First Impressions: Roborock S7 Vacuuming & Mopping Robot

Article Outline

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Introduction

Living right on the Pacific Ocean is too awesome! During the summer we often open the windows and sliding doors to get that wonderfully cool ocean breeze passing through the house. But even with screens and screen doors, the sand from the beach manages to blow into the house – the breeze is often that vigorous!

In a couple of days we literally start to accumulate tiny sand dunes on the floors next to walls, bookcases, and furniture. Vacuuming becomes a frequent, all but continuous ritual to keep the accumulating sand under control. So, I wondered about a vacuuming robot.

I had a Roomba many years ago (in the 1990s) when it first appeared in a mall storefront. It was more fun that practical. The dust bin was so tiny, sometimes filling before finishing a room. And it was crazy haphazard in its cleaning approach, often missing a significant percentage of the floor space. So, had vacuuming robots improved over these past few decades?

I checked out several of the top brands. I read their customer reviews. I watched videos about the various brands. I had no idea there are YouTube channels solely dedicated to promoting and reviewing vacuuming and mopping robots.

And yes, the technology seems to have improved significantly from that represented in my first baby Roomba. Now some robots automatically recharge themselves and resume cleaning as needed, empty themselves into a larger dustbin repository that you clean out periodically, and some even keep the mopping water filled from a large water reservoir at the charging station. Yes, they can now even mop. Their mapping and cleaning algorithms and hardware are vastly improved.

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Roborock S7 Strengths and Features

After doing the research, I chose the Roborock S7. If the reviews are to be believed, people who own this model seem to love it. Here are some of the features I really like:

  • It uses LiDAR technology to accurately map the house
  • Has an adaptive mapping algorithm that constantly refines the routes it uses throughout the house for maximum efficiency
  • Has easily replaceable supplies1,
  • Has a fairly large onboard dustbin and water reservoir both with easy access to empty or fill
  • Advertises a large auto empty dustbin collection and water reservoir docking system available sometime soon.
  • The mop has sonic vibration technology that scrubs at up to 3000 cycles per minute
  • Can sense carpet and can be set to lift the mop pad when on carpet and increase vacuum suction to 2,500Pa
  • Has a multi-directional floating all rubber brush (without bristles that entangle string, thread, and hair)
  • Has No Go zones, Invisible Walls, and No Mop zones you can draw on the map to control where the robot can go and what it can do
  • Has a 5,200mAh battery that can last up to 180 minutes before the robot automatically recharges itself and resumes the cleaning job if it was left unfinished.2
  • Can store maps for up to 4 levels in your home.
  • Rooms on the house map can be joined, split, and named to accurately reflect your house.
  • Individual rooms can have their own customized cleaning profile: set your vacuum suction level, amount of mopping water to use (including none), and the mopping system’s ultrasonic vibration intensity
  • Highly customized schedules can be setup to automatically keep your home clean for you

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Setup

The manual that came with the Roborock S7 is beautifully printed: light grey print on glossy white paper. It looks sharp. Only one thing was problematic: the print was tiny and so light I had to get out a magnifying glass to read it and still couldn’t see it with my aging eyes. I finally gave up and found it online. I zoomed in on it and read it easily on my iPad.

Putting the few basic things together was very straight forward. Downloading the iOS (Android is also available.) app and setting it up with the robot was predictably straight forward as well. Detailed instructions are included, but it was very much what you might expect. The app walks you through the process. However, I was really unsure how to actually get started after charging the robot to 100%. I decided I should just touch the word “Clean” on the app on my phone.

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I found these YouTube videos helpful.

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Preparing for the First Mapping/Cleaning

I went throughout the house picking up things I thought might prevent the robot from getting into every nook and cranny of the house when mapping. Now, I don’t think all of the things I did were really necessary. The LiDAR technology is rather smart when it comes to mapping. I suspect all I needed to do was focus on getting wires and things out of the way as well as things the robot might be able to knock over.

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Initial Mapping

I decided to not put water into the mop reservoir as I first got started. I didn’t want to run the risk of accidentally messing up the barely off-white carpet we have in one of the bedrooms. So, after initial setup mentioned above, I used the app to tell the robot to just vacuum the house. These are the app settings I used: Vacuum Power: Balanced; Scrub Intensity: Close; Mop Route: Standard.

And off she went.

I was terrified it might leap to its death from the top of the stairs. It seemed to see them and avoided the edge of the top step. (I was standing a few steps down ready to stop it from going over the edge just in case.)

The LiDAR system sees large sections of a room and creates the map quickly and easily. The robot doesn’t have to physically go into every area of a room to create the map. The realtime mapping system is really rather impressive!

The robot got stuck under one of the beds in the room with thick, low pile carpet. I moved it backwards a bit and it continued. I wish I had known that I could have paused the “live” cleaning/mapping session and drawn a No Go zone on the map under the bed in that area. When you save an “edited” map3, the robot then automatically resumes. However, you can not create a No Go zone in an area of the map where the robot currently is. You need to create the No Go zone before or after the robot is in the No Go area.

I wish I had known that I could have paused the “live” cleaning/mapping session and drawn a No Go zone on the map under the bed in that area.

In this same bedroom, it told me twice that its wheels were jammed. I picked it up and inspected the wheels. They did not have anything jamming them. I now think the dustbin was actually full, and this is what caused the error message. After putting the robot back down, it took itself back to the charging station. Its charge was down to 20%.

While it was charging, I emptied the dustbin. It was very full, probably too full. So, after cleaning almost this entire floor4, the dustbin filled up in this final room which is the only room on this level that has wall to wall carpet. I thought this was an important observation at the time. Would the vacuum be able to clean the entire main level (almost 2,100 square feet) without the dustbin filling up?

What I have subsequently learned is that it can. The mostly white, thick, low pile carpet in this bedroom apparently was horrendously dirty even though it looked clean and had been vacuumed with our house vacuum 2 weeks earlier. The Roborock S7 does an exceptional job of pulling the “yuck” up out of the carpet using that rubberized main “brush.” That one, small bedroom generated the vast majority of the stuff in the dustbin. The remainder of the house has a couple of small rugs, tile, and hardwood floors.

When the robot was charged back up to 80%, it resumed and finished its first cleaning/vacuuming cycle. It finished that bedroom without telling me the wheels were jammed again, making me think this problem was a result of the dustbin being so full. (I have never received that error message since, and we have now had the vacuum clean over 10,000 square feet.)

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Suggestions for Your First Cleaning

Everyone’s homes will have different types of flooring and different types of rugs and carpet. Of course you should clear obstacles from your floor. Periodically pause your first cleaning of carpeted areas and check your dustbin to gain a sense of how full the dustbin is getting. I am assuming this will help keep you from getting the wheels jammed error message. Again, the rubberized main brush does an outstanding job of pulling debris from carpet!

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Editing Our Map

I then used the app to split the main floor into the various rooms: laundry room, kitchen, guest room, dining room, living room, etc. I named each room appropriately. I then customized the cleaning routine for each room: vacuuming suction level, mop water settings, and the mop vibration settings. Finally, I added No Go zones, Invisible Walls, and No Mop areas.

Again, I wish I had understood that once a room is basically mapped, you can add the No Go zones and such then. Since the map is typically finished early on5 because of the impressive LiDAR system, this would have prevented a few protracted engagements in areas that I didn’t need the robot to spend any time.

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Schedules

I then went about setting up schedules. I suggest you consider carefully monitoring the robot’s first execution of each of your scheduled cleanings. I found I wanted to tweak the No Go zones.

We have the robot vacuuming the areas where the sand comes in through opened windows/doors every morning before we get up. We have it vacuum and mop the kitchen every day after we’re finished with dinner and the dishes are all done.

We divided up the remaining rooms to be cleaned over the work week. These rooms are grouped so that each day the robot has about the same number of square feet to clean. I don’t know why I did it that way; I just did.

On the weekends I manually tell the robot to clean specific zones as desired. A zone is an area over which you resize a square. You then position the square where you want the robot to clean. The zone can be a portion of a room. The robot then goes to that zone and cleans it.

Here’s TMI about my last zone cleaning. I cut my toenails and had toenail clippings on the floor. I drew a zone over that area, and the S7 cleaned up the mess in no time.

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Areas of Lesser Strength

While the S7 and its app are really, really impressive to me, I find some things it doesn’t do well. These are probably unique to our home, but others may find similar issues in their homes.

We have a minimalist desk on thick, low pile carpet. The legs are pictured below. Our S7 seemed absolutely determined to crawl over the legs but couldn’t really do so. Perhaps it was just trying to get this obstructed area cleaned with multiple attempts, and I mean many, many attempts. But I was afraid the robot would get stuck here. (It didn’t.) But, I finally drew thin No Go zones where each leg was.

These thin desk legs on thick, low pile carpet were problematic for the S7.

We have other oddly shaped contemporary pieces of furniture with round metal or leather covered bases that are just barely above the floor. The robot did some rather interesting machinations going up and over the bases of these pieces of furniture. Sometimes it would bump the bottom of the seat as it tried to figure out how to go around.

Round Metal Chair Base

Perhaps I worried needlessly, but I feared it would get stuck. The S7 was just determined to conquer the cleaning of the bases themselves by crawling up on them. So, again, I drew a No Go zone in these areas.

Thick Shag Rug

We have a round, funky, thick shag-type of rug. I had placed things around the rug to prevent the robot from getting on it when it did its initial mapping. However, it managed to go under the sofa, which kind of surprised me it could fit, and got on the rug. It seemed to work for a bit. But no. It will not do this rug successfully. However, our main home vacuum cleaner won’t do it either! Again, a No Go zone had to be used.

Thick Shag Rug

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Suggestions for Improving the S7 Software

I personally found that the 10 No Go and 10 Invisible Walls limit for the whole main level to be insufficient. Because of some of our unique furniture and rugs, I need more of them.

Again, because of our unique furniture, I need round, circular No Go zones, not just square or rectangular ones. The square/rectangular shape removes space around a round base that the robot really needs to clean, especially when I’m creating a square No Go zone around a large circular rug.

The top left “corner” of the square No Go zone around the rug doesn’t get cleaned.

I would also like to see an additional tool for creating oddly shaped No Go or Invisible Wall areas. Those who use photo editing software like Photoshop or Affinity Photo are familiar with such tools. You can touch the screen to start a line, touch another area to continue the line to that spot, and keep touching the screen to add points along the line. Touching the first spot connects all of the lines into a shape. Then, if you touch a spot on the line now drawn, you can move it around if needed. Touch the line to move the whole shape. Double touch the line to add a spot there that can be moved about to alter the shape. Admittedly, this would be a specialty tool only needed for oddly shaped No Go zones, but I actually have a need for it here in this house.

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S7 Concluding Thoughts & Summary

I love this product. I really do. It actually is a serious, automated support for keeping our home clean. It works well. I’m impressed. Instead of spending a great deal of time vacuuming and mopping our floors, the Roborock S7 is doing this for us. All I am doing is checking the water level and emptying/cleaning the dustbin as needed: 5 minutes of my time.

I highly recommend this product, and I’m eager for the automatic emptying dustbin collection and water reservoir docking system to be available. With that addition, I should be able to substantially reduce the number of times I need to check on the dustbin and mop water level.

The Roborock S7 is impressive! Tim likes!! Tim likes a lot!!!

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Disclaimer

I don't do endorsements for any company or product. I only write about things I purchase, use, and really enjoy or really hate. So, what I write here are my own opinions about products or companies based on my firsthand experiences with them.

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  1. air filter, washable map pad, silicone side brushes 

  2. Our robot went for exactly 177 minutes before recharging. That’s all but exactly as advertised! 

  3. adding a No Go zone, Invisible Wall or No Mop zone to a map is a map edit. 

  4. 1,971 square feet 

  5. shortly after it enters a room and “looks around”