2023 Ultimate POOL VACUUM Robot ComparisonAugust 1, 2023
Battery powered robotic pool vacuums are a great way to keep your pool dirt, sand, and leaf free without paying for a pool service, but the question is will a $250 vacuum work just as well as one that costs twice as much?
In the first test we’ll see which vacuum has the most consistent coverage of the entire pool. Then we’ll test how the vacuums handle different sizes and types of debris. Finally, we’ll test each robot’s ease of use and required maintenance.
The least expensive robotic pool cleaner we’re testing today is the Wybot WY1103 which has an MSRP of $369 and an actual street price of around $250. The Wybot has free spinning wheels and uses jets of water out of the front and back of the unit to steer itself around your pool. The Wybot is designed to only clean the floor of your pool and not steps, walls, or the waterline and has a 5200 mAh battery which it claims will give it 120 minutes of runtime. We’re going to test that.
When it comes to pool cleaning robots the most important thing is that they are able to get full coverage of the area they are supposed to be cleaning. I set up a camera above my pool and ran each vacuum a minimum of two full cycles to determine their navigation and coverage abilities.
The Wybot navigates by using adjustable angle water jets on the front and back of the robot. Using the recommended 0-degree and 20-degree settings, the Wybot will make a slight turn after each change of direction. The Wybot detects when it is moving using a paddle switch that tilts back as long as the robot is moving forward, but in my pool the Wybot often got stuck in the deep end because it was not able to move fast enough up the pool’s incline to keep the paddle switch tilted.
In the two trials the Wybot met its advertised 2 hours of runtime but only covered roughly 70% of the pool, and as expected was not able to navigate walls, ledges, or stairs.
Next with an MSRP of $550 but a street price around $350 is the Seauto Seal SE. The Seauto navigates using tank treads, has dual scrubbing brushes to break up algae growth, and has an ultrasonic distance sensor that allows it to make a rudimentary map of your pool. Unlike the Wybot, the Seauto can clean both the pool floor and the walls of your pool and has three selectable modes that can be toggled between using the single button on the robot or using the Seauto phone app. The Seauto has a 7800 mAh battery pack which it claims will give it between 2 and 2.5 hours of runtime.
In my testing the Seauto Seal SE achieved its maximum of 2 and half hours of runtime in full coverage mode where it covered around 98% of the pool floor including the ledge and stairs, and 90% of the pool walls all the way up to the waterline. In wall only mode the runtime dropped to 2 hours, but the coverage was even better covering 100% of the walls and waterline, and incidentally covering around 98% of the pool floor in the process, only missing a small area at the top of the stairs. In floor only mode the Seauto ran for over 3 hours and had 100% coverage of the traditional pool floor, but as expected did not cover the stairs or ledge in that mode.
After that with an MSRP of $649 and a street price of around $500 is the Ofuzzi Terrain 10. The Ofuzzi also uses tank treads but uses accelerometer-based navigation to be able to clean both the floor and walls of your pool, which basically just means it knows when it starts and stops moving, and it knows whether it’s sitting flat or tilted. The Ofuzzi has a single large scrubber on the front of the robot to dislodge algae and dirt and has an 8600 mAh battery which it says will give it up to 110 minutes of runtime.
The Ofuzzi also perfectly matched its advertised runtime of 1 hour and 50 minutes and was able to clean both the floor and walls of the pool. However, with no real strategy for navigating the walls, the cleaning was patchy and inconsistent, and although the Ofuzzi did end up on the ledge and steps during the wall cleaning portion of its cleaning schedule, it didn’t make any specific efforts to clean the floor of those spaces, meaning the Ofuzzi covered roughly 90% of the pool floor, but only approximately 30% of the pool walls.
The Ofuzzi also came with additional floatation foam that it said could help with wall climbing, and it absolutely did, but unfortunately it also caused the robot to continually climb onto the top step, which was shallow enough to trigger sensors which prevented it from continuing the cleaning session.
Next for an MSRP of $699 but a street price around $550 is the Airrobo PC100. The Airrobo also uses tank treads and accelerometer-based navigation to be able to clean both the floor and walls of your pool, but unlike the Ofuzzi, the Airrobo allows you to select between a floor only mode and a full coverage mode. The Airrobo has a single scrubber brush on the front of the robot and a 7800 mAh battery that allows it to clean for up to 2 hours.
In my testing the Airrobo significantly exceeded its 2-hour advertised battery life with a runtime of 2 hours and 50 minutes in full coverage mode, where it was able to cover roughly 95% of the pool floor traversing both the steps and ledge of the pool as well as scrubbing approximately 50% of the pool’s waterline. In floor only mode, the Airrobo ran for 2 hours and 32 minutes and had perfect coverage of the traditional pool floor, but as expected did not cover the stairs or ledge.
And last for an MSRP of $799 and a street price around $650 is the Aiper Seagull Pro. Unlike the other wall cleaning robots, the Aiper uses wheels instead of treads and trades the single suction motor for a dual motor design. The Aiper uses accelerometer-based navigation and has 3 selectable modes: Floor only, wall only, and full coverage. Like the last two robots the Aiper uses a single large scrubbing brush design for dirt and algae. The Aiper Seagull Pro has the largest battery yet at 9000 mAh which they claim should enable up to 3 hours of runtime.
In floor only mode, the Aiper was able to achieve its 3 hours of advertised runtime, but didn’t get full coverage of the floor, completely missing the area in front of the steps. In full coverage mode the Aiper did a better job on the pool floor, but only ran for 1 hour and 51 minutes, struggled to climb the walls, and also didn’t navigate onto the stairs or ledge of the pool. In wall only mode, the Aiper ran for 2 hours and 30 minutes but still didn’t navigate onto the ledge or stairs and had a hard time getting all the way to the waterline. In floor only mode the Aiper covered roughly 80% of the pool floor, in full coverage mode that number jumped up to 90%, and in wall only mode the Aiper struggled only traversing roughly 70% of the pool, and rarely reached the waterline.
That means that the best coverage was from the Seauto Seal SE in both wall and full coverage mode. The Airrobo also did well and was able to navigate the stairs and pool ledge in addition to cleaning the waterline.
The Ofuzzi had decent coverage of the floor, but wall cleaning and waterline cleaning was patchy at best, and the Aiper Seagull Pro had surprisingly poor performance and was not able to adequately suction itself to the walls to clean the waterline.
The Wybot coverage was expectedly the worst since it essentially relies on randomly bumping into the walls to change direction and in addition to not covering any of the stairs, walls, or ledges, also didn’t achieve full coverage of the traditional pool floor in either trial.
Even though coverage is very important, just because the robot passes over an area doesn’t mean it will do an adequate job cleaning that area, and depending on your geographic location, nearby vegetation, and whether you have a pool enclosure, the type of debris that your vacuum will need to suck up could be very different.
In the first test I used waterlogged leaves from an oak tree and a crepe myrtle to see how the vacuums would handle large debris.
In this test, the Airrobo performed the best and actively pulled leaves through the back side of the robot using suction. The Ofuzzi also did a decent job pulling in leaves from the surrounding area through the back of the robot but did have a concerning amount of leaves being pushed out by the scrubbing brushes after passing under the robot.
Both the Aiper and Seauto struggled to get leaves past their scrubbing brushes, and since they have rubber guides to direct debris into their bins, they weren’t able to pull in leaves from the surrounding area.
The Wybot performed the worst in this test due to the fact that its propulsion system stirred up the surrounding leaves before the robot could pass over them.
In the second test, I mixed small to medium aquarium substrate with black aquarium sand to test how the robots would handle finer debris.
In this test those rubber suction guides on the Aiper and Seauto drastically increased their ability to clean up fine debris, and both robots left a clean path every time they passed through the debris pile, and I would say that the Aiper slightly outperformed the Seauto just due to its wider cleaning path which allowed it to pick up more debris on each pass.
The Airrobo and Ofuzzi both left a significant amount of debris after each pass, but the Airrobo did a better job overall and it seemed like the Ofuzzi lacked the suction power to be able to adequately pick up the larger debris.
Just like in the last test, the Wybot’s biggest issue was the turbulence created by its water jet propulsion system which stirred up the debris into the surrounding water, which made it look like it was picking up a decent amount, but in actuality, most of it would resettle to the bottom after a few minutes.
I also tested how each robot would deal with toys and goggles left in the pool, and I found that unlike their indoor counterparts, these pool vacuums don’t seem to have any issue with jamming or tangles and for the most part they completely avoided the larger objects and whenever they did pull one in, they would just spit it back out a few minutes later.
So as far as debris pickup, you need to think about what type of debris your robot will typically be cleaning out of your pool. I personally have a screen enclosure, so I’ve basically never had leaves in my pool, but I deal with sand and silt every day, so the Seauto and Aiper are the clear choice. If I didn’t have a screen, I would lean more towards the Airrobo without the debris directing channels because it ultimately did a much better job with neutrally buoyant large debris like leaves.
The last set of tests are things you might not have even considered when thinking about pool vacuums.
The first is the reason why I think battery powered cordless pool cleaners are the future: You aren’t supposed to leave any vacuum in your pool indefinitely because pool chemicals and UV from the sun will significantly reduce the lifespan of your expensive vacuum if you just leave it to marinate 24/7/365. I’ve previously had suction side vacuums like the Zodiac MX6 and MX8 which ran on a schedule every day and I really only took them out of the pool for special occasions. Even though the vacuums themselves held up pretty well to the harsh chemicals, the suction tubing only lasted a couple seasons before it was completely rotted and falling apart, and a single section of replacement hose is around $25.
Even if you were to buy a corded pool cleaner like a Dolphin Nautilus, you’re still not supposed to leave it in the pool all the time, so how easy it is to take your cleaner in and out of the pool should be a top consideration, especially because these cleaners aren’t particularly lightweight.
To test this, I set up a digital scale to measure the initial weight of the robotic cleaner when it is first pulled out and full of water, then I recorded how long it took to drain, and last I recorded its empty weight.
The heaviest robot was the Aiper Seagull Pro that had a maximum weight of 40.24 pounds when pulled out of the water and drained 18.7 pounds of water in 5 seconds for a final weight of 21.57 pounds.
After that, the Ofuzzi Terrain 10 had a maximum weight of 38.2 pounds and drained 20 pounds of water in 12 seconds for a final weight of 18.24 pounds.
Then, the Wybot WY1103 had an initial weight of 37.36 pounds and drained 22.52 pounds of water in 22 seconds for the lightest final weight of just 14.8 pounds.
Next was the Seauto Seal SE with an initial weight of 37.18 pounds, draining 16 pounds of water in 6 seconds for a final weight of 21.18 pounds.
And last the lightest robot to pull from the water was the Airrobo PC100 which had an initial weight of 36.58 pounds and drained 16.86 pounds of water in 10.5 seconds for a final weight of 19.72 pounds.
I also read reviews that said that these pool cleaning robots leaked debris back into the water when being pulled out, so I set up a test where I put 100g of black sand into each robot’s bin, submerged them for 30 minutes, and then pulled them out of the water onto a white towel.
In this test, the only robot that had any black sand leak out was the Wybot WY1103, and even then, it was a fairly miniscule amount compared to how much was in the debris bin. After some experimentation, I was able to replicate a leaking bin situation on each robot which is usually caused by incomplete cleaning of the bin trap door hinge, or the seal around the bin’s intake.
And that brings me to my last observation about these robots, which is the ease of emptying and cleaning their bins properly so that they continue to work. Without a doubt the easiest bin to empty and maintain was the Ofuzzi Terrain 10 that has an open basket and a seal built into the robot. However, even though it’s extremely convenient and easy to use, I worry about the longevity of the foam seal and I wonder how much the functionality of the robot will be reduced when that seal eventually breaks down.
I also have similar concerns about the debris basket on the Seauto, which uses a rubber trapdoor instead of a hard plastic one with a spring because while a spring could lose tension, I think it’s far more likely for this soft rubber to become brittle and lose its ability to properly seal. That said, the rest of the Seauto’s bin is very well designed, easy to use, and easy to clean, although I did notice that it tends to collect fine debris on the top of the bin as well as inside, which isn’t necessarily a problem, just an observation.
The best bin design was the Aiper Seagull Pro, which I have to say is also consistent of the rest of the Aiper’s build quality, which feels solidly built in every aspect including the massive charging brick. The Aiper’s bin was easy to remove, easy to clean, and easy to reinstall every time.
When it comes to the Airrobo, the bin is by far the worst part of the design. Not only is the bin inverted so that all the debris is around the seal, but it’s also made of flimsy plastic that makes it difficult to latch the two sides together properly, but it’s still not that bad compared to the Wybot that collects all the debris in the bottom shell of the robot which is full of nooks and crannies that need to be rinsed. Add that to the fact that the clips that hold the two robot halves together have no guides and cleaning the Wybot becomes a much more frustrating task than it needs to be.
So, conclusion time. Which robotic pool vacuum is the best?
If you are mainly dealing with smaller debris like sand, silt, and calcium deposits, then the Seauto Seal SE was by far the best performing robot when it comes to coverage, ease of use and pickup performance. Combined with the fact it is also the second least expensive robot that I tested and it’s a no brainer, though I wonder if the price will stay low if its popularity increases. It feels like a much higher tech product than the rest of the robots I tested with its ultrasonic mapping system and phone app.
If you are mostly dealing with leaves, the Airrobo PC100 had excellent coverage of the pool floor, walls, and waterline and did a much better job with large lightweight debris due to the lack of a suction channel. Though if I’m being honest, I think I’d still suggest the Seauto over the Airrobo as long as the $200 price gap exists.
As always there are no sponsored reviews on this channel, but I do have links down in the description for each of the robots in this video and as always, I appreciate if you use those links since as an Amazon affiliate I do earn a small commission on the sale at no cost to you.
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Best Overall – Seauto Seal SE
Best for Leaves – AIRROBO PC100
Other Vacuums Tested
Ofuzzi Terrain 10: https://amzn.to/3Okpiao
Aiper Seagull Pro: https://amzn.to/44Pp422
WYBOT WY1103: https://amzn.to/3YkKWQf