So, you’ve decided to choose the best robot vacuum cleaner among lots of those available on the market. Then I’d advise you to spend some time reading this detailed review of robot vacuum models, which will definitely save your time and money.
Here we have answers to the following most frequently asked questions:
- How can this robot 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?
- 1 Main question
- 2 How to pick up the best robovac for your house?
- 3 Very cheap models
- 4 Affordable models
- 5 Average priced models
- 6 Premium segment robovac models
- 7 Budget Robot Vacuums reviews (Under $300)
- 8 Mid-Range Robot Vacuums reviews ($300-$500)
- 9 High-End Robot Vacuums reviews ($500+)
- 9.1 iRobot Roomba 880 best robot vacuum for hardwood floors
- 9.2 iRobot Roomba 980 – the most modern iRobot floor cleaner model
- 9.3 Neato Botvac Connected best robot vacuum for pet hair
- 9.4 Samsung SR2AJ9040U – the most attractive robot cleaner model in 2017
- 9.5 LG Home Bot – top model from famous company
- 10 Detailed review
- 11 How do robot vacuum cleaners work?
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:
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:
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.
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.
Budget Robot Vacuums reviews (Under $300)
ILIFE A4 – Best Cheap Robot Vacuum for Less Than $200
This is a cheap robo vac made in China. Don’t expect any miracles to happen here, the device is good for flats without any carpeting and high doorsteps between the rooms.
- Powerful battery ensures up to 2.5 hours of continues operation without recharging
- Its travel speed is rather slow, that’s why there are no consequences when it hits the furniture
- It is very careful with skirting-boards and light colored doors. The device slows down when coming close and going along the surface
- It has the function of forced choice of direction
- The device functions very quiet, you can turn it on even when watching the TV. However, at its maximum operation mode the robovac becomes very noisy resembling a common hand vacuum cleaner.
- It doesn’t move fast, so it doesn’t annoy anyone.
- However, this robovac has random cleaning pattern. It can clean the stated area, but there will be lots of spots that it has missed
- An obstacle about 10 cm high ( 4 inches) is impassable for the machine. If there is some threshold between the rooms, you’ll have to carry it over on your own
- Cheap case and pieces materials will cause the overhaul works necessity in a year or two
- Thin legs of tables and chairs can’t be detected by the device sensors and it hits them. It can’t see very dark surfaces as well. This robot cleaner refuses to go over black colored surfaces even forcibly, which isn’t very convenient
- It doesn’t deal with carpeting. It hardly gets on low pile carpets, though it cleans them well. The battery charging process takes about 5 hours
bObsweep PetHair Robotic Vacuum Cleaner and Mop
This is an affordable model for those who have a pet at home. However, if the pet has thick fur or there are several pets, or the house is very spacious, this robot cleaner will fail.
Though all robot floor cleaners with a bristle brush gather any pets fur, bObsweep company has created a robovac model specially for dogs and cats owners. The device efficiently deals with cleaning different surfaces from fur, hair and other difficult to clean dirt.
- Perfectly cleans pets hair (but the other robot vacuum models are good as well)
- It has good technical support
- Very easy in use, has a good manual and there’s a lot of information about the machine over the Internet
- Functions well both on solid floor and carpets
- A remote control comes in a set
- Lots of operation modes
- It founds the charging station itself, though it may get lost in a spacious apartment
- Hardly deals with thresholds
- It has a useless UV-sterilizer
- Quite often gets stuck since it doesn’t have any self navigation
- Sucks in socks and wires
- Low power battery that ensures only 30 minutes of continuous work
- Fur wraps around the brushes and you have to cut it off
ECOVACS DEEBOT N78 – a typical Chinese product
These robot vacuum cleaners have low price and quality unlike the other machines. Deebot N78 – is a new model produced by the Chinese company Ecovacs. This model has low profile design and it is all-terrain one.
Also it is being marketed as a robovac for pets fur cleaning. However, it has no bristle brush installed just two side brushes. Sucking is performed due to the fan functioning which isn’t enough to clean the fur from carpeting.
Deebot N78 model has an extended amount of infrared sensors on its bumper front side. Due to this the robot vacuum cleaner has less collisions with furniture.
The device has no navigation system and it performs random cleaning pattern by combining the operation modes.
- Perfectly deals with fur and dirt on solid floor surfaces
- Very quiet
- Up to 2 hours of continuous operation without battery recharge
- Gets back to its charging station for recharge itself
- It has several operation modes
- Remote control comes in a set
- Random cleaning pattern
- Not always it can find the base
- Made for solid flooring cleaning
- Short-lived battery ( 6 month warranty)
- Sucks in socks and small toys
- Has no virtual walls
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.
- Braava 380T is very quiet, because it has no bristle brush and sucking mechanism like other robot cleaners do
- Is for damp sweeping
- Work after the battery charging continuously for about 2 hours
- There is no extra damp on the floor after the device washes it
- The robot cleaner can wash along the walls
- Easy control
- Maintenance friendly
- The battery charges completely in 2 hours
- No sucking function
- Produces loud sounds when: the device starts and completes charging, starts/finishes cleaning program
- Needs maintenance after each use (washing the device microfiber mop)
- You can’t program the cleaning schedule
- Doesn’t go to recharge the battery itself
- Has no light barriers
- Requires buying some addition stuff
Mid-Range Robot Vacuums reviews ($300-$500)
iRobot Roomba 650 – 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.
- Provides possibility of every day cleaning
- Up to 2 hours of continuous in one charge
- You can create a cleaning schedule
- Ensures quality cleaning with very small number of missed spots
- Operation sound is more quiet than that of an ordinary vacuum cleaner
- It finds dust even after full-scale cleaning
- The device itself decides where the surface is more dirty and works longer there
- Perfectly deals with laminate and napless carpets cleaning
- Totally irreplaceable if there are pets in the house
- You’ll have to remove your dog’s bowl with water
- A bit short virtual wall – it doesn’t allow dividing large rooms into 2 areas
- Hits chairs’ legs at full speed, but carefully approaches to large obstacles
- The power supply whizzles while the battery is charging and it can be heard at night
- Carefully remove the storage bin form the robovac, since some rubbish may fall out
- It sucks in all kinds of wires
- No Soft Touch
- No Dirt Detect
Neato Botvac D80 – 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.
Neato D80 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.
- Modern laser navigation system Botvision, that ensures high quality cleaning in minimal time
- High efficiency of the cleaning process
- Powerful sucking mechanism
- Doesn’t get stuck in the wires and it is able to overcome small thresholds
- Performs well both on solid surfaces and on carpeting
- The device shape allows cleaning the corners
- You can set the cleaning process schedule for each day at some preset time
- This robo vac has an improved navigation system that ensures proper mapping for the cleaning process
- Very large maximal cleaning area
- Convenient removal and cleaning of the dust bin
- There is a reserve brush in a set
- Clever designed base
- It’s possible to limit the device movement with a magnetic stripe
- Ability to set cleaning schedule
- Nice package contents
- User-friendly control
- Quality cleaning mode “house cleaning”
- It is taller than its rivals due to the laser located in its cupola
- It is necessary to replace consumables
- No remote or Wi-Fi control
- You have to clean the device after each cleaning it performs. HEPA-filter gets clogged
iClebo Arte – a reliable robot vacuum
Robot vacuum cleaners produced by this company have already earned their place on European market, though they are rather poorly represented in the USA. Which is strange since these devices have rather strong potential and they can even press their top rivals on the market.
Korean robot cleaner iCLEBO Arte (labelled YCR-M05) is produced by Yujin Robot.
Another iClebo advantage is that it has Li-ion battery. The machine will serve you for many years unlike the majority of robot cleaners that have Ni-Mh batteries. However, the main thing is that iClebo battery capacity is enough to perform continuous functioning for 120 minutes!
- Performs up to 120 minutes cleaning in one charge ( Arte also has 2 cleaning cycles) or it cleans 150 sq. meters for one cycle
- Very quiet operation
- The device can clean the floor with a wet mop
- Timer for cleaning process start
- This robot cleaner can get almost everywhere
- Low efficiency when carpets cleaning, therefore it’ll do for large apartments with mainly smooth flooring
- Has no timer for days of the week
- Its bristle brush may wind hair from the floor on itself
High-End Robot Vacuums reviews ($500+)
iRobot Roomba 880 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 880 – 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 880 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 quality of cleaning along the walls, around the obstacles and at the open space
- Easy cleaning of its main brushes
- The machine navigates between rooms and recognizes virtual walls
- Anti-tangle system
- Its storage bin has filling-up indicator
- Overflow sensor for a dust bin and two types of dirt sensors
- Careful with furniture – the robo vac slows down when approaching to some obstacle and it has a soft bumper guard
- Scheduled cleaning mode
- Good package contents – a spare filter, a remote control device, two navigation devices Virtual Wall Lighthouse and a full set of batteries
- No mapping technology
- The machine is noisy, but less than other models
- Its shiny and dark case gets covered with dust and scratches
- Random cleaning pattern – you can’t foresee where the device cleans and where not
- No WiFi connection
iRobot Roomba 980 – 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 980 robot cleaner model is the best machine designed by iRobot and it is a flagship model in Roomba product line. iRobot Roomba 980 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.
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.
- Automatically gets back to the base, charges the battery and continues cleaning
- Two rubber rollers which are easy to clean
- AeroForce technology of dirt and rubbish gathering – instead of the main bristle brush the machine has rubber rollers with scraper cups that rotate towards each other
- Dust and surface type sensors, the robo vac goes along the dirtiest spots three times
- iAdapt Responsive Navigation
- Wi-Fi control of the device by means of a smart phone (remote activation and cleaning modes selection)
- Large sized dust bin – 1 liter (0.26 American gallons)
- 120 minutes of operation duration
- Easily gets under furniture (the robot cleaner is 7,5 cm high/3 inches)
- High price
- You can’t wash the dust bin with water, since there is an engine inside
- One side brush
- Very noisy in Turbo mode
Neato Botvac Connected best robot vacuum for pet hair
The machine has an improved mapping technology, powerful sucking mechanism, high quality battery – all these make Neato Botvac 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 80).
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 Botvac 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.
- High cleaning efficiency
- Special system of brushes to deal with pets hair cleaning
- 2 charging cycles ( i.e. the robot vacuum can clean very large areas performing two additional battery charges)
- An improved navigation system allows creating an optimal cleaning route
- Very large maximum cleaning area
- Convenient extraction and cleaning of the storage bin
- The device has an additional brush convenient to clean
- Thoughtful design of the base station
- Magnetic stripe is used to limit the device movement
- Scheduled cleaning
- Good package contents
- Mobile app used to control and manage the machine remotely
- High price
- Expensive expendables
Samsung SR2AJ9040U – the most attractive robot cleaner model in 2017
Here for the first time Samsung company has used a new inverter engine to improve the sucking power of the device. So now Samsung SR2AJ9040U POWERbot has more powerful sucking function than the previous robot floor cleaner models of the Korean company. Except high sucking power this device has a cyclone filter inside.
This robo vac has no spinning side brushes that’s why cleaning along the walls and in the corners may be not ideally performed, however a special algorithm of getting into corners ensures the machine reaching the farthest room areas.
The device is equipped with a mapping system. Using the camera the robot vacuum remembers its route and cleans all the apartment area. Samsung POWERbot leaves no dirty spots on the floor unlike all the other models with a random cleaning pattern.
This model also has a high quality Li-ion battery as well as the other Korean robo vac models do. It will serve for a long time without replacement.
The device has an interesting feature – it is a special remote control device that is a laser pointer at the same time. By means of this pointer you can show the robot cleaner a direction and it’ll go that way. The cleaning process duration is equal to 60 minutes for this device.
This robot cleaner can overcome thresholds up to 15 mm due to its larger wheels. 10 embedded sensors and a camera ensure the device self navigation by means of mapping during cleaning. There is a LED-display using which you can activate the cleaning process or set the timer.
- High sucking power
- Cleans 2500 sq ft home in one charge
- Remote control with laser pointer to control the robot cleaner
- Large sized dust bin – 0.7 liters
- Sucking power increases automatically where the surface is dirtier
- Automatically starts charging the battery if empty
- 7 cleaning modes
- It is possible to limit the cleaning area due to virtual walls
- 60 minutes of continuous operation without additional battery charging
- High price
- Less cleaning efficiency in corners due to the side brushes absence
- Noise level
- Large size as for a robot cleaner
- Relatively high case
LG Home Bot – top model from famous company
Robot vacuum cleaner LG VR6270LVM is a flagship model of the Korean manufacturer. This device performs intelligent cleaning, i.e. it uses mapping function, remembers where it has already been and where not. It doesn’t use random cleaning pattern, it moves snake-like.
Remote control device (to control the robo vac and set the timer) and a special microfiber mop (to sweep smooth surfaces) come in a set.
If the machine approaches to a thin leg of a chair, it’ll touch it, then a sensor for physical object detection activates and the robot cleaner changes its direction. This robo vac model can be programmed to start operation at some certain time during a week.
Which is very convenient, you set the cleaning start timer, go to work, the device cleans everywhere and gets back to its base and waits for you to empty its storage bin. LG uses a container without a dust bag, that’s why it is easy and fast to clean the container.
- Due to its square shape cleans corners well
- It has an ultrasound sensors on the front bumper which decreases the number of collisions
- Smart Turbo technology (the machine itself increases the sucking power when getting from the smooth surface to the carpet)
- Wide microfiber mop
- 150 minutes of continuous operation mean that it is good for large apartments
- High price
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.
Cleaning floor-spaceThis 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.
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.
The second one.
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.
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.
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 A4 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.
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.
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 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.