Advice From Real People For Real People

Robot Vacuum Cleaners

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Home Page ~ What to Consider When Choosing
Important factors to consider before buying

What should I look for when choosing?

 

With so many brands and models, you might find it difficult to decide which one you should buy. You might go for less expensive models or more advanced ones. You might go for more well-known brands such as Roomba or Samsung, or go for newer brands like Neato and Bobsweep. We can’t tell you which robot is “right” for you without including our own biases, since the decision depends on your taste, budget and needs. Therefore we limit this section to some suggestions so you can make a more-informed choice:

Let’s start with a more general concept. Imagine a spectrum whose one end says “COOL TOY” and the other says “HOME APPLIANCE”. Manufacturers might not like to hear this, but we believe all robotic vacuum cleaners can be placed somewhere on this spectrum (So they are not 100% a toy and not quite a serious home appliance, but somewhere in between). Of course, WHERE on this spectrum you pick your machine from is important. Here is what we suggest: If you are just curious about this whole thing and like us tech-junkies feel the urge to have a robot; if you need to buy something that does a bit of cleaning and entertains you and your family while it is friendly to your pocket, then a robot closer to the toy side would do the job for you just fine. If on the other hand you are looking to buy something that does more substantial work, has more cleaning power, longer battery life, etc. then avoid the cheap, simpler models because you will most probably end up not using your robot and pay again for a more-advanced model.


 

Before you choose your robot

 

As mentioned already, what robot model and brand you choose to buy depends on your needs, taste, budget, etc. We cannot tell you which model to choose. Nevertheless, there are some technical aspects that we recommend you take into account when comparing different models.


 

 

Warranty

 

Although the material and the make play a big part in a robotic vacuum’s life, do not expect your robot to be as durable as a fridge or a stove! They are sensitive machines and after a while they will start needing repair or part-replacement from time to time. If you want your investment to be secure, make sure you check the warranty that the manufacturer provides. You should pay attention to the warranty not only because it covers the repair fees for a specific period, but also because it is usually a good indicator of the manufacturer’s confidence in the quality of their product. The longer and more comprehensive the warranty is, the better. Make sure you read the fine prints; they usually reveal a lot about the product and the company you are dealing with. Many warranties for example might not cover the battery, since that is usually the first part that needs to change and some dealers might charge you a fortune for battery replacement while on many robots the battery is not replaceable at all.

 

 

Container (Dust Bag) Capacity

 

If you don’t enjoy emptying a vacuum’s bag, you are not alone. And it is not fun coming back home thinking your robot has been cleaning while it has been moving around with no room to suck anything in. Not all robots come with the same capacity for dust. This is partly because for a larger dust bag, a robot needs a stronger engine to carry the weight. So remember when comparing: the higher the capacity, the less frequent your task of dumping out the dust.


 

 

Cleaning Functions

What cleaning functions is your robot equipped with? Although generally called robot "vacuums", some cleaning robots do more than just vacuuming. There are robots for example can mop and vacuum at the same time, which makes them more effective cleaners. This saves you the money and the hassle of two robots, one for vacuuming and one for mopping.

Another feature present in some advanced robot vacuum cleaners is the existence of HEPA filters. HEPA filters are effective in absorbing sub-micron particles that regular vacuuming does not get rid of. HEPA filters are widely used in air purifier and hospital "clean rooms" and are especially useful for people with allergies, children or the elderly. Earlier models of Roomba (such as the 500 series) do not come with a HEPA filter, but this feature is present in the newer, more expensive 700 series. Electrolux and Bobsweep are also among the HEPA-equipped robot vacuum cleaners.

UV disinfecting light is another extra advantage present in some robotic vacuums. Although the UV light's disinfection capabilities are rather limited on surfaces due to absence of penetration, the UV light can nevertheless be effective in attacking the small organisms living on your floors such as bacteria.

 

 

Ability to adjust to floor type

 

This feature is more important that you can imagine. Many simpler robots in the market treat every floor type equally, while a carpet for example takes much more to clean than a hardwood floor. Furthermore, a robot has to be able to adjust its height so it wouldn’t get stuck when it reached a think carpet laying on your tile or hardwood floor. If you are going to use your robot in an environment that has multiple floor types, make sure your robot can adjust itself to them.

 

 

Battery life

This one goes without saying, and becomes important if you need your robot for a larger area. Does the battery last enough to get the job done? What kind of battery is more durable? The problem is that you can’t really trust what manufacturers claim to be the amount of time your robot runs at full charge, since the digit is almost always exaggerated. There are many factors involved in how many minutes of cleaning a full charge will give you. For example, cleaning the carpet takes more of the battery-life than cleaning tiles; also if your robot vacuum cleaner's has different speeds, you have to factor in the speed: obviously the faster it goes, the sooner it dies. Also if your robot constantly has to climb up and down different surfaces it will die faster because transitioning requires more power.

The amount of time your battery  is good for before you need to replace it is also hard to predict and depends on how often you use your robot and how well you take care of the battery. So, how will you know which robot vacuum cleaner has a better battery? Here is some general information you can use when comparing batteries:


 

 

Programmable Cleaning Schedule

Some advanced robot vacuum cleaners can be programmed to start cleaning at your desired days/times. This feature might just be a luxurious bonus for many consumers. However, for some environments like offices that need regular cleaning at certain hours, this feature is really important. It is also handy for home users who want their cleaning done when they are outside and for whom remembering to start their robot before leaving the house is not easy.

Some robots can also be programmed to start cleaning when their battery is fully charged. This can be a really important feature especially for people who use their robots in larger areas. Here is why: Imagine you are leaving the house and wont be back for another 7 hours. You start your robot vacuum cleaner before you leave and it works for one hour before it runs out of battery. Assuming that your robot is able to find its docking station, it automatically goes to charge for let's say four hours. Then, because you have set your robot vacuum to start working whenever it is fully charged, it goes back to work when the charging is complete and does some more cleaning! So, your robot has cleaned 2 times by the time you come back home from work. Of course, you could very well get unlucky and come home to find out your robot vacuum cleaner is stuck somewhere and wasn't able to find it's charging station, so keep your fingers crossed!