As the robotic pool cleaner industry grows by leaps and bounds, Maytronics has remained a frontrunner in developing new products and new technology. One of their latest models of robotic pool cleaners is the Sigma from their Dolphin line. The Sigma is the top of Dolphin’s deluxe class of robotic pool cleaners. The description goes so far as to say it has “reinterpreted” the laws of physics. We decided to put the Dolphin Sigma to the test and see how it lived up to these expectations – and we weren’t disappointed.
At first glance, the Sigma just looks more compact, more powerful, and sleeker than many of its counterparts. It’s heavy, weighing 24.6 pounds, but its power in the water isn’t hindered at all by its weight. The handle makes for easy lifting and carrying, but you can also order a caddy for even more streamlined transporting and storage.
The set-up was seamless, and the Sigma arrived pretty much ready to get to work after unboxing it. Once it was plugged in and had reached the bottom of the pool, it was time to see it go to work.
The Sigma in Action
To be quite honest, many robotic pool cleaners on the market today are lackluster. Like a glorified feather duster for the pool, they’ll often wander aimlessly and do a superficial-at-best cleaning job, leaving the same pile of leaves untouched for days. Not the Sigma.
Once we saw the Dolphin Sigma in action, we found three things that particularly set this robotic pool cleaner apart from all others: Gyroscope technology, DC motors, and SmartNav Robotic Scanning.
The Game-Changing Gyroscope
Dolphin’s engineers added a three-axis gyroscope to the Sigma, which includes high-tech sensors that detect and measure the rate of rotation of an object around a particular axis. To put it in laymen’s terms, these sensors keep tabs on what the robot is doing and send information to the microprocessor so it can essentially think for itself.
Like a Mars Rover for the pool, the gyroscopic technology monitors and controls position, orientation, direction, and rotation. That sounds like a lot of technical jargon until you actually get to watch it in reality – then it’s really awesome.
The Sigma covered every surface of the pool without retracing its steps monotonously or randomly overlooking certain sections. And when we say every surface of the pool, we mean every surface. The gyroscopic stabilization keeps the Sigma from floating away from surfaces, even when it is climbing walls or navigating underwater steps or curves. It delivers a precise control unlike anything we’ve seen in competitors’ robotic pool cleaners, even cleaning the tile and waterline with pinpoint accuracy. For such a large machine, it navigates the pool gracefully and precisely. Every pool has those hard-to-reach corners or deep curves that are easy to overlook by both humans and machines, but the Sigma covers them easily.
Commercial-Grade Efficiency and Power
Most old-fashioned pool cleaners use AC motors that notoriously guzzle power and raise your electric bill even higher than usual in the hot months. The Sigma, however, uses a whopping three DC motors. This choice allows the robot to provide up to five times the torque without stalling, and it requires nearly 90% less energy than traditional pool cleaners. Dolphin approximates it costing 5 cents an hour to operate. That’s an energy-efficient number we can get behind.
The power of the Sigma is obvious when you watch it work. It has a much higher flow rate, seamlessly cleaning a 50-foot pool in just 2.5 hours. It moves with a steady quickness thanks to the balancing act of the gyroscope mixed with the power of the three DC motors.
The gyroscopic control system shines again in the SmartNav 3.0 navigation. Like we mentioned before, even the best engineered robotic pool cleaners will still wander around aimlessly without a smart control system to map out a path for it. During a cleaning, the Sigma knows what surface area it has covered already, avoiding the redundancy of cleaning the same space twice. More than that, it actually calculates the optimal pattern of your pool for a faster and more efficient cleaning time.
When we put it to the test, the Sigma didn’t linger mindlessly in one area of the pool, nor did it miss any of the dispersed debris we had placed around the bottom. Most impressive of all, though, was how it avoided getting its cord tangled like so many previous cleaners.
But Did It Actually Clean?
Technology mumbo jumbo aside, let’s get down to brass tacks. The Dolphin Sigma cleaned with exceptional results.
The pool we used for our testing was well overdue for a cleaning. We had let leaves, flower buds, pollen, bugs, and dog toys accumulate for several days, not to mention the regular algae buildup. There was a distinct presence of sludge along the waterline of the tile, too. Then we let the Sigma loose.
After it did its first 2.5 hour cleaning cycle, the pool was virtually spotless. Of course it bypassed the tennis balls left behind by the dog, but it sucked up all of the leaves and other bits of flora with ease. The real sign of accomplishment was the disappearance of the sludge along the waterline. Honestly, we expected it to leave behind at least a bit of debris since the pool had gone so long between cleanings, but we were disappointed to not be disappointed. The Sigma cleans with incredible precision.
The Proof is in the Filters
We saw the larger debris disappear, but how well did the Sigma actually clean the water? And how well did it scrub the sides of the pool?
Well, we found our answer in the filters.
The Sigma is fitted with two top-loading cartridge filters. Unlike the same devices from years past, these are larger and infinitely easier to clean. When we went to clean them out after the Sigma’s first test clean, they were impressively full of large debris, and the filter was satisfyingly dark with fine dirt and algae. With a filtration rate of 75 gallons per minute, it’s no wonder. The Sigma leaves behind remarkable water quality.
If you look closely at the Sigma, you’ll see another reason it grabs so much during its cleaning runs – the brushes. Dolphin has patented its PowerClean dual scrubbing brushes, which actively scrub the pool’s surface instead of just passing over it for larger particles. With two different textures of power scrubs, the PowerClean feature actually scrubs every square inch of the pool. Plus, it’s supposed to be especially effective against biofilm, which is one of the biggest frustrations a pool owner can face. And unlike most robotic pool cleaners, the sigma is bi-directional, so it vacuums while going forward as well as reverse.
On top of its efficiency, we found the regular maintenance of the Sigma to be pretty straightforward, too. No one likes cleaning pool filters, but this one is relatively painless. Just have a hose handy and spray all the pieces down, then snap it back together with Dolphin’s nifty SnapLoc feature.
Will It Give Me a Headache?
If you’ve owned a pool for any time at all, you know the frustration that can come with owning a robotic pool cleaner. They get tangled up. They shut down mid-job. They don’t pick up the most obvious mess. They spray water in your face. They’re a nuisance to clean.
But as veteran pool owners, we can confidently say the Dolphin Sigma appears to circumvent all of these headaches.
One of our favorite features that makes an owner’s life easier is the MyDolphin Plus app. You can register any Dolphin robot pool cleaner online and control it remotely from your phone. From there you can schedule cleaning programs, set a weekly timer, and even manually control the Sigma’s cleaning job. As far as apps go, it’s not the smoothest ride in the world and may be a little frustrating for users who aren’t so tech-savvy. Sometimes the Bluetooth disconnects or has trouble connecting to the robot, but it’s a great resource.
The other standout perk of the Sigma is the ease of maintenance and upkeep. As any pool owner knows, you can’t take shortcuts to maintaining your pool without very real (and oftentimes expensive) consequences. Fortunately, there is no song and dance required with the Sigma. After each clean you need to rinse the filter while it is still wet, and you remove debris from the impeller when you notice it’s there. You can easily service your Sigma in just 10-15 minutes total. Keep it stored in a protected, dry area when it’s not in use, and it’ll be ready to go for the next cleaning – whether that’s tomorrow or next summer.
Of all the bells and whistles that come on the Sigma, the very best one is the tangle-free swivel. This patented feature was a groundbreaker when the Dolphin engineers created it several years ago. Without it, maintenance would quickly and easily become a bonafide nightmare with an inevitable tangled hassle. But the tangle-free swivel on the cable has a full 360-degree rotation, preventing the power cord from wrapping itself into an impossible mess. As longtime pool owners, we give Dolphin all the applause for making our lives easier with the tangle-free cord feature. If you’ve ever had to untangle a pool cleaner cord with the hot sun bearing down on you in the middle of July, you’ll appreciate it too. It’s an absolute game changer in the pool-cleaning industry.
What Could be Improved?
To speak candidly, there’s not much to improve with the Dolphin Sigma. It genuinely runs like a commercial grade robotic pool cleaner at a consumer price.
That being said, it is pricey. It is not for the faint of financial heart. However, we do think it is worth the price tag. The energy efficiency alone compensates for the up-front cost in the long term, and it’s the most intelligent pool cleaner on the market currently. Not to mention the 3 Year Warranty.
As we mentioned before, the MyDolphin Plus app is good, but it’s not great. It’s user friendly enough, but it may frustrate users who aren’t tech-minded. But the app is almost a necessity to operate the Sigma, as you can only schedule the Sigma on the app. However, you can manually start the Sigma directly on the power supply.
The Sigma is heavy because it uses triple motors that are much larger and more powerful than motors found in regular commercial pool robots. We think the few extra pounds are worth it, but you may want to order the caddy so you can make transporting the Sigma from the pool shed to the water easier. It also comes with a convenient cord storage system so you can easily wrap the 60-foot cord, much like a vacuum cleaner.
What Ultimately Sets the Sigma Apart?
A Winning Warranty
You’d be hard-pressed to find a plain chair with four legs that has a three-year warranty, much less a state-of-the-art robotic pool cleaner. But Sigma offers one of the longest limited warranties on the market – three years – backed by Maytronics. Plus, it has a 30-day money-back guarantee, so you can return it if it’s not the right fit for you.
Like a Roomba for your pool, the Sigma has the technological chops to map and memorize the layout of your pool, creating the best and most efficient routes for quick and hard-hitting cleaning. Plus, the addition of gyroscopic technology makes it faster, more powerful, and more efficient.
Power in Full
We mentioned the three DC motors earlier, but it’s important to appreciate the full effect of their power. Working alongside the gyroscopic technology, the Sigma’s motors lend themselves to a higher flow rate, more suction, and faster cleaning times overall. Not to mention they eat up way less of your electric bill than lower quality pool cleaners.
All in all, the Dolphin Sigma is one of the best robotic pool cleaners you can buy today. It isn’t cheap, but you also get what you pay for (and then some). Having seen many, many robotic pool cleaners at work over the years, we can wholeheartedly say the Sigma is one of the best investments you can make for your pool. Best of all, it’s compatible with virtually every pool shape, and surface up to 60 feet. So no matter the shape and size of your aquatic oasis, the Sigma could be the game-changer you’ve been waiting for.