Ecovac Deebot T9+ Vacuum/Mop Robot REVIEW
At last, a robot vacuum-and-mop combo that does all the work for certified lazy bastard PAT PILCHER, and even learns how to do it better.
Vacuum cleaning. I rate it right up there with DIY cranial lobotomies. If given a choice between amputating an arm and vacuum cleaning, well, who the hell needs an arm? From the bottom of my (still intact) arm, EcoVac’s Deebot T9+ vacuuming/mopping robot gets a huge thank you from my inner lazy bastard.
I’d long been an owner of an ageing Roomba, and while it was at first a novelty, its cleaning chops left a bit to be desired. Having reviewed RoboRock’s robot vacuum/mop, I was pleasantly surprised to find that Robot vacs have since come a very long way. Could the T9+ match (or better) Roborock’s epic efforts?
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Like its other robot vacuum cleaner counterparts, the Ecovac T9+ resembles a flattened out R2D2. Its rounded body has sweeper brushes on its sides and a water reservoir plus mop attachment. Unlike other units I’ve tested, it also comes with deodoriser capabilities that’ll fill your home with a pleasant blueberry fragrance as it vacuums and mops.
The box that the review unit arrived in is positively mahoosive. It not only housed the T9+ (and possibly several lost Amazonian hill tribes), but there was also an auto-empty station/charging stand. It uses a vertical dustbin with a dust bag. Once I’d got all the attachments fitted to the T9+ and placed it on the auto-empty station, my wife shrewdly observed that it looked like we had a leprechaun sized loo in our hallway. Thankfully, the whole setup was small enough to stow in a wardrobe, allowing us to keep it out of sight.
Ecovac’s robot and auto-empty station combo is a dream come true for the vacuum-averse. Using the EcoVac app, you can tell the T9+ to get to work. Then you can sit back and relax, knowing that vacuuming and mopping are underway. Once done, the T9+ will locate the Auto-Empty station, dock with it, empty its dust bin and charge. Lazy bastards of the world rejoice!
So, did it do a decent job with its cleaning? While I was initially underwhelmed, it eventually won me around. To start with, It struggled with all the test obstacles I’d left scattered about, and basic chores such as locating the Auto-empty station simply baffled it. The T9+ gets better over time thanks to machine learning used with bump sensors, carpet sensors, drop sensors and a LIDAR (laser radar). All these create a detailed map of your home. It also means that it learns as it goes. I found that with each subsequent clean, the T9+ became increasingly accomplished at navigating its way around my home. Before long, the usual test obstacles presented no problems to it whatsoever.
With lots of wooden floorboards and rugs in our home, the T9+’s mopping and vacuuming got seriously tested. Choosing what level of mopping I wanted was useful, and once I’d given the mopping pad attachment a quick wetting under the tap and filled the water reservoir, it happily trundled off and went to work. I was pleased by how well the T9+ mopped. The results came down to the design of its mopping attachment. Where many robot-cleaners simply drag a wet mopping pad around your floors, the T9+ uses a clever oscillating design that creates a strong scrubbing motion. Muddy greyhound paw prints vanished, as did most other floor stains. Total effort on my part was about as close to zero as it gets.
If it were just good mopping, that’d be nice. But it sucked too (which is a good thing for a robot-vac). The clever sensor setup meant that the T9+ could distinguish between floorboards and the rugs scattered around the house. It’d ramp up its suction when it detected carpet, decreasing it again once back on floorboards. Using the Ecovac app, I was pleased to note four vacuuming modes were available. While it picked up everything in its path, it isn’t as perfect as a manual vacuum. It didn’t quite get all the dust and detritus where floorboards met the skirting boards on the wall. The beauty of a robot-vac is that it’ll do most of the vacuuming automatically, and then every once and a while, I’ll do an old fashioned manual spot clean of the areas missed by the T9+. It’s still a zillion times better than a full-on weekly vacuum and mop session.
So, there’s a lot to like, but there are one or two other considerations. The cloth that Velcros to the mop attachment isn’t reusable. You might be able to wash it once, but I found its effectiveness reduced after doing that. Then there is the clever but non-reusable air freshener capsule and dust bags for the auto-empty station. As they are proprietary, you’ll have to buy replacements from Ecovac. The only other issue I found was the dustbin inside the Auto-empty station. After the T9+ does several dozen dustbin empties, you’ll need to replace the dust bag, which has a capacity of about 2 litres.
The Android/iOS Ecovac app also deserves special mention. It gives you unprecedented control over your vacuuming/mopping without blinding you with science. With it, you can switch the deodoriser and auto-emptying off (which reduces the amount of replacement dust bags and optional air freshener capsules you’ll need to buy). The app also shows the usage cycle of brushes, mop pads (so you only end up buying them when they need replacing). The app also lets you decide how much water you want to use for mopping. As the app works over mobile data and Wi-Fi, you can see the T9+’s status even if you’re away from home.
By the third vacuuming/mopping run, the LIDAR on the T9+ had perfectly mapped the layout of my home. You can edit the map and give rooms names or set up virtual no-go zones. Equally handy, the Ecovac app can also map Wi-Fi coverage in your home. In addition, the app comes with a funky 3D maps feature with which I could add furniture into rooms to represent their layout. I didn’t use it a lot, as the 2D map worked perfectly.
One feature that my inner lazy bastard appreciated was the ability of the T9+ to play nice with both Alexa and the Google assistant. I could issue voice commands for starting and stopping cleaning. I could also send the T9+ back to its Auto-empty station for charging and dust bin emptying. Frustratingly, even though I gave each mapped room a name, I could not use Alexa to send it to specific rooms. Here’s hoping this functionality comes via a future firmware and Alexa Skill update. Either way, using a voice command to get vacuuming and mopping done still feels like magic.
The T9+ vacuums well and is a champ when it comes to mopping. Best of all, I don’t have to break a sweat in the process. While it isn’t perfect, it’s pretty darned good. Most importantly, it seemed to go and go. Ecovac’s blurb says it has a rated battery life of around 175 minutes (a hair under three hours). That proved to be more than ample for fully vacuuming and mopping my entire home. If you value being a lazy bastard like me, the T9+ is definitely worth checking out.