Does this Solar-Powered Pool Cleaner Really Work?
The Solar-Breeze NX2 is advertised as “The Roomba for your pool” and is accompanied by claims that “You will NEVER have to hand skim your pool again”, “It catches ALL the debris before it sinks to the bottom”, “You’ll only need to operate your filter for a couple of hours a day”, and “You can FIRE your Pool Service Company.” With such assertations, we just had to check this product out.
First things first, Fire the Pool Service Company? Really? Anytime any manufacturer claims that they have developed a product that can replace a pool professional I start to twitch. Afterall, as most of you know, this has been how I have made my livelihood and I am extremely passionate about the pool service technician’s role in providing a safe & healthy swim environment. Instead of jumping up onto my soap box, despite my initial urge to tear these folks apart, I decided to pick up the phone and speak directly to Paul Sim, the CEO of Solar Pool Technologies, Inc., regarding these fairy tales. You can hear my interview with Paul Sim: Talking Solar-Breeze
In that conversation, it was explained that the majority of these statements did come from customers in the form of testimonials and were not generated by Solar Pool Technologies, Inc. Still, the company did stand by their statements regarding the electrical savings allowed by the unit due to drastically reduced filter run times as well as the suggested ability of the cleaner to catch all of the debris before it sinks to the floor. With detectable doubt in my tone, Paul Sim offered to send me a solar-breeze NX2 so that I could check it out for myself. See how the unit arrives and what comes in the box at: Solar-Breeze Unboxed
I have to admit that when it arrived I was a bit impressed, but $598.00 impressed? What I received was a solidly manufactured piece of equipment that actually had a bit more weight to it than I would have guessed. But big & heavy does not necessarily add value, does it? There was absolutely NO assembly required and the unit did come with enough of a stored charge that I could simply plop it into the pool, turn it on, and watch it go.
Just my luck that the first week I would put a Solar-Powered robotic cleaner into my pool would also be the same week that a storm system would roll in and sit over Florida. The unit itself, with limited sunshine available, worked intermitantly at best. I can’t really fault the manufacturer or the solar-breeze NX2 here. Duh, its a Solar-Powered pool cleaner.
Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots® ? Once we had sunshine, the vessel did quickly begin to travel about the pool and immediately found the hose for my existing automatic pool cleaner. Sadly, this was a battle that the solar-breeze NX2 would not win. Instead, the unit clung to the hose and was jockeyed about the pool by the cleaner that roamed about from below. The cleaner did also struggle in the presence of any type of surface current created by the return jets.
Okay, no biggie, it needs to be an only pet. Remove the existing automatic cleaner (if you have one) and insure that your return jets are aimed toward the pool’s floor. I was impressed, as promissed by Mr. Sim, at the units ability to NOT get hung up at the skimmer due to the solar powered rollers ingeniously placed at each of the corners and at a height that reaches the coping. I also, though no actual benefit to pool cleaning, enjoyed the “navigation lights” present on the unit which could easily be seen at night. I am also impressed with the units ability to hold a charge in the onboard battery. From sunset, the cleaner easily would operate through midnight.
To put the unit to the test I removed my existing cleaner, directed my return jets toward the pool floor, and blew off my pool deck (which I had allowed to collect debris by intent) diectly into my pool. I also chose to time stamp my photos for an accurate point of reference. The photo to the right is of the solar-breeze NX2 at the starting point immediately following the introduction of debris. As the debris was blown from the pool deck itself and not collected from elsewhere; the debris shown is typical of that which a pool owner would experience in their pool in Florida during the summer months. The cleaner quickly began to collect the floating debris.
“Solar-Breeze removes 90-95% of that debris from the surface before it sinks to the bottom.” – solar-breeze.com
After 2 1/2 hours, I can honestly say that there was minimal debris floating about the surface (15′ x 30′ swimming pool) and that the cleaner did catch a ? ton of flotsam and jetsam. Did it catch it all before it became saturated enough to sink to the pool floor? Absolutely not, however the results are inline with the manufacturer’s claim (shown above) is that the unit “removes 90-95% of that debris from the surface”. See photo to Left with both accumualted debris, also with indication of amounts sank to pool floor.
Does it work? It is the opinion of this pool professional that the solar-breeze NX2 is indeed a damned fine automatic skimmer and the deficits noted above should be expected for a solar-powered surface cleaner (no other automatic pool cleaner present, return jets aimed towards pool floor (or pool pump off), and of course plenty of sunshine ). I found the debris basket easy to remove and empty with (in my opinion) a large capacity. Did it out perform the pools through the wall skimmer? Further testing would need to be conducted to make this determination. What about heavy leaf fall? We will have to wait until fall to see.
So there is a good quality automatic pool skimmer on the market, but did we need one? Is this a solution to a problem we do not have? Or, is there a market for a solar-powered “Roomba” for the pool. I cannot honestly say that this is something for everybody, or something one could not live without. I think at the right price point this machine may be a Godsend for the aboveground market. I can see where this may have its place in areas with consistant, but light, leaf debris. Pools with design errors may certainly benefit from the NX2. Do these things scare ducks and geese? ? That’s a part of the commercial market that solar-breeze may be able to quack.
Is it worth the $589 they are asking for? An item is only worth whatever someone is willing to pay for it and they are actually kind of cool to watch. ? Where can you get one? Currently, you can find these solar-powered weapons of leaf destruction at: 2018 solar-breeze NX2
Can you reduce your filter run time down to 2 hours per day and fire your pool company?
That is a Negative!
But, we knew this claim was outrageous to start with….