I hate cleaning the windows. I just can't stand it. It is all about the fear of heights: I live on the 8th floor, and I get awfully stressed when I have to be hanging out the window for half an hour. So that acrophobia does not interfere with seeing the world through clear glass, I decided to approach the matter scientifically and purchase a special-purpose robot. In this guide, I will tell you about these unique devices and offer my own author’s rating of the TOP-5 window cleaning robots.
Window Cleaning Robots: Buyer’s Guide
You will be surprised to hear that these are automatic electronic devices designed for autonomous cleaning windows. They are just like the usual robotic vacuum cleaners, with the difference that they are able to move along vertical surfaces. Depending on the method of attachment to these surfaces, there are two main types of window cleaning robots.
The method of attaching the robot to the glass:
The first option is more traditional, there is a large number of this kind of window cleaning devices among handheld models. Such a robot includes two units that are attracted to each other by means of a magnet. This has its advantages and disadvantages. On the one hand, the device operates without power, which means the robot will never fall down. On the other hand, magnets are typically not so strong. A magnetic robot that is tightly held onto the thin glass somewhere in warm South Korea is likely to fall from the thick insulated windows somewhere in the North.
A vacuum window cleaning robot is more preferable for northern countries. The machine does not require the 2nd unit as it attaches to the window due to a vacuum created by the compressor. The thickness of the glass unit is of no importance for such a machine. Apart from that, it is able to traverse the surface not just of the window but also the floor and mirror. However, even this kind of unit may fall down, should you unplug it. That is why vacuum robots come with batteries and are protected with special cables.
The shape of the robot:
Square or other rectangular-shaped robots are easier to clean the corners of windows, while rounded models are lightweight and more compact.
The cleaning machines differ from each other by extra features:
- reservoir for the detergent and its automatic application: without this function, you will have to apply the detergent on the glass or the machine’s cleaning cloths by yourself;
- battery and its capacity — a machine that comes without a built-in battery will dangle on a power line, like Tarzan on a liana, which will not allow you to wash a large window. However, the devices with a too small battery may simply turn off in the heat of the moment, prior to its last fall. Basically, 20-30 minutes of autonomous operation would be enough;
- length of the electric wire — trust the battery but do not unplug the machine from the socket, who knows what could happen? The longer the electric wire, the further the robot will advance and the larger the window will clean;
- cleaning mechanism — a good window cleaning robot cannot do with a single cloth: in an ideal scenario, the device should have both rotating brushes and a rubber scraper;
- type of control — the device can be controlled by buttons on its body (which is reliable but not comfortable enough), from the remote control (the biggest concern here is not to lose it) or from the app downloaded on your smartphone (in case there is any);
- speed of cleaning — it is preferable that the machine is capable of cleaning at least 2 square meters at a time, otherwise, there is no point in purchasing it;
- level of the sound is not the most important indicator of the performance of a robot that operates for 2 hours twice a year, half of this time hanging outside the window;
- minimal working area — not every machine will cope with a very small window. Normally, the working area is no less than 35 cm;
- ability to work with frameless windows — the devices that come with this feature are capable of cleaning frameless windows without falling down;
- power — the higher the power is, the longer the machine will be able to work on very dirty surfaces without overheating. As a rule, it is 70 watts and more.
TOP-5 Best Window Cleaning Robots
Generally, window cleaning robots are produced by Asian companies from China, South Korea, and Taiwan while large European, US, and Japanese brands have not yet managed to carve out a niche on the market. Therefore, there are not so many automatic cleaning robots. If you want to get a good model at an affordable price, you should order the item via Amazon or similar online services.
1. ECOVACS WINBOT 850 - Best Premium Window Cleaning Robot
It is a quite expensive device at a price of more than $350. Due to the square shape of its case, the unit easily cleans both the windows and their corners. The device is able to recognize the edges of the object being cleaned, so it will never fall down when bumping into the edge of the window, mirror or TV screen. The machine is protected from the fall by a special anchor. This is a battery-operated unit that does not require connection to an electrical outlet.
The product is manufactured by a brand-name company, Ecovacs Robotics, which is engaged in the development of in-home robotic appliances. Established in 1998 in China, the company has expanded into the U.S., Japanese, and German markets. In 2015, its solar-powered cleaning robot received a prestigious Innovation Award of the Consumer Electronics Show, an annual event held in Las Vegas, the USA.
Of all WINBOT cleaning robots, this model is one of the smallest ones and can fit in the windows as small as 18 x 26 in. However, the HOBOT models, which I am going to describe below, work on even smaller areas. The product comes with three advanced safety features and two cleaning modes. Strong suction, deep cleaning and stability are ensured by a high-speed fan motor and the machine’s patented technology. Apart from its sleek design, the device is very convenient and lightweight. Outwardly it resembles a tiny UFO moving along your window, so it is really cool and amazing!
ECOVACS WINBOT 850: Check the current price
This is a very popular model, although not the cheapest one as it costs about $400. Basically, cheaper oval-shaped window cleaning robots are its clones made in China. It is controlled both from a smartphone and through the remote control. Unfortunately, it operates only with a power cord, something that does not add comfort for the price, nor does it cleans quickly enough.
It is noteworthy that HOBOT Technology Inc. is a well-established company as well. Founded in Taiwan in 2010, it specializes in digital consumer electronics and has launched a number of award-winning models of different designs and types. This unit works on glass of any thickness (but no less than 3 mm) and the surface size no less than 13 х 13 in. I do not think that you will need a robot for a smaller window.
HOBOT-198: Check the current price
This is the model that was, apparently, designed to replace HOBOT-198 while the price remains the same — about $400. Unlike the previous item, this one has a square shape and easily cleans the window’s corners. It comes with a special sensor preventing the device from falling when it reaches the edge. The unit operates only with a power cord.
What I like about this model is its modern design and advanced technologies that enhance its performance. The machine comes with 3 programs for automatic cleaning and, more importantly, is said to be the fastest robot for cleaning glass surfaces — 2.4 min per square meter. The downside to this device is the minimum surface size it is able to operate on — 15 x 15 inches, which is less than that of the previous model.
HOBOT-268: Check the current price
4. Gladwell Gecko
This is a relatively inexpensive model that comes in an oval case and costs about $200. It is operated through a special app on a smartphone. There are both automatic mode and direct control. Its main downside is that it fails to properly clean the window’s corners. The machine is intended for those who want to indulge themselves with a cleaning robot and try it in action but do not want to pay the extra money.
Gladwell Gecko: Check the current price
This item is pricier than the previous one. It is controlled from the remote control that comes with the product. For the rest, it has all the characteristics of the previous one, except for its oval-shaped body and two rotating round brushes. And they both have a similar drawback — failure to clean the corners of the windows.
FENGRUI: Check the current price
How is it held onto the glass surface without falling down?
Window cleaning robots are held on the glass surface either with the help of the second unit equipped with a powerful magnet (not so common) or a vacuum pump (more common). A special cord and a built-in battery are designed to protect the machine from falling down — even in case of a blackout, the device will continue to operate and will not fall.
Is a cleaning robot able to wash anything other than windows?
Magnetic window cleaning robots are intended only for windows. Fortunately, there are very few of them on the market, while a machine with a vacuum pump is capable of cleaning mirrors, TVs, tiles, or whatever.