2020 will be known for a lot of things, including how much more time we spent at home. We’re doing work, training, physical education, and more home meals than ever before. This leads to more dirt, which means more cleaning.
But since 2020 and the year we question so many things that we used to do, why are you still vacuuming and mopping your floors?
When the lockdown began in Australia we were limited to the number of guests in our homes, but robots weren’t included, so we opened the door to more robots than ever before. These new friends of ours came to life, navigating our homes, cleaning up the mess we had made, and sometimes even cleaning up after themselves.
First, set a budget. Robotic floor cleaners start at $ 399 and cost $ 1,899 in Australia. The advantages of rising prices usually lie in his intelligence and skill.
In the Ecovacs range, the $ 399 Deebot 600 happily soaks up your home and comes back to recharge.
However, if you increase the range, you will find new features that let the robot map the floor plan of your house and sync the data with your phone, opening up a whole host of other possibilities.
The latest Ecovacs model is the T8 AIVI. It offers a feature list that is longer than you would expect from a robotic vacuum cleaner. After installation in the home, the Ecovacs app is navigated and a layout of your home is created.
You can then label each room and even draw virtual restricted areas like the children’s play mat. During setup, you can also connect it to your smart home via Google or Amazon and then talk to your robot. When you finish cooking in the evening, ask your voice assistant to direct the vacuum cleaner to clean the kitchen. It is made before dessert.
One immediate complaint about robotic vacuums is that the container is much smaller than any traditional vacuum. Especially with carpets, you have to empty the bins more often.
iRobot and Ecovacs recently started fixing this and the i7 and T8 can now be purchased with their own self-cleaning container. This means that after the vacuum has completed its tasks, it will return to the base station to recharge and dispose of its collection.
The larger reservoir can be vacuumed for up to a month before it needs to be emptied. It’s amazing to see the base station essentially sucking the robot’s contents into the larger container. If your vacuum cleaner has not finished cleaning the house and filled it halfway, it will empty and then continue automatically.
Mopping is part of floor cleaning rituals in most households, and robots can do the same for you, too. iRobot, the maker of the popular Roomba, has developed a separate product for wiping.
The Braava 380T looks like a small game console with a cleaning cloth, but it is loaded with water and monitors your home as it cleans your hard surfaces. If you have a compatible iRobot vacuum, they’ll talk to each other so the mopping can start automatically after vacuuming is complete and even communicate where potential spills may need to be watched.
Ecovacs takes a different approach here with an all-in-one solution. The aforementioned T8 has a mopping attachment that fits neatly into the existing device and can scrub your floors at the back while you vacuum from the front. When it is sent to the kitchen, the residue is cleaned off before the surfaces are wiped.
The fascinating thing about the T8 AIVI is that it can tell when something needs more elbow fat and focus on those areas until it’s satisfied, handy for a forgotten sauce droplet or two. In all cases, only water is recommended in the tanks and no detergents. Hence, it is still a good idea to maintain your floors the old way from time to time.
Most robotic vacuums follow a cookie-cutter approach and all of them look like a large disc that glides across the floor. They use arms curved on both sides to force dirt into their mouths in a stingray style. This is unlike a traditional vacuum head, which is intentionally square-edged to get into corners.
The LG R9 Master is a robotic vacuum cleaner that definitely stood out. It was the largest of the robots, but had a large traditional vacuum head in the front and a large waste bin in the back. From a suction and coverage point of view, it did the best job. We want to see this with more brands so that we don’t have to touch up any areas of the house. However, from a navigation point of view, the LG was one of the poorest.
With many robots now able to map your house, some are using 3D to not only map what is in front of it, but also to understand landmarks in the house like tables and chairs. The Roomba i7 does that and leads to fewer bumps and defects.
The Ecovacs T8 AIVI recognizes a pair of socks that are still on the floor and knows that it will have to return to that place later, hoping the kids have finally picked them up. However, the LG was often found in the circle like a confused grandmother in the mall. If we reset and reallocate the house it seems to get better over time but was a problem.
If your home can be prepared for the robot in some way, you will always get better results. Stacking your chairs and putting away shoes, etc. will make you happier. The size of the robot vacuum is also a factor. The lower the altitude, the more likely it is for it to patrol under couches and beds, collecting all of the dust from areas you normally never get to.
The iRobot was the bravest in this regard and ventured into it, but sometimes misjudged itself and got stuck while the Ecovacs hesitated to explore areas it should have fit into.
Most robotic vacuums can also climb up to 2 cm steps.
For many households this is the ledge into the bathroom or laundry, but we have found that some builders have higher ledges, which means the robot cannot enter these rooms.
We also found that while most robots can create a single-story house map, you will have to spend more on a model that can map two-story houses. This means you carry it upstairs, put it down, and know where to go.
Most models now also have stair detection so you can’t see them fall down. The same sensors are also used to detect floor types so that they know when to increase the suction power or when to start and stop the mopping function.
Your personal safety
The final consideration we discovered and did not expect was surveillance. The LG R9 and Ecovacs T8 AIVI use real cameras on board.
Since the robots are connected to the internet and have an app for your smartphone, you can actually control your robots from anywhere in the world while looking through the camera.
This could be a game changer when you arrive at your vacation destination and want to check that you have closed the front door.
The Ecovacs model also allows you to open bidirectional communication to be in the shops, direct the vacuum to your partner and ask if we need milk.
Not scary at all.
Geoff Quattromani is a technical commentator for radio, print, online and television. You can find new information every week in his podcast “Technology Uncorked”.