Do Robot Vacuums Live Up To The Hype?
Are you tired of vacuuming?
This may seem a strange question to ask on a site dedicated to vacuum cleaners. We all need a clean house for the sake of hygiene and aesthetics.
The world of vacuuming changed forever with the advent of the robot vacuum. This is great news if you are sick of the daily grind of cleaning.
A Brief Background
Electrolux was the first company to showcase a robotic prototype back in 1996. This was followed up in 2001 when the world-famous Dyson rolled out a fully functioning robot vacuum labeled DC06. Its high price, though, meant that the model never made it into production.
2002 was the turning point when iRobot, an American tech company, brought the Roomba robotic vacuum to the market. Sales dwarfed initial expectations. The Roomba was an enormous success. In little over a decade, more than 10 million units have been sold worldwide.
Dyson returned to their earlier idea in 2014 launching the Dyson 360 Eye. Its name references the 360-degree camera. This is a different approach to navigation from that used by the other main players in the robotic vacuum industry. Dyson, as always, delivers bleeding-edge solutions.
What, Exactly, Is A Robot Vacuum?
The role of a robot vacuum is simple: it cleans so you don’t have to.
The smart functionality of these appliances means that it will operate efficiently without human control or input beyond setting it going. It can also adapt quickly to any surroundings.
Whether you have hard floors or carpets, a robot vacuum will get them sparkling clean. Dirt and dust are retained inside until you empty it at a later stage.
Once the job is done, some of these ingenious devices can make their way back to the docking station. Others even “speak” to you and let you know the vacuuming is finished.
The vast bulk of robot vacuums are small and circular. They usually measure 4 or 5 inches high and 10 inches or so across the diameter.
The control panel is generally housed on top of the unit. A varying number of buttons are situated here.
With some models, you also get an LCD screen which displays the status of the robot and offers visual feedback.
A spring-loaded or light touch bumper normally sits on the front of the vacuum. This sensor will warn the cleaner of any obstacles like furniture and walls.
How Do Robot Vacuums Work?
The standard motion system harnesses two drive wheels. These are supplemented by caster wheels which are non-driven.
There are multiple sensors inside and underneath the robot. These deliver feedback to the cleaner about the environment and the overall status of the electronics.
As with regular vacuums, a motor is responsible for suction. There are also motors that rotate the brushes. These brushes sweep the dust and dirt toward the suction.
Most robot vacuums have docking stations. They sit here when not in use. Make sure that this is set up in an open area that’s readily accessible. Any cramped space like a closet makes it awkward for your robot to navigate so think carefully about positioning.
The core purpose of the docking station is to charge up the batteries between your cleaning cycles. This is accomplished by means of a light beam zooming out in a V-shape about 6 feet from the station. While cleaning, the vacuum avoids the docking station when the light is sensed. If the cycle is finished or the batteries are running down, your robot happily heads home!
Separate power supply units are provided for robot vacuums which do not have docking stations.
Cleaning schedules can be set with the simple press of a button.
If you dislike vacuuming then let the machine do the work for you!
Most robot vacuums come with a handful of cleaning modes. Different cleaning patterns are available. Choose whether you want a spiral or circular approach. Do you want your robot to follow the walls, zig-zag or move diagonally? Choose what works best for your living space.
Some models come with virtual walls. These operate on the same principle as the docking station. They send out beams of light so that certain zones can be declared off-limits.
Lighthouses help the vacuum to position itself and navigate. These are beacon-like units which work much like a physical lighthouse prevents ships from crashing onto the rocks.
Pros and Cons of Robot Vacuums
Almost any appliance comes with positive and negative elements.
We’ll take a look now at the good and bad points of these ingenious cleaning devices
- Ease of use: The automatic nature of robot vacuums means you’ll enjoy the ultimate, convenient cleaning experience. Set-up is generally extremely straightforward. At the push of a button, your robot will return your floors to a sparkling state without interference or supervision. Programming allows it to travel to and from its docking station when required. Marking off boundaries prevents it from entering areas you want to remain untouched. Ease of use and convenience is undoubtedly the driving reason for most people buying a robot vacuum. For those with busy lives, they really are the perfect cleaning solution
- Affordability: Science fiction leads us to imagine that any robot will be prohibitively expensive. This is not true with robot vacuums. The advent of mass production means that they are priced quite keenly and you can actually spend considerably less on one of these automatic beauties than a regular vacuum. They are affordable and represent superb value for money
- Efficiency: With all of the accessories and attachments of a standard upright, robot vacuums do the same job but even more efficiently. They are highly optimized to deliver outstanding results every time
- Size: By their very nature, robot vacuums are compact and very easy to store when not in use. Their tiny, disc-shaped dimensions also mean that they excel at getting under furniture and into hard-to-reach places
- Intelligent Operation: A wide range of sensors are included to guarantee smart functionality. Whether it’s detecting dirt or obstacles, battery life or the docking station, your robot vacuum works intelligently in ways we could previously only have dreamed of
- Easy To Repair and Upgrade: Routine maintenance is a breeze and can be carried out at home without a problem. Replacing brushed and emptying the bin present no issue for most people. Software can be upgraded easily. Many robot vacuums come with a lifetime warranty. Don’t think that their complex design means they are awkward to repair. You can buy with confidence
- Slopes: Robot vacuums work best on level flooring. They will not function properly on inclines beyond 30 degrees or so. This needs mentioning but should not be a stumbling block for most users
- Stairs: It’s perhaps obvious but nevertheless worth mentioning: robot vacuums cannot climb up and down stairs. Be realistic with your expectations
- Limitations: The light sensors will not operate properly on dark black flooring
If you are looking to take the sting out of your cleaning routine, a robot vacuum is well worth thinking about.
In a coming article, we will put some of the leading models through their paces. If you have decided to invest in one of these handy little appliances, come back soon and check out our impartial, honest reviews.
Our job is not to talk you into buying a robot vacuum. If you have already decided to get one, though, we aim to make your decision easier.