The Dolphin Premier robotic pool cleaner is one of the brand’s best-selling models from its advanced class. One Google search reveals its popularity to pool owners far and wide, leading the company to label it the #1 rated pool-cleaning robot by online users. It is Dolphin’s higher-end option with touted features like energy efficiency, intelligent navigation, and a MultiMedia filtration system. With a reputation like that, we decided to put the Dolphin Premier to the test ourselves.
The Premier comes pretty much ready to work straight out of the box. There is no tedious assembly required. All we had to do was pull off the plastic protection from the wheels, plug it into the power supply, and drop it in the water.
Aesthetically, the Premier earns your confidence. It’s stout, weighing about 22 pounds when dry. But the shape and curves of the robot prove themselves dynamic once it’s the water. Some other standout features we noticed right away were the rubber grips and brushes. The Premier is supposed to be able to climb the walls of the pool, which is unlikely with a conventional wheel. Instead, it has a mobile track with strong rubber grips that clinch the sides of the pool, making gravity seem suddenly irrelevant. The brushes themselves look intense and heavy duty, with two variations of durable bristles that are flexible to the touch, yet resistant to wear and tear. These looked like they were ready for some intense scrubbing action.
We decided to test the Premier robotic pool cleaner in a 32,000 gallon in-ground pool. The pool was in need of a good cleaning, as we had let the elements do their thing for several days. There was obvious large debris like leaves, pollen, and a few sticks and bugs dispersed through the water. And not visible to the naked eye was most assuredly small cultures of bacteria and algae growth beginning to form.
Choosing a Filter
One of the top-rated features of the Dolphin Premier robotic pool cleaner is the MultiMedia filter options. It is compatible with micro-cartridges, standard cartridges, oversized debris bags, and disposable debris bags. So dependent on what type of cleaning your pool needs, you can use the best filtration system for the job.
Being Dolphin’s only robotic pool cleaner with a leaf bag, we decided to use an oversized debris bag first. With all of the visible bits of nature floating around, we wanted to see how the Premier grabbed them with a larger storage capacity.
We set the Premier to the 2-hour cleaning job setting and watched it get to work. It moved steadily and powerfully across the bottom of the pool, grabbing heavier objects with ease and leaving behind a brightly colored streak of cleanliness we didn’t realize the bottom was missing.
We mentioned the rubber tracks that give the Premier a better grip on the walls of the pool, but it’s pretty cool to see it in action. Even at the deepest depths, the Premier climbed from the bottom of the pool all the way to the waterline. It never once fell or gave up before reaching the top. Since the walls are a hotspot for bacteria and algae growth, it’s a huge relief to see a pool robot actually clean the harder-to-reach areas without human intervention or elbow grease. Best of all, it was obvious the Premier was actually cleaning the walls. The thin film of sludge that had built around the waterline disappeared after each pass-through of the Premier.
Before the 2-hour cleaning cycle had finished, the Premier stopped its job. At first, we thought maybe it had glitched or encountered an error, but then we saw the red light blinking on the power supply to indicate the debris bag was full. We pulled it out to clear the filtration system and were incredibly pleased to see just how loaded the bag was with debris. It had captured more leaves, sticks, dog hair, and even sand than we realized was in the pool.
After cleaning it out we decided to try using a micro-cartridge filter to see how the Premier cleaned out the finer particles in the water. We set it to a one-hour cleaning job and let it do its thing. When it finished, we weren’t expecting the filter to be very dirty because the pool already looked clear and clean. But we were wrong. The filter was tinged a much darker color, having sifted an extraordinary amount of finer particles out of the water at a rate of 75 gallons a minute. Our eyes deceived us at first, but the filter itself actually achieved the water purity we thought we had and exceeded our expectations.
After all its hard work, cleaning the Premier was simple. We just rinsed the micro-cartridge until it was bright white again and put it back into the filtration system. It’s a pain-free maintenance routine that the manual recommends doing after each cleaning.
What Stands Out About the Premier
Having the MultiMedia feature on the Premier was a much bigger perk than we anticipated. Often, robotic pool cleaners force you to compromise in some way, using a large bag filter when you really need to capture the nitty gritty, or using a standard cartridge after a storm has blown all sorts of debris into the water. With MultiMedia, we got to choose which media to use dependent on the state of the pool in question. Using the standard cartridges for daily use would probably be just fine when you’re using the pool most frequently during the warmer months. But in the case of special circumstances like a storm or deep cleaning, it was a huge resource to grab a debris bag or micro-cartridge for the most efficient cleaning.
The Dolphin Premier didn’t play favorites with any one section of the pool. It’s equipped with SmartNav software, so it doesn’t wander aimlessly like lesser robotic pool cleaners. It can calculate the optimal pattern for the fastest cleaning, and it senses and avoids ladders and drains. It scrubbed every surface, even the walls, and it managed to navigate tricky underwater steps that usually go untouched by other robots. The premier even visited the deepest darkest corners of the pool, getting into the lowest nooks and crannies that hadn’t been touched by a machine in ages.
Dolphin engineers built a game-changer when they patented their tangle-free swivel. If you’ve been a pool owner for any time at all, you know what we mean. With such long cables and a wide range of movement, most robotic pool cleaners inevitably get tangled up into a giant mess, which can hinder performance and efficiency. It’ll also frustrate the mess out of you if you’re the one figuring out how to untangle it. But the 360-degree swivel keeps the cable from wrapping itself in knots, and it’s designed to operate without wear or degradation. For such a small piece of equipment, it relieves tremendous frustration.
Keeping your electric bill from skyrocketing during the summer months is always a challenge. But if it does go up, it won’t be the Premier’s fault. This robotic pool cleaner utilizes dual 24 volt DC magnet motors, which are much more energy efficient than the conventional AC motors you’ll find in many old-fashioned pool cleaners on the market today.
To put that into perspective, traditional AC motors burn a whopping 1,470 watts of energy. But the DC motors on the Dolphin Premier use a mere 180 watts. That’s 87% less, at about 5 cents an hour to operate. So you can relax while it does an extra-long cleaning – it’s not costing you an arm and a leg.
The Dolphin engineers built the Premier on a modular DIY platform. That means that if your Premier ever needs service or repairs, any component can be easily replaced by you or a nearby dealer in 10 minutes or less. While the Premier feels solid and other reviews tout its long-lasting durability, we like knowing any maintenance needs it may have down the road will be seamless and simple.
It’s always comforting to see an investment come with a solid and promising warranty, and the Premier is no exception. Dolphin is confident their pool cleaner will be free from defects in material and workmanship for three years, so they offer a best-in-class warranty to back it. The warranty isn’t pro-rated, nor is it limited by the number of cycles or hours you use it.
Room for Improvement
Dolphin offers a remote control sold separately so you can navigate the Premier for fast spot cleaning. The remote is only an additional $99, but we wouldn’t recommend springing for it. Between having trouble connecting to the Premier bot and lagging after trying to navigate it remotely, it’s just simpler to use the standard power supply to control cleaning jobs.
Don’t forget that you may also want a caddy. We recommend the Terra Caddy over the Universal Caddy, as we prefer the slick design and the integrated power supply holder. The robot weighs 22 pounds, primarily because of the powerful DC motors. Even though that extra weight pulls its weight in the water, it’s still hefty to lug around. We encourage buyers to go ahead and spring for the caddy and do their back a favor and to help protect the robot in storage.
The Final Verdict
All in all, our team of veteran pool owners gave the Dolphin Premier robotic pool cleaner thumbs up across the board.
One of the main reasons to buy a pool-cleaning robot is to save yourself time, money, and labor. The Premier does just that. All it requires from you is the push of a button and simple maintenance. While it does the hard work of deep-cleaning that pool, you get to take on other chores or just relax and watch the Premier do what it does best. On top of that, every time it runs you can rest assured you’re saving money in the long-term thanks to its energy efficient features. So if you’re on the fence about springing for a higher-end model of robotic pool cleaner, we suggest you hop on over to the Premier side. It’ll make your life easier.