Here we take a much closer look at robotic vacuum cleaners, that are available in the United Kingdom market place. For those of us who remember the television program, "Tomorrow's World," that was where these robotic devices made their first UK appearance. Many of you may be too young to remember that, but 30 years ago, these were seen as the future of hoovering.
The question that we are trying to answer is, have they actually got any better since those early days? Do they really work/ Can you really sit back, and watch a robot hoover your carpets and wooden floors? Let's take a much closer look and find out. Before that though, I am going to suggest some reasons why you should consider buying a robotic cleaner.
The robot type vacuums were initially invented by Electrolux, and were brought to the mass consumer market in 2001. After that came Roomba vacuums, and they were launched as the perfect cordless vacuum.
Reasons To Own A Robotic Cleaner
These days robotic cleaners have a very sleek design and come with very advanced technology. so we know that they look good, and that technology has come on in leaps and bounds, over the last 5-10 years. Many people are now very keen to get their hands on their own robot style vacuum cleaner. Here are the reasons why.
Efficient - I don't know anyone who enjoys hoovering of any kind. It is simply a chore and hard work and dreadfully boring. Many of us would love the services of a maid or handyman, but let's face it they don't come cheap, or are unreliable. When you own a robotic vacuum cleaner, you can get any room in your home nice and tidy in no time at all. These days they are packed with features similar to that of an upright cleaner, only better. These features include filters, brushes, and cleaning mechanisms, all built into a tough and durable case.
Super Easy to Use - As the name suggests these machines are automatic, so you don't even need to beat home to run it. You just need to switch it on, leave it and then come back home. The hoovering will be done, and you'll find the room as clean as a whistle. There are no special switches or configurations either. All you have to do is hit a button and the robot will start cleaning.
Well Behaved - Unlike a moaning partner, these robots are very well behaved. They will automatically cover the room, using a random programming technology. They are so clever that when the battery starts to run low, it can recharge on its own once the battery. And even better than that when it gets finished, it will return to the home base and wait for you until you need it again. Now if only you could train your partner to do that.
Sleek & Compact Design - Most of these newer versions are small, flat devices and are typically disc shaped. That allows them to get under furniture, and reach areas that a standard vacuum can't. That means there is no need to move stools, armchairs, tables and sofas. These also come with bumpers. That means they can absorb any type of collision with solid items as they do the hoovering.
High End Technology - In the early conceptual days, these types of vacuum cleaners did not work that well. That put many consumers off buying one again. A lot has changed in the last few years. The technology used now is similar to what the army uses when clearing landmines on the field. These vacuums contain several sensors that will detect the dirt that it actually sucks in. The same sensors makes it go towards the dirtier part of the room, and it may clean that area several times.
It will only stop when there is no more dirt detected. Part of its intelligent design means that it will never fall down steps or stairs. Many models also have a virtual wall device which means it will not even go outside of an open doorway. Pretty clever!
Affordable - Like many other advanced products, the prices in the early days of launches were close to astronomical. With the advances in technology, these are now a lot more affordable, and prices do continue to drop.
Most people can now afford to own one, and that is the main reason for their growth in popularity. So, if you like the idea of sitting on your bum, and let the robot do the work, then why not read on and even treat yourself to a piece of robotic luxury.
How Do Robotic Vacuums Work?
Most brands are disc shaped, circular with a few having slightly different designs. They are powered by a rechargeable battery. They use sensors to detect dirt, and when they do, it is then sucked up into the cleaner.
So in essence they clean along the edges of the walls, underneath the furniture assuming it has space to get underneath and then anywhere else it detects dirt. If they find dirt in a particular area, then they may go over that area several times.
They also have infrared sensors that helps them detect areas like the stairs, and helps it avoid going there.
Who Makes Robotic Vacuum Cleaners?
There are a lot of brands who now make these types of vacuum cleaners. They include:
- Dirt Devil
Neato and Vileda are the best selling cleaners in the UK market.
How Much Do Robotic Vacuum Cleaners Cost?
At the low end of the price scale, you can find some of the cheaper models at around £50- 100. For the more advanced and bigger brands like Dyson, these will set you back around £1,000. The average cost for a good quality one will be around £150-300 depending on exactly what features you want it to have.
Below you will find a comparison table of five of the best that are currently available in the UK. Underneath that, you will find a summary review of each of them.
Comparison Table of the Top 5 Robotic Vacuum Cleaners
Dirt Devil M607 Spider
Vinteky Household Sweeper Robot
Neato Robotics Botvac D85
Vileda Robotic Vacuum Cleaner
iRobot Roomba 650
No 1 Choice - Dirt Devil M607 Spider
It can pick up pet hair and general dust. It is also good at doing the edges of floors and for getting into corners. It is also pretty cool to watch!
It is slow but effective, and buyers like it a lot.
With an average retail price of under £100, the Dirt Devil is growing a lot in popularity. It takes about 4 hours to charge and it will then run automatically for up to one hour.
You do need to physically plug this in to recharge it as it doesn't return to its base. It isn't perfect but it will clean carpets, wooden floors and tiled floors.
No 2 Choice - Vinteky Household Sweeper Robot
The manufacturer designed this one for households that have people who may suffer from allergies, or for those homes with pets.
This one picks up pet hairs, dust particles and leave behind clean fresh air.
Works well on all floor surfaces including rugs.
No 3 Choice - Neato Robotics Botvac D85
It costs more than the others, but it is great quality and works like a treat on all surfaces.
This is the best seller on Amazon by quite some distance. It has a deep cleaning brush system. That makes it more effective than the two shown above.
Many buyers describe this vacuum cleaner as the best piece of technology they have ever owned. This model can navigate its way around quickly and very effectively.
No 4 Choice - Vileda Robotic Vacuum Cleaner
This is a very popular brand for these types of robotic devices and this model has sold a lot. It gets plenty of positive reviews from buyers, and at this price is very good value for money.
It is designed to work on wooden and tiled floors and on short pile carpets. It will now work on thicker pile carpets so be aware of that.
No 5 Choice - iRobot Roomba 650
Many say the Roomba is the King of these robotic vacuum cleaners. This one is a very good model, if a little on the expensive side.
Buyers clearly like this model and they do love just how intelligent it is.
Robotic Vacuum Cleaner Buying Guide
Before you part with your hard earned cash, it is worth a quick read through this buyer's guide. Clearly there is a huge variation in price. So one costing £50 is not going to be as advanced as one costing £300+
It is worthwhile understanding what you actually want this cleaner to do, and then deciding on which one is best for you. As you may have noticed these types of cleaners range from basic duster types all the way up to the more heavy duty style of vacuum cleaners.
The first couple on my list will do a decent enough job of keeping floors clean. You would still need to give them a proper cleaning from time to time. So for under £100, you will get this duster type which are good for a quick whip around the house.
If you want to use these as your main vacuum cleaner, then you will have to dig into the wallet or purse, and spend around £250+ to get something that replaces your normal cleaner.
Be Aware of the Pitfalls
There is of course much more to hoovering your home than just floors. Upholstery needs cleaning, skirting board need dusting, the stairs need doing etc. These robots, clever as they maybe, just don't do that. Will there ever come a time when they can? I don't know, but right now they just don't.
Trailing Cables Pitfall
Many of these robots will struggle to get past or over electric cables. They are also put off by anything laying on the floor. Ever has one of your kid's toys under a sofa? They do not navigate these well so just be aware of that.
Docking Stations & Battery Life
Most of the better robot vacs come with a docking station. They have been programmed to return to there when they need to be recharged. However many of low cost models need to be plugged in. It is worth checking how long the robot takes to recharge before you can send it off on another trip.
Remote Controlled Options
If you are willing to spend the money then you get a remote control. That means you can sit down and direct the robot from the comfort of your chair. The third one on my list above, the Neato BotVac - can be controlled via an app on your smart phone. Most of these can be scheduled to clean at a set time.
Like any other vacuum cleaner these do need to be emptied. As you can imagine this type of vacuum will hold much less dust and debris than a normal one. Make sure though that the one you pick hold enough, otherwise you will spend most of your time doing just that. Look for a capacity of 0.3 litres or above.
All of these use a version of smart sensor technology. This is what manufacturers use to help the robot to navigate its way around your home. The most basic and cheaper ones use infrared sensors to avoid falling off edges. They also change direction when they bump against an obstacle.
The better quality ones actually map their environment, and use much better technology. This technology varies from laser-guided scanners to a combination of scanners and camera. They will also have dirt sensors.