Vacuum cleaners used to be boring devices that we had to push and drag around the house to collect dust bunnies and other flotsam and jetsam from our floors. But over recent years they've gotten smarter and can now clean our floors with out us even being at home. The Ecovacs Deebot 900 is a robotic floor cleaner that wanders around your home collecting the bits and pieces that hit the floor. Here's how it performed at my place.
What Is It?
The Ecovacs Deebot 900 is a robotic vacuum cleaner that uses a combination of sensors and machine learning to move through your house, or specifically selected areas, and suck up and debris it finds on on the floor. It works on tiled, timber and carpeted areas and can be started up either by pressing button on the top of the unit or remotely from an app.
There's a small round object on the top of the Deebot 900. This is the device's "Laser Distance Sensor". It allows the device to build an accurate map of your home that can be used to tell the vacuum to either clean a specific area or room.
As it wanders around your home it generates a map of your home and provides inform action about how much floor area it has cleaned. It works with Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa and, as it's connected to Wi-Fi, can be controlled from anywhere your smartphone has an internet connection.
|Dimensions||33.78cm diameter, 8.4cm high|
|Colours||White and black|
|Battery||3000mAh, rated for 100 minutes of cleaning|
|Cleaning capacity||350ml bin for capturing rubbish from floors|
The initial set up was straightforward although the master power switch was a little tricky to find. The instructions show it as being on the top of the device but it's not made clear that the switch is under a panel that covers almost the entire top section of the device. Once that little mystery was solved, I had the device connected to my home network and some updated firmware installed in about five minutes.
For its first test after letting the device charge for a few hours - it shipped to me with a totally flat power pack - I hit the button on the top to start the first clean. I let it go, watching its progress using the app as well as occasionally following it around to see how it dealt with obstacles. If you've ever used a robotic cleaner, you'd know the importance of ensuring the floor is obstacle free as some things can be caught around the device's rotors. But larger objects aren't an issue.
My next test was conducted remotely. I launched the Deebot 900 while away from home using the app. I could track its progress on the app as the robot creates a map of the home each time it works. Over time, that map becomes more and more accurate and you can use it to direct the Deebot 900 to only clean specific areas. For example, if we've had guests over, I can tell it just clean the lounge and dining areas and not bother with the bedrooms.
I also have an older Roomba 630 which is a very basic model that lacks Wi-Fi or any real smart home features. The Deebot 900 is much quieter and has a significantly larger reservoir for collecting things off the floor. We have carpeted areas as well as some ceramic tiles and a large area, of about 60 sq m, of parquetry. The Deebot was able to clean all of those well. The only thing it seemed to struggle with - and the Roomba has the same challenge - is fine pieces of thread on carpet that get caught in the pile.
By the end of the Deebot's run around my house, the floors are noticeably cleaner - I can't spot any remaining debris.
There are a few spots that are harder to get to with a normal vacuum cleaner, such as under the bench that holds the fish tank and under a cabinet that most of our AV gear sits on. The Deebot 900 was able to get under those easily. With fish tank, I was a little worried that it got stuck but it was able to extract itself after a couple of minutes. Which probably means that's the cleanest part of the house.
I didn't encounter any major hassles while testing. It did get stuck once, when the rotors became tangled on some fabric strips that had been left on the floor. But it was easy to extricate it and then have the vacuum continue its cleaning run.
The main challenge with the Deebot 900, and any other robotic floor cleaner, is making sure there aren't any obstacles it can get stuck on or tangled with.
Should You Buy It
We have a cleaner do a thorough clean of our home every two weeks. So, the main issue for us is keeping things clean rather than making them clean. At $799, it's not cheap but that's less than many high-end cleaners, such as some the newer cordless appliances with the added benefit that you don't have to be at home to get the house clean.