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Set boundaries before letting your robotic vacuum roam, Consumer Reports says

Posted December 11, 2019 10:35 a.m. EST
Updated December 11, 2019 6:02 p.m. EST

— In April, an Oregon woman called 911, reporting an intruder locked in her bathroom.

When deputies with the Washington County Sheriff’s Office arrived, they found the suspect was actually a robotic vacuum cleaner.

While those smart vacs might be good at picking up dirt, they’re not so smart when it comes to getting out of tight places. So, how do you keep your robotic vacuum from wandering into uncharted territory?

Testers with Consumer Reports have some advice.

Some vacuums come with magnetic strips you can place along doorways to keep the vacuum from crossing. Others come with a device that creates a virtual boundary with infrared beams, and some models come with an app that lets you create boundaries yourself.

The docking station should be placed against a wall with a couple of feet of open space around it. If you move the station, the robot may have difficulty finding it and could wander around your house until its battery dies.

Even pros can find a glitch by chance.

“We had one test model that would be missing from its dock every morning, and I would have to search throughout the lab to try and find it,” said Alex, a product test technician at Consumer Reports. “It turns out that the robot was unintentionally set to go out and clean every morning at 4:00.”

Consumer Reports suggests that the first time you use a robotic vacuum, watch it as it roams around. It’s the best way to notice obstacles, like cords it might get caught in or low furniture it might have trouble navigating.

And while Consumer Reports tests the ability of robotic vacuums to pass over rug fringe without getting tangled, testers say several don't do well with thick bathroom mats.

After tests, Consumer Reports named two Eufy robotic vacuum models as Best Buys: The Eufy 11S and Eufy 30C

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