What could be more futuristic than robots that clean up after you? Even though the first generations of self-cleaning robots were actually a little primitive, they’ve only been getting better in the years since then. These days, an effective self-cleaning robot can do far more than a little bit of vacuuming. But how much more exactly? That still partially depends on your budget.
Narwal Self-Cleaning Robot Mop & Vacuum
The Narwal is a self-cleaning robot, quite similar to the Roomba. Except, instead of just sucking up debris, Narwal is capable of working as both a vacuum and mop. Taking on more than one job means the Narwal is metaphorically putting a lot on its plate. Being an effective mop and also being an effective vacuuming tool isn’t that easy. Not simultaneously.
The Narwal does a pretty surprisingly good job of it, though. When all is said and done, this robot is capable of effectively cleaning in a radius of about 2150 square feet. That’s about four times as large as the capabilities of most comparable robots. And it’s certainly large enough for most homes. But how well does Narwal perform in trickier circumstances?
Design & Layout
The Narwal Self-Cleaning Robot kit is composed of several separate components. First and foremost, the robot itself is a bit larger than a dinner plate, measuring about 12.4 x 13.6 x 4.2 inches. It weighs around 8lbs, though that weight can fluctuate depending on the mechanism inside. And then there’s the base, which is similar to a smaller trash-can in size, measuring around 15.8 x 14.1 x 17.2 inches. It’s a tad heavier than the robot, weighing around 17lbs. But of course, it becomes a bit heavier after you’ve got it loaded up with fluid.
All in all, the Narwal Self-Cleaning Robot includes the recharge station, a power cord, pair of mop modules, four mop pads, sweeping module, four brushes, washboard, washboard brush, dustbin and dustbin brush, pair of water tanks, detergent, magnetic strip, and a user manual.
That’s quite a bit of hardware. But what really makes this robot so cool is that you don’t need to go around micromanaging all of that on your own. Because once you’ve got everything setup, this thing is basically autonomous. Whether you’re using it for routine cleaning or spot cleaning when a mess occurs, Narwal can be ready.
Similar to a number of other self-cleaning robots, this device makes use of many smart mapping and navigational features to help guide it through the world. That includes the ability to establish no-go zones where you not want toe robot to move into, and then protect the robot and your other possessions in the process.
Much of that work is done through their free app. Once initiated, the Narwal app lets you adjust cleaning settings, customize the strategy your robot uses to clean, and monitor the status of cleaning wherever you happen to be using the app. You can also check the battery status of the device. Like you might have guessed, the user control app is compatible with Android and iOS systems. The app itself is also pretty friendly and approachable.
The smart sensors make navigation easier, allowing the Narwal to a better avoid obstacles as it moves though familiar or unfamiliar terrain alike. If it knocks into an object, the bumper will retract and the robot will try to find a clear path. It uses cliff sensors to prevent avoiding a drop down stairs or the like. And it uses wall sensors to determine where it needs to run closely along the edges of walls and objects without impacting them.
Because vacuuming bots have been around a bit longer than mopping bots, these features are a little less important to review. The technology tends to be a bit more developed, and so it’s easier to have higher expectations for it. Nevertheless, it’s worth mentioning the vacuum features are capable of working equally well on hardwood floors and thicker carpets.
That’s largely because the Narwal Robot is powered by a reasonably strong motor, which is essential for a vacuum like this one to be able to handle the pet-hair and dust that’s trapped deep within carpets. It actually has two suction speeds which it will move through as necessary, helping hit even tougher and dirtier spots in your home.
It can learn new environments without special programing, and then figure out a more optimized cleaning routine instead of rubbing itself into corners. Move a chair? The system can work out the problem and go around it. As with mopping, no-go zones can be saved for future scheduled runs.
In addition to being an effective vacuum, this robot was made to heavily feature a number of mop cleaning abilities. It can move between different cleaning strategies depending on the types of messes it encounters and the environments that it’s working within. Other robot mops will make use of a relatively small water reservoir and a cloth. Those types of systems require fairly regular micromanagement to remain effective at cleaning.
By contrast, the Narwal works with a self-cleaning technology so you don’t actually have to get your hands dirty yourself. It can wash, rinse, dry, and mop automatically as it goes. Most robotic mops work by pushing or dragging a piece of fabric against the floor, sort of like a handheld mop. This system uses two rounded triangular spinning mops, which is far better at wiping up dust and stains.
It’s similar to the sort of motion you’re supposed to use to help brush your teeth, quite effective at sweeping away debris. The optimum spinning speed of the rotor makes cleaning basically effortless. Ultra-fine microfiber mop maps are gentle on soft surfaces, yet still effective at absorbing liquids and cleaners.
The base station has what’s called a two bucket system. It works by separating the clean water and waste water, and has its own pumping system to spray water into the mops and then clean the mop when its needed. A full tank can accommodate a total of 5 liters of water, which can clean over 2,000 square feet in the course of about 3 hours. And the ventilation system helps dry the mop when mopping is done, so bacteria doesn’t have a fun place to grow. And self-cleaning takes about 75 seconds.
Once it’s finished cleaning, the Narwal Self-Cleaning Robot will automatically return to base. It if it needs to refill water or clean up, it will head back to the station, then return to where it left-off to keep up with the mopping. Pretty straightforward, and doesn’t require much in the way of oversight.
How long does the Narwal Self-Cleaning Robot last? Well, the battery capacity is actually fairly large, sitting at 5800mAh. For the sake of comparison, that’s about twice as large as some similar cleaning robots. But that doesn’t mean this bot can actually work for twice as long as others — because it’s a bit heavier and more power hungry than many of its competitors.
You’ll find the battery life runs 3 hours in total. Not bad, especially considering the robot will be able to recharge long before those 3-hours have elapsed. At least, as long as you’re not trying to greatly exceed the surface area that this bot was designed to clean. As long as you’re staying around the 2,000 square foot mark, you should find the battery more than adequate.
Another thing to keep in mind is that the 3-hour estimate assumes the robot is doing both mopping and vacuuming relatively evenly. If it’s doing nothing but mopping or nothing but vacuuming, you’ll find the performance is a bit different. The mopping features are marginally more power efficient than the vacuuming, which can allow you to get more like 3.5 hours of juice or more from the battery.
Having emptied the battery totally, you’ll find it takes about 2.5 hours to refill. Not bad, but again, you generally don’t see the robot recharging from empty all that often to begin with. If you were working in some kind of industrial cleaning capacity, the 3-hour capacity wouldn’t quite cut it, especially since you can’t actually swap the battery on your own. But for home users, that shouldn’t be an issue.
Vacuuming can be loud. When you’re dealing with powerful suction, it’s almost unavoidably loud. But interestingly, the Narwal Self-Cleaning Robot manages to do a pretty good job of keeping the noise down. Operation is relatively quiet, not exceeding 45dB even during the louder vacuuming parts.
For the sake of comparison, that’s almost half as loud as a full sized vacuum. You can still hear it moving along as it works, but it’s still pretty ideal for people who don’t want to be disturbed by the cleaning.
Who Should Choose the Narwal Self-Cleaning Robot Mop & Vacuum?
If you don’t need a robot that can both mop and vacuum, then the Narwal is probably overkill for you. Needing only one if these functions means you could save a couple of bucks with a simpler device. But when you want both mopping and vacuuming from a single robot, you should find this one does a pretty compelling job.
These types of robots have always had their limitations, and they continue to do so. But it’s also pretty clear they’re getting better and better with each generation. Even though the Narwal put a lot on its plate by attempting to be both a mopping robot and a vacuuming robot, it’s managed to do both reasonably well.
The smart navigation features aren’t anything super innovative, they’ve been around on similar robots for a number of years. But the wireless connection is modern, the multi-bucket system is smart and easy to use. And being able to move between different levels of suction as needed, this robot can do a pretty good job of keeping things clean so you don’t have to.