Saturday, September 24, 2022

Hayward TigerShark Series – Robotic Pool Cleaner Review

Phew. It has been a tough couple of weeks getting through all the bots in the Dolphin robotic pool cleaning range. Don’t get me wrong. I got to break down a wide variety of bots, and the vast majority of them were great, but there is only so many times I reiterate the term Dolphin core feature set, before it starts to lose meaning for me. Now we will be taking a look at the Hayward line, and I am happy to say that there are only three of them. Sort of. They make a wide range of products, not just robotic pool cleaners, but hand vacuums as well, and they used to sell a wider variety of robotic pool cleaners too, but these days they are focused on three core modern models, the Aquavac 500, the TigerShark and the SharkVac.

It might not sound like much, but all of these models have a few packages that add features, and increase the utility of the bots. Pay a little more and you can get RC or a caddy or an extended warranty. It’s a great way to go about it, if you don’t care about a particular feature you can save some money, which I am always in favor of.

The TigerShark has three variants, the vanilla model, the TigerShark Plus and the TigerShark QC. Differentiating them is not too hard, as the added feature list is weirdly small, ergo reviewing three at once without much in the way of lengthening the review.

Hayward TigerShark Design and Build Quality

hayward-tigershark-in-waterI have talked about how impressed I was with Hayward’s new robotic pool cleaner builds. The same high quality design is on offer here, but there are a few legacy decisions that I am not too happy with. First, the fit is tight, and the materials used are wonderful, a sturdy plastic. There are two things that need to be considered when buying a robotic pool cleaner. The build and the brand of the bot. A company that has a fair number of products and an good warranty is much easier to trust. While the warranty from Hayward bills itself as a limited one, I would argue that it is far more comprehensive than the name would suggest. Knowing whether the parts are a good fit is simple since all you have to do is give the bot a shake, if you hear rattle then you likely have a factory defect.

Now for the review on the asthetics of the design and unlike the excellent Aquavac 500, the TigerShark is more old school than I feel it needs to be. It is that old tank like design, seen in the likes of the latter day DX series from Maytronics. It looks like it can take a pounding, but it is far from pretty. The grey plastic doesn’t do much to elevate the look, but the blue handle is long, and sturdy, which is a big plus.

Overall, while the quality on offer is high, the aesthetics leave a lot to be desired. In addition, while I praised the Aquavac 500 for its modern design, I feel that the TigerShark is a little backwards in that department. Now, I realize that the look of the build is not all that important, although it can help you make a decision when you’re on the fence.

Hayward TigerShark Features and Specs

I have been living all things robotic pool cleaner for months at this point. In my time I have learned many things, but none have been more important than the list. The list is what allows you, the consumer, to cut through the useless add ons offered by companies in this industry and focus on the three things that you will need from your robotic pool cleaner. They are, floor cleaning, high powered pool filter and the ability to make the ninety degree transition to the pool wall. If a bot cannot do one of those things, then you might as well look elsewhere, as you will find yourself manually cleaning anyway.

The TigerShark models all share the same core features, so let’s talk about those first. The pool cleaner itself is for in the ground and it comes with a 55′ cable, fitted with a swivel. A swivel cable is always great to see on a robotic pool cleaner, as it minimizes the risk of cycle stoppages. If you have owned a bot in the past you will know how irritating it can be trying having to restart a cycle and disentangle the cable. Max pool size is 20′ x 40′, always good to keep that in mind.

On the base of the bot is the scrubbing brushes, capable of breaking up the debris and algae that settles on the pool floor. Not only does it shift and vacuum the base of the pool, but it can make the transition to the pool wall, climb it to the top and clean it well. If you find your bot not making that transition then it is a faulty bot, and you will need to have it looked at. Average cycle time is 3 hours, and I will go into detail on that in a later paragraph.

The filter is bottom mounted here, which I am not happy about. Having to flip this 21.5 pounds monster over to change the filter is ridiculous in a modern design. There is a timer function, cleaning once every 24, 48 or 72 hours, which is handy, but without a full filter light it is of limited utility. A caddy is included with all models, which is fantastic.

Now to the bonus features of the different models. The TigerShark Plus comes with a remote control, allowing you to guide the bot to where you want it, and set the timer remotely. There is no dual drive motor here, so true 1:1 movement is not possible, but it is easy to use, and very useful once you get the hang of it. The TigerShark QC is the fastest of the triplets, and adds the quick clean cycle to the feature list. It can clean you pool in 90 minutes, a time unmatched in the industry, just don’t rely on that exclusively and you’ll be fine.

Overall the core functions are great, but I am less enthused by the unique features of the variants. I would have liked to see a few more bells and whistles added, as it stand there is little reason to shell out the extra cash in my opinion. All three a great machines, but I don’t feel that the remote control options or the quick cycle options are worth much more money.

Hayward TigerShark Ease of Use

There are both hard and easy types of pool cleaners out there on the market. The hard kind are those without internal pumps, they need a lot of set up, connection to your own pools pump system and at one time really were quite good. Not so much these days. Internal micro pumps in modern robotic pool cleaners are all fantastic. Not to mention inherently simple. Simply plug them in and drop them in the pool. All the TigerShark models are less of a hassle to use, with the possible exception of the TigerShark Plus.

There are a number of issues here, and a few are universal. All the TigerShark’s use a bottom fitted filter chamber. That weight is a broader issue as well, getting it around is a small hassle, but the caddy makes it easier. The handle is nice and long too, making removing it from the pool a little easier.

There is an issue with filter cartridge systems that is not present in the older bag models, when it is overloaded it tends to let a small amount of debris fall back into the pool. Know that this is not the case when the cleaner is cleaned regularly. The final added difficulty in using this model is only present in the Plus variant. I love a remote control, and the options it give you are always useful, but it is also true that they are more complicated. Not that much more complicated, true, but it is another layer between user and device that has to be addressed.

Overall there is less to like here when compared to the Aquavac 500, but I would still rank it as slightly better than quite a few of its peers. Only issues are the bottom mounted filter chamber and the weight of the bot. Any other issues are small, not worth worrying too much about. The deciding factor is coming up next. The price would need to be good in justify the older tech used here.

Hayward TigerShark Pricing, Value, & Discounts

hayward-tigershark-caddyHere is where the choice is made. There are three models here, and so we have three price ranges. The least expensive TigerShark is between $750 and $950, the TigerShark QC. Next up is the standard with a range between $900 and $1100. The Plus is the most expensive, with a range between $1200 and $1400. Bit of a surprise that the QC is the cheapest model on the market, especially seen as it has a few more functions than the Standard, so that is my favorite of the three. I like to point out that buying a robotic pool cleaner is an investment in time. Depending on how you value an hour, any robotic pool cleaner will have paid for itself in time within a year.

Another cost to take into account is the price per cycle. This does vary from place to place, everyone should know their price per kilowatt hour, but on average it will cost 15c per cycle. Running a 24V DC motor is not too taxing, so in some cases you can expect the cycle costs to be a little below average, which is always nice to see. I think it is important to know how much any new piece of hardware costs to run, while the price might seem low, it does add up. Long term cost analysis is important to me, and I hope you too.

Now to the warranty, and unlike Dolphin, I have access to the whole thing. The Hayward warranty is billed as a limited warranty, so I went into this with some trepidation. Unwarranted warranty trepidation really, as it is quite comprehensive. The Standard TigerShark is covered for 1 year, with the QC and the Plus covered for 3 years, another reason to like the QC so much. The warranty covers all manner of issues, from out of the box defects to long term issues. So long as the bot has not been frozen, neglected, improperly installed or intentionally damaged then you are covered for both parts and labor. Nice to see no mention of acts of god here too, so one has to assume they are covered.

Hayward TigerShark Conclusion

A fine trio the TigerShark brothers, sounds like a nineties cartoon that. Core features are all there, and unlike the SharkVac, there is real tangible benefits to getting one of the other models this time. The price and warranty of the QC makes it the most attractive of the trio, and the 90 minute bonus cleaning cycle is always good too. Next would be the Plus, but only for the added utility that I remote brings to the game. Sad to see the vanilla bot sitting at the bottom, really thought the price would be low enough for me to call it the best, but not the case. Bear in mind the bottom loading filter chamber when buying any of these bots. It’s the only real fault I can find in the design.

Pros:

  • Works out of the box, no need to connect it to a pool pump. Self contained units are the best, super easy to use.
  • Able to clean a floor well, but can also make the pool wall transition, a feature I think is a must have.
  • The caddy is both useful and nice to look at. This bot weighs 21 pounds, so a caddy makes it much easier to move it around
  • A fully featured warranty, though it is called a limited one it covers everything you would want it to. I have read a fair number of warranties, and this one actually impressed me.
  • Excellent price on the QC model and the Plus model is not bad either.
  • Plus comes with a remote

Cons:

  • Price of the Standard is little high for some reason at the moment, long term it might be better value, we will have to see.
  • Bottom loading filter chamber is a needless hassle. Considering that the other two modern bots in the Hayward stable have top lading chambers I am perplexed to see this here.
Barry W Stanton
Irish born writer who drinks too much caffeine and reads too much Terry Pratchett. I enjoy long walks on the server and Korean cuisine.
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