Updated December 2021
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Buying guide for Best pool skimmers

A pool is the perfect place to spend those hot summer days, but when it’s covered in bugs, leaves, and other debris, it starts to look a lot less inviting. Sure, your pool has a built-in filtration system, but that can only do so much.

What you need is a pool skimmer to catch the debris on the surface of your pool before it can clog up your filters. There are several types, ranging from a simple net on a long pole to a solar-powered machine that moves around the pool on its own. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages to consider, and then there are larger concerns like durability and ease of use that apply to all models.

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Skimming your pool regularly is not intended to take the place of occasionally deep-cleaning the pool with a pool vacuum.

Types of pool skimmers

Pool skimmers come in two different varieties: manual and automatic.

Manual pool skimmers

This is what most people think of when they think of a pool-cleaning tool. It consists of a mesh basket attached to a long metal pole. You dip the basket into the pool to scoop up the debris.


  • This type of pool skimmer is better for small cleanup jobs where you want to target a specific area quickly.

  • These skimmers are often cheaper than automatic models.


  • This type requires a lot more effort on your part than an automatic pool skimmer.

Automatic pool skimmers

These pool skimmers come in a few different types. Some attach to your pool’s existing filtration system. Others attach to vacuum pool cleaners, and there are even a few that are solar powered.


  • Once installed, these move about the pool independently, gathering debris in a collection basket that you empty periodically.

  • One of these is a better choice if you’re looking for something that requires less effort on your part.


  • You have to first make sure that it’s compatible with your existing pool equipment.

  • These units are more expensive than manual pool skimmers, so one may be out of reach if your budget is tight.

Pool skimmer features to consider

  • Durability: Perhaps the most important concern when choosing a pool skimmer is how well it’s going to hold up over time. You don’t want to spend a bunch of money on a device that’s going to break after a couple of uses.

  • Mesh quality: You’ll want to be sure that the manual pool skimmer you choose has a durable mesh net that isn’t going to tear or snag as it picks up sticks and other debris. The mesh should be fine enough to pick up smaller particles like leaves and bugs without them slipping through.

  • UV resistance: Some cheaper pool skimmers are made from plastic that will degrade when left out in sunlight for long periods of time. Look for a model made from a UV-resistant plastic or metal that won’t wear out or corrode.

  • Ease of use: Think about how easy it is to set up and use the pool skimmer.

  • Reach: When choosing a manual pool skimmer, one of the most important factors to consider is whether it’s long enough to cover all of your pool. Measure the width and depth of your pool, and choose a pool skimmer that is a little bit longer than you need. Long pool skimmers can be ungainly, though, so don’t choose one with a handle that is a lot longer than necessary.

  • Weight: The weight concern applies mostly to manual pool skimmers, though it could also apply to an automatic skimmer if you need to move it in and out of the pool frequently. If you go with a heavier pool skimmer, you may find it more difficult to maneuver.

  • Net diameter: The larger the pool skimmer, the fewer passes you’ll have to make to collect debris, but a large one can also be a little more difficult to control, and it will require a larger area for storage. If you have a big pool, you’re better off going with a larger skimmer, especially an automatic model, because it won’t need to be emptied as frequently.

  • Installation and setup: Most manual skimmers are simple to set up: just screw the net onto the pole and you’re ready to go. Automatic pool skimmers are more complicated and may require you to connect it to your existing pool filter or pool vacuum cleaner. Check with the manufacturer to ensure that the unit you’re interested in is compatible with your pool setup. Read some customer reviews to get an idea of how easy it is to install. If you’re not mechanically inclined, you might be better off going with a manual pool skimmer.

  • Cleaning: Yes, your pool skimmer will need to be cleaned from time to time. Some of the leaves and debris may get caught up in the net, so make sure you can easily remove any sticks or leaves without ripping the net.
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Did you know?
Manual pool skimmers come with either bag nets or flat nets. Bag nets can hold more but are more difficult to empty than flat nets.

Pool skimmer prices

Pool skimmers range in price from under $20 to over $100, depending on type and quality.

Manual pool skimmers

If you’re looking for a decent manual pool skimmer that will hold up well over time, we recommend spending at least $25 to $30.

Automatic pool skimmers

You can expect to pay at least $75 to $100 for these models. Solar-powered units may cost even more because they are a relatively new innovation. Most automatic pool skimmers are made of high-quality, UV-resistant materials that hold up well over time.


  • If you’re looking for a skimmer to use in a hot tub, look for one that has a wider net and a shorter handle.

  • An automatic pool skimmer that attaches to your pool filter will reduce some of the load on your filtration system, keeping your water cleaner and safer.

  • Consider what kind of debris you most commonly find in your pool, and choose a pool skimmer that can remove it.

  • Consider getting an automatic pool skimmer for regular cleaning and a manual pool skimmer as a backup for picking up occasional leaves or twigs.

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Solar-powered pool skimmers only work when there’s sunlight. If you live in an area that experiences a lot of cloud cover or your pool is in the shade, a solar-powered pool skimmer might not be right for you.


Q. Why do I need a pool skimmer?

A. Pool skimmers help keep your pool clean and extend the life of your pool pump by preventing too much debris from clogging the filters. A poorly functioning pump can lead to bacterial growth in your pool and a higher electric bill as the pump works even harder to try to compensate for reduced performance.

Q. How often should I clean my pool with a pool skimmer?

A. That depends on where you live and how often debris falls into your pool. If your pool is in a sunny, open area, you may be able to get by with skimming it once every few days. But if it’s surrounded by a lot of trees and is frequently visited by bugs, it’s better to skim the debris off the surface at least once a day.

Q. How do I maintain my pool skimmer?

A. For manual pool skimmers, make sure you clean the netting thoroughly after each use so you’re not reintroducing any debris or bacteria into the pool the next time you use it. You might want to think about storing it out of the sun, too, if it’s made of a material that can degrade in UV light. For automatic pool skimmers, follow the manufacturer’s directions on how to clean and maintain your unit.

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