Experiences with robotic vacuum cleaners in a family with children and dogs.
Author Juha Karjalainen
The Uff-E family vacuum cleaner has now been put to the test for a while in the Longhair Hippie dog household. Despite much "Doesn't work in our house because, two floors, dogs, long hair, thick carpets, cat next door, stars are in the wrong position,
Below I'll go through a few ideas that came to mind since I first mentioned the robotic vacuum cleaner, so maybe this will help others considering a robotic vacuum cleaner.
The new roommate of the unsuspecting ruffle arrived in a cardboard box.
"There's not enough suction power in those things."
Of course, this was a big concern for a battery-powered vacuum cleaner. Having got used to the suction power of a 2.5kw vacuum cleaner, it seemed somehow ridiculous to even imagine that such a battery-powered sweeper could keep the apartment clean. How wrong I was. This rogue's cleaning skills are largely based on brushes and flippers. As long as the main brush is at least reasonably clean of hair, the cleaning record is OK. Sure, some of the debris occasionally flies aside, but Uff-E does pick up the mess from time to time anyway. The whole thing is based on the fact that the time between vacuuming is significantly reduced from what it normally is. So the number of vacuuming cycles and brushes compensate for the suction power. On the other hand, it is possible to adjust the suction power of the appliance.
"Probably works in a household without children, but not in ours"
In a household with children under school age, the children have been very interested in the new occupant. They've come up with nicknames for it, and the boy in particular can be made to vacuum his own room by handing him a vacuum cleaner applar, which can be used to remotely control the vacuum cleaner like any other remote control.
"Doesn't work for us because we have dogs. It's all clogged up with that amount of hair!"
We have 3 dogs in our household. One amstaff and two long-haired Alaskan malamutes. Of these, the amstaff is practically always indoors and the malamutes every now and then. However, there is quite a lot of hair left. The first test was, of course, to see what these furry monkeys thought of their new roommate. The answer is practically nothing. After the first bump, the amstaff practically can't open his eyes even when the vacuum cleaner hits the muzzle. Alaskan malamutes, on the other hand, effectively leave poodles around. Of course, this makes you wonder how quickly the vacuum is clogged. On the first day, the tank had to be emptied as soon as Uff-E got lost under the sofa and stairs where the dogs were sleeping - a witch's way hadn't been cleaned with the usual vacuuming acrobatics for a while. It took a couple of days for the next emptying and three for the third. So the secret of the robot vacuum cleaner is that it cleans as many times a day as you set it to vacuum. In the long run, this means there's hardly any dust, sand or dog hair to vacuum. The little ones, on the other hand, stay in the vacuum cleaner quite comfortably.
"We've got two floors, and it drips down the stairs"
As in most 2-storey houses, we have living areas downstairs and bedrooms upstairs. We decided to put the vacuum cleaner downstairs because all the sand and shaibel is carried upstairs through the downstairs. If and when we want to vacuum upstairs, we just go upstairs and turn the vacuum cleaner on. And no, it doesn't drip down the stairs, it just sneaks up the stairs in front of you. If you really want to get fancy, there should be two of these. Although you can get two of these for the price of one "normal" robot vacuum cleaner.
"What good is a vacuum cleaner when it can't get over thick carpets anyway"
I was sceptical about these myself. I wonder how that's doing... Well, to my surprise, this one also brushes and vacuums thick hairworms and dollworms, whatever those are. Tuollaisia 2-4cm thick are. Sometimes every now and then the vacuum cleaner screams for help when it has managed to get stuck on the edge of the carpet so that the rings remain in the air. This happens with practically one carpet in our house, and even then the vacuum is always stuck in the exact same corner of the carpet. What is the Bermuda Triangle?
"There is so much long hair that you have to use the right vacuum cleaner to get it out anyway."
We have 3 long-haired creeps in the household, so there is a fair amount of loose hair, and I don't mind if someone else picks it up from the floor. It's the long hairs that are probably the biggest problem with the vacuum cleaner. They get caught in the roller-shaped main brush of the vacuum cleaner and they stick to the front brushes. On the one hand, they are not a big problem, but when the main brush is full of hair, the suction power is reduced. So every 3 days or so you should have the brushes cleaned. It doesn't take more than a couple of minutes. I'd rather do that than a traditional vacuuming session - not that I grip the vacuum very easily anyway. In terms of cleaning, the design of the front brushes is downright ingenious and obviously designed with this in mind. There's also a tool to cut the hair off the head brush and clean it easily.
"We always have more and less stuff around the house, so you can't have it vacuuming in here. Even the speaker wires get eaten and broken anyway."
Here's another hidden trick. If you don't like vacuuming, as I do, you'll be surprisingly happy to make small gestures to avoid having to vacuum. These little things are moving things into their proper places so that Uff-E can do its job and no one has to grab the vacuum cleaner. Although that doesn't make me a fussy organiser, when I go to work, for example, I often have to put the children's shoes that are lying around in the hallway in place so that the vacuum cleaner can vacuum that sandy area during the day and everyone has a better time.
So what stuff has Uff-E been eating over the last few weeks? A couple of cords he's tried to eat and a Lego piece got stuck in his throat. The robot is reasonably clever in the sense that it knows to stop chowing down when it realises all is not quite right. The lead twists around the main brush a couple of times and comes off nicely. So does the Lego piece.
"Does it go over the threshold"
We don't have any thresholds, so it didn't worry me, but someone I know asked about it. I would assume, however, that since you can cross thick carpets, for example, you should be able to cross thresholds as long as it's not a high threshold. I won't make any guarantees. You'll find out by trial and error, won't you?
Using and timing the home breathing apparatus
This works with and without a network connection. The app can be downloaded and apparently you can even hook it up to Amazon's Alexa or Google Assistant etc., if you're handy and have one of those - at least that's what the menus looked like.
Connecting the robot to the app could be easier, but it wasn't impossible. There were English instructions included and you could manage with them if you just followed the instructions moderately. After that, the vacuum cleaner can be controlled remotely even in the middle of the working day or schedule it to vacuum the apartment at 9:00 and 14:00, so the apartment will be vacuumed twice a day. The vacuum also draws a map of where it goes at any given time. This is not an NSA-level floor plan of the house, but more of a drawing of what has been cleaned each time.
A couple of times during the test weeks the vacuum cleaner has lost wifi connection and turned into a "normal stupid robot vacuum cleaner". In this case, the timing didn't work and the vacuum cleaner couldn't scare the householders remotely over the network. That was fixed by restarting the vacuum cleaner. The vacuum also demonstrably installed software updates at least once, so apparently it's trying to improve its ways.
Is the Uff-E a good robot vacuum cleaner then? What about the best robot vacuum cleaner?
I haven't had a chance to compare the others, but I wouldn't want to be without one. From what little price comparison I did with iRobot Roomba 960, Neato Botvac connected, Xiaomi Roboroc s50, Electrolux Purei9 and others, this seems to be about half the price of the competitors in terms of features. Maybe some side-by-side test would tell you more accurately what that other pair of hoods really adds to those others, but that's certainly as far as I'll go with one or two of these. The second robot vacuum cleaner will definitely be coming upstairs at some point. That should tell you something.
I hope this was helpful in your own ponderings.