Polaris 280 vs. 360 vs. 380 vs 3900 Pressure Side Pool Cleaners: Reviews & Comparison

Polaris pool cleaner

Wondering which Polaris pressure-side pool cleaner to get?

In this 4-way comparison, we review and compare the Polaris 280 vs. 360 vs. 380 vs. 3900 Sport. These are some of the most popular and highest rated Polaris pool cleaners.

But they differ quite a bit in price, features and cleaning performance.

Read on to find the one that’s best for your pool.

If you are not looking specifically for a Polaris cleaner, we’ve reviewed other top brands, including Hayward and Pentair, in our in-depth pressure side pool cleaner buying guide

For more options beyond pressure cleaners, read our best automatic pool cleaner reviews, which include suction and robotic cleaners as well. 

Polaris 280 vs 360 vs 380 vs 3900: Comparison Chart

Polaris Vac-Sweep 280 cleaner
  • 280

  • Star rating
  • Best For… Reliability
    – by far the most proven product, but it does require a booster pump
  • Type:
    Pressure

  • Weight:
    6.2lbs

  • Price:
    $$

Polaris Vac-Sweep 360 Pressure Side Pool Cleaner
  • 360

  • star rating
  • Best for… Saving Money
    – similar performance to 280, but no booster pump is required
  • Type:
    Pressure

  • Weight:
    15.62lbs

  • Price:
    $$

Polaris Vac-Sweep 380 pressure side pool cleaner
  • 380

  • star rating
  • Best for… Cleaning Stairs and Walls
    – designed to climb vertical surfaces
  • Type:
    Pressure

  • Weight:
    16.8lbs

  • Price:
    $$

Polaris Vac-Sweep 3900
  • 3900

  • star rating
  • Best for Large Pools
    – largest debris bag size, high gpm
  • Type:
    Pressure

  • Weight:
    20.5lbs

  • Price:
    $$$

Reviews of Polaris 280, 360, 390, 3900

#1

Polaris Vac-Sweep 280 Review

BEST VALUE

Best For

The Polaris 280 is our top recommendation for pool owners looking for a high-performance Polaris pool cleaner at an affordable price.

It gets its power from two venturi jets (compared to three in the other models) that provide suction to pick up debris and power the shaft drive mechanism.

The Polaris 280 cleans the floor and walls of your pool relying on a sweeper tail to blow debris out of corners and loosen stuck dirt.

The suction generated from the force of water coming back into the pool allows the cleaner to pick up all kinds of debris.

Like the other models, the Polaris 280 is a self-contained pool cleaner meaning it works separately from your pool filter.

Debris is deposited in an onboard large capacity filter bag.

As it filters debris, the cleaner also circulates water around the pool.

Note that the Polaris 280, similar to the 380 and 3900, requires a booster pump. If you don’t already have one installed, you have to buy it separately.

Pros

  • Affordable.
  • Cleans floor and walls.
  • Large capacity filter bag.
  • Back-up valve rescues cleaner if it gets stuck – no babysitting required.

Cons

  • It requires a booster pump.
  • The gear drive system requires more maintenance compared to the belt drive system on the other models.

Issues & Concerns

Because it has only two jets, the Polaris 280 cleans slower. You have to leave it in for 4-5 hours to get a sparkling clean pool while other models can clean an entire pool in about 2-3 hours.

The other issue is that you need to adjust the cleaner to get the best cleaning performance. You need to make sure the water pressure is just right so that the cleaner doesn’t move too fast or too slow.

You also need to make some adjustments to get it to climb and clean the wall.

So there’s a bit of trial and error in the beginning. But once you have the cleaner moving and cleaning properly, you can sit back and relax.

#2

Polaris Vac-Sweep 360 Review

MOST PROVEN

Best For

Polaris vac sweep 360 gets the best reviews of all four models, making it ideal for those who want a tried and tested pool cleaner.

Scores of pool owners say it cleans well, is easy to maintain and lasts for years with barely any issues.

One reason it is a favorite for many pool owners is that it doesn’t need a booster pump. So no extra expenses after you buy the cleaner.

Just hook it up to your pool’s pressure line, and it’ll work well with the existing pool pump.

The Polaris 360 has three venturi jets, so it has a bit more power than the 280. It cleans the pool in less time and has less trouble scaling the pool wall.

It has the same 3-wheel design as the 280 and 380.

It also comes with a sweeper tail to loosen stuck debris and algae and stir up particles hiding in corners and along the edges.

The 2¼” vacuum inlet picks up all kinds of debris from fine sand to leaves and acorns. They are trapped in the onboard filter bag, meaning your pool filter doesn’t have to work too hard.

Pros

  • Proven performance and reliability.
  • Sweeps and scrubs floor and walls.
  • Self-contained filtration system.
  • No booster pump required.

Cons

  • Takes time to set up and adjust.

Issues & Concerns

The main issue with the Polaris 360 is one you’ll encounter with other Polaris models – it takes time to set up and adjust properly.

Unlike robotic cleaners, you can’t just dunk it into the water.

It takes about half an hour to an hour to connect the houses, measure RPMs, and adjust the cleaner to the right pressure.

You also need to check that it is climbing the wall up to the waterline.

Thankfully, you don’t have to install a booster pump, which makes set up quicker and easier.

#3

Polaris Vac-Sweep 380 Review

BEST COVERAGE

Best For

If you want to go a step up from the Polaris 360, the Polaris 380 is next in line in terms of both performance and price.

It shares most of its features with the Polaris 360. However, it has an edge when it comes to coverage. The 380 has a better wall and step cleaning ability while the 360 mostly cleans just the bottom and walls.

Another key difference is that the 380 requires a booster pump, so you have to account for the extra costs if you don’t already have one installed.

Other than that, all other features are similar to the Polaris 360: the sweeper tail to loosen and blow up debris, three venturi jets powering suction and mobility, a 3-wheeled design, and an onboard filter bag.

The 380 does a great job picking up debris, from sand and silt to leaves and acorns. It cleans slightly faster than the 360 and 280, covering a standard size in-ground pool in about 3 hours.

Pros

  • Full pool coverage.
  • Low-maintenance and durable.
  • Cleans relatively fast.
  • The onboard filter bag reduced the burden on the pool filter.

Cons

  • Requires a booster pump.

Issues & Concerns

The Polaris 380 is not as good a deal as the 360.

The 360 gives you better value for your money compared to the 380. The 380 is more expensive, and yet it does about as well as the 360 when it comes to cleaning performance.

It’s even more expensive when you factor in the cost of the booster pump.

#4

Polaris Vac-Sweep 3900 sporT Review

MOST POWERFUL

Best For

The 3900 Sport is the most powerful – and expensive – of the four models. It circulates up to 40 gallons of water per minute through the dual-chamber filter bag, capturing leaves, bugs, sand, and other debris.

It has a broader vacuum port than the other three models (2.5″ vs. 2.25″), so it can suck up large pieces of debris. If your pool is located near trees that drop a lot of leaves, twigs, and acorns into the water, this is the best Polaris cleaner.

Like the 360 and 380, it has three venturi jets that power an all-wheel-drive system. This allows the cleaner to cover almost every inch of the pool without stalling or getting stuck.

The 3900 climbs walls with ease and even cleans the steps.

It features a sweeper tail that blows up dirt in corners and agitates some of the algae and debris stuck on the pool floor and walls.

But you’ll still need to brush the pool manually for a deep clean occasionally.

Similar to the 280 and 380, the Polaris 3900 requires a booster pump.

Pros

  • Full pool coverage – bottom, wall, and steps.
  • Picks up all kind of debris.
  • A double chamber bag holds more debris than other filter bags.
  • 40 GPM flow rate boosts pool circulation, which keeps the pool clean and prevents dead spots.

Cons

  • Expensive.
  • It requires a booster pump.

Issues & Concerns

The 3900 Sport requires more maintenance than the other models. It could be because it has more parts, or the design is more complicated (e.g., the stainless steel all-wheel-drive chain).

Customers report more issues that require frequent repairs or parts replacements.

Luckily, the 3900 Sport is covered by a 5-year warranty for the frame and a 1-year warranty for the other parts.

There’s also the issue of cost. The 3900 Sport is already quite pricey before you add the cost of buying a booster pump.

But if you want the best cleaning performance, it’s worth it.

Our Bottom Line

Polaris pool cleaner

All four models are an excellent choices for most in-ground pool owners. They are well-made, and they do a great job cleaning.

The Polaris 280 is the best choice for pool owners looking for an affordable Polaris pool cleaner, the 360 is best for those who want a good bargain, the 380 is the most proven cleaner, and the Polaris 3900 is for pool owners who want the best Polaris pressure-side cleaner they can get for their money.

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