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Shopping for an automatic pool skimmer to remove leaves and other debris from your pool?
You’ve come to the right place.
Best Automatic Pool Skimmers: Comparison
- Our top pick
Solar Breeze NX
- Runner up
- Best for leafy pools
- Best for bugs
- Best for Intex pools
- Best budget
- Best value
Best Automatic Pool Skimmers: Reviews
Solar-Breeze NX2 Automatic Pool Skimmer
The Solar Breeze NX2 is a solar-powered automatic pool cleaner that patrols your pool, picking up surface debris like leaves, dust, bugs, and pollen.
Because it is solar-powered, your pool pump doesn’t need to be on for it to work, nor do you need to connect it to an electrical outlet.
It runs all day long and collects enough power to run for most of the night, even on cloudy days.
With the Solar Breeze running, you’ll rarely need to hand-skim, and your pool filter lasts longer. Your pool also stays cleaner in between vacuuming sessions.
To move on water, the Solar Breeze automatic skimmer has a rear paddle that propels it forward. Bumper wheels at the front rotate and turn to steer the skimmer to ensure it covers the entire pool.
The skimmer uses a fine mesh to trap debris of all sizes. The debris is collected in an internal bin that is easy to remove and clean.
In addition to skimming, you can also use the NX2 to distribute pool chemicals. It has an onboard chlorine tray that holds two 3” trichlor tablets. Because it moves all over the pool, the skimmer ensures the chemicals are evenly distributed.
The only issue with the NX2 is its longevity. The build quality is wanting with most customers saying the paddles stopped turning after a few months.
But the skimmer comes with a 1-year warranty that covers repairs and replacements.
Solar Breeze NX Automatic Pool Skimmer
This is the original Solar Breeze pool skimmer. It’s not that different from the updated model.
It has most of the features of the NX2, including solar-powered mobility, a large debris collection basket, and a fine filter.
It also comes with a chlorine tray to dispense pool chemicals evenly.
Like the NX2 model, the Solar Breeze NX runs off solar power throughout the day and stores enough of it to keep running for most of the night.
The original NX model has more positive reviews, especially in regards to build quality and longevity.
If you want an automatic skimmer that’s likely to last longer, we recommend the NX over the newer NX2 model.
The only flaw with the Solar Breeze NX is the debris tray. Some of the debris escapes back into the pool when it’s idle or when you lift it out of the water.
PoolSkim Automatic Pool Skimmer & Cleaner
Unlike Solar Breeze skimmers, the PoolSkim skimmer stays fixed at one spot. But don’t worry. It still manages to pick up debris from all corners of the pool using a simple but brilliant scientific principle.
It connects to your pool’s return line, where the water flows back into the pool. The force of the water creates a gentle but powerful venturi effect that sucks water from the rest of the pool.
As the water flows through the skimmer, it carries along with its leaves, bugs, and whatever debris is floating in the water.
The PoolSkim skimmer has a large debris bag attached that traps all the debris. It’s not a fine bag, so it’s not very effective at catching sand, silt, and other fine particles.
Some customers recommend putting a sock around the bag to get better debris removal. But even as it is, it still catches a lot of stuff.
If you struggle with leaves, bugs, or pet hair in your pool, this skimmer will save you loads of time. Just hook it up to your return line and watch all the debris move towards the skimmer like magic.
If you have a large pool and multiple return lines, you can even hook up two or three of them for better debris removal.
The debris bag is a mesh so you can easily see when it’s full. You can then unclip it from the skimmer, remove the debris and clip it back on. You can leave it in the pool 24/7 to keep it clean.
Note that PoolSkim connects only to a 1.5” threaded return line. If you have a different size of the type of return line, you’ll need an adapter.
SkimmerMotion Automatic Pool Cleaner
The SkimmerMotion automatic pool cleaner complements your existing automatic pool vacuum. However, it only works with suction pool vacuums.
If you have a robotic or pressure pool cleaner, this is not for you.
The SkimmerMotion comes with its own hose that has a T-adapter at the end. Attach this adapter into your pool vacuum and then connect the vacuum lead hose into the spare port on the adapter.
Your pool pump will now provide suction power to two cleaners. For best results, the manufacturer recommends you have a pool pump with the power of at least 1 HP.
Once you’ve connected the skimmer, put the vacuum in the water, as usual, making sure to blead air out of the main vacuum hose and the skimmer hose.
Connect the skimmer hose to the top of the skimmer and let it float on the water. As the vacuum moves at the bottom of the pool, the SkimmerMotion moves along with it on the surface.
As it moves, it sucks in debris-leaden water through the onboard filter.
As many customers have noted, the SkimmerMotion excels best at removing bugs from water. But it struggled with leaves and other large debris.
It’s designed to catch debris smaller than 0.8”. So large leaves are left on the water for hand skimming or to be removed by the pool skimmer.
If you struggle with leaves in your pool, we don’t recommend the SkimmerMotion. But if your biggest problem is bugs and other small debris like pet hair, it works great.
It does take a while to set it up and make sure it’s working right (you may need to adjust pool suction), but once it’s up and running, it works like a charm.
Note: If you don’t have a suction pool vacuum, you can connect SkimmerMotion to your pool’s dedicated suction line. The skimmer will float on the water, but it won’t move around. So it may not remove all the debris floating in the water.
INTEX Deluxe Wall Mount Automatic Swimming Pool Surface Skimmer
The skimmer attaches to the inflatable ring or the metal frame at the top of the pool. Once installed, the top of the skimmer should be just below the water surface (do not weigh the skimmer down with anything – it’s supposed to float near the top of the pool).
The skimmer is designed to create a whirlpool motion that sucks debris down into the strainer basket. It catches leaves and other debris before they sink to the bottom of the pool, where they are harder to remove.
Make sure your pool pump is powerful enough. Intex recommends having a pump with a flow rate of at least 800 GPH.
When the basket is full, it’s easy to remove and clean.
The Intex skimmer is cheap enough that it won’t hurt your pocket that much to get two of them if you have a large above ground pool.
SkimDoctor 2.0 Pool Skimmer Basket
If you don’t have a lot of money to spend on an automatic skimmer for your in-ground pool, the SkimDoctor 2.0 works just as well as other pricier skimmers.
The design is quite different, though. It doesn’t float on the pool, nor does it attach to the pool vacuum. Instead, it attaches to the existing skimmer basket.
Unlike other pool skimmers, the SkimDoctor’s main goal is not to catch debris. The skimmer basket retains its job.
Rather, it increases how quickly the skimmer removes debris. It increases the suction, which pulls in water, and thus debris, at a faster rate.
You’ll notice that the pool stays cleaner since any leaves and debris that fall into the pool get sucked away almost immediately. Also, the skimmer is better able to pull debris from all areas of the pool, even those farthest from it.
Because the SkimDoctor removes debris faster, you can run your pool for less time, which will reduce your power bill.
Another benefit of the SkimDoctor is that you never have to dunk your hand in the water when removing the skimmer basket. Just pull the top part of the SkimDoctor, and the basket comes out with it.
The skimmer comes with a sock that you wrap around the skimmer basket. This allows the basket to trap finer debris that would normally go through the basket and to the pool filter.
This reduces the burden on your pool filter.
As for issues, the main one is cleaning the skimmer basket. It’s tedious to detach the SkimDoctor to remove debris from the basket.
Pooldevil Pro Swimming Pool Skimmer
The Pooldevil Pro attaches to the pressure side of your pool – the line bringing backwater into the pool. So if you have a suction-side pool vacuum, you can keep using it alongside the skimmer.
It uses the force of water to create a venturi effect that sucks debris into an attached filter bag.
It creates suction that’s powerful enough to pull in debris from all over the pool. So even though it doesn’t move around like other automatic skimmers, it still manages to get almost all the debris floating in the pool.
The Pooldevil Pro skimmer is well made; much better quality than most of the automatic skimmers you’ll find. You can expect to use it for several years.
You can use it in either above ground or an in-ground pool. If your pool has multiple return ports, you may need to shut off some of the ports to maximize pressure.
The skimmer also has a pressure adjustment ring.
Like most automatic pool skimmers, there’s some trial and error involved to get the skimmer to work well.
Here’s an interesting tip from many customers: instead of ordering a new filter sock (replacements are hard to find anyway), you can buy a pair of knee-high stockings. They work just as well and are much cheaper.
Types of Pool Skimmers
Manual skimmers: These are the most basic types of skimmers. A manual skimmer is essentially a net at the end of a long pole. You use it to collect leaves and other floating debris from the pool manually.
Automatic skimmers: These are the skimmers we’ve reviewed above. They work automatically, collecting debris usually using suction. Some skimmers work from a fixed point in the pool while others roam the pool surface.
Solar-powered skimmers: These are types of automatic skimmers. They are fully self-contained, meaning you don’t need to connect them to your pool. A solar skimmer has an internal pump that sucks water and a debris bag or basket that collects debris. Though convenient, solar-powered skimmers are pricey.
Wall-mount skimmers: These are mostly designed for above ground pools. The skimmer mounts at the top of the pool and sucks in debris as the water floats past it.
In-ground pools are typically designed with an integrated skimmer. But in many cases, it’s not enough to keep the pool clean, especially if you struggle with bugs or leaves.
Getting one of the above skimmers will complement your main skimmer.
What Do Pool Skimmers Do?
Pool skimmers complement your existing pool skimmer (for in-ground pools) and filter. They target large pieces of debris like leaves, nuts, acorns, and bugs.
Most do not collect fine debris, leaving it for the main filter to remove. But some have fine filter bags or socks that can trap both large and small debris.
Automatic pool skimmers generally work through suction. Using an internal pump or the pool pump, they create suction that pulls in water through a filter bag.
The bag traps debris while allowing the water through.
Cleaning Your Pool Skimmer
Keeping your pool skimmer clean is important. A dirty skimmer will remove less debris from the water, and in some cases, the debris can float back into the pool.
When To Clean Your Pool Skimmer
For your main pool skimmer, clean it at least once a week. Remove the basket, empty it, and hose it down to get all the debris out.
For an automatic pool skimmer, clean it when the debris bag or tray gets full. This may be once a day or even once every few hours depending on the season as well as the pool environment.
How to Clean Your Pool Skimmer
For the main pool skimmer, just reach into the skimmer and pull out the basket. Empty it of all debris and then hose it down to give it a thorough clean before putting it back in.
For an automatic pool skimmer, remove the debris bag and empty all the debris. Hose it down or wash it to remove all debris.
Winterizing Your Pool Skimmer
First, lower the pool water level to an inch below the skimmer. You can do this by setting the filter valve to backwash, drain, or waste.
Then drain the skimmer line by opening the skimmer valve and letting all the water drain. You may also need to blow out the pool skimmer pipe.
Once the skimmer is empty, plug it closed to prevent water from getting inside.
If you have a wall-mounted skimmer in your above ground pool, you can just remove it when closing the pool.
Same goes for automatic pool skimmers. Disconnect the skimmer and take it out of the pool. Clean it and store it somewhere safe until next season.
What Makes a Good Automatic Pool Skimmer?
Here’s what to look for when shopping for a good automatic pool skimmer.
Build quality: The whole point of an automatic pool skimmer is to make pool maintenance easier. If it requires constant repairs, it’s not worth it. A good automatic pool skimmer should last at least a couple of seasons for the cheaper ones and a few years for premium models.
Easy to set up: Look for a skimmer that you can set up in less than 15 minutes. If it requires complicated connections and adjustments, you can get something that’s easier to install and works just as well.
Full pool coverage: Whether the skimmer stays fixed at one point or moves around on the pool, it should remove all the debris floating in the water. If the skimmer only removes the debris around it, it won’t help keep your pool clean.
Easy to maintain: The only maintenance you should do is emptying and cleaning the filter bag.
There’s no shortage of options when it comes to automatic pool skimmers. From solar-powered models to simple wall-mounted skimmers, there’s something for every type of pool and budget.
Regardless of which automatic pool skimmer you settle for, it will be a huge upgrade from wasting your precious weekends wrestling with a pole and net.