What to look for in a robotic vacuum cleaner
When you’re looking to buy a robotic vacuum cleaner, it's important to look the following attributes:
- Battery Life
- How it cleans various surfaces
- How it handles obstacles
- How well it operates without human help
In addition to that, you'll also want to look at customer reviews to make sure the product lives up to the manufacturer's promises. Sound like a lot? Well don’t worry, we’re experts when it comes to robot vacuums, so all you need to do is read on to learn which is the best robot vacuum for your home!
You can read our detailed comparison of the best robotic vacuum cleaners here, or read on to learn more about how they work and their history.
How Do Robot Vacuum Cleaners Work?
To put it simply, there are two parts: you’ve got the robot part of the machine and the vacuum part. That being said, let's break it down further.
The vacuum part is much like a traditional vacuum cleaner, as it features brushes to sweep up dirt and suction power to get the dirt off the floor. Many robot vacuums are round, so they will often have a side-mounted brush to sweep dirt into the path of the suction area. In addition to those side brushes, many also have a roller brush that sweeps up harder to clean dirt, such as pet hair. Also like a traditional vacuum, they have a reservoir for dirt, that needs to be emptied daily, and a filter, that must be changed regularly.
The robot part of the vacuum is the high tech part, obviously, that controls virtually everything. It's similar to a Z-Wave hub in that sense.
The best robot vacuums have state of the art sensors to detect obstacles, such as stairs. These sensors act as the eyes and ears of the vacuum. They generally use infrared light to find walls, stairs, chair legs, and other items. Touch sensors, on the other hand, are used to let the vacuum know when it’s hit something, and some models have sensors that tell it where a room ends.
When these sensors are processing information, they send that info to a state of the art circuit board “brain” to process them. Once they are processed, the circuit board sends a signal to the wheels indicating where the robot vacuum should move next. Most wheels turn independently so that the machine can spin around easily.
Here’s a great video that explains how a robotic vacuum works.
Robovac: A Brief History
Since the early 2000s, many technology and appliance companies have been manufacturing robot vacuums, as they are "the future."
Early vacuum models were super popular, but had a mess of problems: like running into furniture, getting stuck on, or under, things, needing regular maintenance, running out of battery life, and ultimately not cleaning very well.
Over the years, robotics has improved, and manufacturers are creating more efficient, rechargeable, and easier to use robot vacuum cleaners at more reasonable price points. With the launch of the Roomba from iRobot, robot vacuums sales have skyrocketed and now no smart home is complete without the best robot vacuum money can buy!
Modern robot vacuums have mapping technology that lets them learn the rooms in your house, and many of them can even be controlled with your smartphone or hub.
What's' next for robo-vacs in 2019 and beyond?
Trends we would love to see in the near future for our robotic vacuum friends:
- Seamless floor to carpet transitions
- A wet/dry robot vac
- An autonomous vacuum that can actually go up and down stairs
Will get these things in 2019? Who knows, but there are lots of great innovative companies out there working on it.