What is an automatic pool skimmer?
A pool skimmer is a piece of equipment that cleans the surface of a pool by skimming to catch floating debris like leaves, insects, twigs, etc. This can be anything between just a pool net to a robotic skimmer.
Automatic pool skimmers are those skimmers which do not need manual intervention for their working. They are also called floating skimmers. These independent skimmers can be used on both inground as well as above-ground pools.
How does it work?
There are two types of automatic floating pool skimmers. They are;
- Wall mount skimmers
- Robotic skimmers
Wall mount skimmers
Wall mount skimmers are mounted on the wall of the pool. They have a pumping unit, the necessary pipings and a floating bucket with a net to capture the debris. The bucket with the net floats below the water line to allow the intake of water. The pumping system pulls the water through this bucket and recirculates that water to another part of the pool. During this cycle, any floating debris in the pool gets caught in the filter bucket.
Robotic pool skimmers
Robotic pool skimmers, as you might have guessed, travel to and fro on the surface of the pool. They are like Roombas cleaning your room. They have a paddle, an entrance, and exit of water, and a tray to collect the debris. Their working is actually simpler than wall mount units. They travel the waters using the paddle, their front and back sides are open for water to flow through with a net on one side to trap the debris. So when they move any debris in their way gets collected in the tray.
Robotic pool skimmers use solar energy for working. Their top cover is fitted with solar panels which can charge them while they are working and not. The electricity from the solar panels is stored in a battery so these solar pool skimmers will work for hours even at night.
A) Best Solar-powered Robotic pool skimmers
Here is my list of the best solar pool skimmers;
1. Solar Breeze robotic pool skimmer NX2 review
Solar Breeze is very popular for its efficient robotic pool skimmers. They have several models, and NX2 is the latest among them.
Solar Breeze NX2 is a light-weight pool skimmer mostly made of high-quality plastic. It has two solar panels on its top cover, and a large tray, which is twice as big as a regular skimmer basket, to collect debris. It has two paddles; the paddle on the back drives it forward and backward while the one on the front collects the debris.
It is equipped with 4 wheels on its corners. The wheels on the front rotate outwards. The wheels on the back corners are free rotating. These wheels help it to maneuver tight corners and also efficiently skim the sides of the pool.
It also has LED lights on its corners which flashed during night time operation.
It takes around 6 hours in direct sunlight to completely charge this skimmer for the first time. Then it will charge automatically while working. It has a rechargeable Lithium-Ion battery so it can also work for around 2-3 hours at night time. The battery also makes sure that the robot doesn’t slow down under shades or when it is cloudy.
Solar Breeze also reverses its direction if it gets stuck in a corner. The navigational system of this equipment is so efficient you don’t have to worry about supervising its operation. It may seem to be a bit slow but will eventually cover the whole surface of the pool. It automatically reverses its direction every 4 minutes and moves forward after 50 seconds in a different direction. This process, when repeated multiple times, will navigate the skimmer through every nook and corner of the pool leaving no debris on the water.
In addition, it has a chemical dispenser tray on its side where you can add up to two trichlor tablets.
It comes with a 1-year warranty.
One downside of the Solar Breeze skimmer is its balance. This equipment is properly balanced only once you add two chlorine tablets into the dispenser tray. If you choose to add only one the robot may move slightly to the left or right. However, this is not a big issue in practice.
2. Solaskimmer floating robotic pool skimmer review
Solaskimmer is a strong competitor of Solar Breeze NX2. It is manufactured by Remington solar; a company popular for its solar-based products including solar attic fans.
Solaskimmer is light-weight, made of plastic and has two solar panels mounted on its top. It is equipped with 4 infrared sensors on its front side to detect obstacles and navigate them.
Its working is basically the same as that of Solar breeze. It floats on water with two paddles each on front and back for propulsion and debris collection. While moving forward the debris tray collects any debris in its path. Once any obstacles are detected the water jets equipped on the two opposite corners (one on the front corner and the other on the opposite corner of the back) changes the direction of this floating pool skimmer.
It also reverses and changes its direction intermittently so it eventually covers the whole surface of the pool. The battery in the skimmer will last up to 6 hours per charge so it can also work for a considerable time at night.
In addition to the solar panels, the Solaskimmer also comes 110V charging port and a wall charger. It can be charged fully via the wall charger within 4-6 hours and within 5-6 hours under the full sun. Also, it charges while running.
It lacks a chemical dispenser tray.
Solaskimmer is covered under a 1 -year warranty. A 30-day money-back guarantee is also there.
Solaskimmer vs Solar Breeze NX2 – What’s the difference?
The main difference between Solaskimmer and Solar Breeze is Solaskimmer uses four infrared sensors and water jets to navigate out of obstacles while Solar Breeze uses four bumper wheels for the same purpose.
Solar Breeze also has a chemical dispenser tray to store chlorine tablets but Solaskimmer lacks that.
Solaskimmer comes with a charging port while Solar Breeze floating skimmer can only be charged via sunlight.
What are the benefits of using robotic pool skimmers?
Robotic floating pool skimmers are very convenient to use. You don’t have to oversee skimming, just turn it ON and relax. Also, they are all solar-powered, that means they are green, better for the environment. They also do not need any wires or hoses, the debris collected inside the robots.
Robotic pool skimmers are also easier to clean and maintain.
They are super convenient to use, which is why people love them.
What are some of the cons of robotic floating pool skimmers?
With all their advantages, they are a lot pricier than wall mount pool skimmers.
B) Which are some of the best wall mount floating pool skimmers you can get?
Any skimmers other than those manual ones (net and a pole) are called automatic, so wall mount pool skimmers, although they are stationary, falls within this category.
But keep in mind that these are not independent units. They need to be connected to the hose of a pool vacuum cleaner or to the water circulation unit.
Here are three such automatic floating skimmers;
1. Skimmer Motion suction floating skimmer
Skimmer Motion is a very popular floating skimmer for both inground and above-ground pools. This is not exactly a wall mount equipment; it is connected to the pool vacuum.
The package comes with a skimmer, a hose, a Tee-Joint and a basket. To install this, first, disconnect the hose from the pool cleaner, then join that hose back to the pool cleaner using the Tee-Joint. Connect the hose of the skimmer to this Tee-Joint. Connect the other end of this hose to the skimmer. Finally, insert the skimmer bucket. Installation completed!
As you can see from the above video the skimmer works only when the pool cleaner is working. One advantage of Skimmer Motion is that it moves along with the pool vacuum covering more area than other stationery floating pool skimmers. This makes sure that the pool is cleaned more thoroughly and faster.
Skimmer Motion can also be connected directly to the pool suction port. If this is the case, depending on the size of the pool, you may need more than one skimmer to fully clean it.
This is a much reliable product, and it comes with a warranty for 1-year. You can check their manual here for details of installation and warranty.
2. Intex Deluxe wall mount pool skimmer
As you can see from the video above this pool skimmer is mounted on the wall of the pool. It is very convenient to be used in an above-ground pool.
Its main parts include a floating cover, a basket, a skimmer, a mounting setup, a hose, and adaptors. It is made of durable polypropylene plastic. The basket and the floating cover goes inside the skimmer. You can adjust the height of the skimmer using the height adjuster on the mounting bracket. The hose is fitted at the bottom of the skimmer and is connected directly to the suction port of the pool.
The floating cover floats just below the waterline. It is self-adjustable so small changes in water level won’t affect its working. It sucks the water on the surface through the bucket which has a filter to separate debris. Once filled, the strainer bucket can be simply pulled up using its handles to remove the debris.
One downside of this floating skimmer is that it will consume a lot more time than a robotic skimmer to completely clean the pool surface. Also for large pools, a single skimmer may not be enough.
It comes with a 1-year warranty.
Here are some more very similar floating skimmers;
What is the difference between a pool skimmer and a pool cleaner?
A pool skimmer skims the surface of the pool to remove any floating debris. A pool cleaner, on the other hand, cleans the debris on the bottom of the pool.
It is always advised to get a pool skimmer as well as a pool cleaner to maintain the water clean and free of any algae.
Should pool skimmers be ON all time?
No, the pool skimmers do not have to work all the time. Automatic floating skimmers need to be used only two days a week. Wall mount skimmers need to be used more frequently but not more than 4 days a week.
Of course, this depends on the location of the pool and how frequently leaves and other debris falls on it.
Are all automatic skimmers floating?
No, there are many varieties of pool skimmers. For eg: this Hayward pool skimmer is fixed permanently to the side of an above ground pool.