For many, robotic vacuums are a part of everyday life. For others, the idea of an autonomous cleaning robot sounds obscure. There is one robot vacuum that has been a household name since their initial launch, Roomba. Produced by robotic cleaning maker iRobot, the gadgets have actually been on the market since the company initially debuted it in 2002. Not the most intelligent bots of the lot, early Roombas worked in spiral cleaning patterns, regularly got lost, and weren’t very quiet.
Current Roomba models, like the expensive Roomba 900 series options and their least expensive option, the $270 Roomba 614, have more enhanced functionality– the higher-end variations feature Wi-Fi connectivity, so you can monitor its progress on the go; sensors that avoid it from falling off stairs; and a navigation system that help it navigate its environment. With tech enhancements come appealing numbers: iRobot reported $20.4 million in earnings in the very first quarter of 2018. Sales rose from $168.5 million at the close of quarter one of 2017 to $217.1 million in the very first quarter of this year.
In my own Roomba tinkering, I discovered the robots to work extremely well on isolated messes like piles of dirt or spilled things like sugar, cat litter, or dirt. Most Roombas approached walls and corners with more force than finesse, wiggling its way through the edging procedure. Because of its cliff sensing unit, dark shadows or floor colors terrify the Roomba– it’ll prevent it from cleaning some areas, thinking it’s going to fall down stairs or a balcony.
Roomba, however, is not the only brand of robotic cleaners on the market. Neato Robotics has its Botvac series, Samsung has the POWERbot, and Dyson provides a $999 robot called the 360 Eye. Each boasts various cleaning run times, different cameras, laser, and sensor technology, in addition to size variances, consisting of height and dustbin capacity. Simply put, they vary. A lot. The market is essentially saturated with robot vacuums for all shapes and sizes. When it comes to buying a robot vacuum, most people are interested, but aren’t quite sure if it will be worth the hype.
Overall, customer perception tends to lean more optimistic, and most believe that a robot vacuum is designed to replace a traditional vacuum altogether. However, this isn’t always the case. In most homes, a Roomba or other robot vacuum can take the edge off, but it doesn’t eliminate the need to using an upright vacuum altogether. If you’re considering getting a robot vacuum, you probably have a few questions. Here’s what you need to know.
How do they clean?
If your robot vacuum is smart enough, generally speaking, the first thing it will do is map out your home. Either through laser innovation, sensing units, cams, or a combination of any of the above, it draws up the floor area, and makes sure to take not of any furniture. After that, it will start cleaning your home without much assistance from your end, outside of emptying its bin every so often.
Suction levels differ for different areas. The devices adjust based upon its flooring environments, although many work best on hardwood floors, and can sometimes get stuck in high pile carpeting
On short carpet, the vacuum is sufficient at picking up all types of debris and pet hair, though it doesn’t get as deep and clean as the conventional stand-up vacuum. Longer carpet fibers can get tangled in the rollers and brushes and can stall the cleaning cycle, which isn’t ideal for when it’s running while you’re away. Roomba’s higher-end designs 960 and 980 have more power when it comes to carpet upkeep.
The vacuum will rove around your home until the cycle is complete, or until its charge runs low, another spec with a wide variety from manufacturer to manufacturer (ranging between 70 minutes and 130 minutes). Then, it’ll return to its charging dock, though some designs have actually been said to die mid– cleaning cycle without making it back to their homes.
Where do they stand
These devices are great at preventing large messes from building up on hard surface areas. Since the run autonomously, they will keep your home clean without you really having to think twice.
There’s a component of mindlessness when it comes to cleaning, too. Set them off and they’ll return to their docks when complete. Most people set their robot vacuums on a schedule, so they will clean while you’re out and you don’t even know they are there. Other people opt to run their vacuums in manual mode, which can be better in some cases. Most robot vacuums will do a good job cleaning, but can get stuck up on things like socks and cables, making it a bit of a pain to have to worry about when you’re out and about.
Where do they fall
Despite being a product to make your house smarter, these robots sometimes aren’t the most intelligent. Their mapping and navigation system technology often gets a little wonky on dark floorings, around numerous furnishings setups, or the machine will get lost throughout your home, trapping itself in a closet or bed room.
Frilly carpets and blankets, shoelaces, and extension cables can be difficult to overcome for robot vacuums, triggering it to either get stuck or drag objects like lights and shoes around a space. Longer carpeting also tends to challenge robot vacuums, since they can get captured on the fibers and do not clean as deeply as upright vacuums or steam cleaners may on high pile carpets.
The shape of these things can be quite limiting. Due to the fact that they’re developed to be compact, the dustbins fill rather quickly depending upon the amount of hair or debris it sucks up. Their round shape makes corner-cleaning difficult, too.
Do not ditch your upright vacuum. The robots are best for upkeep on hardwood floors, and set-it-and-forget-it maintenance level cleaning. They will not replace an upright vacuum for up deep cleaning, and often times will miss areas of your home.
If you have a large home, you’ll definitely want to consider getting a robot vacuum to help take the edge off, but don’t expect it to do everything for you. For smaller homes however, a robot vacuum can clean sufficiently enough that you won’t have to touch up for months at a time.
Ultimately, the convenience of a robot vacuum outweighs the potential drawbacks. There are many options on the market, at varying price ranges. The one that’s right for you will depend on the type of flooring material you have, and your budget.