Polaris 380 Cleaner

The little cleaner who could – Polaris 380

Week two of my product suggestion blog brings us the Polaris 380 pool cleaner.

Polaris 380


Much like last week’s Raypak heater, the Polaris brand of pool cleaners has stood the test of time. There have been a few changes here and there, but overall the design remains the same.

Polaris offers several pressure pool cleaners. The most popular models are the 180, 280, 360, and 380. The 180, 280, and 380 all need a dedicated Polaris booster pump. The 360 can work by connecting it to a threaded wall return and blocking off the remaining returns or sometimes a dedicated line is plumbed for it with a valve to control how much pressure goes to the cleaner. Regardless of the connection method, the 360 is problematic because its performance depends on your main circulation pump and the overall health of your system. The remaining three models all perform very well. My preference for the 380 is simply my opinion and the most popular is probably the 280. The 180 and 280 are very similar in design, but there are many differences between these two and the 380. The biggest of these differences is in the way that the wheels are driven. The 180 and 280 rely on a metal rod with gear teeth on the ends actually engaging the inside edge of the wheels. This creates a metal on plastic gear connection and in my experience the plastic side will wear out, requiring replacement of the wheels. The gears only drive two of the wheels and this leaves the third wheel to be driven by a very small wheel sat right between the two large wheels. They chain together so that motion of the first wheel transfers to the little wheel and then on to the second large wheel. The 380 is designed in a better way. The wheel on the single side attaches directly to the end of the main drive axle. On the other end of this axle is a gear hub and both wheels on the double wheel side have similar gear hubs on the inside of the cleaner. Two belts attach between these three gear hubs to drive the two wheels.

It does not matter which of these cleaners you install, there will always be issues with parts wearing out or breaking. That is a simple fact of placing plastic parts in chlorinated water. The good thing about Polaris cleaners is that they are very serviceable and the parts replaced most often are affordable. All of the Polaris cleaners carry a one year warranty and the frames of the 280, 360, and 380 have a five year warranty.

An Atlanta area native, Shawn began servicing pools in 1998 and has not stopped. Years of experience have provided Shawn with a wealth of knowledge and opinions about all types and brands of pool equipment.

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