So, you’ve decided to choose the best robot vacuum among lots of those available on the market. Then I’d advise you to spend some time reading this detailed robot vacuum reviews, which will definitely save your efforts and money.
Here we have answers to the following most frequently asked questions:
- How can this automatic vacuum save my time?
- How good does it clean surfaces?
- What is wrong with Chinese robotic vacuum models ?
- Which of them all deals best with pets hair removing?
- How HEPA-filter is supposed to help those with allergies?
- Which robot vacuum models are the best in their price brackets?
And this is crazy! We can offer much more info in this review!
- We’ll tell you the secret how do these robot vacuum cleaners “see”?
- Why do they need their virtual walls?
- What is the difference between robot vacuum and wet and dry vacuum cleaner?
- How high obstacle can a robot vacuum overcome?
- What are their side brushes for?
- What’s the difference between robo vac with and without self navigation system?
- What are robovac drawbacks if compared to ordinary vacuum cleaners?
Let’s begin with the question that won’t be asked neither by sellers, nor by marketing experts. Do you actually need a robot cleaner?
Since their efficiency is less than that of common vacuum cleaners and you’ll still need to tidy up your house after all.
Smooth floor surfaces (parquet and laminated flooring, tiles, linoleum) can be easily cleaned by any robo vac. However, it gets more complicated when it comes to floor carpeting cleaning.
Due to their design automatic vacuums have much less suction power in comparison to ordinary vacuum cleaners. All robo vacs have approximately equal suction power, but still it’s sufficiently lower than that of a common vacuum cleaner (so, not to shock the buyers its value isn’t stated anywhere when selling robovac).
Because any cleaning robot successfully operates mainly due to its bristle brush, therefore the cleaning quality depends on its structure and rate of rotation.
The review is rather detailed one, so if you don’t have time to read the whole of it, here’s the list of the best robot cleaner models according to their price brackets
Best robot vacuum cleaners
All robot cleaners are divided into two types – with and without a bristle brush – first will perfectly deal with carpets cleaning and second will operate only on smooth flooring materials.
And, yes, they don’t solve all the cleaning issues, but they can offer sufficient help in this respect. So cleaning robots will be of much help if:
- There are babies or small kids in a family. They usually leave food crumbles and small rubbish everywhere, they kick up dust. In this case a robot cleaner will ease your life greatly by gathering all this stuff from the floor. As a result you children won’t inhale any dust which is definitely good for their health.
- You have large apartments or a big house and it is difficult to tidy it up, and the whole process takes a long time as well. A robovac will significantly lessen the time you spend on cleaning and help you keep your home tidy, even if you are away.
- If you don’t have time for weekly cleaning, it’d be reasonable to buy a robot cleaner. You can program it to tidy your home every two days, while everyone is away. Therefore you won’t have to do the cleaning every week, but just once in 3-4 weeks.
- You have a cat or a dog especially long-haired ones. High quality robot cleaners deal with animal fur very well. Cheaper models have rather small dust bins (just 0.25 liters or 0.06 American gallons) and they get clogged with fur very fast. If a storage bin is 0,5 l (0,13 gallons) large or more, you won’t have any problems with animal fur removing.
- You can’t stand the dust on the floor. In this case you’ll need a robot floor cleaner with a “dry/wet mop functions”. This way you’ll get rid of the finest dust and the air in the house will be fresher.
- You love all kind of gadgets and new arrivals and hurry to buy them.
Very cheap models
Such machines usually cost about 100 $. In this case it’s better not to buy anything at all. Because buying something completely plain like FINE DRAGON is just a waste of money and negative experience.
Such devices cost fro about 130 to 300 $. To get this price level the manufacturers have to literally “pinch and scrape”. They save both on the robovac case materials, electronics, brushes and sensors.
That’s why such a device rather poorly navigates in the flat and it can function continuously not longer than for an hour. You can’t program the cleaning process, its build quality and materials leave much to be desired.
However, it is possible to find among all of them some cheap and plain robovac model that will do for some small flat cleaning.
Average priced models
They cost from 300 to 500 $. You will recognize them by high quality design and hard plastic case. They perform more thorough cleaning than the affordable models and have more additional functions.
One of their advantages is a large storage bin and high quality battery, that provides 2 hours of continuous operation without recharging. Sufficient number of sensors ensures choosing optimal route and avoiding any possible obstacles on the way.
A charging station comes in a set, battery charging itself takes about 3-4 hours. You can program the cleaning process as well.
Within these price brackets you should consider Neato Botvac D80 and iRobot Roomba 650. Since Roomba 6xx has become out of date, it has been replaced by 8хх model series with another type of brushes (the rest has remained the same).
Premium segment robovac models
These cost over 500 $, their operational efficiency is higher: if spending just 20 minutes to recharge such a machine can clean a large apartment or house rather quickly. That’s why those for whom time is more important than money are likely to enjoy these premium class robot cleaners.
These price brackets include such automatic vacuum as iRobot Roomba 960 and iRobot Roomba 890, Neato Botvac D6-D7 and Roomba 960 with navigation.
Budget Robot Vacuums reviews
Eufy RoboVac 30 – is the bestselling robot vacuum on Amazon
I assume this model is the best among affordable robotic vacuum cleaners since in my opinion it has an optimal quality-price ratio.
You can just visit Amazon.com and see that Eufy RoboVac 30 is the most popular device among low-priced models. It has impressive 4.6-star rating, over 1000 users’ reviews and it is moderately priced. This robot vacuum model is for those who’d like to test a new device in the house, but they don’t want to pay any extra money for it.
Congratulations! Eufy RoboVac30 is the best choice in this case.
So, what are its features? Let’s start from the most important parameter – its cleaning time. The longer the device works, the larger area it can clean.
Here is the good news! Eufy RoboVac 30 delivers 90 minutes of continuous cleaning, which is rather good for the robot vacuum for its price. Though this is a bit less long than the cleaning time of its rivals which is about 2 hours.
At that the device uses a modern Li-Ion (lithium-ion) battery, which life cycle is much higher than that of Ni-Mh batteries.
Eufy RoboVac 30 has a standard brush set – two side brushes and a rolling brush. This is quite enough to perform efficient cleaning of plain surfaces and along room walls, though it’d be great if the device had a Flexible Brush. A combination of two side brushes rotating in opposite directions, a central rolling brush and a powerful suction ensure intensive and quality cleaning.
This robotic vacuum cleaner has quite appropriate sizes (it is 13 inches in diameter and 4 inches high) that allow it to get under furniture as well as not to get stuck in some narrow places.
Eufy RoboVac 30 has a standard crush and fall protection set: a rubber bumper in front of it and sensors array on its sides.
The device has a remote control as well (it requires 2 ААА batteries which don’t come in the set), by means of which you can program Eufy RoboVac 30 to perform everyday cleaning. However, you can set only one such programmed cleaning a day. What is unusual, is that this robot vacuum unlike all other cheap models has a HEPA-style filter, which means that the device delivers much higher cleaning efficiency than its rivals.
- 1.5 hours of continuous cleaning on just one battery charge
- Li-Ion battery, 2600 mA·h
- The battery charges completely in 5-6 hours
- It has plenty of suction power and pics up hair stuck in the carpet you will generally not even notice
- Quiet enough
- Replaceable HEPA-style filter
- The device removes house dust mite, fungi spores, particles of animal skin and other microscopic incitants of allergy
- The robot vacuum height ensures that it gets under furniture and cleans hidden and hard-to-reach dirt
- It can overcome small obstacles like door sills for example
- It is good for cleaning carpets with short and average pile height, tile, laminate and wooden floors
- Its upper panel is made from hufter-proof hardened glass
- The dust bin is 0.6 l
- 12-month warranty from the manufacturer
- It poorly deals with cleaning carpets with long pile
- Gets stuck in wires on the floor
- Sometimes the device fails to find its charging base
- Its sensors quite easily get clogged with rubbish and hair, if this happens the robot vacuum cleaner just stops in the middle of a room
- It has no navigation function and moves randomly
ILIFE A6 – robot vacuum cleaner is 2017 sensation and Amazon’s Choice product
So, what do you think – is it difficult for some product to get label “Amazon’s Choice”? Moreover, consider the fact that this product has just recently appeared on the market.
Therefore, taking into account all the above mentioned, if you are looking for a quality robot vacuum within this price bracket I’d highly recommend clapping your eyes on ILIFE A6.
ILIFE is a Chinese company that has gained a reputation of a moderately priced and quality robot vacuum models manufacturer. The company already has a range of about 10 robovac models of A and V series.
ILIFE A6 robot vacuum cleaner was manufactured in 2017. This model uses the most progressive approaches in the field of automatic room cleaning. These are Gen 2 CyclonePower ™ – a three stage cleaning system, spiral blade rubber brush BladeAway together with a Tangle Free technology, that helps to clean dirt efficiently and prevents the device clogging with fur and hair. Fast automatic battery charging is now possible due to a new charging base Gen 2 Energy Base.
This robot vacuum is equipped with a full set of smart sensors that ensure ILIFE A6 picks its way through furniture and avoids stairs as well as other dangerous obstacles. The device has an ultrathin case and it’s just 3.2 inches high, which makes it possible to clean under furniture.
ILIFE A6 working time equals up to 160 Mins which is ensured by a powerful Li-Ion battery with 2600 mAh capacity. This is quite enough to clean a large house.
As you may see, the company has another popular robovac model that I’ve mentioned above – it is A4 model.
Here are some differences between А4 and А6.
- «Virtual wall» comes in the device set.
- An auxiliary «brush».
- Additional protection for a printed circuit.
- An improved control unit for brush motors
- Redesigned trash bin.
- Discharge of air now is performed on a side panel, not onto the wheel area.
- Redesigned appearance of the robovac.
- Some other minor changes.
- Mini room mode.
Now, let’s step aside from all this advertising stuff and discuss what ILIFE A6 can actually do. Well, its rubber brush really doesn’t wind any hair or fur from the floor on itself, so it’ll perfectly do for those who have pets in the house, especially long-haired ones.
As for the cleaning quality, still it is better to use an ordinary bristle brush. Though you may not see any big difference on completely flat surfaces, it is clearly seen on any patterned surface – here the bristle brush performs better and faster. In my opinion, the manufacturer should have included another auxiliary bristle brush in the robovac set.
The virtual wall is indeed a very convenient thing. It has very low power consumption and quite wide action range (2-2.5 meters) and it doesn’t get in the way.
The robot vacuum cleaner has the same cleaning algorithm, it moves randomly, therefore some spots will be passed just ones and some about 5 times or so.
Although the device deals rather well with dust and fine rubbish, hard and slippy objects (like rice, for example) will be all around the house, but the robovac will still get them in the end.
Unexpectedly, some paper cut in small pieces has turned up to be a problem for this robot vacuum. Then I’ve tested it with a bristle brush and it performed better in this case.
It’s obvious, that the manufacturer keeps an eye on its products, so it has changed the motors control scheme, shielded the printed circuit, redesigned the construction.
The device has a Mini room mode, but it is good only for very small rooms. By default, in this mode automatic cleaning mode takes turns with passage along the room perimeter. I have almost no claims as for ILIFE A6 appearance – it looks nice and well-designed, though it is very-very easily soiled.
- The price
- The device is quiet
- Up to 160 Mins of working time
- A virtual wall comes in the set
- Ultra slim
- There is a rubber bumper on the device case
- This robot vacuum has a mode for scheduled cleaning. Its user can set any convenient date and time for cleaning.
- There are several ways to charge the device: either using its charging base or a charging cable.
- The main drawback is a random cleaning mode – the robovac may leave some spots untouched.
- It has a bright but very easily soiled case, that simply acts as a dust magnet.
- Small capacity of a dust bin
- The device bumps into dark colored objects, since it “sees” them poorly
- You mustn’t wash the HEPA-filter as it has to be replaced each 6 months
ECOVACS DEEBOT N79S is another best seller on Amazon.com
The rivalry among inexpensive robot vacuum cleaner models on Amazon.com is rather high. Most of the models don’t get more that 4 stars rating, however there are some exceptions.
Thus, ECOVACS DEEBOT N79S has become the best seller in this category. Let’s find out the reasons for that as well as if the robot vacuum has any drawbacks.
Robovacs are relatively new devices and quite a lot of people aren’t very sure if they really need these. But they do want to try them out without spending too much.
Though ECOVACS DEEBOT N79S is reasonably priced it offers a wide range of functions. Let’s see what it can do.
It works up to 100 minutes on a single charge, which is significantly longer, than other models can do, but it can be more.
This robovac performs scheduled cleaning and it gets back to its charging base – these have become standard options even for inexpensive robot vacuum cleaner models.
The only demerit of the device is that it doesn’t have a HEPA-filter. The manufacturers offer High efficiency filter instead of it.
This model has double side brushes from each side, which means that the device cleans the rubbish near room walls more efficiently. At that there is no difference which side of the robot vacuum is near the wall at the moment.
The device has a soft bumper to prevent any possible damage done to furniture or to the robovac when it bumps into obstacles. Such a simple design option, but not all cheap models have it.
Smartphone App is the device’s unique feature and none of its rivals has it. By means of this App you can monitor the robot vacuum performance, run and stop its work.
A remote control is another simple component, but again not every robot vacuum model within this price bracket has it.
this isn’t an ideal model of robot vacuum cleaner, but it is quite worth buying. ECOVACS designers have done their best to create a very good robovac model and it’s definitely worth its price.
Even though it has some disadvantages, it is still better and much less expensive than its rivals.
iRobot Braava 380t Mopping Robot – robot vacuum and mop
iRobot Braava 380T is a floor polisher, i.e. it cleans the floor with a wet mop. This is the best choice for those who need perfect damp sweeping.
The machine has a water doser-mixer, which means that the mop is being moistened while cleaning. Since this is a robot floor polisher, but not a robovac, then it doesn’t suck in crumbles and small rubbish from the floor – all dirt stays on the mop. That’s why if there are some crumbles or sand on the floor you should first sweep the floor yourself.
iRobot Braava 390T robot floor polisher is made for all types of solid surfaces including tile, parquet, laminate and vinyl. The device navigation system iAdapt 2.0 helps the robovac to avoid large obstacles and navigate properly.
Current robot cleaner model uses the most advanced path-finding system NorthStar 2.0, which supports roaming between several units. iRobot Braava 380T can operate in different rooms, but you’ll have to buy some navigation units for it first. The unit works within one room or within the robot visibility distance.
The device navigates perfectly, it knows where it has already been and where it has to go. The advanced self navigation allows it to operate in different rooms. At it is capable to clean up to 645 sq.ft. If you need to replace the mop or to fill the container with water, you can use “pause” mode.
Mid-Range Robot Vacuums reviews
iRobot Roomba 652 – the most popular robot cleaner model in 2016
This is the best selling robot vacuum cleaner in 2016 due to its operability and moderate price combination. The device set contains an improved dust bin with AeroVac technology. Roomba 650 has a very convenient function that gives an ability to program the time to start the cleaning procedure.
Therefore, you set the day and the time when the robovac itself leaves its base, cleans the floor and then gets back to the base. You can set different cleaning schedule for each day of the week. The virtual wall that comes in the device set will be very useful if you need to secure some area against the robot entering and there are no physical barriers to do it.
After the battery is charged the robot can continuously clean up to 745 sq.ft. This robot cleaner uses iAdapt system for self navigation since it allows adjusting to any flooring type and choose the cleaning mode it requires. To deal with very dirty surfaces the device uses DirtDetect technology. Gradually this model is being substituted with irobot roomba 651 (by iRobot company) that has a higher capacity battery.
Neato Botvac D5 – optimal balance between price and quality
This model has different self navigation system due to which the cleaning process becomes ordered, fast and more efficient. At that this robot cleaner price is one order less than that of similar flagship models.
Robovacs with navigation system are still rather poorly represented on the market. Robot vacuum cleaner Neato D5 is equipped with laser range finder that helps it to navigate inside and perform ordered cleaning instead of random cleaning pattern.
Neato D5 like all previous models made by this company has Ni-Mh battery. Its capacity is enough to clean up to 750 sq.ft. If the robovac hasn’t completed its cleaning process, it goes back to the base, charges the battery and then continues cleaning from the spot where it stopped. The battery full charge requires 3 hours.
A reserve multiple-purpose brush, an improved filter and a magnetic strip also come in the set. Neato robot floor cleaners have relatively high noise level, but due to the timer the device has you can program the cleaning process start when you are away from home.
Xiaomi Roborock S5: robot with laser guidance system
Considering increasing popularity of robot vacuum cleaners Xiaomi Mi decided not to miss out this business segment and the company produced its own device for house keeping.
Xiaomi Roborock is rather high-priced, however its “brain” has lots of sensors – starting from a plain height sensing device to a laser rangefinder used to define the limits of an area being cleaned.
This robot vacuum cleaner has a navigation system based on a remote obstacle detection by means of a scanning laser rangefinder. The device also has a high capacity Li-ion battery, powerful fan as well as it supports remote control and monitoring of the robot vacuum using a mobile application.
This robovac starts cleaning from the room corners, then it goes around its perimeter, but the device doesn’t leave it. İt continues scanning objects and obstacles that are present in the room. After that the robovac divides the room into sections and starts cleaning them by moving back and forth. Once it finishes cleaning one room, it moves to another one and so on.
What makes Xiaomi Roborock different from its more cheap rivals? Such as Ilife robot vacuum cleaners for example.
Well, Xiaomi Roborock performs cleaning using various smart features. The device has 4 core processor (ARM Alwinner chipset), 12 sensors and laser rangefinder. Due to these it makes a room map and marks on it the sections that were cleaned. With the help of ultrasound and laser scanners this robot vacuum can operate 1 cm close to a wall or an obstacle. Besides all above mentioned Xiaomi Roborock has a powerful fan with a suction power of 1800 Pa, which is twice higher than that of many modern robovacs.
Its battery has 5200 mAh capacity, which allows cleaning the flat in 2.5 hours. If the battery charge isn’t enough to proceed with cleaning, the device gets back to its charging base and then goes on from the place where it stopped. This robot vacuum cleaner is completely controlled from the mobile application, where you can see the whole way the device made around the room, check a current state of the device, its operation status or the history of the room cleaning.
iRobot Roomba 890 best robot vacuum for hardwood floors
The most sufficient advantage of this model except its cleaning quality is its easy maintainability. You can effortlessly remove some hair or a needleful from the device’s brush. Nothing winds on its main roller brushes and if something tangles up it can be easily removed.
Robotic vacuum iRobot Roomba 890 – is a robot from 8xx series where iRobot company has first used rubber rollers (Tangle-Free Debris Extractor) instead of bristle brushes, because rubber rollers gather less hair and it’s easier to clean them.
Let’s add to all these advantages an improved HEPA-filter which now has larger surface and a protection grid – all these will let it serve longer.
This robot vacuum cleaner model has longer operation time as well – not less than 2 hours of cleaning without recharging the battery.
You can set a program to perform cleaning on certain days of the week while you are away. Roomba 800 will start cleaning itself and once it finishes, the device will get back to the base to charge the battery.
It is equipped with infrared sensors on the front side of its bumper to define the distance to the obstacles on its way, as well as with cliff sensors to prevent the machine falling down stairs. The current model also has an anti-tangle system – so, if its spinning side brush has tangled up a rope or something else, it starts spinning backwards trying to free itself.
High-End Robot Vacuums reviews
iRobot Roomba 960 – the most modern iRobot floor cleaner model
This automatic vacuum is for those who want to get maximum quality. Considering the fact that the company specializes only on robot vacuum cleaners production this flagship model has all innovations inside.
Nowadays Roomba 960 robot cleaner model is the best machine designed by iRobot and it is a flagship model in Roomba product line. iRobot Roomba 960 is good for average sized and large apartments with floorspace up to 1600 sq. ft. This device will manage cleaning low pile carpeting.
This is the first model where navigation is performed by means of mapping. Here, unlike previous generation models, iRobot company has added a camera using which the machine remembers the route.
Another interesting feature of Roomba 960 is an installed Wi-Fi unit, that now substitutes remote control device. By means of Wi-Fi you’ll be able to connect to the robot cleaner and run it as well as set the cleaning timer. Actually the mobile application completely substitutes the remote control device and you can now run the robo vac without being in its line of sight.
The device has one spinning side brush to perform cleaning along the walls. Two virtual walls come in a set to limit the cleaning zone. The cleaning robot has two rubber brushes by means of which it gathers rubbish into the dust bin.
Neato Robotics D6 Connected
The machine has an improved mapping technology, powerful sucking mechanism, high quality battery – all these make Neato D6 Connected an ideal solution for pet hair cleaning. Neato robovacs have been always known for their high quality cleaning as well as rather high pricing. The current model has two advantages in comparison with its previous generation models (Neato Botvac).
The first advantage: the manufacturer has installed a long-life and reliable Li-Ion battery (just like the one in LG and iClebo robot cleaners). Such a battery serves much longer, than Ni-Mh one that the previous models had. Therefore, the battery durability and cycle life have increased several times.
Secondly, now the new Neato D6 Connected model has a remote control device made as a mobile app for a smart phone. A free app is downloaded and installed on your smart phone. With the help of this app you can activate the robot cleaner remotely ( but it has to have a preset WI-FI connection in your house), you can also set the timer for delayed cleaning start. Actually, the mobile application substitutes remote control device which the earlier models didn’t have.
As for the rest this is the same Neato, which can clean up to 869 sq.ft. Due to the mapping technology, the robot floor cleaner gets back to the base, charges the battery and continues cleaning from the spot where it stopped earlier. There is a small LED-dispaly on its case and touch buttons to activate the device and set the cleaning time.
However, before buying your robot floor cleaner spare a moment to read some myths and lies about robovacs.
Robot cleaner is an alternative to an ordinary home vacuum cleaner
It just can partially substitute it. But it doesn’t suck dust and rubbish, it just gathers them from the floor. And here is the disadvantage: sucking power is by times less than that of a common vacuum cleaner which sucks in all small stuff from the floor with a strong air flow.
Robot floor cleaner completely sets aside the necessity of housecleaning
Make no mistake considering that this small automatic vacuum will load itself with all the house work. No, it won’t, therefore be ready to use your good old vacuum cleaner once in two or three weeks. Your robotic vacuum will keep the home clean by gathering dust and rubbish from the floor, but you’ll still have to do your housecleaning once a month.
Modern robovac models can tidy up all the corners around due to their spinning side brushes
Now, there is one thing as for corners cleaning. First of all robovac’s round shape itself is a wrong one to clean corners perfectly, although even if the device has a special shape it doesn’t guarantee corners without any rubbish there.
For example, LG and Neato produce square-shaped robo vacs and this shape is better when it comes to corners cleaning, but even these devices can leave some dust there. So, it’s better to choose a robovac model with two side brushes and it’s good if each of them consists of three or four small radial brushes.
Dust bin on a base – it is very convenient
A large base where a robovac can unload the collected rubbish isn’t a usable approach. The base with a huge dust bin becomes too bulky, the rubbish isn’t unloaded completely and the device has troubles when parking to the base due to its shape. You should leave some space for the robot cleaner to get close to the base as well.
UV lamp will kill all bacteria
Another marketing trick is to equip these devices with special UV-lamps said to be capable to kill microbes and bacteria. Robovacs with UV lamp are peculiar mainly to Chinese manufacturers, since no famous brands will install these. This UV-lamp is just a floor flashlight is case of Chinese robovacs.
Robot cleaners with “wet mop” wash the floor ideally
Some manufacturers offer the device models with “wet mop” function. This is when cleaning up the floor the robo vac simultaneously mops it with some special moistened cloth. Just keep in mind that this cleaning robot won’t scour away any stains, since due to safety precautions it has no water inside that could have soaked the mop.
But if the device has a high quality mop it deals perfectly with sweeping up some loose dust that the device misses. A microfiber cloth is a really useful thing if it is made of quality material. You have to remember that these mops work only on smooth floors and they’ll wash away the dust, but won’t tidy up any stains from the floor.
Wow, everything is more confused than you have imagined? Let’s go over some points in details.
This in one of the most important parameters, because you can’t tidy up an apartment 1000 sq. ft. large with a low-power robovac model designed to clean about 400 sq.ft. As a rule the cleaning floor-space value is indicated in the device specification.
If the floor-space is less than 400 sq. ft. you can use some cheap (up to 300 $) robo vac with random cleaning pattern (this is the majority of ECOVACS DEEBOT, ILIFE models).
In case when the cleaning space is up to 860 sq.ft., but you still don’t have enough money for the robot cleaner with mapping technology, then you should buy a robovac with random cleaning pattern but with maximal cleaning duration time.
Here we can recommend two robot vacuum cleaners: either iRobot Roomba 650 (up to 60 minutes of operation, but its cleaning algorithms are better than that of ILIFE having the same cleaning duration time), or ECOVACS DEEBOT M82 (up to 150 minutes of cleaning duration).
If the floor-space is 550 sq.ft. and more[ and you budget allows spending more than 500$ on a robovac, than you should buy a device with mapping technology. Currently these are: iClebo Arte, Neato BotVac D80 or BotVac D3, Samsung POWERbot R9000 and LG Hom-Bot Square Robotic. iClebo Arte and Neato can clean almost any area, after their battery discharges they recharge and continue cleaning from the same spot where they stopped. iClebo has two such cycles, Neato – three, at that iClebo operates for 120 minutes with one battery charging, and Neato BotVac – 80 minutes correspondingly.
The ability to overcome some obstacles
It may seem that this parameter shouldn’t have any crucial significance. However, things are different in the real life – a helpless robot cleaner that gets stuck all the time is a bad helper.
Robovacs mobility is limited with some obstacles – doorsteps, altitude difference etc. Let’s imagine that your doorstep is 1 inch high or the carpet is 1 inch or more thick. None of iLIFE, iRobot, Neato models will be able to climb over this doorstep.
Which means that you’ll have to take your robot cleaner to another room on your own. Robovac flagship models more or less successfully climb over obstacles up to 17-20 mm high. From the other hand, if again you don’t have enough money for flagship robot vacuum, you can buy some affordable iLIFE model and run it manually in each room and close the door then.
The threshold ability values for robot cleaners are the following: up to 0,4 inches – almost all of them can deal with it, except some iLIFE models, 0,6 inches none of Chinese models can overcome, but iRobot and Neato can.
After setting a program once, you can have rest or do your business, while the robot cleaner will start functioning according to its schedule and after finishing the program it’ll get back to its base.
This is about softening the hit when the device bumps into some objects. No robot cleaner will bang itself against any obstacle – the majority of them have sprung bumpers that soften the hit.
Soft touch is obtained due to proximity sensors that send pull over command to the robovac before hitting the object. So, if you have some expensive stuff on the floor and you care about them a lot, then buy a robot cleaner with such a function.
You can additionally secure yourself by buying a light weight robo vac – even if it accidentally bumps something valuable, the hit will be very weak, almost insensible.
Storage bin size
It’s important, since when the bin is less than 0,3 l (0,079 American gallons) it’ll be filled with dust and dirt very fast. And if you have a cat or a dog, the bin will get clogged with fur right away. That’s why it’s not recommend to buy a robot vacuum cleaner with a dust bin size less than 0.3 l.
If you don’t have any pets in the house and the flat is small, you can buy the device model with the bin size equal to 0.3 l. When the floor-space is up to 860 sq.ft. storage bins sized from 0.5 liter (0,13 American gallons) will do, and for more spacious apartment owners we can recommend models with a dust bin from 0.5 to 1 liter large.
Air filtration type
HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Arrestance ) — is a type of air filers. They were invented in the 1940-ies while working on USA nuclear project. These filters were used to capture radioactive particles at nuclear industry facilities. Now they are used in vacuum cleaners, air purifying systems and air ventilation and conditioning systems.
All robovac manufacturers state in the same breath that their devices are equipped with HEPA filters. But not all of them tell the truth – sometimes it turns out that their robot cleaner has an ordinary paper filter instead of the mentioned HEPA one. However, visually you can’t check the air filtration quality and here you’ll have to rely on the brand trustworthiness.
The battery type
To go freely all around the house your robot vacuum cleaner requires an independent power supply. That’s why the device has an embedded battery, which main characteristic parameter is its capacity. The higher the capacity is, the longer your robovac works without additional charge and the larger is the area that it cleans.
Let’s consider a room 645 sq.ft. large as an example. A high quality robot cleaner will deal with this task in about 2 hours. But if its battery capacity provides just one hour of continuous operation, then you’ll have to interrupt the cleaning process to charge the battery.
Premium class robot floor cleaners need just 20 minutes to top off the battery, while cheaper models require from about 3 to 8 hours to do this. It turns out that in this case a flat with two rooms is being cleaned all day long. Quite a lot of users won’t accept it. Therefore, it’s desirable to buy the device models having larger battery capacity.
A very important point is a robo vac battery type. For costs reasons the manufacturers use Ni-MH (Nickel-metal-hydride) batteries, which due to their drawbacks should have been replaced with Li-Ion (lithium-ion) or polymer ones long ago. Namely, xRobot, iRobot and Neato are still using Ni-Mh batteries, while iClebo, LG, Samsung – Li-Ion ones.
Actually it means that in case of improper operation due to the memory effect you’ll have to replace Ni-Mh battery in 6 month or in a year. When properly used (completely discharge the battery each time you use the device, unplug it in case of long term absence) you’ll still have to replace it in a year or two.
Li-Ion battery guarantees over 800 recharge cycles without significant increase of cleaning process duration. We have to mention that unlike Chinese brands the robovacs made by iRobot, iLife and Neato use certain algorithms of battery power optimal consumption and saving. This is another drawback of Chinese cleaning robots, they have everything simplified and cleaning algorithms as well.
About wet mop function and its peculiarities
Cleaning robots wash the floor in one of the following ways:
The first one.
Wet and dry robot vacuum cleaners are represented just by several models. Before washing the floor this robot gathers all coarse garbage. Then it throughly scours the floor covered with water with its brush. The third stage is dirty water removal.
The device has a special scraper that directs the water to the sucking mechanism. However, not every flooring can stand such treatment. Such wet and dry robot vacuum cleaner won’t do especially for laminate and parquet flooring (except some waterproof types), brushed wood and wooden flooring boards with open joints, porous stone tile and long pile carpets.
The second one.
This is the way the majority of robovacs function. In this case a wet cloth is attached on the bottom of the machine and it mops the floor. Naturally, this cloth requires frequent washing in clean water.
So what is the bottom line? Which robot vacuum should you buy in the end?
Now let’s consider operating principles of robot vacuum cleaners and how they differ from the others.
How do robot vacuum cleaners work?
“Robot” prefix was given to these machines due to the fact that they perform all cleaning procedures on their own or according to a set program. When reaching some obstacle on its way the device craftily and carefully drives it round. Once the cleaning process is over, a robot cleaner gets back to its base to charge the battery. By the way each decent robot vacuum cleaner has a base, only the cheapest ones don’t.
A robot vacuum cleans coarse rubbish with a bristle brush (it has one or two of them).
The machine has spinning side brushes to get to hard-to-reach places (around the furniture legs, in the corners, next to the walls). It is more preferable if there are two side brushes from the point of view that the machine can turn and go along the wall with the side that has no side brushes and it means that this action was useless.
Look how it works:
A spinning side brush sweeps the rubbish along the walls and in the corners and then moves it for the bristle brushes to clean.
Two rotate toward one another and pick up the rubbish from the floor.
All collected rubbish is taken to a dust bin and the filter captures fine dust particles.
Pets hair is cleaned by all robot vacuum cleaners with bristle brush. It is wrong to state that one robot cleaner model will perform cleaning better than another one. Human and pets hair wings on a bristle brush. The question is which brush is easier to clean? iRobot has produced robovac 800 series with two silicone brushes. It is easier to clean them from hair than bristle brushes. But in general the difference isn’t crucial whether you clean the brush in 10 seconds or thirty.
How does the device perform self navigation?
A robotic vacuum navigates due to special sensors and performs cleaning according to a certain algorithm. This operation procedure is given by a software that each manufacturer produces itself. Exactly this software defines a cleaning quality and makes a sufficient difference if it comes to setting a price of alike models of the same brand.
While cleaning a robo vac can move according to one of its standard trajectories: zigzag, spiral, diagonal, perimeter. Sensors advise the machine when to change one movement algorithm to another. While the machine random cleaning pattern it acts according to some rules. For example, in the middle of the room a robot vacuum may clean not very thoroughly, but it cleans the corners very precisely.
There are some robot cleaner models that adjust their sucking functions according to the room cleanness. These devices can choose an optimal cleaning mode themselves. The quality of the robot vacuum cleaner operation depends on its software quality. That’s why each manufacturer wants to implement its innovations and take out a patent.
We can study robot vacuum cleaner operating principles by drawing a parallel between its design and a living creature. In this case all of its different sensors can be considered as sense organs. They send signals to a controller that gives a robot a command to turn or move faster. If there are a lot of sensors than a robot vacuum cleaner can navigate in any room.
A standard set of sensors includes the following:
Crash sensors are hidden under the device bumper which is made of rubber and goes around the whole robovac case perimeter. If there is some object very close to the machine, its sensors send a signal to the device controller. It receives the signal and changes the robot cleaner direction for the opposite one according to the sensor that sent the signal.
Touch sensors are infrared onces. They are located around the device perimeter, their task is to keep the robot cleaner from bumping into some large object. Their presence increase the device mobility as well as reduce the cleaning process duration. These sensors work as follows: the infrared ray generated by the sender is reflected from the objects and gets back to the receiver. When some large obstacle appears is dangerous proximity to the machine this reflection happens very fast. The sensor reacts instantly by sending the correction signal to the device “brain” and it changes the movement direction avoiding the crash.
Drop sensors are installed in a robot cleaner bottom, they are also infrared ones. Their task is to send timely a signal that the floor level has changed. It helps a lot when the machine has to go over a threshold and not to fall from high stairs.
So, above we have mentioned main sensor types which any robot vacuum cleaner has by default. Mid-range robo vac models which usually have lots of convenient additional functions are equipped with some complementary sensors.
Random pattern navigation
Another important characteristic to be taken into account when choosing a robot vacuum cleaner is its navigation type. Before the first robot vacuum with mapping function appeared on the market, all these machines used to move around the room in a random pattern.
ILIFE A4s and other similar Chinese models have the simplest navigation type. They just move chaotically – it goes where it likes. In case of an apartment over 540 sq.ft. such a device won’t clean efficiently.
iRobot hais improved a bit its navigation system if compared to Chinese models. Famous brands like iRobot produce devices where a random navigation pattern takes turns with movement along the walls and a spiral one.
In later version of iRobot machines (models 7xx, 8xx) an improved navigation system iAdapt is used. It performs approximate evaluation of the room floorspace using the number of times when the robot cleaner bumps into some objects. If the machine often hits some objects it is naturally to assume that the room is small.
According to this information iRobot chooses the cleaning process duration: 10 or 50 minites. As for xRobot – it will continue cleaning till its battery is empty. Similar cheap Chinese models don’t have such an algorithm and quite often they move zigzag like from one wall to another.
iRobot has gone further and created an additional accessory for its robot cleaner – VirtualWall Lighthouses for its earlier models. The idea of using these lighthouses is to lock the machine in some restricted zone for some period of time. For example, there are two rooms in your apartment – in the 1st one the robot vacuum spends 80% of its operation time and it quite seldom gets into the 2nd room and spends very little time there.
A lighthouse is put in the doorway (it is recommended to put them in each doorway in the house, so at least 2 lighthouses are needed for 2 room apartment). When а Roomba gets into the farthest room the lighthouse locks the device there for a longer time.
Here there are several issues. VirtualWall Lighthouses are supplied from batteries and you’ll have to replace them from time to time. You have to put the lighthouses yourself in each doorway, which isn’t very convenient. Though it just blocks the robot cleaner in the necessary area for some time, the cleaning quality still doesn’t change and the machine moves is a random pattern.
If a robot cleaner with a random cleaning pattern finishes its job in the farthest corner of your room, it doesn’t mean that it’ll get to its base on its own. So, it is all about your room floorspace. Basing on the users experience we can state that robovacs with a random cleaning pattern are quite efficient under these two conditions:
the room floorspace doesn’t exceed 540 sq. ft.
the device has to be capable to function more than 90 minutes continuously
In this case a robot vacuum cleaner will most probably visit the main cleaning spots. The missed spots it may clean next day. If there are 2 rooms and their floorspace exceeds 540 sq. ft. it is recommend to pay attention to robot cleaners with mapping function. They will not just collect the rubbish everywhere, but they’ll do it very efficiently and in a short period of time.
In 9xx series of iRobot robo vac models the navigation by means of digital cameras (visual mapping) is used, just like iCLEBO, LG and Samsung have already done. Having this type of navigation the machine goes over the whole room floorspace and leaves no uncleaned spots and it remembers where its base is (this kind of navigation is used in lawn mowers).
More improved robot vacuum cleaners Roomba 980 and Neato Botvac use mapping technology, which means that they know for sure where they have already been and where not. However navigation failures are possible and even Roomba 980 and Neato can be found in the middle of the room with a discharged battery.
But these are single cases unlike models without self navigation system. That’s why for apartments with two and more rooms which floorspace exceeds 540 sq.ft. it’s better to buy robot cleaners with navigation system. The presence of mapping function also decreases the cleaning duration.
Nowadays there are 2 mapping methods: by means of a digital camera or a laser range finder. The machine takes pictures of the ceiling, walls, doorways and this way it remembers the cleaning root. This technology is used by iCLEBO, LG and Samsung company. The first similar model of American company iRobot (Roomba 980 model) was presented not so long ago. All these robot vacuum cleaners has approximately the same principle of information processing. This technology allows comparing a digital camera photos and correct the route according to these data. For an ordinary user it means that the robot vacuum will perform higher quality mapping, make less mistakes and cover larger cleaning floorspace.
American company Neato has become a pioneer when developing the 2nd type of mapping. All its models are equipped with a laser range finder or so called lidar, which is placed into a special cupola on the upper side of the device case. Lidar measures the distance to objects that are on the machine’s way. Currently the 1 st Chinese robot vacuum cleaner with a laser range finder has appeared on sale. It is Xiaomi Mi Robot. It has copied Neato’s mapping principle and iRobot’s appearance.
The two above mentioned mapping technologies have their advantages and disadvantages. It is even more correct to say that they have one and the same plus – robo vacs remember their route, know where they have already been and where the base is.
However, they have different drawbacks.
Robot vacuums with a digital camera have one minus the device may loose its way at night and in poorly illuminated rooms. It’s not very likely that someone will activate a robovac at night, however we still have to mention this drawback.
Robot vacuum cleaners with a laser range finder may have some navigation failures as well. It happens in two cases:
your furniture or walls are black colored
there is a big mirror somewhere in the room and it reaches the floor
In the 1st case the laser signal is damped by the dark surface, in the 2nd one the machine considers that there is more floorspace behind the mirror and tries to get there in vain.
One more thing is that all robotic vacuums with laser range finder are a bit higher than their rivals with a digital camera. In the real life it means that a laser range finder may prevent the robo vac from getting under a sofa or a bad.
How to pick up the best robovac for your house?
Here is the list of questions you’ll have to answer before doing it.
How large is your residential area? You’ll find more details in this respect below.
Number of rooms in your house/apartment. The more rooms you have, the longer it takes to clean them. In this case not all robovac models will have enough battery capacity to do it. As well as not all the devices can move from one room to another themselves.
The square of the largest room or integrated space – the robot cleaner may have not enough battery power to clean it.
What kind of flooring do you have? There are multi-functional device models, but there are some that operate only on solid floor or, for example, they don’t function on carpeting.
Are there any pets in the house and if yes, what are they? The longer fur they have, the more of it is on the floor and the more powerful robot cleaner you need as well as the better navigation it should have. Since it has to find all corners and gather all the fur there.
Long-haired ones live in the house? The hair is longer than 10 inches? It’s difficult to collect and remove the hair from the brush. The devices with a flexible beater brush deal better with this task.
Who is going to perform robot vacuum maintenance (clean it, empty its dust bin, keep it operational)? Despite the fact that this is a robot, it still requires some service and maintenance. And it is more time consuming, than you think – especially for some cheap models.
How do you imagine the robot cleaner work? Many people falsely assume that this device cleans everything, needs no service and it can work for hours.
Are you ready to adjust your flat to robot cleaner? Will you put virtual walls and boundary markers, remove wires, socks, chairs etc. and keep an eye on dust bit filling?
What is the budget for this buying? Since here it is the same as with any other thing you buy – the more money you can afford spending, the more exclusive, modern and quality equipment you can buy.
Did you know that…
There is no multi-functional robot cleaner that both cleans and washes the floor. It either washes (iRobot Scooba 450 and iRobot Braava 380T), or sweeps (all other models).
Scooba has to go over one and the same spot 3-4 times to wash away tea or jam stain. Also you shouldn’t use iRobot Braava 380T without preliminary dry sweeping of the floor.