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A Beginner's Guide to Buying a Robotic Vacuum Cleaner

By Edited Aug 24, 2016 0 1

Interested in buying a robotic vacuum cleaner?

Well there are a few things I want to share with you, just before you go right out and buy one.

Do you want it to mop, clean whilst you are at work, or even self empty?

Hopefully here you will be able to identify what special features and specifications you would like your robotic vacuum cleaner to have, and hence end up with a robot cleaner that is perfectly suited for you and your needs.

But firstly, for those who don't know exactly what a robotic vacuum cleaner (or more commonly referred to as a robovac) is, it's an independent robotic vacuum cleaner i.e it cleans floors without the need of manual control.

Hence saving you the time and job of having to vacuum or mop a floor.

Most the robot cleaners work via a computer system that is programmed to realise its own spacial awareness - similar to GPS (preventing it from bumping into things, cleaning around furniture, not going back over already cleaned floors, detecting particularly dirty patches of the floor which will require extra work etc.) and move around accordingly around the room whilst cleaning the floor.

So a beginner's guide to what factors and features you should consider before buying a robotic vacuum cleaner ...

How Much Are You Willing to Pay?

They really do range in price from up to $150 to over $1000 for the luxury robo professional vacuums, so it may be wise to firstly identify exactly what you require from your vacuum bot by answering some of the questions and considering a few points below.

Do You Want Remote Control?

Some of the automatic cleaners allow a remote control option where you will be able to manually control the cleaner from a controller, such as the iTouchless Robotic Intelligent Vacuum Cleaner PRO, to go around and clean the floor from just pressing a few buttons from your sofa, to just get the parts it might have missed or an extra dirty patch.

The Ability to Mop (a Robotic Mopper)?

Some of the cleaners have the additional feature of mopping such as the Mint Plus Automatic Hard Floor Cleaner 5200, which can obviously be quite a useful additional feature, saving you yet another household job to do.

Hard Floor, Soft Floor of Both?

There are also models which are specifically designed just for hard floors, such as the Evolution Mint Automatic Hard Floor Cleaner 4200, then there are models which combine the two of hard flooring and that of low level carpets like the Neato XV-11 All Floor Robotic Vacuum Cleaner, with the latter usually being the more expensive model, therefore if your house is mostly hard floor then it might be wiser to just invest in a usually cheaper hard floor robo cleaner than one that can do both.

High Performance?

Generally speaking the power and performance of the non-manual vacuum cleaners aren't stated on the sales page (but you can usually find out with a little bit of extra digging). 

Generally speaking however, you get what you pay for, the more expensive the model the higher its perfromance of cleaning the floor it will do. E.g. Karcher RC 3000 RoboCleaner has 600w behind it, but at the cost of around $1500, compared with LG Roboking with 100w but at the price of just under $900.

Range of Cleaning Ability?

Some of the automatic cleaners will be able to deal with odor stains, severe dirt and mud stains better than others, and generally deal with a wider range of problems that may face your floors (e.g. killing bacteria, deodorized etc.).

Endurance (How Long Can It Last)?

They usually state how long it can last from one charge (or pack of batteries) by the number of (and size of the) rooms it is able to clean rather than time it can clean for, they usually vary from up to one to five or more rooms (however again usually with some extra digging online you should be able to find a rough time estimate).

But you will also want to consider how long it takes to charge (from one hour to more than eight hours) if it's from a self charging base. How accessible are batteries for the cleaner, how much are the batteries?

Detection Ability (Picks Up On the Extra Dirty Patches) ?

Will you want to set up virtual walls so the cleaner only works a particular area, do you want it to recognise when there is a set of stairs and hence turn around once it detects it.

Would you like the cleaner to aim randomly or be 'clever' and know exactly where it has cleaned and what it needs to clean (or even detect where an area is particularly dirty and do an extra good job) and do it until it's, job done.

Scheduling (Clean Whilst You Are Away)?

On some of the vacuum models you can set it up to turn itself on start cleaning at certain times of the week and stop cleaning and turn itself off by setting up a schedule for it, so it can be cleaning whilst you are out at work and be turned off by itself by the time you get back. Obviously some may prefer to switch it on and off manually however.

Maintaining Your Cleaning Machine?

Be sure that you know perfectly well how to look after your cleaner before you make the purchase, such as where to buy replaceable bushes, how it functions, when and how to remove dust bins, and that you have a constant source of supply for further dust bags etc. 

The Brand Name?

Some people may feel more comfortable to purchase an item from a well known distributor such as Samsung than a less well know company such as iRobot or Neato Robotics. Yet again, this may not bother some people as much, but I would advise to do some research into how the company is seen by other customers to get a feel to see if they are a reasonable company to deal with if anything goes wrong with the vacuum cleaner.

Size Does Matter

How big is the dust bin of the vacuum cleaner, usually speaking the bigger the better, as the more dust and dirt it can then contain and hence go on for longer without the need for you to keep replacing it a third of the way through a room.

Again this depends on you personal needs though really, for example  if you have smaller rooms you may not need such a big autonomous vacuum cleaner as it could deal with the room before it filled up. Also the actual size in terms of width, height and the weight of the cleaner maybe another aspect you may want to consider for the likes of storage or mobility.

Good Looks (The Design of Your Automatic Cleaning Bot)?

At the end of the day, if it does the job is all good and well but not one really wants an ugly looking box roaming around their room, looks matter, see if you prefer the design of certain vacuum robots over others as well.

Other Points You May Wish To Consider before Purchasing Your Auto Cleaning Bot

  • Do you want it to have the ability to self empty?
  • If not, let you know when it's full or not?
  • Comes with various modes of operation?
  • How loud is the vacuum? Some state the amount of dB it usually functions at.
  • Stair avoidance, e.g. cliff sensors to prevent it falling down the stairs?
  • Special contraptions to prevent it from becoming stuck under furniture etc.?
  • How does it cope with fringed rugs, and when it approaches a cable?
  • The type of sensors that are on board the cleaner? 

Remember to read reviews around the robotic vacuum cleaner bots that match your wants as you may find that some perhaps may require a longer time to set up than you thought or that they may miss edges around the skirting, something unexpected may happen or in fact good news where people were really pleased by the purchase for a particular reason you might not have considered, or you didn't know about even after researching it.



Feb 1, 2012 12:07pm
Excellent job of explaining the robot's operation (spacial awareness). I was very interested in this article because I wrote a review, "Do Roomba Floor Vacs Really Work" after I owned one for a year. It's about 2 years old now and still working fine. I have a big house and have never had to empty the bin during the cleaning of one room and it has the sensor for the stairs built in. If this Roomba broke down I'd get another in a minute. I love it.
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