So this question is somewhat easily answered. In this article we will NOT be talking about robotic cleaners. They can be somewhat superior in some instances but can also be out cleaned by less expensive models IF you know what you're doing. So I'm going to teach you a little about selecting the best vacuum for your pool.
The best pool cleaners on Amazon for a screened in pool:
For screened in pools you usually don't need to worry much about heavy leaves and debris falling in from the trees above. The cleaners that fit this category best are suction type cleaners. They either plug into your skimmer or optional vacuum port on the side of the pool. You essentially shut off the main drain line (the white drain at the bottom) so it doesn't get stuck on the drain and let the pool cleaner run around the floor and walls. There are a host of awesome cheap vacuums on Amazon that will work on screened in pools. Here are some of my top picks as I've seen hundreds in the pools that we take care of in Orlando.
The Hayward Navigator
The Hayward Navigator has been a tried and true model for many years in the pool industry. This vacuum is an all around champion and basically will work on screened in and unscreened pools pretty well. It is not designed to climb the walls but in some cases with the suction turned up higher than it should be you may find it going all the way up to the tile. The cleaning pattern is essentially a turning circle one way and then a turning circle the other way. Parts for this vacuum are a plenty with aftermarket generic copies all over Amazon. There are a couple of parts that will wear down as this vacuum has 5 or 6 things that will need changing over the years. Shoes, wings, a-frame bearings, turbine and turbine bearings are some of the usual parts needing replacement. Many of my customers refer to it a their R2D2 because it's shaped like a little robot and steps around the floor with its 2 feet. I give this automatic pool cleaner a 3 out of 5 because it's pricey but it does an all around good job.
Baracuda G3 by Zodiac
For the price you will not beat the Zodiac Baracuda G3. I only recommend this pool cleaner if you have a SCREENED IN POOL. If there are a bunch of leaves that this vacuum will have to contend with it will get bogged down and not work as good as the others. One great thing about this vacuum is that it climbs the walls, thus saving you the labor of brushing the walls. There is only 1 moving part on this vacuum and a couple of other wearable items that will need to be replaced. It is a super simple design and do not expect this cleaner to fly around the bottom of your pool because it is snail like slow. It basically bounces on the floor as its method of movement. Depending on the shape of your pool and its slow movement it may get stuck by the steps are weird areas that may cause issues for turning in your pool. I give the Baracuda G3 a 5 out of 5 because of price, ease of repair, cleaning walls and longevity.
MX6 by Zodiac
The Zodiac MX6 is a wonderful choice for a screened in pool that may cause issues with the wall crawling G3 like steps, bar seats or squared corners. It looks like a futuristic tank with 2 tracks that last a really long time before needing replacement. The hoses that it uses are proprietary so don't expect to find any cheap replacement ones on Amazon when they need it in 3 or 4 years later. There are a couple of other moving parts on the inside that will also need to be changed as it gets older. I give this vacuum a 4 out of 5 for screened in pools.
Mx8 by Zodiac
The Zodiac MX8 is the bigger brother to the MX6. It basically has a wider cleaning path and is for bigger pools. I give it a 3 out of 5 but if you have a large pool like a 20 x 40 seriously consider this pool cleaner.
Kreepy Krauly by Zodiac
The Kreepy Krauly is one of the original cleaners that every other wall crawling cleaner copied. The price point on this model makes it a tough one to beat. I give it a 5 out of 5 because of its low cost and quiet operation. There is one moving part inside as well but it is extremely durable unlike the diaphragm on the Zodiac G3 which wears out fairly easily. Two other wearable parts makes this vacuum an easy choice for those that don't want to be bothered with a broken pool cleaner.
There are a host of other cheap vacuums on Amazon but buyer beware you're rolling the dice with these Mickey Mouse models as we call 'em in the pool biz. Well I hope this helps you in your search to make your pool life easier. Feel free to send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org with pictures of your pool and we can help you select the perfect vacuum for you.
The best pool cleaners on Amazon for unscreened pools:
If you have an unscreened pool your BEST option is a cleaner that plugs onto the pressure side of your pool system. This is the side that pushes water instead of sucking water into your pump and filter. The reason being is usually that unscreened pools have a lot of leaves and debris so pressure cleaners will not slow the flow of water down on your filtration system if you have a really heavy day of leaves falling into the pool. For the most part, they cost more to install and operate because there is usually an added booster pump to help the vacuum move around the floor. These pool vacuum cleaners work on the venturi principle which in this case is water shooting straight up into a catch bag and that in turn makes a current under the vacuum to pull debris up into the bag. So because the debris bag is the main catch area for the dirt some of the finer particles go through and back into the pool. For that reason these cleaners don't work as well to get every little bit of dirt out of your pool. However, they do usually have an extra feature to help blow the debris off the walls and floor in the hopes that some may make its way to the main drain. This tail whip also keeps algae from growing in areas that you may have to brush with other suction type pool cleaners. Some people find this tail whip annoying at times because when the vacuum gets to the tile line of the pool it may spray some water up in the air and on things near the pool side. Be that as it may if you have a pool with heavy trees or sand this still might be your best option so study this section well.
The Polaris Vac-Sweep 360 by Zodiac
This little vacuum DOES NOT REQUIRE A BOOSTER PUMP. You must however make sure you have a fairly strong pump in order to keep this puppy moving while still circulating the water in your pool. In many installations the vacuum port is used if it pushes water. You could also plug it into one of the pool returns but understand that you may have to plug off some of your other pool returns in order to make this cleaner work good. The hoses are larger in diameter than most other pressure cleaners so that proper flow gets to the head unit. It is the cheapest type of pressure cleaner and could do the job but be weary on selecting this if your system doesn't already have good flow.
The Polaris Booster Pump PB4-60
This is the lowest price pool cleaner booster pump on Amazon to date. It comes with the connecting hoses and fittings to plug into a threaded 3/4" female port on your plumbing. Unless you a really good at plumbing and electrical I would only suggest professional installation on this pump for the first time. If you are replacing an older booster pump then a quick swap with the new hoses and electrical is all you need to do. Many DIY homeowners can install this on their own if you're just swapping out old to new.
The Polaris Vac-Sweep 280 by Zodiac
This pool cleaner is very popular for a pressure cleaner. It has 3 wheels and gets its power from a small hose connected to a single cleaner line that is plumbed to a mandatory booster pump (see above.) There is a backup valve that pulls the vacuum in reverse every 2 minutes in case it gets stuck on the stairs or some other odd area of the pool. Sometimes this backup valve can cause more problems than help if it wraps the cleaner around a deep end ladder or even its own hoses. You will need to gauge the flow of water with the included flow disks and diverter valve so that the vacuum goes at just the right speed. An all around champ to pick-up lots of leaves in your pool.
Pentair Kreepy Krauly Legend
If you are looking to replace your old Polaris and/or want something beefier then this is a cleaner I would highly recommend. For the little additional money you get a much wider opening to feed even bigger leaves into an extra large bag that is super easy to dump. It has 4 wheels with 2 front wheels driving it to help move on the floor even better as well as keep it from tipping over. It too also comes with a backup valve that is on the hose so it may have similar issues as the 280's backup valve. I find that this vacuum works best for pine needles because of the larger opening. The polaris 280 sometimes bunches up the needles in the opening depending on certain variables.