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Polaris 280 VS 380 


Any swimming pool owner understands the struggle when it comes to cleaning and maintenance. This is especially true if you have a tree-covered yard. Or maybe you live in a place where debris is constantly flying into your blue waters.

Not everyone can afford a pool boy, or even if you can, maybe you like to do things yourself. This is why a pool cleaner is particularly important. There are a variety of pool cleaners on the market, from manual to automatic.

We are going to take a look at a specific type of pool cleaner for in-ground pools; the pressure side cleaner. So let’s compare two from the same company, the Polaris 280 vs 380.

Polaris 280
Our rating:4.2 out of 5 stars (4.2 / 5)

Polaris 380
Our rating:4.2 out of 5 stars (4.2 / 5)

This may seem like a simple decision right?

The higher the number means the newer and better product, right?

Well, that’s not the case here. We will take an in-depth look at the differences, and they are somewhat significant. And hopefully, we can help you decide which best pressure side cleaner is the perfect one for you.

Polaris 280 VS 380 Product Comparison

Polaris 280 VS 380 

Polaris Vacuum-Sweep 380 Pressure Side Pool Cleaner

Always a popular choice for pool owners, Polaris are constantly producing quality, durable products that get the job done. The 380 Pressure Side Cleaner is one of those top products as far as the best automatic pool cleaners go.

At first glance, the 380 looks like the easier choice, but beware it is expensive and requires quite a hefty amount of maintenance. Though that shouldn’t scare you away, it is the stronger machine between the 280 and 380. They both have features to suit everyone’s needs.

So let’s look at which features are right for you…

The Polaris 380 has the power of three vacuum jets and has a quicker run time. A quicker run time means you save more money in the long run. If you have to constantly run your pool cleaner, that time and energy use really adds up.

If you have a big pool and a large amount of debris, the 380 will really perform for you. It has a built-in debris bag that collects as it runs. This means you don’t have to empty it as often as you do with a manual screen cleaner.

Get a grip…

The triple vacuum gives it a more powerful grip and can effectively clean hard to reach corners in oddly shaped pools. However, to operate this particular pressure cleaner you need a booster pump, and those are sold separately. The 380 also features a protective outer layer that keeps it safe from sun damage.

The 380 was designed with a belt drive system which is fairly easy to replace and maintain. The 31-foot hose included with the pump needed to operate gives you the reach you need for those larger pools. The 380 will scrub, and sweep all of the surfaces in your pool efficiently, leaving you with sparkling blue waters.

Like a little rover…

The Polaris 380 has a clean look to it, mostly white features with a hint of blue. Four wheels allow it to navigate around the bottom of your pool like a little rover. Included are two filtering bags so you have a back-up if the original one becomes too worn out.

You can also purchase a tune-up kit with most of the replacement parts you could ever need. Easy to assemble but expensive to maintain, as long as you take care of your pool cleaner, it will take care of you.


  • Triple vacuum powered.
  • Great for any size or shaped pool.
  • Cleans quickly and effectively.
  • Large debris bag.
  • Easy to assemble.
  • Belt system is easier to replace.


  • Expensive.
  • Requires a pump to operate which is sold separately.

Polaris Vacuum-Sweep 280 Pressure Side Pool Cleaner

The Polaris 280 is the mighty predecessor to the 380. Both of these pressure pool cleaners are powerful and have something to offer.

So let’s see what else set these two apart aside from a single digit…

The 280 is the less expensive of the two, this is good news for those who like to purchase things based solely on price. It is also good news for those who want an efficient machine that really performs, giving you more bang for your buck.

The 280 has a more basic design which means it is easier to maintain than the 380. One of the most significant differences is that it runs on a drive shaft mechanism. This can, however, be more expensive to replace, so make sure you take care of it. But with proper care and attention, the 280 model requires less overall maintenance in the long run and is easier to look after.

Two, not three…

Unlike the 380, the 280 has only two powerful jets, but they are just as effective especially in smaller pools. The jets allow it to move up, down, and all around the pool collecting and cleaning as much as it can hold.

Speaking of what it can hold. The 280 has a larger debris bag than the 380, so you have to empty it even less! And like the 380, it also comes with a backup bag.

The opening on the 280 is also larger so it can handle bigger debris. However, the 280 still requires the same booster pump as the 380, which is still sold separately. So either way, you have to bite the bullet and make the extra purchase.

Slower than it’s brother…

The 280 may not be as fast as the 380, but it is still fast. That makes it the perfect fit for any average-sized backyard in-ground swimming pool. The tune-up kit is also available for purchase, but the kit for the 280 is more expensive than the 380, due to the already mentioned drive shaft.

With a similar design, the two pressure side pool cleaners are almost identical. The one exception being the tail on the 280 is 5 inches shorter than the 380. This would only be an issue if you happen to have an Olympic sized swimming pool in your backyard, which most of us don’t!


  • Easy to maintain.
  • Durable and efficient.
  • Larger opening for collecting larger debris.
  • Larger debris bags.
  • Less expensive than the 380.


  • Needs a booster pump which is sold separately.
  • Only two jets.

Polaris 280 VS 380 Conclusion

As with most things that get better with time, Polaris has found ways to improve its previous models. One extra jet gives the 380 more power to clean in all the places you need it to. The belt system is easier to replace, and it can take on the challenge of larger pools with ease. The faster clean time also means you save money in more places than one.

It is a close call but somebody has to make it. We are going to call the 380 the winner of this round. It is worth the hefty initial investment. The parts are easier to replace in the long run, it is more durable and has an updated design.

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