What are the Different Types of Pool Skimmers?

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  • Written By: T. L. Childree
  • Edited By: R. Halprin
  • Last Modified Date: 13 September 2019
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Different types of pool skimmers that can be used to keep a swimming pool clean and safe include manual, automatic, and self-contained skimmers. Manual skimmers are simply a mesh net attached to a pole and are operated by hand. Automatic skimmers are usually connected to the inlet drain and capture debris before the water returns to the pump. Self-contained skimmers operate by rotating around on the surface of the water to filter out debris and other unwanted particles. Each of these skimmer variants can be used with either above-ground or in-ground pools.

Manual skimmers are the simplest and least expensive type of pool cleaning device. Most manual pool skimmers consist of a mesh net attached to a long lightweight handle. This type of skimmer is only useful for filtering large debris such as leaves. Certain types of manual skimmers are equipped with a special hose that attaches to the pump outlet to provide extra cleaning power. Manual skimmers require no source of electricity since they are operated by hand.

Automatic pool skimmers are usually connected directly to the inlet drain of a swimming pool by some type of hose. Water pressure from the hose activates a set of small propellers inside the device to move it around the pool. As the skimmer moves along the surface of the water, debris and other particles are trapped inside the filter. This type of skimmer is water powered and requires no other source of energy to operate.


Many automatic skimmers are designed to move in a random fashion to prevent the device from being lodged in a corner, although some models may need to be manually relocated from time to time. Automatic pool skimmers are typically available in either above-ground or in-ground models. Above-ground automatic skimmers are typically attached to the pump with screws. Connections for in-ground automatic skimmers are usually built into the side of the pool near the water level.

Self-contained pool skimmers are powered by means of built-in solar panels. Sunlight is collected on the solar panels and used to propel the device around the pool. These self-powered skimmers are able to move about and filter large and small particles of debris even when the pool’s pump is not running. Although they are more expensive than other types of skimmers, they are less expensive to operate because they do not rely upon the pool’s pump as an energy source.


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