Skimmer Icon Best Pool Skimmers of 2020: Automatic (Robotic Floating, Basket) And Manual

updated: September 16, 2020

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.

Man cleans a pool with a manual skimmer.
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!

Best Pool Skimmers of 2020 – Ratings & Reviews


1Most innovative robotic pool skimmer
This solar-powered wonder makes owning a pool hassle free.

The Solar Breeze NX2 is sun-powered, which means you can save hundreds of dollars a year on your energy bill!

It uses all that free power to rid your pool of 95% of leaves, insects, and other debris. And with batteries to store the sun’s energy, your tireless robotic servant works all night so you can wake up each morning to a perfectly skimmed pool.

ProsThe Good

It does more than just remove debris. It filters the water, too, restoring your pool to a state of crystal-clear cleanliness. Another thing it does is to add chlorine so that your pool remains in perfect chemical balance.

All of this sun-powered purification gives your pool’s dedicated pump a much-needed rest. Most customers find they can reduce their pool’ run time by up to two-thirds.

Not bad for such a small device!

ConsThe Not-So-Good

Although most people have a fantastic user experience with the Solar Breeze NX2, a few were unhappy to find out that the unit stopped working after only a few short months. The most common reason for this is the rear wheel stops spinning, so the unit remains stationary.

This means the robot is dead in the water and cannot do its job.

Customer OpinionWhat Customers Say

Some customers are ecstatic that emptying the collection tray is a BREEZE—at the most, it takes a minute to do. This makes the already easy process of cleaning their pool even easier.

EVERYONE is happy that they can finally toss their manual skimmer in the garbage and drastically reduce the time they spend running the dedicated filtration system.

This gives them the exhilarating freedom to jump into a sparkling clean pool whenever they want!

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2Best 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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3Most 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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4Best 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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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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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.

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.
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