A commercial pool vacuum head is a key component in properly maintaining a commercial pool. If you're in charge of manually cleaning a commercial pool, the vac head is probably one of the most important pieces of equipment you will use. At first glance, commercial vacuum heads might seem to be all the same but differences in width, ports, bearings and wheels affect how vac heads function and how long they last. We'll go over these features to help you choose the best vacuum head for your pool.
The width of a commercial pool vacuum can range from about 14 inches to over 40 inches depending on the brand. The wider the head, the more surface area you will cover in a single pass. But keep in mind that with increased width comes increased drag; the wider vacuums are harder to push and will give you quite a work-out. If you have the physical strength to use a wider vac head, then you'll be able to get your pool cleaned more quickly. Some wider vacuum heads also have larger 2" ports and/or multiple ports for greater suction. The smaller vacuum heads will cover less area but will also drag less. So consider your level of physical ability as you decide which width to go with. If limited storage space is an issue, consider one of the smaller width models.
The ports mentioned above would be where the vacuum hose that attaches to the vac head. Vacuum hoses are typically either 1.5" or 2". If you already have a hose, then most likely you will want to find a vacuum head designed for the existing hose. Most of the Pentair ProVac commercial vac heads include adapters that will fit either size hose. These models will either take 1.5" hose via a swivel adapter or 2" hose directly onto the vacuum. The advantage of the 1.5" swivel adapter is that it allows the hose to move freely without twisting. However the smaller diameter hose and adapter will mean less suction than the 2". Some larger commercial vac heads, such as the Pentair Super ProVac 241, have dual ports that allow for maximum suction. The two ports are connected by a manifold that has a single port for the vacuum hose.
Another consideration when choosing a commercial vacuum head is the wheels. These vac heads have multiple wheels on the underside. Higher end vac heads will have wheels with ball bearings for smoother movement. The rolling motion of ball bearings reduces friction, allowing the wheels to glide more smoothly. This in turn makes it easier to push the vacuum. Particularly if you are considering one of the wider vacuum heads, you'll want to make sure the wheels have these bearings which will help with some of the drag mentioned above. An experienced commercial pool technician I spoke to told me that cheaper wheels without ball bearings are essentially useless in the face of the powerful suction of commercial pools. Without bearings, the wheels adhere to the pool surface by suction and sheer physical strength must be used to move the vacuum.
Another advantage of wheels with ball bearings is that the wheels last longer. Since the bearings reduce friction and bear weight, there is less strain on the wheels. This is especially desirable for commercial pools as they typically have heavy bather loads and need to be cleaned frequently. On the Pentair ProVac line of commercial vac heads, all wheels are adjustable so you can increase or decrease the speed of the vacuum. The Pentair Super ProVac 241 has polyurethane wheels which offers better resistance to abrasion and greater load bearing capacity as compared to rubber. Polyurethane is also weather resistant and holds up very well under exposure to oxygen, ozone, sunlight and general weather conditions.
One last main difference among different commercial vac heads is the handle where the telescopic pole attaches. The handles are made of either stainless steel or plastic depending on the model. There are advantages to both. Steel is stronger and will not crack as a plastic handle has the potential to. Plastic is more resistant to chemicals and corrosion. Stainless steel can become pitted over time when exposed to salt so that is something to consider if your pool has a salt chlorine system.
Here are some key features among the Pentair commercial vacuum heads: The ProVac 14", 22" and 29" models come with a metal swivel handle on a stainless steel shaft. They also include weights that are placed to balance the vac head. Special "flex strips" help guide debris into the suction chamber; there are white "short leg" strips for large debris such as leaves and blue "long leg" strips for picking up finer debris like sand and silt.
Pentair Super ProVac 241 offers incredible coverage at 41" wide, along with dual ports for greater suction. It also has adjustable, durable polyurethane wheels with ball bearings.