As a stay-at-home dad, life is better with a robot vacuum! We have only had ours for a few days, and Toby (yes we named our robot vacuum) has already brought plenty of entertainment, excitement and cleanliness to our house. The kids love him, and I love clean floors without having to sweep or vacuum. Here is a quick video from our 1st night with the ILIFE V5S Robot Vacuum.
Here is a quick review of the ILIFE V5S Robot Vacuum based on several days of trial and observation…
WHY THIS MODEL?
I am known to look at a dozen options and read every Amazon review before I buy a nice pair of running socks, so imagine how much trouble I have picking out something more significant. There are way more robot vacuum options than I realized, so it took a little while to sort through them. The most popular ones tend to be Roomba vacuums, but they are very pricey. The cheapest, low-end Roomba model was still about $80 more than the model that I bought, and price was a major factor for us. I was looking for something around $200. I had over $100 in Amazon gift cards and credits, so this would cost me less than $100 out-of-pocket. Near that $200 price point, I narrowed it down using Amazon reviews and questions/answers, and I believe that any of these options would have been good:
ILIFE V5S Robot Vacuum (the one I bought)
- With similar prices and reviews to the others below, the key feature that sets this one apart is that it has wet-mopping capabilities.
- It basically did just about everything as well as most of the other models below. The ILIFE A4 has a slightly longer battery life and possibly a more powerful suction, and the RolliBot has a UV sterilization light. In the end, with the help of my kids watching YouTube videos of these robot vacuums with me, we all agreed that the wet-mopping feature would be really useful, a differentiating factor for us.
- This one sounded great, but at the same price as the V5S, I opted for the one that could mop too.
- This is an upgraded version of the V5S, but I could not find it from the officially authorized seller on Amazon, meaning that they might not honor the warranty if anything breaks in the 1st year. This is a Chinese company, and they say there are lots of counterfeits on the market. On Amazon, they ONLY authorized seller of ILIFE products is “ILIFE Innovations,” who has 99% positive feedback. I would have loved to get this upgraded version of my robot vacuum, but it wasn’t worth the risk of getting ripped off. I could have ordered this from another website, but I needed to use my Amazon credits toward my purchase.
- The key upgrades this has over the ILIFE V5S include the following: bigger dust bin, bigger water tank and bluetooth connection to control it with your iPhone via the corresponding iOS app.
- This one sounded really good too, and many reviews actually said it is almost identical to the ILIFE A4 Robot Vacuum. In general, Anker products get very high reviews across the board on Amazon. What geared me away from Anker and toward the ILIFE brand was the fact that ILIFE specializes in robot vacuums, while most of Anker’s products are things like phone chargers, portable battery chargers and iPhone lightning cables. They seem to be a solid, up-and-coming electronics company, but they do not specialize in robot vacuums. Also, numerous reviews said that Anker customer service is non-existent, while ILIFE customer service is top-notch.
- This one was an intriguing choice. It got great reviews, along with its smaller version. It also has a cool feature that the others in this price range do not offer: a UV Sterilization light on the bottom that “which kills germs and bacteria on contact.” Does this UV light really do much? I have no idea, but it sounds nice! Also, like several similar robot vacuums, this model has a “mopping” feature. However, this feature basically just means you attach a Swiifer-type mop-pad attachment and wet/spray the floor by hand, allowing the robot vacuum to just rub the pad over the water/cleaning solution that you sprayed on the floor. Comparatively, the ILIFE V5S and V7S models include small water tanks that slow-drip the water on the floor as they go, meaning less work for me, which is the whole point of a robot vacuum in the first place.
- Also, while this model does have excellent reviews, it appears to be a new company that does not have many items on Amazon. ILIFE has been specializing in robot vacuums for almost 10 years, and they have several different models on the market, all of which have excellent reviews. I opted for the proven brand.
WHAT HAVE I NOTICED USING THE ILIFE V5S ROBOT VACUUM SO FAR?
The 1st time we used it, the kids and I basically followed it around for 2 solid hours. It was lots of fun, and it took me the 1st night to figure out the various features. Here are some things worth noting about the ILIFE V5S Robot Vacuum.
- As advertised, the battery lasts slightly over 2 hours when in vacuum mode.
- Battery life multiplies by a shocking amount when it is used in mopping mode instead of vacuum mode. I have only used the mopping feature once so far. After dinner I let it vacuum our downstairs for exactly 1 hour, and then I set it up to mop, thinking it would mop for the 2nd hour of its battery life. With half the battery used up before it started mopping, it still ran for another 4 hours 17 minutes! When it was still mopping past midnight I grew tired of checking on it, but I wanted to see how long it would go. I was more than surprised that it kept going for this long, and ILIFE really should highlight the mopping battery life in their advertising.
- It takes 4-5 hours to charge, and I think that is pretty normal compared to other similar models. It charges fast enough to easily run the vacuum twice a day, or even 3 times if we start it earlier in the morning or run it later at night.
- The remote has a button that tells the robot vacuum to return to its charging station, and when the vacuum’s battery gets low, it automatically switches itself to this “home” mode. In my experience so far, the V5S has only been able to find its charging station when it is already very near to the charger.
- So far it has only finished cleaning and returned itself to the charger without my help 1 time. I usually have to help guide it with the remote.
- I usually end up just waiting till the robot vacuum dies or gives up its search, and then I will go and move it to the charger.
- More expensive, smarter robot vacuums actually map out various rooms into their memory, and these are supposed to be able to remember where their charging bases are located.
- The V5S seems to just wander around randomly until it gets really close to its charger. This is slightly annoying, but it really has not been a big deal yet. I am sure that eventually this will cause me to forget to charge it from time to time, but you can’t have everything with a robot vacuum in this price range.
- It would be nice if the dust bin were about twice as big, as I have to empty it about every 30-45 minutes, but my floors were especially dirty with a whole summer’s worth of dog hair accumulating everywhere imaginable.
- I wanted a robot vacuum to clean up dog hair more than anything else. We were told that our dog was not a shedding breed, but we were misinformed. Lucy sheds her hair all over our house, and it gets pretty disgusting. If the floors have not been cleaned and I walk around the house in socks, I am tempted to just throw my socks in the trash afterward because they end up completely covered in dog hair, which can be surprisingly difficult to get out of my running socks.
- How a robot vacuum handles pet hair was one of the main things I was looking for when reading reviews, and many reviewers said the ILIFE V5S Robot Vacuum handles pet hair very well. They were correct, and our V5S handles Lucy’s dog hair like a charm. I have been running it 2-3 times per day for several days, and it still keeps filling up with dog hair every 30 minutes.
MOPPING MODE & WATER TANK
- The water tank and dust bin go in the same slot, and you simply switch them out when you switch from vacuuming to mopping modes.
- The water tank needs to be refilled probably every 45 minutes or so.
- The instructions say to only use water, but lots of reviewers said they put Bona (for hardwoods) and other cleaners in theirs without problem. For the 1st try, I filled mine up with about 90% water, and I sprayed a few squirts of 409 Cleaner in there to do a little disinfecting. We have previously used Bona on our hardwoods, so I will probably try it in the robot vacuum next week.
- As I said earlier, the V5S will operate for several hours without charging in mopping mode.
WALLS & CORNERS
- The 1st time I ran our V5S Robot Vacuum, it repeatedly stopped and changed directions every time it got within about 6-9 inches of a wall. I thought, “Oh great, it gets nowhere near the wall, but the walls and corners seem to be where most of the dog hair collects!”
- Later I realized that it has a setting for sides/walls.When in this setting, it automatically heads to the nearest wall and just hugs/follows the wall all around the room. This works really well as long as there are not too many obstacles along the way. This mode also works well with the island in our kitchen, along with cleaning along the edges of couches, dressers, etc.
- The V5S has a spot cleaning mode where it just goes in a small circle, and the circle gradually gets larger. This works well enough for cleaning a particularly dirty area of crumbs under the table.
- If you just let the vacuum do its own thing, it will alternate itself between regular cleaning mode, spot cleaning mode and walls/sides cleaning mode. I am not sure how it decides when to switch modes. Maybe it just does each one for a certain number of minutes before switching.
- I usually guide it a bit to make sure it cleans the dirtiest parts of the kitchen after meals, and then I just set it free to roam the downstairs doing what it does.
- Using the remote, you can program the ILIFE V5S to run at the same time everyday. Other pricier models have more advanced programming options, like if you don’t want it to run on weekends or if you want it to run at different times on different days. This model keeps it simple, but it does work.
- Last night I programmed it to run at 6 am today. It ran for about 2 hours and then returned itself to the charger without me doing anything.
- The charger and remote are included.
- It also comes with an extra mop pad, 2 extra rotating brushes, 2 extra HEPA filters and a cleaning brush that can be used to clean vacuum parts.
DOES IT GET STUCK?
- Yes it does. Before the V5S cleans a room, or a whole floor, you should be aware of what is on the floor.
- So far mine has gotten stuck in the following places:
- Under bar stools. The way our bar stools sit together under the bar, there is not enough space for the V5S to maneuver itself out. It has gotten stuck under these a few times.
- Drawstring bag. It grabbed onto the string and got it all tangled in the rotating sweeping brushes.
- iPhone charging cables. It bounces off or moves past many different cords, but iPhone lightning cables are so skinny (and the tips so skinny) that it loves to get those cables wrapped up in its brushes.
- Edges of thick area rugs. We have 2 rugs downstairs, and both give our V5S trouble. The rugs are already thick, but then we have pads underneath them that keep the rugs from moving. This makes the edges of the rugs stand too high off the ground for our robot vacuum to handle easily. It usually just bounces off these rugs like a wall, but sometimes it comes at just the right angle and gets itself on top of the rugs. A few times it has gotten about halfway onto a rug and gotten stuck there.
- Under a couch. We have 1 couch that only has a narrow opening on the front but has larger openings on the sides. The ILIFE V5S Robot Vacuum gets under this couch from the side to clean, but sometimes it cannot seem to get back out.
- After a few days of observations, I can prevent many of these things from being hazards for the robot vacuum. I get all charging cables up off the floor. I don’t leave bags with strings on the floor. The problem couch is in my bedroom, and it does not clean in there as much as the other rooms downstairs. So it is rarely an issue. I can change the position of the bar stools a bit so it does not get stuck as easily. I cannot do anything about the area rugs, but they are usually not a problem.