One of the topics I write about on this blog is home automation.  While we typically think of smart home hubs like Samsung SmartThings and security cameras, we can’t forget about smart home appliances that save you time in your daily life.

A robot vacuum is one of those smart appliances every smart home should have.

See how one of Amazon’s more highly rated and least expensive robot vacuums, the Ecovacs Deebot M80 Pro, fared compared to the industry standard iRobot Roomba.

Why Buy a Robot Vacuum?

I had been thinking about buying a robot vacuum for a long time.  At first, I thought they were just way too expensive.  However, as I had more kids, my wife and I soon found ourselves sweeping multiple times a day.  It was starting to consume a big chunk of my time with my family after work.

Dirty Floors are Gross, but Time is Valuable

Since I hate dirty floor, I kept spending way too much time sweeping.  Finally, I decided that the money I was saving by not buying a robot vacuum wasn’t worth all the time I was wasting.  After all, I have to keep writing new posts for this blog!  😉

So, I went out and bought an iRobot Roomba 805.  I really liked it.  A few months later, I found a great deal on the Ecovacs Deebot M80 Pro on Amazon.

Since it was about a third of the price of the Roomba, I figured it would be good to get another one so we can keep one upstairs and another downstairs.  I also thought it would make for a good comparison review to blog about.

Without further ado, let’s get into my review of the Deebot.

Ecovacs Deebot M80 Pro: A Robot Vacuum on a Budget Compared to iRobot Roomba 805

When reviewing one of these “off-brand” robot vacuums, you have to compare it to a Roomba robot vacuum from iRobot.  Roombas were the original robot vacuums and have held a strong dominance in the market.  Along with that market dominance comes their high prices.

Again, one of the reasons why I got the Deebot is because of it’s low price.  By all appearances, it looks to be almost identical to a Roomba.  Let’s find out if there’s a reason for that.

Unboxing the Deebot

What’s a review without some good unboxing photos?  Take a gander…

Design & Aesthetics

While this may not be very important for most of you, the aesthetics of the robot vacuum have to matter a little since it is somewhat of a permanent fixture of your house and people will see it.

I like the look of the Deebot.  It doesn’t look cheap.  I actually prefer the scratch resistant plastic top that looks like glass.

Another aspect of the design is how the user interface was designed.  This is one area that I think is a bit lacking compared to Roomba.  The Deebot only has one start/stop button on it.  The rest of the functions require the remote that comes with it.

Besides buttons, the audio feedback it gives is also part of the user interface design.  Again, the Deebot scores a bit low in that (in my opinion) because it has an obnoxiously loud beep that it uses every time it starts, stops, or gets stuck.  In contrast the Roomba has an array of different sounds for different situations.  Most of them are more subtle sounding.  They are often a short melody or even a soft voice explaining that it’s stuck.

Features

App Control

One of the biggest features that the Deebot M80 Pro has over the Roomba 805 is the smart phone app on iOS or Android.  You can use the app to connect your Deebot to your wifi and control it through the app interface.  On the Roomba side, I believe you would need the buy the 690, 890, or anything in the 900 series.

Alexa Control (not supported?)

Along that same topic of app control, I also expected to find an Alexa skill so I could control the Deebot using voice commands to an Echo device.  I found the Alexa skill for it, however, they unfortunately released that skill with only support for one of their Deebot models, the R95.  No support for M80 Pro at this moment, and their reviews on the Alexa skill are taking a huge hit because of it.

Suction Power Modes

You wouldn’t know by looking at the vacuum or the remote, but the Deebot M80 actually has 2 suction power settings.  It defaults to the “Normal” setting with is a bit quieter than the Roomba, but it’s also a lot less suction power.  In order to change it to the “Max” setting, you need to use the app.  You would also need to switch it each time it runs since the Deebot always reverts back to the default “Normal” setting.

Cleaning Modes

There are a few different cleaning modes on the remote that comes with the Deebot.

  • Auto mode: For general cleaning.  It seems to do a balance of the cleaning modes, possibly cycling through them
  • Single room mode: To focus the cleaning in one room
  • Edge mode: Sends the Deebot to follow the edges of the room and the furniture it runs into
  • Spot cleaning mode: Does a spiral pattern in one spot for intensive cleaning

Barrier Beacons (none)

Unlike the Roomba 805, the Deebot doesn’t come with any barrier beacons.  Barrier beacons are used to place virtual barrier walls or perimeters for Roombas.  They are helpful if there is a certain room you don’t want the robot vacuum to enter; You could put a beacon on the edge of the doorway.

Unfortunately, the Deebot doesn’t have this feature.

Cleaning Performance

I’ll just get right out and say it, the Deebot doesn’t do quite as good of a job as the Roomba.  Part of it may be the silly feature that it defaults to “normal” suction mode instead of “max”.  If you would make it stay in “max” mode all the time, it might be a closer comparison.

With that said, the cleaning performance of the Deebot is not horrible.  It still picks up a lot of stuff and gets the floor fairly clean.  It’s still a whole lot better than not having a robot vacuum at all.

Hard Floors vs Carpet vs Rugs

The Deebot M80 Pro specifies on the listing & packaging that it’s meant for hard floors and this or low-pile carpet.  I wouldn’t try it on normal carpet.  I don’t think it’s designed for that given the design of the bristle roller.

One issue I have to point out about the Deebot is how it deals with rugs.  It has issues with flipping up the corners or edges of rugs and getting stuck on them.  I had the Roomba for a few months before the Deebot and it never once had that issue.  The Deebot, however, does it repeatedly.  It’s a little frustrating because you have to be okay with having to go rescue it or you have to pick up any rugs before you have the Deebot start vacuuming.

Mop Function

One feature that the Deebot M80 Pro has that the Roomba doesn’t have is the mop function.  It comes with a reservoir part that you can fill up with water (and cleaning solution) and there is a mop pad that fits around it on one side.  You snap this part to the back side of the bottom of the Deebot and have it run as normal.

There are holes in the reservoir where the mop pad sits which allow the mop pad to continually absorb more water as water is used on the floor.

One thing to keep in mind if you use a mop feature on any robot vacuum is that you need to periodically stop it, take the pad off and clean it.  Think about it, if you were vacuuming by hand, you wouldn’t do the entire house without rinsing out the mop, right?  But, since the robot vacuum goes all by itself, it’s easy to forget.  The next thing you know, all your floors are sticky because it went over a juice spill and proceeded to spread it across the rest of the floors.

Another criticism of the Deebot’s mopping feature is that it doesn’t get every spot.  Since the Deebot goes around randomly, we would often see the mop streaks going at all kinds of angles across the floor, and we would see spots that it never touched.

You also need to remember that this mop function is for light mopping of minimal messes.  If you have lots of kids who drop food and gunk on the floor, the Deebot’s mop function won’t cut it.  It won’t pick up stuck-on messes, so you’ll still have to do those by hand.

Maintenance

Now let’s talk about the maintenance necessary to keep the Deebot M80 Pro working for you.

Cleaning

Dust bin

The dust collection bin on the Deebot is actually a pretty good design.  Unlike the Roomba where you pull the bin off the back of it, the Deebot has the dust bin under a lid on the top.  Just lift the lid, then pull the handle to get the dust bin out.

Air filter

The air filter seems to be very durable and should last a long time.  It has a screen in front of it that is on the inside of the dust bin so that catches most stuff leaving the actual HEPA filter fairly clean.  It also came with an extra air filter, so that’s nice.

Bristle roller

The Deebot M80 Pro has a bristle roller which is not as nice and durable as the Roomba’s rubber roller.  You will have to constantly be cleaning the bristle roller, and it is more difficult to clean since hair gets wrapped and tangled around the bristles.  In contrast, the Roomba’s rubber rollers make it much easier to clean.  Hair comes right off without much issue.

Rescuing

All robot vacuums get stuck.  After realizing they are stuck, they stop and then make a sound to let you know that they need to be rescued.

After a good amount of use with each, I can say that the Deebot gets stuck more often than the Roomba.  I don’t know if it has to do with the shape or height, or if the Roomba is smarter at knowing how to maneuver out of situations.

Once, the Deebot even got stuck on its own charger’s power cable.  I thought that was pretty funny.

Also, the Deebot is just a little bit shorter than the Roomba so it is able to get under my couch, while the Roomba never could.  The problem is that is can rarely figure out how to get out from under the couch.

Durability

Scratches

The Deebot M80 Pro is surprisingly durable against scratches.  When I first got my Roomba, it immediately found how to get all kinds of scratches by wedging itself underneath the fridge and dishwasher.  The Deebot, however, has gotten into some of the same wedge spots, but has come out scratch free.

Battery life

The battery life of both of my robot vacuums are very good.  I think they are able to go 2 or 3 hours, but with the Deebot, I’m not 100% sure of that because I’m not sure it’s made it through a whole battery cycle without getting stuck.

Conclusion

Overall, the Ecovacs Deebot M80 Pro is a decent option if you are tight on money and don’t want to spend loads of money on a Roomba.  However, if quality and user experience is your main priority, the iRobot Roomba vacuums are still the best out there.  There is a reason why they can still charge so much for them.