Pay attention to these characteristics to buy the perfect smart cleaner without overpaying.
1. Cleaning area and power
This must be taken into account so that the vacuum cleaner does not leave half of the room dirty when going to recharge. It is better to take it with a margin, since in the characteristics the area is indicated for empty rooms, but in fact the robot will have to wind extra meters due to furniture and other obstacles.
Unlike conventional vacuum cleaners, the power of robots is much lower and ranges from 20 to 120 watts. Due to the lack of a hose and the compact design, this is sufficient.
An indicator of 90 W and above is rare. Most robots have a power of 50-60 W, which is enough for full cleaning. At the same time, 30-watt models are suitable only for surface cleaning.
2. Dimensions and shape
The quality of cleaning will depend on the design of the robot vacuum cleaner. Round gadgets are less effective at cleaning the floor in corners and near the baseboard, while square and D-shaped gadgets easily penetrate into any corners and move well along the walls.
Of the dimensions, height is the most important. It should be about 1 cm below the furniture so that the cleaner can crawl under the sofa or closet.
Most often, the height of robots is 7-9 cm, but manufacturers usually indicate it without lidars, cameras and other protruding parts. Therefore, be careful.
3. Type of brushes
Combination of a turbo brush and one side brush. Image: irobot.by
There are three options: brushes, turbo brushes and a combination of both. The first ones are usually equipped with the most budgetary models, the rest are found in more expensive robots.
Brushes-brushes are suitable only for surface cleaning on hard surfaces – they only sweep away large debris, which is then sucked into the dust collector. When there are two brushes, they rotate towards each other and the particles get inside the vacuum cleaner. A single brush does a much worse job and often throws debris around the room.
The turbo brush is much more effective and capable of cleaning carpets , carpet and other soft surfaces. It spins quickly, lifting the lint, and collects not only large debris, but also wool, hair and small particles.
Some vacuum cleaners have both types at the same time. This combination is more effective, but one turbo brush does a good job of cleaning.
4. The volume of the dust collector
Robots, due to their mobility, have a rather limited amount of dust collector. Usually it depends on the area to be harvested and ranges from 0.3 to 1 liter.
The average indicator, which is worth focusing on, is 0.5 liters. The smaller dust bin is only suitable for small apartments and will quickly become clogged with pet hair.
There are also vacuum cleaners with trash accumulators that are built into the base. The robot unloads the contents of the dust collector there and returns to cleaning. This design is rather cumbersome and expensive.
5. Filter type
Air filters are installed at the vacuum cleaner outlet to trap particles. Most often, these are ordinary fine cleaning elements that trap dust particles up to 0.3 microns. This filtering is sufficient for most cases.
But if there are asthmatics or allergens in the house , then you need a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter. They are much more efficient at cleaning the air and are able to capture 85-99.95% of the smallest particles of 0.06 microns.
It depends on how successfully the robot vacuum cleaner will move around the house. The description indicates only the maximum height of overcoming thresholds, which is usually 1–2 cm.
Other obstacles for the cleaner are high pile carpets, wires and objects on the floor. The real cross-country ability can only be judged from the reviews, so be sure to study them before buying.
For orientation in space, budget robots use contact obstacle sensors, which are built into the shock-softening bumper. Faced with an obstacle, the vacuum cleaner turns around and continues to move in the other direction according to the algorithm. As a rule, this is riding in zigzags, in a spiral or along walls.
More expensive cleaners are equipped with non-contact infrared sensors that allow you to stop a couple of centimeters from obstacles. There are also models that can map the room and plot the best route.
In addition, some robots are equipped with infrared elevation sensors to prevent falls from stairs. They measure the magnitude of the reflected signal and therefore perceive all black surfaces as an abyss, not allowing the vacuum cleaner to drive in there.
For cleaning small rooms , zigzag movements are enough, so the first navigation option is also suitable. But for complex and large apartments, the intellectual type is preferable, otherwise it will be difficult to achieve good results. In a two-story house, height sensors will not interfere.
8. Management Methods and Schedule
There are three ways to give commands to the robot: using the buttons on the cleaner’s body, the remote control or a smartphone. In the simplest models, the first two are usually available, while the latter is found in more expensive cleaners. Controlling through a mobile application is more convenient, but by and large any method is suitable, since the program is configured once, and then the vacuum cleaner just works.
Most robots have a useful scheduling cleaning feature. Thanks to it, you can configure the vacuum cleaner so that it is cleaned on set days. For example, while you are at work. Smartphone support is not needed for this – all manipulations are carried out using buttons on the body or the remote control.
9. Autonomy and charging
Almost all modern robotic vacuum cleaners run on lithium-ion batteries, but some still contain outdated nickel-metal hydride batteries. The service life and autonomy of the latter are noticeably lower, so it is better not to buy such models.
The average battery life of the vacuum cleaner is about two hours, which is enough for a standard apartment. Budget models work 40-60 minutes and are able to clean one room without recharging. For a private house, more expensive robots with an autonomy of 2-3 hours are suitable.
Most vacuum cleaners charge from a docking station, to which they can automatically dock after cleaning or when the battery is low. The most budget models have a regular power supply, the cable of which must be inserted into the connector yourself.
Bonus: what features are not needed
Manufacturers of inexpensive vacuum cleaners often incorporate UV lamps into their models and actively promote them as a means of floor disinfection.
Since the destruction of bacteria requires prolonged exposure to UV rays, and robots are constantly in motion, this approach, to put it mildly, is ineffective. Moreover, the lamps consume additional energy and the battery will drain faster.
This is another useless feature that comes under the guise of irreplaceable. Monitoring the cleaning process from a smartphone will get bored after the first try, and using the robot as a video surveillance system is inconvenient, no matter what the manufacturers say.
Even in devices from well-known brands, wet cleaning does not replace full-fledged washing of floors – at best, it will be a light wipe. Usually, to switch to the wet cleaning mode, instead of a dust collector, a special water tank is installed or liquid is poured into the built-in tank. You also need to wash and periodically change microfiber cloths. All these manipulations quickly get bored.
In fact, any model can be turned into a washing one by attaching a cloth dampened with water to it. If you need really high-quality wet cleaning, then it is better to purchase a special robotic floor polisher.
An additional accessory is designed to restrict the movement of the robot. It is an infrared transmitter that is installed near animal feeds, children’s play areas and other places where the cleaner should not enter. Such modules take up space and are not cheap.
A similar function is performed by magnetic tapes that are glued to the floor. They are much more affordable and no less effective. In general, you can simply block the path of the vacuum cleaner with a stool on its side.