Vacuuming is one of the most tedious of all the cleaning tasks around a home. For this reason, many manufacturers now offer robot vacuums. In fact, according to Statista, 14.2 million households in the US now have a robotic vacuum.
Rather than needing to grab a large vacuum for a whole house cleanup or clearing an occasional mess, you can instruct your robot vacuum to do it automatically. So, how do robotic vacuums work?
The Basics of How Do Robotic Vacuums Work
Most robotic vacuums have one or two spinning brushes and one or two rolling brushes. These brushes work together to pull debris in towards the center of the device. Where the vacuum can suck it up into the debris collection receptacle.
The brushes can handle large and small pieces of debris including fur, hair, food, dust and dirt. Once the debris is collected and the collection receptacle is full, the vacuum will stop functioning until you remove the tray and empty it into the trash.
When exploring how does the robot vacuum work, it is important to appreciate that some models also include a variety of sensors that enhance functionality. The most common type of sensor is downward facing, which helps the vacuum to drive over ledges, such as steps. Some of the more high-end models also have sensors on the top of the device that map the rooms as they are cleaning.
Basic robotic vacuum models can be programmed to operate on a schedule using the built in controllers. However, some more expensive models can also be managed via a smartphone app or smart speaker.
Robotic Vacuum Limitations
Now we know how robotic vacuums work, it leads to the question how well do robot vacuums work? So, it is important to appreciate that there are some robotic vacuum limitations.
Firstly, robotic vacuums lack the maneuverability and cleaning power of a traditional upright vacuum cleaner. Although robotic vacuums have different amounts of suction, most models will not allow the device to reach every inch of floor space in your home.
Robotic vacuums may have sensors to stop them rolling down the stairs. But there is no real prevention to protect small items from being sucked up. So, if you have a lot of cables in your home, you may find they are vulnerable to damage. While the vacuum may move over a thicker cord, such as a power cord for a light, USB or Lightning cables could be caught up and destroyed.
There are also some more mundane issues associated with robotic vacuums. For example, the smaller form factor means that the collection bins are quite small. So, if you have pets, you may need to empty the bin periodically during a cleaning session.
You will also need to charge your vacuum periodically. Most robotic vacuums are only rated for an hour of continuous cleaning or less. But the unit may have difficulty making it back to its charging station. So, you may come across your vacuum in the middle of a room bleeping that it needs charging.
Where Robotic Vacuums Excel
Newer robotic vacuum models can map rooms and send the details to the app on your smartphone. You can then decide which of your mapped rooms the vacuum should clean and when you would like them cleaned. Some models even allow you to ask the vacuum to clean specific sections of a room. This is ideal if you have pets that tend to make a mess in the area of their food bowls, as you can vacuum this area more frequently than the rest of the room.
Robotic vacuums have a docking station that acts as its battery charger. The vacuum leaves and returns to this docking station, but between visits, it can clean for as long as two hours.
If you’re looking to get the best out of your robotic vacuum, ideally you should have uncluttered rooms with low pile rugs or bare floors. Generally, the vacuum will need more power to move over thick carpeting, which will drain the battery faster.
Which is Best: A Robotic Vacuum or Upright?
Now that you have an understanding of how do robotic vacuums work, you are likely to be interested in whether you should choose a robotic vacuum or an upright model for your home.
The answer to this will depend on your preferences and requirements. Upright vacuums can be bulky and difficult to manage, particularly if you have mobility issues. In this scenario, a robotic vacuum is likely to be a great asset. While it may not match the power and cleaning capability of an upright vacuum. You can manage the cleaning from the comfort of your chair, without needing to carry or move a heavy appliance.
Robotic vacuums can provide an easy way to maintain your floors each day. Removing any surface debris between deep cleaning with your full size vac. Using a robotic vacuum in this way could reduce the amount of time you need to run your full size vacuum.
Getting the Best From Your Robotic Vacuum
A robotic vacuum can clean floors without any assistance. But if you want to get the best from your vac, you will need to do a little prep work.
Before you set your vac to work, you should secure any loose cords and pick up any items that may get caught in the roller or brushes. This includes small items such as socks and shoelaces or larger items that may hinder the vac.
If you would like your robotic vacuum to skip a specific area of your home, you should close the door, which will create a physical barrier. Some manufacturers also allow you to create a virtual boundary with magnetic strips.
It is also a good idea to identify any areas where the robotic vac will struggle to pass through. While the vac may have a front bumper to avoid damaging furniture or fixtures, it may bump against something unstable and cause it to fall. So, look for unstable items or precariously balanced things on tables or shelves that may fall.
As you can see, once you understand how do robotic vacuums work, it is easy to appreciate how they can be of benefit in many homes. This will allow you to make an informed purchase decision to choose the right model for you.