Last updated: August 8, 2021

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Skimmers are popular filter systems for water surfaces. They are primarily used in swimming pools or ponds to suck in and filter out impurities such as leaves, branches and similar dirt from the water. They come in various designs, all of which have certain advantages and disadvantages. In addition to the so-called floating skimmers, floor-mounted, suspended or built-in skimmers are also popular products.

We have compared the most important models with each other in a skimmer test 2021. If you are looking for the best skimmer, you can find important information here that will support you in your purchase decision.




Summary

  • Skimmers allow you to keep your pool or pond permanently clean. Its function is to filter debris from the water surface.
  • Skimmers are usually made of plastic, but you can also buy them in stainless steel, gunmetal or bronze, each with their own advantages and disadvantages.
  • Basically, you can distinguish between free-floating skimmers and skimmers that are permanently positioned in the pool. Depending on the model, the installation effort varies.

The Best Skimmer: Our Choices

Skimmer: buying and evaluation criteria

To help you find the perfect skimmer for you, we would now like to show you which criteria you should pay attention to before buying. They will make it easier for you to weigh up the many offers and make a targeted selection.

In the following, we will go into more detail on the listed criteria.

Material

Skimmers are classically made of ABS plastic (acrylonitrile - butadiene - styrene). The advantage is the particularly favourable price, which makes the product very popular. However, we would also like to point out that the material is not very stable and can therefore easily be damaged.

Skimmers made of stainless steel are much more robust and are also more resistant to the chemicals used in the pool.

However, if scratches or other minor damage should occur, it can quickly lead to corrosion, which greatly affects the stability of the skimmer.

Gunmetal or bronze skimmers offer another option. They are unbreakable and extremely stable. Their advantage lies primarily in their copper-tin alloy, which makes the skimmers absolutely corrosion-resistant.

Pumping capacity

A powerful skimmer depends on an efficient skimmer pump. This enables it to perform its function properly and keep the water surface clean.

A pump capacity of 800 litres per hour or less will not produce satisfactory results.

As a rule, you should look for a pump capacity of at least 1000 litres per hour. This makes the skimmer strong enough to suck in the dirt and collect it in the skimmer basket.

You can also do your skimmer a small favour and place it in the main wind direction. This way the wind will meet your skimmer by blowing dirt particles into the skimmer opening.

Cleaning effort

For a permanently functioning skimmer, impurities that land in the skimmer must be removed manually. If this is neglected, blockages can cause damage to the skimmer pump.

Normally you would have to clean your skimmer weekly.

Depending on the model, you can remove and clean the strainer basket contained in the skimmer.

Do not forget to switch off the pump first. You can also simplify the cleaning of the skimmer basket by using various gel cleaners to remove even stubborn deposits without any problems.

Installation effort

Depending on the type of skimmer, installation can vary in difficulty.

Free-floating skimmers are the easiest to install. They are simply placed on the water surface. Suspended skimmers, which are attached to the edge of the pool, also require little effort.

In contrast to these models are the so-called built-in skimmers. They have to be installed in the pool wall. The installation is much more difficult, as precision is essential here. The skimmer must sit perfectly in the wall.

Skimmer: Frequently asked questions and answers

Here we would like to answer the most frequently asked questions about skimmers. Perhaps you have also asked yourself one of the following questions:

What is a skimmer and who is it suitable for?

A skimmer is a filtering device for water surfaces. Basically, it sucks in water with the help of a powerful skimmer pump and filters out the dirt it contains.

In order for this to happen smoothly, there is a so-called skimmer flap. It is located at the height of the water level and is movable. The flap ensures that a thin layer of water is sucked in above and at the edges of it at a high speed.

The skimmer then transports the dirt sucked in this way into a skimmer basket, which must be emptied from time to time. The skimmer flap prevents the dirt particles trapped inside from flowing out, so that the water remains clean.

A skimmer is indispensable for a permanently clean swimming pool. (Image source: Carlos Felipe Vericat Sanz / unsplash)

A skimmer is therefore suitable for you if you need a filter system, for example for a swimming pool or a pond, to ensure permanently clean water.

What types of skimmers are there?

When buying a skimmer, you can choose between different models. In the following table, we have listed the most important variants for you:

Type Advantages Disadvantages
Floating skimmers Do not have to be mounted in the pool, very easy to install Disturbing for bathers in the pool
Standing skimmers Fixed location in the pond or pool, easy to install Less suitable for the pool, more suitable only for the pond
Suspended skimmers easy to attach to the edge of the pool, easy to install, good for retrofitting less suitable for the pond, more suitable for the pool
Built-in skimmers suitable for permanently installed pool types complex installation

We recommend the floating skimmer primarily for smaller ponds. Here the skimmer can do its work freely. In a swimming pool, bathers tend to find it rather disturbing. However, since the floating skimmer is very easy to operate, it is a much sought-after product.

In contrast to the floating skimmer, the standing skimmer can be permanently attached to a place in the pond. The installation can be carried out at any time without great effort by attaching the base of the skimmer to the gravel bottom, for example.

The hanging skimmer is another model that you can easily attach to the edge of the pond without much effort. This model is well suited to attaching additional filters to the pool at a later date.

Finally, we would like to introduce you to the classic built-in skimmer. Compared to the above-mentioned variants, the built-in skimmer, as the name suggests, is installed in the edge of the pool. The installation is therefore much more complicated, but it is very suitable for permanently installed pools.

What does a skimmer cost?

When looking for a suitable skimmer, you will come across a variety of different offers. The price range for skimmers is very wide and varies greatly. We have compiled an initial breakdown here depending on the material:

Material price range
Plastic approx. 50 to 400 euros
Stainless steel approx. 400 to 1000 euros
Gunmetal and bronze from 600 euros

In general, you can assume that skimmers made of plastic are the cheapest. The price range here starts at about 50 euros. Prices can vary depending on the brand and supplier.

A skimmer made of stainless steel is considerably more expensive. Prices start at around 400 euros and can quickly reach up to 1000 euros. Compared to skimmers made of plastic, you can assume that stainless steel is a higher-quality product that is also more expensive to manufacture.

The most expensive skimmers are made of gunmetal or bronze. Since they are particularly stable in terms of quality, the price range starts at around 600 euros. For salt water, you are best equipped with this model, because gunmetal or bronze are the most robust compared to their competitors.

The perfect skimmer can be found for every pool. (Image source: Yehor Milohrodskyi/unsplash)

Since the prices for a skimmer vary greatly, it is important to inform yourself well before buying. The more expensive version is not always the better one.

Where can I buy a skimmer?

Most skimmers can be found in online shops. Most people think of Amazon. Especially skimmers made of plastic are well represented on this platform. However, if you are looking for stainless steel or gunmetal, you should rather look at other online shops.

If you prefer, you can also visit the DIY store in person. In this regard, we have compiled a small list of the most popular DIY stores for buying a skimmer:

  • Obi
  • Bauhaus
  • Heissner
  • Hornbach

Another option is to go to a personal advice and planning centre, which will be happy to give you more comprehensive advice and pick out the best offers for you.

What should I look for in a skimmer in winter?

So that you know what to look out for in a skimmer in winter, we have summarised a few tips for you here.

When it starts to get autumnal, you should think about frost-proofing your pool and your skimmer for the winter. Only then will you be able to use it again in the summer. (Image source: manu schwendener/unsplash)

First of all, it is important to make sure that your skimmer is dry during the winter. This should not be a problem for floating skimmers. You can simply remove them and store them in a dry place. For the other variants, we recommend that you also dismantle them and store them in a frost-proof place, if possible.

If this is not possible, such as with the built-in skimmer, you must lower the water level well below the skimmer opening. In addition, you should make sure that all water is pumped out of the pipes.

We recommend that you get a skimmer cover for the winter, which you can put over your skimmer. You can find these for as little as 30 euros in the online shop.

It is important that all models should be cleaned during the winter. If possible, you should also remove the skimmer basket and the skimmer pump. However, you can leave the skimmer flap in place, as it also protects the skimmer from water penetration, e.g. when it rains.

What are the alternatives to a skimmer?

There are indeed alternative techniques for cleaning the water surface. We offer you an initial overview in this table:

Type Description
Overflow gutter It is considered for larger pools and requires a very complex installation of drainage gutters around the entire pool. Due to the high purchase price, it is rarely used in private pools.
Pool robot This alternative is mainly for smaller pools of up to 50 square metres. The skimmer is suitable both for permanently installed pools and for pools that can be set up. Compared to the skimmer, this cleans the dirt that has sunk to the bottom of the pool.

For less thorough cleaning or simply in case the skimmer should fail, you can also use a classic landing net as an alternative.

Conclusion

With a skimmer you can keep your pond or swimming pool clean. Floating skimmers and standing skimmers are good options for a pond. Suspended skimmers and built-in skimmers are more suitable for swimming pools. You can adapt a skimmer to your needs by paying attention to the materials when buying it.

Floating, standing and suspended skimmers are particularly easy to use. Built-in skimmers have to be inserted into the pool wall. This can also be done by a craftsman. Once you have decided on a skimmer, you must make sure that it is cleaned regularly and frost-proofed in winter.

Photo source: Be/ 123rf.com

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