You’ve probably seen the commercials on TV for the Roomba robot vacuum by iRobot. This vacuum is a small, battery-powered unit you can program to clean the floors for you. Now, there are many more models on the market. For those who don’t have a lot of time to devote to housecleaning, a robot vacuum cleaner may seem like a wonderful, time-saving option.
How Does It Work?
Robot vacuums clean the floor like a conventional vacuum. They have a motor and rotating brushes that pick up dirt and debris from the floor. Most models utilize infrared beams and sensitive touch pads to guide them around the home.
Instead of being directional, like traditional vacuums, self-driving units have wheels attached to different drive axles, so the machine can turn itself in any direction. This helps it navigate obstacles such as furniture.
The robot vacuum can also plug itself into its dock when it senses the battery is low. Newer models are self-mapping; the unit maps your floor plan, so it can remember where it stopped cleaning to charge.
Using a robotic vacuum is easy, but the time it takes to clean a single room will often be greater than the time you spend using a traditional machine. Newer models are programmable, so you can set them up to clean at specific times, whenever is convenient for you.
What to Consider Before Buying
Consider your home’s environment before purchasing a robotic vacuum. If you have multiple stories in your house, you’ll need to carry the unit to the different floors. Or, buy a unit for each floor, but these machines run around $500, so this option may not be for everyone.
If your home has tall thresholds between rooms, some units are not able to easily make the transition. This means you may have to physically move the robot from room to room.
What Are the Advantages?
Many robotic units are programmable, sometimes for up to seven days in advance. This enables you to set the vacuum to run when you’re not home or when you’re sleeping. This adds even more convenience to the unit. You can decide on the ideal occasion for your unit to operate.
Being a low-profile machine, a robot vacuum can clean under most furniture in ways a traditional unit can’t. No more moving the coffee table or trying to get your vacuum under it without moving it!
These robots can clean both carpet and hardwood or tile flooring, with no human assistance. This feature also enables some units to breach the small bump in the thresholds of different rooms.
Many units now come with wi-fi capability, which means you can use your smart phone to operate the machine, even if you’re not at home!
The robotic vacuum charges itself when it needs to, and even puts itself away when it’s through cleaning.
What Are the Disadvantages?
People who have pets may shake their heads at a robotic vacuum, and for good reason. Often, the rotating brushes in the unit clog up with dog hair just as a traditional vacuum does. And for lots of long dog hair, you’ll need to empty the container more often.
And, most pet owners can identify with the occasional pet mess. It happens to all pet owners now and again. The motorized vacuum unit has no way of identifying these messes, so it will drive right over them, spreading them throughout the rest of the room.
Robotic vacuums operate on rechargeable batteries, and you might find, after time, the battery grows weaker. Replacement batteries are available, but often they are expensive. Don’t get duped into buying off-brand batteries online, as many of these copies don’t have the same quality.
Robotic machines won’t clean your couch or car upholstery and can’t clean stairs. If you have more than a ground floor, you’ll have to move the unit up and down the stairs. Built-in sensors allow it to stop before falling down the stairs.
Robotic vacuums may still sound like science fiction, but these little machines may eventually change the way people clean their homes. They’re easy to use and are programmable to run at convenient times. This is the new wave in housekeeping!