Last Updated: May 4, 2021
When choosing a suction side pool cleaner, you shouldn’t be surprised to see that there are several brands available. Most of these brands will look completely different from each other, and they may have random function quirks as well. Choosing one that is right for your pool can be challenging, and it’s common to look for a little help while shopping.
We have chosen eight different brands to review for you to help you get a better idea about how effective each cleaner might be in your pool. We have also included a short buyer’s guide, where we take a close look at how these devices work and what parts might wear out.
Keep reading while we take a look at preprogrammed cleaning patterns, durability, climbing ability, and more to help you make an educated purchase.
A Quick Comparison (updated in 2021)
The 8 Best Suction Side Pool Cleaners
1. Hayward ‘The Pool Cleaner’ Suction Pool Vac – Editor’s Choice
The Hayward ‘The Pool Cleaner’ Suction Pool Vac is our editor’s choice for the best overall suction side pool cleaner. This model can clean a pool up to 16 feet long and 32 feet wide. Patented tire treads help this device climb walls and stairs. An adjustable roller skirt enables you to adjust the suction to prevent this model from getting stuck on wrinkles, drains, and other hard to clean areas of the pool. Several pre-programmed internal steering sequences help make sure this cleaner gets the entire area of the pool. These sequences can also help the machine get out of a jam should it get stuck in a narrow section of the pool or behind some steps. It also comes with the hose included, so you don’t need to make any extra purchases before trying it out.
The downside to using this model is that it is a slow-moving device. If your pump is not very strong, it can take a long time to clean the entire pool floor using this cleaner.
2. Hayward ‘Wanda the Whale’ Suction Pool Cleaner – Best for the Money
The Hayward 900 Wanda the Whale suction pool cleaner is our pick for the best suction side cleaner for the money. You can install this cleaner in less than 10 minutes without tools, and it’s lightweight enough to lift out of the water when finished. It features a unique contoured head design, which helps it make turns more accurately in the water. A unique bumper ring serves two purposes. It helps reduce friction when the device hits the pool walls, and it also helps point the machine back into the pool after a hit.
One downside that occurred from time to time as we reviewed this model was that one of the feet would fall off and cause the device to go in circles. On some occasions, we wouldn’t catch it immediately, and it would spin for quite a while.
3. Zodiac Baracuda G3 Suction Side Automatic Pool Cleaner – Premium Choice
The Zodiac Baracuda G3 Suction Side Automatic Pool Cleaner is our premium choice suction side pool cleaner. This brand features extremely quiet operation, and we had to check on it quite a few times to make sure it was still working. A Flowkeeper valve helps you adjust the flow of the water to create more or less suction. The Flowkeeper helps if you have a low powered pump or an inground pool with a floor drain. It will also help if the device keeps getting stuck in the same spot. The 36-fin disk increases adhesion to the floor and walls of your pool and helps avoid hangups on drains, lights, and other uneven surfaces. The housing uses durable materials that will resist the effects of chlorine and ultraviolet light, and a single moving part means there’s nothing to break so that this device can clean your pool for many years.
The big problem we had with this model was keeping the hose attached to the skimmer. We found that on several occasions, the device would pull the hose out of the skimmer as it cleaned, shutting itself off.
4. Hayward AquaNaut Suction Pool Vacuum
The Hayward AquaNaut Suction Pool Vacuum is another small and lightweight cleaner that features multiple pre-programmed steering sequences that help make sure the entire pool receives scrubbing. It also helps the machine get free if it finds itself stuck behind steps or a ladder. An adjustable flow setting lets you adjust suction in the device, which allows it to work better with variable powered pumps and helps prevent it from getting stuck in the same spot. It also features a roller skirt, which helps it maintain a constant suction in uneven parts of the pool.
While we are trying out this brand, we had some trouble with the wheel falling off, which happened more and more as time went on. Another problem we had was that we noticed that this model had a difficult time climbing the wall up to the waterline, no matter how we adjusted it. Over several weeks we only saw the machine reach the top two or three times.
5. Zodiac Baracuda MX6 Pool Cleaner
The Zodiac Baracuda MX6 Pool Cleaner features a low-flow design that helps this device work better with low speed and multispeed pumps. Using the built-in flow regulator valve, even with little suction from the pump, can give you a lot of vacuuming power out of the pool cleaner. If you have a strong pump, you can open up the regulator to prevent the machine from vacuum sealing itself to the bottom of the pool. This device uses an internal mechanism that creates a cyclonic action that attracts debris from a distance before trapping it in the filter. A swivel hose helps keep the machine from getting tangled and reduces wear on the hoses.
The biggest problem we encountered while using this device is that it tends to flip over. When it’s not flipping over, it tends to take the same route over and over. It also has a problem getting stuck behind the ladder and in some corners. The hoses are on the flimsy side, and we had to replace ours after a few weeks.
6. Hayward PoolVac XL Suction Pool Vacuum
The Hayward PoolVac XL Suction Pool Vacuum features wall climbing capability and has a newly designed suction path to help it pick up debris faster and more efficiently. It’s easy to connect to your pool and does not require any tools. In most cases, you can have it installed within 10 minutes of opening the package. Ths device operates quietly, and you will hardly notice that it’s working. Pre-programmed cleaning paths help make sure the entire pool gets clean.
The downside to this brand is that it is quite heavy to remove from the pool when it’s full of water, and it tends to get stuck in corners or behind the ladder. The hose wore out quickly, and we needed to replace it in a few weeks. The cleaner also began to wear down, and it stopped working after about one season, so it wasn’t very durable.
7. Pentair Kreepy Krauly E-Z Vac Suction-Side Above Ground Pool Cleaner
The Pentair Kreepy Krauly E-Z Vac Suction-Side Above Ground Pool Cleaner features a hydraulic design that helps it move around your pool and pick up debris more effectively. The single moving part helps make the machine more durable with fewer things to go wrong. The automatic water regulator helps ensure there is the right balance between suction power and its ability to move. It’s utterly random pattern helps make sure the entire surface gets cleaned.
While we reviewed the Kreepy Krauly, we noticed that the hose would often get twisted and tangled, which will significantly reduce its lifespan. It also gets stuck on the step and the ladder as it travels around the pool. Sometimes when it got stuck, the hose and the machine would come detached. We also found this to be one of the noisiest cleaners we have ever tried out.
8. INTEY Automatic Suction Pool Cleaner
The INTEY Automatic Suction Pool Cleaner features a wide cleaning path to remove dirt and debris from your underwater surfaces quickly. It’s capable of cleaning any type of surface, including the pebble surfaces, and concrete found in inground pools, and it will climb walls and steps. It’s easy to assemble and inexpensive to purchase.
The downside to this brand is that the rubber disc responsible for creating the suction and cleaning power wears out quickly from the constant rubbing against the various surfaces in the pool. The rubber can also become hard from the chlorine and ultraviolet rays from the sun. The hoses are also extremely flimsy, and ours sprung several leaks in only a few days. The housing of a device also wears down quickly from bumping against the walls. The debris canister also tends to suck air, which reduces the effectiveness of the machine.
These are some of the most important things to look for when shopping for a suction side pool cleaner.
Suction Side Benefits
There are a few benefits to using a suction side pool cleaner. The main advantage is that the debris is sent directly to the sand filter, where it is permanently trapped. No other type of cleaner can do as good a job as a suction cleaner for removing tiny particles like sand or algae. If you are using another kind of cleaner and notice that your water is foggy, you may need to switch to a suction side cleaner to help remove the smaller debris.
Another benefit to the suction side cleaner is that you get real suction power, unlike the other types that create whirlpools or cyclones to attract and capture the debris in a net.
Suction Side Drawbacks
Unfortunately, there is also a significant downside to using the suction side cleaner; the contaminants go directly into your filter. While the filter will help trap much smaller particles, these particles will be stuck there indefinitely, reducing its lifespan. You may be able to remove some of the particles through backwashing, but you won’t be able to get rid of everything.
Another side effect of contaminants in your filter is that it increases the pressure in the system, which can strain your pump. To much strain on your pump will reduce the circulation in your pool and could wear out the pump in some cases.
Flow regulators allow you to adjust the amount of suction created by the machine, which will enable you to achieve a perfect balance between suction and the machine’s ability to travel. Too much suction will vacuum seal the device to the floor of the pool, and it will not move freely, too little and you won’t pick up any contaminants.
Pre-programmed routes are paths that the machine takes while it cleans the pool. The devices on our list create these routs mechanically, but some brands use computer software to create a path that perfectly cleans your underwater surfaces. These routes are an improvement over the type that go straight until they hit a wall, then back up at an angle.
Pre-programmed routes help your device clean the pool much faster, and they also help your machine find its way out of jams and tight corners.
These devices spend a lot of time in the water, and chlorine, as well as sunlight, can make plastics and rubber hard and brittle. If your device bumps against the wall, it can crack or develop holes, causing the unit to fail.
We recommend checking the housing to make sure it uses durable material and thick plastic.
When choosing your suction side pool cleaner, we recommend selecting a model that features an adjustable flow regulator and uses pre-programmed routes. A perfect example is our editor’s choice. The Hayward ‘The Pool Cleaner’ Suction Pool Vac has a long reach, is fully adjustable, and is extremely durable. The Hayward ‘Wanda the Whale’ Suction Pool Cleaner is another excellent choice for the budget-minded, and it looks as good as it cleans.
If you have enjoyed reading over our reviews and our buyer’s guide and they have helped you get closer to choosing a brand. If you would recommend this information to others, please share these suction side pool cleaners on Facebook and Twitter.
Table of Contents
- A Quick Comparison (updated in 2021)
- The 8 Best Suction Side Pool Cleaners
- 1. Hayward ‘The Pool Cleaner’ Suction Pool Vac – Editor’s Choice
- 2. Hayward ‘Wanda the Whale’ Suction Pool Cleaner – Best for the Money
- 3. Zodiac Baracuda G3 Suction Side Automatic Pool Cleaner – Premium Choice
- 4. Hayward AquaNaut Suction Pool Vacuum
- 5. Zodiac Baracuda MX6 Pool Cleaner
- 6. Hayward PoolVac XL Suction Pool Vacuum
- 7. Pentair Kreepy Krauly E-Z Vac Suction-Side Above Ground Pool Cleaner
- 8. INTEY Automatic Suction Pool Cleaner
- Buyer’s Guide