Robot vacuum cleaners have been available for ten or so years, but are only now starting to come to the fore in terms of affordability and widespread use. If you’re guilty of letting work or laziness get in the way of you keeping your floors clean, then one of these buzzy little companions may be for you. A robot vacuum cleaner does not have the same volume and capacity for deep cleaning that a normal handheld vacuum cleaner has, but their small size means that they can easily reach floorspace a normal cleaner won’t. What is more, they do it while you are watching television, or even while you’re out of the house: the latest models can be programmed to automatically start cleaning at certain times of day.
The best robot vacuum cleaners will offer a variety of cleaning patterns. You want a device that will cover as much floor as possible, as frequently as possible. This is why a robot vacuum cleaner that can be programmed to clean the floor at random, move around the room in spirals, and move systematically back and forth is a useful thing.
Some robot vacuum cleaners include auto-docking and recharging modes. These devices will automatically recognize when they are running low on power, and will return to the doc to recharge.
Be sure to speak with your supplier about the kinds of floor you are hoping your robot vacuum cleaner will clean. Thick, shaggy carpets do not sit well with many robot vacuum cleaners’ little wheels, and some have sensors that will not respond to certain coloured floors.
The Vileda Cleaning Robot is at the lower end of the price range (around £200). Rather than offering a range of complex programs and scanning sensors, it simply bumps gently against anything that gets in its way and automatically changes direction, continuing with its persistent cleaning cycle.
Around the £400 mark, the Neato BotVac75 beats the Vileda Cleaning Robot on sophistication: its laser scanners map out your home as it drives around. It also has a larger capacity than most comparable machines. Pet owners applaud its ability to suck away animal hairs. It is however quite loud, so you probably will want to employ the automated timer and have it clean while you are out.
Lit up like a little droid from Star Wars, the Maplin Mini Robotic Vacuum Cleaner is a steal at £60, but you get what you pay for in terms of sophistication. It is equipped with sensors to prevent it falling downstairs, but is not really a heavy-duty machine. That said, it’s enough to do the job in a teenager’s bedroom or a student’s bedsit.