Differing slightly from most of the heavy hitters in the robotic pool cleaner industry, Hayward only produce three core models of bot. They sell a wide variety of attachments, add-ons and appliances though. The line of robotic pool cleaners come in three core flavors, Aquavac 500, TigerShark and SharkVac. Each of these models have further refinements at different price points, essentially adding features to the core design.
The Aquavac 500, a compact little machine that comes in two packages. The Vanilla, bot on its own, and a bundle pack that includes the caddy. Considering that this is a heavier bot, that caddy may well be required. What I find interesting is as of right now, it is slightly more expensive than the other, arguably more impressive, models from Hayward.
The core feature set cannot be disparaged though, all their bots can do the basics, and a few more useful things besides. The Hayward models do have one minor benefit over the vast majority of their competitors, they all look fantastic.
So, let’s dive right in, break this one down and see if it is worth your time.
Hayward Aquavac 500 Design and Build Quality
Hayward has a reputation for quality, and it’s on full display here. The fit of the build is tight, and the quality of the materials used is very high. I am a big fan of the combination material design, and I can attest that this build can take a fair few knocks. You want to take a lot of things into account when you buy a robotic pool cleaner. The fit of the parts and the make of the cleaner. A properly fit robotic pool cleaner will have very little rattle when shaked. First thing you should check when you buy a bot is give it a short shake, if you hear rattle then you likely have a factory defect, and will have to make use of that limited warranty. The reason I mention the importance of the brand, a company that is larger tends to be more trustworthy. Take a look at the warranty too, even a limited warranty can be good if it covers enough, and with a Hayward you will be impressed with the breadth of their limited warranty.
Now onto the appearance of the thing, and I don’t know what it is about wheeled bots, but they tend to be much cooler looking than the cylinder based propulsion bots. The blue, grey and black plastic finish is lovely, and the strong smooth lines, along with the simple symmetry, makes for one of the best looking designs on the market. The handle is a little short, and while it looks nice, I worry about the ease of use implications of so short a handle on a heavy bot like this.
While I realize that the appearance of the build is not that important, I think it can sway a decision, especially for those debating between multiple models. Consider as well how seldom I get to talk about a good looking robotic pool cleaner. I am reminded of the Aquabot Breeze bots, but this time this aesthetically pleasing robot can actually climb a wall.
Hayward Aquavac 500 Features and Specs
I’ve been steeped in robotic pool cleaning tech for the last several months, so you know I speak the truth when I say it comes down to really only three core features to a robotic pool cleaner. Three things that it must be able to do in order to be worth the price. It must clean the pool floor, it must filter the water and it must be capable of climbing the walls. Other features that can increase utility, but no matter the bells and whistles, if it lacks one of those three things then you must look elsewhere.
The Aquavac 500, I am happy to say, is able to do all three of the core functions. It also has quite a few added features that make it somewhat more interesting. It is an in ground pool cleaner, so if you have an above ground pool you may want to look elsewhere. The maximum pool size is 20′ x 40′ and the swivel cable is 60′ long, and Kevlar reinforced. The swivel cable is great to see, not something that comes with all bots, and helps prevent tangling.
At the base is two scrubbing brushes, capable of breaking up large debris and even algae build up, making it easier to vacuum. Not only does it clean the floor well, but it also climbs the walls, making that 90 degree transition with ease. I do have some reports of the bot not making the transition, and that counts as a factory fault, bear that in mind. Average cycle time is 3 hours, but there is a nice 90 minute speed cycle, for pool cleaning emergencies.
The filter is top mounted, showing us that the Aquavac 500 is a newer design, and it uses cartridges too, a system I am very much in favor of. There is no weekly timer function, but you can set it to clean once every 24, 48 or 72 hours, which is handy.
As I have said before, the only real difference between the two packages of Aquavac 500 is the inclusion of a well designed caddy. It works well, and the bot clips in nice and tight. On its own the caddy can cost upwards of $150.
Not much in terms of bells and whistles here, no fancy remotes or full filter lights, although it has the core features of a robotic pool cleaner, making it well worth the money.
Hayward Aquavac 500 Ease of Use
When it comes to design, you have a couple options. The fully integrated easy to use kind, and the more complicated external pump builds. I prefer the easy to use builds, for obvious reasons. We have excellent mini pump tech these days, so there is little need to connect to an external device. I have noticed a further subset in the all in one options. The old models and the new. Old models use bottom mounted chambers, and filter bags. Top loading is much easier to use, and cartridges are way easier to clean than filter bags.
With most other models I have reviewed I have been able to focus on a few minor issues and break them down. That is because, for the most part, I have been reviewing 5 year old tech. The Hayward Aquavac 500 is a newer model, so most of the issues don’t exist anymore. The filter chamber is top mounted, and it uses a filter cartridge.You will have to clean out the bot by hand.
There is an issue when the filter chamber is over filled, making some of the debris fall back into your pool, but that is more user error than build issues. The biggest issue with the build is the size of the handle, which can tend to be a hassle pulling it out of the water. It might look great, but we are talking utility here, so it may have won points earlier in the review, but it loses them here. And the ease of use section is a little more important, in my opinion.
It’s a heavy bot, a little under 21 pounds, so getting around without the caddy, if you go for that model, and pulling it out of the pool is a pain. Better I think to get the caddy. The Kevlar reinforced cable does put my mind at ease when pulling it out of the pool by it. One small issue. Not too often that that is the case. If a short handle is a deal breaker for you, and it really shouldn’t be, then don’t fret since there’s plenty of better options. But on the whole this is one of my favorite builds so far.
Hayward Aquavac 500 Pricing, Value, & Discounts
Here is a section filled with confusion. It seems the price of the product is one of the most important pieces of information. Well, if you go looking for an Aquavac 500 you will find the caddy-less version retails around $1200 however you can sometimes find it for a better price at Amazon.com by clicking here. The be-caddy’d version generally runs around $100 more.
I always argue that any robotic pool cleaner will be worth the money in the long run. It is a time saver and it will pay you back quickly.
The other factor to take into account before buying a robotic pool cleaner is the cost to run the thing. Cycle cost does vary depending on your area, but on average it will cost you 15c per cycle. What is interesting in the case of the Aquavac 500 is that this is the only bot in the Hayward line that does not list the actual power draw information. It is a smaller bot, so it is safe to assume that the day to day costs will be slightly lower than average. Granted, a little less than 15c per cycle does not sound like a lot of money, but consider the long term cost there. I feel it is important to know how much a new piece of tech will cost you.
Now to the warranty, and unlike the Dolphin range, Hayward have extensive information available on their limited warranty. For the Aquavac 500 it lasts 3 years and covers all manner of factory issues. In the case of failure the only thing not covered is freezing, negligence, improper installation or intentional damage. In the case of damages Hayward’s will pay for the replacement parts, or repair of broken parts within the bot. They do charge for delivery though, not a great policy, but seen as how full their coverage is it is acceptable. No caveats here about Acts of God here, unlike Aquabot, so if you’re bot gets damaged during an earthquake or a plague of locusts you should be covered too.
Hayward Aquavac 500 Conclusion
Well this is an interesting one. There is nothing in the way of impressive features, and it even does everything we need a robotic pool cleaner to do. There is some merit in the simplicity. Using the bot is a matter of plugging it in and dropping it in the water. I like that. What I don’t like is the price. It is a little expensive. I understand that this is a more modern design, and for my money, the top loading chamber and cartridge system do make it worth it. But I get that it is not as big a deal for everyone. In the grand scheme of things I would say it is worth it. A great product, and an excellent start to this series on the Hayward robotic pool cleaners.
- An all in one solution, no need to connect it to the pool pump. The on bard pump is powerful enough in its own right.
- Cleans the pool floor deep and well, but it also climbs walls from bottom to top.
- Option for a caddy, not the heaviest of bots, sure, but a caddy is always a nice supplemental purchase, better to get it as a bundle to save a little money.
- A fully featured warranty, contradictorily called a limited one. Really is a great little warranty. Covers all manner of things, and the exclusions are fair.
- Top loading filter chamber is so much less hassle than the bottom loading kind. Not having to flip the bot is great, though seen as this bot is a little on the light side it would not have been a deal breaker to see a bottom loading chamber.
- It looks fantastic, not a major boon, but I always enjoy seeing a modern robotic pool cleaner that has had some thought put into the design.
- Price might be a little high for some, especially seen as it lacks a few bonus features. Personally I think it is well priced.
- The handle is a little short? Grasping at straws at this point. There really isn’t much to dislike here. Hayward have hit a home run on all fronts.