Сhoosing a robot vacuum cleaner by Gennady Yagupov

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Robotic vacuum cleaners are becoming more and more popular – compact and fully autonomous they help to keep your home or apartment clean. In order to prevent such a helper from becoming a burden, it is necessary to be pedantic in choosing a device. Buyers make rather typical mistakes, due to which the equipment fails to cope with its tasks.

1. Over or underpaying for the wet cleaning function

As with conventional vacuum cleaners, robotic models are able to do wet cleaning in addition to dry cleaning. Many users overestimate this ability and buy washable models, which end up failing to cope with dirt.

In classic robot-vacuum cleaners (hybrid) wet cleaning is done with the help of a special microfiber fixed to the bottom. Water is fed directly to the microfiber, and in the most advanced models, you can choose the speed of the filing. In robot-poloters, the liquid is sprayed directly on the floor through special nozzles.

These models are suitable for cleaning almost any lint-free coatings – tile, linoleum and poured floor. Laminate and parquet without a quality lacquer coating can be a problem, because they quickly absorb moisture.

In order not to be disappointed in the purchased vacuum cleaner, it is important to clearly understand what kind of dirt can cope with each type of models. Hybrid robots are analogous to wiping the flooring with a wet rag. They cope well with settled dust, spilled liquids, fresh streaks.  Cleaning a robot floor sweeper can be compared to a quick wipe with a regular mop, so it removes spilled ketchup and other dense liquids, as well as dried stains.

If your home has a lot of carpets, there’s no point in buying a robot floor sweeper because it’s designed for lint-free surfaces. Hybrid models will do here, but only if you are interested in a light wet dusting. For multi-room areas with tile flooring, linoleum or parquet, a robot floor sweeper, which does quite a good wet cleaning and copes better with different types of dirt, is ideal. 

2. Underestimate the size

The quality of cleaning robot vacuum cleaner directly depends on what places it can physically reach. Most models are round, so the corners of rooms are the most problematic places. It is also important to assess the distance between furniture and adjacent walls – very often the vacuum cleaner will not squeeze into these gaps. 

If you have a large amount of furniture on legs, then make sure that the robot vacuum cleaner fits the height. 

Also pay attention to the height of the wheels of the robot vacuum cleaner. In many private homes and some apartments there are small thresholds between rooms. If the robot will not be able to overcome them independently, you will have to carry it from room to room every time.  Depending on the model, devices can overcome thresholds from 1.5 to 5 centimeters. 

3. Insufficient suction power

Unlike traditional vacuum cleaners, robot vacuums have low suction power, ranging from 10 to 60 watts. Low-power models cannot vacuum up carpet, and are only suitable for cleaning lint-free surfaces. 

Don’t confuse vacuuming wattage and suction wattage.

If your home has no carpets and only bare laminate, linoleum, parquet or stone floors, then robot vacuums with a suction power up to 15 watts (1100 Pa) will do the job. It is not uncommon for the suction power to be quoted in Pa only. Use the following formula to translate:

1 W = 0.071 kPa.

For carpets with medium pile, models with 15-30W (1100-2100Pa) are suitable. The most powerful robot vacuums have a suction power of 30 to 60 watts (2100-4200 Pa) – they cope with long pile, pet hair, and can also suck up debris from cracks up to 10 millimeters deep. 

4. Low battery capacity

One of the biggest problems of robot vacuum cleaners is the limited operating time. Depending on the battery capacity, the device is able to work from 20 to 200 minutes. Most stores indicate the battery life in the technical specifications. 

A typical mistake is not to coordinate this parameter with the area of your house or apartment. You can be guided by the following ratio:

up to 30 m2 – 20-30 minutes;

30-70 m2 – 30-60 minutes;

70-90 m2 – 70-100 minutes;

90-150 m2 – 100-180 minutes.

The variation in time is associated with the configuration of the premises, as well as the algorithm of the robot vacuum cleaner. Models with chaotic movement clean the space longer. It can take up to 16 hours to fully charge the battery. 

5. Buy a model with inconvenient controls

The cheapest models of robotic vacuum cleaners have only buttons on the body. To activate the device, you will have to walk over and bend down. These vacuum cleaners are suitable for occasional cleanings in small apartments, because it is tedious to turn them on and set them manually every time, especially for the elderly.

Robotic vacuum cleaners from the middle price segment have a remote control. The main advantages are that the technique can be turned on, adjusted and turned off without getting up from the couch. Remote control is indispensable if you often use the robot. The disadvantages include a limited control area – users need to point the remote’s infrared sensor directly at the robot.

If you are often away from home and need to run the robot vacuum cleaner remotely, you need control from a smartphone. The vacuum cleaner connects to your home network or the cloud via Wi-Fi/Bluetooth. You will not only be able to start the technique remotely, but also to check on the map, which areas the vacuum cleaner has already cleaned, expose virtual walls, and set the operating time. Some models can also be connected to a voice assistant.

6. Buy a robot vacuum cleaner with a small waste bin

Coordinates with the area of the premises need not only the operating time of the device. Buyers should choose the right container for the garbage. If the tank is too small, you will have to clean it several times during one cleaning. When choosing, you can focus on the following ratios:

up to 40 m2 – 0.3 liters;

50-80 m2 – 0.5 liters;

over 80 m2 – from 0.5 liters. 

7. No important sensors

The robot vacuum cleaner navigates through the room using a range of sensors. Basically, all models have a sensor collision – it registers the front of the robot obstacles and does not give crash. In most cases, this minimum is enough for a safe ride on the apartment vacuum cleaner.

However, if your house has one or more stairs, this will not be enough. Going down will not be recognized as an obstacle and the vacuum cleaner will fly down. A faulty terrain sensor, or as it is also called, a height difference sensor, is able to prevent this. This is usually a set of infrared sensors on the bottom that assesses if there is a hard surface under the vacuum cleaner.

If the house has high thresholds or large pets, it is better to buy a robot vacuum cleaner with a tilt sensor. The microprocessor will determine that the gadget has overturned or the wheels have lost traction, and then automatically turn off the technique, saving battery power. 

8. Saving on the virtual wall feature

The virtual wall allows you to limit the cleaning area for the robot. This feature will be indispensable for those who have small children and pets. You will be able to fence off the children’s room, the area with the pet’s feeder or toilet, the pantry, and so on. Limiters can be in the form of magnetic tape or special blocks that form an infrared barrier beam.

Text by Gennady Yagupov

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