Polaris 280 Pool Cleaner Review (Polaris Vac-Sweep)

Polaris 280 Pool Cleaner review (Polaris Vac-Sweep)

This is a comprehensive review for the Polaris 280 pool cleaner, (Polaris Vac-Sweep 280) a pressure side pool cleaner that is made to deal with extreme environments. While it gets stunning ratings from consumers, there are many questions that need to be answered before one should decide whether it is the right choice for him or her. Everything you need to know is covered in this in-depth research so you can make an educated, practical decision.

What is a “Pressure side” Pool Cleaner?

First, let’s cover what the manufacturer means by “pressure side”. This is a common type of cleaner and it refers to the way in which the cleaner is powered. They attach to the return side of your existing filtration system. This is where clean water would normally get sent back into your pool.
Since this kind of cleaner doesn’t use your pool’s suction line, it requires a bag attached to the cleaner to pick up the debris. This saves your pool’s filtration system from dealing with that debris meaning less work for that system.
The product is supplied with the correct fitting (universal wall fitting) for mounting the hose on that pressure side outlet of your pool.

Booster Pump & Connection port

In-order to use Polaris 280, a return side port connected with a booster pump needed. Please ensure before you buy, as you will have some plumbing work to do if you don’t have one although it is worth the trouble.
You can see the inflow threaded port somewhere one or two feet below the surface of the water around the pool. It should be a 11/2” inch Female pipe fitting in-order to fit the Hose of the 280.

connection port setup

connection port setup

Other connections too are possible and it requires additional pipe fittings as in the above case.
The above mentioned ¾ hp booster pump is fixed behind the pool wall to give additional power to the water that is passed through that port.You can find this booster pump if there is one, somewhere around the pool. This is different from the water suction pump that pulls the water from the pool through the skimmer.
booster pump

Booster pump

This booster pump is a small capacity pump and cannot replace your pool’s current pump which is used for suction. It only send the water (pulled by the suction pump through the filtration system) to the pool cleaner and as it is a smaller pump even electricity consumption is very minimal for this.If you want a single pump for water suction as well as for this pressure side pool cleaner you can use a Hayward SP 1HP to bring the water in through the filtering system as well as to send the water through the return side. But the difference in the cost of electricity will not be significantly lower in this option as although this is a single pump it, it has slightly higher HP than the 3/4hp pump in the dual option mentioned above.

Models of Polaris Vac-Sweep 280

There are 3 models of the Polaris 280; 280 F5, 280 F5B and 280 TankTrax
All the Polaris 280 models are powered by a booster pump and dual venturi jets. The power and the ability generated by this technology helps in leading the market in all the functions explained below. It also comes with 31’ Hose ready to be connected to 1.5” dedicated pressure cleaner water line.

The difference between the Polaris 280 F5 and the Polaris 280 F5B is just the color. The Polaris 280 F5B is fully black (to blend with the darker pool base), while the Polaris 280 F5 is white and blue. Both of these cleaners contain the exact components and same parts.

Now about the Polaris 280 F5T, it has a Tank Tread over the two wheels that wraps around on the left side of the cleaner. This tank tread is designed to better negotiate sharp angles, like stairs, or even sharp corners of the pool. The addition of the rubber tank tread is the only difference in this model.

Capacity of Polaris 280 Pool Cleaner

This pool cleaner is capable of handling, in general, all requirements but as your unique situation (the combination of different factors) may be different, consider the following facts before you decide.

Pool Size

It is capable of handling pools of large sizes even if it is over 50 feet provided the pump/fitting is in the middle of the longest side. It is capable of covering this entire distance as it has the additional power from the booster pump. But if your connection port is at the edge of your pool the maximum range will be only 30 feet long unless you do all the plumbing changes to remove the connection port from the edge to an appropriate place.

The question of connecting an additional hose is not an option as per the company’s customer service and hence this pool cleaner 280 demands proper designing of the pool to keep the connection port in such a way to cover the entire pool with a 30 feet hose and you need to keep in mind that the length need of the deeper side coverage will be much longer than the surface reach.

Pool Types

Polaris 280 Pool cleaner can handle all In-ground pools such as, Tile, Concrete, Fiber glass, Gunite and even Pebble. (The manual suggests that this should not be used on vinyl and, in fact, doing so could void the warranty as it could be considered inappropriate use)

Climbing Walls

Yes, Polaris 280 can climb walls and sometimes it also goes out of the water slightly. The climbing will be perfect if the pool has rounded corners, although it will do the job in the angled one as well. All the 280 versions can climb walls, provided

  • The RPM (28-34) is set correctly.
  • Head float is pushed to within ½-1 inch of the feed pipe.
  • Sand if any is dislodged from idler wheel

Climbing Steps

Yes, Polaris 280 pool cleaner is one pool cleaner that is capable of climbing steps as this is made possible with advanced technology. This all depends on the settings you make and you will learn to adjust to do your needs in the process. It is very easy. You need to;

  • Set the RPM to 28-34
  • Ensure the Thrust jest is straight back position.
  • Make the header float forward toward the feed pipe.

Handling Corners

It does get stuck in a corners but the booster pump has plenty of pressure to handle such situations. It takes a few minutes before it gets out due to the pressure and it will land in another spot to continue it’s work. This process is all automated and no manual interventions are needed.

The whipping tail also gets into all the corners and seams of the pool and does a great job to support its cleaning function.

Dirt and Debris Control

Polaris pool cleaner 280 is ideal for handling leaves, dirt, rocks, debris, trash, sand, acorns, etc.

  • Picks up even hair as well could pull a whole stone of 2 cft, a great power combined with technology to make it happen. You can think of it as a robot pet.
  • Keep all the bottom and the sides clean of algae by scrubbing and cleaning every inch of the pool for the most part.
  • Keeps away the shock powder settling at the bottom and from bleaching your liner by dispersing chemicals.
  • The performance is exemplary and much better than the suction robots and it’s not even close, It is comparable to suction cleaners only if that is supported by electric sweepers.
  • The zipper bag of these cleaners is large and has a bigger mouth for larger trash (like debris from trees).
  • The click lock for the bag is an excellent advanced feature since it has a tendency to get unattached otherwise.
  • Weekly Cleaning of skimmers and the bags in the cleaner, is all that you have to do other than brushing the steps, in instances where you have not adjusted the setting rightly for the steps.
  • This may not manage DEAD ALGAE and POLLEN that was grabbed as these, could get sprayed right through the bag, and back to the pool surface. In this case you just have to manually clear it using the hand vaccuum. This is usually an issue only during the beginning of the spring.

Operational Hours

It generally completes the task within 2-3 hours although it can be put to work 7 days a week. But I don’t advise – if you are concerned of the durability of the parts – to keep it in the pool continuously as the chemical in the water could damage it in the long run.

Start at 3 hours and then reduce the time further and further until you notice that pool is not getting cleaned enough to re adjust the timing. In this case it could be a problem if you get too much dirt during a storm. You can clean well during that time to by having two cycles instead of the long cycle to clean the pool properly.

General Tips for Polaris 280

If you have any hesitation on which to buy, this list could help with your decision. Please note that this is not meant to replace any manual that covers Pool cleaner 280.

Installation

The product also comes with a set of filters already installed, in addition to an extra set. You will be surprised to see that there aren’t very many manuals to read. But you will find it is easy to figure it out.


Installing this may take some minor adjustments and the instruction book is very clear. These are a few tips based on experience.

  • Usually ¾ HP is sufficient for all 3 models. But for example if your pump is a 1HP you have to use the restriction eyeball (It is ball with a hole in the shape of funnel within it, you can buy it from the plumbing shop) to provide the right pressure to run the cleaner. After that it is a matter of getting the water jet adjusted, with a bit of trial and error.
  • The Hose comes with the quick connect fitting to the cleaner, which is easy, like just plugging in.
  • If the cleaner keeps getting stuck in the shallow end (while trying to ride vertically along the wall), moving part of the hose to the deep end side of the return point could solve this problem.
  • It comes with the set up. Connecting to the return point is all that you have to do. As trimming the hose is not necessary in most cases, you need to test it before you do that considering the deeper end as well.
  • If you have used Polaris pressure side in the past then no need to change the wall fittings.
    It is just a matter of attaching it to the wall, set the dial and turning it to circulation. This will start working immediately.

Handling

Debris Care: If there is too much debris: You should clear it with a net first, as the bag won’t hold a lot and you’ll need to clean that bag every few minutes. You should clean the bag regularly because if it gets too full the Polaris will just go in circles all the time.

Hose Care: If you have any problems first make sure the hose is the right length; too short and it won’t clean everything, too long and it will get tangled up. The swivel portion on your hose, is useful to get your hose unkinked during operation. If the swivel portions are bad it could happen, especially when the backup valve is on. If you keep having to untangle it, check those first. They are cheap and easy to replace. Do not drag the hose and should pick it up to avoid damaging. Beware of the calcium deposits in the water ad it could build up and hard to remove from the hose. If you want to cut the hose to the proper length, this video could help: https://youtu.be/BVfc1vK6GRc?list=PL3Fq80t74vvkxHT684MB3odGNMSAQ8F8y

Movements: It also would get stuck on the ladders (Some pools doesn’t have steps) and even the auto-reversing function may not free it. When the Polaris is going in you should to keep the ladders out or cover it with a ladder guard kit (Part #G-21).

Additional Options
Of course, If you are concerned about smooth maneuvers around corners then you should consider Tank Trax option instead of the normal F5. F5B is an option if you want to blend with darker bottoms.
But I also recommend to purchase the following and these are important for proper functioning:

  • Extra cleaning bags – choose zipper bags instead of Velcro as cleaning dirt and hair will be easier.
  • If you buy the larger bag that is meant for Polaris 3900 which also supports 280, then you don’t have to change the bag every 2-3 days, and you can do it weekly.
  • Less porous, the new 280 vac bag is good choice to hold the sand, and possibly pollen as well as dead algae.
  • You can either use the Polaris PB4-60 Booster Pump, or the Hayward SP H40.

Special Features

In addition to the capacity there are few features that make this a unique choice.

  • The third idle wheel helps to stay put when the pump is turned off. Otherwise it has a tendency to crawl.
  • Helps to Circulates clean, treated, and heated water throughout the pool, that helps eliminate cold spots and dead areas that could avoid algae growth.
  • Sometimes it serves different needs too, because when it returns after reaching the water surface the tail end splashes water up in the air, and it is great fun for pets and children.

But the water splashing could go towards your windows, too. If that is a problem, then you can get the TailSweep PRO as this could help and this video shows how to fix it: http://www.polarispool.com/en/products/accessories/tailsweep-pro

Design

This is a US product and has an amazing sleek and compact design, with advanced techniques. It has dual venturi jets and the wheels are made of strong plastic and the tires made out of rubber.

This is also a Tailsweep Pro compatible product in the company’s range. This has a tail like unit which while discharging the water it moves around the pool together with the cleaner. This feature is used to clean the surface as well if you use the Tailsweep Pro unit. But there is also an additional benefit of using the Tailsweep pro because it helps to control the water splashing out when it returns back inside the pool after cleaning the walls. This avoids water jets falling on the patio and window glasses beside the pool.

Polaris 280 comes with flexible movable parts. Although movable usually has the tendency for high wear and tear, it is taken care of as Polaris is a matured company with over 40 years in the market known for its high quality standards.

Noise

Usually the Polaris pool cleaners and even the booster pumps are not noisy. But if you find them noisy, then there could be some malfunctions and you need to check this out with the user manual and take appropriate actions.

Ease of Handling

It really is very simple and out of the box plug and play type. Its amazing to be able to just plug this in, leave it in the pool, and then just turn it on, while walking away letting it do its job.

  • Once started the fan at the top will start to blow air out of the water and the bot takes off.
  • If it stops for a moment it is assessing the environment and distances. It happens every time on a new direction. Then it usually starts moving up and down the walls while moving the tail. It moves all around the pool inch by inch, while covering walls, and picks up most of what it runs over.
  • By the way you will have to trim the hose to the correct length if needed and install the blue reducer washer, at the outlet, to get it to work properly in the long run. The video link given above gives a demo, you can watch it if you buy this product.
  • If the pool is filthy, you need to watch out and clear this cleaner as it could miss a few things because the filter is too full.
  • Steps to take out the Pressures side Pool cleaner 280:
  • This really isn’t a hassle as many think. You can pull this with the cord.
  • Once it is close to the edge reach it in and FLIP IT OVER, to avoid dirt coming out.
  • Once you do that you just grab it by the handles in the side and lift it over.
  • Put it on the patio in the edge and let it drain.
  • If it is full of dirt, the doors would be slightly open and it leaves the dirt out, But It wouldn’t leak dirt if they were closed.

Accessories

The Parts are cheap at amazon and you will be surprised to see how cost effective these compare to the cost of repairing with a service company.

Venturi Jets and Vacuum Inlet determines power and the speed and it gives the cleaner higher power.
Shaft drive mechanisms are great for longer operating hours.

Dedicated Booster pump makes the Polaris Pool cleaner more powerful but could increase your energy costs an additional $ 250 per year depending on your usage which is only around $20+ per month, but it deals with more difficult conditions such as steps which is not common with other brands/models.
Auto backup feature enables the machine to move when it gets stuck in corners. It is a great technology and a must for a good pool cleaner.
Tail sweep helps better cleaning.

filter screen

Filter Screen

It also controls the water throwing out, helping you to protect windows and passages. Buy a pack of tail scrubbers, as you will get about a month out of each one. You don’t want to use the cleaner without this as it could damage the liner. Also it helps in sweeping well.
Filter screen for the quick connect fitting (as running without the screen could damage it),

Debris bag-Single Chamber is self-explanatory.

  • Velcro is the pool bag that comes with it, It works fine. But as you are dumping the dirt the Velcro keeps wanting to close back up.
  • Make sure you get Zipper type, with small stitching inside of the bag to create a space for the debris. You can buy 2 extra zipper bags for $20. You can get them cheaper, but that will not have the stitching suitable to keep the debris. The part numbers are 9-100-1022 in black and 9-100-1021 in white.
  • Also buy a leaf bag to use during fall to catch larger leaves.
    Large plastic storage container to place the Polaris into it when it is not in use.
    You can fix it with parts available on Amazon using the demonstrations from youtube. In general there isn’t much to wear out except the scrubber, tires and belts and that would be in years. You can do it yourself with the replacement parts from Amazon. It’s easy and cost effective if you don’t hire the experts.

 

Weight & Dimensions of Polaris 280

Size: 20 x 23 x 10 inches
Shipping Weight: 17.8 Pounds
Item Weight: 17.6 Pounds
Coverage: Pool Walls, Floor, Coves and Steps
Pool Size: Any size with maximum length of 30’ from the fitting
Hose Length: 31’
Minimum Pump Size: 3/4 hp
Warranty: Body 5 years. Wear and Tear items has no warranty.
Purchased replacements are warranted for 90 days.

Ratings

polaris 280 rating

Polaris 280 Rating

Pros

  • It saves 2-3 hours daily as you don’t have to stand there vacuuming the pool.
  • It’s silent yet powerful, actually climbs steps and walls
  • Powerful to suck all dirt covering every inch of the pool
  • Gets the fresh and hot water pushed all over helping cleanliness
  • Parts are not expensive and easy to repair.

Cons

  • Polaris 280 pool cleaner has a bunch of MOVING PARTS which over time could wear out
  • The hoses are long and if you don’t handle it right, it could start leaking after some times.

Price of Polaris 280 Pool Cleaner

Local store average price usually is higher and generally it is known that Amazon has the best offer. It is so much less that you could wonder if it comes with all the hoses and the leaf bag – but it does!

Polaris 280 Pool Cleaner (Polaris Vac-Sweep)

Polaris with its over 40 years of market leadership. It really stands behind its product. It’s an amazing durable brilliantly engineered product, just watching this is a great experience. Buying this cleaner for just hundreds of dollars is an great deal because it works so well and it’s a great fun too.I advise all pool owners, especially In-ground pool owners, to buy this machine as it saves time, energy as well as costs associated with hiring pool companies. This unit could be worth double the amount, for the many reasons highlighted above.

You should have no regrets on Polaris 280 pool cleaner, if you have a system to support this product. Besides you will soon realize, it almost seems like it has a personality and you will be 100{fdbdf2d2333acaa60d1c5ea59a01c10bc717978670a098b42577d5ea07e548f6} satisfied like many others who bought it.