How we check robotic vacuums at ZDNET in 2024

How we check robotic vacuums at ZDNET in 2024
How we check robotic vacuums at ZDNET in 2024

Robot vacuums and mops, Yeedi, Roborock, Ecovacs Deebot, Dreame, SwitchBot, Eufy, Narwal

Maria Diaz/ZDNET

Robotic vacuums have grow to be indispensable within the cleansing routines of many households — an estimated 14% of Americans now personal one. You do not have to stay within the Jetsons to have a robotic roaming round your private home cleansing up after your children and pets

Although iRobot was a groundbreaking robotic vacuum model within the US, the market has grown exponentially previously 5 years. In an try and sustain with rising client demand, new and current vacuum manufacturers have entered the robotics market, reaching the purpose of saturation. This has made it tougher to decide on a tool when purchasing for a robotic vacuum. 

Additionally: The best robot vacuums for 2024: Expert tested and reviewed

Selecting a model and a robotic vacuum could be difficult, with decisions of self-washing mops, sturdy suction energy, self-emptying dustbins, and different further equipment and options. Our mission at ZDNET is to interrupt down which options are greatest fitted to which individuals and which vacuums are one of the best available on the market by way of complete testing and analysis. 

How we check robotic vacuums in 2024

Yeedi M12 Pro+ robot vacuum and mop

Maria Diaz/ZDNET

ZDNET has a number of workers reviewers testing robotic vacuums to ship clear, unbiased evaluations and data that helps readers select one of the best robotic vacuum for his or her wants. Up to now, we have examined round 30 robotic vacuums, together with robot vacuum mop combos

As a sensible house fanatic and robotic vacuum fanatic, I get pleasure from testing robotic vacuums in my house, the place I can expose these units to completely different environments and phenomena, largely triggered by my canine or younger kiddos. Concurrently, ZDNET has a separate laboratory to conduct managed testing and analysis. This information will cowl how we check robotic vacuums in every setting.

What makes a robotic vacuum ZDNET really useful?

Eufy Clean X9 Pro CleanerBot

Maria Diaz/ZDNET

At ZDNET, we solely advocate robotic vacuums that we have examined ourselves, so our workforce recommends each primarily based on real-world expertise. For a robotic vacuum to be ZDNET-recommended, we count on it to fulfill a number of necessities:

  • Efficiency: We take into account options like suction energy and the way successfully the robotic vacuums up particles on completely different ground sorts. Good efficiency additionally contains evaluating its navigation and mapping programs, together with impediment avoidance. We assess whether or not the battery life is adequate to scrub the specified areas on a single cost or if the robotic options computerized recharge-and-resume capabilities.
  • Person expertise: The person expertise is central to having fun with a tool, from unboxing to long-term use. At ZDNET, we consider whether or not a tool options easy setup, use, and upkeep and one of the best viewers for which every robotic vacuum is greatest suited. 
  • Versatility and options: Producers usually make guarantees to make their robots stand out from the competitors, however delivering on these guarantees just isn’t straightforward. We consider whether or not a tool delivers on its specs, together with how nicely its mopping characteristic works, whether or not it really is ‘probably the most highly effective suction available on the market,’ the way it cleans tight areas, and different distinctive differentiating options.
  • Gadget longevity: As a result of robotic vacuums are costly, we all know they don’t seem to be impulse buys—as an alternative, they’re fastidiously thought-out purchases. By testing these robots for prolonged intervals of time, we assess whether or not they ship constant efficiency with minimal points in the long run, sturdiness, and person upkeep necessities.

Unboxing course of

From starting to finish, my in-home robotic vacuum testing course of includes fixed note-taking and visible documentation with pictures and movies. I start by unboxing the robotic vacuum and taking pictures and notes of the method, together with the setup expertise, packaging high quality, and equipment. 

Yeedi Cube

Maria Diaz/ZDNET

I consider the robotic’s construct high quality and design and assess whether or not it has further options that make it stand out from opponents. These might embrace a self-emptying handheld vacuum, an extendable mop pad, or a sweeper brush. 

Organising a testing setting

ZDNET lab testing

The ZDNET/CNET testing lab has completely different environments to run and observe robotic vacuums as they carry out.

Chris Bayer/ZDNET

As a result of my canine stays on the primary ground of my house, I are likely to conduct most of my testing there. I do that to guage how the robots carry out when accumulating pet hair and dirt and the way they clear up the kitchen. 

The primary ground of my house additionally has completely different ground sorts, together with tile, hardwood, and short- and medium-pile carpet. 

I even have a 10-foot by 5-foot enclosure on my carpet and hardwood to guage the patterns vacuums use to scrub up. Robotic vacuum customers favor a linear cleansing technique, the place the robotic navigates the world in traces, making certain no spots are missed and leaving carpet traces that point out the ground’s simply been vacuumed.

Roborock S8 MaxV Ultra robot vacuum and mop

Maria Diaz/ZDNET

Nevertheless, some robotic vacuums clear in several patterns or have completely different mapping procedures, so I prefer to see how a person robotic vacuum navigates my enclosure and how briskly it does it to report any variations with opponents.

Efficiency testing and metrics

As soon as the robotic is ready up, I let it run by way of the home to create an area map. To do that, it is best to scrub up objects from the ground and place furnishings the place it is purported to go to make sure the robotic creates an correct map. 


Mapping can contain operating the robotic for a mapping spherical the place it vacuums your total ground, which might take as much as about an hour, or it might simply roll round making a map with its LiDAR sensors, which ought to solely take a couple of minutes. 

Testing suction energy

Yeedi Cube

Maria Diaz/ZDNET

As a result of I take notes and pictures all through the method, I consider any guarantees made by the producer and assess whether or not the robotic delivers on them. If a robotic vacuum guarantees the strongest suction available on the market, I see the way it lives as much as this declare.

I take advantage of completely different particles sorts to see how the robotic suctions every up. I’ve discovered glow-in-the-dark sand that I can unfold on completely different ground sorts to check how a lot the robotic picks up visually. I additionally use a kitchen scale to weigh how a lot sand or crumbs I unfold after which evaluate that weight to what the robotic picked up. 

Widespread particles in my testing merchandise contains kinetic sand, espresso grounds, cracker crumbs, Cheerios, pet hair, and kibble. 

Navigating obstacles

Roborock S8 MaxV Ultra robot vacuum and mop

Maria Diaz/ZDNET

Testing robotic vacuums additionally includes watching how they navigate round corners, furnishings, and tight areas and the way they keep away from obstacles. Whereas some robotic vacuums could wrestle to maneuver round furnishings or below couches, others wrestle to keep away from massive particles on the ground and get their brush curler jammed. 

This is the completely different know-how that robotic vacuums use for impediment avoidance:

  • Bump sensors: Some easier robotic vacuums have bump sensors that detect bodily contact with objects. When these robots bump right into a chair leg, they know to alter course to navigate round it. 
  • Infrared sensors: These sensors are a fundamental impediment avoidance technique and a step up from bump sensors. Infrared sensors emit infrared gentle and measure the reflection to calculate the gap from objects to keep away from collisions. These sensors are additionally generally used to detect stairs and preserve the robotic from falling.
  • VSLAM sensors: Visible simultaneous localization and mapping (VSLAM) know-how makes use of cameras to map the robotic’s cleansing space. The photographs captured by the cameras are processed with algorithms to grasp the world’s structure.
  • LiDAR sensors: The Mild detection and ranging (LiDAR) sort of sensor creates an correct, high-resolution map of the world, reaching excessive ranges of element. LiDAR sensors emit pulses of laser gentle and measure the time it takes for the laser to bounce again after hitting an object. The robotic then calculates the gap primarily based on the time delay and creates a exact 3D map of its environment.

Some robotic vacuums mix artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms with their sensor array to map out obstacles on the ground, utilizing picture recognition to determine them.

Eufy Clean X9 Pro CleanerBot

Maria Diaz/ZDNET

Throughout testing, I intently monitor how robotic vacuums navigate furnishings and tight areas and whether or not they know to keep away from small ones. Having to choose up each single merchandise or cable from the ground earlier than operating a robotic vacuum detracts from the comfort one would count on from such a tool. I favor to have my robotic vacuum keep away from my wayward charging cable moderately than have it get caught on it and minimize its cleansing quick whereas I am out of the home.

If a robotic guarantees to keep away from obstacles strewn across the ground, I guarantee it delivers. To check it, I take advantage of bigger particles, like socks, wadded-up paper towel sheets, cables, small items of paper, small toys, leaves, and different objects.

Mopping characteristic

SwitchBot Mini Robot Vacuum K10+

Maria Diaz/ZDNET

A robotic vacuum with a bonus mopping characteristic is a good way to maintain your flooring clear and shining. Sadly, some promise greater than they’ll ship. 

Throughout testing, I observe how the robotic mops and the way successfully it removes stains on laborious flooring, like dry mud and occasional. After the robotic is finished, I guarantee to verify the flooring to see whether or not it leaves streaks or residue. 

Robots are likely to mop superficially. Many drag a microfiber pad throughout the ground that will or could not vibrate, whereas others have two rotating microfiber mop pads. Many could return to the bottom station periodically to clean their mop pads, then return to the cleansing job. However very like if an individual have been dragging a moist wipe or microfiber fabric throughout soiled flooring, the pad will inevitably get too soiled to scrub successfully — the identical occurs with robotic mops.

Extra lately, robotic mops have advanced into mop rollers, which spin contained in the robotic and are scrubbed with clear water whereas the soiled water is stored individually. This final modality ensures the robotic solely mops with clear water. 

Additionally: The best robot vacuum mops: Expert tested and reviewed

ZDNET’s lab testing

ZDNET lab testing

ZDNET’s testing lab has completely different testing environments that robotic vacuums should run by way of.

Chris Bayer/ZDNET

Together with my testing in my house setting, we additionally check almost each robotic vacuum on the ZDNET lab in Louisville, Ky., for a extra managed expertise. 

On the lab, the workforce unboxes the robotic vacuum, measures the nozzle’s width, and weighs the vacuum’s dustbin. The lab has a testing rig with a set floor space to sprinkle particles on and consider how the robotic cleans it. 

Particles contains sand, black rice, and pet hair and is unfold over completely different ground surfaces, together with low-pile, medium-pile, and laborious flooring. 

Lab testing requires completely different methodologies for numerous particles sorts. Sand and black rice are assessed with weight, whereas pet hair inevitably will get tangled on the comb curler, so the outcomes are typically sight-based.

Further options

Deebot X2 Combo Complete

Maria Diaz/ZDNET

Throughout efficiency testing, I make word of any particular options that make the robotic vacuum in query completely different from others. Totally different robotic vacuums promote distinctive options to face out, whether or not it is a sq. form, distinctive impediment avoidance, extendable arms, particular mopping options, or different bonus functionalities. 

I consider whether or not these differentiating components carry out as promised and if they’re really distinctive available on the market.

Person expertise

The app expertise could make or break a robotic vacuum, particularly for customers who do not leverage sensible integrations, like Amazon Alexa or Google Residence, for voice management. If a person depends on the app to manage their robotic vacuum, the app must be user-friendly and dependable.

Throughout testing, I assess how the app performs and whether or not it is dependable or not. I’ve discovered some robots have inconsistent connection points, making you wait too lengthy to connect with the robotic whenever you open the app. Person-friendliness makes an app straightforward to navigate, but it surely additionally offers customers quite a lot of capabilities and customizations to allow them to really feel in charge of their machine. 

Lengthy-term testing

Ecovacs Deebot T30S Combo robot vacuum and mop

Maria Diaz/ZDNET

I check all robotic vacuums for no less than a month, however generally, I write about my first impressions inside every week or two of testing. Whereas I check robotic vacuums, I make sure that my evaluations are up to date as new observations come up. 

Although many good options are strikingly apparent when testing a robotic, points usually tend to come up throughout repeated, long-term testing. I’ve had robots instantly cease following the map they created after months of utilizing it, forcing me to delete the map and recreate it. After just a few months of use, I’ve additionally had a robotic current a brush roll subject, so long-term testing is essential to evaluate how nicely a robotic vacuum performs.

Choosing the proper robotic vacuum is dependent upon a number of exterior components and person preferences, however a number of components have to be thought-about to make sure it meets the person’s wants. Listed below are some key components to remember when selecting a robotic vacuum:

  • Flooring sorts: Totally different circumstances require a distinct set of options. When you’ve got largely carpet in your house, you in all probability do not want a high-end mopping characteristic in a robotic vacuum, however you’ll need sturdy suction. Equally, in case you have largely laborious flooring, you seemingly want good suction and a terrific mopping characteristic.
  • Mapping and impediment avoidance: Entry-level robotic vacuum fashions use infrared sensors, whereas high-end fashions leverage LiDAR, VSLAM, and AI to navigate houses and acknowledge objects. For those who do not wish to choose up each sock and charging cable out of your flooring earlier than every cleansing, you’d do higher with a high-end mannequin with efficient impediment avoidance. Some iRobot fashions have P.O.O.P., a know-how that identifies and avoids going over pet messes.
  • Battery life: When selecting a robotic vacuum, take into account the world you need it to cowl and whether or not you’d prefer it to scrub all the space on a single cost. Bigger areas, like a complete ground, could require an extended battery life. Additionally, take into account that almost all fashions can robotically recharge and resume cleansing in the course of a session.
  • Suction energy: Pets improve pet hair, dander, mud, and particles in your flooring. Properties with pets might use sturdy suction to take away particles from carpets and corners. Sturdy suction is nice for houses with pets and plenty of carpets, however a 10000Pa suction energy is not obligatory for laborious flooring.

Ceaselessly Requested Questions

Robotic vacuums, like conventional vacuums, have a suction system with a brush curler that picks up particles from the ground and disposes of it in a dustbin inside. Moreover, robotic vacuums use a mixture of sensors and a navigation system to scrub flooring robotically. They’re able to cleansing an space, avoiding obstacles of their path, after which returning to the charging dock to recharge.

A robotic vacuum’s battery life is dependent upon the mannequin, however you may anticipate finding robots that may final from 60 to 160 minutes per cost. The upper-end fashions provide the longest battery life. Most robotic vacuums can recharge robotically throughout a cleansing session after which resume the job when the battery is sufficiently charged.

Robotic vacuums have grow to be refined to the purpose the place there are fashions that may deal with pet hair extra effectively than others. Many fashions characteristic sturdy suction and brushes designed to choose up pet hair successfully, with some even together with a built-in detangling system throughout the robotic to take away pet hair from the comb because it rolls throughout cleanings.

As a naked minimal, a robotic vacuum that may deal with pet hair ought to have a rubber brush, a big dustbin, and a self-emptying system, with bonus factors if the robotic can self-empty as wanted throughout a cleansing.

Sure, robotic vacuums require routine upkeep. Common upkeep contains cleansing and changing filters, emptying the dustbin, checking brushes for hair or particles, and changing sweeper brushes. 

If a robotic vacuum has a self-emptying system that empties its dustbin right into a mud bag on the base station, it must be changed each seven weeks at most.

Robotic vacuum and mop combos can require extra intervention. Conventional mixture robots require manually washing the mop pads and refilling the water tank. 

Self-washing robotic vacuums and mops return to the dock to clean the mop pads, so that they require the person to fill the clear water tank and empty the soiled water tank each few cleansing periods. These fashions additionally require customers to scrub the bottom station’s washing sink, the place the mop pads are washed, each few cleanings. 

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