Do Robot Vacuums Work on Dark Floors?

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Cleaning the house is an activity that is often done during the day. However, thanks to the rapid rise in popularity of robot vacuum cleaners, many wonder: can robot vacuums work and clean in the dark? This is understandable, though, as having the ability to clean a house anytime during the day is a luxury to have.

Do robot vacuums work on dark floors? Not all robot vacuums work well on dark floors and surfaces. While some robot vacuums work on dark floors, most models may not run on dark-colored surfaces. The ‘cliff sensors’ that recognize an edge may view dark colors as an edge and may not clean over it.

With that said, there are many considerations that go into utilizing a robot vacuum cleaner in the dark, or on dark floors. Your robot's behavior on black or dark surfaces depends on the model that you have. In this post, we will explore everything you need to know about how vacuum cleaners can work in the dark.

Can Robot Vacuums Work in the Dark?

Before moving on to the meat of the matter, it’s important to note that employing a robot vacuum cleaner in the dark is different from employing a robot vacuum cleaner on dark floors. A dark room may have light-colored floors, while a bright room may have dark-colored surfaces. Now that we are clear, let’s move on.

1. Do Robot Vacuums Work on Dark Floors?

Unfortunately, not all robot vacuums work on dark floors. While some models are more advanced than others, not all robot vacuums can clean dark floors well. This is because some models are equipped with better sensors to differentiate between cliffs, edges, and dark surfaces.

For example, the Roomba i Series and s Series robot vacuums can navigate on dark surfaces. Thanks to their dual-beam cliff sensor technology, these robot vacuums are able to work on dark floors, without confusing dark surfaces to cliffs or edges. As long as you don’t block or disable the cliff sensors, you’re good to go.

If ever these robot vacuums have trouble navigating on dark surfaces, it’s most likely due to dust and debris blocking the cliff sensors. Before cleaning dark floors, it’s best to wipe the sensors of the robot vacuum cleaner with a clean, dry cloth. You can also use a lightly damped melamine foam.

However, certain models, like the Roomba e Series, 900, 800, 700, 600, 500, and 400 robot vacuums may not properly run on certain dark or black-colored surfaces. The outdated cliff sensors, designed to recognize an edge or a stair, may view the dark color as an edge and will not clean over it. 

When this situation happens, the Roomba robot vacuum cleaner may say “Move Roomba to a new location,” or it may back away from this area. Unfortunately, there is no adjustment that can be made to change this behavior. You can simply clean the dark surfaces yourself, or use robot vacuums designed for black floors.

Additionally, other robot vacuum brands also state that their products may have difficulty navigating dark floors and black surfaces. This includes well-known brands such as Ecovacs and Roborock. Therefore, when cleaning dark floors, be sure to invest in the best robot vacuum for dark floors, built with better sensors.

DEEBOT may not run on black and dark surfaces.

Official statement from Roborock about navigating dark floors.

2. Can Robot Vacuums Work in the Dark?

So, do robot vacuums work in the dark? Not all robot vacuums can work in the dark. While most robot vacuums can work and clean in the dark, certain models that use cameras need light to navigate itself. Therefore, if a room is too dark, a robot vacuum cleaner that uses a camera cannot clean a room properly.

For example, the Roomba 900 Series robot vacuums may have difficulties navigating a house without enough light. Dark rooms can be challenging for the robot’s localization camera and cause problems with navigation and coverage. The manufacturer suggests using the robot vacuum in a well-lit room or during daytime.

Furthermore, robot vacuums without cameras may have issues from getting too much natural light, especially from the sun. This is because the infrared light emitted by sunlight may confuse their sensors. You may often find your robot vacuum not wanting to clean around the sun rays on your floor because of this.

Best Tips for Using Robot Vacuums on Dark Floors

Most robot vacuums don’t have cameras, but they do have optical sensors that track obstacles and measure how far it’s traveled. However, optical sensors need adequate light to operate. We don’t recommend buying a robot vacuum with a camera, as they are less reliable than optical sensors.

1. Use it During Daytime

Using your robot vacuum during daytime may maximize its effectiveness.

If you do have a robot vacuum cleaner that utilizes a localization camera to navigate, a good rule of thumb is to use it during daytime. It’s also important to be mindful of how much natural light is present in the room. If there is enough lighting in the room, close the curtains to avoid sunlight from disturbing the robot’s sensors.

Remember, a sudden change in light exposure, like suddenly turning on an overhead light, or exposing the robot vacuum cleaner to direct sunlight, may freak it out, especially if the robot vacuum uses a camera. Allow the robot vacuum cleaner to work consistently in the same amount of light, and you’ll be fine.

2. Turn On the Lights

However, if you choose to clean your house at night, you can use several LED night lights to brighten up a room when it gets dark. As long as there is enough light in the room, your robot should work properly. Remember, the constant source of light is what matters the most for robot vacuums, not the brightness. 

PRO TIP: While you can schedule your robot vacuum cleaner to clean your house anytime during the day, the best time to use it is around 9 AM. We found that this is the optimal cleaning time. This is when the natural light of the sun can provide enough light inside your house, without too much sunlight entering from the windows. 

3. Clean the Sensors

If you find your robot vacuum getting stuck often, even with adequate lighting, it may be that the optical or cliff sensors are dirty. Dust and debris may build up and cover the sensors, hindering the effectiveness of the robot vacuum’s navigation. Be sure to wipe the optical sensors with a soft cloth before using it.

Final Words

And there you have it, a comprehensive post to answer the question: do robot vacuums work on dark floors? Now you know that only some robot vacuums cleaners can work and clean in the dark. Thanks to its highly advanced sensors, you can use this amazing tool to keep your house clean, day or night. 🙂

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