3 Robot Vacuum Shopping Tips I Wish I Knew Before Buying

Multiple robot vacuum cleaners sit together.

Beth Mauder/ZDNET

I won’t say me Love My current robot vacuum, but I’m grateful for what it’s done to keep my house tidy — and my general sense of cleanliness intact.

There are many benefits to owning a robot vacuum cleaner, although certain factors should be considered before making a purchase. This article will explore the most important points to keep in mind as you peruse digital catalogs and store shelves.

Also: Best robot vacuum cleaner in 2024: Tested and reviewed by experts

Knowing how to sift through all the marketing buzzwords and find the technical specifications that really matter is what ultimately decides whether a robot vacuum is worth buying or not. See below for the top three things to remember.

1) Find a robot vacuum with a LiDAR scanner

Compared to image-based detectors on lower-end vacuum cleaners, LiDAR has a significant advantage in cleaning accuracy. LiDAR (or Light Detection and Ranging) technology enhances the navigation capabilities of robotic vacuum cleaners, allowing them to create detailed 360-degree maps of your floor plan and stationary obstacles.

Advanced sensors provide highly accurate distance measurements, allowing for precise 3D mapping of the environment and geolocation of the robot. This allows the robot to move efficiently through spaces, avoid furniture and plan optimal cleaning. LiDAR also allows the vacuum cleaner to identify areas that have already been cleaned, preventing the vacuum cleaner from going over the same spot multiple times.

Robot vacuum cleaner and mop Roborock S8 MaxV Ultra

Maria Diaz/ZDNET

Some LIDAR-equipped robot vacuums can store multi-floor map data (up to five maps), making them suitable for homes with multiple floors or large living spaces. You can set virtual boundaries or “no-go zones,” such as keeping a vacuum clear of a nest of cables and wires on the floor below your home office desk.

Also: I found the most powerful robot vacuum on the market and cheaper than you think

And it’s dark underneath your desk, right? And perhaps in a walk-in closet? Unlike camera-based navigation, LiDAR is less affected by changes in lighting conditions, ensuring reliable performance even in dimly lit areas. The comprehensive scanning mechanism of LiDAR-equipped vacuum cleaners gives them impressive adaptability to complex cleaning patterns, plus the ability to react flexibly and avoid dropped items (like toys). or pet waste).

2) Always check if the brand you buy sells replacement parts

Before buying mine OKP Life K2, I want to make sure it is easy to maintain. Yes, and luckily it only has one part (the HEPA filter) to replace every so many months. OKP even offers buyers the convenience of scanning the QR code on the filter’s frame to order replacements instantly through their smartphone.

Many popular robot vacuums on the market offer replacement parts for purchase. By “parts”, I’m referring to filters, main brushes, side brushes, mop heads, dedicated batteries and the like. Some notable brands that offer replacement parts include iRobot Roomba, Eufy RoboVacthe Shark IQ robotAnd Ecovac’s Deebot.

Combo robot vacuum cleaner and mop Ecovacs Deebot T30S

Maria Diaz/ZDNET

Filter replacement is especially important for robot vacuums for a number of reasons. First, it helps maintain optimal suction. A new (or clean) filter will restore the vacuum cleaner’s ability to “take deep breaths” and maintain strong suction throughout operation. It also helps prevent muscle tension; When the filter is clogged, the vacuum cleaner’s motor has to work twice as hard to create suction, increasing wear and tear and reducing the machine’s lifespan.

Also: Dreame X30 Ultra review: ZDNET’s new top pick for the best 2-in-1 robot vacuum

Replacement filters also improve the air quality in your home. The HEPA filter captures 99.97% of particles as small as 0.3 microns, eliminating airborne allergens, pollutants and bacteria. Dirty filters in robot vacuums can release trapped particles back into your living space. So, have you ever noticed when your vacuum cleaner starts to stink? If so, it’s begging for a new filter.

In the long run, the habit of regularly replacing components will help save costs. Replacing your filter is much more cost-effective than having to repair or replace the entire vacuum cleaner. Some robot vacuum subscriptions like iRobot Select offer replacement filters, brushes, and bags, saving you money over time.

3) Start the purchasing process with the expectation that the robot vacuum will not deep clean your home

The main reason to own a robot vacuum cleaner, like any tool, is to reduce your labor. Elbow grease is for deep cleaning by hand, while robotic vacuum cleaners are for light duty. Naturally, some models do it better than others. I turned mine on and let it roam (after taking the dog out). Because it lacks LiDAR, it wanders around my apartment, wandering on its own tracks and going in circles. Ultimately, however, it reduces the amount of debris on my floors that gets pulled in from outside!

SwitchBot Mini Robot Vacuum K10+ and others

Maria Diaz/ZDNET

However, no robot vacuum can sweep your baseboards or deal with nasty liquid spills. I have discovered patterns like Neato Botvac D7 Connected has a D-shaped design that allows it to clean corners and edges more effectively than many models. And Roborock S8 MaxV Ultra provides an advanced mopping system. However, for week-old stains or muddy footprints, you may need to get down on your knees and scrub.

So, to summarize… LiDAR provides the most reliable cleaning and navigation capabilities, and preventative maintenance can prolong the life of your robot vacuum (and will prevent frustration). Be sure to check the availability of replacement parts before purchasing. Ultimately, though, don’t expect any robot vacuum to replace the power of a four-person cleaning crew.


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