Sunday, September 25, 2022

Hayward Sharkvac Series – Robotic Pool Cleaner Review

It has been a long time since I reviewed a cleaner that was not made by Maytronics. I have a system. I pick a company and review all of their bots. All of them. If it means I have to judge over fifty then fine, I will do that. I have done it for Dolphin and I have done it for Aquabot. Now I will do it for Hayward. I will cut these products to the core, finding out if they are worth the money. Thankfully it won’t take nearly as long as the other firms bots. Because there are only really 3 of them. Well, there are sort of only three of them. The Aquavac 500, the TigerShark and the SharkVac. They make a huge range of other products though, and they have released models in the past, though they are not officially supported.

Today I will be focusing on the SharkVac, and it has the most variants. The Aquavac 500 had two, the TigerShark had three, while the mighty SharkVac has an impressive four different models. Pay a little more and you can get a bot with a caddy or an elongated cord. Not too much beyond that though. When I first started looking at the Hayward range I was impressed with their business model, I thought the added features would be a little more impressive than what they offer, but in spite of that it is still a great set of bots.

Hayward SharkVac Design and Build Quality

hayward-sharkvac-xlI have made no attempt to hide how impressed I have been with the quality on offer from Hayward’s robotic pool cleaner builds. They seem to have a focus on more modern designs, which is great. The fit of this build is slightly less robust than the other bots they sell, but it is still tight, and the materials are all of high quality. There are two things you need to know when buying a robotic pool cleaner. First is to make sure the company you are buying from has a good warranty and a wide range of products. The limited warranty from Hayward is wonderful, more so than some firms full coverage warranty, so no worries there. The other thing is to make sure to give the bot a shake. A properly made robotic pool cleaner should have no rattle, if you hear any then you may have a factory fault, and need to make use of that top notch warranty.

Onto the look of the bot, and contrary to the norm when it comes to wheeled designs, I am not a fan of this one. Of the three bots only the Aquavac 500 looks amazing. The SharkVac at least avoids the tank like design seen in a lot of builds, but the end result here is a little muddled. Feel free to disagree, for some this might be the pinnacle of robotic pool cleaner design, but it left me cold.

Overall the look of the build is not that important, but I think it can be a deciding factor sometimes, and it certainly worth considering. Regardless of the look, the quality on offer here is high, as always, so buying it for the utility is certainly an option. The XL variant has a green blue shell instead of a deep blue one. Either way, merely okay.

Hayward SharkVac Features and Specs

At this stage of the game there is very little about robotic pool cleaners that I couldn’t tell you about. But the important things to keep in mind when buying a robotic pool cleaner is a far shorter list. There are three core features that it must have to be worth your time. It must clean the pool floor, it must filter the water and it simply must be able to climb the pool wall. If it cannot do all of those things then it is better to look elsewhere, as you will find yourself cleaning the pool by hand every so often anyway. Makes the purchase a little pointless.

There are four packages with this one, and the difference are almost impossible to see. You have the SharkVac, SharkVac with caddy, SharkVac XL and the SharkVac XL with caddy. The XL is so named for its longer swivel cable. That is literally the only difference between the two bots, and considering the price difference I am struggling to find a justification for it existing. They are all great machines, and from a feature set perspective they are equally good. So let’s break down the features.

This is an in ground robotic pool cleaner with a 50′ swivel cable, 60′ in the case of the XL. Both are made for pools up 20′ x 40′, in spite of the longer cable on the XL. A swivel cable is good to see though, as it helps reduce the number of cycle stoppages. If you have owned a bot in the past you will know how annoying a cycle stop can be, costs you not only time but money as well.

On the base of the bots is the scrubbing brushes, all well crafted and able to break up the strongest of debris and algae fro the pool floor. The pump is powerful and filters the water very efficiently. Not only can it clean the floor with ease, but the SharkVac series can also climb the wall of the pool. From bottom to top, no matter the angle. It makes this build worth a look at at the very least.

The filter is top mounted, which I am always happy to see, and the filter cartridges use a very fine mesh. Average cycle time is 2 hours for the vanilla SharkVac and 3 hours for both of the XL models. There are a few minor differences in terms of how the bot handles being out of the water. The XL bot will deactivate when it detects that it is out of the water, and if it drive out of the water then it will slowly back up. Not big differences, hence my incredulity, but it is at least nice to see some changes.

The caddy versions are not much more expensive, and you will need a cmmnaddy to move the heavy bot around. The handle is a little shot, which I am never happy to see, but it is a minor issue. Overall, I am pleased with what is on offer here, if a little perplexed at the separate models. When you see the price differences below you will join me in the land of the confused I am sure.

Hayward SharkVac Ease of Use

I have noticed over the last few pool cleaner filled months that there are really only two kinds of bot on the market. The older complicated kind the the newer all in one options. The older models lack an internal pump, and require complicated set up with you own pool’s pump. The power behind the integrated pumps is impressive these days, and considering they are much easier to use I disregard the older kind of cleaner. The SharkVac series have a number of more modern pool cleaner design choices, and they all add up to one of the easiest to use models on the market.

With most older self contained robotic pool cleaners there are minor issues that get on my nerves. I have been steeped in robotic pool cleaning tech for a while, so I know a modern design when I see on, and the SharkVac is one of the best I have seen. Aesthetically it may not look like much, but it is a top loading filter cartridge design, making ti much easier to use than the bottom loading bots of yesteryear. There really isn’t much to complain about here. The weight maybe? It is heavy, but seen as you can get a version with a caddy, and there is no reason to flip the bot over by hand, even that caveat is too small to call a problem.

There is one problem with cartridge based system, when the chamber becomes overloaded the debris is likely to fall back into the pool when you pull it out of the water. Granted, this is more user error than an inherent fault, but i feel like if they added a full filter indicator the issue could have been side stepped entirely. The handle is a bit on the small side too, so there’s that.

Overall though there is little to dislike. Some inherent issues with the systems used, but significantly fewer than the issues in filter bag systems. If I were to compare this to the TigerShark then it would come out on top, but it falls a little short of the Aquavac 500. The deciding factor will be the price I think, let’s see how it goes.

Hayward SharkVac Pricing, Value, & Discounts

hayward-sharkvac-xl-2I love the price section. It allows me to write off models with ease, as too high a price for too little features is without a doubt a deal breaker for us all. The issue I have with the SharkVac is the four models. There a so similarly prices. The Vanilla w/o caddy is currently $699 rrp. With a caddy it is $749. Fifty dollars for a caddy is pretty good value, especially seen as the quality of the caddy from Hayward is so high. The XL version is a little more expensive, withe the caddy less version retailing at $849, and XL with caddy costing $879. Personally I love the caddy, so that is a must, but the added features of the XL are lackluster. I judge the Vanilla with caddy t be the best value. I always argue that no mater robotic pool cleaner you go for you will have gotten your monies worth. They free up your time, and depending on how you value an hour, will have paid you back within a year.

There is one other price to take into account, the running costs. Now, without accurate power information I can only make an estimate, but on average a 24V DC motor will consume around 15c per cycle.

I review products for a living, so I spend a lot of time reading warranties. I can spot a lemon with the bet of them. The Hayward warranty bills itself as a limited one, but I have found it is anything but. I have seen bad limited warranties in the past, looking at you Aquabot, but this is anything but. It covers everything within reason. There are only four tings that can render you ineligible for replacement or repair work. Freezing the bot, neglecting the bot, improperly installing the bot or intentionally damaging it. No caveats about acts of god or nothing. Great to see, there is a 1 year warranty on the vanilla SharkVac ad 2 years with the XL version. Not enough to elevate it, but it might be worth something to you.

Hayward SharkVac Conclusion

It is hard to recommend. On the one hand it is better than the TigerShark, by a hair, and it is cheaper than the Aquavac 500, it has more issues than the later, and isn’t as powerful as the former. The XL version seems unnecessary to me, if you see a use for it then awesome, but a long cord and some auto shut down features are not sufficient enough for me. If you find it at a good price, which is not hard at the moment, then get the caddy version of the regular SharkVac, there are no real issues with the bot.

Pros:

  • An all in one robotic pool cleaner is best. Very easy to use as a result.
  • Cleans pool floor well, can climb the pool wall too, a feature I consider a must have.
  • You can get a version with a caddy, it cost a little more, but it is well worth it, cheaper than buying the caddy separately.
  • A fully featured warranty, oxymoronically called a limited one. Covers all the things you want a warranty to cover. Third party warranties are available too.
  • Top loading filter chamber, a mark of a modern robotic pool cleaner
  • It looks fantastic, though aesthetics aren’t that important it is still a boon.

Cons:

  • The XL seems kinda pointless, I really don’t see a market for the model. Maybe for those whose pool is a little too far from the socket?
  • The handle is a little short, but the build is pretty light, so that issue is a small one.
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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