We have been using cleaning robots at home for 15 years, so in this article i will share my experiences of them in general instead of focusing on specific models.
Here are the different types of cleaning robots:
- robot vacuum cleaner (we have been using one for 14 years)
- robot duster (we have been using it for 5 years)
- robot mop (we have been using it for 10 years)
- robot window cleaner (we have been using it for 4 years)
- robot swimming pool cleaner (we have been using it for 4 years)
- robot lawnmower (we haven’t used it)
Robot vacuum cleaner
Most robots still work based on the principle of chaos, that is, they move ahead for a while then change direction. With this method they can vacuum a room quite thoroughly in 1-2 hours. This method slightly fails along the edges, as the robot moves along as long as it bumps into something or hits the corner of the room. In a 10 m2 room 1 hour is enough, but in a room larger than 15 m2 it should run a 2 hour-long programme. Many of the robots now know how to get back to the charger. We haven’t used this function because the robot is normally left in one room per day. After usage the dust bag is emptied and the appliance is put on the charger. If you want to use the robot mornings and evenings as well, it is worth using the automatic charging function, as after the morning session you only need to empty the bag once you are back home and the new session can immediately start. The robot is very thorough, therefore emptying the dust bag is highly recommended before usage. The vacuum intensity can by increased by using brushes which also need cleaning after 2-3 occasions. This is a bit more time consuming as hairs get stuck everywhere due to the winding motion.
If it is possible the area to be vacuumed should be well defined so that the robot will not get stuck. For that you should use the virtual wall you get with the robot. It cuts the route of the robot with infra signals. If you do not have an infra wall, cushions or a chair laid on the floor also does the job.
The latest robots map the room first and then begin to clean systematically. From my personal experience I would recommend this function only if there are a lot of obstacles in the room and this type of robot doesn’t cost much more than traditional models working with the chaotic method.
The battery normally lasts for 3 years and with well-known brands (e.g.: iRobot) spare parts are available. One of my robots was 10 years old and I basically got back a new one from them.
An example of this type of robot: https://www.irobot.com/for-the-home/vacuuming/roomba
We love the robot duster the most as it is easiest and simplest to clean and maintain. It functions as a self-propelled dusting cloth. The robot provides the self-propelling part, you have to install the duster before switching the appliance on. We use a simple furniture cloth on every surface (parquets, hard finish) that is not carpet. The chaos concept also works here but we also noticed that on large surfaces the robot works according to the logic of moving along and turning back. With a long programme a 20 m2 surface can be easily cleaned.
It is important to note that this way of cleaning isn’t equal to mopping the floor.
Here is an example for this type of robot: https://www.irobot.com/for-the-home/mopping
This type of robot is very sensitive about being maintained as it uses water. Usage means two distinct steps: first the robot is on and in the second step it is not on but the surface is drying. The latest models have a function for drying but I personally would buy this model only if I did not have to pay any extra. The most common technical problem is connected to the water pump. It is highly recommended to check the instructions as it is not obvious what parts of the appliance you need to clean. The robot is very thorough, it completely removes split fruit juice without leaving sticky stains behind. It is very important to use only non-foaming detergent! We often use warm water with low vinegar content.
An example of this type: https://www.robotguru.hu/irobot-scooba-450-felmoso-robot
Update: as far as I know, iRobot doesn’t produce its models any more. I assume because of maintenance and failure issues…
Robot window cleaner
The robot window cleaner works on the basis of creating vacuum between itself and the window pane and sustains vacuum while moving around. It is wired and the battery is to ensure that the appliance cannot fall off in case of power failure. It does not take into account obstacles, so it always looks for the top corner and horizontally moves forward and back it when cleaning the window. In my opinion it cannot cope with a round shape window. Detergent for cleaning goes in the pads at the bottom of the appliance. I normally apply some detergent on the window too. The result is reasonable as dust disappears but some marks are left behind. We made a mistake of using the robot on the external surface of the windows. The external side is much dirtier due to insects so the robot doesn’t work properly and vacuum force might disappear. If there is no vacuum, the robot falls off. Unfortunately our robot never recovered after an accident despite having been serviced. Therefore, based on our experience the price value ratio of the robot is really low as after one accident it cannot be used anymore.
Here is an example of the robot: https://www.ecovacs.com/us/winbot-window-cleaning-robot/WINBOT-850
Robot pool cleaner
This is also a wired appliance so you must bear in mind that it has to move without obstructions. The material of the cable enhances smooth operation on the surface of the pool, so I always place the cable on the water surface as much as possible. The robot works with a long operation time, much longer than other robot cleaners. More expensive versions also cope with steps and the side walls of the pool. Our appliance can clean about 30 cm of the sides, but it does that well. It continuously sucks water and filters it through a cloth bag. This bag needs cleaning after every use. The appliance was designed to filter small particles of dirt maximally, so it is not recommended to use it for cleaning your outdoor pool after winter.
Here is an example of the robot: https://www.irobot.com/for-the-home/outdoor-maintenance/mirra
Robot lawn mover
When choosing the type you must pay attention to the size of area the producer recommends it for. This recommendation should be taken as the maximum capacity of the appliance. Why so? Because this type of robot operates according to the idea of continuity. The running time of other types of robots is not much longer than a couple of hours, meanwhile, a robot lawn mower operates “continuously”. It always mows a bit, based on the principle of chaos, so it has to work relatively long and regularly in order to maintain the whole garden. Though we do not own this type of appliance, I cannot image it being used if you are a dog owner. Constant noise, even though not loud, can be disturbing in some cases. If you accept these inconveniences, you will have no problem with the results: you will get a nicely mowed lawn.
It is crucial that the operation area of the robot should be confined with wires before usage. Laying down the wire is not overly complicated task, no one should be afraid of it.
IMPORTANT QUESTION: who is the robot cleaner recommended for?
It is for those who don’t want to complete cleaning in one big project but are willing to “organise” it. Robots demand storing-charging and cleaning and maintaining, these jobs also require some level of organisation by the user.