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Can Robot Vacuums Clean in the Dark?


Robot vacuum cleaners have drastically improved the way we clean our homes. They are automated devices that can clean your floors with a simple press of a button. The robot vacuums come equipped with powerful motors and sensors to detect obstacles, allowing them to move around the house without supervision. It also has special brushes that help loosen dirt and debris from carpets, rugs, hardwood floors, and other surfaces.

While most households use a robot vacuum to clean during the day, in some cases, others may need to use it in the dark. This begs the question, do robot vacuums work in the dark? Find out in this article.

Can a Robot Vacuum Work in the Dark?

The plain and simple answer to this question is yes, robotic vacuum cleaners can clean in the dark. However, not all robot vacuums have the ability to do this. 

A robot vacuum cleaner that works in the dark has more advanced features than a regular robot vacuum. Robot vacuums that can clean in complete darkness make use of infrared sensors to detect objects. They also use floor tracking sensors to clean carpets and hardwoods. There are also other models that rely on using LIDAR (light detection and ranging) technology, laser sensors, and optical sensors in cleaning dark rooms.

A robot vacuum cleaner creates a complete cleaning path within two passes and saves this cleaning map to remember the layout of the area. This technology allows robot vacuums to clean a specific area without needing to visit other areas. Once the robot vacuum cleaner has mapped out the area, it can navigate in low-light conditions or complete darkness without human intervention. 

Does a Robot Vacuum Cleaner Need Light?

While most robot vacuums have the ability to operate in completely dark rooms, there are also a lot of models that need bright light to operate. Robot vacuums that use camera lenses to clean may not be able to navigate well in the dark. The camera needs a constant light source so that it can know where to go. 

How Much Light Do Robotic Vacuum Cleaners Need?

The amount of light in an area matters for robot vacuums to operate properly. Some robot vacuum models may end up malfunctioning if there is not enough light or if there is too much light. 

A robot vacuum that uses a camera to clean may have trouble operating in a room that is dark. For these kinds of robotic vacuums, it’s best to leave night lights to let them “see”. 

If you’re operating the robot vacuum during the day, too much sunlight may become an issue as well. For example, if you have your windows open, the natural light makes robot vacuums that use infrared work harder. This is because the sun gives off a lot of infrared light and this can confuse the robotic vacuum as its sensors use infrared on beacons which are tower things that run on batteries, telling the robot vacuum to keep away. Some models may even avoid the sun rays on the floor due to this.

Sudden light changes can also confuse a robotic vacuum. Turning on an overhead light or the sun setting may end with your robotic vacuum becoming disoriented. Instead of cleaning the area properly, it may turn in circles, drive backward, run in a zigzag motion, or similar. 

Can a Robot Vacuum Clean Dark Floors?

Yes, robot vacuums can clean dark floors. A robot vacuum doesn’t look at the floor when it cleans. Its various sensors use invisible walls to inform the robot about areas where it has been. The sensors also focus on other vertical objects to avoid bumpers. It doesn’t matter whether your floor is light or dark, as long as the spatial sensors work correctly, the robot vacuum will be able to clean any surface.

While most models will not have a problem keeping dark floors clean, other cleaners may run into some issues with carpets in dark colors. The cliff sensors of some robot cleaners think that dark-colored carpets are cliffs and if the robot is thinking it’s a cliff, then there’s nothing to clean. Unfortunately, there’s no permanent solution to this problem. For instance, several Roomba robot vacuums refuse to run on black or dark-colored surfaces as its cliff sensors mistake dark carpets or floors for cliffs.

Which Robotic Vacuum Cleaners Work in the Dark?

There are a variety of robotic vacuum cleaners available on the market today that are designed to work in dark rooms. Here are some of them:

Dyson 360 Heurist

The Dyson 360 Heurist uses a technology called Simultaneous Localization and Mapping (SLAM) via optical sensors to control its position and orientation, measuring distances every 20 seconds. It also has a 360-degree camera mounted on top, guided by a ring of eight LED lights, allowing the device to navigate around dark rooms. Its powerful suction and ability to mop hard surfaces make it a handy device to have at home.

iRobot Roomba s9+

The iRobot Roomba s9+ is perhaps the best Roomba model that works in the dark. The LIDAR technology and enhanced sensors of this Roomba robot vacuum regularly scan ahead at a rate of 25 times per second to detect any object in its path. Compared to other Roomba models, the s9+ also has intelligent map recognition that lets it remember previous tracks so that it won’t go back and forth. This model has a strong suction power, making it perform well.

Which Roomba Models Require Light?

Almost all Roomba vacuums need some degree of light to operate and clean the entire house effectively. In particular, the Roomba 600, 900, and e series models will need more light than the i, j, and s series models to clean up.

Final Note

Robot vacuums are a great way to keep your home clean and free of dust and debris. And the best part is that they can work in any room, even if it’s dark. Now that you know what makes robot vacuums function in dark areas, you can trust them to keep your floors clean all the time.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why do robot vacuum cleaners not work on dark floors?

Robot vacuum cleaners are designed to work on dark floors, thanks to their advanced sensors. These sensors help the robot vacuum create a virtual wall to map the area and detect obstacles, easily navigating around them while it cleans.

Can my Shark robot vacuum work in the dark? 

Yes, your Shark robot vacuum can work in the dark. Most, if not all, Shark vacuums are equipped with special sensors that allow them to run in the dark.

Sota Takahashi

Sota Takahashi is a Japanese-born electrical engineer. At the age of 18, he moved to Seattle and completed his Electrical Engineering degree at the University of Washington, Seattle. Being a fan of all things tech, he channels his geeky side through this website, and with his wife Linda, shares knowledge about robot pets and how they can be lifelong and advantageous companions for both children and the elderly.

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