The Active 10 At-a-Glance
The Dolphin Active 10 is solid. It’s built for long-lasting cleaning of moderately sized above ground pools, and it scrubs and vacuums well. Plus, it’s energy efficient and extremely easy to operate.
What’s Not So Good:
The Active 10 is the lowest end model of Dolphin’s A series. It doesn’t have some of the higher end features we love like a tangle-free swivel or the ability to climb walls.
All in All:
You can’t go wrong with the Active 10 if you need a simple but effective workhorse to clean your above ground pool, but there are better options available.
The Dolphin Active 10
As part of the performance class of Dolphin’s Active Series (or A Series), the Active 10 is the least expensive option for buyers. It was designed by Dolphin’s engineers to be one of their most reliable products for above ground pools. This model has proven to be a popular buy for owners of above ground pools who are looking to upgrade from the traditional suction pool cleaners, or who are just tired of manually cleaning their pool themselves. We took it for a test drive to see what kind of experience the Active 10 offers at such an affordable price.
Dolphin engineers designed the Active 10 to look and operate like a tiny tank. It has a low center of gravity that stays rooted to the bottom of the pool without getting caught in a “wheelie,” and it powers over obstacles like drains instead of wasting time trying to back up or navigate around them. Instead of traditional wheels it has double tracks. The grips on these tracks are made of thick, durable gray plastic, and they help root the Active 10 to the bottom of the pool so it doesn’t float above and over any debris.
The Dolphin A 10 isn’t teeming with fancy features, but the ones it does have are effective.
In between the double tracks is the rotating brush. If you feel the bristles you’ll see just how thick and durable they are. The gaps between the bristles are small but wide enough to offset the scrubbing power of the brush as it rotates at two times the rate of normal robotic pool cleaning brushes.
The handle of the Active 10 fits seamlessly into the robot’s design. It makes for easy carrying and is especially convenient for dropping the Active 10 into the water and for lifting it out of it, since grabbing it by the power cord is a no-no.
The filter cartridge is one of the Active 10’s shining features. Dolphin has perfected their filtration systems to impress even on their most affordable models. The top loading filtration system is a fine cartridge basket. It lifts out of the top of the bot easily and snaps back into place with no hassle. It’s far easier to manipulate than the frustrating and old-school debris bags.
We’ve seen a wide array of robotic pool cleaner power supplies over the years, but none are as simple as the one included with the Active 10. It has just one button – the power button. Since the Active 10 has only one standard cleaning mode, the one button is all you need to start and stop a cleaning job. While you miss out on customization or scheduling regular maintenance with a more sophisticated interface, the simple power supply still wins in ease of use.
The Active 10’s DC motors are far more energy efficient than traditional AC motors you find in many robotic pool cleaners. Because of that, it can plug into a regular outdoor outlet and operate on a lower voltage, costing about 5 cents an hour to run. Compared to the cost of running a power-hungry pool vacuum all night long, the Active 10 compensates for its up front cost in no time.
We unboxed the Active 10 and all but plugged it in immediately. There’s no assembly or tedious steps to take in order to get it functioning. It has a plug-and-play design that gets to work right out of the box.
Like we mentioned before, the one button on the power supply is as straightforward as you can get. We dropped the Active 10 into the pool and let it sink to the bottom, then pushed the button and watched it go. Not having to worry about selecting a certain cleaning cycle or designating a timer, we got to walk away and let the Active 10 do its thing.
Weighing only 13.8 pounds, the Active 10 is easy to carry and handle. It won’t strain your back or hurt your shoulder as you transport it from the shed to the poolside. Dropping it into the water went seamlessly, and it quickly pours out the remaining water it has after a cleaning job once you pull it from the surface.
Cleaning the filter out also gave us no headaches. Quite the opposite, actually. Because it’s one large top-loading basket, all we had to do was dump the debris and rinse the filter clean again. You don’t even have to let it dry before sliding the filter basket back into place.
The solid features and user friendliness of the Active 10 are all well and good, but does it actually clean?
We pitted our Active 10 against a 30-foot above ground pool in need of some care and attention. We had avoided cleaning it for several days, so the wind had carried in enough acorns, twigs, and leaves to give the robot a run for its money. Plus, the bottom of the pool was a shade darker than usual from a layer of sunken silt.
Once the Active 10 reached the bottom of the pool, it started powering across the floor like a little tank. It didn’t meander or take long to get its bearings, and almost immediately we saw it leave behind a clean trail of bright pool flooring, free of debris and settled sediment.
We leaned in to watch it in action as it approached the edges of the pool, and you can actually see the brush bristles spinning rapidly, scrubbing the floor. This was especially impressive, as some of the sediment was congealed enough to the surface that a regular vacuum wouldn’t have been able to remove it.
The Active 10 doesn’t climb walls like the other models in the Active Series. While that would be a nice feature, at this price point we don’t expect it. It did, however, scrub even the corners of the pool and up a few inches of the side. So that relieves some of the hand-cleaning work for above ground pool owners. Even though it doesn’t climb the walls of the pool, it’s still nimble enough to not get caught on drains or the tricky ladders you find in many above ground pools.
Dolphin created a new technology they call CleverClean, which is a scanning system that ensures every inch of the floor’s surface is covered during a cleaning job. We thought that might be overzealous marketing, as most pool cleaners at this price point don’t have that kind of smart technology and instead meander aimlessly, missing the same pile of leaves day in and day out. However, we were surprised to see it wasn’t a marketing ploy. The Active 10 cleaned our test pool in a thorough, grid-like fashion. It didn’t miss any debris and crawled across every last inch.
The cleaning job took only 1.5 hours. If your pool is particularly dirty, like after a storm or long off season, you can always rinse the filter and set the Active 10 back in the water for another round. But the one cleaning job was enough for our dirty, 30-foot above ground test pool.
We dove into the filters to see just how much the Active 10 was really able to nab. Obviously, we didn’t see any debris left behind, but we were surprised and impressed with just how much was in the cartridge. We didn’t realize that many twigs, leaves, and acorns had been in the pool. The sides of the filter were also a shade of grayish brown, which indicated the Active 10 actively filtered the water instead of just sucking up larger debris. This was a pleasant surprise as well as a shout out to the scrubbing brushes. They obviously dislodged some of the dirt and algae that had been accumulating – even more than we realized was in the pool.
The Dolphin Active 10 gets our two thumbs up.
Sure, it doesn’t have the fancy features or bells and whistles of the more expensive bots in the Active Series, but it does what it’s designed to do extremely well. It accommodates a low-maintenance pool lifestyle with its simple and seamless user experience, and its solid and sturdy design effectively cleans above and beyond other robotic pool cleaners sold at the same price. Plus, its energy efficiency is a huge perk to offset those rising electric bills in the summer months.
Like all Dolphin products, the Active 10 comes with a good warranty. This model’s is for 24 months, not restricted to a certain number of hours or cycles. And the 30-day money-back guarantee is a consumer comfort as well.
If you purchase the Active 10, we recommend keeping it within the parameters for which it was designed: above ground pools no larger than 30 feet. That’s what it knows, and that’s what it cleans very well. If that fits your situation, the Active 10 will make enjoying your pool a whole lot more fun this summer.