Owning a pool is a wonderful thing, and can make you the envy of your neighbours, but we’d be lying if we said it wasn’t also difficult to maintain, keep warm, and clean. There’s surely nothing worse than fancying a quick dip in your own pool, only to find that it’s unclean, and cluttered with a bunch of newly-fallen leaves. Running a pool vacuum all day, every day, or manually sifting the surface of the pool with a net is either a very expensive, or very time-consuming means of keeping your pool constantly clean.
Thankfully, there is a really attractive solution to the problem, and one which requires only a single, one-off payment. The solution being solar pool skimmers (also known as solar pool cleaners). These nifty gadgets are similar in design to the robotic vacuum cleaners which you might have seen around other people’s homes, before. Essentially, solar pool skimmers float on the surface of your pool, propelling themselves (with brushless motors) around the pool, searching for and scooping up debris from the surface, and storing the debris in trays or baskets, for you to empty later.
What’s even better, is that solar pool cleaners operate entirely on energy harnessed from the sun – it’s in the name! With high-tech solar panels built into the topside of solar pool skimmers, they need never be plugged into mains electricity, nor ever cost you a dime (after the initial purchase) to run. Solar pool skimmers charge in sunlight and store surplus energy, to ensure that they continue working even in low light conditions (or at night). Some are even designed to seek out the sunniest parts of your pool in order to maximise their efficiency. Solar power has come a long way, in recent years, and there are many ways to enjoy the maintenance of your pool – keeping it clean, pumped, and warm – using solar power. In effect, you could establish yourself a solar powered pool fit for a Zero Net Energy (ZNE) home!
If you’re at all interested in helping the environment, or even just saving yourself a few dollars a month on electricity, whilst keeping your pool constantly fresh and clean and inviting, then we strongly recommend you check out these solar pool skimmers!
Having reviewed the market, we’ve compiled the very best solar pool skimmers which the solar energy pool owner market has to offer – let’s take an in-depth look!
Instapark Betta Automatic Robotic Solar Powered Pool Cleaner
- Brand: Instapark
- Color: White
- Remote control function
- High grade solar panel
- UV damage resistant body
- Ultrasonic radar sensors
The Betta is an impressive machine, and for one of the most affordable prices on the market, too. Instapark have designed the Betta pool skimmer to be fully autonomous, meaning that when it runs low on battery, it will actually seek out the sunniest part of your pool and navigate into it to recharge. Once its batteries are fully recharged, it will automatically restart itself and begin its cleaning routine again – there’s no need for pool owners to do anything!
However, if you like, you can still manually operate the pool cleaner thanks to its handy wireless controller. The pool cleaner is driven by paddles powered by a brushless motor – far less prone to degradation over time than its brush-operated cousins. As such, it will tirelessly roam about your pool, sensing edges and avoiding them in order not to damage itself, collecting leaves, pollen, sticks, and other debris from the surface of the pool. With a uniquely-designed top-handled drawer, you don’t even need to remove the Betta from the water to empty it of debris.
- Unique top-handled drawer design
- Fully autonomous
- UV resistant body/durable solar panels
- Metal of the basket not corrosion-proof
- Propellers can get stuck on debris and so it does require some regular maintenance
- Solar charging only
Skimdevil Pure Robotic Solar Pool Skimmer
- Brand: Skimdevil
The Skimdevil Pure is brand Skimdevil’s new and improved, second attempt at creating the most efficient, easy-to-use and self-sufficient solar pool skimmer. With a 2-year warranty, Skimdevil aren’t messing around – they build their products to last. This solar pool cleaner comes compatible with a handy app, which allows the pool owners to keep their pool clean remotely, and even control the cleaner if they wish.
It has a large, top-handle debris basket with backwash flapper (around 2.5 times bigger than most competing models) designed to catch everything from leaves and pollen to bugs, sticks, and dirt, and can clean up to 4,000 square feet per hour. Though the Skimdevil Pure is also designed to autonomously locate the sunniest area of your pool in order to charge, it is also compatible with wall-mains charging, making it the most versatile solar pool skimmer on the market.
- Compatible with mains charging as well as solar
- Biggest debris tray on the market
- 2-year warranty
- Automatic pool skimmer (moves to sunniest areas of the pool)
- Compatible mobile app makes maintenance and control easy and accessible
- Most expensive product on the market (though only by a small margin)
- You need to remove the skimmer from the pool water to empty its basket
How Do Solar Pool Skimmers (Cleaners) Work?
In the introduction above, we brushed the surface (pun intended) with regards to how solar pool cleaners do their job, but as with any worthwhile investment it’s important that you know a little more about the inner workings of this technology, before you buy. We’re here to explain in greater detail just exactly how solar pool cleaners function.
The function of solar pool cleaners is clear: to clean your pool by filtering detritus from the surface. As such, all pool cleaners are of a relatively similar construction. A lightweight, ergonomic frame floats atop the surface of the pool with a solar panel built-in to power it; below the surface, water passes into and through a tight-mesh tray via the mouth of the device as the cleaner glides across the water; all water which passes through the device this way is filtered free of all detritus down to around 200 microns in size (which means not only will sticks and bugs be filtered from your pool, but dust and pollen, too).
At your leisure (recommended once a day), you simply slide the catcher tray out via the handle (depending on the pool cleaner you may or may not have to remove it from the water to do so) and then empty the tray’s contents into the garbage. Pop it back in, pop the cleaner back in the water, and it will automatically return to its duties. All solar pool skimmers operate like automatic vacuum cleaners, in that once they’ve been turned on they are pushed about the pool via quiet brushless motors, using in-built sensors to detect obstacles and pool edges, thus navigating the pool safely and ensuring that every inch of the water’s surface is covered.
Solar pool cleaners never require wires or cabling either, since they operate entirely thanks to electricity generated by solar power. (You may be worrying that electricity and water shouldn’t mix, but fret not: these machines are designed to be 100% waterproof). Some models of pool cleaners are designed so intelligently that they will actually seek out the sunniest parts of your pool when their batteries drain below a certain point. (Alternatively, they will just power off and wait until the sun has recharged their batteries enough to power back on).
Some models come with advanced features such as remote controls, and manual overrides. All are powered by the sunlight, which hits cells of thin polycrystalline or monocrystalline silicon in the solar panel, which in turn undergo a chemical and physical reaction during which the sunlight is converted into volts of electricity. This electricity is then stored in a durable battery inside the pool cleaner, and used whenever the pool cleaner is on (some batteries can power a pool cleaner for 10 hours straight on a full charge). Pool cleaners are designed to work in highly chlorinated fresh water pools just as well as in salt water pools of high salinity.
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Pros and Cons of Solar Pool Cleaners
It will become immediately apparent once you start looking into the products available on the solar pool cleaning market that these devices are not cheap. In fact, they’re downright expensive. Whilst we think they are most certainly worthwhile investments, it’s important to us to bee canid about both the negatives and positives of any product we promote.
- Free electricity. Solar power is renewable, meaning that it draws from the infinite energy source of the sun, and thus never requires any additional electrical input. As such, it is a completely free source of electricity, in this case running your solar pool cleaner for years and years without ever charging you an additional cent.
- Green energy. As much as free energy is appealing, it’s the green element which is most important. Our world is in tumult; climate crisis reigns and if we don’t change our ways immediately, the planet will be irreparably damaged. Replacing conventional carbon-based electricity with renewable electricity is the best way of preserving and protecting our world.
- Smart technology. Unlike conventional pool cleaning – which demands long hours of physically-demanding manual labour, and which never seems to be complete – utilising the automatic, sensor-intelligent cleaning of solar pool cleaners can save you a great deal of time on a daily basis.
- Better clean. The mesh lining the catcher trays of automatic pool skimmers is so fine (up to 200 microns fine) that unlike conventional handheld nets, you can be sure that your pool is clean of pollen and dust (great for those of us with hayfever!) as well as twigs, leaves, and bugs.
- Sunlight depending. This goes for literally all solar technology, and should come as no surprise. If your solar pool cleaner doesn’t receive enough sunlight on a fairly regular basis, or you live in an area which is often overcast, the device will be unable to function properly, if at all. Ensure you keep its panels clean and clear of debris, and manually move it into sunlight during the day (to clean overnight), if you’re finding that it doesn’t receive enough sunlight when in the water.
- Expensive. We mentioned this before, but solar pool cleaners are not cheap. Whilst they’ll pay for themselves several times over in the long run (given that they place no additional demands on your energy bills and will save you hiring a person to clean your pool), they make for a pretty substantial initial investment. Doubtlessly, this prices many of us out of the market.
- Questionable durability. This absolutely does not go for all of the products on our list, but it’s always worth checking out customer reviews, as we’ve noticed that at least one of these skimmers has had issues with the metal tray rusting and degrading over time.
When looking to purchase a solar pool skimmer, there are a few things to consider.
With anything solar powered, considering the typical weather in your area is paramount. It probably goes without saying, but most solar panels (other than the absolutely most expensive and up-market ones) require fairly constant direct sunlight in order to charge. As such, you’ll need to make sure that your pool receives enough sunlight to charge a pool skimmer. Most will store energy pretty efficiently, some even working for 10 hours without sunlight (when fully charged), but still you’ll want to make sure your pool doesn’t get too much shade. Furthermore, if your area sometimes goes through long periods of low-no light, then you’ll want to invest in a solar pool cleaner which is also compatible with wall-charging, like this one.
Do you like to keep on top of everything? Or are you happy to let your new solar powered pool cleaner keep your pool clean by itself? Some solar powered swimming pool cleaners/skimmers are programmed to be just about fully autonomous, whereas others require a little more maintenance and oversight. One of the cleaners on the list comes with a wireless remote control, whilst another can be linked to an app, the third and final product having neither feature.
Perhaps not the first consideration you’d think to make, but an interesting one nonetheless. Most pool skimmers weigh in around 12-14lbs, and whilst that’s not particularly heavy, add to that the weight of wet debris and suddenly hauling it out of the water every time you need to empty it becomes a struggle. There are, however, solar pool skimmers designed so that you can empty them without having to remove them from the water, whereas others must be removed to access the catch-tray. It’s something worth considering.
Salt or Fresh?
Is your pool salt water or fresh water? Whilst most of us probably have fresh water pools, there’s always the chance you live by the sea and feed your pool salt water. If so, it’s not guaranteed that a pool skimmer – designed to filter and catch debris from fresh water – will still operate to full efficiency in your saltwater pool. Fear not, however, for there are others out there which are designed to work in saltwater. Look out for a maximum salinity range on solar powered pool skimmers when shopping around.
Having skimmed the very best of the solar pool cleaners out there off the top of the proverbial pool, we’ve come to the conclusion that the best, most powerful, autonomous, easy-to-use, affordable and versatile solar powered pool skimmer out there is the Skimdevil Pure. We’ve chosen it as our top pick thanks to its ability to charge via wall power and solar, as well as the sleek, efficiency-minded design of it, its app-compatibility, salt-fresh versatility and the fact that its debris tray is the biggest on the market (more room for more debris!)
Check out our updated Pinterest board with the best solar pool skimmer:
Yes, absolutely. Since solar panels require constant exposure to the outdoors in order to harness the power of the sun, they have to be pretty weatherproof by design; and whilst their weatherproofing varies, the ones used atop solar powered pool cleaners are guaranteed to be fully watertight.
Again, yes, and moreover, they are typically designed to be UV proof, too – essential when exposed to so much potentially damaging UV light. The one thing to look out for, however, is how well the catch-trays react to constant water exposure. If they’re built of metal, you can expect them to start rusting before long.
Pretty much, yes! Unless you’re packing an Olympic-sized swimming pool in your garden, you can rest assured that most pool skimmers will, as standard, clean your pool. Typical operational ranges include 10-20 feet per minute, or 4,000 square feet per hour. You can use those standards to judge how long it will take a regular solar powered swimming pool cleaner to clean your pool’s surface once over.
No! Thankfully, solar pool skimmers do all the work themselves, saving you all of the time hand skimming would have taken you. Most pool skimmers are fitted with radar sensors enabling them to travel the length and breadth of your pool automatically, whilst some are designed to actually cleverly seek out the brightest areas of your pool in order to charge. However, if you do want to control the skimmer, then it’s worth making sure you pick out one with a compatible app or physical wireless remote control.
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