Robotic vacuum cleaners – do they really work

Is the era of Wall-E here yet? Our busy lives and full schedules make us desire more and more fully automated help, even inside our houses. This is one desire that seems to be fulfilled by the arrival of robotic vacuum cleaners on the market, but skeptical as we habitually are, we can’t help but wonder if this novelty is for real.

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If we take a look at user reviews, these little minions seem to be not only real, but even very efficacious. What’s more, they integrate a bunch of helpful features to make them easy to control – by programming, remote control and even Wi-Fi connectivity. Virtual walls can be included in their memory in order to limit their activity range, and if the battery runs out, the device will return and plug itself to the charger. All these information might seem too good to be true, but let’s not forget the actual purpose of owning such an appliance: to pick up dirt, dust and hair from your carpets and floors. So do robotic vacuums do that as they should?

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There’s no need to go through entire pages of reviews and product specs to understand that manufacturers still have a lot of improvements to do in this area.


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First of all, the suction power of such a robotic vacuum cleaner is nowhere near that of a regular machine. While some models work perfectly for hard surfaces such as wooden floors, tiles and linoleum, the carpet is a true enemy of these small sweepers. That’s because hair and dirt tend to settle deep into and among the fibers of the carpet, and applying weak suction just can’t get it all out. Remember that most of the times when we’re dealing with this type of debris, we tend to walk even with the most powerful vacuum two or three times over the same place to have it completely cleaned. Whereas a robotic vacuum might just pass over it once, and not with much success.

Secondly, and this is rather a question of worth than of function, let’s assume you’ve programmed your device to vacuum every four hours during an entire day, in hope this will compensate for its weak suction power. How much energy power are you willing to pay for in order to make this work?

In my opinion, robotic vacuum cleaners would really work if their price would get low enough to say that they are accessories in a household cleaning department, and not tools by themselves.