It looks like a Lego model of a lunar vehicle from the 70s. Could the Aquabot Turbo T-Jet be an option for you?
It is in many ways simpler than other automatic pool bots. But when we reviewed it we found this machine is, at least in some ways, better than it looks.
We considered what kind of pool this unit is best for, how well it cleans, how reliable it is and what to look out for.
What kind of pool is this for?
This Aquabot model is designed for in-ground pools of any size, shape and surface. There is no need to change to different wheels for different surfaces because the bot merely rolls over the area.
The cleaner is great on smooth as well as rough surfaces because it doesn’t scrub. Instead, it whirls up the dirt on the pool floor to be sucked into the filter bags.
It will roll randomly all over the bottom of the pool (note: not the most efficient but effective way) and vacuum any loose dirt and debris. The big, extra wide wheels happily ignore obstacles. It’s especially good in navigating raised main drains, a place where more expensive pool cleaners can often get stuck on.
It should also climb easily any steeper slopes and even walls up to the waterline provided it is adjusted correctly. However, its ability to climb largely depends on the right level of floatation and might require you to play around with the float kit (four pieces of foam) usually included in the pack.
(For more information see “Does it climb walls?” further down.)
The cleaner is designed in a way to work around most common features found in a residential pool. There are of course always exceptions to the rule and should your particular pool design give issue and cause the T-Jet to get stuck or caught you will probably find out quickly and in that case either talk to Aquabots very supportive help desk or return it if it seems unsolvable.
How does the Aquabot work?
The engineers at Aquabot seemed to have had simplicity in mind. Basically, the bot houses a strong suction pump, a filter cartridge, four free wheels and a power cable plugged into a safe 24 V/ 110V transformer (power supply box) which in turn is connected to a standard power outlet.
Two downward directed streams of water power wash the pool surface. They whirl up the debris and direct it towards the inlets on the bottom of the unit. It’s a clever way to reach crevices. Everything is being sucked in, pushed through the filter where the dirt is trapped, and the filtered water travels to the jet unit on top of the cleaner.
There the water shoots out and pushes the cleaner forward or backward. How long the unit moves in one direction can be set to anything between 20 and 90 sec to allow for different pool shapes and sizes.
It’s one of those things some people love to play with and others don’t have the patience for, but it is worth doing to increase the likelihood for the cleaner to reach all areas.
There is no separate motor drive to power the wheels, no additional seals, drive train, belts or cogs that could fail. This set up is simple and great as long as it works.
The downside is that the speed of the cleaner depends on how clean especially the fine filter bag is. A full filter reduces the speed of the outgoing jet of water causing the vehicle to go slower and slower until it stops completely. After the filter has been cleared the cleaner continues at full speed.
Power supply and cable
The 50’ floating cable from the cleaner unit plugs into a 24 V transformer. This power supply also has the digital timer to set the reverse cycle times and program buttons. The transformer itself is connected to a normal 3-prong power outlet.
Unfortunately, the cable can get quite twisted and coiled up when the Turbo T-Jet runs for longer periods of time because the machine is intentionally set to turn the same direction all the time.
The engineers seemed to be aware of this and offer the E-Z swivel device either as an add-on or sometimes included in the kit.
How well does the Pool Vac clean?
The pool cleaner comes with two filters, one for picking up rough stuff like leaves and seed pods but not fine debris like sands and pollen. Naturally, there is an upper limit to what it can pick up, too. If you have really large bits like palm leaves or sticks you will need to remove these manually first.
Otherwise, sticks may rip the filter bag and even if the unit can suck pieces in, the bag would be full very quickly and would stop moving and cleaning.
Sand, loose algae and any other tiny particles will be collected when you switch to the second filter bag. It catches everything down to an amazing size of 2 microns. It’s the finest filter in the industry, most of which settle for 5 microns. What difference does that make?
There is a noticeable difference when the water has been filtered with an Aquabot fine filter, it’s like a difference between washed and polished thanks to more microscopic particles being removed from the water.
As a result, pool owners don’t have to use their main filtration system that often, use fewer chemicals and energy and don’t have to do as much backwashing.
You will have to take good care of the fine filter, though. Finer pores mean they can clog up more easily. Most filters in other robots only have to be washed with a hose. This one needs a regular wash in the washing machine for efficient cleaning and continued speed of the unit.
Most of the cleaning action will be done at the bottom of the floor.
If the flotation is adjusted properly it will also climb and do the sides. However, it’s worth remembering that dirt tends to settle on the bottom, not the pool sides anyway. So the floor is where you want the cleaner to do most of its job and that’s where it will be most of the time.
It’s a good idea to use the old pool brush on the sides of the pool. The Turbo T then does the cleaning of the pool as the debris is moved from the upright walls to the floor and less steep curves of the pool.
The robot seems to be programmed to follow a random pattern which of course we can neither confirm or deny because it is and looks…random.
A 2-hour cycle may not cover the whole area but you can nudge the cleaner towards the areas it missed and still be finished within this fairly short amount of time.
Alternatively, leaving it on a continuous cycle for several hours gets the job done completely. Just don’t expect the T-Jet to be fast.
Is it easy to operate?
Yes. Take it out of the box, familiarize yourself with the comprehensive instructions, plug it in, lower it into the pool, switch on and then watch the robot leaving a clean random trail on the bottom.
Once it has picked up clearly visible larger debris like leaves and seeds, little rocks and sticks, take the mesh filter bag out to empty and clean, pop in the fine mesh bag and let it pick up all the finer debris.
Come back after a few hours (if left on the continuous cycle) and you’ll have a pristine pool.
That’s the best-case scenario. However, this cleaner is prone to slowing down when the filter bag gets full. We found the standard two hours not to be sufficient to clean. It’s especially true if your pool is very dirty.
In that case, you’ll have to check on it more frequently in the first two hours and then let it run until your pool is as clean as you want it to be.
Does it climb walls and steps?
This varies from pool to pool. The pool cleaner should follow any rounded transitions from bottom to the wall as well as slopes and climb all the way to the waterline.
However, this depends on the buoyancy of the robot which mainly depends on two variables: the number and size of floats in the housing and the amount of dirt in the filter bag. When it gets too heavy or clogged up the cleaner either doesn’t climb as high or doesn’t go up at all or gets stuck in the lower part of the pool.
This model doesn’t climb up steps. It’s best to sweep these first so debris can settle on the pool floor to be picked up by the machine later.
Cleaning & use questions and answers (FAQs)
How reliable is it and how long is it going to last?
Out of the box, with filters still clean it can last at least a couple of years and most pool owners use this for much longer than that, especially when taking care to clean the filter bags properly, replacing the filters at least once a year and rinse it after using it in a saltwater pool.
There is a trend though for this pool robot to lose speed and cleaning power over time.
Does this need a caddy?
Unlike other pool robots, this one rolls on wheels and can be stored upright as is. No extra caddy required.
Can I use the Aquabot in a saltwater pool?
Yes, no problem at all. Just remember to rinse everything with fresh water after each use to ensure a long lifespan.
What’s the warranty?
A 100 % warranty in the first and limited warranty in the second year.
Who it’s for…and who it’s not for
In my opinion, it’s NOT for pool owners who…
- Want not just the pool bottom but also the sides and steps cleaned and scrubbed thoroughly
- Are looking for a completely hands-off product
- Hate having to adjust and fiddle with floatation pads for best buoyancy or find the best reverse cycle times
- Would like a fast cleaner.
The Aquabot is for pool owners who …
- Would like to replace their weekly pool cleaning chore with a machine
- Would like to reduce backwashing and ultimately cleaning by having this unit trapping dirt and fine debris in the on-board filter bag
- Would love to save up to 40 % on the running cost of their pool’s main filtration system (Note: manufacturer’s data, how much you can save will depend on how often and how long you let the Aquabot run)
- Are happy to do a couple of adjustments and experiment with the floatation pieces and guide the cleaner to areas it may have missed on the 2-hour cycle
- Would like to have even microscopic particles filtered out for that extra sparkle and reduction of dirt filling up the main filtration system.
- Want a machine that can navigate raised drains
Review summary & verdict
The “revolutionary design” (manufacturer website) of the Aquabot T-Jet is an interesting, economic attempt to solve common problems of other automatic pool cleaners. It’s basically a vacuum that sucks water through a fine filter bag as it moves around.
It does away with separate parts, especially motors for moving the bot about.
This greatly reduces costs for maintenance and repair because there are fewer parts that can fail.
The simpler design means it’s easy to figure out how it works and how it can be adjusted which will appeal to people who like doing that but not for those who prefer to take it out of the box and expect it to work in their pool perfectly right away.
The 2-micron filter bag is top-notch and provides unrivaled water quality and save pool owners much time on backwashing as well as on chemicals.
This pool robot is a good entry model if you want to get rid of your weekly time-consuming chore of manually vacuuming your pool and experience what it’s like to have the work done for you.
Even when taking into account that you might have to direct the unit towards spots it might have missed, especially on the two-hour cycle, it’s still a step up from cleaning the bottom of your pool yourself, saving you hours each week.
Where’s the best place to buy one?
There is now a range of hands-off, plug-n-play type robots on the market, ranging from just under £300 for entry-level models to high-end machines at $5000 for commercial pools. From that perspective, the Aquabot is priced in the lower range.
So it comes as no surprise that many pool owners choose this device as their very first robot to test whether this kind of machine would be a worthwhile investment.
The manufacturer lists the official retail price for the Aquabot Turbo T-Jet at $699. It’s very likely that you can find this at a much lower price either at your local pool store or online.
If buying online make sure you buy from a trusted and genuine Aquabot retailer, have a look at their return and warranty policies. Amazon tends to offer very competitive prices for pool cleaners as well as hassle-free return and exchange options.