A robotic vacuum, or robovac, is a vacuum cleaner equipped with intelligent programming that enables it to clean autonomously. The first “robovac” was built by RCA and Whirpool for the American National Exhibition in Moscow in 1959. It was part of an elaborate scam to fool Russians into believing Americans were living more futuristic lives than we were. Thirty-one years later, Isaac M. Dizon invented the first true robovac. In 1996, Dizon sold his patented design to Swedish appliance manufacturer Electrolux, who brought the robovac to market in 2001.
The first-generation Electrolux Trilobite and its early competitors are duds in comparison to today’s robovacs. While still not perfect substitutes for manual vacuum cleaners, some of today’s robotic vacuums are effective, time-saving complements to them. If you’re trying to decide whether to get a robovac or which robovac is right for you, consider these factors.
Home size and layout
Robovacs are best-equipped to clean small, single-story houses and apartments. This doesn’t mean you should rule out robovacs if you live in a larger dwelling. You’ll just have a smaller selection of suitable options to choose from. The iRobot® Roomba 980, for example, can vacuum more than 2,000 square-feet on a single charge. If your home has more than one story, you’ll need to manually move your robovac between floors or invest in more than one vacuum.
Some robovacs, like the iRobot Braava™ Jet 240 and Xiamoi Mi® are designed for use primarily with hardwood and tile floors. Others, including the Neato® BotVac™ 80 and Roomba 980, are specially designed to clean carpets. If your apartment has a combination of soft and hard flooring materials, you’ll be better off with a dependable all-surface model like the iLife® A4S. Selecting the right model for your flooring situation is crucial.
Household Debris and Behavior
Before settling on a model, think about the dust and debris your robovac will be sucking up. The primary consideration here is whether or not you have pets. A lot of robovacs, especially on the lower end of the price spectrum, are ill-equipped to pick up pet hair. Use one of these in your pet-occupied abode, and it’s almost sure to clog. The Neato Botvac D80 and iRobot Roomba 650 are two models designed specifically with pet hair in mind.
If you have small children or roommates who live like them, be mindful of floor clutter before running a robovac. Robot vacuums can get caught up on small toys and other objects in their path.
Larger robovac models tend to vacuum more efficiently than their smaller counterparts. They also have higher-volume canisters for collecting dirt and debris. But before you bring a large robovac home, closely assess your space. A major advantage of a robovac is its ability to suck up dust bunnies hanging around in hard-to-reach spaces. If your bed is low to the ground or you have other furnishings with limited clearance, give preference to more compact models that can maneuver their way under these spaces.
Robovacs range in price from under 0 to upwards of ,000. While more expensive models tend to get higher ratings, you do not need to spend several hundred dollars to ensure the robovac you choose will get the job done. Knowing the highest price you can or are willing to pay for a robovac will help you narrow down your options. But beyond that, you should prioritize your needs over price when comparing models. You may find that the best robovac for your space and household is far from the fanciest.
Most robovacs have a battery life of between one and two hours. Unless you live in a microapartment, give preference to robovacs that run for at least 90 minutes between charges. On a related note, prioritize robovacs that automatically return to their base stations when their batteries run low. Some models, like the Dyson® 360 Eye™, automatically undock themselves once fully charged charge to vacuum areas they didn’t reach on their first run.
Bells and Whistles
As the robovac industry matures and automation technology advances, cutting-edge features are emerging in newer robovac models. Smart features, like Wi-Fi programming and control and self-canister emptying, have considerable appeal to some consumers. Consider the importance of these, as well as other specialized features—like speed control—when choosing a robovac.
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