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Looking for a robotic pool cleaner for your above ground pool?
You’ve come to the right place.
In this 10-minute buying guide, we review and compare the best robotic cleaners for above ground pools.
Robotic pool cleaners are one of three types of automatic pool vacuums. The other two are suction and pressure pool vacuums.
Unlike pressure and suction cleaners, robotic pool cleaners are entirely self-contained. They have their own internal pump and filter. So you can run it even when the pool pump is off.
A robotic pool cleaner is much easier to set up since it doesn’t need to be hooked up to any ports.
If you are looking for a pool cleaner that provides both convenience and excellent cleaning ability, a robotic cleaner is the best choice.
Carry on reading our top picks and reviews of today’s best above ground pool cleaners.
For more buying options beyond the ones we review below, read our in-depth robotic pool vacuum buying guide (for both above ground and in-ground models).
Best Above Ground Robotic Pool Cleaners: Comparison
- Our top pick
- Best value
Aquabot Pool Rover S2-40
- Best for large above ground pools
Aquabot Pool Rover Junior
- Best budget
Aquabot Pool Rover Hybrid
- Most versatile (cleans in-ground and above ground pools)
Pentair 360042 Kreepy Krauly
- Best value suction cleaner
Best Above Ground Robotic Pool Cleaners: Reviews
Dolphin Escape Robotic Above Ground Pool Vacuum
We are partial to Dolphin pool cleaners. They are made by Maytronics, a company known for its quality, reliable, and durable products.
For above-ground pools, our top pick is the Dolphin Escape. It is more expensive than most other above-ground robotic pool cleaners, but it’s worth the higher price tag.
It features SmartNav 2.0, a smart pool scanning system mostly found in high-end Dolphin models. It scans the pool to determine shape, size, and layout. This allows it to follow the most efficient cleaning path without missing any spots.
Unlike most above ground pool cleaners that move on wheels, the Dolphin Escape rolls around on a pair of high-traction tracks. They easily grip the slippery pool bottom and sometimes even push the robot up the wall (though the Escape is not designed for climbing pool walls).
For the actual cleaning, the Dolphin Escape relies on two features.
Underneath is a scrubbing brush that loosens dirt and debris stuck on the pool floor. It is an active brush, meaning it spins faster than normal scrubbing brushes in robotic pool cleaners.
This gives it extra power to attack algae, biofilm, and calcification. It removes the easily visible dirt as well as the one you can’t see.
With the dirt loosened, the internal pump vacuums the debris-leaden water through the onboard filter, which traps the debris into a large top-loading filter basket. There no messy filter bags to deal with.
Our only gripe with the filtration system is that it doesn’t catch fine particles. For that, you’ll need to buy the Dolphin Ultra-fine filter basket.
Dolphin E10 Automatic Robotic Pool Cleaner
If you think the Dolphin Escape is a bit too expensive for an above ground pool cleaner, the Dolphin E10 provides almost the same features for more than $100 less.
The E10 is one of the best bargains among above ground pool robots.
It shares several premium features with the Escape, including smart pool scanning, active brushing, high-traction tracks, a large top-loading cartridge, and an ultra-lightweight design.
They also share the same frustrating limitation – they don’t pick up fine debris unless you buy the Dolphin ultra-fine basket.
So what’s the difference, and why is the Dolphin E10 cheaper?
Honestly, we have no idea. They both have most of the same features and capabilities. The E10 has a more extended warranty (2 years vs. 1 year for the Escape).
There’s a possibility that they are just the same robotic pool cleaner, repackaged with different model names.
All we know is that the Dolphin E10 is much cheaper and one heck of a deal.
Aquabot Pool Rover S2-40
If you want an even cheaper pool robot for your above ground pool, you have to look beyond Dolphins. Our second most favorite brand is Aquabot.
The Pool Rover S2-40 is their dedicated above ground pool cleaner. It’s affordable, and the cleaning performance is excellent.
Though it lags Dolphin models in some features, it beats them in pool size coverage. The S2-40 can clean above ground pools up to 40 feet while the Dolphin E10 and Escape reach the end of their cord at 30 feet.
It is wheeled so it may not move as confidently across the pool bottom as a Dolphin. But there’s minimal slippage, and it rarely gets stuck. It can even climb part of the wall, as long as your pool’s floor to wall transition is curved.
S2-40’s simple design has a hidden advantage.
The wheels are not driven by a motor, meaning there are no complicated parts that are likely to break down. Instead, it is a jet-drive robot. It uses the force of water going through the cleaner to propel itself.
This reduces the need for repairs and increases the S2-40’s durability.
The biggest limitation with the Pool Rover S2-40 is that it relies only on vacuuming to clean the pool. It doesn’t have an active brush or any scrubbing brush at all.
This is not a big deal for above ground pools. They don’t accumulate as much gunk and algae as in-ground ones.
But you’ll still need to brush the pool every now and then manually.
The top-loading filter bag is a bit tedious to clean, but it does a great job catching all kinds of debris – including fine bits of sand and salt. No need to buy a separate fine filter (but you may want to buy a spare filter bag).
Aquabot Pool Rover Junior Robotic Above-Ground Pool Cleaner
If you are on a budget, the Pool Rover Junior from Aquabot is among the cheapest above ground pool cleaners you’ll find.
For its price, don’t expect a lot in the way of features. It has just the essentials: wheels to move around the pool, a pump motor to provide suction and filter bag to catch debris.
What more do you need to keep your pool clean?
Ok, a scrubbing brush would have been a nice addition. But above ground pools don’t get grimy as in-ground pools. Also, it takes just a few minutes to give the pool a quick scrub before dropping the robot into the water.
It compensates for the lack of a brush with powerful suction that sucks up to 70 gallons a minute through the filter bag.
The 2-micron filter bag traps just about everything floating in the water, including sand, silt, leaves, bugs, and whatever else has found its way into the pool.
Get ready to spend some time cleaning the bag. The finer debris can be especially tedious to hose off. But considering the price, a filter bag instead of a filter basket is an acceptable sacrifice.
Like other Aquabot above ground pool cleaners, the Pool Rover Junior uses water jets to move. Aquabot calls it Hydro-Robotic technology.
It reduces the number of parts the Pool Rover Junior needs, thus making it easier to maintain and likely to last longer.
Overall, the Aquabot Pool Rover Junior is a pretty good deal. It’s a great choice for pool owners looking for a basic no-frills pool robot.
Aquabot Pool Rover Hybrid Robotic Pool Cleaner
Our last pick is the most versatile above ground pool cleaner. It’s designed to clean both in-ground and above ground pools.
It’s a good alternative for those who don’t want the Aquabot Pool Rover Junior or S2-40. It’s more expensive than both models but still cheaper than Dolphin Escape and E10.
The Pool Rover Hybrid shares most of the same features (and limitations) as other Aquabot pool robots.
It’s jet-driven rather than motor-driven. This makes it more durable and cheaper to maintain since it doesn’t need constant repairs.
It moves on wide non-marring wheels that are safe for all types of above ground pools, including vinyl. Whether you have an Easy Set or a metal frame above ground pool, you can use the Pool Rover Hybrid.
It’ll only clean the floor of the pool. It doesn’t climb the walls.
Something else it doesn’t do is scrub the pool. Like many other Aquabot robotic cleaners, the Pool Rover Hybrid lacks scrubbing brushes.
We recommend scrubbing the walls and floor of the pool manually just before you dunk the robot into the water.
It’ll vacuum up all the dirt you’ve loosened.
The Pool Rover Hybrid catches debris in a fine filter bag. You’ll love its ability to catch all kinds of debris from fine sand and silt to leaves and bugs.
What you might not love is the effort it takes to hose it clean. The finer bits are especially hard to clean off.
To save time, Aquabot recommends cleaning the bag in the washing machine. Do not use any detergents and do not put them in the dryer (air/sun drying only).
Here’s what to consider when shopping for a robotic pool cleaner for your above ground pool.
1. Cleaner Type
There are generally three types of robotic above ground pool cleaners: motor-driven, jet-driven, and a combination of the two.
Motor-driven cleaners, like those from Maytronics, are more powerful and are less likely to get stuck on the pool drain. But they tend to cost more to maintain since they need more part repairs and replacements.
Jet-driven cleaners, like those from Aquabot, don’t boast quite the same level of power and mobility as motor-driven models, but they make up for it in durability and low maintenance costs.
Some robotic pool cleaners are motor-driven with a complementing jet system to provide extra power and thrust. But these combo models are mostly for in-ground pools.
2. Swimming Pool Size
The shape of your pool doesn’t matter when you are shopping for a robotic pool cleaner. All robotic cleaners can handle any pool shape.
That said, a robotic cleaner with a pool scanning system is the best choice for an irregularly shaped pool. It will be more efficient is less likely to miss spots.
What matters most is the size of your pool. Pool robots have a maximum pool length they can clean, which is determined by the cord length.
If your pool is 30 feet or less in length, you can use just about any robotic cleaner. If you have a larger above ground pool (more than 30 feet), make sure you check the manufacturer pool size recommendations.
Aquabot sells several models that can clean above ground pools up to 40 feet long.
3. Filtration Rate
Filtration rate determines how fast the robot vacuum cleans and how well it circulates water. It will not always be specified.
The best pool robots have a filtration rate of between 70 and 90 gallons per minute. This is enough to clean an above ground pool in an hour or less.
They also circulate pool water more effectively, which helps distribute pool chemicals and prevents dead spots where algae and bacteria can develop.
4. Power Consumption
This is not a major factor since all robotic pool cleaners use very little power. A robotic cleaner can even reduce your power bill since you don’t have to keep the pool pump on for the cleaner to work.
A robotic cleaner typically draws about 180 watts of power, which is 80-90% less what other automatic cleaners draw through the pool pump or booster pump.
If you are buying a robotic pool cleaner, you are already about to save power. No need to get bogged down in the specifics of exactly how much power each model uses.
When it comes to mobility, we split robotic pool cleaners into two groups: those that move on wheels and those that use tracks.
We generally prefer the latter. Tracks provide better traction, and the cleaner is less likely to get stuck or slip about in the pool.
But if you are hunting for a low-cost robotic pool cleaner, wheeled models cost less.
Robotic pool cleaners for above ground pools are generally small and light. So this is not something you need to worry much about.
While in-ground models typically weigh over 20lbs, most above-ground models weigh less than 15lbs. They are easy to carry around and lift in and out of the pool.
That said, you may still want to check the weight specification carefully if you have a disability or any condition that might make it difficult to handle a relatively heavy cleaner.
Ditto if you are getting a robotic pool cleaner for an elderly friend or family member. Get the lightest model you can find.
Check what kind of filter the cleaner uses.
We prefer models with filter baskets or canisters. They are easier to remove and clean.
But if you are on a budget, you might have to make do with a debris bag. Bags are tedious to clean.
Luckily, you can wash them in the washing machine instead of fighting to hose off the tiny bits that won’t come off.
We recommend buying an extra filter bag to use while the other is dirty.
Something else to check is whether the filter catches all kinds of debris. Both the Dolphin Escape and E10 only remove large and medium-size debris, letting the finer particles through.
If you don’t want to buy an extra filter for fine debris, look for a model that catches all kinds of debris.
Above ground, robotic pool cleaners cost less than in-ground pool robots. But even among the above-ground models, there are significant price differences.
The cheapest models start at about $300. At this price point, you’ll get essential features.
Pricier models cost between $400 and $700. In this price range, you get features like pool scanning, active brushing, and a large filter basket (in place of a filter bag).
If your budget allows it, go for a Dolphin pool cleaner – either the Escape or E10. They are the best models in the market.
If you are looking for something cheaper, any of the Aquabot pool robots are still the right choice. They lack some of the features in Dolphin models, but they’ll pick up all the debris in your pool.