Just two decades ago, Electrolux introduced the first robotic vacuum cleaner – The Trilobite. For all semantic purposes, the unit was more than capable of both roving and vacuuming robotically; however, today the Trilobite exists as a mere fossil when juxtaposed with the latest models. While “Roomba” may be the go-to eponym in the burgeoning robotic vacuums market, it is by no means the only name in the business.
Over the last few years, a bevy of manufacturers have since thrown their hats into the ring looking to tap into the ever-expanding smart home market. LG is solidly in the ring with the Hom-Bot and Hom-Bot Turbo+ , which includes a camera that can be used for security, while Samsung has the Powerbot R7070.
Eufy is one of the newer kids on increasingly crowded robovac block. That said, we were more than amped to test the affordable RoboVac 11c ($299) to see what the bot could dish out — and, most importantly, suck up. So we graciously sat back, relaxed, kicked up our heels, and let the bot do the grunt work — for purely altruistic investigative purposes, of course. We detail what happened in our Eufy RoboVac 11c review below.
Appearance and Setup
Like virtually all robotic vacuums, the Eufy RoboVac 11c demands a short setup to start. Some units require establishing a perimeter “fence” via magnetic strips (which does add a welcome level of versatility and control — more on this in a bit). However, with the RoboVac you simply need to press the two side brushes into place along the bottom, connect the unit to your Wi-Fi and a corresponding app, and choose a place to set the charging station.
This last bit was surprisingly the most difficult part of the whole ordeal due to the rather rigid and extensive manufacturer requirements. The dock needs to be clear of any objects within three feet on either side and also free of obstacles six feet directly in front of the station. In smaller apartments this may require a little impromptu interior makeover to fit the bill, but there is another option.
The same cord used to electrify the base itself can charge the droid directly. This allows you to recharge the unit without the dock, meaning the unit can be placed in a less conspicuous area so long as the cable can reach. However, you will need to manually plug and unplug the unit with each use — the choice is yours.
Overall, for something as utilitarian as vacuum cleaner, the RoboVac 11c has a sleek design rather than a blasé build. The polished slate and gunmetal gray color pops without clashing with your color schemes. This is important considering most folks will choose the first charging option mentioned above, making the bot at least noticeable in a given room.
The 11c is 13 inches by 12.8 inches and just three inches tall. The slight disparity in the overall rounded shape is due to an extended lip on the front of the vac. This acts as a bumper that contracts whenever the unit stumbles into furniture or obstacles around the home. The blue power button on the front illuminates as the RoboVac docks to charge and will also change to red to signify any maintenance needs including everything from low power to dirty drop sensors. There’s also a recessed On/Off switch along the side you’ll need to utilize during setup or to power the unit.
OK, so the Eufy might be a bit of diva about where it likes to lay its head, but how does it perform? The 11c manual has all sorts of dos and don’t (as one could imagine) pertaining to throw rugs, loose articles of clothing, and electrical cords — but we just let the beast loose to see how it performed in the wild. Besides, who reads the manual anyway? Ain’t nobody got time for that.
The unit is easily commanded and excessively micromanaged (if that’s your thing) via the straightforward Eufy remote control, the EufyHome app, and the Alexa EufyHome skill. All of these include three basic cleaning settings: Spot, Edge, and Single Room. However, the app also allows you to set cleaning schedules, receive notifications when a room is cleaned, and even locate the model — all from your smartphone or tablet.
When using the Single Room setting, the bot will clean a room and then automatically return to its charging station — in theory. However, it is important to note that you’ll essentially need to close the door to said room to keep the unit from gallivanting around the entire home. If this room doesn’t have a door, you’ll need to block the exit. In our tests, placing a small box or shoe in front of the entryway was enough to set off the onboard sensors and keep the unit from escaping. Situationally, the ability to set up virtual walls like the LG Hom-Bot Turbo can would negate this minimal — albeit relevant — inconvenience.
Go, Spot, go
The Spot setting at first seemed like a convenient way to spot treat a high-traffic area without cleaning the entire home. Guide the unit to a specific area using the directional keypad on the remote or app, select the command key, and then the RoboVac will start cleaning in an expanding circular pattern. This was handy in an open living room, since the three-inch high bot could easily do the limbo beneath the coffee table. However, once the unit hits/senses a series of objects, chaos ensues and the little fella more or less begins a single room cleaning before simply shutting down.
While this feature has its merits, outside of a wide open room, this setting was more or less useless after two or three rounds. In smaller rooms and more cluttered spaces, we found it much more efficient to select the One Room feature, and let the bot ditch the rigid algorithm and simply vacuum at will.
The Edge feature was by far our favorite when it came to performance and reliability. While the Spot setting is best utilized when the bot is driven to a central portion of a room, the Edge function works well even when the bot is docked. Once initiated, the Robovac 11c slowly works its way to the perimeter of a room and, when a wall is detected, it simply follows this edge in a slow but sure “drive and pivot” route along the periphery until the entire area.
If the the bot encounters an obstacle, the 11c will adjust by slowly rolling along/around this object until it again comes to the perimeter and then continue to edge. Be it a bike, bookshelf, series of chair/table legs, the bot never had the slightest bit of trouble faring even the most bestrewn of edges. Although, as one could imagine, a more cluttered environment will greatly increase the time needed to complete the task and/or deplete the 1.5 hour battery life.
The rounded design does limit its ability to clean corners.
If Eufy could somehow marry the Spot feature with the seemingly more intuitive Edge feature with the next iteration, the Spot function could be significantly more effective with the next iteration.
The Amazon Alexa connectivity via Alexa skills is a solid bonus, and considering that we already irrationally yell at our digital assistants about the most irrelevant of trifles and first-world problems, the ability to allocate a task to a bot is more than practical.
Once the “EufyHome – RoboVac” skill has been enabled in your Alexa app, you can easily command the vacuum by simply saying: “Alexa, ask RoboVac to start/stop cleaning.” This works as advertised, however, asking Alexa to have the RoboVac return to its charging station is still a work in progress. This is by no means an issue specific to Alexa, as it had trouble finding the docking station regardless of whether Alexa was involved or not. Instead of painstakingly watching the bot nearly miss, drive past, or generally stroll away from its home, we would often choose to just drive it full speed into its charging station via the remote. Crisis averted.
After a series of tests on both hardwood, linoleum, and low- to medium-pile carpets (Eufy recommends against using the 11c on high-pile carpets) we were left impressed but also with a few complaints.
On more than one occasion when we were running late and expecting dinner guests, it was nice to simply rush in from the office and command the unit to spot clean the living room while we were in the shower, and then have the bot edge the perimeter as we got the place in order. The 11c handled the task without complaint, leaving those freshly vacuumed tracks behind — even though the rounded design does limit its ability to clean corners.
Similarly, after dinner or weekly meal preps, it’s practical and timesaving to simply let the bot Spot and Edge the kitchen while we tend to more pressing matters (like binging on Netflix or virtually anything else). The low-profile build easily fits under extended cabinetry to grab even the stealthiest bits and boldest of dust bunnies.
To prevent the 11c from accidentally tumbling down staircases, the unit uses a series of drop-sensors along the bottom. Eufy warns that these may work less effectively while patrolling dark carpets or reflective surfaces, and after just one full home cleaning, we were notified via the EufyHome app that these sensors were dirty and needed to be cleaned. This was quickly handled with a dry cloth, but the fact that these crucial sensors became soiled so easily is certainly a cause for concern over time — especially in homes with dark flooring and/or plenty of stairwells.
Unfortunately, one of the biggest drawbacks is the bot’s inability to deal with pet hair. The unit easily sucks up gobs and individual hairs on linoleum or hardwood and even those loosely settled on the surface of low-pile carpets. However, hair that has been more embedded in low-pile and even deeper carpets will need manual treatment with a traditional vacuum. The RoboVac 11c was simply no match for matted hair, even after multiple attempts with the Max suction setting.
Eufy offers a 30-day money back guarantee on all of its RoboVac models. Within this timeframe, you can return your undamaged unit for a full refund for any reason. Eufy states that the customer must pay the return shipping costs if this isn’t a quality-related concern.Our Take
The RoboVac 11c has its obvious benefits alongside a fair share of design flaws, and being the jack-of-all-trades and master-of-none isn’t as much of a knock as is it a testament to its versatility. The unit can tackle low-pile and flat surfaces, but it’s no match for denser carpets or pet hair.
The RoboVac 11c minimizes the frequency you’ll need to endure the lifesuck that is vacuuming your home, but — truth be told — you might still need to push a prop around the home from time-to-time.
Is there a better alternative?
The Eufy RoboVac 11c certainly isn’t the best robotic vacuum on shelves right now, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t the right vacuum for your specific needs. The market is brimming with competition, and these models are becoming more task-specific to steal a sliver of the market. Those seeking a more connected model with proficient virtual walls/halos should give the Neato BotVac Connected or the iRobot Roomba 980 a long look. However, those looking for a versatile robotic vacuum at an affordable price will be sufficiently pleased with the Eufy RoboVac 11c.
How long will it last?
It’s always tough to gauge just how futureproof an item is and will be down the road. Eufy offers replacement rollers, brushes, brush guards, and filters to keep the unit functioning optimally so long as the internal components hold up. The risk of tumbles down staircases is certainly a concern given how easily the drop sensors are muddied, but this risk is minimized in single level homes and apartments.
Should you buy it?
Do buy the Eufy RobotVac 11c if you’d like to minimize how often you need to personally vacuum your home. This unit is more than capable of spot sweeping high-traffic areas and edging perimeter accumulations between manual monthly chores. Keep in mind, though, that no robotic unit on the market is capable of completely replacing your standard vacuum. Don’t buy this unit if you have medium- to high-pile carpets or molting pets, as you will be sorely disappointed.