Life With a Neato Botvac Robot Vacuum

Done, headed to charging station

BotVac 75 headed to charging station

We have a Neato robot vacuum (a BotVac 75 to be precise) named Hazel, and we love her.

We live in an under 2000 square foot single story home in Arizona on a dirt road with complete xeriscape (no water) landscaping. We have five kids, four of which have moved out and rarely contribute to the dirt in the house.

We have two large dogs that enjoy the freedom of a large back yard and a dog door to go in and out as they wish. If you have dogs, you know that’s a lot of daily ins and outs. Both of them shed hair prodigiously.

We leave the windows and patio doors open as much as possible, so we get an extra coating of dust from the yard when the wind picks up and the dirt road when somebody drives too fast.

Seventy percent of the house is carpeted, the rest is tile or linoleum.

First Neato

Our first Neato was an XV-21 that was excellent… until it wasn’t.

After several months and some software updates, the vacuum developed two serious problems.

The first was it wouldn’t reliably return to it’s charging station. The second was the battery pack. Even after replacing it, the batteries wouldn’t correctly maintain a charge and the vacuum wouldn’t finish vacuuming the house within the three passes the software allowed.

To their credit, Neato refunded every penny we paid for the XV-21 even though it was out of warranty by the time we gave up on it.

Second Neato

After several months of mourning the loss of our robot, we bought the Neato BotVac 75,  an upgrade over the XV21. We considered (and shopped for) Roomba and other robotic vacuums, but the excellent customer service AND the price Neato provides contributed to make us repeat customers.

BotVac Combo Brush

BotVac Combo Brush

The BotVac series consists of four models (70e, 75, 80, 85). A call to Neato confirmed the robots were identical mechanically and the software was the same, the differences are the color of the plastic accent and the filter and brush options.

We went with the 75 for the $360 price point and ordered the “combo brush” for $36, mandatory to get the dog hair picked up all over the house. We essentially ended up with a $600 BotVac 85 for two hundred bucks less.

We then modified the robot with an Arizona Coyotes decal and dubbed her “Hazel” and she was ready to go after the recommended two full charge/discharge battery cycles.

Doing The Job

All that dog hair in one pass

All that dog hair in one pass

Our house is completely vacuumed autonomously in two passes. The first pass takes about an hour and twenty minutes and covers more than half the house. The robot returns to the charging station in a little used room VERY reliably and is fully charged in four hours.

We empty the dust bin while Hazel is gassing up, then she finishes the house with her second pass.

The robot does NOT ever seem to take the same path through the house, it’s honestly entertaining to guess where she will go next.

The dogs are less amused, and have been caught tampering with the robot’s path when they believe nobody is watching.

The dust bin needs to be emptied when the robot get to the charging station. It’s possible the bin will fill up before the vacuuming session is complete, at which point the robot will chime until you succumb to it’s wishes for bin emptying service.

BotVac Versus XV Series

The side brush on the BotVac gets more of the “edge dirt” that we used to have to clean manually during normal Saturday vacuuming while the XV-21 was on the job. Both series are equally good at getting into the corners, the shape of the case is designed correctly versus a round Roomba.

4098655_origWe’d have to run them side by side, but the BotVac seems quieter than the XV was and has a 100% success rate at returning to the charging station.

The BotVac seems to get stuck on weird objects (desk chair legs, dog toys, etc.) less frequently than the XV did and it rarely needs a rescue.

Both robots respected the magnetic tape boundary markers, which are much simpler to use and much less expensive to augment the supply of than other methods of “robots not allowed” boundaries like Roomba’s virtual wall lighthouses.

Both robots are extremely easy to program for scheduled cleanings, the BotVac is closer to being a real solution for cleaning the floors in the house without much human help.

There are some robotic vacuum reviews that remove “points” from the Neato machines because of the lack of a remote control. Other than for racing robot vacuums, the only uses I could imagine for a remote would be to clean an area that required more navigational intelligence than the robot could muster or to drive the robot back to a charging station. Neither seem to be compelling advantages.

The Verdict

Get one, you will love it.

Twitter: @NeatoRobotics

Neato Robotics BotVac from Neato Robotics on Vimeo.