Does A Pool Really Need A Robot Vacuum?

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We put Hayward’s Aquavac 650 to the test to find out.

When Chad and I started looking for a new home, we knew we needed to find one with a pool. While we live in Ontario, Canada and have about 4 months of pool season each year, it was a must-have feature for us. We have both dreamt of having a pool in our yard so that we’d always have plans on a lazy weekend or a warm evening and could always be that house that everyone wanted to come and visit and hang out at. Fast forward, we found our dream home and it indeed has a pool and yes, we’ve used the heck out of it this summer. Oh, and if you want to see us take an old 80s ranch bungalow and make it gorgeous and smart, you need to check out our Dream Home Reno series.

Pool ownership is a sizeable commitment—there is the obvious financial consideration of heating and maintenance, the safety and liability onus placed on you as well as the time spent on maintenance and upkeep. This is all new for us and we’ve spent a (very chlorinated) summer learning about the ins and outs of pool ownership and how to best care of the pool while still having fun and having time to enjoy it. Our favorite pool trick? A robot vacuum. Yes!

Before owning a pool, I thought having a drain was sufficient and it would collect anything that came into the pool. How wrong was I?! I’ve since learned the skimmer is indeed designed to gulp up water and remove any undesirables, but it takes time to filter through all the water and can’t always get what’s dropped to the bottom. This is why a pool has to be physically cleaned with a mesh net and a pool vacuum. Plus, like a bathtub, the pool needs scrubbing, too, to remove scum and build up. You’ve got to do this a few times a week—and if the wind blows a certain way or your flowers or trees are in the mood to drop their petals and leaves, you’ve now got extra work ahead. All this to say, a pool needs a lot of vacuuming. The pump vacuum method using the hose and extended pole works, but is certainly time-consuming and requires some skill (or hired help!). Before guests come, we’d have to skim the pool and then vacuum, which would take just under an hour to do. An hour of dedicated pool cleaning time which couldn’t be used to do anything else. A few times a week. It started to add up.

The stars aligned for us when Hayward reached out and offered to send us their latest AquaVac 650 to test out. At first, it felt a little ‘extra’: a robot vacuum for our pool? We already had a pool vacuum solution and while it took some time to use it did the trick. However, as soon as this little puppy arrived and we put it to work, we saw the light.

Caddy Cart, Quality & Weight

It comes on its own caddy cart for storage that makes transporting and storing it easy and convenient. Of late, we’ve noticed that many products we get sent are made with cheaper materials (lighter or softer plastic) to cut down on manufacturing costs (we assume). This is sturdy, the Caddy Cart, the tubing and the unit itself.

On the cart, it stands about 3.5 feet by about 1.5 feet. There’s a plug for an outdoor power source and a long cable that attaches to the unit itself along with a helpful handle to allow the user to easily immerse and remove the robot from the pool. It’s a heavy-ish unit—heavy enough that you know it’s doing important work but not so heavy that you’d be dissuaded to use it—the unit and power supply weighs 25 lbs.

Ease of Use

Using it is easy – especially knowing you can control it via an app – more on that shortly. Once it was unboxed it took very little time to learn – less than 20 minutes. After minimal setup, we plugged it in, took it to the pool, and gently released it (a la Titanic when Jack drops the blue jewel to the bottom of the ocean). It slowly made its way down to the bottom and then we just tapped the program we wanted and away it went. Oh, and one cute feature—like Build a Bear—it comes with a birth certificate!

How Does it Know Where To Go?

It uses intelligent mapping technology that Hayward calls HexaDrive™ adaptive traction to navigate the pool in a precise manner. Not only does it vacuum, but it climbs and scrubs all pool surfaces—that includes the sides and waterline, too. The first time we used it, our pool looked brighter, cleaner, and younger (the pool liner looks pretty old relative to pools manufactured today). It was impressive, it made dinner table conversation. We talk about a lot of cleaning products and tools at dinner, and this one got us very, very, excited.

And That Bagless System, Does it Really ‘Suck’?

One of the key issues with robot vacuums of any kind is that they can lose suction easily—especially for bagless vacuums. I’ve seen it all, I’ve tested dozens of vacuums and I see the faults. They tend to lose suction when their small dustbins fill up, the machine can’t keep its suction strong. This is a bagless system and thanks to the proprietary SpinTech filterless technology, the unit maintains constant, powerful suction for the duration of the clean. This means you don’t have to re-do certain areas as it fills up which leaves more time to do other things and less to worry about. And on that note, it is remarkably easy to empty. One thing about emptying vacuum canisters is that it can be a gross job. Plus, a pet peeve of mine is having to clean the cleaning tools. I mean, there’s an acceptable amount of maintenance a tool will need, but adding an extra cleaning task to a cleaning task to clean the very thing performing the cleaning task seems excessive at best. Well, this unit is designed with a proprietary TouchFree Debris Canister, which ejects debris with the press of one button and there are no extra filters to clean or bags to change. Thank you, my compliments to the chef on that one.

Smart Home (Pool)

And because it’s 2019, the AquaVac 650 is a Wi-Fi enabled unit controllable with an app (the Aquavac 600 is not, just to be clear) that is iOS and Android compatible. It can operate your program of choice including the quick SpotClean function, remote steering and multiple programmable color themes (AquaVac 650 only). Yes, your little guy can perform a funky light show while doing its work. It’s exciting!

Some Final Thoughts

It’s pricey. That’s really the only thing one might call a downside. I don’t, because I am a firm believer in buying quality and buying once. AquaVac 6 Series models are backed by a reassuring 3-year manufacturers warranty. Bottom line, cleaning a pool the way we thought we would – net skimmer and filter vacuum – took a long time and we couldn’t do anything else but that task. The whole cleaning cycle takes roughly 45 mins for our pool, and while that’s happening, it gives us time to get other pool-prep things done such as taking out floaties, bringing out cushions, and preparing snacks. It requires no monitoring and is effortless. When it’s done, just drain, empty, and wheel back into storage. What was once something we didn’t think we needed, as new pool owners, has quickly turned into our favorite pool tool. Now, all we need is a name for it.

This article was sponsored by our friends at Hayward.

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Melissa Maker is an entrepreneur, cleaning expert, founder of Toronto’s most popular boutique cleaning service, and star of the Clean My Space channel on YouTube (but she still hates to clean!). Every week, Melissa delivers new videos dishing expert advice on cleaning products, tools, DIY substitutes, and practical, timesaving solutions to everyday problems. Melissa has appeared on the Today Show, and has been featured in InStyle, Real Simple, and Better Homes and Gardens.

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