Welcome to our Hayward Tiger Shark Review — one of the best and most popular robotic pool cleaners on the market. How good is it? What features does it have? Is it worth the cost? Robot pool cleaners are fairly expensive so it’s important that you choose wisely. Knowing what you need is the first step in making the right decision. Also, decide how much you want to spend and stick to your budget. Thankfully, there’s a wide range of robotic pool cleaners to choose from.
Introducing Robotic Pool Cleaners
Most people consider robotic pool cleaners to be the most technologically advanced and effective pool cleaner platform you can purchase. That is true, but not all robot vacs are created equal. And selecting the correct one for your pool can be extremely hard since they range in price from a few hundred dollars, to well over a thousand dollars. Hayward manufactures some of the most reliable automatic pool cleaners, and today we shall review what is considered to be one of the best mid-range robotic pool cleaners available — the Hayward TigerShark (RC9990CUB). Slotted in-between the super affordable SharkVac and the extremely advanced AquaVac 500, the TigerShark is capable of cleaning small and medium sized debris such as leaves, dust, twigs, algae, etc. from inground pools up to 20 x 40 feet in size.
1st Gen vs 2nd Gen | Same functionality, updated style
Traditionally, robotic pool vacuums have been held back by certain weakness such as high cost and their inability to suck up large debris from the pool floor. A lot of the corded robotic vacuums tend to get entangled in their own cords, and most of them don’t do a very good job at thoroughly cleaning every corner of the pool like you could with a manually operated pool vacuum. And they are almost always beaten in raw cleaning power by pressure side cleaners. Robotic pool cleaners also have less onboard debris storage capacity compared to a good pressure side cleaners such as the Polaris Vac Sweep 280 In this article we shall take a look at the TigerShark and compare it with another very popular robotic pool vacuum- the Maytronics Dolphin Oasis Z5i.
There are a few key points to consider when searching for a robotic pool vacuum — how much debris it can hold, how powerful is the suction, whether it can climb pool walls and steps, does the cord have a tangle-free 360° swivel feature, etc. You also need to consider the weight of the robot, because most of them weigh over 20 pounds. If you have a sore back, it is a pain to slowly lower that much weight into the pool with your hands stretched forward.
Robotic pool vacuums will also require periodic maintenance, you must clean the rubber tracks and clear out any debris that is stuck in the impeller area. Modern robotic pool cleaners like the Aquabot Breeze IQ feature extremely efficient filters capable of capturing debris as small as 2 microns, which exceeds to the filtering ability of a DE (Diatomaceous Earth) pool filter. And DE filters are the most expensive type of pool filter you can buy, getting that level of filtration power in a self propelled, self- contained robotic cleaning system is mind boggling. Before we look at the Hayward TigerShark, let us briefly overview some of the major pros and cons of using robotic pool cleaners.
Hayward TigerShark Review
3 Hayward TigerShark models
- All TigerShark models come with a standard 3-hour complete cleaning cycle for full floor, walls, coves and waterline.
- Patented Quick Clean technology (TigerShark QC model) provides a fast 90 minute cycle.
- On-board pump for intense vacuum power to suck up dirt and debris.
- Built with an efficient 24-volt motor designed to use less energy and lower cost.
- Unique cartridge filter system makes emptying easy, just open the cleaner, remove the cartridge and rinse with a hose. Easy to use
- No extra hoses, hookups or pumps required.
- Runs separately from the pool’s filtration system reducing the frequency of filter backwash cycles.
- Designed For : In-ground residential pools up to 20 x 40 feet. Runs separately from the pool’s filtration system reducing the frequency of filter backwash cycles
- Replacement Filter : Hayward RCX70101
Documents for the Hayward TigerShark :
A good robotic pool cleaner costs a lot of money, but we suggest you treat it as an investment rather then a simple purchase. And even though the TigerShark is not the newest pool robot on the market, it is one of the best options at this price range compared to robots from other brands like Polaris and Maytronics. We like to think of it as the Terminator T- 101 (Terminator 2 is the best) of the robotic pool cleaner world- old, but not obsolete. And it beats the newer, more sleek looking robots in certain aspects such as garbage capacity, suction power, etc. Yes, the TigerShark does have some weaknesses which may pop up from time to time during usage. But no product is created perfect, everything has its flaws.
1st Generation vs 2nd Generation | TigerShark Pool Cleaners
The TigerShark we are reviewing is considered to be a first generation model, it was introduced back in 2013, and quickly gained popularity as one of the most versatile pool cleaning robots. At the time, there were very few pool robots which could compete with the TigerShark when it came to raw suction power. Sometime during 2016, Hayward introduced the 2nd generation TigerShark which had the exact same specifications as the older model but featured a new color scheme. The differences were primarily cosmetic, so even if you purchase the older generation it won’t make any difference in the actual cleaning performance.
Generation 1 — Hayward TigerShark Series (Read full review)
All TigerShark models can clean the pool floor, walls, coves and waterline in 3 hours — but the QC (QuickClean) models can also clean in 90 minutes. For pools up to 20′ x 40-feet.
- RC9950GR (Standard) : 3 hour cleaning cycle
- RC9955GR (Plus) : Includes remote control
- RC9990GR (QC) : 3 hour + 90 minute cleaning cycle
Generation 2 — Hayward TigerShark Series
- RC9950CUB (Standard) : 3 hour cleaning cycle
- RC9955CUB (Plus) : Includes remote control
- RC9990CUB (QC): 3 hour + 90 minute cleaning cycle
First generation TigerShark robots have varying color schemes depending on which version you purchase. The standard and quick clean versions feature a grayish body color on the handle and sides, with a white colored midsection. The Plus version has a more brownish color scheme on the sides and handles, with a semi transparent PVC scrubbing brush roll.
The newer generation has blue colored handles with a light silvery finish on the sides and a black midsection. The shark logo is missing, with a simple Hayward badge taking its place. You can check if a TigerShark is a 1st generation model by seeing if it has “GR” at the end of the model name. Newer versions have “CUB” at the end of their model name. Performance and features are identical, as are the dimensions, weight, materials, etc.
Comparison Chart | TigerShark Robot Pool Cleaners
TigerShark Standard: This is the most basic version of the TigerShark pool robot and doesn’t come with a remote control or quick clean function.
TigerShark Plus: It is completely identical to the standard TigerShark in all aspects, except it comes with a remote which lets you turn the unit left or right and order it to move in reverse. There are no programmable functions which you can access through the remote, like scheduling cleaning cycles for different days of the week or setting the timer for a certain period of time. Buy the Plus version if your pool has a very irregular shape, or if you want to have more control over the robot for spot cleaning.
TigerShark Quick Clean (QC): The TigerShark QC doesn’t have a remote but comes with a different power supply compared to the other two versions. This power supply has the usual ON/ OFF switch on the left, but also includes additional switches which let you select from two different cleaning modes- regular, and quick. In regular mode, the TigerShark will continue to clean for 180 minutes or 3 hours. But if you select quick clean mode, the clean cycle only takes 90 minutes or 1.5 hours.
This is great for when you have to clean the pool in a hurry or if you just want to clean the floor and neglect the walls. And in Quick Clean mode the TigerShark doesn’t magically move faster or pump more water through its filters. Instead it neglects certain parts of the pool like the walls to reduce overall cleaning time. So, the cleaning takes less time, but is also not thorough. Kind of like your antivirus software which gives you the option to do a full scan or quick scan of the computer.
Hayward RC9950GR TigerShark
1st Generation Model TigerShark Robotic Pool Cleaner. It’s currently still available and a little cheaper than the redesigned model, but at some point old stock will run out and Hayward will stop manufacturing it — if they haven’t already done so.
- Perfect for residential pools up to 20′ x 40′
- Standard 3-hour complete cleaning cycle for full floor, walls, coves and waterline
- Built with an efficient 24-volt motor designed to use less energy and lower cost
- On-board pump for intense vacuum power to suck up dirt and debris
- Cleanup is easy with the patented filter cartridge system – just remove and rinse with a garden hose
You can tell two things from the model name — 9950 means that this is a base version TigerShark without a remote or quick clean functionality. And the GR means that it is a first generation TigerShark with a color scheme that reminds you of old washing machines and refrigerators from the early 2000’s. Pretty cool if you are going for a retro vibe, but it looks primitive compared to newer pool robots such as the Maytronics Dolphin Triton Plus, or the Polaris F9550 Sport. However, don’t let the weird colors and chunky looking body fool you into thinking that it also performs like an old machine. Because this is honestly one of the most powerful robotic pool cleaners on the market. It didn’t get the TigerShark name for no reason. In fact, most robotic pool cleaners struggle to climb vertical walls but the TigerShark does it without even trying.
VIDEO REVIEW | Hayward TigerShark
In fact, the wall- climbing abilities of the TigerShark are so good that you may sometimes need to purchase a special “restrictor plate” that goes on top of the impeller to reduce water flow so that it doesn’t go too high over the water line in your pool. Many owners of the TigerShark complained that it would often climb all the way over to the edge of the walls and spend most of its time cleaning the waterline instead of the pool floor.
Interestingly enough, there are verified customers who actually claim that the TigerShark tends to perform better as it gets older because the filters clogging up over time means that the water flow finally gets under control and the robot doesn’t just creep up halfway over the water line like it does in its brand-new state. We don’t recommend this robot if you have an above ground pool, it is designed primarily for in-ground pools which is clear from its wall climbing prowess.
Note : If you do have an above-ground pool, consider something like the Dolphin Escape.
VIDEO | Hayward TigerShark Troubleshooting
Now that we know the TigerShark has no trouble climbing walls and coves, what about its cleaning performance? Well, you will be glad to know that the TigerShark can pick up everything from pollen and algae to acorns and twigs. There are 2 really large openings on the bottom for debris, each one of these openings is over an inch wide and 3 inches long. There are folding flap style covers to prevent objects from entering inside when the robot is not in use.
The 2700 rpm 24V electric motor within the TigerShark is paired with an extremely advanced water pump which can process up to 17 m3 or 4490 gallons of water every hour. It translates to nearly 75 gallons of water each minute, which means your TigerShark will filter nearly 13,500 gallons of pool water with every 3-hour session. This ensures proper mixing of pool chemicals, and the robot doubles up as a portable pol filter which is really great. For reference, the TigerShark RC9950GR can completely filter all the water in a 25’ x 12’ x 6’ rectangular pool within a single cleaning cycle!
The major gripe we have with the TigerShark is its weird garbage basket placement. Every other modern pool robot, including Hayward’s own AquaVac 500 and SharkVac come with top — loaded garbage bins. The TigerShark garbage bin must be accessed from underneath, which presents two problems — first of all, you must tip this 21 pound robot over to remove all the debris it collected.
Replacement Filters for the TigerShark Pool Cleaner
Secondly, a lot of times when the robot is passing over steps or coming out of the water its bottom side will hit the pool wall and unlock the cover that is holding the garbage bin. So, all the time it spent collecting debris is wasted since most of the waste just spills out from the bottom. This isn’t a frequent enough issue, but it has happened to people before and can be really frustrating. There are two release tabs on the bottom which can get engaged if the robot scrapes a drain cover or stair in the pool, and the garbage bin is now loose so waste will just fall out back into the pool.
Other than that, we don’t really have much to complain about. Yeah, it has no programmable memory and you cannot schedule cleaning sessions across multiple days of the week like you could with more modern pool robots such as the Polaris 9950 Sport. And the microcontroller used in the TigerShark is based on older technology, so it doesn’t really learn the pool layout over time like modern robots. The movement pattern is pretty much fixed and doesn’t vary a lot, even though Hayward claims that it is intelligent.
People have tested this by dropping the robot into their pools from varying entry points, and the robot still followed its regular cleaning paths. Despite that, the suction power of the motor compensates for the less efficient movement patterns and the TigerShark will easily clean up an entire pool under 3 hours. It is good for pools up to a size of 20’ x 40’, but you will need multiple sessions for something that big.
But the garbage bin is larger than most of the modern robots, their sleek looks and compact weight saving designs have caused them to compromise on garbage capacity. And most robotic cleaners aren’t very good at picking up larger objects, but the TigerShark will suck in everything — leaves, twigs, sweetgum seeds, gumnuts, sand, etc. It is equipped with reinforced cartridge filters, so they have a longer life cycle compared to the filters on other robotic pool cleaners.
Cleaning the filter is super easy, all you have to do is take it out and hose it down. You can also purchase a 2- pack of special blue colored spring cleanup filters if your pool has a lot of large debris in it like leaves and twigs (for the spring season when trees are shedding leaves). And for owners of fiberglass pools, you can purchase the foam roller attachment which is better for soft surfaces and won’t scratch your pool finish.
Learn more about Hayward robotic pool cleaners by visiting their site.
Maytronics Dolphin Oasis Z5i — 99991079-Z5i
For in-Ground Pools Up to 50 Feet.
- For In-Ground Pools — up to 50 Feet.
- Dual scrubbing brushes attack tough dirt and debris on the floor, walls and waterline.
- No Hoses Or Booster Pump Required : Anti-tangle patented swivel cable technology that provides uninterrupted hassle-free cleaning.
- MyDolphin App. Connects to your smartphone with Bluetooth technology, allowing you to remote control your robot for spot cleaning problem areas in your pool.
- Use the app to activate cleaning programs, activate the weekly timer…and more.
- Single Button Operation : Easy to use. Plug it in and place in your pool.
- Top access fine & ultra-fine cartridge filters. Cleans your pool water free of leaves, dirt and debris. Once finished, just rinse & reload.
- Dual-layer filtration system : Filters and separates rough, fine and ultra-fine dirt.
- Dynamic dual-drive motor with 360 degree pinpoint turning for optimal cleaning coverage.
As of now, Maytronics is considered to be the world leader in pool cleaning robots. Their Dolphin brand of pool robots is characterized by superior filtration, advanced navigation features, and better propulsion systems compared to robots from other companies. We are going to review the Dolphin Oasis Z5i, which is definitely one of the more expensive pool cleaning robots on the market. But it is well worth the price and gives your pool a sparkling clean look. The Oasis Z5i can clean pools up to 50 feet in length, thanks to the extra long 60- foot 360° swivel tangle free cord. Its unique soft rubber tank tracks allow it to climb walls with ease and move around with damaging the pool finish.
The Oasis Z5i is capable of cleaning gunite, shotcrete, plaster, vinyl, fiberglass, and tile pools of all shapes — oval, rectangular, or freeform. Unlike ordinary pool robots which carry a single type of filter in the garbage collection bin, the Oasis Z5i is loaded with both a fine and an ultra- fine filter cartridge. You will notice that the first one captures larger debris like leaves, twigs, algae, etc. while the second filter traps all the pollen, fungi, and bacteria. Your pool water will look sparkly clean and smell amazing thanks to the complete removal of both visible dirt and debris as well as disease causing pathogens which are not visible to the naked eye.
Despite weighing a hefty 24 pounds (more than the Hayward TigerShark), the Dolphin Oasis Z5i is pretty quick on its feet (or should we say tracks?). It completes a cleaning cycle in just 2.5 hours, which makes it one of the quicker robotic pool cleaners on the market. Still slower than the Dolphin Triton PS Plus, which can get the job done in as little as 30 minutes, thanks to its PowerStream propulsion system and special Quick Clean mode.
PowerStream is a patent pending water jet based propulsion technology developed by Maytronics which allows their robots to maneuver around the pool more effectively. PowerStream consists of strategically placed water jet outlets on the body of the robot, which shoot high pressure streams of water using the internal motor and pump of the robot to move it in the opposite direction of the stream. The concept behind it is kind of like the jet thrusters on a spaceship, only this is a robot in your pool trying to climb vertical walls and access hard to reach corners in order to pick up every last bit of sand and algae.
The Dolphin Oasis Z5i doesn’t have PowerStream technology, but it is still extremely capable of climbing walls and steps within any pool. Its power supply box has a built- in Bluetooth receiver so you can control the movement of this robot manually through an app on your Android or Apple smartphone. The Oasis Z5i only allows you to control direction (forward, right, left, and back) through the app. You cannot program cleaning schedules or set timers for various days of the week like you can with the more expensive Dolphin Triton PS Plus.
VIDEO | Maytronics Dolphin Oasis Z5i
The Oasis Z5i has a top- loading filter and garbage bin which makes it extremely easy to empty and clean. You also get two sets of filters with the Oasis Z5i- 2 coarse filters and 2 ultra- fine filters. The coarse filters come in handy when you need to do spring cleaning in the pool. If you have a lot of algae on the pool walls, or an extremely slippery fiberglass/ vinyl finish we recommend you spend a little more and purchase the Dolphin Triton PS Plus instead. The Triton has PowerStream technology which helps it climb walls much more easily and clean every inch of the waterline.