REVIEW – When you have had two total knee replacements and you have a weak back, you could use some help with the housework. I have a lot of trouble wrangling the upright Dyson we have, but I hadn’t really thought about trying a robot vacuum again because of a bad experience I had with one a few years ago. It could get lost in my 80 sqft bathroom. And when it wasn’t stuck in the bathroom, it wandered aimlessly around the house, never completing a room before meandering off to another room. That was a long time ago, and a lot of progress has been made since then. When I read that the Roborock S5 Robot Vacuum Cleaner has high-precision LDS laser distance sensors that can do five 360°-scans of your room per second so it can map out the best pathway for cleaning, I was hoping I’d find a useful partner for cleaning my floors without breaking my back and knees.
- Size: 13.9″ x 13.8″ x 3.8″
- Lithium ion battery; 14.4V, 5200mAh
- Weight 7.7 pounds
- Wireless, smart contact charging
- Rated voltage: 14.4V
- Rated power: 58W
- Suction power: 2000Pa
- Obstacle crossing: 2cm
- E11 filter is Teflon-coated for easy washing; reusable for about a year
- Smart laser navigation
- 13 sensors to avoid obstacles and falls
- Laser range sensor scans the room quickly for distance information and planning cleaning route
- Size: 5.1″ x 5.9″ x 3.9″
- Rated power: 42W
- Rated input: 100-240V
- Rated output: 20V, 1.8A
- Rated frequency: 50/60Hz
- Protective floor mat when using the mop function (seen in above photo)
What’s in the box?
- Roborock S5 robotic vacuum
- Dock charger with US plug
- Beak-like cleaning tool
- Washable filter
- 2 Pairs of replacement water tank filters
- Water tank and waterproof pad
- 2 Mopping cloths
- User manual
Design and features
In addition to the LDS laser sensors to map your room mentioned above, the Roborock S5 has other sensors to help it navigate your house and individual rooms.
- There’s a collision sensor, which is the band around the front of the vacuum (seen in the following photo), that moves to indicate the vacuum has bumped something. The S5 will change its path when a bump is felt to prevent damage to the object blocking it.
- The little tower on the top of the vacuum is the bumper sensor that feels even the slightest brush against the top. This prevents your vacuum from getting stuck under something.
- Four cliff sensors on the bottom of the machine prevents it from going off an edge that’s too high for it to navigate.
- An STMicroelectronics laser TOF range-finding module precise to millimeters helps the vacuum maintain a distance of about 10mm from the wall. This close distance and the rotating side brush means the floor is cleaned all the way up to the wall.
- A fall sensor can detect whether the wheels are in a pressed-in state on the floor. When the wheels are off the floor, the cleaner will stop working immediately, significantly increasing the safety during handling.
- An odometer measures the number of wheel rotations and calculates the mileage it travels in your house as it cleans.
- A tri-axial gyro can detect angular changes in the yaw/pitch/roll directions to determine the orientation of the cleaner, while the tri-axial accelerometer can detect the acceleration of the cleaner in three axes X/Y/Z to determine whether the cleaner tilts or collides with any obstacle.
- Dual electronic compass sensors can detected “virtual walls” by sensing magnetic fields. Virtual walls are created by laying magnetic tape down to create the “wall”. The cleaner will automatically avoid the area defined by virtual walls. Use these walls to keep the vacuum away from areas you don’t want disturbed, like around the Christmas tree or a room where it may get stuck or damaged, like a craft room. The magnetic tape is an optional purchase.
- The dust bin sensor prevents damage to the motor by preventing using the vacuum when the dust bin or its filter aren’t in place.
- The fan speed sensor accurately measures the speed to determine whether the filter is clogged and to keep a record of the fan speed.
- A recharge sensor that allows the S5 to quickly locate and return to the charging dock when it needs recharging.
To get started with the Roborock S5 vacuum, you’ll need to set up the charging dock and put the vacuum on it to charge up the battery. There are a lot of videos on the Roborock website that guide you through setting up, using, and maintaining the vacuum. I found them very helpful in getting to know the Roborock S5.
You’ll also need to download an app to your mobile device that can be found here. This iOS version of this app is somewhat confusing to use, but you’ll need it to connect to your home WiFi, which your vacuum will need to create a cleaning map of your home. This app apparently is also used by another company to control their many types of speakers and home automation devices, including robot vacuums. There is not much information to be found about using this app, so I wasted a lot of time trying to define the rooms in my house, only to learn later that this information is only used by devices from the other company. The Roborock S5 vacuum creates its own map of the house and doesn’t use these room definitions. It would be very nice if Roborock could create their own app, or at least create a video or text document explaining how to use the current app. I found that it does have a few functions for the Roborock vacuum, but they aren’t “inherently obvious to the user”, as I say.
Once you’re connected to the WiFi and your Roborock S5 is charged, you’re ready to start cleaning and letting the vacuum map out your house. I started my first cleaning by pressing the power button on top of the S5. As soon as I did, the vacuum moved off the charging dock and starting moving around in my hallway.
The above image from the Roborock website shows you the information you can use in the app. You can see the progress your vacuum makes by watching the little green light. You can send commands from the app to start a timer cleaning, or use the app as a remote control to start it cleaning or have it return to the charging base. There’s another function for zone cleaning that we’ll discuss more later in the review.
The Roborock S5 is supposed to be good for homes with pets. My house put it to the ultimate test, because I have a Shiba Inu who sheds huge amounts of hair 365-days a year. It’s like living in the Wild West, what with the tumbleweeds of dog hair that can accumulate overnight. The Roborock sucked up all the dog hair it encountered without a problem.
The Roborock is very quiet. It’s not noiseless, but I could certainly continue with what I was doing without being disturbed by the noise. I live in a high-rise building, with neighbors on three sides of me. I feel I could use the vacuum without them hearing it through the cement walls of the building. Because of the layout of the building, I feel I could even vacuum my living room, dining room, foyer, kitchen, or hall bathroom on a timer overnight without them hearing anything.
After that first pass through my hallway, I was quite pleased with how clean the floor was. The little side brush swept up the dust and dog hair that gathers against the wall without bumping into the wall. In my kitchen, it could navigate around the legs on my work table, and it easily climbed up on and cleaned the two anti-fatigue floor mats in there. It could switch from my hardwoods to my area rugs without problem in the living and dining rooms. It did push my little door mat at the front door out of place, but I need to buy some anti-slip tape for that rug anyway.
It did have a bit of trouble climbing over the marble thresholds for my bathrooms, so I just need to put the S5 into the bathrooms and shut the door while it vacuums so it won’t try to go back out of the bathrooms after it has cleaned. The bathrooms are the only place it can’t reach parts of the room to clean. It’s big enough that it can’t fit between the toilet and wall in one and the toilet and the shower in the other bathroom.
When the Roborock S5 starts working, it wants to do your entire house. I had hoped that I’d be able to tell it to vacuum a specific room and have it go clean that then return to the charging dock. That’s why I was trying to define the rooms of my house in the app. Well, you can’t do it that way – or at least I can’t figure out how to do it that way. But I don’t have to always have the vacuum clean the entire house. Once the Roborock has defined the entire house, I can go into the app and select Zone Cleaning. With this option, you just draw a square around the area of the house you want cleaned, and the vacuum will go clean that area and return to the dock when it’s finished. I have long had a zone approach to cleaning my house – Mondays are for the living room, dining room, and foyer; Tuesdays are the kitchen; etc. Because I can set up a zone for vacuuming, I can start the Roborock S5 cleaning the room I’ll be working on that day while I run my early morning errands, then I’m ready to dust and straighten that zone when I get back. I LOVE the zone cleaning function!
The Roborock S5 can also wet mop. It has two microfiber cleaning cloths and a water reservoir that attaches to the bottom. It can do zone cleaning with the mop, too. I haven’t used the mop function because I have hardwoods everywhere except the kitchen and bathrooms, and I clean the floors in those rooms with a steam cleaner.
What I like
- Vacuums efficiently and thoroughly
- Can “measure” the room’s shape and size and eventually produce a map of your entire house
- Can use timers to start cleaning
- Can set zones for cleaning
- Will return to the charging dock when it needs recharging
- Can wet-mop as well as vacuum
What needs to be improved
- Could use more documentation about using the current app – OR –
- An app just for the Roborock S5 would be perfect
The Roborock S5 robot vacuum is a great addition to my cleaning arsenal. It’s quiet enough that I don’t have to worry about bothering the neighbors or waking up my daughter whenever I decide to vacuum a room. I could even have it run overnight without worrying about noise. It picks up dust and dirt and the rolling tumbleweeds of dog hair without a problem. And I love that I can draw a zone on my home’s map and have the Roborock S5 clean that area immediately or on a timer. The Roborock S5 is a great value for the price.