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Robot Vacuums Buying guide

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At Gadget-Freakz we reviewed a number of Robot Vacuums and are still using them on a daily basis. When working on the post of the Alfawise V8S Pro, we discovered that we actually gained a lot of experience in buying, testing and using these Robot Vacuums. Probably everyone has seen the video of dog poop spread by a robot vacuum and cats riding the vacuum. But with this Robot Vacuums Buying Guide we share our lessons learned that can help you when deciding to buy a Robot Vacuum in a China Web shop.

Our current top three Robot Vacuums we tested:

  1. Alfawise V8S PRO E30B, a budget vacuum with mopping function and app integration.
  2. Xiaomi Mi Robot Vacuum, a high end vacuum.
  3. Alfawise ZK8077, a budget no-nonsense robot vacuum.

Determine your budget for a robot vacuum

The most important lesson from this budget guide is where to get your Robot Vacuum: If you buy it locally, prices of the better brands (like the iRobot Roomba) start around $500 for a basic model. If you are happy with this, go ahead! But if you want a cheaper (and often better) Robot Vacuum, you should check out the different China webshops. You can get a Robot Vacuum for less than $100, but some of the more advanced Robot Vacuums sell for over $500. Determine your budget and find out what functionality you want for that money. As the Alfawise V8S PRO E30B shows, you can get a decent vacuum that also mops your floor for a little over 160 dollar. If you throw in another 100, you get the Alfawise V9S BL517 Robot Vacuum Cleaner with more advanced room mapping technology.

Another tip to get the most out of your budget, is to wait for a Flash Sale or look for a discount code. However buying a previous model in a clearance sale can save you even more.

Consider specific brands and brand clones

Why do you buy a Samsung phone or an LG Television? These brands offer you a degree of safety in quality but this comes at a price. the also applies for this Robot Vacuum Buying Guide. Xiaomi is clearly the king of the hill: this brand, or its associated brands Mi and Roborock offer very high-quality Robot Vacuums. But these come at a price. An examples is the Roborock S50, which is a top notch Robot Vacuum but it will set you back over $400. Samples of less premium brands are iLife and Alfawise. The Alfawise V9S BL517 has similar features but will cost you a lot less. Some of the vacuums are also released under several brands with minor changes in its design, so it is perfectly possible you will find a clone of a premium brand at a much lower price. So, keeping that in mind can save you up to a hundred bucks.

Know what basic functionality to expect

Although the Robot Vacuums become more technologically advanced, the basis functionality remained the same over the years. There is a suction vent on the bottom of the vacuum, with a central brush to get the dust in. on the sides of the vacuum there are side brushes that guide the dust towards the suction vent. Most of the Robot Vacuums come with an auto-clean function. This means when you start it, it cleans the room automatically and returns to its base station when it is done or almost runs out of battery. Some of the vacuums have an UV light to kill bacteria and germs while vacuuming the floor.

The main brush (removed) with the installed side brushes of the Alfawise ZK8077.

You at least need a Remote Vacuum that comes with either remote control, an app or both. So you can start it remotely, control it directly and access more advanced features like scheduling. An app can also provide insight in the wear of some of the replaceable parts.

A newer feature in Robot Vacuums is mopping the floor. On the back of the vacuum a nano fiber mop can be installed that mops the floor after vacuuming it. The Robot Vacuum contains a water reservoir to keep the mop wet. The mop can be cleaned in the washing machine. The only concern is that you need to be extra cautious that the vacuum does not get stuck (because it then will release water on that spot) and the mop and a carpet do not go together well. This can be prevented by setting zones in the more advanced features in the app or by using a virtual wall.

The mop installed on the Alfawise V8S Pro.

Decide how smart the vacuum needs to be

The Robot Vacuum contains a lot of sensors. This is to prevent it running into things and falling of the stairs. There are also smarter features that map the room in order to get to an optimal cleaning pattern. The more advanced models enable you to determine zones in the mapped room and to define virtual walls.

Connecting to the Internet and your Privacy

A smart device can be accessed in multiple ways, but when using advanced features or an app it can also connect to a cloud service. This means that in theory someone of the cloud service can see the status of your device and have access to your virtual room map. You may think this sounds alarming, but its the same as what happens when register an account for example the Xiaomi Mi App to use any device. The Xiaomi company privacy policy can be compared with other big tech companies, but you should be aware that when using your Robot Vacuum, your data can be send to China.

How to integrate it in your Smart Home

Some Robot Vacuums can be voice controlled by Amazon Alexa and Google Home. This applies for nearly all the Xiaomi branded vacuums. Nearly always this is clearly stated as a product feature on the product page. What often is less obvious to find out, is if the Vacuum can be integrated in your smart home system. Especially the systems Home Assistant or Domoticz. The bare minimum you can do is use a IR controller to simulate the remote control. In an easy way you can control the Robot Vacuum from your Smart Home system. This is a useful solution for ‘less intelligent’ Vacuums with only a remote control and without WiFi or app integration. If you plan to further integrate the Robot Vacuum into your Smart Home system, you can start a quick Google search on whether your device is supported. Home Assistant has support for a number of vacuums, including the Xiaomi Mi, and the iRobot Roomba. But when looking broader than the official site you will find custom components of a bigger set of vacuums.

Don’t forget the Spare Parts

When you used the Robot Vacuum for a while, you probably want to keep your vacuum running smoothly. Therefore, your need to replace a couple of the parts of your vacuum. Some of them require replacement each couple of months, other will last for over a year. Luckily, all spare parts are widely available and are mainly generic. And shopping around helps to save you some money.

  • Main Brush: the main brush will last to over a year.
  • Side Brushes: these will also last to over a year, or until they show wear.
  • HEPA Filters: the HEPA filters need to be replaced every three months.
  • Nano Mop: you can wash this mop in your washing machine, so replace it when it starts to wear.

Depending on the type of Robot Vacuum you decide to buy, sometimes replacement kits are available for the specific model. The more advanced models with app support will also inform you on the lifespan of the replaceable parts.

The spare part kit of the Xiaomi Mi Robot Vacuum.

There are also ways to protect your Robot Vacuums against scratches by using protection stickers. By using these stickers you also change the appearance. Although we really don’t like them, we don’t stand in your way to express yourself by mutilating your robot vacuum.

Finally: the last preparations

Nearing the end of this Robot Vacuum Buy Guide, there are a few things to consider. First, have a look at the height of the furniture in the room you want to use the vacuum in. Check whether the robot vacuum can vacuum under your couch. This will save you the frustration when you eventually need to do it manually. Second: make sure to properly lie your cables in the room. Make sure your robot vacuum will not get stuck in the cables.

The very last tip is an obvious one: choose the version with right power plug. Eventually you can fix a wrong power plug with an adapter. But just save yourself the hassle by making sure you buy the proper version right away. Check out our other general tips on buying in a China web shop. For example, buying from a warehouse in the EU to speed up the shipping time. Have a happy purchase!

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