Walter Shillington writes about products he knows firsthand. His articles focus on healthcare, electronics, watches, and household items.
I've Tested a Lot of Robot Vacuums
Over the past year, I’ve been testing robotic vacuums in search of a vacuum that performed well and could be scheduled to vacuum daily without the need for supervision.
I picked up today's subject, the Samsung Powerbot, at eBay. There are newer models available, but the R7040 is less expensive and well-represents the Samsung line of robotic vacuums.
The Samsung Powerbot
The Powerbot R7040 weighs 8.82 pounds. It is 13.4 inches wide, 13.7 inches in length, and 3.8 inches high.
Most robotic vacuums appear to be distantly related to a flying saucer. The Samsung, with its curved surfaces and shiny plastic body, more closely resembles a racing car.
The front edge of this vacuum is flat. Above, a transparent plastic window protects the camera used for navigation and mapping.
Centered at the top is a removable dust bin. The control panel and LED indicators are located aft of this position.
A bumper sensor wraps around the front edge of the Powerbot R7040. Also located here is an obstacle sensor and the auto shutter tool.
Robotic vacuums are generally equipped with two large, spring-loaded wheels and a caster. Samsung’s Powerbot utilizes a slightly different configuration. The caster, located at the rear of the robot, is spring loaded. A second caster and two rollers provide additional support.
Instead of depending on spinning side-brushes to sweep debris toward the main brush, Samsung has devised a system called Edge Clean Master. The vacuum will press itself against a wall and extend its auto shutter tool. This rubber blade drops to the floor, raking debris away from the wall and bringing it within reach of the main brush.
Also located on the bottom of this vacuum is the main power switch, battery compartment, cliff sensors, and charging pins.
Wi-Fi connectivity allows this robot vacuum to be controlled by a smartphone or through voice-enabled devices such as Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant. The onboard camera and sensors work together, devising a path for multi-room cleaning while avoiding obstacles along the way. The area being vacuumed can be monitored using the coverage map incorporated into the smartphone application.
Cycloneforce technology provides strong centrifugal forces, separating dirt and debris into an outer chamber of the dust bin. This helps to maintain suction power.
This vacuum automatically detects surface types and will increase suction when traversing a carpet.
A daily schedule can be set. When the job is complete, or battery power runs low, the Powerbot R7040 will return to its dock. If required, the vacuum will restart and continue its cleaning routine after it has been charged.
Read More From Dengarden
- Manufacturer: Samsung Electronics
- Model: Powerbot R7040
- Color: Gray
- Weight: 4 kilograms (8.82 pounds)
- Width: 340 millimeters (13.4 inches)
- Length: 348 millimeters (13.7 inches)
- Height: 97 millimeters (3.8 inches)
- Battery: 21.6 volts, 10 watts, lithium-ion rechargeable
- Battery Charging Time: 4 hours
- Battery Run Time: 30 - 60 minutes depending on the mode
- Room Navigation: Yes
- Scheduling: Yes
- Smart Phone Compatible: Yes
- Cyclonic Technology: Yes
- Maximum Suction Power: 20 air watts
- Cleaning Technique: Suction, main brush, and edge cleaner
- Virtual Wall: No, but magnetic boundary markers are available
- Filter: Washable
- Accessories: Remote control, recharging base, and user’s guide
Samsung Electronics is a division of Samsung, a South Korean conglomerate headquartered in Samsung Town, Seoul.
Samsung Electronics, which accounts for a high percentage of the group's revenue, operates assembly plants and sales networks within 80 different countries.
Samsung is the world's largest manufacturer of smartphones and televisions. The company is also a major vendor of Android-powered tablets. In July 2017, Samsung Electronics overtook Intel as the largest semiconductor chip maker in the world.
Maneuverability and Robot-Proofing
In the perfect world, my robotic vacuum would leave its charging station automatically each day, effectively clean the house, and then return to its dock. While my house is not the ideal environment in which to operate a robotic assistant, by following the steps below, I came close to meeting this standard.
All cables and wires must be secured to baseboards with clips. This prevents the vacuum’s wheels and brushes from becoming entangled.
The layout of the cleaning area should be carefully examined. Cluttered floors impede the robot’s progress, and if an area is very narrow, the vacuum could become trapped.
Sometimes robotic vacuums sandwich themselves between the floor and a couch or cabinet. The Powerbot R7040, however, was too tall to become wedged beneath my furniture.
Thresholds—the strip of wood at the bottom of doorways where rooms connect—may present an obstacle to a robotic vacuum. The Powerbot R7040 successfully crossed every threshold it encountered.
My dining room floor is an inch lower than the rooms on either side. To compensate, I have installed narrow ramps at the points of entry. These ramps, along with floor mounted air vents, will sometimes trap robotic vacuums. They did not bother the Powerbot. This robotic vacuum did, however, become stuck after climbing a one-inch ledge leading to a closet.
Three rugs were used during my test procedures. The vacuum played well with the thick and heavy mat located in my living-room.
The vacuum folded the corner, grabbed the fringe and dragged my hapless Persian prayer mat across the floor. I moved this rug to a bedroom upstairs.
Because my Turkish carpet is secured to the floor, most robotic vacuums maneuver across it effortlessly. Unfortunately, this rug is furnished with a fringe which the Powerbot attempted to eat. I shoved the fringe beneath the edge of the carpet and secured it with gun tape.
The dock (recharging station) should normally be positioned in an area room central to the cleaning area. When docked, at least nine inches of unobstructed space on either side of the vacuum will ensure it can maneuver properly when beginning operations.
Camera and Mapping Capabilities
I spent several days experimenting with this robot, attempting to determine how the camera and mapping functions perform their tasks.
When the Powerbot R7040 starts, it takes a photo of the room’s ceiling. This image is used to determine the location of the vacuum and keep track of its movements. When the robot enters a new room, it will snap another photograph which is added to its internal map. This information is kept stored within memory for future use.
After departing its charging station, the vacuum cleans back and forth in a logical manner, slowly making its way to the far end of the house. Then the robot backtracks, vacuuming missed areas until reaching its dock. To ensure areas are not missed—the Powerbot will not realize a room exists unless it enters it—the charging station should be installed within a room at one end of the cleaning area rather than a central position.
While the Powerbot R7040 is equipped with a decent battery, features such as edge cleaning and intelligent power control reduce the time the robot can vacuum between charges. The operational time of my used Powerbot varies between 40 and 52 minutes. If the mapped area has not been completely cleaned at this point, the robot will restart and continue to work after it has been charged.
This vacuum, due to the constant variation in suction and motor speed, is louder than most of its competition. It is recommended that operations be scheduled during the night or when no one is home.
The Powerbot is equipped with anti-drop and anti-collision sensors. These work very well. Cat-food and water dishes positioned alongside the wall will be approached cautiously and then left untouched.
The dustbin should be emptied every day. Once a week, I clean the dustbin, main brush, and edge tool. I also wash the foam filter. These routines are clearly described in the user manual.
Providing the cleaning area has adequately been robot-proofed, this robot will vacuum your house daily without the requirement for supervision. Maintenance routines are simple and quickly completed. Samsung’s Powerbot R7040 is recommended.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2019 Walter Shillington
Larry Slawson from North Carolina on March 31, 2019:
Very interesting. My wife and I have been thinking about a robotic vacuum for some time now. Might have to check this one out.