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Robot Vacuum Cleaners

Article for: People with floors in their homes or offices
Difficulty: Easy
Importance: Useful unless you enjoy running your vacuum cleaner

Three days after I moved into my new home, I purchased a robotic vacuum cleaner. This home has much more rug than my previous home, and I want to keep it nice. I am thrilled with what an excellent job it does and how easy it makes vacuuming my rugs. It is just under 3" high, so it vacuums under my bed and living room chair. I do not do the entire home in one shot, but divide my home into two sections. I take less than 1 minute to pick up enough to make an area ready to vacuum. Then I just click the auto button. It vacuums nicely and returns to its charging station to recuperate when done. It is reasonably quiet, so I can work while it is vacuuming.

I empty the dustbin and brush the basic filter after each use. Once a month I clean the inner filter and wash the foam filter. This is one of my best purchases. I spent $200 on a simple, low end vacuum, the Eufy RoboVac 30. This might not be my choice now that I've learned much more about robot vacuums, but I'm thrilled with it.

I think if I were to buy a new one now, I'd get the Roborock S4.

What a robot vacuum won't do

You'll still need a stand up vacuum for stairs, drapes, blinds and also I've read they are important for perhaps monthly deeper cleaning. A good stand up vacuum will pick up about 10% more deep down dirt. What I do not know, is how they compare if you vacuum 3 times as often with the robotic vacuum. Or, if I'm being honest, 10 times more!

Features available to consider

  • Return home to recharge. To my knowledge, they all do this.
  • Smart mapping: Using cameras, sensors or lasers, some will map your house. You can access the map with a mobile app on your phone and/or tablet. Smart mapping allows the vacuum to vacuum intelligently, covering the entire floors of all the rooms efficiently. It will know where it has been and where it needs to go. Less expensive units seem to move about almost randomly for a longer time. They do eventually cover everywhere, though. Check reviews on these. Some map in one session. Some take 10 tries and then sometimes forget.
  • More smart mapping options: Various options become available with smart vacuums. For example, you can block areas it should not go, or scheduling at what times and what rooms it will vacuum! Again, you pay more and get more options.
  • Smart mapping multiple floors! Some will hold multiple floors in memory.
  • Self cleaning brush: Some have brushes you do not need to clean often.
  • Self emptying: Currently, three units will vacuum out the dustbin after it returns to the charging station. Then you empty that bin about once a month.
  • Recharge and resume: If it has mapped out a floor and you have a large house, perhaps it didn't finish before needing to recharge. Some will recharge and then resume vacuuming exactly where they left off!
  • No-go zones: In the App, you can mark areas as "no-go" zones. The vacuum won't go there. Perhaps you have lots of cords behind your TV or computer. Just stop it from going there. Perhaps it gets stuck under your couch. Mark that as a no-go zone.
  • Voice commands with other IOT voice devices like Alexa.
  • Mopping: Some have mop attachments to mop floors. Be sure you setup no-go zones first!
  • Strips or Blocks to prevent access. For less expensive units that do not have smart mapping, some of them have magnetic strips or other ways to keep the robot vacuum from certain areas it could get trapped in. My Eufy has black magnetic strips I can put under my couch.

Other Factors to consider

  • Do you want mopping?
  • Some are more powerful than others. More power can mean better cleaning.
  • Height: If you want it to vacuum under your bed or couch, you might check their heights and see if the vacuum is slim enough to fit under them. If not, you might consider risers to raise the couch or bed. Also, smarter laser mapping vacuums are usually taller than the dumb ones.
  • Hepa filters.

Where to get more information

  • Vacuum wars: This is a fun YouTube channel that tests vacuum cleaners with an emphasis on robot vacuums. They are overly positive, but you'll learn a lot and have fun watching their videos.
  • Amazon Reviews and Questions and answers for vacuums you are checking out.
  • Robotbox.net: This review has lots of good information, even if I don't particularly agree with the review.
  • If you are going with a smart vacuum, read the reviews at Apple or Google's store. Sometimes people complain that the apps don't work or have other problems. If you want to go with a smart vacuum controlled by an app, make sure it has good software.

Date: April 2020

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This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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