Best Solar Pool Cleaners

Updated June 2019
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
Bottom Line
Pros
Cons
How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

13 Models Considered
6 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
193 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.

Shopping guide for best solar pool cleaners

Last Updated June 2019

Keeping up with pool maintenance is time consuming. But if you don’t, clearing up algae and balancing pH levels is an even longer process.

Solar-powered pool cleaners can do much of the dirty work for you so that your pool is clean when it’s time to swim. These machines absorb the sun’s rays in tiny solar panels, then use the energy to keep your pool in swimming condition. Some prevent microorganism growth, while others skim debris from the water’s surface. Many store energy and work at night so they don’t disrupt your swim. Most devices will not restore a pool that’s already dirty, but they will help keep your clean pool from getting out of balance.

Solar pool cleaners are not only convenient, they’re also responsible. Sunshine is usually abundant in areas where swimming pools are popular. Solar devices reduce your use of nonrenewable energy as well as your power bill. They eliminate the worrisome need of bringing electric cords and tools into the water — a prime conductor of electricity. They’re a win-win, but they’re not cheap.

Which cleaning device is worth your investment? Keep reading to learn more. When you’re ready to buy, check our recommendations for the top solar pool cleaners on the market.

Remove your floats and pool hoses before using a solar cleaning robot — they may not recognize pool toys as a solid object and try to climb them.

Key considerations

Algae vs. debris removal

Which pool-cleaning task is your biggest challenge — cleaning up algae or removing debris? Most solar pool cleaners combat one problem or the other, but not both. Here’s how they work:

  • For algae

If algae is your primary concern, a solar pool ionizer may be best for you. Ionizers are simple tools that diffuse copper ions into your pool water to disrupt the growth of algae. The solar energy charges a copper anode inside the device, releasing a harmless electrical current that makes the pool water uninhabitable for algae and other microorganisms. This process also reduces the amount of calcium and other unwanted minerals in the water.

If you use an ionizer, be aware that the copper core will deteriorate over time as it is slowly released into the water. The core will need to be replaced every few years, depending upon use.  However, you’ll spend far less on chlorine, which is harsh on your eyes, your hair, and your swimwear.

  • For removing debris

Robotic pool cleaners make up the other half of the solar pool cleaning market. These machines “swim” along the surface of the water, sucking up dirt and debris like a water vacuum cleaner. Solar energy powers the cleaner’s paddle, steering, and water-filtration systems.

Unlike floor-cleaning robots, you usually don’t program a robotic pool cleaner’s path. It floats around the water, eventually reaching the pool wall and readjusting when its bumpers contact with a hard surface. The cleaner catches debris on the surface before it can float to the bottom and decompose, which leads to unhealthy algae and bacteria in your pool.

Solar pool cleaners are pricey but so is using your pool pump. In fact, using a robotic pool cleaner can cut pump use at least in half, if not more. Using solar energy to clean reduces your electric bill and preserves the life of your pump. Best of all, solar cleaners store energy so they can do their dirty work during off hours — while you’re asleep in bed.

Skims the surface

This self-propelled robot absorbs enough energy from the sun during the day to keep it running all night long. It skims most debris from the surface before it can sink to the floor, saving you from doing two pool-related chores. A built-in chemical dispenser tray also helps you keep the pool clean, while bumpers help the robot navigate without damaging your pool walls.

Features

Solar pool ionizers

  • Pool size is key to choosing a specific ionizer. If your pool capacity is too high for the ionizer you purchase, it won’t effectively preventing algae growth. The ionizers we found handled pool capacities between 30,000 and 40,000 gallons. Most aboveground pools will be within the size range, but in-ground pools may vary.

Robotic pool cleaners

  • Runtime is an issue for on-the-go robotic cleaners, which require more power than stationary ionizers. This is fine in the summer when days are longer and sunnier. But your cleaner may not absorb enough energy to keep it going year-round. If you don’t drain your pool in the winter, or if you live in a climate that’s overcast even in summer, keep this in mind. Consider your average hours of sunlight and how many hours the cleaner needs for top performance. Some machines can run more than 23 hours on a sunny summer day’s charge. Others may have a shorter runtime.

  • Skimmer-basket capacity should be another feature you check. You bought a robotic cleaner to save you work, so make sure the basket size requires emptying at an interval that works for you. Be realistic, because a clogged basket can mean a dirty pool at best and a damaged machine at worst.

  • Chemical dispensers are often a fact of life with a pool. Some units feature special trays that dispense chlorine tablets for regular, even distribution. The welcome feature takes one more pool chore off your plate.
DID YOU KNOW?

Humans have used copper to purify water since at least 2000 B.C.

DID YOU KNOW?

Leaves on the pool surface catch our attention, but dirt and dust can attract bacteria into your water, too.

DID YOU KNOW?

Some copper ionizers can reduce the amount of chlorine you use by more than 80 percent.

Solar pool cleaner prices

Like most pool-related products, solar pool cleaners aren’t cheap. They do, however, run on renewable energy, so most of the cost is paid upfront. And there’s no predicting how much you’ll need to spend to restore your pool once it’s out of balance.

You can find basic solar pool ionizers starting at $150. In this price range, ionizers should prevent algae from growing in pools with a capacity of 35,000 gallons or less.

Higher-priced ionizers often cost around $250. These ionizers should be as effective, if not more so, as their lower-priced counterparts but can treat upwards of 40,000 gallons of water.

Solar pool cleaning robots are at the high end of the spectrum, often costing $600 or more. A machine that costs this much should not disappoint. It should skim debris for you and dispense standard chemicals into the pool. At the height of summer, it should absorb enough energy to clean the whole pool on one charge, so your pool doesn’t have time to start collecting debris and getting out of balance.

Prevents algae naturally

Sunlight powers a copper electrode that emits a benign electrical current into the water. The current won’t harm humans, but it charges the water so that algae and other microorganisms can’t grow. On average, most Floatron customers say they use 80 percent less chlorine thanks to the device, so it’s easier on your hair, your swimsuits, and your wallet.

Tips

  • Solar cleaners can also be used in natural ponds or artificial fountains to help cut down on algae.

  • Copper anodes require regular cleaning, but they don’t have to look shiny and new. Simply brush them until they no longer appear discolored.

  • If you’re concerned that too much copper might stain your pool walls, check the levels with a testing kit.

The average pool technician makes more than $100 per month cleaning your pool.

FAQ

Q. How do I calculate the size of my pool?

A. Choosing the right device can depend upon your pool’s gallon capacity. Your calculation depends upon your pool shape:

  • Rectangular or square pools: Multiply the length by the width by the average depth by the number 7.5.

  • Round pools: Multiply the diameter by the diameter by the average depth by the number 5.9.

  • Oval pools: Multiply the length by the width by the average depth by 5.9.

  • Freeform pools: Perform the same calculation as rectangular pools to get a ballpark capacity figure.

Q. What makes algae grow in pools?

A. Algae spores are everywhere. They can come into your pool on almost anything — even wind and rain. Algae thrives in hot, sunny swimming weather. Sunlight can kick the algae’s photosynthesis into overdrive causing it to grow out of control. A pool that’s chemically imbalanced and full of dust, leaves, and insects is like a buffet for algae. This is why it’s so important to keep your pool clean and in the proper pH range. A copper ionizer helps to do this naturally; it damages algae cells and inhibits photosynthesis all without adding extra chemicals that can burn your eyes and dry your hair.

Q. How often should I clean my pool?

A. Most experts recommend vacuuming your pool once or twice a week. Biological debris like leaves and dead insects are a smorgasboard for microorganisms such as algae and bacteria. That’s why experts also recommend testing your pool’s pH level at least twice a week. While it may be tedious, it’s a lot easier than fixing a pool that’s gotten far out of balance. That’s why solar pool cleaners are a great idea. They minimize your work during pool season and keep it ready whenever you want to use it.

Q. How often do I need to change the core in my ionizer?

A. Ionizers work by slowly releasing charged copper particles into the water so the copper source degrades over time. But in most cases, the core will last at least a year or two — sometimes more. If it seems that your ionizer isn’t working anymore, open it up and clean the core and internal pieces. Many users report their system works best when they clean their machine every other day or twice a week at the very longest.

The team that worked on this review
  • Angela
    Angela
    Editor
  • Devangana
    Devangana
    Web Producer
  • Eliza
    Eliza
    Production Manager
  • Enid
    Enid
    Editor
  • Karen
    Karen
    Writer
  • Kristin
    Kristin
    Writer
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer

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