A Consumer-First Cleaner

Hayward’s AquaVac 6 eliminates common robotic cleaner complaints

There are three things most people don’t enjoy about their pool cleaner: cleaning out debris, removing the pool cleaner from the pool, and expecting to find your pool clean, only to realize the cleaner has been in the same spot for hours.

Those were three frustrations Hayward wanted to tackle when it started working on its new AquaVac 6 Series cleaners. “We went to consumers’ backyards and filmed them, asking them to operate their cleaners,” says Patrick Caty, senior global product manager for cleaners at Hayward. “It was really doing a usability experiment to see exactly where we can make their lives easier.”

The company looked at solutions other industries use and adopted them to the cleaner, such as hydrocyclonic debris separation. “This technology is well-known in the industrial area,” Caty says. “We adapted that to water conditions, to separate debris from water without using a filter.”

When it’s time to remove debris in the AquaVac 6, a simple button push flushes it out. “We said, ‘What if we don’t have any filters to clean, any more cartridges or bags to clean with worms, snakes, frogs and all the filthy stuff you have in it?’ ” Caty says.

The hydrocyclonic technology also means the cleaner will keep working when the canister is full. “We can keep the suction power until the canister is really full,” Caty says, adding that this can help save quite a bit of time.

To keep the cleaner from getting stuck, Hayward employed a number of elements in its HexaDrive feature. First, it uses both wheels and rollers — six of each — with a two-drive motor, which gives the cleaner the ability to turn from any angle. The middle rollers help get the cleaner off those pesky high-profile VGB main drain covers.

A gyroscope and accelerometer detect the cleaner’s movement and then use that information to help get it unstuck. “If it feels that the wheels are turning but it doesn’t sense any movement, something’s wrong,” Caty says. “The cleaner can decide, ‘OK, let’s try something else.’ It may shut off the pump to become lightweight or have it turn, moving backwards and forwards to get out of the obstacle. If it’s stuck under a ladder, it will go backward to get out of that obstacle. It’s adaptive traction.”

What’s probably the easiest — and worst — way to get a robotic cleaner out of the pool? Grab it by its cord and pull. And while everyone is probably guilty of doing that, the wear and tear on a cord will eventually cause problems. With the AquaVac 6 Series, however, three tugs on the cord will cause the cleaner to drive in that direction and up the wall. Once it’s at the waterline, an extra cord with a handle allows the user to grab and pull it out. “I don’t have to bend my back or my knee,” Caty says. “You add some comfort and convenience to the process.”

But this cleaner is not all function and no fun: Hayward actually added a light show as well. “There are three powerful LEDs inside,” Caty says. “At night, you have color-changing lights so you have some entertainment.”

Initially, there will be two AquaVac 6 models available, the 600 and 650, both part of the company’s Expert Line, which means they won’t be available to purchase online. Both models will come with a caddie cart. The power supply of the 650 model is Wi-Fi enabled, which allows a mobile device to connect to it. The app lets you arrange a seven-day custom cleaning schedule, use it like a remote control or use the spot-clean function. “Use the remote to bring the cleaner where it’s dirty, press that button and it will clean that specific area very quickly,” Caty says, adding that iRobot Roomba vacuum cleaners have a similar spot-clean function.

Service and repair companies will like that removing a cap on top of the cleaner allows easy access to the pump and motor box. “You have six screws, and then you remove the pump completely and replace it,” Caty says.

After five years developing the AquaVac 6, Caty hopes it’s not just successful for Hayward but that it also helps shift the mindset of the pool industry. “Consumers wants to buy a pool — to buy a dream,” Caty says. “I think for many years the industry was a good dream-killer by bringing them back to reality. We need to make their lives better and make sure they understand the right level of information.”

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