If you’re like me then the thought of a robotic cleaning machine doing your household chores it makes you feel a wee bit giddy because you just got a little bit of your day back to use however you like! Before we go getting super excited and think we only buy, unwrap and walk away let’s talk about what an appliance like a robot is good for and isn’t so well suited to do.
What are you looking for in your Neato BotVac?
Are you looking to replace some of your household chores with an affordable dust picker-upper? Many of the more affordable robots on the market can do this primary task well, but getting features beyond this is going to proportionately increase the price. Perhaps you see your home is a bit more complicated and so are the tasks you need it to do. For example, something we do every day without much thought and isn’t particularly challenging for most upright vacuums is traversing cords, transitions or even avoiding stairs. This can be a problem if your home has these features.
Will one vacuum pass do or repeat passes be better?
Many homes have areas which attract more dirt than others. Having a bot which can detect that the areas that could use a bit more attention can be a time and frustration saving feature. Basic vacuum robots lack the sensors which can detect areas with more debris and revisit those areas to ensure a good cleaning. Running the robot daily can help reduce the need for this feature, but it’s nice knowing if it’s needed the bot can do its job and free you of time sucking chores. Premium vacuums will revisit and spend more time in areas which it detects need more attention. Now that’s technology we can all get used to!
Which flooring types will your Neato or similar bot vacuum will be cleaning?
For many of us, it’s the hardwood floors or other resilient floors our robot vacuum needs to take off our hands. With nothing to trap the dust and debris, they require constant maintenance else the dust bunnies take over! Most bots can quickly perform this task. However, if your bot needs to also transition to other flooring types like carpet or rugs then keep this in mind when selecting the best robot vacuum for your needs. Budget models don’t tend to transition well from one flooring type to another or over obstacles leaving your bot struggling until the battery dies or leaving the job incomplete. Either way, not a desirable outcome.
HEPA Filtration for sensitive allergies
Vacuuming is critical to mitigating and reducing pollutants in your home. A vacuum is the first line of defense against particulates that can become airborne and inflame or irritate people with sensitive respiratory systems or conditions. Having proper filtration will ensure that your vacuum isn’t putting MORE particulate debris in the air which can worsen asthma and other respiratory ailments. The best robot vacuums feature the best filtration available which is a HEPA filter and will actually clean the air as they work. Basic models will have quality filtration, but look for it to be less effective than the HEPA models.
Picking up pet hair
If you have pets and expect your vacuum to do this extra heavy duty task, then think ahead to what your robot will need to do. Likely you’ll want the biggest dirt bin available for all that extra bulk as well as brushes that are specifically designed for pet hair. The Neato BotVac models are very well suited to this task though any of the quality robot vacs on this site should do a decent job.
The best robot vacuum will depend on home size and layout.
Consider how much work your bot will need to do between charges. Many bots can run for 15 or so minutes on a charge, but things like flooring type, whether the bot has a debris detector and lingers in heavily soiled areas and home size can affect how much the bot can do before needing a charge. If your home is larger definitely give consideration to a model with a strong battery rating or even consider purchasing more than one bot for example if your home is multi-level or very spacious.
A variety of charging options are available from simple, pick up the bot and plug it in by hand to a self-docking charging station where the bot returns after working to give it’s battery a refresh. Indeed the latter option has numerous benefits! Of course, this feature is often found on models with a higher price tag, but is well worth it because who needs one more thing to babysit? If you forget to charge your bot, well ya should have let purchased a vacuum model that can do that too! Many features work well with the self-charging station such as programmable models which operate on a schedule, so you are pretty much free of chores aside from the daily emptying of the dust bin. More on bin size up next!
Yet another feature you won’t want to take for granted. Larger bin sizes can mean less frequent emptying and less likelihood your bot will fill up before you have a chance to tend to its needs. More affordable models often are smaller in overall profile, smaller in features and you guessed it smaller bin sizes. Might seem like a minor inconvenience, but after all that vacuuming is done for you that trivial task of emptying the bin twice a day could get a bit annoying. Mind you if having multiple botvacs in your home is a good fit then having a smaller bot for less used areas could be just the thing. Optimally choose bin size that is appropriate for your needs and where it will be used.
Stair, drop off or rerouting detection
If your home has different levels, even a single step, then you’ll want to ensure the vacuum you choose can detect these and avoid them. Else you may come home to a vacuum robot casualty! Some of the more premium models come with this feature and standard and if you have stairs its a wise investment as no robotic vacuum, regardless of price, is going to survive a 13 stair tumble of shame. If your abode is a single level, then this likely isn’t as critical.
Extra Neato Botvac bells and whistles we feel make the best robotic vacuum
This is the epitome of hands-off chore handling available on some of the best robot vacuums on the market. Set it and forget it except to empty the collection bin. Schedule the bot to run while you’re away, so it has full access to the house, or while you’re at work, so you come home to a fresh, clean home! Everything from the day of the week, times per week and time(s) of a day that you want vacuuming to occur.
TIP: Don’t be that goofball who runs your vacuum at night! You’ll scare yourself silly while half asleep heading for the fridge and get jumped by your robot vacuum hard at work. Go ahead, laugh! It has happened more than once I’m sure of it!
No stooping or bending to guide your bot, plus if the man of the house gets ahold of it that hard working bot can be a toy to chase the….wait. That would never happen, right? Remotes can be handy if you want to manually operate the vacuum bot from the comfort of your sofa. Though let’s be honest most all remotes end up like a video game controller in the hands of a mad man!
TIP: This can be a beneficial feature for people with limited mobility!
Seems a given for a bot that does so much work all on its own to also be able to fill up the electric gas tank between tasks. These stations aren’t standard on every robot vacuum model, and any model that has good reviews usually includes these features since it’s just a hands-off appliance. If you’re going for fewer chores, this is just another one to delegate to your new botvac.
Heavy debris sensor
Not something we even think about but can be a helpful feature is the ability to detect areas with more soil and give those areas more attention. I always think about how your 14-year-old vacuums to get their allowance, this is about how the basic robot vacuum models work. However, if you want a vacuum that acts more like you then aim for a model with a sensor to give those dirty areas a bit more attention.
Virtual barriers (aka virtual walls)
Imagine not having eyes and trying to maneuver in an elaborate home for the first time. Welcome to your robots a new life! Different models use different sensors to help it navigate, but these don’t tell it where NOT to go if there is an opening like a doorway or even a drop off like a balcony. Some models while compatible aren’t packaged with any virtual walls, others come with one or more in the box. Be sure to read the package contents and know what is included.
Maintaining your Neato Botvac
Take care of your vacuum, and it will take good care of you. Empty the bin regularly. Try not to let the container fill entirely as this will negatively impact suction and could lead to clogging. We recommend emptying the bin after each cycle. Run your vac daily, empty the bin daily. Brushes will need to be cleaned periodically as they can clog with hair, strings and other debris. Taking care of your vacuum will ensure long life, fewer repairs, and better performance each time it goes to work.
Replacement Brushes and Filters
Parts will wear out. When considering which model to purchase consider the availability of parts and service. It’s not hard to tell when your upright vacuum needs service, but if your botvac is hard at work and you’re busy, you may notice something is wrong until a part is broken or worn out leaving you without your beloved helper until parts arrive. It’s not a bad practice to purchase a set of replacement brushes and if appropriate filters to ensure you’re ready for the first servicing.
As with any appliance, there is a chance you’ll have problems. You should give this some thought as a warranty can be your best friend or worst enemy. Expect to see very limited warranties on more budget models and near Amazon quality customer service with premium vacuums. Don’t hesitate to take advantage of your warranty! Manufacturers need to know if their product is having problems and while we never want that person to be as it happens and we’re doing ourselves and others a favor by making them aware of defects so they can improve their product and we are giving them an opportunity to win us on customer service and make a life long customer who will either tell our friends how much we love our bot or hate the company!