The following robot vacuum comments will primarily address Roborock products because I have more experience with theirs than with other makes. I have also had Roombas, so that experience is taken into consideration.
For small home and apartment dwellers, a robot vacuum is not the best plan. Simple, less feature-rich robots could be just what you want or feel you need.
OR, maybe not a robot vacuum, ANY robot vacuum? Let’s see where this takes us.
- Bare floors are a robot vacuum’s friend.
- Carpeting and rugs that represent the majority of floor coverings are best maintained with a stick vac or traditional vacuum.
If you prefer going old school for much less money than any excuse-proof robot vacuum and with minimal maintenance cost or time consuming upkeep, then do that! An excuse-proof robot vacuum is one that the owner doesn’t wish was better, more feature-rich and more expensive. That is, a robovac that the owner does not feel an “excuse” is necessary in answer to the question, “Why do I have this thing?”
**As an Amazon Associate, I may receive a small commission from qualifying purchases through links in MrGadget.com articles. Your cost will be identical.**
With no batteries to deal with and, with care, a very long and happy nearly maintenance-free life, there is NOTHING wrong with an excellent corded upright vacuum. I still use mine and would not for a nanosecond think of giving it up. Here is a favorite from Dyson, though any similar model will be more than adequate for most homes. None of my numerous Dysons have failed since my first Dyson review in 1993! They are handed down to family and friends.
I am not a fan of corded vacuums other than Dyson. I would not buy nor recommend any other brand. ALL the others just can’t compare or compete. You will read why in the linked Dyson review above.
Many cordless so-called “stick vacs” are also competitive and may be a good choice depending upon the size of your place and the bottom line costs and how much dirt there is in your place. More on this choice later.
Is there an inherent advantage to robot vacuums?
From the set-it-and-forget-it mentality of marketers, consumers have been groomed towards the robovac trend.
ALL vacuuming requires access to the flooring. Traditional vacuums from the very first one must be maneuvered under and around obstacles, right? The move-things-as-you-go model has worked since the dawn of vacuuming and it still does. Except for a pair of large area rugs and a few mats, other items in the way on the floor, the flooring here at Gadget Central is unencumbered tile.
Ah, but fully- or semi-autonomous robot vacuuming is at its best when the path is cleared in advance. In my world, this means moving the chairs out from fully nested positions under the dining room table. Any robot vac has to negotiate a path without obstructions so it can do its job. The dance of the dining room chairs has to consider that they need to be away from the table yet still allow room all around it for the robot to go between the chair legs, easily run under the table and use the space around the perimeter of obstacles to go on its merry path from room to room.
The chairs around the kitchen table must be picked up, overturned and placed upside down on their chair pads on top of that table or a robot vacuum cannot find and clean efficiently underneath and around it.
Mats & rugs on the kitchen floor have to be picked up and stowed, usually atop the pile on the kitchen table leaving the floor as clear as possible for both vacuuming and floor scrubbing.
The family room/den presents its own challenges. There is a couch with electric seating. It’s not going to move for anything and there is no path available to clean underneath even with the footrests extended.
A pair of electric media chairs needs their footrests extended so a robot can crawl part way underneath and clean.
Also in that large room is a computer desk. The computer chair needs to be moved away for access under the desktop. While there are places to the left and right of the foot area, they are not high enough off the ground for any vacuum access. Cleaning under there requires a Swiffer or similar device, an improvised mop with a damp rag or a traditional vacuum’s attachments.
But wait, there’s more! The dog’s bed must be set aside for access to the flooring. Now, that’s a good dog!
And what about a very large area rug on the tile floor? It is just another item for the robovac to deal with. In the instance of a robot vacuum with its built-in mop, the mop automatically stops washing the floor when it senses the carpet and it tucks itself up and out of the way while vacuuming the rug. That rug, any rug, is a magnet for debris tracked in and on our shoes as well as brought in by our little beastie. All that dust and particulate matter stays on the rug (or carpet) until the robot’s brush or traditional vacuum’s beater, roller and suction excites the particles, then extracts them into the vacuum’s dirt or dust bin. It takes much greater suction to vacuum carpets and rugs than bare floors.
There is a step down into the living room that is not possible to negotiate autonomously. Someone has to pick up the robot and place her in the living room.
Keep in mind that basic robot vacuums move about and attempt to cover an area without mapping or a deliberate plan. Sophisticated robots use some sort of mapping technology to find their way, make note of the terrain, remember it and figure out the best way to do a complete job by approaching the area, room or whole house intelligently in an across fashion as well as in an up and down direction. When manually vacuuming, don’t you vacuum in one direction and then cover the area from the opposite plane, as if going across the grain?
There are a couple of rugs from the family room/den in the hall on the way to the door that leads into the garage. Make a hard right before the garage to find the powder room. Up comes the padded mat in front of the sink. Up comes the spare TP rolls holder and a little basket of reading materials from the floor. And the toilet cleaning tools have to go somewhere else during the robot’s prowl. Fortunately, vanities in all bathrooms, upstairs and downstairs, are wall-hung making for easy underneath robot access.
And there is still more! Getting the picture?
Each bedroom has its own unique layout. One has a king size bed that rests on a raised frame. This one has no access under the bed, so there is no way to clean underneath it. There are other items on the floor, some of which are robot-accessible underneath. One dresser sits on feet with about four inches of clearance and is robot accessible. It’s the same story underneath the end tables, which are also robovac-friendly.
I think we are not alone in having to find a convenient time to prep, then turn loose the robot to do her thing. Doing so means that nothing else can comfortably be going on during robot cleaning. Either we are in the way, she is in the way, or the robot’s sound is too much for working or watching a movie. Yes, I know this is a bit crazy, but home is my work lab, so everything is used here while we live, where we live.
I usually set my Roborock to both vacuum and wet mop the floors. I employ the wet-moping routine to be executed three times to be assured of not only good coverage, but also of effective cleaning. Roborock makes available a reasonably-priced, branded, highly concentrated cleaning solution to add to the clean water reservoir that, in turn, is filled into the onboard clean water tank on the S7 MaxV Ultra and into their cordless wet/dry Dyad vacuum.
I know of no one whose home is free of everything on the floors. With today’s WFH (Work From Home) setups, office spaces often have things on floors that should be off limits to robots and otherwise carefully cleaned with traditional or stick vacuums. Washing those floor spaces takes added thought. In most cases, there will be electrical and computer wires to be left alone.
In the bedrooms, well, use your imagination. There is usually floor stuff that must be moved to provide as much free reign for the robo.
Does your head hurt from thinking and considering if your living space would benefit from the newest robot vacuum technology?
Take a step back and remember that only you can decide if any robot vacuum technology is right for you.
Think clearly. Robot vacuums work most efficiently when they can be set to do large and open areas, if not the entire home. While the robo is off on her programmed rounds, using another, more traditional, manually operated vac can get to work elsewhere.
Summarizing, I am a fan robot vacuums. BUT, the big BUT, they are not for every consumer and I want more than anything else for readers to make informed decisions, not ones based on marketing pressure.
What about stick vacuums as an alternative to corded models? Here is where there are some worthy options, with Dyson still the king at the high end, but at a higher price. Dyson is a big target and the world has studied and copied their best technology and designs, starting with cyclonic head designs from Dyson’s corded models.
Dyson’s superior cordless design provides the best air filtration and the best in washable on-board filters. That’s what I look for, a minimum of maintenance required and little to no consumables. No need to buy new filters. No need to wash or otherwise clean the air path after every use or even after a couple of uses. Not all stick vacs require so little care.
My current go-to stick vac is from Roborock, with a review link coming up. But first, let’s take a look at the lower end.
I recently bought a couple of lower end models just to try them. The first was this ORFELD model for $191 before an instant $50 coupon. Not a bad price! I like its power and that it has a trigger lock. It is ideal for small places. Also in the plus column is the sensor that automatically adjust the power level based on need, though this was not foolproof. The extedible tube was another plus. I missed having a flexible snorkel-like adapter that could be bend and extended as needed. I also was less than thrilled with the need to wipe off the stainless steel filter on the dust cup after each use AND the need to wash out the other filter, perhaps after each use, depending upon how dirty it became. I returned it!
The other recent purchase was an upgrade from the ORFELD. This was a eufy by Anker, HomeVac S11 Infinity for which I paid $164. I chose it because it came from Anker, a name I trust for phone and other chargers. This model, not much more expensive than the ORFELD, has the snorkel I like, it comes with a second battery and is just as easy to use. It lacks the trigger lock. It also comes with two brush rollers, one for bare floors and one for carpeted floors. It’s a keeper and will be ideal for the person for whom it is intended, a young woman moving to her first small, single apartment. Sure, it requires the same kind of care as most of the other inexpensive stick vacs. The roller brush for carpeting needs a haircut after each use. The dust cup needs a wash after a few uses. There are two washable filters that should not need replacement for quite a while, and they are inexpensive. In her small space, she can wall mount the provided holder and keep it there, ready to use always.
If you have not read my review of the Roborock H7 stick vacuum, now is a good time to do so. This is what I recommend and what grab.
Be on the lookout for a long-overdue top-of-the-line robot vacuum review, the Roborock S7 MaxV Ultra. I had to get this off my chest first.
What do you think? Let me know! Please email me. MrGadget at MrGadget dot com.