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While the main benefit of a robot vacuum is to keep your floors clean with or without you at home, there are many more advanced features this semi-autonomous cleaning device has that beat a traditional vacuum. No wonder there are more and more people looking into robot vacuums, especially with the rise of smart homes.
If you’re still on the fence about whether to buy a robot vacuum cleaner or are overwhelmed by the many robot vacuums available in the market, then our robot vacuum buying guide will help give you the lowdown on these smart cleaning devices.
Contrary to popular belief that robot vacuums are a recent invention, robot vacuum cleaners have actually been around since 1996. The first robot vacuum cleaner was called the “Trilobite” and it was made by the Swedish company, Electrolux. Since then, many upgrades and improvements have been done to robotic vacuum cleaners, which gave us our well-loved and popular iRobot Roomba i3, iRobot Roomba j7, and Ecovacs’ Deebot series, to name a few.
To be more specific, here are three main reasons why a robotic vacuum cleaner is worth buying.
Whether you’re there or not, you can program your robot vacuum to start cleaning so you can come home to a spotless abode. Depending on the model of your robotic vacuum, you can set a schedule using the compatible smartphone app so your robot vac will start cleaning automatically during the programmed time.
When it comes to navigation, robot vacuums work with the help of various mapping capabilities depending on their model. Premium models of robot vacuum cleaners can be programmed with camera-based mapping, lidar-based mapping, or gyroscope mapping, but other robots in the lower-end or entry-level models make use of physical boundary strips to help them navigate their way around a home. These features also help them in obstacle detection so accidents will be prevented.
When robot vacuums reach the end of their cleaning cycles, they would automatically return to their docks to charge. Other robot vacuums can even detect when they are running on low battery life and will stop mid-way cleaning to return to the docking station.
Not only is this a feature that helps in obstacle avoidance for you and your family, but it also means that robot vacuums can charge themselves so they can be at 100% for their next cleaning schedule without the hassle of you picking them up and plugging them in.
High-end robot vacuum cleaners have self-sustaining features that will even reduce the effort needed on your part to maintain them. For example, the iRobot Roomba i3 and Ecovacs Deebot Ozmo T8 AIVI have a self-emptying dustbin so manually emptying these bins will be a thing of the past.
As technology continues to upgrade, robot vacuums upgrade alongside it. New robot vacuum models have smart home integration that will allow them to be wi-fi connected and integrated with smart apps like Alexa and Google Assistant. This allows your robot vacuum cleaners to be controlled via your phone, voice command, and even paired with other appliances that are compatible with them.
Not all the robot vacuums in the market are built and designed the same. With that, there are certain things you generally have to take note of before deciding on the best robot vacuum for you as features and requirements vary per household.
Determine the cleaning job you will be requiring from your robot vacuum cleaner so you can pin down the cleaning features that you will be needing. Do you need your robot vacuum to suck up any bugs, pet hair, or stray cat litter? If so, then you will need a robotic vacuum cleaner with strong suction.
Do you often find dust bunnies under the bed or furniture? A compact robot vacuum that can fit in tight spaces while still packing a rather large dustbin might be good to have then.
What kind of floors will you be cleaning? Some robotic vacuum cleaners can work on carpets and multiple floors, but some models can only work on tiles, hardwood floors, and other types of hard flooring because of limited cleaning features. If your floors are also prone to spills, stains, and muddy trails, then maybe you will need to get a hybrid robot vacuum that has the cleaning features of a robot mop and a robotic vacuum rolled into one.
Not all robotic vacuum cleaners have smart features since not every household will need them. Common smart features will include mapping, voice control, or self-emptying functions. Although these features are nice to have, some will opt to let go of them in place of cheaper robot vacuum deals.
However, investing in smart features may be a good idea, especially if you have pets around. There are robot vacs, such as iRobot Roomba j7, that are smart enough to avoid pet waste in case your furry friends are still not potty trained. This would ease your worries that your robotic vacuum cleaner won’t accidentally smear any accidents around the house when it was only doing its job.
The accuracy and technology of the navigation and detection features of a robotic vacuum cleaner will vary depending on the model. For the most accurate in terms of obstacle detection and self-navigation, opt for a robot vacuum with a combination of mapping technology. If you live in a small apartment with interiors on the minimal side, then random navigation robot vacuums are as good as any.
If your rooms are rather big or you have long hallways to clean, then a robotic vacuum with long battery life is recommended. That way, you are assured that your robot vacuum will be able to finish the job before running out of battery.
Most robot vacuums can last up to 60 to 70 minutes of cleaning time before they run low on batteries and return to their docking station. Gauge how long the cleaning will take so you can find out the best robot vacuum cleaner for the job.
Although robot vacuums are semi-autonomous and to an extent, self-sustaining, they will still need proper maintenance so they can have a long life. Regardless of the robotic vacuum model, you will need to give the brushes cleaning now and then. You will also need to check on the condition of the filters, battery, and wheels if they need any replacement.
Check on the warranty and repair service the robot vacuum has so you won’t experience any hassle along the way should you have any troubleshooting requirements or questions.
Regardless of the robot vacuum model you have, all robotic vacuum cleaners will more or less have these features as they are a must.
Robot vacuums may not be able to do intensive deep cleaning, but they all have brushes built into them to do some general sweeping and help in picking up dust or pet hair. Although some robot vacuums will allow you to change the brush; from a roller brush to a side brush, while other models are stuck with one type, they all can still do a great job at keeping floors clean.
Most robot vacuums today come with mopping abilities. Called a hybrid robot vacuum, models under this category switch between their vacuuming and mopping features in a cleaning cycle. Some models automatically do this, while for others, you’ll have to manually replace the vacuum bin with a water tank and install the mop cloth. The latter is the case for robot vacuums like the ILIFE V8s.
Mopping capabilities are handy features that you should look for in a robovac, especially if you have tile floors that get dirty with spills, footprints, or water stains often.
Those who suffer from allergies and are sensitive to dust will rejoice to know that all robot vacuums come with filters to filter out any allergens in the air. Some models even come with HEPA-like filters and UV sterilization for added cleaning capabilities.
All robotic vacuums have dustbins that will carry the dirt, dust, pet hair, and more that they were able to suck up during the cleaning session. Entry-level robot vacuums will require you to manually empty the dustbin to avoid getting full but high-end models will have self-emptying functions that can do this job for you at a higher price.
There are models that can meet you halfway, such as the Ecovacs Deebot Ozmo T8 AIVI, which has a self-emptying base and bin — you will need to purchase these separately.
Any robot vacuum will have a suction power that is strong enough to suck up any dirt, dust, and debris found on the floor. The amount of power will vary depending on the model along with the brushes that help in “loosening” up any of this dirt. Generally, the suction power of robotic vacuums is around 1500-2000 Pa and can reach up to 4000 Pa.
Robotic vacuum cleaners have cliff sensors in them as safety requirements. These sensors will help them detect obstacles and measure the distance to the floor using infrared light. The level of accuracy will vary though depending on the model of your robotic vacuum cleaner.
All robotic vacuums have batteries in them, which makes them cordless. This allows them more mobility and freedom in reaching spots and spaces that a traditional upright vacuum cleaner won’t be able to do.
Robotic vacuums have wheels to help with mobility and moving from one place to another. To keep the wheels of a robot vacuum in good condition, one should regularly check if there is any pet hair or debris stuck in between.
Regardless of the features, brand, and model, the best robot vacuums are the ones that will ultimately match your needs and requirements. This is why it’s important to consider the factors and features listed in this guide before purchasing a robot vacuum cleaner to prevent any buyer’s remorse or purchasing a unit that can’t do the job properly.
Should price also be a factor in your purchasing decision, then you can check out the best robot vacuums and deals in another guide we created.
The suction needed in a robot vacuum will vary depending on the cleaning job you are requiring. Simple cleaning and picking up dust from hard flooring can be a job done by basic robotic vacuum cleaners with 400-500 Pa, provided that they are equipped with a brush roll.
For an average cleaning performance, then a robot vacuum with 1500-2000 Pa will be able to handle it. If you want your robotic vacuum cleaner to suck up as much dirt as possible, then opt for one that has 3000 Pa to 4000 Pa.