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I spent a nice weekend at my uncle’s ranch recently. It was a much needed getaway for me, my wife and our three kids. They’ve been studying hard in school while we’ve been working overtime in order to save for a new home. The stress of it all was starting to build up so I decided to take the hour and half drive out to my uncle’s two and half acre property.
It’s a beautiful lot with access to a lake. He’s got all manner of animals but my family and I were captivated by his horses. Absolutely gorgeous and majestic creatures that are as intimidating as they are graceful. At first the kids were hesitant to touch the horses but by the second day they were riding the things like it was second nature.
That’s because it is.
One thing occurred to me during this excursion: human’s instincts for using tools is incredibly powerful. The children were scared of the strange animal but their evolutionary makeup allowed them to overcome that fear in order to figure out how to conquer that horse. The horse is simply a tool we used to get from place to place and it was cool to see my kid’s brains start to figure that out.
As we were leaving the ranch I let my daughter drive us home and she remarked that while she enjoyed the horses it was nice to get back into a car and go 70 mph. unfortunately our weekend was over and it was time to get back to regular life: work, school, and chores. My daughter had to clean the living room when we returned.
When she pulled out the old dusty vacuum we owned she said it was like riding a horse – difficult and old fashioned. I laughed but then it dawned on me how right she was.
I set out to find the next step in vacuum technology, what I found was that it was now the era of the robot vacuum. I and my family were behind and my daughter knew it.
In order to keep this from happening to you I’m going to show you five of the best robot vacuums on the market today.
The Roomba is a marvel of home technology created by the talented folks at iRobot. It’s fitting that the company has a name out of a sci fi flick because this thing runs like aliens built it.
The battery in the Roomba is incredibly powerful with users reporting run times of up to 160 minutes with no issues though it is recommended that you leave it running continuously for no more than 120 minutes.
The adapt 20 Navigation system means that you can set the Roomba to clean an entire level of your house and then leave it to do its thing. For someone who values time over all else I can’t tell you how convenient this is. Usually we get the kids to vacuum when they get home from school but with the Roomba we can now use that time to catch up with each other.
The artificial intelligence on this thing is something to behold as it will catalog previous obstacles it has dealt with and will no longer run into them. The Roomba “remembers” your home for all intents and purposes and uses that information to determine the best possible cleaning route.
For those worrying about suction power the Aero Force Cleaning System provides the level of power you see out of the most expensive standup offerings from companies like Kirby and Hoover. The Carpet Boost built into the Roomba allows it excel in cleaning rugs and heavy carpets.
We have 2 Labradors and a golden retriever running around the house all day everyday so hair is a big issue. Luckily the Roomba has tangle-free extractors that stops the hair from getting tangled in the machine. We have only had to take the machine apart once to clean it and because of the simple design the whole process took less than five minutes.
The IRobot HOME app means you can schedule and set the Roomba to start cleaning from anywhere you have cell phone service. Imagine my son’s glee as he was able to set his entire chore schedule up on the Roomba weeks in advance and still get paid for them. Welcome to the future.
The Roomba 980 comes in at just under $900 and for all the utility it provides that’s really a steal.
The IRobot Roomba 880
The 880 is another fantastic offering from the geniuses at iRobot. These guys really have the robot vacuum mastered and the 880 is a wonderful example.
The 880 can clean up to three rooms thanks to special sensors on the machine called Virtual Wall Lighthouse beacons. Watching this thing navigate our house, figure out where the dirt is, and then turn itself off when the rooms are clean is an incredible sight.
The Aero Force 3-stage Cleaning System makes another appearance here and is as powerful as ever. I’ve had friends complement our cleanliness and ask which local maid service we use. When we explain to them that a robot cleans our home they look at us like something out of Star Trek. It’s a cool feeling.
The 880 was built with families in mind and has a sturdy casing that can take a pounding. I’ve had 3 dogs and 2 boys go to work on this thing and it still works like when I bought it. Even the bin which has to be changed and replaced after every other use still clicks and locks right into place. A sign of quality manufacturing.
High-Efficiency Filter traps means that even fine dust and dirt particles are no match for the 880. I’ve had my son’s high school baseball team over and even the dust from the infield was easily found and picked up by my Roomba.
Coming in at $550 the Roomba 880 is the smart customer’s choice when it comes to robot vacs.
The iRobot Roomba 650
The 650 is the entry level robot vac offered by iRobot. While not as feature rich as its big brothers it still packs quite the punch as it perfect for the family looking for value.
The 3-stage Cleaning System is just as powerful in this version of the Roomba as the two outlined earlier. The 650 was the first Roomba we tried and it did the job beautifully. The dock and recharge system means that when the Roomba is not working it’s always in an easy to find spot and we don’t have to change any batteries.
Because we have tile, hardwood and shag carpet in the home it was important that our robot vacuum could handle multiple surfaces, luckily the Roomba was up for the challenge and can even handle laminate or marble floors if we had them.
You’re able to schedule up to 7 days’ worth of work on the 650 which is ideal for a busy family like ours.
At around $320 the Roomba 650 is perfect for anyone who’s looking to go the robot route but doesn’t know where to start.
The ILIFE A4 Robot Vacuum
The A4 from life is an extremely cute vac but don’t let that fool you, this thing is deceptively powerful.
Similar to the Roomba, the A4 employs a 3-step system to cleaning that ensures that even tough surfaces are left as spotless as you want them to be. An automatic dock and recharge system means there’s no wasting time and money dealing with batteries.
The form of the A4 was meticulously planned out, the low body helps to reduce tangling and allows the machine to access those hard to reach places in your home.
Like more expensive robot vac’s, the A4 allows you to schedule cleaning jobs up to a week in the future.
The A4 can run in spot mode which will clean any spot you choose, auto mode which allows the sensors to determine where the A4 should go next and manual mode which lets you control the A4 with a remote that the machine comes with.
Priced at $180 at most retailers, the A4 costs less that most maid services and with its great durability it should last you for years.
The Anker RoboVac10
The final robot vacuum I’d like to introduce you to be the Anker RoboVac 10. Available for only $200 the Anker might have the most value of any vacuum on this list.
The one that we ordered was black and my son started to call it the bat mobile and with all the cool features on it I can see why.
One of the sweetest things the RoboVac does is return to its charging dock when it has finished cleaning. This is really cool to watch and makes this machine one of the most hands off robo vacs on the market.
The high capacity Li-ion batteries means you don’t have to replace them for months at a time. The machine can run for up to an hour and a half unattended before it returns to dock. The state-of-the-art motor is designed to prolong battery life and does not suffer from loss of suction when battery levels are low.
Like the Roomba, the Anker offers spot and auto mode but it also offers an edge mode which makes cleaning around couches, chairs, and tables much more effective. The 3 stage cleaning system allows it to get deep down into the toughest of carpets while the gentle brushes means that it won’t destroy tile or laminate floors.
Another excellent feature on the Anker is its drop feature which keeps it from falling and helps to preserve your investment. Earlier versions of robot vacuums used to have the nasty habit of falling down stairs or off the side of porches and breaking themselves. Technology for these devices has come a long way and now these type of accidents are all but unheard of.
Some things to keep in mind
Now while Robot vac’s certainly represent the next step in home cleaning technology there are some best practices you should consider before using one.
First it’s important to remember that while the development of robot tech in vacuums ultimately saves family time, the first few times you use it the whole family will be watching the thing clean up, so prepare to waste time doing that.
Next it is important to look out for any cords or wires that may get caught in the vacuum. While the higher end robot vac’s will avoid these obstacles, some of the entry level options need to be watched out for.
The infrared sensors used on most of these vacuums are sensitive to natural sunlight so if you see your vacuum acting a little weird it might be wise to close the blinds until its done cleaning that area.
While the navigation on these machines is top notch it is not perfect and there are areas where they may find themselves stuck. Places where the machine is just too big to get through such as underneath a bed or couch can be problem areas for the vacuum depending on its size. After putting the machine into auto mode and letting it clean your house once you should have an idea of where these areas are.
It is absolutely imperative that you clean out the brushes on your robot vacuum more thoroughly than you would a traditional vacuum. Hair or other particles can potentially damage the bearings and other complex electrical systems that are in these vacuums.
I hope that I’ve shed some light on what I feel is an exciting addition to any home. It can seem that what we have is good enough but there was time when people though horses were fast enough to get us where we needed to go.
Step into the future
Our love for tools and innovation is what makes us human, do that side of you a favor and invest in a quality robot vacuum. You’ll be glad you did and it might even change the way you think about other appliances around the house.