Artificial intelligence has forever changed the world of pool cleaning, thanks to the invention of the robotic pool cleaner. These robot cleaners allow homeowners to eliminate manual labor associated with daily pool maintenance. Hundreds of automatic pool cleaners are available today, each with its own runtime and cleaning modes, so it’s important to know how your device works to determine how long to run it each day.
You should run a robot cleaner for at least two hours twice daily in a pool used regularly by multiple people. For less frequently used pools, run it for an hour once per day. Perform a thorough clean once a month for 2 to 6 hours. If your device has a specific runtime, opt for that time instead.
In this article, I’ll walk you through the factors affecting how often to run a robotic pool cleaner. We’ll also discuss the recommended robotic pool cleaning time based on your type of cleaner, its modes and settings, and power level. Read on to learn more.
How Often to Use a Robotic Pool Cleaner
While pool pumps and robotic pool cleaners help maintain pool hygiene, they differ widely. Pool pumps maintain clear and hygienic water conditions, whereas robot cleaners suction dirt and debris from the pool, scrub the pool floor (and sometimes the walls), and some even skim the water’s surface. With a pool pump, you still need to skim, vacuum, and scrub your pool.
Pool pumps run continuously, or at least eight hours per day. On the other hand, robot pool cleaners run as long as it takes to clean the pool — and how long it takes depends on multiple factors, as I’ll discuss below.
Household Size and Pool Use Play a Role
The primary factors affecting how many hours per day you should run your robot cleaner are the number of people who use the pool and how often they swim.
Every person that steps foot into your pool brings dirt, dust, skin cells, hair, and other small debris. In addition to bodily contaminants, they may carry in leaves, grass, and other vegetation from the bottom of their feet.
One person tracking in a couple of blades of grass doesn’t seem like a big deal, but it adds up — especially once you consider the number of people getting in and out.
But what’s so bad about this organic matter?
Well, not only are green chunks floating around unsightly, but over time, the greenery decomposes. As a result, it affects the pool’s pH and can lead to microbial growth.
If you’re the only person using your pool a few times per week, you can probably get away with running your robot cleaner daily for an hour or two each time. On the other hand, a four-person family should run the pool cleaner at least twice per day for at least one to two hours.
The Surrounding Environment Matters
Think about the surface surrounding your pool. If concrete, pavers, a wooden deck, or another installed surface are bordering the pool, then less dirt gets tracked inside. However, if dirt, sand, grass, or a garden encircles the pool, there’s a higher chance of pulling debris into the water.
When a pool has dirt, sand, and vegetation nearby, you’ll want to clean the pool more often to prevent buildup. Again, you’ll also want to consider the number of people swimming.
For example, let’s assume that you have a four-person household and use the pool at least once per day, meaning you should run the cleaner twice a day for an hour at minimum. If the pool is also surrounded by grass or other vegetation, you’d want to increase the cleaning time. Therefore, you’d want to run the robot pool cleaner at least twice per day for at least two hours per time.
To put it simply, the more people and time spent in the pool, plus the more vegetation and high-tracking matter surrounding the area, the more often you’ll need to run your robotic pool cleaner.
Pool Covers Protect the Pool from Debris
Not only do people track contaminants and unsightly matter into pools, but so does the weather. A windy day can easily blow sand, dirt, vegetation, sticks, and other debris into your pool. The simplest way to avoid this is by investing in a pool cover.
Without a pool cover, a breezy day can easily become a nightmare as twigs, leaves, grass, seeds, and even trash end up in your pool, resulting in hours upon hours of manual cleaning time.
Without a pool cover, you’ll want to run your robotic cleaner at least once per week when your pool isn’t being used (such as during the winter). Run it for its full recommended runtime.
I always recommend that homeowners use a pool cover, especially during the off-season.
If you leave a pool cover on all season long during the winter months, you can run the cleaner once per month for good measure. If you cover the pool whenever it’s not in use (even between swims during the summer months), you might get away with running it at least twice per week.
Additionally, if your pool sits under a tree without a cover, you’ll definitely need to clean it at least once or twice per day, regardless of the number of people who swim. This removes any debris as leaves, twigs, seeds, and dirt falls from the tree. If your pool is situated in areas of high vegetation, you must invest in a cover.
Other Factors Affecting Robot Pool Cleaner Run Time
Every model of robot cleaner has its own specifications, settings, and recommended run time. Get acquainted with the owner’s manual for your device to get the most out of the technology.
Your manual provides important information about how the cleaner operates, its range, and how to adjust settings based on your desired level of cleanliness. You’ll also have a better idea of how many hours you should run the robot to achieve the best results.
Modes and Settings
Many homeowners purchase a robotic pool cleaner, set the longest timer, and let it run whenever they think the pool needs it. This isn’t recommended.
Running the device more often than necessary wears out the motor and filter, and reduces the lifespan of the robot cleaner. There are more efficient ways to utilize this innovative technology.
Most households can get away with running an automatic robotic pool cleaner weekly for one hour at a time. However, if your specific device requires a longer runtime to complete a basic clean, then opt for that amount of time instead.
Keep in mind that the majority of robotic pool cleaners offer different modes, allowing homeowners to perform specific tasks, from a thorough cleaning to basic maintenance. Full cleanings typically clean the pool within a few hours. While these cleanings are efficient and powerful, they’re not necessary every day.
Using the deep or thorough cleaning mode daily is like deep cleaning your home every day — it’s not necessary, and it’s a waste of time and product.
Basic cleaning modes are best for ensuring dirt and debris are picked up regularly. Reserve complete cleanings to once a month or so, running the device for 2 to 4 hours or however long the manual recommends.
Keep in mind, however, that if you’re not performing daily basic cleanings (which you should be), then you’ll need to use the complete cleaning setting more frequently.
The maximum coverage of your robot cleaner model plays a role in how often you’ll need to run the device to ensure a proper clean.
Many of these devices have submersible cables that can only stretch so far. For example, the Dolphin Nautilus CC Robotic Pool Cleaner only has a range of 33 feet. As such, it’s not the best option for families with extra-large pools. If you purchased this particular robot cleaner to clean, say, a 60-foot pool, you’d need to manually move it to cover the entire pool and run it anywhere from 4 to 6 hours at a time.
There are cordless models available, but they tend to have shorter runtimes due to the battery life. These devices often use sensors to know how to navigate the pool, and it’s expected that the technology will only get better.
In the last decade or so, robotic pool cleaners have become more advanced. They may be small, but they’re mighty and powerful, capable of cleaning small to large debris, and scrubbing the pool walls and floor, so you don’t have to.
If you have a robot cleaner for your pool, read the manual to determine the recommended runtimes for basic and complete cleanings. Use that information along with the tips in this article to figure out how long to run your device.
- Google Patents: Automatic Swimming Pool Cleaner
- EnergyStar.gov: Pool Pumps
- Google Books: Applied Intelligent Systems New Directions
- United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Water Treatment and Testing
- Hayword Pool: Top 5 Advantages for Using a Robotic Pool Cleaner
- Penn State University – CiteSeerX: Autonomous Pool Cleaning