Alexa and Robot Vacuum Cleaners
25 October 2020
You might think robotic vacuum cleaners is a weird topic to bring up around smart home but it’s one I’ve actually thought a lot about. As I’ve looked at all the different smart home technologies, this one seems pretty “gadgety” to be honest but still interests me. After all, smart home is about convenience and efficiency but let’s be honest, who out there really likes to vacuum. So having the option to get your floors vacuumed with Alexa integration, what could be better for your smart home?
Another reason I’m looking at them this early is due to the way they operate. I’ve never had one yet but I have been to friends’ homes who do. And outside of my curiosity and a little envy I have to admit I wasn’t impressed with their operation. Not that they don’t work, but the look — meaning the charging stations were always in places that seemed like after thoughts the only place near an electrical outlet. So now that I have the opportunity to plan the appropriate space and electrical for a robotic vacuum I’m addressing that.
Once our floor plan is complete I’ll set the house up in vacuum “zones” to plan the routines. This will help me in identifying a location for the charging station and plan power for it. You might look at it as almost a “garage” for the vacuum so it’s out of sight, out of mind when not in use. The routines will help keep our home clean, especially as the Texas panhandle can be a pretty dusty place at times. This is also where the Alexa integration will come in handy as we’re pretty active in and around our home and then there’s the grand kids.
Not only do robot vacuum cleaners work seamlessly with Alexa allowing you to simply ask the robot vacuum to start or stop cleaning and go back to the charging station, but they’re generally pretty easy to set up as well. But to get your robot vacuum cleaner to follow your verbal commands, a few extra steps are required. Here is what you need to do to get your ‘work with Alexa’ robot vacuum cleaner ready for your voice commands:
First, download the free companion app for your robot vacuum. This is used to configure and connect the robot vacuum to the home’s wireless network and Internet. It is also where you will sign-up to create an account with the manufacturer. This will be used to enable the skill on Alexa later. The app will ask you to give your robot a unique name to remotely control the robot vacuum, create cleaning schedules and check charging or battery status.
For the next part, you will need to have at least one Echo device and an Amazon account
Start by adding the skill for the robot vacuum using the Alexa app. Your vacuum manual will tell you which skill is the right one to add.
Enable the skill by linking your account when signing up using the manufacturer’s app.
Once enabled, check the skill description to understand the sort of commands you can use with Alexa. If you’re lucky enough to have more than one robot in your home from the same manufacturer, issue commands for each of them separately.
There are usually only a handful of commands supported. Typical commands include but are not limited to:
Ask the robot vacuum to clean or start cleaning
Ask the robot vacuum to pause or stop cleaning
Ask the robot vacuum to go home or return to charging base
Ask Alexa to find the robot
Some robots may support more than the commands above but these are the basics. For everything else you should consult the companion app.
Apart from using voice commands, there are other ways to start cleaning:
Alexa Voice Control: once the skill is enabled and the robot vacuum is switched on and connected, use the start cleaning command to get it working.
Scheduled Cleaning: use the companion app to set cleaning schedule up to 7 days a week. You can set the start time, and the robot will clean for before returning to base to recharge.
Remote Controlled: use the dedicated remote controller or app to maneuver the robot vacuum manually. Both options let you control all aspects of cleaning i.e. edge cleaning, spot cleaning, automatic cleaning, quick cleaning, manual cleaning, suction power
Push Button: there is usually a button on top of the robot vacuum. Clicking this will start the automatic cleaning process. Clicking on it again will recall the vacuum to the charging station.
Regular emptying, due to the size of the dust collector, will need to be emptied on a regular basis depending on your cleaning schedule. Unless you have one of the models that also empties the vacuum when it docks to recharge. The filters may need cleaning too to ensure that they’re not clogged up.
Top Smart Robot Vacuum Cleaners with Alexa Voice Control
Let’s take a look at some smart robot vacuum cleaners that support voice control.
The Eufy BoostIQ RoboVac 30C is an affordable robot vacuum that supports Alexa and Google Assistant. This model supports boundary tape which are really rolls of magnet tape to create a no clean zone. It also has a long cleaning time per charge of up to 100 minutes. To recharge, you will need up to 5 or 6 hours on the charging bay. At 1500 Pa suction, it is one of the more powerful robot vacuums around. Nine anti-collision infrared sensors help avoid excessive bumping. In auto mode, it automatically switches among various modes (spot cleaning, edge cleaning, maximum suction) to optimize cleaning ability on different surfaces and in different areas.
The ECOVACS Robot Vacuum has all the bells and whistles one needs in a smart robot vacuum. The high suction and side brushes make this robot vacuum highly efficient at cleaning. It comes with four cleaning modes; auto-clean, spot clean, edge mode and max mode. Other features include auto self charging, drop sensor, app control and Alexa support. But what is missing is the boundary or virtual wall support.
Like the Eufy RoboVac 30C, it supports boundary’s with magnetic strips but it goes one step further with an electric water tank. The water tank allows water to seep into the 2 mopping cloths with water penetration controllable at low, medium and high speed. This allows the robot to not only sweep but mop the floor at the same time. For normal vacuuming, a separate dust bin is included. It comes with a super long battery life for up to 130 minutes of cleaning time with 4 cleaning modes; auto, edge, spot and zig-zag.
This robot vacuum lets you control it like the others but also receive notifications. There is a dashboard to show cleaning stats as well. It stands out from the rest here with its D-shaped design giving it an advantage with side brush and CornerClever tech to reach deep into corners. For navigation, it uses laser to scan and map rooms. Other features include SpinFlow PowerClean, combo brush, extra large dirt bin and ultra performance filter.
This model features dual mode virtual wall barrier, 3 stage cleaning system, dual multi-surface brushes and dirt detect sensor technology. The latter allows the Roomba to put in the extra effort to clean high dirt concentration area. You can use the companion app to schedule cleaning and run up to 90 minutes of cleaning on a full charge. The Roomba 690 features the iAdapt Navigation system to clean more effectively and supports both Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant to incorporate voice control.
The Ion Robot Vacuum R75 is compatible with Alexa voice service and features a self cleaning Brush roll. The self cleaning brush roll captures short and long hair as well as dust, dander and allergens. The self grooming system allows the brush roll to manage and untangle long hair, string and fibers so you never have to do it. Other features include easy access dust bin, self charging, low profile, proximity sensors, dual side brushes, over an hour’s cleaning time and boundary strips.
As you can see there are a multitude of choices depending on your need and budget. The models I listed above are moderately priced and have many similar capabilities but one of my primary requirements is Alexa integration. In my case, I want a robot vacuum but I don’t want to spend a lot of money on one as I’d prefer to invest in more core smart home technology. With Black Friday around the corner I’d imagine there will be deals on all of these and more so if a robot vacuum is on your wish list, it may be the time to get one. I’d really be interested in your plans around robot vacuums — Yay or Nay. I’d also like to here from you if you have one and you r experience with it. Stay tuned as our floor plan should be back from the architect soon and then things will really accelerate. Until next time, stay safe out there!