Best Dolphin Pool Cleaner Reviews 2021
Lots of pool owners think Dolphin makes the best pool cleaners, and it’s easy to see why. Many of Dolphin’s cleaners are among the best in their class, and leave pools sparkling clean with little effort on your part.
However, many Dolphin models share design features, and that can make it hard to tell which one is right for your pool. This list reviews some of the company’s best units, so you can figure out which one suits your needs. Above all, we’ve given our reviews in light of maximizing your value for the money.
We’ve also included a buyer’s guide so you can learn everything you need to know about robotic pool cleaners and make a well-informed decision.
What is a robotic pool cleaner?
The three common types of automatic pool cleaners are suction-side, pressure-side, and robotic. Suction-side cleaners attach to the intake port of your pool and use the power from your pool’s pump to collect debris. Pressure-side models work similarly but instead attach to the other side of the system, the one that’s pushing water into your pool.
These two cleaner types generally aren’t smart. They move around at random, and if you let them go long enough, they’ll eventually cover your entire pool. Another big downside is that they’re dependent on your pool’s pump to work. If your pump is on the weaker side, you may get very mediocre results from pressure- or suction-side pool cleaners.
Robotic models differ in that they don’t attach to your pool’s pump system. Instead, they’re powered by electricity and carry a filter and either a basket or bag. That means they’re a great choice for pools with weaker pumps.
While you may think robotic cleaners would have a higher cost of operation, the opposite is often true. Suction-side or pressure-side pool cleaners draw many times the energy of a robotic pool cleaner. It will also put less strain on your pool pump, which could extend its life.
What can the robotic pool cleaners do?
One of the hallmark features of a robotic pool cleaner is smart technology. That means it can either keep track of where it has been in your pool, use information from a suite of sensors to figure out where it should go next, or both.
Most Dolphin cleaners have some version of this technology. However, it seems to work best on high-end machines. The downside is that you typically have to shell out thousands of dollars to get one of those high-end models. Less expensive models may still have this feature, but they tend to be more hit-or-miss in terms of how well they work.
Robotic cleaners also have an advantage over other kinds of pool cleaners in that it’s harder for them to get tangled. Since they use narrow cords, there’s a lower chance of them getting caught on themselves relative to the hoses other kinds of cleaners use. Plus, they often have swiveling dongles, which further reduce the chance of a tangle.
Since they don’t rely on water pressure to move around, they’re generally more reliable when it comes to climbing steps in your pool or doing waterline cleaning, where they clean above the water for a nice finish. Keep in mind that waterline cleaning isn’t a feature all Dolphin machines have, so if it’s something you want, double-check that your model has it before you buy.
Another nice thing about Dolphin pool cleaners is that they sometimes come with a choice of filter. There are two major categories of filter, each with its own subtype.
The most commonly used type on robotic models is the cartridge. The cartridge is a hard-sided filter that lives inside the cleaner. When it needs to be emptied, you just pop the lid on the robot and dump the filter out. Generally, it needs to be washed off as well, but as soon as that’s done, you’re ready to go again.
Filter cartridges are designed to last for years. Usually, they do last year. However, they tend to be very expensive to replace, so it’s a good idea to treat yours with care.
Other Dolphin cleaners use bags or soft-sided filters. These sometimes fit in the same place cartridges do, and other times they ride externally. While cartridges often have the excellent capacity, bags can sometimes hold more, and they tend to be much less expensive to replace.
If your pool is in really bad shape, and has a lot of sharp or hard objects, such as small branches, at the bottom, you may benefit from replacing a cartridge with a bag, as damaging the bag is a much more affordable problem to solve.
Both cartridges and bags come with regular and fine particulate options. If you have serious dirt or algae problems on the walls or a lot of fine dirt in the water, use a cartridge or bag that’s fine-particulate ready. Otherwise, the holes in the filter will be large enough for the dirt or algae to slip through, which ultimately leaves it in the pool.
Which Dolphin pool cleaner is right for you?
Many people look at the prices on Dolphin cleaners and immediately opt out of the purchase. It’s understandable, given the price; but it’s important to understand the value that these cleaners can bring. They tend to work very well and have great durability and excellent warranties. They can save you a lot of time when it comes to cleaning your pool, which allows you to spend more time doing something else.
While you might be tempted to buy the lowest-priced Dolphin you can find, that’s not necessarily the best idea, either. If it doesn’t have the features you need, you’ll be upset, but still out a few hundred bucks.
It’s a better idea to start by evaluating your pool and then selecting the model with the features and the filter cartridges or bags that will do the job. Then, you’ll be able to relax and let the robot do its job for years to come.