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Thread: Question on suction vs pressure pool cleaners

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    Default Question on suction vs pressure pool cleaners

    I'm a new pool/home owner, and I'm having a hard time figuring out if I should get a pool cleaner, and if so what type. I have lots of trees, and they're already dropping leaves in the summer heat. I have a plaster pool, roughly 25K gallons, with steps and a bench, which have been a pain to vacuum with the hoses and vacum head. I can't seem to keep up with the leaves, and the biggest hassle for me is getting the hoses in the pool and getting rid of the air so the pump can suction. Then I have to stop every few minutes and clear out the pump basket from all the debris.

    With a suction system, like the Polaris 165, if I understand correctly I'd still have to monitor and clean out the pump basket regularly. With a pressure side cleaner like the 360, I'd have to check on the bag at the robot end, plus I'm not sure how well it would suck up algae since it wouldn't be filtered through the sand filter I have (I noticed with my manual vac, it does a decent job at removing algae). With either type, I'm worried about reliability, and effectiveness around the stairs and walls (it's roughly oval shaped). I also don't want to spend more than $500-600, which eliminates booster pumps and higher end units.

    The Pool Blaster seems interesting; I realize it's not a robot, but it seems like setup time and effectiveness would be much better than my manual vac. But I still would not be sucking algae into the pool filter, and I don't know how often I'd have to check/clean the bag.

    Any thoughts? Suggestions?

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Question on suction vs pressure pool cleaners

    Quote Originally Posted by booztedgt View Post
    I'm a new pool/home owner, and I'm having a hard time figuring out if I should get a pool cleaner, and if so what type. I have lots of trees, and they're already dropping leaves in the summer heat. I have a plaster pool, roughly 25K gallons, with steps and a bench, which have been a pain to vacuum with the hoses and vacum head. I can't seem to keep up with the leaves, and the biggest hassle for me is getting the hoses in the pool and getting rid of the air so the pump can suction. Then I have to stop every few minutes and clear out the pump basket from all the debris.

    Sounds like you answered your own question

    With a suction system, like the Polaris 165, if I understand correctly I'd still have to monitor and clean out the pump basket regularly. With a pressure side cleaner like the 360, I'd have to check on the bag at the robot end, plus I'm not sure how well it would suck up algae since it wouldn't be filtered through the sand filter I have (I noticed with my manual vac, it does a decent job at removing algae). With either type, I'm worried about reliability, and effectiveness around the stairs and walls (it's roughly oval shaped). I also don't want to spend more than $500-600, which eliminates booster pumps and higher end units.

    I would recommend a pressure side cleaner. Yes, a little more money, but i think you will be happy with the result. And maybe a little more time spent on chem maint., so your unit will not be responsible for dealing with the algae.

    The Pool Blaster seems interesting; I realize it's not a robot, but it seems like setup time and effectiveness would be much better than my manual vac. But I still would not be sucking algae into the pool filter, and I don't know how often I'd have to check/clean the bag.

    Any thoughts? Suggestions?
    Sorry, but i'm not familiar with the pool blaster.
    4 out of 3 people have trouble with fractions.

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    Default Re: Question on suction vs pressure pool cleaners

    I have both the Polaris 380 and the Poolbuster, and I love 'em both.

    If you get the Polaris, you're going to have to get the booster pump for it to run correctly. It does a great job on leaves, twigs, goggles, toys, etc that the kids leave in the bottom of the pool, but it's not great with really fine stuff, like sand or algae. I sometimes add a handfull of cottonballs in the bag and that helps, but it still doesn't get it all. It does do a good job, though, of stirring the stuff up so my filter can get it (we have a real problem with pollen and airborne stuff around here). It does not run well in cold water, however--when the water gets into the mid 60s or lower it really doesn't work well at all. Can't tell you why, but it won't. I only have to check the bag after it's been running for several hours, unless you have a lot of stuff on the floor of your pool--the bag is fairly big and will hold quite a bit of stuff before it starts bogging the unit down.

    The Poolbuster does a slightly better job of picking up the really fine stuff, especially once you add the cottonballs. It also does well on the bigger stuff, but the bag is much, much smaller so the bag has to be checked and emptied pretty often. It's awesome for spot cleaning, but I don't think I'd use it for general, everyday, pool-wide cleaning. Others on this forum have had issues with the rechargeable battery pack in their units, but I've not had that trouble. Mine charges right up and works like a champ.

    Seems to me that the easiest way to deal with the algae is prevent it to start with, or else kill whatever is currently in the pool, then you won't have to worry about anything but the bigger leaves and sticks in the pool.

    Janet

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    Default Re: Question on suction vs pressure pool cleaners

    Quote Originally Posted by booztedgt View Post

    With a suction system, like the Polaris 165, if I understand correctly I'd still have to monitor and clean out the pump basket regularly. With a pressure side cleaner like the 360, I'd have to check on the bag at the robot end, plus I'm not sure how well it would suck up algae since it wouldn't be filtered through the sand filter I have (I noticed with my manual vac, it does a decent job at removing algae).

    Any thoughts? Suggestions?
    Both the 165 and the 360 are boosterless presssure side cleaners. The 360 can climb walls, the 165 can't. The ONLY suction side cleaner that Zodiac makes under the Polaris brand is the ATV. Most of their suction side cleaners are under the Zodiac Barracuda brand. (Zodiac owns Polaris).

    Pressure side cleaners generally can handle more stuff in the pool then suction side and put less strain on the filter since they have their own filtering. However, with a sand filter that could be a moot point since backwashing is so easy (UNLESS you get a lot of large debris in the pool like twigs and leaves, then you either have to use a "leaf catcher" canister in line with the cleaner. This are a pain to emply all the time since all the ones on the market have a very small capacity. If this is your pool you are better off going suction side or robotic.) They also act as a moving 'return" that travels around the pool so they help mix chemicals and eliminate filtration 'dead spots' much better than suction side cleaners. Both suction and pressure side cleaners really perform best with a dedicated cleaner line (which can be switched from suction to pressure or vice versa with just a bit of re-plumbing at the pump. If you do not have a dedicated line then, IMHO, a pressure side cleaner is the winner since you do not lose skimmer function while the cleaner is running like you do with a suction side cleaner plugged into the skimmer vacuum port.

    There are automatic valves available (around $100 or so) to allow the skimmer to function while the cleaner is running but in my experience with them they are tricky to set up at best.

    the Poolbuster is really a spot cleaning tool. NO cleaner is going to get rid of live algae. You need to kill the algae first and either filter it out (slow) or floc and vacuum to waste (much faster but more work).

    As Janet said, it's better to keep your water up so you don't get algae in the first place. It's really MUCH easier to do.

    Hope this helps!
    Last edited by waterbear; 07-27-2010 at 10:46 PM.
    Retired pool store and commercial pool maintenance guy.

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    Default Re: Question on suction vs pressure pool cleaners

    The Polaris 165 runs off the return to your pool, not a separate booster pump. It's very good for larger debris but not the fine stuff. But I found it to be touchy and the random-movement mechanism can get out of balance easily and it starts coiling itself up. When it works, it's great, within its limits.

    I was one of the first people here to get a Poolbuster and I LOVE it! I've had it for years now. Nobody knew what it was then.

    Get the extra-fine filter. With a full charge I can easily vacuum my entire 40'x16' pool and it cleans easily as well as a standard suction side vacuum. Plus it's far faster to set up and easier to use. There are two drawbacks: 1) the capacity of the filter is too small to use if you have to clear a lot of leaves. 2) Sometimes the battery/motor pack fails and has to be replaced. However, if it happens, it is most likely to happen under warranty. Replacing the battery/motor is not for the fumble-thumbed, but the average competent handy-person can manage it easily. Once I did that my P/B was better than it had ever been.
    Carl

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    Default Re: Question on suction vs pressure pool cleaners

    Quote Originally Posted by CarlD View Post
    The Polaris 165 runs off the return to your pool, not a separate booster pump. It's very good for larger debris but not the fine stuff.
    The 360 and the Pentair Letro Legend II also do not need a booster pump, can climb walls, and can filter out finer stuff, especially if you get the optional fine silt bag. However they are quite a bit more money than the 165.
    Retired pool store and commercial pool maintenance guy.

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    Default Re: Question on suction vs pressure pool cleaners

    I have been running a Polaris 380 for years and the aux. pump improves the cleaning. No problem with fine sand and other debris as I have a fine silt bag attached. Climbs walls fine and even gets into my steps. Has an adjustable nipple at the rear of the unit that can be set to help with climbing. I have a 41" deep shallow area and an 8' deep end and it cleans both without problems. If it needs repair, I take it to the local pool stores and they just charge me for parts, but the repair is free. Also, Polaris will take an older unit in for trade on a newer unit. Had to buy a new aux. pump recently, but has been an essentially maintenance free unit.
    Pacific Tide Water 26,000 gal vinyl in-ground Grecian pool
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  8. #8
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    Default Re: Question on suction vs pressure pool cleaners

    I had a polaris 380 with booster pump for years, it worked ok. The problem I had was a line under the cement deck started leaking. It was going to cost me over $1,000 to have the deck cut, the line fixed, and the deck fixed. I scapped it at that point, and it was the best thing I ever did. To run it I had to have the regular pump and the booster pump running - what a waste of electricity.

    I bought a Blue Pearl and it is simply amazing. Its filter bag polishes the water better than my DE filter. It climbs the walls and takes out all sorts of stuff. I love it.

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    Default Re: Question on suction vs pressure pool cleaners

    I've always had a Hayward Navigator and have loved it . I just replaced a 15 yo unit with another one.

    it's suction side. I add a leaf basket to the lines in the spring when I get the most leaves and never have a problem.
    14'x31' kidney 21K gal IG plaster pool; SWCG (Saline Generating System's SGS Breeze); Pentair FNS Plus 48 DE DE filter; Whisperflow 1 HP pump; 8 hours hrs; kit purchased from Ben; utility water; summer: none; winter: none; PF:5.7

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    Default Re: Question on suction vs pressure pool cleaners

    I would like to add that I think the benefit to the suction side cleaner is - less parts to fail and less maintenace is needed on the cleaner. I have been running the Lil-Shark suction side cleaner for two years now. I never take it out of the pool. It runs a couple of hours everyday (I have an automatic controller that turns the pool/cleaner valve). The pool is always clean.

    I like that there is no bag to clean out like on a pressure cleaner. The dirt goes straight to my (DE) pool filter. Some say this is the downside. I suppose it depends a lot on how big your filter is and how much stuff is on the bottom of your pool. I clean my filter around three times a year (and this is a pool without a screen enclosure). I never backflush either - I just clean (hose off) the grids and add new DE when need - 3x a year. Any big debris that gets sucked up, like pine needles, will get caught in the strainer/bucket at the pool pump, and that is very easy to clean out.

    My pool is around 20k gallons and my filter is 60sq-ft (which is considered oversize). That's probably why it only needs a cleaning a couple of times a year.

    I would not want a pressure side cleaner. I can't imagine it doing a better job than my suction model and I would hate to have to empty the bag every so often. I aslo thought about a robotic cleaner (mainly just because I like the idea of being able to control (by remote) where it goes) but again, you have to remove from the pool when its done - and it's expensive and it has a bag to empty.

    Thats my two-cents worth on the subject.

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