Dolpin’s S Series of robotic pool cleaners have long set the standard for affordable-yet-quality robotic pool cleaners. The “performance” grade model of their S Series, the S50, is the lowest costing cleaner with only a few of the additional features of its leveled-up models. Designed to clean above ground pools, we wanted to see how it performed in the unique challenges of an above ground pool environment. We judged the S50 on its reliability, cleaning efficiency, and ease of use. Keep reading to see how this robotic pool cleaner stood up to the scrutiny of our veteran pool owners.
Uncomplicated and User Friendly
The Dolphin S50 comes packaged ready to work upon opening. Its plug-and-play design makes it easy to get it going – just plug it in to the power supply and drop it into the water.
While the other S series models come with a lot of unique features, the S50 is very simple. The power supply has only one button, which starts and stops one standard cleaning cycle of 1.5 hours. There’s no need to sync your phone to any controls or figure out automation. While some users may dislike the lack of customizability with so few operating features, there is something to be said for its simplicity. And with one button, it’s impossible to get lost in the user interface of the power supply.
A Go-Getter in the Water
The S50 went to work quickly and purposefully when we dropped it to the bottom of our 30-foot above ground test pool. There were already pieces of larger debris both floating on the surface of the water and laying on the bottom of the pool. The S50 steadily moved in a regular pattern across the floor, sucking up all of the visible bits of leaves, sticks, and settled dirt.
We were impressed to see it clearly scrub the floor of the pool as well. As the S50 passed with each strip of cleaning, the color it left behind was significantly brighter than the uncleaned surface area next to it. If you look at the S50 closely out of the water, you’ll see the durable blue roller brush with tough bristles. These spin actively throughout the entire cleaning job at two times the rate of normal robotic pool cleaners. The S50 actually scrubs the surfaces it covers as opposed to a less efficient vacuum-like graze to grab only larger debris.
Many of the more affordable above ground pool cleaners we have tested have no scanning software. This means they wander aimlessly in the pool and can’t be trusted not to miss certain areas or linger too much in others. At this price point, we were surprised to find the S50 did have Dolphin’s patented CleverClean technology. This software does advanced scanning of the pool to ensure complete coverage during every job. With CleverClean, the S50 doesn’t miss even an inch of the pool’s floor surface area during its cleaning.
The S50 is designed to clean the bottom of an above ground pool only. Unlike some of the other S Series models, it wasn’t built to climb walls and scrub the water line. However, the model we received did climb past the corners and up the sides of the pool a bit, which was a nice surprise.
The above ground pool we tested the S50 in has a maximum width of 30 feet, which is all the S50 is designed to cover. So keep in mind that if you challenge it to a larger pool, it may miss some debris. After a 1.5 hour cleaning job with no hiccups, the S50 appeared to capture all of the visible debris we started with. On top of that, the floor of the pool was a brighter color, which we weren’t expecting.
Dolphin is known for its easy-clean filtration, and the S50 is no exception. It is fitted with a top-loading filter basket that is very easy to remove. All you have to do is press a button, which makes the top of the robot pop up. Pull the filter cartridge handle up and dump out any of the larger debris the S50 caught. Our test run showed more debris than we anticipated in the filter cartridge. We used a hose to rinse out the smaller bits until the entire filter and cartridge were clean and bright white again.
The filter itself was not drastically dirty. While the filter cartridge gathered a lot of larger debris, we thought we might see evidence of finer particles like dirt and algae in the fine basket filter. Dolphin offers ultra-fine filter options, but this doesn’t come standard with the S50. The ultra-fine filter is excellent for intense deep cleanings of pool water, grabbing the sediment and algae that isn’t visible to the naked eye. If you’re concerned about highly filtered and the absolute purest pool water, it might be worth upgrading to the ultra-fine filter option.
Even with the standard top-loading cartridge and fine filter basket, the S50 sucked up all of the pool’s visible debris and obviously scrubbed its surfaces well. So the ultra-fine filter isn’t a deal breaker by any means.
The filtration system works well, and it’s also incredibly simple to maintain. Like we mentioned before, all it takes is rinsing the filtration basket with a hose until clean, then pop it back in to the S50. Easy as that.
The Dolphin S50 weighs only 13.8 pounds. As far as robotic pool cleaners go, that’s light. It’s easy to carry and doesn’t strain your back as you drop it into the water, lift it out, or carry it back to its storage spot. The handle is conveniently placed so you can easily grab it from the water, too. If you want to spring for a caddy you can, but the S50 is light enough for everyday handling.
Power cords can often be a headache with robotic pool cleaners. Fortunately, the Dolphin S50’s cable is 40 feet long, which is shorter than most and designed to avoid tangling. It doesn’t have Dolphin’s patented anti-swivel device that is found on higher end models, but that’s to be expected with a more basic design like the S50. Prevent any tangled messes by making sure you unkink the cord between cleanings to keep it straight and uncoiled before wrapping it up for storage.
From an ownership perspective, the S50 is advantageously energy efficient. Dolphin estimates it costs a mere 5 cents per hour to run the S50, so it won’t add on to your electric bill in the warmer months. The S50 comes with a two-year limited warranty, which is a vote of confidence for this bot’s durability. The warranty isn’t restricted to the number of hours or cycles you use it, either.
The Bread and Butter of Robotic Pool Cleaners
In terms of reliability and efficiency for above ground pools, the Dolphin S50 robotic pool cleaner can’t be beat. It is efficient at its cleaning jobs and utilizes its CleverClean technology to scan the pool so it doesn’t overlook any spots. You can operate it seamlessly with the push of the one and only button, and it is designed last for the long haul.
It may not have all of the bells and whistles of other robotic pool cleaners on the market, but it isn’t hindered at all by its simplicity. For the price, it’s not bad. You’ll have a hard time finding a comparable robot that can tackle an above ground pool as thoroughly as the S50 does. Its power and simplicity are the perfect combination, making it a solid choice for any small to medium-sized above ground pool.