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).
Comparing the Best Above Ground Robotic Pool Cleaners
- Our top pick
Aquabot X2 Above Ground Robotic Pool Cleaner
- Best for Removing Stuck on Debris
Aquabot X4 Above Ground Robotic Pool Cleaner
- Best for all Pool Shapes
PAXCESS Above Ground Robotic Pool Cleaner
- Best for Medium Size Pools
DOLPHIN Premier Above-Ground Robotic Pool Cleaner
- Best for Deep Pools
Best Above Ground Robotic Pool Cleaners: Reviews
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.
The Aquabot X2 Above Ground Robotic Pool Cleaner is a powerful option. It boasts many features of a typical premium robotic cleaner like ultra-fine filtration, smart navigation, and energy efficiency, but at a fraction of the cost.
The X2 is equipped with a powerful bottom rotating brush that is great for removing stuck debris in your pool. The active brush rotates in an agitated manner to loosen up the most stubborn grime. The rotating action pushes these towards suction, where they are pulled into the filter cartridge.
We really like the X2 for its smart navigation system. It boasts an Auto-X pool mapping system that analyses your pool to understand its structure and works out the most efficient route to clean it while avoiding obstacles.
The X2 relies on an ultra-efficient DC motor to move around the pool. It consumes little energy yet delivers satisfying results both in terms of cleaning and energy conservation.
This Aquabot cleaner comes with 2 oversized filter cartridges that trap the finest of pool pollutants without tipping any of them back.
Removing them from the cleaner is also pretty easy. In fact, you can also remove them without taking the cleaner out of the pool. Emptying and cleaning the cleaner is also quite effortless.
The X4 is another amazing pool cleaner from Aquabot. It is an improved version of the X2 and comes at a slightly higher cost. The X4 is an award-winning unit and is known for its performance and low maintenance.
The Aquabot X4 is suitable for all types of pools, especially above-ground pools. Where most robotic pool cleaners are not too good at cleaning above-ground pools, the X4 can handle standard and irregularly-shaped above-ground pools.
This Aquabot cleaner is suitable for both small and large pools and comes with a 60-feet anti-tangle cord. It works with an energy-efficient DC motor that enables it to climb the pool’s walls without any difficulty.
The X4 uses smart AquaX mapping technology to draft the best cleaning route for itself. It can sense various obstacles in its path and goes around them to continue on its decided path.
An active rotating scrubbing brush cleans stubborn debris. Plus, the powerful suction action pulls in all the dirt and grime, leaving behind a clean and sparkling pool for you to enjoy.
We also like the X4 for its dual high-capacity, top-loading filters. The cartridge is also very convenient to install and remove. The filters are designed to capture debris as small as 2 microns, so you can trust the X4 to remove the smallest dirt particles floating in your pool.
The PAXCESS Above Ground Robotic Pool Cleaner is a smart and efficient pool cleaner equipped with a 3rd-generation advanced computer program and worry-free sensor array.
It uses its smart navigation technology to scan your pool’s shape and create a cleaning route to follow. It climbs the walls to scrub the waterline but knows not to go outside. Instead, it returns to the water once the job is done.
This automatic pool cleaner features 4 PVA sponge roller brushes for efficient cleaning performance. The two powerful motors enable them to rotate for spotless cleaning. The unit itself is extremely lightweight, so you won’t have any trouble bringing it to and from the pool.
This PAXCESS unit is highly suitable for medium-sized pools. It features a 50-feet long cable with a tangle-free swivel and supports plug-n-play operation with the included programmer. It not only makes the device extremely energy-efficient but also allows you to determine the length of its cleaning cycle.
Another noteworthy feature of this PAXCESS automatic cleaner is its twin extra-large top access filter baskets. The unit uses 180um filters to trap small and large debris inside the basket while circulating the water to make it sparkling clean.
Removing the filter basket is also extremely easy. All you have to do is press the button on the front to open the top covers. Once the unit is open, simply pull out the baskets, empty the contents and rinse with a garden hose.
Manually cleaning a deep pool is an extremely difficult and lengthy task. No matter how hard you try, a few bits and specks are bound to be left behind.
If you own a very deep above-ground pool, like some Bestway models, the Dolphin Premier Above Ground Robotic Pool Cleaner can do a satisfactory cleaning job.
This premium robotic cleaner can effectively clean all pool surfaces, including the floor, walls, stairs, and even the waterline. It is motor-driven for powerful propulsion and scrubbing action.
The dual scrubbing brushes towards the front and back rotate aggressively to address grime build-up. Even the toughest debris doesn’t stand a chance against its scrubbing action. This action loosens stubborn dirt and debris to pull them inside the filtration cartridge.
Another feature that makes this Mayotronics unit stand out is its multiple filter options. The premier robot cleaner comes with an oversized filter bag, ultra-fine cartridge filters, and bottom-load fine cartridge filters.
You can also purchase optional disposable bags that really simplify the disposal process of the collected pool pollutants.
The device uses its Clever Clean navigation system to find its way around the pool. It is equipped with numerous sensors that scan the pool and draft the most efficient route for cleaning it without going over the same areas again and again.
Even if there is an obstacle in its path, the cleaner finds its way around it to continue on its route.
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. This intelligent device navigates its way around the pool to make it sparkling clean with little or no human intervention.
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.
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.
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.