How effective are Robot Vacuum Cleaning Systems?

(Last Updated On: February 27, 2018)

How effective are Robot Vacuum Cleaning Systems?Floor cleaning was once a hectic task, even with traditional vacuum cleaners, but not anymore with robot vacuum cleaners. These fancy robots clean floors, carpets and pet hair by themselves without your presence.

But they have taken us by storm such that we care more about the extras and forget the primary function; cleaning. Everyone is talking about Wi-Fi, voice-control, and other extras but no one is emphasizing the cleaning performance. An average American will go for convenience and not raw clean.

In this article, we will try to go through some of the most popular cleaning systems offered by top market brands. We will be looking at how each is suited for the 3 daily cleaning needs we have; floors, carpets and pet hair as well as allergens.

Roomba’s 3-Stage Cleaning System

Roomba’s 3-Stage Cleaning SystemRoomba is the most popular and bestselling robot vacuum brand and so it would be wise to start with it. iRobot’s cleaning performance is one of the tenets of its success story. Since I owned my first robot vacuum, a Roomba 650, I have never found a better system that would match the raw power Roomba offers. Actually, what we see in some of these cheap models like PureClean is just a replica of this cleaning system. However, throughout the evolution of the Roomba series, we have seen several improvements in this system with the monumental changes being the shift from AeroVac technology to AeroForce.

Roombas have a self-adjusting head that ensures there’s good brush contact with the floor surface. Most of the Roombas use a dual multi-surface brush system. While one is loosening dirt (agitation), the other one is lifting the dirt ready for suctioning. If you sample several models, you will realize that the cleaning performance varies.

One of the dynamics that explain this is the motor. How much suction power does it deliver? Does the chamber play a part? You will find that a Roomba like the 890 and 960 deliver 5× more suction while the 980 delivers an incredible 10×. These are factors that should be critical when looking for a Roomba for specialized cleaning; carpets and pet hair. For example, the 890 may be a great purchase if you are looking for an affordable pet hair cleaner. On the other hand, the 980 is best for carpets courtesy of Carpet Boost.

There are quite some notable differences in the Roombas even though they are known to share a 3-stage cleaning system. First, the brush system has changed over the years. We have new tangle-free brushes that are meant for reducing hair tangling especially for pet owners with long-haired breeds. You will realize that, among the popular models, the Roomba 650 and 690 pack just dual multi-surface brushes while the 800 and 900 series have new tangle free dual multi-surface brush systems.

Another thing, the new models use AeroForce high-efficiency filters that are good for cleaning allergens related to pet dander. On the other hand, old models, 690 and below use AeroVac filters which are good but not as efficient!

On the downside, I find Roomba’s loud lack of mopping function an insult for such a top brand. Lesser known players like iLIFE and ECOVACS are building compact robots with dry and wet mopping, at a cheaper price.

iLIFE’s CyclonePower 3-Stage Cleaning System

iLIFE’s CyclonePower 3-Stage Cleaning SystemThis is an area where iRobot’s technology has been replicated. The 3-stage system used here uses the same exact principles applied in Roombas. The system combine agitation, brushing and suctioning to complete the cleaning process. Perhaps the only differences between CyclonePower and AeroForce are the brush system, filters, suction power, dirt bin and a few small things. The notable features in this system is a spiral v-shaped BladeAway rubber bristle brush; no dirt will escape suctioning. Of importance is the powerful motors. From experience, I can attest to the powerful suction cleaners like A4, A4s, and A6 have. In fact, with the Gen 2 CyclonePower, it is only a Gen 2 motor that brings the difference, but them the noteworthy difference. When Max mode is activated, for example in the A6, the 10× more air power ensures that dirt and dust hiding deep inside carpet fabric is effectively suctioned into the large dirt bin.

Actually, when it comes to performance on carpets, the A6 delivers quite some good performance that I can compare to the 980’s Carpet Boost mode. This is among the reasons I maintain that iLIFE copied iRobot. The A4 and A4s also have this cleaning system, something that makes them top choices for carpets when you’re on a budget. The tangle free brush system also makes them ideal for pet hair.

Unfortunately, the brush bristles are quite rough and will scratch hardwood floors. I tried this vacuum on my penthouse’s floor, a hardwood floor and what I saw thereafter was undesirable. It had scrubbed the surface leaving it looking old and worn out. I had to recondition the floor and that’s the last time I ever tried it on a hardwood floor. Even though it happened when in Max mode which was unnecessary on floors, I won’t recommend it for hardwood floors. The daily scrubbing will fade the wood plates.

Neato’s SpinFlow PowerClean

Neato’s SpinFlow PowerCleanCompared to AeroForce and Cyclone Power cleaning systems, SpinFlow is not a buzzer; it just offers average performance. What I like about it is the fact that Neato has tried a little bit to be innovative by coming with a whole new approach to the brush system. First, it is 50% larger than your average brushes and in fact, the brush runs from one end to the other. I like the brush versatility; you can use the spiral brush or combo brush. The spiral brush is meant for carpets and cleaning pet hair and if you are just about cleaning an ordinary floor, attach the combo brush. Its suction power is also commendable but not as powerful as the Roomba’s or iLIFE’s Gen motor.

One of the advantages of this system is that it brings on board a larger 0.7 L bin and considering the average bin capacity is 0.3 L, this is a plus for Neato. You won’t have to be emptying the bin every now and then but if you have pets, at least empty it daily or a foul smell will take away your comfort. But the good thing is that the ultra-performance filters will get rid of the bad odor very quickly. It can capture dirt and allergens as small as 0.3 microns. A robot with Spinflow PowerClean like the BotVac Connected, D80 or D5 is best for homeowners who vacuum quite an amount of dirt. The 0.7L dirt bin will save you a lot of time that would have otherwise been required if you had a 0.3 L bin.

On the downside, SpinFlow PowerClean is effective in Turbo mode only. In this mode, at least it vacuums dirt from carpets but the problem is that the battery doesn’t last very long while in this mode. Besides, it is very noisy!

Eufy’s 3-Point Cleaning System

Eufy’s 3-Point Cleaning SystemThis is another top brand in the market that is best known for the RoboVac 11. It uses quite a similar approach just like iRobot and iLIFE. It combines one rolling rush and two side brushes so no dirt will be left along wall edges or the vacuum’s path. In the first stage, the side brushes sweep dirt while the brushes break and pick it up. In the finals stage, the powerful motor delivers up to 1000Pa that lift all the dirt and puts it in the dirt bin, it’s that simple.

I actually have one alongside, a Roomba 890 and one thing that makes me keep it is its filters. I have a nasal allergy and stuff like dust mites and pet dander are easy triggers. This system has a triple-filter system that combines two primary filters and 1 high-performance filter; no chance for allergens to thrive in your house. But for the best experience, be emptying the vacuum’s bin regularly, depending on the amount of dirt each cycle has.

If you are allergic and you live with pets, then this is a great option that should be on top of your wish list.
However, Eufy is not a robot you can rely on with carpet floors. It performed dismally during our test. We passed a Roomba 890 on a carpet it had just cleaned and the Roomba collected quite a lot of dust compared to what it did.

Dyson’s Radial Root Cyclone

Dyson’s Radial Root CycloneBesides the camera that’s on top of Dyson, you’ve probably have heard about its super suction power. This is courtesy of the Radial Root Cyclone technology. It boasts of a digital V2 motor with an rpm of over 72k times when at its best. The 8 finely tuned cyclones, on the other hand, increase airflow and centrifugal forces; all the small dirt and particles will be vacuumed, that’s guaranteed. Even when you hear it when working, you definitely know that the suction power is immense. The manufacturer even suggests that it deliver twice the suction other vacuums offer.

If you have a carpet, then this is a great buy but unfortunately, it might be high on the shelf in terms of price.
The only problem with Dyson is the inconsistency. It seems there are quite a lot of substandard units in the market. It is quite unusual for such a top rated vacuum to have a 2.7-star rating on Amazon. The good thing is that I’ve seen they accept refunds in case your robot has defects. But then, the whole of this story sucks considering it is a $1,000 robot vacuum cleaner.

Samsung’s CycloneForce & Digital Inverter Technology

Samsung’s CycloneForce & Digital Inverter TechnologyIf you are keen enough, you will agree with me that Samsung is the most innovative but unappreciated robot vacuum brands. One of their major strengths is the Digital Inverter Technology that boosts suction power by 10 times. There’s also CycloneForce technology that uses the high suction power that separates dirt and debris in an outer chamber before reaching the filters. This reduces filter clogging and boosts the lifespan of the filters. Also, worth mentioning, this system adopts a larger brush than the most conventional Samsung vacs so it will clean faster. If you have a carpet floor and pets, the VR9000 POWERbot will be a great buy.

Unfortunately, transitioning is also hard on carpet edges especially with thick carpets.

Our Recommendation

In this segment, we will give our recommendation for the best cleaning system. We will only look at hardwood floors, carpets, and pet hair.

Hardwood Floors

I always recommend something that has mopping function for hardwood floors. This is in light of the fact that water damages the wood plates and when mopping the traditional way, the floor is overly exposed to water. The good thing with a robot vacuum with a mop is that it uses minimal water and some select models even offer instant drying. This makes sure that the floor doesn’t absorb any moisture, leave alone water. A good choice here would be the ECOVACS Deebot M80 and if you want something cheaper but efficient, try iLIFE V5s or V7s.

Carpet Floors

This is hard to call between the Roomba 980 and iLIFE A6. They may be having different cleaning technologies by name but if you look deeper, they operate on the same principles. I like the Roomba because it has a dedicated cleaning mode for carpets called Carpet Boost. When activated, it produces 10 times more suction same as the A6’s Max mode. But from a user’s experience and also considering the brand, the Roomba 980 is superior but an expensive choice while the A6 also performs well and is very affordable. So, the choice is yours!

Pet Hair

If you are a pet owner, it is imperative to go for something that will clean the pet messes and also purify the air; dander can be a real headache at times. Look for something that is first pet-friendly and bObsweep is among the best; we’ve seen a lot of cats and dogs riding on them.

Another thing to look out for is a tangle-free brush system – if you have long-haired breeds, you know what I mean. The filters also are important and a HEPA filter systems are always recommended because they capture all dander-related allergens including skin flakes. Mop function would also be a great idea though not mandatory. At times, paw marks and pet waste stains may need to be mopped for a detailed clean. Here, I would get for bObsweep PetHair; it has been specially built for this job!

Cleaning Extras

Right now, a lot of companies are focusing more on offering cleaning extras as opposed to convenience and Smart features. Brands like Roomba and Dyson have been greatly left behind. In this section, we’ll look at 3 notable cleaning extras several top brands offer apart from vacuuming only.

1. Mop

In this age, you can save the costs of purchasing a robot mop by just getting a 2-in-1 cleaner that will vacuum and mop. I know a lot of Roomba enthusiasts who are in regret now that cheaper models are offering mop while their expensive 900 series vacuums only.

A brand like ECOVACS has greatly scaled the heights courtesy of the mopping function only. Select models like N78, M80, and R95 can vacuum and mop. There are several other vacuum cleaners that come with mopping function including bObsweep PetHair, Deik, VBOT G270 among others. Worthy to mention separately is ILIFE that even spices up things with their patented i-dropping technology that ensures efficient water use. Besides, it ensures water is dropped on the floor only when needed and when the mop will wipe it immediately. Remember, water is dangerous to hardwood floors. So, if you have a hardwood floor, protect it with the iLIFE V5s or V7s; it vacuums and mops hardwood floors leaving them clean and in great condition.

2. Air Purification

At times, you may have cleaned your floor but the atmosphere is stuffy and full of allergens. If you are allergic, you know what I mean. The good thing is that you can now buy a robot vacuum cleaner with air purification. I know you know of the likes of Roomba 980 that promise to capture 99.9% of allergens. But there are more advanced robot vacuums with features dedicated to air purification. A good example of such a robot is bObsweep PetHair that has HEPA filters. These filters ensure all contaminants are captured leaving you with fresh breathable air.

3. UV-Sterilization

Finally, we have UV-sterilization. Yes, there are vacuum cleaners that will in the final stage UV-sterilize your floor to ensure all germs are killed. Such a robot vacuum can be a great purchase if you have pets and crawling babies. The bObsweep PetHair also has this feature and uses a 400Nm UV lamp to sterilize where it has cleaned. Other vacs with this feature include Rollibot BL618, Hovo 780 and Infinuvo QQ2.

Final Words

Indeed, the cleaning system should be an important consideration when shopping for robot vacuum cleaners. Always make sure you get the right robot for the right job, other factors may come later.

I know of homeowners who bought fancy bots with Wi-Fi, remote controls, and other desirable features but when it comes to cleaning, their performance is dismal.

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