Here we are. The end of this long road. The final series of robotic pool cleaners that I have to tear apart. I have reviewed pretty much every product in the Maytronics Dolphin Line, the Aquabot line and the Hayward line, though there weren’t too many in the Hayward department. Now we have come to Smartpool, the last or our big players in this pond. They offer a range of robotic pool cleaners, much like Dolphin and Aquabot, so expect this series to go on for the next few weeks. The first one I will be looking at is the BigFoot, and it really does live up to its name.
The Smartpool BigFoot is a massive machine. The biggest I have ever seen, but let’s not fall into the trap of thinking it is a brute force approach to pool maintenance, no. This beast has finesse too. Some real thought went into the design, and while aesthetically it is not my cup of tea, it is certainly one of the most feature rich builds in this price category. One thing is for sure. If you aren’t a power lifter you are going to need a caddy.
So let’s take a closer look, dive right in and see if this is the right robotic pool cleaner for you. Pound for pound, it may be exactly what you’re looking for.
Smartpool BigFoot Design and Build Quality
You will not find a more hardy robotic pool cleaner on the market. The Smartpool BigFoot is massive, and as a result the overall fit is amazing. The thing is a brick, a moving cleaning brick. There are two things that are important to know when buying a robotic pool cleaner. The first is to buy brand name only. Big companies have a lot to lose if they sell a shoddy product, and they all tend to come with an excellent warranty, which is a must. The other thing to think about is building fit. There is a quick and dirty test for build quality, and it is simply give the bot a shake. Doing so with the BigFoot is hard, but not impossible. If you hear rattle then you have a manufacturer fault and will need to make use of your hopefully amazing warranty.
On to the look of the bot, and here is where I think it falls short. Now, I will come out and say that it is clear that this build is aiming for a specific aesthetic, that of the rough and ready pool cleaner, able to withstand literally anything, and when taken as such this bot looks amazing. A small chassis on a giant track, this thing looks like it will hover up a pool noodle and ask for seconds. But, I prefer a sleeker look, something a little more modern looking. This is personal preference, so take it with a pinch of salt, and a helping of soy, and use your best judgement.
Overall there is a lot to like here. The build is sturdy, and unlikely to break as a result, and its look mirrors that, big bulky and impressive, if not cool.
Smartpool BigFoot Features and Specs
I have been reviewing robotic pool cleaners for a long time now, and I have learned so much about them. Most of what I know is not that useful, I mean the filter cartridge size is usually not that important, but there are three things that I think everyone should know about. Three things that a robotic pool cleaner must have to be worth your time. It must be able to clean a pool floor well, it must be able to filter a lot of water and it must be able to climb the pool wall. If it cannot do all of those things, then it is time to look elsewhere, there are plenty of options on the market that have those criteria.
The BigFoot has them all, for one thing. This monster of a pool cleaner is for in ground pool up to 20′ x 40′ only, and it comes with a 60′ swivel cable. A swivel cable is tangle resistant, and I am always pleased to see this tech used. It isn’t strictly necessary, as there are a few tricks involving pool noodles that can also mitigate tangling, but it is less hassle.
The scrubbing brushes on his bot are very powerful, but not abrasive, so you needn’t worry about the material your pool is made from. They clean both deeply and soft, breaking up all kinds of debris and vacuuming it up well. The suction is powerful too, one of the most powerful on the market, and unlike some models out there has no trouble picking up leaves and acorns, if you are having trouble with them. The most impressive part of this build is its ability to clean the wall. When I saw the 39 pound weight of this beast I really did not expect it to manage the climb, but it does it with ease.
The standard cycle time is 3 hours, but there is an option for a fast clean, 1 hour. The filter cartridges are top mounted, and the plural is intentional there. This tank is double stuffed, and able to take in far more than the average bot. The bot also comes with a dual drive motor, which is great for maneuverability, and would have made 1:1 remote control possible, but for some reason Smartpool choose to not include a remote control with this bot. It is a shame, and makes the dual drive system a little superfluous.
Overall it is a great build, it has all the features needed, and it improves upon many of them by simply making them bigger. There is one thing missing from this 39 pound machine, and it is a bonus item seen in far lighter builds. The caddy. It’s absence makes it harder to use, and it will count against the bot in the next section.
Smartpool BigFoot Ease of Use
The old school, without internal pumps and the new school, with internal pumps. The older models require extensive set up, and need to e connected to your pools own pump system. I find them a little outdated, internal complete systems have pumps that are more than powerful enough for every pool out there. In the new school of robotic pool cleaners there are two further categories, the first gen and the current gen. The first gen of products tended to have bottom mounted filter chambers, use filter bags and were, for the most part, unable to climb the pool wall. It limited their utility, and they were slightly more difficult to use as a result.
The BigFoot looks like a first gen model, but it very much is not. I mentioned that this build has some design flourishes that elevates it. First of all it has a top mounted filter chamber, and considering the weight of the bot is a god send. No need to flip it over to remove the chamber or replace the filter cartridge. Oh yeah, it uses cartridges too, which are less prone to user error than filter bags. This means that my usual issues with a robotic pool cleaner build are non existent here.
There is one major problem though. The BigFoot does not come with a caddy, and on is sorely needed. It is probably the heaviest bot in the consumer market, and without a caddy moving it around is more trouble than I would like. The shortness of the handle does not help matters much. They do try to mitigate the weight problem with a fast purge program, that rapidly removes the water from the bot as you take it out. There is also the standard issue that afflicts most cartridge systems. When it is overloaded some debris tends to fall out of the bot. More of a user error moment, but one that could have been eliminated if they had included a full filter light, like some of the Dolphin models.
Overall there is not much to complain about. This section is all about finding the problems, and when I have to get nitty gritty like this it is evidence that the build is sound. The final section is the price, and in my opinion it can make or break a decision.
Smartpool BigFoot Pricing, Value, & Discounts
The price section is probably my favorite, I do like breaking down features and discussing the look of the build, but it is in the price section that I can pass real judgement. The price can allow me to write off a model outright. I cannot do that with the BigFoot, as $1000 to $1200 is a fair price for so big a bot. I would advise that you buy a caddy to go with it though, and they will cost you another $100. It is still worth the money, but it is now not quite as good a deal. I like to point out what a robotic pool cleaner is to the person who owns it. It frees up your time, gives you back hours of your life. Depending on how you value an hour, it will have paid you back in time within a year or so. It makes any purchase worth it.
Onto the other cost, with some companines and brands, they released the power consumption information. Not the case here, and seen as the BigFoot is, well, big I am forced to lean on the higher side. Expect to pay 17c per cycle, perhaps more perhaps less, it depends on the price per kilowatt hour in your area. 17c is still a low per cycle price, but is is a little more than their competitors. Smartpool have a wide range of other smaller bots too, whose power consumption is likely closer to standard 15c. I feel it is important to know the long terms costs associated with buying any new piece of tech, so please consider this figure.
Finally we are onto the warranty. I review a lot of products, and thus I read a lot of warranties. I can sort the wheat from the chaff, and find the hidden gems. With Aquabot, for example, I found their full warranty was great, but their limited warranty was significantly less so, but weirdly the limited warranty that comes with a Hayward bot is fantastic. As for the Smartpool warranty, I cannot pass judgement at this time. I have contacted them and am awaiting an email to confirm the full details of their warranty. Until it comes in all I can say is that the BigFoot comes with a 3 year warranty. What it covers is left up in the ether. This review will be updated when new information is received.
Smartpool BigFoot Conclusion
I am conflicted. i like this big bot. It has all of the core features I require, cleans floors, filters and climbs walls. The design is ultra modern, with a top loading chamber, and a double filter. There is real power behind the drive, and the scrubbing brushes are both powerful and delicate. The core price is great, a little over a grand for a core machine but bigger. There are real issues though, the weight being chief among them. The lack of a caddy is criminal, and having to shell out for one pushes the price away from bargain territory and approaching merely a decent deal. The final nail is the warranty information. If I could access the full info I might have called this one a great choice, in spite of the issues, but that lack of information, in conjunction with the weight problems means I cannot recommend this bot. As good as it might be.
- Works out of the box, no need to connect it to a pool pump.
- Cleans walls and the cove
- Top loading filter chamber is amazing, and it is huge, takes much longer to fill it up.
- It is a big beast, capable of withstanding the elements and even vacuuming acorns.
- Swivel cable is great, makes tangles less likely, thus saving you time and money.
- Dual drive motor allows the bot to move around with ease.
- The warranty information is light on the ground, I am waiting for more information on this.
- The handle is a little short, and for such a weighty build that is an issue.
- As it stands the price is great, but you will need a caddy, and that makes the price merely good instead of great.
- A big bot, so the price per cycle is a little higher than others on the market.
- Improper utilization of a dual drive motor, no remote to take advantage of added maneuverability.