How to Choose the Perfect Robotic Vacuum Cleaner

Updated on June 2, 2019
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Walter Shillington writes about products he is familiar with. His articles focus on healthcare, electronics, watches and household items.

Ecovacs Deebot M88
Ecovacs Deebot M88 | Source

Robotic vacuums are among the least efficient cleaning devices available today. A relatively inexpensive upright can easily outperform the latest vacuum manufactured by iRobot. And the task can be completed in one-quarter of the time.

These devices do, however, hold one advantage over a traditional vacuum. They can be scheduled to perform their work at night, while their owner is tucked away in bed.

If a daily cleaning is considered beneficial, a robotic vacuum is an excellent option. Those with cats and dogs will appreciate how well they deal with pet hair. In addition, robotic vacuums are invaluable to businesses which require their offices, hallways and reception areas to be freshly vacuumed floor each morning.

The following article explains the features of a modern robotic vacuum and provides an overview of several different models.

Mobility

Most robotic vacuums are equipped with a caster and two large, spring-loaded drive wheels. The spring-loaded wheels are an essential feature because they allow the vacuum to cross the threshold between rooms and navigate across carpeting.

This inexpensive Clean Robot lacks the ability to move from room to room
This inexpensive Clean Robot lacks the ability to move from room to room | Source
The Amarey A800, with its large, spring-loaded drive wheels can cross the threshold from one room to another
The Amarey A800, with its large, spring-loaded drive wheels can cross the threshold from one room to another | Source

Brushes and Suction

Virtually all robotic vacuums are equipped with one or two side brushes which sweep dust and dirt within reach of the main brush or suction plate.

These devices use suction to draw debris into a removable dustbin. An airflow rating of 1200PA or more is considered adequate.

Most robotic vacuums incorporate a center brush which sweeps debris into the device’s dustbin. A cleaning area that includes carpeting will require a vacuum exhibiting this feature.

Dustbins are available in various sizes. Bigger is always better but, if you plan to empty the bin every day, a small dust box is certainly acceptable.

Battery Life

Almost all robotic vacuums are fitted with a Lithium-Ion battery. Operating times vary but, unless the robot is equipped with a navigational system, it is best to purchase one which can clean for a least an hour before requiring a recharge.

Lithium-ion battery used in Amarey A800 Robotic Vacuum Cleaner
Lithium-ion battery used in Amarey A800 Robotic Vacuum Cleaner | Source
Docking station of Samsung Powerbot R7040
Docking station of Samsung Powerbot R7040 | Source

Docking System

Robotic vacuums are not particularly useful unless, as battery levels drop, they can return to their docking station and recharge. To ensure the robot is able to find its charging station, I usually place the dock in a room located within the center of my house. Even then, because robotic vacuums are inherently dumb, they will sometimes take as long as 30 minutes to find their dock.

Remote Control

Buttons situated atop the robotic vacuum control operation and features. Many of these units are also supplied with a handheld remote control. Remotes are useful, but the lack of one should not be considered a deal-breaker.

Remote control used with Ecovacs Deebot M88
Remote control used with Ecovacs Deebot M88 | Source

Wi-Fi Compatibility

Lately, many manufacturers are designing robotic vacuums that can be connected to the internet via Wi-Fi. This allows the device to be controlled and monitored using a cellphone. I consider this an unnecessary frill, but other, more tech-savvy, individuals do appreciate this option.

Cleaning Patterns and Scheduling

Robotic vacuums feature several specific cleaning modes. These generally include a spiral pattern intended for spot cleaning, a zig-zag routine that logically covers a complete room, edge cleaning which sweeps along a room’s baseboards, and an automatic mode in which the robot changes direction whenever it encounters an obstacle.

Most of these devices can be scheduled to begin its cleaning routine each day at a specific time.

Ecovacs Deebot M88 filter assembly and dustbin
Ecovacs Deebot M88 filter assembly and dustbin | Source
Samsung Powerbot R7040 filter assembly and dustbin
Samsung Powerbot R7040 filter assembly and dustbin | Source

Maintenance

It is recommended that dustbin be removed and emptied each day.

Foam filters should be washed every week. Paper filters are simply tapped against the inside of a garbage can to shake away accumulated dust. Most manufacturers advise replacement of these paper filters every three to six months.

Side brushes, which begin to show wear after several months of use, can normally be replaced at a reasonable price.

The main brush should be inspected weekly, and a comb used to pry away accumulated debris. These brushes should be removed—a quick an easy task—every week so that caked dirt can be dislodged from the ends.

Price Range

The purchase price of a reasonably capable robotic vacuum starts at $150 and rises to well over $1,000. Below, I have listed a selection of vacuums, noting their strengths and weaknesses.

Kobot RV353

This unit, which is priced at about $150.00, is fully featured and surprisingly powerful. Unfortunately, it lacks the sophistication of more expensive vacuums and is equipped with outdated sensors. The Kobot tries hard but, in my tests, often became stuck and bleated for assistance.

Kobot RV353
Kobot RV353 | Source

Amarey A800

This robotic vacuum, which lists for about $200.00, provides excellent value. It cleans well, functions for long periods on a battery charge, and can generally find its way back to the docking station. While the Amarey A800 will sometimes wedge itself into a tight corner, this robot can often wiggle itself free.

Amarey A800
Amarey A800 | Source

Ecovacs Deebot M88

Ecovacs is a well-respected brand name. The Deebot M88’s price, because it is an older model, has been reduced to about $200.00. Among its many bells and whistles is the ability to connect via Wi-Fi, and a center brush which can quickly be replaced with a suction plate. For those with hard-surfaced floors covered with rugs, the suction plate option can be useful; Center brush equipped robotic vacuums will attempt to eat the rug’s fringes and tassels. The Deebot M88 is a sturdy and hard-working device that will provide years of dependable service.

Ecovacs Deebot M88
Ecovacs Deebot M88 | Source

Samsung Powerbot R7040

Samsung, along with US Robotics and Neato, is considered among the elite of robotic vacuum manufacturers. The Powerbot R7040 can be purchased for about $400.00. It’s newest sibling, the Powerbot Turbo Robot, retails for over one-thousand dollars.

If you are looking for a machine that gets the job done with a minimum of fuzz and bother, the Powerbot R7040 presents a compelling case. Battery life is limited to about 35 minutes but, because this robot is equipped with a navigation system centered around a camera, it will return to its dock, partially recharge and then continue with its task. This vacuum is graced with exceptional mobility, a modern suite of sensors, and a unique edge cleaning system that negates the requirement for side brushes.

Samsung Powerbot R7040
Samsung Powerbot R7040 | Source

Final Recommendation

Most potential purchasers are interested in a robotic vacuum that can be scheduled to clean an entire floor each day automatically. Then, when the job is complete, return to its dock to recharge. The Kobot RV353, sadly, is not quite up to this task. The remaining vacuums listed above, provided the cleaning area has been properly robot-proofed, will deliver excellent service and require little to no supervision.

Questions & Answers

    © 2019 Walter Shillington

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