My family recently had an in-ground pool installed in our back yard. With three older kids in the house (who need to spend less time playing video games), travel becoming prohibitively expensive, and summers getting hotter than ever, it seemed like the right move. What I didn’t realize was how much work maintenance would be. Skimming leaves off the top is easy enough, but vacuuming the pool is the worst. So when Aiper offered to send a Seagull 1500 Intelligent Cordless Pool Cleaner — a robotic pool cleaner — for evaluation, I was all over it. Reduced effort and technology are a winning combination in my books.
Here’s how my experience with the Aiper Seagull 1500 went.
I Hate Vacuuming the Pool
I quickly discovered that vacuuming the pool is a real chore. Oddly enough, the pool sales team didn’t exactly focus on the maintenance aspect of pool ownership. Ours isn’t large (28 feet by 14 feet), but our yard is surrounded by tall, mature pine trees and several 50+ year-old ornamental trees. The backdrop is lovely, but together, they drop a lot of stuff including leaves, needles, and twigs.
Keeping the pool clean involves daily vacuuming. Including the time taken to connect the vacuum, actually do the vacuuming, backwash the filter, then put everything away, the process takes me an hour to an hour and a half. Backwashing the filter also uses up a considerable amount of water.
There has to be a better way. That would be a robotic pool cleaner.
Aiper Seagull 1500 Functionality
The Aiper 1500 is designed to effectively clean the interior of an in-ground or above-ground pool of any shape or material (except ceramic tiles on vertical surfaces), up to 1,614 square feet in size, and up to 8.2 feet in depth. Propelled by triple-drive motors, the robot crawls along the bottom of the pool at about 36 feet per minute. It uses suction and a PVC roller to capture dirt and debris. The flow rate for water through the machine is 44 gallons per minute. Its filter basket captures particles 250μm or larger.
The robot not only covers the bottom of the pool, it also climbs walls and scrubs along the water line. The routine it uses employs intelligent path planning to ensure maximum coverage. Its 8600mAh rechargeable battery is rated for about 90 minutes of use and charging takes around seven to eight hours.
There are no cables or connections to the pool’s filtration system — the unit is completely self-contained.
The robot is equipped with LED status lights. The only ones I saw active during testing were blue (ready to go) and yellow (low battery).
Seagull 1500 In Action
Starting the Seagull 1500 is a matter of ensuring a rubber plug is in the charge port, the unit is switched to “on,” and then slowly lowering it into the pool. Its motor will kick in and purge any air out. Once the stream of bubbles stops, you let it drop and it settles to the bottom of the pool and starts doing its thing.
Our pool is a rectangle with rounded corners and a liner. I was a little worried about the steep slide into the deep end and whether the robot could navigate the sloped rise to the walls, but it handled both with no trouble. Watching it motor along the bottom of the pool is both mesmerizing and frustrating. For the first few days I watched it for 20 minutes at a time. It’s much more fascinating to watch a robotic pool cleaner from the vantage point of looking down and see it following its path than to watch a robotic vacuum in the house.
The frustrating part would come in when I could see the robot approaching a collection of leaves sitting on the bottom, only to veer away at the last second. It’s following a routine, not actively sensing dirt… However, eventually it would suction everything up.
For the first 20 minutes or so of its routine, the Seagull 15 does a lot of wall scrubbing. This is pretty amazing to see. The robot climbs the vertical walls, then breaks the surface with its PVC roller brush spinning against the wall.
When its battery begins to run low, the robot parks itself near a wall and waits to be fished out using a pole (the hook attachment is included in the box). From there, empty and hose out the filter basket, clear any water that might be around the charge port, then plug it in to charge.
Is the Robotic Pool Cleaner Effective?
I was shocked at just how well the Seagull 1500 performed. Every day after I pulled it out, the pool was sparkling. It can’t clean stairs, corners still require manual work, and I still need to scrub above the waterline once a week to get rid of the build-up from sunscreen, but after the robot has done its thing, the pool looks clean and inviting. I was shocked at just how much material I would find in its filter basket — everything from dirt on up to leaves.
It doesn’t clean the entire waterline every time, but over the course of a few days it seems to hit everything.
The only time it had trouble was in the aftermath of having the back yard re-sodded. The landscapers ran out of time before the job was done, leaving a section of exposed topsoil. Of course the wind picked up and we ended up with what had to be a wheelbarrow worth of fine dirt in the pool. It took three session with the Seagulll 1500 plus a manual vacuuming to finally clear that up.
In the month that I’ve been testing the Seagull 1500, I’ve adopted the routine of using the robot every morning, and doing a full vacuum/backwash every two weeks. This has made maintaining the pool far less time-consuming, while saving hundreds of gallons of heated water.
Are There Any Concerns?
Are there any downsides to using the Seagull 1500? If you have trouble lifting things, it may be a challenge. The robot weighs a bit over 17 pounds and is a bit bulky, and you do need to hold it in the water while waiting for the air to purge before dropping it in to begin cleaning. Lifting it out, there is also the additional weight of the water in it (although that begins to drain as soon as it breaks the surface).
The charger can be a bit of a pain. By the time you haul the robot out and open it up for emptying, a drop of water inevitably gets into the charge port, so you need to dry it out with a cotton swab or paper towel before every charge session. The charger cable is also surprisingly thin and short (about three feet). The rubber plug itself is attached with a thin piece of string — it looks awfully easy to lose should that string break.
Generally speaking, though, the unit seems well-designed and well-built. Aiper covers it with a 2-year warranty.
Does any pool owner need a robotic pool cleaner? Not really. And at $869.99 (at time of writing that was reduced to $829.99), the Aiper Seagull 1500 is far from an impulse purchase. However, as I have discovered during the course of this evaluation, it has certainly made pool ownership — at least the cleaning part of it — far easier. With the minimal effort needed to drop it in and fish it out, this robot keeps the pool sparkling clean, with no need for cords or cables. By dramatically cutting down on the need to manually vacuum a pool, it also saves considerably on water use.
I can’t picture to having to go back to a manual daily pool-cleaning routine.
If you have a pool in your yard, the Aiper Seagull 1500 is an easy recommendation. The company does offer a wide range of models, so if the Seagull 1500 isn’t for you, there many alternatives (corded and cordless) starting at around $270.
Disclosure: Aiper provided a Seagull 1500 for evaluation purposes but had no input into this review.