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
- Our top pick
Max pool size:
Top-access fine filter basket
Dolphin Nautilus CC
- Best for in-ground & above ground pools
Max pool size:
Top-access fine filter basket
- Best value
Max pool size:
Top-access fine filter basket
- Best budget
Max pool size:
Top-access microfiber filter bag
Aiper Seagull SE
- Best cordless
Max pool size:
Top-access fine filter tray
- Best budget cordless
Max pool size:
500 sq. ft
Top-access ultra-fine filter tray
- Best pool skimmer
Max pool size:
Top-access fine debris basket
- Most powerful
Max pool size:
Top-access fine debris basket
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.
If you want an affordable robotic pool cleaner that can clean both in-ground and above ground pools, I recommend the Dolphin Nautilus CC.
It’s powerful enough to clean in-ground pools up to 33 feet, yet compact and affordable enough to qualify as an above ground pool cleaner.
Unlike most above ground only pool cleaners that have a pool size limit of 30 feet, the Nautilus CC can handle larger above ground pools.
The Nautilus CC has many of the features you get in premium Dolphin pool cleaners. This includes CleverClean navigation that allows the robot to completely cover the floor and walls of the pool.
Yes, it is a wall climber, which is great since most above ground pool cleaners don’t scrub the walls.
As for cleaning performance, the Dolphin Nautilus CC combines vacuuming and scrubbing to get the pool clean.
It has only one brush but it does a great job cleaning algae, scale and any other grime stuck on the pool surface. It’s an active brush, meaning it spins fast for better scrubbing.
The Nautilus CC vacuums debris into a large fine filter basket. It catches most debris including algae, leaves and bugs. But it does not collect ultra-fine debris like sand or silt. For that, you’ll need to order the ultra-fine filter.
The filter basket is accessible from the top, so it’s easy to remove and clean.
The robot cleaner itself is pretty light at 13.8lbs, so most people should have no trouble lifting it out of the pool.
The Dolphin Nautilus CC includes a weekly timer. You can leave it in the pool (for short periods) and set it to clean automatically every day, every other day or every two days.
If you are looking for a good bargain on a highly capable above ground robotic pool cleaner, I recommend the Dolphin E10.
It is very similar to the Dolphin Escape, just a bit less powerful and cheaper.
At first glance, the Dolphin E10 and Escape look almost the same. Even most of their specs are similar.
They both have 4000 GPH suction, active scrubbing brushes, can clean above ground pools up to 30 feet long, have smart navigation and they both come with a top-access fine filter basket.
The main difference is in power. The Dolphin Escape has dual motors, while the Dolphin E10 has a single motor.
This means the Dolphin Escape has an easier time navigating around the pool and can even climb walls, thoroughly only partially before it comes back down. It can also pick up debris faster and without losing suction power.
The Dolphin E10 is a bit less powerful with a single motor, but it still does an excellent job cleaning the pool floor. It also picks up debris easily, though it might be a bit slow cleaning if your above ground pool is very dirty.
We recommend giving it at least 2-3 hours, instead of the standard 1.5 hours, to get your pool clean.
Like the Dolphin Escape, the E10 comes with just one fine filter basket, which you can easily access from the top of the robot.
To clean up the finer stuff like silt and sand, you’ll have to order the ultra-fine filter basket.
Weighing 13.8lbs, the Dolphin E10 is just as lightweight as the Escape. You should have no trouble lifting it into and out of the pool.
If you are looking for an above ground robotic pool cleaner that’s even cheaper than the Dolphin E10, try the Doheny’s 125 above ground pool cleaner.
Doheny’s, a major pool supply company, collaborated with Aquabot, the maker of robotic pool cleaners, to create the 125 pool cleaner. It’s one of the cheapest robotic pool cleaners in the market today.
Despite its relatively low price tag, it features powerful suction of 4800 GPH. It has no trouble picking up large and small debris from the pool.
The Doheny’s 125 pool cleaner is designed to clean above ground pools up to 28 feet long. It moves on wheels and navigates using the AquaSmart Gyro Navigation system to ensure no missed spots.
The 125 pool cleaner only cleans the pool floor, so you’ll still need to scrub the pool walls.
As for filtration, the Doheny’s 125 pool cleaner uses a microfiber filter bag to capture debris. Unlike the filter baskets in Dolphin pool cleaners, the Doheny’s 125 filter bag captures everything including large, fine and ultra-fine debris.
But there are a couple of downsides to the filter bag. One, it’s harder to clean compared to a filter basket. Getting the fine debris out of the bag can be tedious.
Two, there currently doesn’t seem to be any replacement filter bags for the Doheny’s 125 available either on Amazon or Doheny’s official website. So far, we have not seen any customer saying theirs is damaged or anything, but having easily available replacements would provide more peace of mind.
Cordless robotic pool cleaners have started to hit the market. They don’t run as long as corded pool cleaners, but they are cheaper and you don’t have to worry about a tangled cord.
Our favorite cordless robotic pool cleaner for above ground pools is the Aiper Seagull SE. It’s cheaper than any other robotic pool cleaner in this guide, making it a great choice if you are shopping on a tight budget.
Despite being cheaper, the Seagull SE does a pretty good job cleaning above ground pools. It features dual motors that provide powerful suction (great for picking up debris) and easy mobility around the pool.
The motors also operate two independent brushes that scrub algae and grime off the pool surface.
The Aiper Seagull SE collects debris into an easy to access filter tray. The filter captures most of the debris in the pool, but struggles with fine sand and silt. And unlike Dolphin pool cleaners, there isn’t an ultra-fine filter for the Aiper that you can switch to.
When it comes to cordless robotic pool cleaners, the biggest concern for pool owners is battery life. To allay these concerns, Aiper has improved the 2023 version of the Seagull SE in two key areas.
One, the cleaner has a longer runtime of 90 minutes. That’s enough time to clean most above ground pools.
Two, the Seagull SE chargers faster. It takes just 2.5 hours to recharge.
By the way, the Aiper Seagull SE can clean both above ground (up to 33 feet) and in-ground pools (up to 40 feet).
Note that the Seagull SE does not clean walls. It moves on small caster-like wheels that offer minimal traction. In fact, it struggles to move in sloped pools.
If you are looking for a cheaper alternative to the Aiper cordless pool cleaner, I recommend the WYBOT cordless robotic pool cleaner.
The WYBOT cleaner has two motors, similar to the Aiper Seagull SE. It does a great job picking up debris and has no issues moving on a flat pool floor.
Like the Seagull SE, the WYBOT cleaner doesn’t climb walls, so you’ll have to scrub them yourself.
But it effortlessly scrubs and vacuums the pool bottom. Built-in smart navigation steers the cleaner away from walls. It also parks the robot close to the pool edge when the battery gets low.
For improved navigation, the WYBOT cleaner has a dial that lets you optimize movement for different pool shapes – round, irregular and rectangular pools.
The WYBOT pool cleaner comes with the fine filter tray. Unlike the filter tray in the Aiper cleaner, this one can pick up ultra-fine debris like sand. So it’s great if your above ground pool gets a lot of wind-blown sand, silt or dust.
It’s also good at picking up algae.
Now let’s talk about the WYBOT’s battery. This is where you see why it’s cheaper than the Aiper pool cleaner.
The WYBOT has a runtime of 50 minutes, much less than the Aiper Seagull SE. Some pool owners say it dies before it’s done cleaning their pool.
The WYBOT pool cleaner also takes a lot longer to recharge, with some users saying it can take up to 9 hours.
I recommend adding a bit more money and getting the Seagull SE instead. It’s only a little pricier but it’s much better than WYBOT.
But the WYBOT cleaner is still good enough if you prefer a cheaper option.
Robot pool cleaners don’t catch leaves and debris floating on the pool. You either wait for the pool filter to catch them when water cycles out and back into the pool, or you remove the leaves yourself with a skimmer net.
You can also get a robotic pool skimmer like the Betta 2. Instead of sinking to the pool floor, like robotic pool cleaners, the Betta 2 pool skimmer floats on the pool surface.
Using motor-driven propellers, Betta 2 moves on the water surface, sucking up leaves, bugs, and any floating debris.
An onboard debris basket holds all this debris. You can remove the basket and empty it without taking the skimmer out of the pool.
Betta 2 runs completely on solar power. You don’t need to plug it in or charge it. It’ll stay on the move during the day, then slow down and stop when darkness falls.
To ensure it covers the entire pool, the Betta 2 pool skimmer has ultrasonic radar to sense the pool walls and other obstacles. It then steers to another direction.
Cost-wise, Betta 2 is a bit pricey considering it only skims the pool, it doesn’t clean it.
If your pool only gets a few leaves, you probably don’t need a robotic skimmer. You can get a cheaper automatic pool skimmer or just let your pool filter catch the debris.
Betta 2 is worth it if your pool gets a lot of leaves and other floating debris (this usually happens if there are large trees nearby).
The Polaris 7000 is one of the most expensive above ground pool cleaners you’ll find. It’s also one of the most powerful.
While Polaris doesn’t give exact figures for the suction power, the Polaris 7000 uses powerful cyclonic vacuum technology to pick up debris without any power loss.
It’s great for large above ground pools up to 30 feet long, and is especially ideal for above ground pools that get extra dirty.
The Polaris 7000 moves on high-traction tracks that easily navigate the pool floor. Unfortunately, the Polaris 7000 is limited to just the bottom of the pool; it doesn’t climb the walls.
But it does an excellent job vacuuming and scrubbing the bottom. The large debris canister captures both large and small debris. Because it is transparent, it’s easy to tell when you need to empty it.
The canister is accessible from the top, making it easy to remove and empty.
Above Ground Robotic Pool Cleaners Buying Guide
A robotic pool cleaner is an automatic pool cleaner that operates independently of the pool’s booster pump and filtration system, in contrast to automatic pressure and suction pool cleaners.
A robotic pool cleaner navigates its way around the pool to make it sparkling clean with little or no human intervention. Just drop it in the pool, turn it on and leave it to clean.
However, that does not mean that any random pool cleaning robot is right for your above-ground pool. In fact, when it comes to above-ground pools, you have to be very careful when choosing an automatic pool cleaner.
Here are some considerations to help you find a suitable one:
What to Look for When Buying Above Ground Robotic Pool Cleaners
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.
Alternatively, you can get an in-ground pool cleaner and use it in your large above ground pool. That’s because in-ground pool cleaners are designed to clean large pools, typically up to 40 feet long. So most can handle a larger than average above ground pool.
On the downside, in-ground pool cleaners are more expensive than pool robots designed only for above ground pools.
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.
To maintain strong filtration or suction rate, some above ground pool cleaners have multiple motors. These ensure the robot maintains power even when sucking up lots of debris or large pieces of debris.
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. Keep in mind, however, that wheeled above ground pool robots generally don’t climb walls. So you’ll have to scrub the pool walls yourself.
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, trays 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. But you can order an ultra-fine filter to solve this problem.
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).
9. Corded vs. Cordless
A few years ago, only cordless above ground pool robots were available in the market. But now you can choose between a corded and a cordless robotic pool cleaner.
Cordless pool cleaners are just starting to appear in the market, so there isn’t a huge selection to choose from. Available models are also not quite as capable as traditional corded pool robots.
Cordless robotic pool cleaners have a built-in battery that’s tightly sealed against water. The main advantage of these cordless pool cleaners is that they are significantly cheaper than corded models.
You also don’t have to worry about having a GFCI outlet near the pool, or the electrical cord getting tangled.
On the downside, cordless pool cleaners cannot run for hours like corded ones. Most run for 50-90 minutes before the battery dies. This may not be enough time if you have a large or extra-dirty above ground pool.
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, try the Doheny 125 pool cleaner or get a cordless robotic cleaner.
Above Ground Robotic Cleaners: Frequently Asked Questions
How do you clean the bottom of an above-ground pool?
Cleaning the bottom of an above-ground pool greatly depends upon the type of pool you have. For an inflatable model, like those from Intex, the easiest way to clean its bottom is to drain, turn it upside down and hose it down to remove debris.
But if your above-ground pool is more permanent, you should invest in an automatic pool cleaner. It will not only clean the bottom of the pool but will also scrub the walls and waterline for a spotless and sparkling pool.
How to clean above-ground pools?
Due to the space restrictions of an in-ground pool, the popularity of above-ground pools has significantly increased, and so have their cleaning systems.
If you have a pool sitting idle in your background since the last swimming season, there is a high chance it is incredibly dirty. Here is how you can restore its crystal clear appearance:
- The first thing you should do is treat the water with pool shock. Doing so will address bacterial and algal growth while increasing the concentration of chlorine in the water.
- Next, use a pool skimmer to remove visible debris like leaves, bugs, and insects.
- One way to ensure a clean and sparkling above-ground pool is to insert a magic eraser into the filter cartridge of your pool filtration system. Once inserted, you can start the filter pump.
- Now take a batch of liquid chlorine and mix it into the water.
- Take your pool cleaning brush and start scrubbing the pool’s floor and walls to remove greenish algae and grime. Keep scrubbing until the build-up starts floating on the surface. Once dislodged, the pool filtration system will easily capture it. If you have a pool vacuum head, you can also use it for this step.
- Let the filter pump run for a couple of hours.
- After two hours, check the filter. If it appears clogged, replace it with a new one. Don’t forget to add a new magic eraser to the new cartridge.
- Let the filter pump run until the water is clear. Keep checking the filter in the meantime. If it needs replacing, do it.
- Depending upon the size of your pool, it will take about a night or an entire day for the pool water to become clear and ready for you to take a plunge.
How Often Should You Clean Your Pool?
A pool needs regular cleaning and maintenance; otherwise, it may lead to various accidents, diseases, and infections. You should clean yours at least once a week to keep it hygienic and uncontaminated.
What chemicals do I need to keep my above-ground pool clean?
You need the following chemicals to keep your above-ground pool clean:
- Chlorine: Chlorine is used for sanitizing the pool. It keeps the pool clean and safe but also needs other chemicals to stay stable.
- Calcium Chloride: A water hardener is especially important for maintaining above-ground pools. It prevents vinyl liner and sliding from staining. But you should make sure you add in the right amount.
- Cyanuric acid: This stabilizer keeps the chlorine active and stable. Like calcium chloride, a high concentration of cyanuric acid is not good for you.
- Algaecides: These help prevent algae from growing inside your pool. You should treat the pool water with a weekly dose of algaecides.
- Pool shock: This is a more concentrated form of chlorine and helps clear the cloudiness in dirty pool water while improving the concentration of available chlorine. You should use it monthly to maintain clear pool water.
Can you leave an above ground pool cleaner in the pool?
Most manufacturers recommend removing the pool cleaner from the water as soon as it’s finished its cleaning cycle. Leaving it there for too long can damage it.
In any case, above ground pool cleaners typically don’t have an auto scheduling feature, so there’s no reason to leave it in the water.
which is the best robotic cleaner for an above ground pool?
The Dolphin E10 and Dolphin Escape are the best robotic pool cleaners for above ground pools. They have excellent cleaning performance, they are reasonably priced, and they have proven reliability and longevity.
What's the difference between an above-ground and in-ground robotic pool cleaner
In-ground pool cleaners are designed to handle the bigger size and higher depth of in-ground pools. They usually have more powerful motors, larger brushes, higher suction rate, large filter baskets and intelligent navigation.
As a result, in-ground pool robots are more expensive than above-ground cleaners.
Most above ground pool robots are designed to clean smaller and shallower pools. Most don’t even climb the walls. So they are usually smaller, have less capable motors, and have smaller filter baskets. Most have a rudimentary navigation system or none at all.
They are also cheaper.