Skimmer Icon Best Pool Skimmers of 2021: Automatic (Robotic Floating, Basket) And Manual

updated: July 29, 2021

Having a pool in your backyard can be a GLORIOUS way to go on vacation without traveling—that is, if you’re regularly cleaning it. If you need a device to help do this, read our reviews and buying guide of the best automatic (floating, basket, or robotic) pool skimmers.

Then, you’ll know exactly which one to buy so the waters of your pool can be crystal-clear and sparkling clean as can be! This way, you can minimize the health risks of dirty swimming pool water.

Instapark Betta waiting for the next pool cleaning session
Pool Skimmers make skimming water an effortless task

A good swim pool skimmer helps you keep all the nasty leaves and debris out of your inground or above ground pool. It makes skimming water an effortless task. With all the unsightly, potentially unhealthy scum gone, your pump will work so much more efficiently.

So, slap that telescoping pole on your skimmer and whip that pool into shape!

Things to Think About When Buying a Skimmer

Here are some criteria you should consider when buying a pool skimmer:

How Good Is It at Capturing Junk

The most important criterion of any pool skimmer is how effective it is at catching floating gunk and debris. After all, that’s its primary mission. Find out the particle size the skimmer can pick up. Some models are terrific at picking up larger debris (like leaves). Others can only pick up pieces smaller than one inch.

Man cleans a pool with a manual skimmer.
Manual skimming is a quite time consuming option

Is It Compatible with Your Pool

You’ve got to make sure that the skimmer you’re contemplating buying is compatible with your pool type. Otherwise, you’ll only end up returning it. Although there are universal skimmers designed to work on all kinds of pools, there are also skimmers exclusively designed for either in-ground or above-ground ones. Some skimmers are designed to only work with specific brands of pools and pumps.

When it comes to skimmers, there’s always a trade-off. Large holes allow more water to flow through, providing better suction. Smaller holes catch more floating garbage. Carefully choose a skimmer for your unique needs. If you end up buying a skimmer that’s best for larger debris, you can always use a nylon sock if you ever need to capture smaller particles.

Man empties the robotic skimmer debris basket.
How Difficult Is It to Empty

If your skimmer is as effective as it should be, it’s going to fill up with debris fast. With a pool that quickly collects floating junk, it might need to be emptied several times a day. That’s why you choose a model with a basket that’s easy to dump out. Otherwise, you’ll have yet another overly arduous pool maintenance chore on your hands, and you’ll soon regret your purchase. Cleaning needs to be easy, too, so you can extend the life of your gizmo by keeping it maintained.

How Durable Is It

Try to find a skimmer manufactured from premium materials. It should have built-in UV protection, so it can withstand the relentless rays of the summer sun. A well-made skimmer will last for at least several seasons.

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Best Pool Skimmers of 2021 – Ratings & Reviews


1Best for irregular shapes
Sleek looking solar-powered skimmer with set-it-and-forget-it functionality.

The Instapark Betta is a world-class solar-powered skimmer that’ll literally work night and day to eradicate every bit of debris from your pool surface. 100% of its energy comes from the sun, meaning an outrageous utility bill won’t be the price you pay for wanting a sparkling clean pool. Because it’s solar-powered, it’s eco-friendly too, so you don’t have to feel guilty about yet another device that contributes to environmental degradation.

ProsThe Good

The Betta has a rugged body manufactured from UV-resistant material. Unlike some other pool cleaners on the market, your device can take a beating from the relentless rays of the summer sun, guaranteeing a long and happy life. It boasts state-of-the-art ultrasonic sensors, so it won’t risk damage by bumping into walls. It boasts long-lasting brushless motors which are the same kind you’d find on high-end drones.

ConsThe Not-So-Good

People complain about it getting stuck on hoses that float on top of the water. There have been some issues with the propellers freezing up after a short time and never working again. The unit seems to have some difficulty picking up small pine needles.

Customer OpinionWhat Customers Say

Many satisfied customers out there can’t stop raving about how spotless, and mirror-like their pool water is because of this fantastic device. Others love that there’s a container for chlorine tablets so the skimmer can kill two birds with one stone. Some customers with irregularly shaped pools are impressed with how well the machine navigates their serpentine layouts.

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2Best at avoiding hoses
Advanced robotics merge with eco-friendly design.

Before the Skimbot arrived on the scene, you might have needed to manually skim for up to three tedious hours each day. Now, with the Skimbot, you can relegate your manual skimmer to your personal museum of obsolete tools. Open the box, drop it in the pool, turn it on and bang! By the end of the day, the surface of your pool is utterly spotless.

ProsThe Good

With the Skimbot, control is in the palm of your hand using the intuitive app and an Android or iOS device. Check pool temperature, battery status, charging wattage, and change usage settings right from your smartphone. Exceedingly nimble side paddles rapidly switch from forward to reverse to avoid walls and other obstacles.

The sliding pool tray is one of the best I’ve ever seen, with an innovative design that prevents dirt and leaves from backwashing into your pool.

ConsThe Not-So-Good

Some people complain that the Bluetooth range is 12 to 15 feet at most. This means you often have to be standing at the pool’s edge to connect with your robot. The on/off button at the front of the unit is too sensitive. So, if you have a water feature, the water might accidentally shut your bot off. You can fix it by disabling the button, but then you can only turn it on or off by using your phone.

Customer OpinionWhat Customers Say

Customers are delighted that the unit is manufactured from durable, UV-resistant enhanced plastics designed to withstand blistering heat, the sun’s unrelenting rays, and bitter cold. Rugged construction ensures longevity, so your unit will be around for years to come. Others are ecstatic that the robot deftly maneuvers around pool hoses, which means you’ll never have to rescue this guy from getting snarled up.

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3Best for removing bugs floating skimmer
This sleek blue water wheel saves you lots of work.

The SkimmerMotion works in tandem with your bottom-cleaning vacuum cleaner. As your vacuum moves across the pool, the SkimmerMotion skims the surface using its eight highly efficient water intakes to create a whirlpool that sucks in debris.

Once you buy this incredibly useful device, you can retire your manual skimmer forever. You’ll be able to come home after an exhausting day at work, refreshing beverage in hand, and just relax!

ProsThe Good

The SkimmerMotion is exceedingly easy to install.

If you’re unlucky enough to have a battalion of tiny bugs commit suicide every night in your pool, this device will suck up their yucky little corpses before you have a chance to see them. The SkimmerMotion has a demonstrated ability to eradicate insects like no other skimmer on the market.

Its aesthetically pleasing design looks FANTASTIC in your pool and is so much fun to watch!

ConsThe Not-So-Good

The SkimmerMotion only gets rid of debris smaller than one inch. So, forget about using it to suck up large leaves. Unlike other pool skimmers, it’s not a standalone item. You must use it with a bottom-cleaning vacuum cleaner, and it can cause your vacuum to tip over at times.

Although it’s a quality product, it does seem somewhat overpriced.

Customer OpinionWhat Customers Say

Lots of buyers praise the SkimmerMotion for its compact and sleek look. Others love swimming in a pool without hundreds of dead floating insects detracting from their enjoyment of their backyard oasis.

Virtually every customer adores the SkimmerMotion because it frees them from doing any manual skimming.

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4Most durable skimmer
Ingenious device uses venturi effect to clean.

The PoolSkim harnesses your pool’s return jet’s power to create a small but powerful venturi effect. This generates a whirlpool that magnetically attracts all the floating junk in your pool, such as leaves and grass.

The unit’s ingenious “floating” hat automatically adjusts to subtle changes in the water level. So, it’s always at the right height to suck in all the unsightly garbage destroying your pool’s crystalline purity.

ProsThe Good

Because the skimmer works with your pool’s return jet, it takes a lot of strain off your dedicated filtration system. The pump doesn’t have to struggle anymore with pulling water through a weir clogged with wet leaves, dog hair, and other waste.

The PoolSkim is durable enough to last for years because it’s made from the highest quality polyurethane.

ConsThe Not-So-Good

The mesh net should have been manufactured with smaller holes in it. The way it stands, it’s more suitable for collecting larger leaves and debris. Smaller scraps might slip right through.

One way to solve this problem is by putting a pool sock over the net.

There is another net problem reported by some users. It’s not as rugged as it could be, and tiny tears appear in it even after a short period of use.

Customer OpinionWhat Customers Say

Customers like how you get an easy-to-use, nylon mesh bag to empty instead of a messy basket. They also love not having to waste tedious hours manually skimming millions of teeny bugs from their pools.

Gone are the days of strenuously working for 30 to 60 minutes each time they want to take a refreshing dip. They’re also ecstatic at not having any hoses, hookups, or hassles to contend with.

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5Highest quality manual skimmer
A quality skimmer with thousands of adoring fans.

In the not too distant past, if you wanted to both scoop AND skim your pool, you needed to buy two separate items. However, with the ProTuff Mesh Pool Cleaner, you can do both with a single tool.

This makes it one of the most versatile skimmers you can buy!

The set includes one 23-inch rake good for scooping large debris like pine needles, leaves, and twigs. You also get a 17-inch net for fine debris like silt, dirt, and sand.

ProsThe Good

This cleaner boasts a deep and durable nylon net that’s of a higher quality than virtually every other skimmer bag on the market. It’s double-stitched, double-layered, and boasts a super-strong aluminum alloy frame that’s almost indestructible.

It holds up to 50 pounds of debris and is resistant to abrasion, mold, mildew, tears, and snags. Because the net has considerable depth, you won’t continually have to empty it.

ConsThe Not-So-Good

You don’t get a pole with it—you’ll have to buy that separately. However, it’s compatible with any telescoping pole on the market.

In the past, there have been quality control issues where a customer got a net with a botched stitching job. This includes open areas where there isn’t any stitching, loose threads galore, and portions of the mesh pulling away from the frame.

The company has worked hard to rectify these issues, and there are far fewer complaints these days.

Customer OpinionWhat Customers Say

Lots of customers love that there’s a lifetime guarantee good for unlimited free replacements. Other buyers are impressed at how it handles large cleaning jobs without the frame breaking or the net ever ripping.

This makes the ProTuff durable to the nth degree. Some purchasers are pleasantly surprised at how effortlessly the skimmer moves through the water.

All in all, most customers are pleased with this product and would buy the ProTuff again.

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6Best for above ground pools skimmer
It packs a lot of punch for the price.

With the Intex Pool Skimmer, you can make sure leaves, twigs, and other annoying debris stays out of your pool all summer long. This skimmer creates a watery whirlwind that hungrily sucks up all the aqueous garbage mucking up the crystal clarity of your pool.

Disgusting junk will be siphoned away before it has a chance to sink to the bottom. This takes a lot of strain off your dedicated pool filtration system.

ProsThe Good

This inexpensive, yet powerful skimmer is made of extremely durable polypropylene plastic and comes with an easy-to-clean basket. It’s incredible how well this works for the money you’ll pay.

It’s super easy to install, and you’ll have it up and running in under ten minutes.

Unlike some other skimmers, you won’t have to cut or modify the liner to install it.

ConsThe Not-So-Good

The skimmer only works if you have an Intex filter pump with a minimum flow rate of 800 GPH. If you don’t, you’re out of luck.

The holes in the mesh netting aren’t small enough to capture tiny insects like flying ants and gnats. You’ll have to purchase skimmer socks to put over the netting if you want to catch 100% of all bugs.

Customer OpinionWhat Customers Say

Some users report that the bracket doesn’t hold the skimmer as firmly as it should. They say when you try to tighten the bolts, the plastic it’s made from expands. This means that the bolts never really get tight.

Others describe either not experiencing this problem or coming up with their own jury-rigged solution.

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More About Pool Skimmers

A collage illustrating various types of pool skimmers.

A skimmer’s primary purpose is to remove all the nasty debris from your pool. That way, you can take a nice refreshing dip without worrying about getting out of the water covered with slimy leaves, dead grasshoppers, and God knows what else.

More antiquated pools have concrete skimmers built right in them. Others are designed to hang on the side.

Newer types include floating automatic or robotic skimmers that work independently from the pool’s main filtration system.

Basically, there are three kinds:

  • Manual
  • Automatic
  • Self-Propelled

Manual Skimmers

Owner cleans his pool using a manual skimmer.

Manual skimmers are the most inexpensive type because they’re just fine mesh netting mounted on telescoping poles.

You can’t get more low-tech than that!

They’re only suitable for capturing large debris such as leaves.

Automatic Skimmers

If even the thought of skimming your pool by hand exhausts you, it’s time to part with a little bit of your hard-earned money and buy an automatic pool skimmer.

An automatic pool skimmer (as its name might suggest) is a device that AUTOMATICALLY sucks up all the garbage floating around your pool. It’s designed to filter out whatever is in the upper 1/3 inch of your pool water.

Some automatic skimmers work all by their lonesome–solitary sentinels prowling the pool for intruding impurities.

Automatic pool skimmer at work.

Others team up to get rid of aqueous garbage with bottom-feeding cleaners, whether they be suction side devices or pressure side machines.

An automatic skimmer is a fantastic way to reduce the time you spend on pool maintenance. This gives you more time to enjoy the delights of the summer.

If you want to keep your pool water as clean as possible, you should have more than one automatic skimmer.

A good rule of thumb is there should be one skimmer for every 500 square feet of pool surface. That way, you can make sure your pool always stays clean.

Automatic skimmers work best when strategically placed downwind. Then, the breeze can push the floating litter right into the maw of the unit.

Suction Vs. Return Jet Types

The illustration shows how a suction variety of automatic pool cleaners works

Automatic pool skimmers of the suction variety connect to your pool’s output jet.

These machines generate a powerful vortex that captures floating surface junk and sends it directly to the pool’s dedicated filtration system. They’re MUCH better at getting rid of swirling surface debris than skimmers that stay in one place.

Then, there’s the return jet style of skimmers. Because they’re powered by water returning to the pool, they put ZERO strain on your pool’s pump, preventing premature burnout.

Self-Propelled

Self-propelled pool skimmers are floating devices that use an onboard energy source to effortlessly glide along the surface. Along the way, they pick up unsightly floating garbage and deposit it into a collection canister.

These units aren’t connected to your filter or pump, so they don’t put any strain on either of them.

Self-propelled pool skimmer at work.
Most self-propelled skimmers use solar energy

Most of them use solar energy as their power source. They’re way more expensive than other types of skimmers, but you’ll save money on electricity in the long run.

Battery corrosion can be a HUGE problem in these skimmers because water has a nasty habit of getting into the compartment. Another problem is the blistering UV rays of the sun can cause the plastic in the propellers to degrade over time.

Then, your poor mechanical cleaner won’t be able to carry out its mission anymore.

Cleaning the Skimmer Basket

Skimmer cleans the pool.

It’s crucial that you regularly clean skimmers that are connected to your pool’s pump. If the debris gathered by the skimmer is left to accumulate, it can strain the pump, potentially causing it to burn out.

That’s why, during the summer, the basket should be cleaned out every single day. If storms have recently ravaged your area, you’ll want to check it more frequently.

You can clean your pool skimmer by taking the cover off, pulling the basket out, and tossing whatever is in the basket into a nearby garbage can. If the basket looks grungy, give it a good spraying with a hose.

Some people say it’s okay to drop chlorine tablets right into the skimmer basket. This isn’t the best idea because the high chemical content can damage the unit.

However, you can put a couple of tennis balls in the basket to absorb floating oils, including sunscreen and makeup residue. Replace the tennis balls when they start to look worn out.

Why It’s Important to Skim Your Pool

So much detritus can fall into your pool, including spiders, ants, bark, twigs, and leaves. Swimming with all this junk floating around is not only unpleasant but can be a health hazard. Aqueous debris will eventually sink to the bottom. This gives it time to decompose and pollute your formerly pristine pool water. Decomposed materials become a food source for bacteria and other pathogens, turning your watery paradise into a cesspool.

Man adds chlorine tablets into the corresponding compartment of the robotic skimmer.
Pool skimmers could also help in adding chlorine to the pool

This can adversely affect the health of family and friends. However, the health of human beings isn’t the only thing negatively affected by a failure to skim impurities from your backyard swimming hole. Gunk that gets caught in your pool’s dedicated filtration system can cause significant wear and tear on equipment, and its performance could be severely compromised.

Although chlorine certainly plays a role, skimming is the first line of defense in maintaining the delicate ecosystem of your pool by keeping contaminants out. That’s why you need to skim the pool daily if you can swing it. If you don’t have a machine that does it for you, you must do it manually (which is a pain).

Keeping Bugs Out

By diligently keeping organic material out of your pool by skimming manually or using an automatic device, you’ll cut down on the number of pesky insects who end up as tiny floating corpses. That’s because nothing attracts bugs like drifting leaves, twigs, and seeds. If there’s nothing for them to snack on in the water, they won’t stick around.

Another way of cutting down on the number of winged pests that end up in your pool water is by keeping plant beds at least several feet away. This includes overhanging trees. The farther away vegetation is, the fewer bugs you’ll need to fish out with your skimmer.

Author
Our pool maintenance expert, Luke Reed, earned his BS in Civil Engineering from Georgia Tech in 1998. Since then, he’s worked in a variety of industries, including design and construction of luxury swimming pools.
image description Comments
haroldo
October 12, 2021 at 12:52 pm

Suction Vs. Return Jet Types picture shows the Automatic Skimmers work with suction not jets

Bracken
September 19, 2021 at 2:28 pm

Should the pump be off when using ANY of the automatic skimmers?

Kevin (Cleanup.Expert Team)
October 6, 2021 at 8:48 am

Hello, Bracken! Thanks for the fantastic question. It doesn’t matter if you turn the pump off or not. That’s totally up to you! Many pool owners run them simultaneously without causing problems or damage. If this is what you want to do too, go for it!

haroldo
October 12, 2021 at 12:51 pm

It depend of the type of Automatic Skimmer.
some are powered by the suction port, so pump needs to be on.

Angelo J. Nicholson
July 25, 2021 at 9:14 am

I’m thinking of buying the Instapark Betta. However, I have a couple of bubbler fountains in my pool right near the tanning ledge. Will the fountains knock the debris loose if the skimmer sails over the fountains?

Kevin (Cleanup.Expert Team)
July 27, 2021 at 1:20 pm

Hi, Angelo! The fountains shouldn’t interfere with the operation of the skimmer. One thing to keep in mind before buying this skimmer is your tanning ledge needs to be at least 8” deep. Otherwise, the bottom of the unit could get hung up on the ledge.

Prithvi Reddy
July 15, 2021 at 8:33 pm

I understand that the Instapark Betta skimmer is not warranted for saltwater pools? What are thoughts on this?
Thanks

Jimmy Burleson
April 7, 2021 at 2:14 am

I’m thinking of getting the Aquamoto Skimbot. However, it looks kind of flimsy, almost like a toy. How durable is it?

Kevin (Cleanup.Expert Team)
April 8, 2021 at 2:10 am

Greetings, Jimmy. The Aquamoto is more durable than you think! It’s manufactured from UV-resistant plastic material designed to withstand degradation caused by the sun’s relentless rays and harsh pool environments. Just keep it out of the water and put it in a shady, protected area when you’re not using it, and it should last a good long time.

Naomi
March 12, 2021 at 4:17 am

My backyard pool seems to attract lots of flies and bugs. Is there an automatic skimmer that’s powerful enough to suck up all these little beasties, or will I have to skim them by hand?

Kevin (Cleanup.Expert Team)
March 14, 2021 at 12:00 pm

Hello, Naomi! I would think that most any of these could suck all the insects out of your pool. If you need a recommendation, I would go with the Instapark Betta Automatic Robotic Pool Cleaner. Just make sure that when you drop it in your pool, the pump is off.

Otherwise, it could get stuck in the return port. This model charges rapidly and can work all night long to skim all the nasty stuff from your pool water.

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