Our Editor-Tested Dolphin Nautilus Robotic Pool Cleaner Review
We tested the Dolphin Nautilus CC Plus--here's how it really performs.
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Let’s face it: Owning a pool —whether an above-ground pool or in-ground pool— requires a lot of upkeep. And sure, you could spend a few hours scrubbing your pool every weekend, but that requires a lot of effort (and time). Instead, consider adding a robotic pool vacuum to your arsenal of cleaning tools to cut down on the back-breaking work.
While robotic pool cleaners may seem like a splurge, they do a lot of heavy lifting with pool maintenance. You know the robot vacuum you use to keep your floors clean? Robotic pool cleaners work a lot like underwater robot vacuums.
So, if you’re a pool owner shopping for an automatic pool cleaner, we’re here to help with our full review of the Dolphin Nautilus CC Plus. We also compare the cleaner to the more expensive Dolphin Premier Robotic Pool Cleaner, so you can see the differences between the two products at a glance.
What is the Dolphin Nautilus CC Plus?
The Dolphin Nautilus CC Plus is a robotic pool vacuum cleaner that can climb the walls of your pool to scrub not only the bottom of your pool but also the sides (no matter what shape or type of pool you have). Plus, its fine filters remove debris from your pool without a hitch. All you have to do is plug in the system and drop it into the pool. It’ll have your pool clean in about two hours!
The Dolphin Nautilus CC Plus is equipped with smart navigation technology, so it scans your pool to strategize the most efficient cleaning path. It also swivels to keep its cable from tangling during cleaning. When cleaning is done, pull out the cleaner, open the top, remove the top load filter panel, and rinse clean!
Dolphin Nautilus CC Plus Product Features
Mary Henn/Family Handyman
Our Deputy Shopping Editor, Reina Galhea, tested the Dolphin Nautilus CC Plus in an eight-foot-deep pool, which is a standard depth for backyard in-ground pools. The cord on the pool cleaner is 60 feet long, so more than long enough to clean a standard pool. In total, the cleaner weighs about 20 pounds, but it is heavier when filled with water. However, its handle makes it easy to grab and pick up out of the pool.
Each cleaning cycle runs for two hours, and there are three cleaning cycle options: one cycle every day for seven days, one every two days or one every three days. Regardless of the cycle you choose, you must reset your selection once per week because of the automatic shutoff (this is both a pro and con; see more below).
Cleaning your Nautilus CC Plus is simple. Just pop out the two filters and hose them off. It takes about 10 minutes to clean off the filters with a hose. How frequently you clean the filter depends on your pool and surrounding environment, but our editor tested the cleaner in a backyard filled with trees and plants that regularly drop into the pool. In other words, the person who maintains their pool describes it as “very dirty.” However, even in that environment, our editor only needed to clean the filter once a week.
Our favorite features on the Nautilus CC Plus are that it can navigate forward and backward and climb walls and steps to clean every corner of your pool. It’s outfitted with textured rollers to scrub grit from the pool floor and scale walls. It even cleans chlorine buildup on the surrounding tile!
How We Tested It
Mary Henn/Family Handyman
Deputy Editor Reina Galhea ran the Nautilus CC Plus every day (1 cleaning cycle for 2 hours) for two months to put the product to the ultimate test. The robot cleaner arrived fully assembled, and the setup could not be any easier. All you have to do is insert the included filters, attach the hose, plug it in and drop it into the pool. It’s really that simple.
The particularly dirty pool environment helped our editor put the pool cleaner to the test, too. The pool used for testing is located in a windy area with lots of surrounding plants that drop leaves and particulate into the pool. There are two dogs that kick dirt from nearby planters into the water when running around. Additionally, the pool is used with two or more people for six months out of the year (as it’s always hot in Santa Clarita). Lastly, the pool has a unique shape with several curves and seats, and the robot vacuum cleaner managed to navigate all of it!
Note: Do not remove the Styrofoam inside the robot—that’s not packaging; It’s the buoy that helps the machine float in the water!
- 10/10 cleaning ability, daily cleaning keeps the pool totally clear
- More than enough line for a standard residential pool (hooks to one standard outlet)
- Able to climb steps, goes horizontally along the wall, cleans tile at water line
- Basically silent while underwater (though it does occasionally break the surface)
- Worth the money
- Only other maintenance needed is treating the pool water
- Could potentially replace a homeowner’s need to hire a pool maintenance professional if they know how to balance their pool’s chemicals (it does half the job of a professional)
- Automatic shutoff after cleaning cycle—never worry about forgetting and letting it run too long
- Must reset cleaning cycle once per week
- Can’t get to the neighboring jacuzzi on its own
- Must remove while swimming for safety
- Gets stuck on the steps every now and then (about once every 10 days if used daily), most times it can reverse course and unstick itself, but it occasionally needs to be manually moved
Does the Dolphin Nautilus CC Plus clean the waterline?
The Dolphin Nautilus CC Plus navigates and cleans the floors and walls of your pool. It does not clean the waterline. If you find debris at your waterline after using the Nautilus CC Plus, you may need to use a net to fish out dirt sitting on top of the water.
Is it OK to leave Dolphin pool cleaner in the pool?
Maytronics, the maker of Dolphin pool cleaners, recommends taking your Dolphin robot cleaner out of the pool after each cycle to empty and clean the filters. Even if you’re not cleaning the machine after each use, you should at least remove it from the pool and store it in a dry place, away from direct sunlight.
What Other Reviewers Had to Say
With more than 11,000 five-star reviews on Amazon, the Dolphin Nautilus CC Plus has pool owners impressed. Here’s what they had to say.
Verified purchaser Melissa Watts calls the cleaner a workhorse in action. “This Dolphin powers through the dirt on the bottom of our pool quickly and efficiently… It climbs right up the wall and cleans along the edge as well,” Watts writes. “This is so much nicer than our older pressure side pool cleaner. Not only does it clean more effectively but we don’t have a noisy booster pump running all day.”
Watts also notes that some users mention the pool cleaner not cleaning the whole pool on first use or sitting still during at moments during the initial clean. “This is your dolphin mapping your swimming pool into its memory,” Watts says. “Wait until about the third time you use it, and it should be functioning perfectly.”
Five-star reviewer Hans-Joachim Krenz says that the Nautilus CC Plus does more than advertised. “Even though it is advertised as not being designed to clean the waterline of my pool, it does so consistently and very well. After one month of regular use, I am impressed with its functionality and power,” they write. “Two hours is sufficient for it to completely clean my 15′ x 30′ pool, including swim-outs, stairs, sidewalls and waterline.”
Since it has a swivel in its powerline, the line never gets kinked and is therefore easy to manage for storage,” Krenz says. “Cleaning the two baskets is very quick and easy. For me, this unit is ideal since I really have no need at all for Wi-Fi connectivity or remote control in order to manage my pool crawler. Great performance for the price without paying for unnecessary frills. Good value!”
Dolphin Nautilus CC Plus vs Dolphin Premier
Many people want to know the difference between the Dolphin Nautilus CC Plus and the Dolphin Premier, which is the priciest model of Dolphin’s robotic pool cleaners. One difference is that the Premier is significantly heavier than the Nautilus—15 pounds heavier. The Premier also comes with a three-year warranty, while the Nautilus comes with a two-year warranty.
Additionally, the Premier comes with three filter cartridges, rather than two, and has a sensor that tells you when its filter needs cleaning. The Nautilus does not have that sensor.
The third filter on the Premier is intended to gather larger leaves and debris. However, our editor found that the Nautilus did just fine filtering out lots of leaves and particulates with its two filters. The Premier is also said to offer more advanced scrubbing and maneuvering than the Nautilus, which might be important if you have a large pool that seems to require a lot of work and elbow grease to clean.
After testing the Dolphin Nautilus CC Plus daily for two months, our editor confidently recommends this robotic pool cleaner. It’s effective at cleaning dirty, debris-filled pools and is extremely easy to use. While it is pricey, our editor thinks it’s an investment worth the money due to the manual labor and time it saves pool owners on cleaning.
Where to Buy the Dolphin Nautilus CC
You can shop the Dolphin Nautilus CC Plus and other Dolphin pool cleaners on Amazon. The Nautilus retails for $800, while the Premier retails for more than $1,700. You can also shop the Nautilus CC Plus at Wellbots, where you can check out some of the latest smart products and innovations in tech.
Don’t spend the end of summer—and what might be your last weekends to enjoy your pool—worrying about cleaning. Instead, drop in a robotic pool cleaner, kick back and relax. You deserve to float, not scrub!