Cleaning and vacuuming–these are two necessary evils that you could do away with, but you know it’s only wishful thinking. Most people I know hate these chores so much that they will put off vacuuming until it is absolutely necessary. The routine will involve picking what is noticeable and hoping that no one feels the crumbs when they step on the rug or the wooden floor. Still, however long you put off this chore, you will have to vacuum your floor, eventually.
How much time is spent cleaning? You may be surprised by these statistics. The average British adult will spend 26 hours in a week doing house chores. 41% will skip vacuuming altogether and pick the noticeable bits off the floor, and so you are not alone if this is your trend.
The UK is not the only place on Earth where lots of time is spent on cleaning. Slovak men will spend at least 114 minutes of each day cleaning and getting organized. Indian men don’t bother with tidying much, and they will be on it for a mere 19 minutes of a day. That is quite the contrast, no?
Regardless of where you are in this big world, we can all agree that too much valuable time is spent vacuuming, which is why some smart people saw an opportunity and decided to come up with a vacuuming robot.
A Little Look Into History
It has been an interesting journey to introduce the cleaning root to the world. Take a look.
- Electrolux Trilobite
The first robotic cleaner to grace the markets was manufactured by Electrolux, a Swedish household appliances manufacturer. That was back in 1996, and the world stopped to exhale and marvel at the new creation. As expected, some critics didn’t think that the time was ripe for such an invention, but it only opened the door for more manufacturers to think outside the box. The company made it commercially available in 2001.
Britain, not one to be left behind, jumped on board and came up with DC06 in 2001, by Dyson. The market was ripe, and the technology state-of-the-art, but the prices were prohibitive. DC06 never made it to the market.
Dyson made a comeback in 2014 with Dyson 360 Eye, which is supposed to have super suction capabilities and a 360-degree visual. The powers of this robot are yet to be attested, but the robot world has evolved so much since 2002.
2002 was the year of the Roomba from a US manufacturer, iRobot. Interestingly, rumba is a famous dance practiced in various parts of the world, and so it is fun that the robot’s name rhymes with this dance. Roomba has to be the robot that changed the scene completely. The manufacturer intended to release 15, 000 units to follow it up with 10,000, but the market took to it in such frenzy that Roomba became the ideal gift for the season. iRobot ended up releasing several thousands of them and selling over 200,000 in the first year alone. Can we just say that Americans are a tad lazy? (On a light note). Currently, this robot retails in leading stores and the company has sold thousands of them.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how the vacuuming robot came to be. Over time, we have seen improvements that are making the robots not only more efficient but smaller too. There have been several other manufacturers too in other parts of the world, and this list is only a small portion of the pioneers.
What To Look For in A Vacuum Cleaning Robot
When investing in a vacuuming robot, you want it to take cleaning off your hands so that you can save the time for other things. For it to be useful, it will only demand a little of your time and have the ability to clean effectively. So, what will you need to consider?
- Obstacle Avoidance Technology
This has to be the most important feature of a Robovac. It should be able to dodge obstacles, or it will bump into everything in the house. The current technology in every robot right now includes cliff sensors. They are placed in the underbelly of the robot, and his optical sensors determine the distance of an obstacle from the robot.
Then you have bumpers, which let your robot know when it has hit something. They are activated when there is a collision, and they alert the robot to move in another direction.
Some high-end Robovacs will take it a notch higher to include mapping technology. This technology involves the robot taking photos of each room and having them in its memory to create cleaning paths. The robot will remember each room’s layout, and if anything changes, it will update its maps and modify its cleaning pattern. This technology ensures more efficient cleaning, but it is only available in high-end Robovacs.
- Cleaning ability
This feature is where manufacturers spend all their energy and research in. People are buying the robots for its cleaning ability, so its suction power might as well be excellent. The robot will consist of brushes that will sweep dirt off the ground and direct it to the receiving basin. Different models will utilize different brushes. Cheaper versions will have the traditional brush with plastic or nylon hairs.
Top-of-the-range Robovacs will have a bladed brush, which mimics the regular traditional brush in angled rows of rubber blades. This brush gets the pet hairs, and more dirt stuck on your rug than the traditional one.
- Suction Strength
When Dyson went for the second round of manufacturing, the company reported having spent insane amounts of money in research, to come up with a robot with the most powerful suction ability. The truth about Robovacs is that most of them lack the suction power to do a thorough job. Some will even push the grime further into the carpet pile, which may eventually ruin it. You are left with two options: to invest in one with a powerful motor and fans, which will certainly set you back a pretty penny, or to set out time in a week to do the heavy lifting.
- Dry and Wet Moping Functions
If you want a robot to take the cleaning task from your completely, you may want one with mopping abilities. A dry mop is simply a microfiber cloth that catches the dirt left by the suction. It is attached to the back of the back of the machine. A wet mop is the moistened version, and it cleans even more thoroughly. Sadly, this feature is still a pipe dream since no manufacturer has been able to come up with a robot that applies the right amount of pressure on wet surfaces. It might be coming up in the future, but it is presently missing.
- The Type of Floor
Is your floor carpeted or is it hardwood? Some Robovacs are only designed to clean either of those floors and so it would be important to check its abilities first. It would be best to go for one that cleans both types of surfaces, as you never know what the future holds. There may be circumstances that could lead you to go for a surface-specific one, especially when you only have hardwood floors and an all-surface Robovac does not have the ability to clean it thoroughly.
We live in a totally digitally connected world, and so you may want to connect your Robovac to your phone so that you can set it to start when you’re not home. Before buying one, you should ask around to know whether your robot would connect to the internet and allow you to control it using your mobile device. What better surprise than to come home to an already vacuumed house and the robot back in its rightful place?
There are, of course, other factors that you may want to consider, like the noise level of the vac. However, most of these robots are quiet, with the only noise being a harmless hum below the decibel standards of a normal conversation. If it meets all the other factors, then I would not really focus on the noise levels. Besides, if you can get it to work before you get home, then you may never have to deal with any hum or noise.
Why Invest in a Robovac Anyway?
Hmm… Because the world is evolved and technology has made work so much easier, and you also want to blend in with the rest of humanity. But that aside, these are solid reasons as to why a Robovac should be your next buy.
- To Save Time
Imagine what you would do with the extra time that a robot saves you. You could catch up on your reading, start dinner, get the laundry sorted, and even help your child with their homework. If you can set it to start without you, you would find a clean floor when you get home, and you could jump right into other chores.
- To Keep Your Pet Or Toddler Engaged
They can watch with fascination as the Robovac does its thing and don’t be surprised when the dog tries to hop on it. Think of this as a way of getting away from mommy or daddy duties for even a few minutes. You could throw in a few burpees during that hiatus.
- You Are Physically Unable
If you have a physical disability that prevents you from working the vacuum cleaner, then you could be the ideal candidate for a Robovac.
- Perfect Fit For Tight Places
If those tight corners have been hard to reach, then you need to try a robot vacuum cleaner. It gets into tight spots effortlessly, owing to its size and shape. If you can invest in one with mapping technology, then you floors will be cleaner for it. It does all the work while you sit and enjoy your bottle of beer. And thanks to the sensors, it finds its way back to its ‘shed’ until you summon it again.
Budget Robot Vacuums (Under $300)
1. ILIFE A4 Robot Vacuum Cleaner
This little robot from ILIFE is titanium gray, and small enough to fit virtually anywhere. It is also reasonably priced, which is why it has the largest number of responses from customers. Coincidentally, they are all positive with the expected complaint, but nothing that would be a deal breaker.
It measures 12.2 inches in diameters by 3 inches and weighs 4.9lbs. At this height, you can trust it to get under furniture to get rid of clogged grime, and even to make a home base under there. It recharges in less than an hour and goes back to work.
What you will find especially fascinating is its spot-cleaning ability. You will only need to place it on the spot that you want it to clean repeatedly, then press the spiral button on the remote. That will keep the robot rotating until the place is as clean as you want it.
You can schedule your ILIFE A4 Robot Vacuum Cleaner to start cleaning at a particular time of the day every day, even when you are not home. Auto mode cleans the regular way that you would, following random paths. Edge mode gently takes care of the edges of your wall.
It moves quite fast and has an impressive battery life. It can do just about 180 minutes before stopping for arecharge. It also has a large bin, which certainly collects more and allows it to keep working for longer. You may only need to empty this cleaner once a week depending on the dirt in your house.
It feels the difference between hardwood and a rug because it will slow down on the rug to allow for deeper suction. It also stays clear of the edges, thanks to the cliff sensors that keep it from falling off the stairs too. A few complaints have been raised about its inability to work well on shaggy mats, but then those would be the extra fluffy ones. Luckily, it has two suction settings; high and low. When cleaning carpets and shaggy rugs, you could set it on high to turn its suction power on. As expected, this would use more battery power, but then again it would always recharge and go back to work like a loyal soldier.
- Inexpensively priced
- Has sensors to keep it from falling
- Turns excellently upon hitting an obstacle
- Has a scheduler
- Does not map the room
The EufyRoboVac is not ideal for thick rags. It does well on thin carpets and hardwood floors. It is round and small enough at 13 x 12.8 x 3.1 in to fit under furniture. It also cleans the edges effectively when you turn the edge node on.
It has sensors to keep it from falling off the stairs, and it rarely bumps into obstacles. With its turning abilities, it will take a different path and continue cleaning until it is done. It is the excellent obstacle negotiator, although this prevents it from getting under low-lying furniture. 120 minutes is what you get out of the battery before itis drained. The Robovac will head back to base to recharge, and then resume its duties later. When the battery is low, it turns its vacuum function off so that it has enough power left to get back to base. This smart feature ensures it never gets stranded when power is low. Most Robovacs, (even high-end ones) do not have this feature. It is advisable that you have the home node in an area clear of obstacles.
Unfortunately, it does not have mapping technology, and will therefore not commit to memory the layout of a room. Anyway, it would be difficult getting one at its price with those capabilities.
It has four cleaning modes: auto, edge, spot, and small room. Auto is the regular way you would vacuum the floor, following random paths and avoiding obstacles. Edge mode takes care of the edges; spot mode spirals on a particular spot that may need a keen eye, while the small-room mode focuses on dimensions.
As for its suction prowess, this robot not only gathers fine hairs and specks of dust, but it also clears paper, lint, food particles, and grime on its wake. It comfortably climbs on carpets, and it clearly marks the edges. The two side brushes are particularly helpful with the edges.
It works in blissful silence, which is more than you can say for most bots in its category. As for getting in a tangled mess of chargers and other cords, it easily navigates any that it finds. This robot will hardly run into anything.
The HEPA filter is ideal for dog hairs and allergens.
- Reasonable price
- Excellent navigation
- Has a powerful suction
- Not ideal for thick carpets
3. ECOVACS Robotic Vacuum Cleaner
The DN78 combines a beautiful design, high suction prowess, and high technology into one. This vacuum cleaner uses “direct suction” so that human and pet hairs get into the cleaner without tangling it. This way, it will go on without needing you to stop and remove stuck hairs. The bin is sizeable too to allow you to clean a large space without emptying. However, it is best to empty it after each cleaning.
Apart from its obstacle navigation technology, the DN78 has cliff sensors to keep it off the stairs. It utilizes this feature when cleaning thick carpets too. It has three main modes; Auto, Spot (2 to 5 minutes), and Edge for the various cleaning needs you will have in your house. It goes back to dock safely after it has done its cleaning, and will switch off vacuuming to go and charge when the battery is low.
Its noise level is approximately 56dB. Unless you are ultra-sensitive, you could have a phone conversation over it. It charges for 4-5 hours and keeps working for 110 minutes before it buzzes and goes back home. It will always go back to an incomplete chore, but you can always send it back home if you do not need it to continue.
The HEPA filter is a great addition to help collect as many hairs as possible.
Can you set if off remotely with your phone? Unfortunately, no. However, you can schedule it to start working at any time of the day, and it will go on without your intervention. It does not need cameras to function properly, and so it will still vacuum even when lights are off.
- Smart navigation
- Brushless suction
- Cannot be controlled remotely.
High-End Robot Vacuums ($500+)
4. iRobot Roomba 880 Robotic Vacuum Cleaner
Roomba has become synonymous with robot vacuum cleaners in the US and beyond, with good reason. The brand is famous for coming up with some of the most advanced Robovacs. Roomba 880 is no different from the rest of the models from iRobot. It only hums when it works, and so you can use it in a household with a sleeping toddler.
It measures 13.9 (dia) x 3.6 in, weighs 8.4ls, and has HEPA filter for collecting dirt as fine as human hair.
It is round and able to navigate the tightest of corners. It only measures 3.6 inches, and as you can imagine, this height can fit under most furniture to clean up and get back on track. It does all that without your intervention or control.
It smartly navigates all obstacles thanks to the iAdapt Responsive Navigation that enables it to avoid clutter on the floor and to steer away from the stairs. It will not prevent it from running into obstacles, but the hit will prompt it to take a different direction.
- Guided Room-to-Room Navigation
When it is done with one room, you will only need to direct it to the next. The Roomba 800 comes with Virtual Wall Lighthouse devices that keep it in one room, and then direct it into the other when it is done. Using these devices, you can send it to clean up to three rooms. If you want it to clean the room it is in and to skip the others, then put it on Virtual Wall mode. When it is done navigating, it will find its way back home.
It uses a 3-way cleaning system with a combination of agitation, brushing, and suction. It gently cleans the edges of the walls and into the tricky corners.
- Perfect navigation
- Cleans corners ideally
- It can only pick up teeny tiny bugs. Nothing bigger.
Oh, and if you have a cat that likes catching rides on moving objects, this vacuum cleaner is a ninja rider. Both it and the cat will have a fun roll on the floor as you finish up with dinner, or take a video for YouTube.
5. iRobot Roomba 980 Robotic Vacuum Cleaner
As though Roomba 800 was not good enough, iRobot went back to the design room and found things they could improve. The iRobot Roomba 980 is no different from 800 for weight and dimensions, (8.7lbs and 13.9 (dia) x 3.6 in. The primary improvement is in how the 980 works.
It has LED indicators for low battery and errors. It also has a HEPA filter for fine dust and hair, which makes it the ideal cleaner for pet owners. It does a better job at detangling itself from hair mess than most of its predecessors. You will also notice the bin to be of higher quality than the 665 or 800, even though it sticks a little and will require some patience when removing.
iRobot has cameras and sensors that help this robot map the room and store the information in its memory. It may run into objects the first time you use it, but it gets its bearing, and the hiccup ceases. Unfortunately, the mapping technology has to use light since the cameras are at work, and so this cleaner will not function in the dark.
Its height and shape allow it to clean under sofas, other furniture, and tight corners. It will also navigate effortlessly through most obstacles.
It is not the quietest cleaner, thanks to the technology, but it is not as noisy as a standard vacuum cleaner. It is also self-charging,so it will always be ready to move and doesn’t get entangled on cords. It always takes them to be obstacles and goes around them.
You can schedule it to clean without your intervention seven times a week. Apart from handling tiny specks of dirt, it also picks larger pieces and lint. You can also run it for a considerable time: 120 minutes, which is enough to clean an entire level.
What about finding its home base? Quite easy for this little one. If it can’t find it on its own, you could help by pressing ‘clean’ for about 10 seconds to get it moving from where it is. It then finds its way home without trouble.
- Mapping technology to avoid obstacles
- HEPA filter for cleaning the tiniest specks.
- Has sensors to keep it from falling off the stairs.
- Cannot work in the dark.
6. Neato Botvac Connected Wi-Fi Enabled Robot Vacuum
This robot is uniquely shaped. The D-design is different from most of the robots we have seen, and this feature gives it an advantage when cleaning the edges. Overall, it has to be one of the best at doing that.
Dimensions-wise, it measures 12.7 x 13.2 x 3.9 in and weighs 15.4lbs. It is still low enough to easily fit under furniture unless you are sitting on a sofa and it sinks to inch closer to the floor. In this case, this smart navigator will get on with the rest of the room and come back later.
It can navigate from room to room, but you would have to manipulate that. You will need to direct it to the next room with a remote control, and it will come back to base when done. When the battery is low, it indicates with one of the LED indicators then goes back home for recharging before resuming where it left.
It is quite the effective cleaner, especially with its combo and spiral blade brushes. Both of them play a different role, with the usual brush doing standard cleaning and getting rid of the small particles, while the blade brush gets pet and human hairs. It has two ultra performance filters for a thorough cleaning job.
The manufacturer advises that you empty the bin after every cleaning session even though the robot can hold debris for a while. Good thing the extra-large container is easy to remove and put back.
Now to the most exciting feature on this bot: WI-FI connection. You can remotely have it start working on your floors through an app on your phone. You will only need to have a good connection, and you can give the command from the office. You can also set it to go at a particular time of the day and just like that, and it will take one chore off your hands.
The manufacturer throws in a filter and brush-cleaning tool so that you can show the bot some love after it has paid its dues.
It runs for about 120 minutes in which time it can clean a 5,000-sq. Ft apartment.
- Works fast and efficiently
- Multi-room navigator
- WI-FI connected and can be scheduled
- Long hairs stick on the bristle brushes.
It’s A Wrap!
The world is merely getting started, and just as it happened with laptops, we are certain these features will keep on improving. In the meantime, these are some of the best vacuum cleaners on the market based on specs and prices.
Most manufacturers will have a year’s warranty, and they will recommend using their accessories to avoid compromising the warranty. We hope that this buying guide demystified the fascinating world of Robotics.