Automatic vs. Manual Pool Cleaners

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Automatic vs. Manual Pool Cleaners

As the country with the most swimming pools per capita in the entire world, it is no surprise that Australia is a huge market for pool cleaners as well. Swimming at home is almost a national pastime, with almost everyone stripping off into their bathing suits and taking a dip during the hot weather. The only problem with this love of swimming and pools is that the more a pool is used, the more it requires cleaning. There are two ways to clean a pool: either the owner can do it themselves with a manual cleaner, or they can get an automatic cleaner and let it do the work. Luckily for buyers, there is no one right choice though there is usually a right choice for every buyer depending on their specific needs and preferences.

Understanding Pool Cleaners

While the words may conjure up images of lounging in a pool chair beside a cabana watching someone else do the hard work, the reality is more prosaic. Rather than a sign of conspicuous consumption, a pool cleaner is more like a vacuum cleaner that draws water in to remove debris. There are several different kinds of pool cleaners available, and which one is the best for any user depends on their situation and needs. They range from simple manual systems that put the work in the hands of the owner to fully automatic systems that handle the cleaning on their own with very little if any work on the part of the owner.

Basic Functionality of Pool Cleaners

Pool cleaners do two basic things: First, they take the load off the existing filtration system by removing debris before it gets to the filters, and second, they clean areas that simply would not be cleaned if the owner relied solely on the existing filtration system. When it comes to cleaning a pool, there are two major areas of concern. The first is the water, which is particularly important to clean because the cleaner it is, the cleaner everything else in the pool is. The second is the lining, comprising the floor and walls of the pool. A good cleaning system not only cleans the liner but also keeps the water clean to minimise the need to clean the liner.

Types of Pool Cleaners

While there are two basic types of pool cleaners, automatic and manual, the automatic type can be divided into a number of different categories. They all do essentially the same thing, but they do them in slightly different ways. Some focus primarily on the surface of the water, while others are designed to work more on the bottom of the pool. Any system can clean a pool, but choosing the best system is a matter of matching the buyer's needs to their resources.

The Manual Pool Cleaner

One of the biggest advantages of the manual pool cleaner is price. They are less expensive than other kinds of cleaners but do require a larger investment of time to use. Also called a pool vacuum, these cleaners consist of a hose, a head, and a telescoping pole to provide control. All the owner has to do is lower the hose into the water until it fills, turn on the suction, and guide the head through the pool to clear out any debris. While some owners may find the time requirement onerous, manual pool cleaners make an excellent choice for those who have more complex pools. Even with all the advances in technology, no automatic system has quite the same flexibility as a manual pool cleaner.

Pressure and Suction-side Automatic Pool Cleaners

These two designs operate in a similar fashion, despite the differences in design. The suction-side cleaners rely on the pool's own suction and filter systems to navigate and clean the pool. They make efficient use of existing resources, and while they do put a load on the filter, they are particularly effective against fine particles. Pressure-side cleaners are more complex, sometimes even including a booster pump. This gives them more power, and their reliance on pressure and larger aperture allows them to work with larger debris, which is placed in a bag above the unit, relieving the load on the filters.

Robotic Pool Cleaners

Robotic pool cleaners rely on either a battery or waterproof power line and can run even when the pool's own circulation system is turned off. They can be almost as flexible as a manual cleaner but are among the most expensive. The advantage is that they can clean the entire pool, surface and liner, with minimal user input, which means that they often do a better job than many other automatic cleaners. They can get into corners and hard to reach areas and can be installed in almost any pool.

Solar-Powered Pool Cleaners

Solar-powered pool cleaners require the least effort of any cleaner. They are entirely self-powered, drawing energy from the sun, and many include batteries so they can continue working into the night. The one drawback to these particular automatic cleaners is that they have to run on the surface because of the solar panels, and so they cannot clean the bottom of the pool and the liner. However, the pricing is quite reasonable, and they can pay for themselves with the energy savings.

In-Floor Pool Cleaners

The in-floor pool cleaner is simultaneously the most expensive and most capable option available. This system relies on multiple retracting heads built into the floor, which extend for cleaning and then retract safely out of the way the rest of the time. A properly installed in-floor cleaner can reach any area and do almost everything a manual cleaner can. An improperly installed one cannot. Therefore, proper installation is key.

Comparing the Cleaners

The following table provides a quick reference to the various cleaner types and their advantages and disadvantages. Buyers should weigh these alongside their own needs, preferences, and situation to help them decide.





Cost and flexibility

Time investment

Pressure or Suction

Cost and automation






Ease of use

Surface only


Efficiency and overall cleaning

Cost and installation

Whichever option a person chooses, the key lies in balancing the combination of their needs and resources with the requirements of their pool installation. What might be appropriate for one person may not fit the needs of another at all. Also, the installation requirements of an in-floor cleaner may make it impractical for an existing pool, just to name one concern.

Buying a Manual or Automatic Pool Cleaner on eBay

eBay is a online marketplace where you can find a large selection of pool cleaners. To start shopping for one, you can enter relevant keywords into the search box, such as "manual pool cleaner" or "automatic pool cleaner". To make the selection process easier, you can choose to input more keywords to make the search more specific or take advantage of the various search filters, which include sorting by brand, condition, and price. When you see listings that interest you, check out the item description carefully and look at the seller's profile page for their feedback from past customers and any special policies they might have. Some sellers may offer bundles, while others may allow local purchasers to pick up their pool cleaners in person.


Both manual and automatic pool cleaners have their place, and for many buyers, either can be appropriate. The biggest advantage of a manual cleaner is not price, although budget can be a factor, but that it provides the greatest flexibility because of the human factor when it comes to controlling the cleaner. Automatic cleaners provide more freedom for the owner but in most cases offer less flexibility and capability. An in-floor unit is very capable, but it can be very expensive and requires a complex installation. For most pool owners the key is finding the right balance of features and budget, which is where understanding one's own needs comes in. The buyer who knows what they want and why they want it is the one best positioned to buy any pool cleaner.

Automatic Pool Cleaner|Manual Pool Cleaner|Pool Cleaner|Pool Vacuum|Above Ground Pool Cleaner

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