The Polaris 280 Automatic Pool Cleaner will thoroughly sweep, brush, and vacuum the bottom of your pool, as well as the walls, enabling you to spend your time doing things that you actually enjoy. I’m pretty sure you don’t love cleaning your pool. Luckily, pool cleaners have come a long way in recent years and the Polaris 280 is one of the most popular and effective pool cleaners that you can buy.
Read our full review to find out everything you need to know about the Polaris 280 — as well as the differences between the 360 and the 380 model.
First, let me just start by saying the Polaris is owned by Zodiac Pool Systems, which has been around for over 100 years. Yes, they’ve been around for a long time. Longer than you. In 1934 they created a prototype for an inflatable kayak and from there they continued to develop their product line. In 1994 they bought Sweepy International which then became their line of Automatic Pool Cleaners. Read about the history of Zodiac.
Polaris is a highly reputable brand. The Polaris Vac-Sweep 280 is a great product. Let’s find out why.
Powered by 2 cleaning jets, the Polaris 280 is a fast pool cleaning machine that will have your swimming pool spotless in less than 3 hours. It’s an intelligent device compatible of cleaning any inground pool — any shape or size. It comes with 31 feet of feed hose but you can buy more to extend the reach, which I’ll discuss later in this review.
The Polaris 280 is capable of capturing and removing large debris, such as leaves, acorns, pebbles and various other forms of debris — small and large. The Polaris 280 single chamber filter bag will remove everything long before it reaches the pump basket and filter, which is wonderful thing because this system reduces your need to clean the filter by up to 80%, extending the life of your filter.
A Polaris booster pump is required to operate the 280 pool cleaner, which keeps the skimmer free to remove surface debris and contaminants for a cleaner, healthier swimming experience. Sweep hose cleans tight corners and steps where other cleaners can’t.
Enhances the swimming experience, providing a clearer body of water by returning clean fitered water throughout all areas of the pool. Disperses warm water during the heating process to the depths of the pool.
Polaris 280 | An Excellent Automatic Pool Cleaner
How does the Polaris 280 work?
Well, the Polaris 280 is known as a “pressure cleaner.” The key mechanism that allows a side-pressure cleaner to work is attributed to the venturi effect, which is described by Wikipedia as the, “reduction in fluid pressure that results when a fluid flows through a constricted section of pipe.”
- The water is sucked up by the pump via the skimmers and the main drain.
- The water is directed to the filter to be cleaned.
- The water comes back clean into the pool through outlets.
- The pipework includes a bypass to feed the booster pump.
- The Polaris pressure cleaner connects to the sweepers socket, which acts as an outlet.
- The venturi effect (video) created by the jets converts the incoming water into a powerful suction current which allows the the Polaris automatic pool cleaner to move freely.
Polaris 280 | Video Setup & Installation
Polaris Booster Pump PB4-60
If you’ve never used a Polaris side pool cleaner before you need to know that the most effective way run it is to connect it to an external Polaris Booster Pump (PB4-60), which I’ve recently reviewed. The Polaris 280 requires a strong pump in order to run it properly. You’ll be getting the most from your Polaris Vac-Sweep 280 if you hook it up to a Polaris PB4-60 booster pump. I know, it’s an extra cost but it’s the recommended setup as outlined by Polaris.
For best performance, always power your Polaris pool cleaner with a Polaris booster pump.
The Polaris PB4-60 is a huge improvement over previous models. Polaris has made significant changes but the things you will notice is that it’s ultra-quiet and delivers more power than before attributed to their design refinements, such as: larger volute seal o-ring, redesigned wet end, new ergonomic connectors and improved easy pump seal replacement.
The bottom line, is that the Polaris 280 requires this booster pump to run it properly. Some customers say it works fine hooked up to their pool pump but that puts a huge drain on your pump and it’s not designed to operate that way. If you buy the Polaris Vac-Sweep 280, or other Polaris side pressure cleaners (except the 360 model) then set it up as recommended by the manufacturer.
It’s up to you if you want to connect it to your current pool pump but if you do, make sure it’s a powerful pump, such as the Pentair 011018 variable speed pump. Again, I don’t advise this setup.
- Ultra low flow requirements. 2-speed or variable-speed pump for energy savings.
- 3/4 horsepower.
- Quick and easy installation with new ergonomic connectors.
- Heavy duty single piece base.
- Captured backplate nut fasteners make it easier to service.
- Ergonomic drain plug with o-ring.
Differences Between the Polaris 280, 360 and 380:
Click image for a larger view
Here’s a summary of the above Polaris Automatic Pool Cleaner Comparison Chart:
If you’re unsure which model to buy you’ll need to know the differences between the Polaris automatic pool cleaners in order to make the best buying decision.
The Polaris 280 has 2 cleaning jets while the 360, 380 and 3900 Sport have 3 jets. An extra jet gives the pool cleaner a stronger vacuum while giving it the ability to clean your pool faster.
The Polaris 280 has a shaft drive while the 360 and Polaris 380 have an All-Wheel Belt Drive.
The Polaris 360 does not require a booster pump — which is the main difference between the Polaris 360 and 380. All other models do require a Polaris booster pump.
Manuals for the 360, 380 & 3900:
Brochure: Polaris 3900 Sport.
The Polaris 3900 Sport has significant differences, such All-Wheel PosiDrive with Stainless Steel Chain, Wide Trax and a Dual Chamber SuperBag. The Polaris 3900 isn’t as reliable as the other models so I would suggest you avoid it and purchase either one of the 280, 360 or 380 automatic pool cleaners.
It’s too bad that Polaris wasn’t able to maintain their high level of reliability with the 3900 Sport. Hopefully they’ll refine the design in the future.
Polaris 280 | Additional Info
Includes: Universal Wall Fitting, 31 feet of feed hose, check valve for movement reversal, debris trap.
Overall, the Polaris Vac-Sweep 280 — as well as the 360 and 380 models are exceptional pool cleaners that customers are extremely happy with. It does what it’s supposed to — quickly and effectively cleans your pool so you don’t have to. If you’re looking for an automatic pool cleaner with a history of reliability then the Polaris 280 is the pool cleaner you want.
We’ve recently reviewed other excellent robotic pool cleaners that you may be interested in, such as the Hayward TigerShark and the always popular, Dolphin Nautilus. There are a lot of options for pool cleaners currently on the market but our goal here at Chainsaw Journal is to provide you with the best options so you don’t waste your money on unreliable and ineffective products.
If it’s on Chainsaw Journal, then you know it’s a high-quality product. Use the information we provide to make an informed buying decision.
Watch this video and learn more about how the Polaris Automatic Pool Cleaner Operates:
- Venturi Jets : 2 Jets
- Vacuum Inlet : 2 ¼”
- Drive Mechanism : Shaft Drive
- Tires : Classic
- Requires Booster : Pump Yes
- Auto Back-Up : Yes
- Debris Bag : Single Chamber
- Pool Type/Surface : Inground/All
- TailSweep PRO Compatibility : Yes
- Cord/Hose Length : 31 ft
- Cleaning Area : Floor, Walls, and Steps
- Pool Cleaner Type : Pressure Side
Warranty Information from Zodiac Pool Systems:
- Polaris robotic cleaners are warranted for two (2) years.
- Frames for Polaris ATV®, 280, 360, 380, 480 and 3900S cleaners are warranted for five (5) years.
- Pool cleaner wear-and-tear items including, but not limited to, bags, filter canisters, tires (including track tires), sweep hoses, sweep hose scrubbers, surface disks, shoes, belts, rollers, brushes, and footpads, are not warranted.
- Replacement products, or parts, provided at no charge are warranted only until the original finished good’s warranty has expired. Purchased replacement parts are warranted for ninety (90) days from the date of retail purchase, with the exception of electronic salt water chlorine generator cells and electrodes, and “Factory Rebuild Kits” for Polaris pressure cleaners, which are warranted for one (1) year.
Tip: To Prevent your Polaris Automatic Pool Cleaner Hose from Tangling
- Measure your hose and make sure that it’s the right size for the length (and shape) of your pool.
- Check that your hose and your hose connections are turning freely while your Polaris automatic pool cleaner is operational.
- The feed hose needs to be floating.
- Turn off your Polaris Vac-Sweep 280 and check to see that each wheel is turning freely.
Polaris 280 : How to Install a Tune-up Rebuild Kit
Accessories & Replacement Parts | Polaris 280 Vac-Sweep
Eventually, parts will wear out and need replacing so here are some of the common replacement parts for your Polaris 280 automatic pool cleaner.
You can find the complete parts list for your Polaris 280 pool cleaner in the MANUAL.
Zodiac 9-100-3104 | Feed Hose with Floats Replacement
Extend the reach of your Polaris Vac-Sweep 280 pool cleaner.
Polaris K13 | Replacement Bag
Zodiac D20 | Ball Bearing Swivel Replacement
This ball bearing swivel is designed to use with Zodiac Polaris pool cleaner models 180, 280, 380, 480 PRO, 3900 Sport and also compatible with Zodiac Polaris pool cleaner models 280 Tank Trax, Vac-Sweep 280, Vac-Sweep 380.
Polaris Zodiac G52 | Back-up Valve Replacement Kit
Polaris D15 | Replacement Nut
It’s a simple part. Not much to say about them. You’ll know when you need to replace them.
Polaris 280 Leaf Bag
This leaf bag is only for the Polaris Vac-Sweep 280. The Polaris 360 and 380 have a different leaf bag. Don’t mix them up. They are two unique products. You can see the 360/380 bag here.