall climber with equally powerful scrubbers that easily lift debris and produce a noticeably cleaner pool. This is arguably one of the most user-friendly robotic cleaners on the market. The top load filter has a transparent lid, making cleaning it out a breeze.
This cleaner cleans pools up to 30’, making it a bit undersized for most inground pools but perfect for above-ground pools. It has a cleaning time of 2 hours, has enough power to handle small and large debris, and has a convenient handle to lift it out of the water once it’s done.
Smart navigation enables the cleaner to learn your pool to effectively clean the entire surface. The Nautilus includes a superb customer service department and a 2.5-year warranty, which makes this one of the top cleaners available. The Dolphin CC has great Bluetooth and mapping technology, and if this is an upgrade from a previous Dolphin, the MyDolphin app is fully compatible with this unit.
- Exceptional cleaning
- User friendly
- Powerful suction and filtration
- The price is high, but it is a great long-term investment
4. Fastest Cleaning Time: Paxcess Automatic
- Low cost cordless option with wall climbing functions
- Ability to clean walls & handle above-ground and inground pools up to 40'
- Smart cleaning with sensors and strong suction
The Paxcess Automatic is a great mid-range option with plenty of features. The highlight of this robotic cleaner is how fast it cleans. It cleans at 30 feet per minute, making it one of the fastest cleaners available. The double drains and 18 cubic meter filter ensure the pool is exceptionally clean.
The Paxcess is the rare above-ground pool cleaner that cleans the walls. It is a powerful cleaner with a 1 ½ hour cleaning time. It’s powerful enough to clean inground pools up to 40′, too, so it’s more than powerful enough to clean an above-ground pool.
The Paxcess comes with a 1-year warranty and costs less than $450, which is a bargain. It has user-friendly Bluetooth capabilities that allow you to switch between cleaning modes from your phone and see where it’s at.
- Has 3 timing functions
- Fast cleaning time
- Small debris chamber
- Not good for larger debris
5. Best for Leaves: Wybot Grampus 400
- 33 foot cable means no battery charging
- Powerful cleaning for leaves, sand & other debris
- Great value & low cost
The Grampus is a mid-range priced cleaner that includes a ton of features. The robot features a 150-watt motor with 2 large water inlets and a fine filter to trap dirt and debris effortlessly with the elastic brush. This cleaner is known for handling large amounts of debris including leaves. Another great feature is the three timing features, so you can set it to clean for 1, 2, or 3 hours.
This cleaner was specifically designed for above-ground pools and comes with a 33’ cord, so there is no battery charging time. It cleans in 2 hours and has a user-friendly push-button start. There are three cleaning cycles: 1 hour, 2 hours, and 3 hours and three adjustable angles depending on the shape of your pool.
This is an efficient cleaner with a 30-day money-back guarantee and a 1-year warranty. The Wybot does not have Bluetooth capabilities, but this is still a great cleaner, especially if you have larger debris.
- Large filter to handle big leaf loads
- It comes with 3 adjustable angles to handle any shape pool
- Doesn’t climb walls
Frequently Asked Questions About In-Ground Robotic Cleaners
How long do above-ground robotic cleaners last?
Robotic cleaners have an average life span of 5 years. They can last longer with proper maintenance and chemical balance in your pool. Excess salt or chlorine will wear out certain parts like bearings quicker.
How long does a robotic cleaner take to clean an above-ground pool?
Since above-ground robotic cleaners are not as powerful as in-ground robotics, it generally takes 1 ½ hours – 2 hours to clean. The size of the pool also determines the length of time.
What debris can a robotic cleaner pick up in an aboveground pool?
Robotic cleaners can pick up debris from sand and silt to leaves and twigs in an above-ground pool. If you have bigger debris, the feature to look for is a bigger debris canister. If the canister is small, you will have to empty it several times while cleaning.
How much do above-ground robotic cleaners cost?
Robotic cleaners for above-ground pools range from around $300 to $1,500, depending on the features and whether they are manually operated or have smart navigation.
Are robotic cleaners safe for vinyl pools?
Robotic cleaners are safe for vinyl pools if the water’s chemical balance is maintained. If it isn’t, the water will pull chemicals out of the vinyl, making it weaker and more susceptible to tearing.
Can you use a robotic pool cleaner in an above-ground pool?
There are specialized robotic cleaners that address the unique features of above-ground pools, such as the angle of the walls where they meet the bottom and considerations regarding pool sizes and depth. By considering these factors, these robotic cleaners can effectively navigate and clean above-ground pools easily.
Can you leave a robotic pool cleaner in the pool constantly?
A robotic pool cleaner should not be left in a pool for an extended period of time because chlorine or salt can cause damage to the cleaner over time. Harsh chlorine or salt levels will significantly damage the rubber tracks or wheels and also wear out the bearings prematurely.
Final Thoughts On Robotic Cleaners For Above-Ground Pools
Robotic cleaners are a hands-free way to keep your above-ground pool sparkling clean. They are automated and include brushes to scrub your pool while suctioning out debris. Many new models include smart features so that this important chore is completely hands-free.
Above-ground robotic cleaners differ from their in-ground counterparts. They are not as powerful because they don’t have to perform the same functions as an in-ground cleaner and, due to the lack of power, they take longer to clean. This doesn’t mean they’re inferior to inground robotic cleaners, they just serve different purposes.
An above-ground robotic cleaner is a great investment and will help maintain the health of your pool. The five cleaners listed here cover the important features to consider when buying a cleaner.