My New Studio Assistant, A Robot Vacuum

June 20, 2022

You may think this blog post is not metalsmith related, but you’d be wrong… in my world anyway.

Last June I was in some hot springs and got to talking with another traveler there.  Somehow we ended up talking about the fact that she got and loves her Roomba (robotic vacuum… you’ve seen the videos of cats riding around on them). 

I used to think I was the kind of person who would NEVER have something like that.  It just seemed so frivolous.  But I started thinking about it.  I started thinking about how every night when I’m done in the studio, I go to the hall closet and haul out the huge floor vacuum.  I unplug things to find room for it to be plugged in, then I move furniture as I vacuum, occasionally switching to the hose attachment so I can get into the corners and under furniture.  My vacuum has a bag system so if I think there’s a chance I sucked something precious up… I’m usually SOL (or disgusted by performing open bag surgery on a big spread out sheet).

So yeah, this robot vacuum thing was starting to look better.  After much research, I decided on the Ecovacs Deebot N79S.  It was in my price range ($179) and had good reviews.

The vacuum comes with an app you can download.  I ended up not downloading it for two reasons.  One, the app got bad reviews for requiring way too many seemingly unnecessary permissions.  They do explain somewhere why they need all those permissions, but I wasn’t interested.  I am getting along fine without the app.  The second reason is that I don’t NEED the app.  I don’t ever run the vacuum when I’m not there.  I like to be there in case he gets stuck; if he sucks up something too big or gets in a corner he can’t get out of, he stops and just calls out waiting for help.  Also, have you not heard the dreaded Roomba stories of people who come home to find their robot vacuum has gone over some dog poop and spread it throughout the house?!  Yeah, no.  

The robot has a remote control that works perfectly well for me. 

So here you can see a typical mess on the floor.  Not only are there a lot of little paper cuttings (from me cutting cloisonné foil), but over on the left (just under the table) you can see a ton of residue from sawing and sanding.

So it’s really nice to just reach for the remote at the end of my workday and turn the vacuum on for an hour or two (when his battery is low he automatically heads back to his charging station).

Here’s what the floor looks like afterward.

Oh, another thing that thrills me is he can get under furniture that my regular vacuum can’t.  Notice that station just behind him in the photo there.  He slides smoothly right under that shelf, which is great because that’s one of my sanding and polishing stations so the amount of ick under there is incredible.  And then if you look in the upper right of that photo you’ll see the bottom of my kiln stand.  That’s a corner and he goes right over that steel sheet, under the metal shelf, and gets into that back corner to clean.  Yay!

He has a little tray that gets cleaned out each session.  Since I like to just let him run himself until he runs out of battery and goes back to the charging station on his own, MY habit is to clean the tray out before each vacuuming session.  I think it’s a good idea for you to pick a time, before or after vacuuming, and stick with that until it’s habit because running him with a dirty tray isn’t a good idea.

Now, speaking of the dirt tray, look how easy it is for me to sift through quickly to see if he’s sucked up any important silver or stones.

Don't forget to wipe his eyeballs once in a while.  In order to know where furniture is and not run into it, he has laser sensors (or something like that).  His plan is NOT to crash into all the furniture, like pong, before redirecting.  Rather, he sees something ahead and stops an inch or two from it and changes direction.  If you see/hear him crashing into furniture before he turns, that’s a sure sign you need to wipe his eyeballs.

Now, I don’t know if this is just my house or what, but I woke up one night at 2am because I heard a weird noise only to find out my vacuum was off doing his thing.  I do know that if there’s a power outage, he starts vacuuming when the power comes back on but I have caught him taking charge more than once without me initiating anything.  So now I turn him off when he’s on the charger, just so he can’t run amuck without me.

I also don’t “program” him.  Instead I just use the “auto” feature which pretty much means he vacuums as much as he can get to, including doing the edges.  The edges is an awesome feature.  He goes along the edge of the room, hugging the wall, cleaning as he goes.

My floors are wood, but the reviews say he works on carpet too. 

So yeah… completely happy with my purchase.  So happy, in fact, I bought a second one for my living room.