If you don’t like cleaning, if you don’t have time, a lot of children and/or animals, but you like order, you don’t have to clean yourself or hire a cleaning campaign. It is enough to buy a good robot vacuum cleaner. He will solve the problem of the dirty floor, and the remaining moments are no longer so unpleasant. Let’s consider how to choose a robot vacuum cleaner for the home that will provide you with a trouble-free life, at least in terms of cleaning.
Types of robot vacuum cleaners
Why are these devices called robots? And because their work does not need to be managed, the robot itself performs all cleaning actions. He even stops by to recharge if he doesn’t have enough power to complete the task. There are three types of robot vacuum cleaners:
- For dry cleaning.
- For wet cleaning.
- Combined, which has both functions, but does not spray water, but wipes it with a damp cloth.
Dry cleaning is suitable for any floor coverings, and many models cope with cleaning carpets as well. But wet cleaning is not recommended for laminate. The fact is that while cleaning the floors, the robot vacuum cleaner sprays water, and in large quantities. And, even if you have very good quality laminate, sooner or later it will deform. Cleaning the floor with the help of a robot vacuum cleaner is a great thing for tiles, poured floors, stone, ceramic granite, linoleum. With reservations, such cleaning is suitable for painted or varnished boards. For parquet or brushed wooden floors, it is better not to use a robot vacuum cleaner for wet cleaning.
If you have long-haired animals at home, look for models of automatic vacuum cleaners for homes with animals. Their name may have “pet”, which means pets
If you have laminate, parquet or wood floors with open pores in your home, look for combined models of robot vacuum cleaners that use a wet cloth attached to the bottom for wet cleaning. It must sometimes be rinsed by hand, as with manual wet cleaning. But it’s much easier than crawling with this rag in your hands on your own. It may not be full automation, but partial, but 90% of the work of cleaning the floor is removed from you, which is also a lot.
General device and principle of operation
To understand which robot vacuum cleaner is better to choose, consider its device and principle of operation. Usually, these devices have a cylindrical body of small height. And this is not accidental. Minimum height – the possibility to clean under the furniture, the rounded shape of the case without corners – the exclusion of damage to the furniture, less possibility of “hard” getting stuck in narrow places.
On top of the housing of inexpensive models, there is an indicator of operation, discharge/charge of the battery. In more expensive models, a liquid crystal display can be installed there, which displays the parameters of the program being executed. But the upper part of the case is a decoration. All the significant stuffing is at the bottom. There is:
- Rubberized wheels.
- Brushes for cleaning (side and central, but there may not be side brushes).
- Dust cleaning system (fan for directional movement of air to be cleaned and filters).
- Internal tank (bag or container) for collecting dust and debris.
How does a robot vacuum cleaner work? Moving around the room, the robot vacuum cleaner uses the central brush to pick up the garbage it encounters on the way. The fan sucks it in with the air flow. If there are side brushes, they roll up the garbage from the sides to the central brush, which lifts it up. The air that got inside passes through the filters, and the purified air comes out through the exhaust hole. Garbage and dust settle in a special tank. Here is the entire algorithm in brief. There are also nuances regarding how the device moves during the cleaning of the room, but it depends on the device of a specific model.
Is it worth buying?
If you read the reviews of owners of robot vacuum cleaners, most of them are satisfied with the purchase. Yes, they are not ideal, they have their own characteristics, but if they are chosen correctly, they greatly facilitate the process of maintaining order in the house. Some owners plan new furniture taking into account the specifics of the work of these assistants. Therefore, they are probably satisfied with the result and are ready to recommend choosing a robot vacuum cleaner for the role of an ideal room cleaner.
For the sake of fairness, it must be said that there are those who are dissatisfied with the purchase and do not use the robot vacuum cleaner for many years after purchase, but this is less than 10% of buyers. So that you do not fall into the ranks of the unsatisfied, you need to have a good idea of the capabilities of the robot vacuum cleaner and the features of its operation. Here’s what to keep in mind:
- The robot vacuum cleaner does a good job of cleaning uncluttered rooms. If there is little furniture or they are on high legs, there are few accessories on the floor, there will be no particular problems.
- If the house has carpets with a long pile, you will have to look for a special model. Not everyone copes with this task equally well, but there are models that even comb the pile!
- The robot vacuum cleaner can get stuck under low furniture (sofas, armchairs). If you are not going to change the furniture, you will have to clean under it yourself, or put higher legs – so that the unit can move smoothly.
- In the palisade of furniture legs (chairs pushed under the table), the device gets confused. If you plan to clean a room with chairs, you will have to lift them. You will have to put up with this, and he will clean under the table without any problems.
- Wires lying on the floor can also become an obstacle and a problem. The robot vacuum cleaner will either not be able to move them, or it will chew.
- Before starting the robot vacuum cleaner, it is necessary to remove all things lying on the floor: socks, slippers, papers, etc. Otherwise, he either pushes them under the bed/sofa, or chews them and “pushes”.
- If the furniture is not close to each other and the distance is slightly greater than the width of the case, the robot vacuum cleaner may get stuck. There are models that change the direction of movement by themselves until they get out of the trap, but they can’t always do it either.
So before choosing a robot vacuum cleaner, inspect your home. You need to evaluate the house from a completely different point of view and decide how effective a robot vacuum cleaner will be in your house or apartment. If you are ready to make some changes to create normal working conditions for him, choose a model. This, by the way, is also not easy.
How to choose the best robot vacuum cleaner
To choose a robot vacuum cleaner, you will have to understand the intricacies of their device, capabilities, structural features and work algorithms. This is the only way you can choose the best model for you, because everyone has different requests and requirements. And for the same model, you can often see diametrically opposed reviews.
Robot vacuum cleaners move during cleaning in two ways: chaotically and according to plan. Chaotic movement is implemented in inexpensive models. During operation, the unit moves directly towards any obstacle. Pushing away from it, changes the direction of movement to an arbitrary angle. Moves again to the next obstacle. The mechanism of operation is clear, as well as the shortcomings: with such a movement algorithm, some areas are passed repeatedly, some remain uncleaned at all – the quality of cleaning is very low. Their owners are mostly dissatisfied with such models.
In more expensive models, before starting work, the robot makes a plan of the room. For this, infrared or ultrasonic sensors are built into it. He scans the room, draws a plan that includes walls, large objects such as cabinet furniture. Then, according to the given algorithm, a motion plan of the robot vacuum cleaner during cleaning is developed. After that, the cleaner moves from its place and starts moving. Logic is easily calculated in the movement of such models, since they act according to a plan. If the battery is discharged during the cleaning process, the robot goes to the base, where it charges the battery. After charging, it goes to the place where the process was interrupted. Thus, there are either no missing places at all, or they are due to objective reasons (usually these are low furniture legs).
So if you want to choose a robot vacuum cleaner that will be picked up perfectly, look for a model that makes a plan of the room. It is very easy because there are many of them: Xiaomi Mi Robot Vacuum Cleaner, IRobot Braava 390T, Samsung VR10M7010UW, etc.
If the card of the room is not built, limiting the movement area helps to improve the quality of cleaning. You can limit the cleaning area with the help of a virtual wall. The virtual wall can be of two types:
- electronic – is an infrared emitter that creates a beam (virtual wall) in the path of the vacuum cleaner, beyond which the vacuum cleaner cannot move;
- magnetic – in the form of a tape.
A virtual wall can be installed in the doorway, in the middle of the room, etc. Then the remaining part of the room will be cleaned better.
The cleaning area limiter is available in many models: all models of IRobot Roomba, Clever & Clean Z10A, IClebo Omega, Clever & Clean Z-Series, Miele SJQL0 Scout RX1, Xrobot Helper, Xrobot FOXCLEANER AIR, UNIT UVR-8000.
A robot vacuum cleaner is a battery-powered device, and like any battery-powered device, it can work for some time on a single charge. When you choose a model, it is advisable to choose a robot vacuum cleaner that works for at least 50-60 minutes on one charge. Otherwise, he will not have time to clean the room and will go to recharge.
Importantly! There are robot vacuum cleaners that go to the charging station themselves (automatic installation on the charger), and there are those that have to be carried. So don’t miss this moment.
At the maximum, the unit can work for up to 200 minutes on one charge. Below are popular models of robot vacuum cleaners from different price categories with an indication of battery life.
- iRobot Roomba 616, Miele SJQL0 Scout RX1, IClebo Pop, IRobot Roomba 980, Xrobot FOXCLEANER AIR, Xrobot XR-210E, E.ziclean Bot Pets can work for 120 minutes;
- 150 minutes — Xiaomi Mi Robot Vacuum Cleaner, Xiaomi Mi Roborock Sweep One;
- 200 minutes – Polaris PVCR 1126W Limited Collection, Polaris PVCR 0726W, Polaris PVCR 0926W EVO, GUTREND STYLE 200 Aqua, Makita DRC200Z.
In addition to the working time on one charge, watch the recharge time – it should not be too long, otherwise the cleaning will take a long time. And, most importantly, look at the type of battery. You should definitely not buy a nickel-cadmium (Ni-Cd) battery. It is cheap and charges quickly, but it has a “memory effect” due to which it quickly loses capacity. But if you want an inexpensive robot vacuum and you’re willing to buy a new battery every year, why not.
Nickel-metal hydride batteries (Ni-MH) have a slightly lower memory effect compared to Ni-Cd. As a rule, most budget models of robot vacuum cleaners are equipped with Ni-MH batteries.
Lithium-ion batteries (Li-Ion) are the most reliable. They have practically no memory effect, they charge quickly. For those who prioritize quality, we recommend buying models with a Li-Ion battery type.
Air purification methods and a dust collector
After the robot vacuum cleaner has sucked in air with dust, it supplies it for cleaning. The quality of cleaning largely depends on the quality of the filters through which the air passes. Good models have two or three filters, and sometimes more. At the first stage of cleaning, the largest impurities are sifted out, at the next stage, smaller and smaller ones. If you have allergies in your family, it is advisable to choose a robot vacuum cleaner with fine filters. These are microfilters, HEPA filters and S-class filters.
In addition to filters, pay attention to the type and volume of the dust collector, how easily it is removed and emptied. Robot vacuum cleaners with bags are almost not found. Almost all modern models have a plastic container, so the matter is precisely the size of this container. Its volume can be from 200 ml to 1 liter. A large part of the models is equipped with an indication of the filling of the dust collector: an LED lights up on the lid. This means that it is time to shake out the collected garbage.
Very small dust collectors are inconvenient, because you have to shake out the garbage after each cleaning or even in the process. And large dust collectors are large unit sizes, which is also not very good. So the optimal average size is 600-800 ml.
By the way, there are models that unload the “extracted” garbage at the recharging station into a tank with a larger capacity. This is the Karcher Robo Cleaner RC 3000. It fulfills the dream of many: this robot vacuum cleaner throws away the garbage itself. So he goes to the base in two cases: to recharge and to unload the dust collector.
But self-cleaning robot vacuum cleaners have a high price and there are no budget models in this category. It is also worth paying attention to which garbage container is installed on the base. It can be a bag or a container. The best option is a container, although it must be emptied somewhere, then rinsed and dried. You just throw away the bag, but they are disposable, so you have to buy them. And they do not cost a penny, and they are not always and not everywhere on sale.
Sensors and sensors
In order to navigate in space, sensors are built into the body of the robot vacuum cleaner. They use different methods of detection. There are infrared, ultrasonic and laser. Infrared sensors are located on the perimeter of the case. These are collision, touch and drop sensors. Almost all models are equipped with such a set. Ultrasonic sensors allow you to improve the quality of collection, select the speed of movement depending on the type of surface or the amount of contamination. Laser allows you to draw a plan of the room, which allows you to develop an optimal cleaning plan. More expensive models with extended functionality are equipped with ultrasonic and laser sensors.
How standard sensors work
How does a collision sensor work? Everything is arranged easily. The sensor sends an infrared signal forward. It bounces off the obstacle, turns back, hitting the signal receiver. The “brain” of the robot vacuum cleaner registers the time it took for the signal to travel. As you get closer to the object, this time decreases. When it becomes very small (the trigger threshold is set by the developer), the device changes the direction of movement. Thus, it is possible to avoid collisions with large objects.
But this is a method of detecting objects that always works. For these cases, the body of the robot vacuum cleaner has an elastic bumper. It does not allow to cause serious damage to the object in the event of a collision. In addition, touch sensors are installed around the perimeter of the case. When they are activated, the direction of movement changes: the unit starts to move in the opposite direction.
There are also fall sensors. They also use a reflected infrared signal, but the logic of operation is different. As long as the signal returns quickly, the robot continues moving in the original direction. As soon as the display time increases significantly, it is perceived as a cliff or a step, after which the direction of movement changes.
Additional sensors and their capabilities
Laser sensors built into the robot vacuum cleaner send signals throughout the room before starting work. From the received signals, a plan of the room is built in the device’s memory. Then the area of the room is divided into squares, where the trajectory of movement is set. Next, the automatic vacuum cleaner starts moving according to one of the developed schemes. It will stop only when the entire program is executed. If the battery charge is too low, the vacuum cleaner will go to the base to charge the battery. When the charge is restored, it will resume assembly from where it left off. This work algorithm allows you to clean the premises quickly and efficiently. But such units cost a lot. We have already talked about them. These are the ones that build the plan of the room.
There are also ultrasonic sensors that also allow you to estimate the distance to surrounding objects, but, unlike an infrared emitter, an ultrasonic signal allows you to determine the degree of occupancy of a particular area with pieces of furniture. That is, the unit divides the room into zones in which you can move at different speeds. Where there is no furniture, the speed of movement is higher, where there is a lot of furniture, movement is slower.
Another type of ultrasonic sensors allows you to determine the degree of contamination of the area being cleaned. If there is a lot of garbage, the speed decreases, if it is almost clean, the speed increases. Such a system allows you to optimally choose the operating mode without losing the quality of cleaning.
What can be said about the sensors? If you are a perfectionist and you want the perfect quality of cleaning, you need to choose a robot vacuum cleaner equipped with all the sensors. Only such super smart models will be able to satisfy your requirements. If you just want the house to become cleaner, the budget for the purchase is small, you can get by with more modest models.
Modes of operation
If you need a robot vacuum cleaner that can be configured depending on the degree of contamination of the room, choose one with the ability to change the cleaning program – available in mid-range models and above. The modes differ in the selection of the movement trajectory, which allows you to choose the quality of cleaning. In different manufacturers, the modes may differ in details, but in general they coincide. We will give a brief description of them:
- Auto. In the automatic cleaning mode, the vacuum cleaner moves according to a predetermined plan without deviations.
- Random. In the arbitrary cleaning mode, the movement trajectory is chaotically determined by sensors.
- Local or zone (Spot). The unit moves along a given trajectory (zigzag, spiral) on an area with a diameter of 1 meter.
- Maximum (Max). At first, the device moves according to the plan, after completion it switches to arbitrary mode and continues cleaning until the battery is discharged.
Modes can be switched manually – on the control panel at the top of the case or using the remote control. Some companies provide for turning on certain modes (local cleaning, for example) only from the remote control.
Operations for maintenance
Like any vacuum cleaner, the robot vacuum cleaner also needs to be cleaned. The procedure is not the most pleasant, but necessary. It is necessary to carry out the following manipulations:
- Clean the garbage can. Periodicity – as it fills or after collection.
- Clean the brushes. You need to clean the side brushes and the central one. Animal fur, hair, threads are wound on them. The frequency of cleaning depends on the number of components. Owners of long-haired dogs and cats may have to remove the “cocoon” after each cleaning, the rest less often – once a week. Since the procedure is frequent, pay attention to how easily the brushes are removed and installed.
This is for dry cleaning models. For robot vacuum cleaners with wet cleaning, you still need to change the water, and in combined models, rinse the cloth. But here the periodicity depends on the soiling of the floor, so it is determined by the situation.
Ability to overcome obstacles
Conventional models can “override” a height difference of about 2-3 mm. This is enough for moving on an uneven floor, but it is clearly not enough to overcome rapids. If you do not have thresholds or you do not plan to clean the entire apartment at once, such models will suit you.
If you have thresholds and you want the machine to clean, say, the entire first floor, you will have to choose a robot vacuum cleaner capable of overcoming thresholds. Such models usually have two states: with or without overcoming obstacles.
Programming or starting at a certain time
Inexpensive robot vacuum cleaners are started manually: you need to turn the switch to the “on” position. They are also turned off manually or stop when the battery is discharged.
More expensive models allow you to set a certain start time, the more “addicted” ones allow you to program the start of work depending on the day of the week. If you are a busy person (or distracted), you are better off choosing a robot vacuum cleaner that will automatically start at a certain time. And if you like precision, the best choice is programmable days of the week.