Walter Shillington writes about products he knows firsthand. His articles focus on healthcare, electronics, watches, and household items.
Last week I reviewed a robotic vacuum fitted with a vibrating mop and a sophisticated obstacle avoidance system. It was a terrific vacuum and, because I paired it with an auto-empty dock, kept my floors clean with a minimum of effort.
But not everyone is willing to blow their budget on a premium vacuum. Some of us are searching for a trouble-free robot that quietly scoots around the house, vacuuming away the dust, dirt, and pet hair.
Today I am taking a close look at a new vacuum from Zigma.
The Zigma Spark 980 is composed of black plastic accented by a touch of gray. It rises 3.7 inches from the ground with 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.
Various sensors, the bumper, main power switch, and a backup charging port are positioned along the edge of this robot. Accommodation for either the dustbin or mopping module is also provided.
Two large rubber-coated drive wheels, an omnidirectional wheel, two side brushes, three 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 3,200mAh lithium battery and can provide power for 140 minutes.
No-go zones may be configured using the Zigma application. Accessories consist of the charging dock, user's guide, brush cleaner, spare filter, spare mop pad, remote, and a spare set of side brushes.
- Manufacturer: Zigma
- Model: Spark 980
- Color: Black with gray accents
- Dimensions: 9.4 x 34 centimeters (3.7 x 13.4 inches)
- Dock power requirement: Input 100 – 240V/50 – 60Hz
- Battery: 14.8V 3200mAh lithium
- Battery run time: 140 minutes
- Charging time: 4 – 6 hours
- Scheduling: Yes
- Max suction power: 4000PA
- Dustbin capacity: 600 milliliters
- Cleaning modes: Auto and room
- Cleaning technique: Suction, main brush, and side brushes
- Cleaning area: 120-150 m²
- Mop capable: Yes
- Water tank: 360 milliliters (12.2 fluid ounces)
- Navigational system: LIDAR
- Multi-floor map: Capable
- Wi-fi capable: 2.4G
- Noise level: ≤55 dB
- Smart voice support: Siri, Google Home, and Alexa
- Climbing ability (vacuuming): 15 millimeters (0.6 inches)
- Filter: HEPA plus pre-filter
The Navigational System
The Spark 980 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 Zigma Application
The Zigma application provides the ability to read maps produced by the vacuum and adjust specific parameters. Barriers and exclusion zones can be set for both vacuuming and mopping operations. Surprisingly for a robot in this price range, multiple floor plans may be saved, and rooms can be merged or split.
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Screen Grabs From Zigma Application
Although most devices of this type are fitted with one side brush, this vacuum boasts two. This results in more effective dust removal.
There is, however, a drawback. As a robot vacuum climbs onto a rug, a side brush will sometimes become trapped beneath the edge of the carpet. As its progress is impeded, the device will pull backward, adjust its angle and try again.
This technique works well but, in the case of the Spark 980, could result in the second side brush becoming entrapped. Then the robot would be forced to retreat a second time to change its angle yet again. Happily, the Spark 980 is a fast worker and, despite this disadvantage, can thoroughly vacuum my main floor within 38 minutes.
A bulky metal grating guards the air intake located within my front foyer. Like other robots I have reviewed, the Spark 980's drop sensors go into a panic whenever the robot travels across this obstacle. I solved the problem by setting up a no-go zone covering the width and length of the grating.
One of my tests measures a robot's ability to avoid climbing onto and clumsily circling the one-inch-high base of my tower fan. Sadly, the Spark 980 lacks the sophisticated sensors required to avoid this obstacle. As with the grating, I solved the problem by setting up a no-go zone covering the area.
This robot can cross thresholds—the strip of wood at the bottom of doorways where rooms connect—of up to 15 centimeters (0.6 inches). The Spark 980 impressed me because it easily navigated my thresholds, even when its mopping module was attached.
As the Zigma Spark 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 Zigma 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 Zigma application or by simply pushing the vacuum's start button. There is even an option to control the vacuum using Siri, Google Home, or Alexa.
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.
Zigma 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 admirably, providing sufficient downward pressure to significantly improve this robot's ability to mop while maintaining the capability to cross difficult thresholds.
The Spark 980 cannot vacuum and mop simultaneously, nor, as far as I can determine, can it set up separate no-go zones for these operations. It is, however, a simple task to snap on the mopping module and use the application to command the robot to mop my uncarpeted kitchen and bathroom.
The Spark 980 is equipped with a 3200mAh lithium battery capable of providing power for up to 140 minutes.
My medium-sized house can be cleaned within 38 minutes, reducing the battery level to 61 percent.
To be considered successful, a robot vacuum cleaner must clean thoroughly and substantially outperform its competition in at least one area.
This robotic vacuum is agile, enjoys a decent battery life, and effectively vacuums hard floors and carpets. Its navigational system is the most accurate available, and the Zigma application includes many practical features.
Although the Spark 980's mopping system lacks the sophistication of more expensive premium brands, it is significantly better than many of its direct competitors. If you are searching for an inexpensive robotic vacuum that can clean your floors with minimum supervision, the Zigma Spark 980 should be on your shortlist.
© 2022 Walter Shillington