Walter Shillington writes about products he knows firsthand. His articles focus on healthcare, electronics, watches, and household items.
Over the last few weeks, I have reviewed robot vacuums in the upper end of the budget range. Devices of this type should be well constructed, reasonably quiet, and equipped with a navigational system. Maximum suction must be at least 3000Pa, and the robot should be fitted with a 3000mAh battery or better.
Today I am taking a close look at the new ILIFE A11 robot vacuum and mop cleaner.
The ILIFE A11, which is composed of black plastic, rises 3.7 inches from the ground and boasts a diameter of 13.4 inches. Located atop its upper deck is the turret, which houses the robot's Lidar system, the power and home button, and a wi-fi indicator. While Lidar turrets are typically placed near the center of the robot, this one is quite close to the edge. I suspect this placement allows the robot to slide further under furniture too low to accommodate the height of the vacuum's turret.
Discreetly hidden beneath a lid are the robot's dustbin and brush cleaner. The dustbin is interchangeable with a mopping module.
Two large rubber-coated drive wheels, an omnidirectional wheel, a side brush, four drop sensors, and the main brush are located beneath the robot. A pair of metal contacts used to charge the battery are positioned near the front.
This robot is fitted with a 4900mAh lithium battery and can provide power for 150 minutes.
No-go zones may be configured using the ILIFE application. Accessories include the charging dock, user's guide, brush cleaner, spare filter, spare mop pad, mopping module, alternative main brush, remote, and a spare side brush.
- Manufacturer: ILIFE
- Model: A11
- Color: Black
- Dimensions: 9.45 x 35 centimeters (3.7 x 13.8 inches)
- Battery: 14.8V 4900mAh lithium
- Battery run time: 150 minutes
- Charging time: 3 hours
- Scheduling: Yes
- Max suction power: 4000PA
- Dustbin capacity: 450 milliliters
- Mop module dust capacity: 300 milliliters
- Mop module water capacity: 200 milliliters
- Cleaning modes: Auto, quiet, spot, edge, max, and daily schedule
- Cleaning technique: Suction, main brush, side brush, and mop pad
- Cleaning area: 2,690 square feet
- Mop capable: Yes
- Navigational system: LIDAR
- Multi-floor map: Capable
- Wi-fi capable: 2.4G
- Noise level: ≤ 48.3 dB in quiet mode
- Climbing ability (vacuuming): 20 millimeters (0.8 inches)
- Filter: HEPA plus pre-filter
The ILIFE A11 is equipped with LIDAR (light detection and ranging). A turret-based laser illuminates objects to determine their location, size, shape, and distance. This rapidly rotating laser calculates the distance by measuring the time expended for its beam to reach an obstruction and be reflected. This information assists in creating an accurate map and guides the unit as it travels from room to room.
The ILIFE A11 is fitted with a 4900mAh lithium battery capable of providing power for up to 150 minutes.
My medium-sized house can be cleaned within 42 minutes, reducing the battery level to 62 percent.
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A bulky metal grating guards the air intake located within my front foyer. Some of the robots I've reviewed have experienced difficulties crossing this grate; Either their drop sensors become confused, or their omnidirectional wheel is trapped. The ILIFE A11 handled this obstacle well, carefully edging around it.
One of my tests determines a robot's ability to avoid climbing onto and clumsily circling the one-inch-high base of my tower fan. The ILIFE A11, unfortunately, lacks the sophisticated sensors required to avoid this obstacle. I solved the problem by setting up a no-go zone covering this area.
This robot can cross thresholds—the strip of wood at the bottom of doorways where rooms connect—of up to 2 centimeters (0.8 inches). The ILIFE A11 was able to traverse every threshold within my house competently.
The ILIFE Vac Application
This application provides the ability to read maps produced by the vacuum and adjust specific parameters. Barriers and exclusion zones can be set, floor plans may be saved, and rooms can be named, merged, and split.
While the ILIFE Vac application allows comprehensive control of the robotic vacuum, it is not as user-friendly as I would like. I expect that future updates will alleviate this difficulty.
Screen Grabs from the ILIFE Vac Application
As the ILIFE A11 enters each room, it circles and begins to edge clean. Then the robot switches to a Z pattern heavily modified by the results of its navigational system's mapping, continuing to suck up all debris it encounters. The companion application can point the robot toward a specific room or spot clean particularly dirty areas.
This vacuum may be scheduled to start at a specific time each day. It can also be operated using the ILIFE Vac application or by simply pushing the vacuum's start button.
Traditional mop brackets are designed to swing upward as the robotic vacuum traverses the threshold between each room. This provides increased ground clearance and reduces maneuverability issues, but, unfortunately, the lightweight mopping bracket fails to apply sufficient downward pressure to clean effectively.
ILIFE has attached its mop pad directly to the bottom of the mopping module, relying on careful balancing and brute force to pull the robot over thresholds. This system works commendably, providing sufficient downward pressure to significantly improve this robot's ability to clean while maintaining the capability to cross difficult thresholds.
The ILIFE A11 mops the floor in a Y-pattern, going slightly forward at an angle, retreating, and advancing again at a different angle. This repetitive pattern results in more effective mopping.
This robot is equipped with a standard dustbin and a mopping attachment. The mopping attachment contains a water tank and a small dustbin, allowing simultaneous mopping and vacuuming.
When I mop, I use the application to select my non-carpeted rooms. If I wished to clean more effectively, I could create a second version of my floor plan map, using no-go zones to mark the carpeted rooms and spaces occupied by my various rugs and mats. Then my original map could be used for vacuuming and the new map for mopping.
The ILIFE A11 is a sturdy robot that uses its navigational system to maneuver intelligently around my house, vacuuming and mopping quickly. As well as a traditional dustbin, this robot comes with a mopping module that allows simultaneous mopping and vacuuming.
Although I feel the ILIFE application requires fine-tuning, it can fully control the robot vacuum, allowing the user to select a large variety of cleaning-related options. Suction may be adjusted, multiple floors can be mapped, and rooms may be split or merged. No-go zones can also be set.
Battery power and suction are significantly higher than I would expect in a robot vacuum in this price category, and I was impressed with its maneuverability. The ILIFE A11 is recommended.
© 2022 Walter Shillington