After last weeks stellar performance from the Active series it is time to move onto the S-series of bots, starting with the S 50. The look of the build puts it into the same category as the latter, a new bot with cutting edge pool cleaning tech, but much like the Active 10, the lack of one specific feature is enough to drag the rest of this impressive package down to the depths of Davy Jone’s locker.
The S 50 is an above ground machine, and in this industry that means it can’t climb walls. I am still at a loss as to why that is, I have seen bots climb the walls of above ground pools, so it doesn’t seem unreasonable to want that feature included with all robotic pool cleaners, especially when later bots in the S-Series line can do it. Perhaps there is some crucial piece of information that I am lacking, but I doubt it some how.
So let’s break down the S 50, see if it is worth your time.
Maytronics Dolphin S 50 Design and Build Quality
It is seldom that a Dolphin bot fails the build quality check, and while the S 50 seems to do well when looked at as a whole, there were a number of design chjoices that I would call suspect. The fit of the internals in sound, the shake test yeilded no rattle, which is what you should look for as soon as you get a robotic pool cleaner. Rattle is a sign of a build fault and you should exchange. The issue I have with it is the rather snazzy looking treads. Closed form treads are great, look at the Active 30, but open treads are just asking for an acorn if you ask me. I would argue that this thing will have more cycle stoppages over the long term than you might like, and considering that we like zero stoppages one would be enough.
The look of the bot is quite good though. While, deep grey and blue paneling all combine to create a rather pleasing looking cleaner. I would have liked it in black maybe, or just a two tone scheme like the Active 10, but this is good. Between the Active 10 and the S 50 I would say the Active 10 is the better looking bot.
Normally the look of the build is not that important, but if you find yourself between the Active 10 and the S 50 then you are going to want to pick the one you like the look of more, as there is very little difference in terms of feature set and build quality. Overall this is a well made bot, but there are a few issues that might lead to long term problems.
Maytronics Dolphin S 50 Features and Specs
I get that there is a niche for everything. I am certain that there are people out there who go into the robotic pool cleaner market looking for a bot that will clean the pool floor and that’s it. Certain of it, otherwise there wouldn’t be cutting edge modern bots that can’t climb. I consider climbing the pool wall to be a must have feature, alongside a powerful pump and the ability to break up large debris and algae. The fact that the S 50 can only do two of those things concerns me a little.
The S 50 is an above ground pool cleaner. It has a 40ft cable, and it is a swivel cable. The use of a swivel cable gets us off to a nice start. Owners of non swivel cable fitted bots will know the pain and annoyance of a cycle stoppage due to tangling. The pump used in the S 50 is the newer high powered Dolphin pump, able to process 3,735 gallons of water every hour. The core similarities between the S 50 and the S 200 make the latter’s lack of features all the more mind boggling.
The bottom mounted scrubbing brushes are some of the best on the market. They spin twice as fast as the Dolphin Nautilus’ brushes, but are made of a softer material. They do not scour the pool floor but are able to break up all kinds of debris. There is just the one cycle time with the S 50, seen as it is meant for a much smaller pool this makes some sense though. Averaging at 1.5 hours, this is a bit of a speed demon. The lack of climbing is almost unforgivable. the Active 20, 30, 30i and the S 200 and 300 and 300i can all climb the pool wall. The internals of the S 50 are comparable, but much like it’s Active counterpart, the 10, it can only nudge impotently against the pool wall.
There really isn’t more to say about this particular robotic pool cleaner. When a company comes out with a bare boned model like this I am left with inches to fill. The features section gets a little empty. There is no remote control options, it does not have a full filter indicator and there are no timer settings. It is as is. There are some positive aspects of the design, but I will go into them in the ease of use section.
Overall, this is a bit of a disappointment. There are better bots on the market, that are cheaper, and can do more. I have no idea who this is aimed at, much like the Active 10. Always sad to see such a lackluster feature list.
Maytronics Dolphin S 50 Ease of Use
I have found during these reviews, that there are really only two core types of robotic pool cleaner. The all in one internal pump models, and the harder to use external pump models. I have reviewed both kinds, and have a preference for the all in one builds. They are easier to use for a start, set up time is lower, and they only cost a little more to use, more on that in a moment. In the all in one models there are two further sub types. The Legacy Design bots and the Ultra Moderns. Legacy design bots are plagued with little issues, they work well but day to day use is irritating. The S 50 is an Ultra Modern with a twist. rather than using a filter cartridge, it uses a filter canister, and honestly I have no idea why no other company is doing this. The S 50 may fall short in terms of features, but using the machine is a joy. So revolutionary is this filter canister system that I would be tempted to call the S 50 a Post-Ultra Modern design.
The filter system is where all of the changes are. In Legacy design models the filter chamber is bottom mounted, both unwieldy and annoying trying to take the bag out. Filter bags are more prone to getting jammed, and stopping cycles. So companies began implementing a filter cartridge system instead. It worked better, but was more difficult to clean. The best of the best made them top mounted, but the cleaning issues still persisted. This filter canister can be removed wholesale from the cleaner, out of the top mounted chamber, and hosed down. That is literally all you have to do to clean the thing. It is like they took a long hard look at all the issues plaguing robotic pool cleaner technology and said to themselves, I know how to fix that. Actually using the bot could not be simpler too, just plug it in, drop it in the water and set the cycle on the PSU. Done.
I truly wish there was more for me to gripe about. Most robotic pool cleaners work wonderfully, and even the worst of them were easy to use. I used this section to talk about the minor everyday annoyances of running a robotic pool cleaner. With the S 50 there really aren’t any. Dolphin has crafted a work of robotic pool cleaning art. Perhaps it is a bit on the weighty side? No caddy with it and a short handle might make it somewhat difficult to move around and remove fro the pool, but even that issue is a bit of a stretch.
Maytronics Dolphin S 50 Pricing, Value, & Discounts
There is a lot of things to like about the S 50, so long as you are more willing to overlook the failing in the features section than I am. Chief among them is the price. The base price for the S 50 is between $550 and $750. For an above ground pool cleaner that is very reasonable, and considering the wonderful design it becomes all the more attractive. Bear in mind as well. All robotic pool cleaners save you time. How much you value an hour is important, as the more value you assign the shorter a time it will take for any robotic pool cleaner to pay you back, even the ones that can’t clean walls.
The up front costs aren’t the only thing to think about before taking the plunge, there is the price to run the machine that needs to be taken into account. I find that the vast majority of us do not know how much we spend in electricity per diem. The price per kilowatt hour varies from place to place after all, but in this day and age it is becoming ever more important to know the price of more consumer electronics. The average cycle time of the S 50 is 2 hours, so the average price to run the bot for 2 hours needs to be known. I worked out an average based on the price per kilowatt hour of the country, and came up with 14c. That figure will be higher in some place, up to 17c, and lower in others, never lower than 11c per hour. Not a huge sum, but one that will add up over time, so keep it in mind.
I spend a lot of my time reading warranties. I review lots of stuff, and so have made a bit of a game of spotting the good ones. I had a wonderful time breaking down the warranty that came with the Aquabot robotic poo cleaners, their limited warranty is a riot, I highly recommend you give it a peruse. I was looking forward to doing it for the Dolphin line of cleaners too, but I cannot. Maytronics have yet to release the information to me. I have made numerous requests for it, both their bumper to bumper warranty, their limited warranty and their full coverage warranty. As it stands there is little I can tell you regarding the value of the warranty that comes with the S 50 beyond the fact that it comes with 1 years full coverage and 1 years limited. Limited warranties can be great, just look at Hayward’s, and full coverage warranties can be bad, take a look at eYourlife’s light bar warranties, so the info provided means very little.
Maytronics Dolphin S 50 Conclusion
This is just like the Active 10. I am incredibly conflicted over this robotic pool cleaner. On the one hand is my core feature set and in the other is the sheer joy it is to use this bot. Dolphin have done a terrific job crafted an easy to use zero fuss bot, but in the lower end of the pool the lack of features hurt it. The rpice is great, and if you don’t mind the lack of wall climbing by all means get the bot. But I cannot recommend it too strongly.
- Works out of the box, no need to connect it to an external pool pump.
- Cleans cove and the floor.
- Top loading filter
- Filter Canister, the newest tech, better even than the filter cartridge system. It is easy to clean and even easier to fit, this is the future of robotic pool cleaners, at least until they invent tiny controllable black holes.
- Price is pretty low, but is more just about right considering the lack of features.
- Warranty info is light on the ground
- Warranty is limited, even without specifics on it I feel i am safe assuming the worst.
- The lack of wall climbing is a deal breaker for me, I realize others might not mind so much,, but I feel you would be better served spending the extra $200 for a higher quality machine.