ECOVACS DEEBOT 900/901 Smart Robotic Vacuum: in-Depth Review

ECOVACS DEEBOT 900/901

The Ecovacs Deebot 900/901 is a mid-range, reasonably priced robot vacuum cleaner with lots of smart features typically offered in the best Roombas.

It has smart room mapping (using laser), remote app control, automatic recharge and resume and smart home integration via Alexa or Google Assistant.

It cleans all types of floors well and handles pet hair well enough.

The roller brush picks up pet hair and agitates dirt on carpeting for easier vacuuming while the side brushes sweep in dirt from the sides, wall edges and corners.

If you’d like a robot vacuum that cleans as well and is as smart as a Roomba but costs less, the Ecovacs Deebot 900/901 is a great choice.

Our impression – Ecovacs Deebot 900/901

Summary

A smart and highly capable robot vacuum at a bargain price. Great choice for medium size and large homes including those with pets.

Great for:
• Low and medium pile carpets
• Vinyl
• Hardwood
• Tile
• Linoleum
• Pet hair

Avoid if:
You have thick rugs at home and or have a multi-level home. The Deebot 900/901 cannot handle both.

ECOVACS DEEBOT 900/901


Overall Impression

Ecovacs is an excellent option for those looking for a Roomba-like robot vacuum that costs less.

You get a lot of features that you’d normally find in iRobot’s pricier cleaners.

The mapping feature is great especially at this price point, though it is a bit disappointing that it can only map one floor. But that’s something they can easily fix with an update.

Cleaning performance is not exactly at the level of a top-end Roomba – it struggles with thicker carpets and the bin is small – but it cleans well enough for most people’s needs.

All robot vacuums will pick up a decent amount of pet hair, but some are better for dog hair though. The Ecovacs Deebot 900/901 is one of them.

It’s a great choice if you are looking for a smart and affordable robot vacuum to help you deal with pet hair.

Another thing we like about the Deebot is that it cleans quietly. While you’ll still hear it working, it’s not loud enough to be a nuisance.

If you think it’s too loud, you can select a quieter low-power cleaning mode.

The main concern with the robot vacuum is the setup process. There have been more than a few complaints about the issue from customers.

They say it takes many tries to link the app to the robot and the initial mapping run can be problematic to complete.

Interestingly, these issues seem to have been associated with a bunch of faulty vacuums sold around the same time.

Some customers returned theirs or got a new replacement from the company.

The current model available is not causing any problems with set up or initial configuration. If you experience any issues, the customer service is very helpful.

Just remember to use the 2.4GHz band for the vacuum. It will not work with the normal 5GHz band.


Cleaning Ability

Before the robot starts cleaning, it has to map your house first. This happens during the initial run.

Once the map is complete, all cleaning features will be unlocked.

The mapping feature allows the robot to clean faster and more efficiently. It can identify different rooms, avoid obstacles and you can even specify which rooms you want it to clean.

This makes it a good choice for large homes.

But how well does it actually clean?

Cleaning performance is quite impressive.

The robot has a 3-stage cleaning system that loosens, lifts and suctions dirt through the HEPA filter and into the sizable bin.

The two side brushes and the roller brush do the loosening bit.

The side brushes pull in dirt from the sides, sweeping it into the path of the main brush for lifting and suction.

They also sweep in dirt from the edges and corners.

The main roller brush picks up pet hair, agitates deep-down dirt on the carpet and lifts debris up into the vacuum.

The roller brush is designed to avoid getting tangled when handling pet hair.

But if your dog sheds extra-long pet hair that causes tangling, you have the option of switching out the roller brush with a direct suction module.

It is less effective at lifting debris but is handy if the roller brush struggles with long pet hair.

The HEPA filter captures all allergens, even the tiniest ones making sure your indoor air and floors are cleaner and healthier.

The dustbin is not very large (350ml) so you’ll need to empty it after every vacuuming session.


Cleaning Modes

ECOVACS DEEBOT 900/901

When you tap the CLEAN button on the app or press the AUTO button on the robot, Deebot will launch into an auto cleaning mode.

If it has already created a virtual map, it will use it to plan an optimal cleaning path around the house.

If you don’t want the robot to vacuum the entire level, there’s an Area Cleaning Mode which lets you specify which rooms are to be cleaned.

This is handy when you just need to give the kitchen or living room a quick cleaning just before the guests arrive.

Unfortunately, there are no spot or edge-cleaning modes which are standard in most other robotic vacuums.

So you just have to hope the robot doesn’t miss any spots – thankfully, it doesn’t miss many. Maybe just a couple in the corner where it can’t reach or under a piece of furniture it’s unable to go under.


Navigation

ECOVACS DEEBOT 900/901

One of the main selling points of the Deebot 900/901 is its smart navigation.

It is rare to find a robot vacuum cleaner in this price range with smart mapping. Most robot vacuums, including some Roombas, just clean randomly and rely on sensors to avoid obstacles.

The Deebot 900/901 creates a virtual floor layout during the first run which takes about 5-20 minutes depending on the size of your home.

It does this using the laser scanner that protrudes like a disc at the top.

You can actually see the map as it comes together on the app. It’s fascinating to watch.

Ecovacs advises that you stick around for that first mapping run. The robot might get lost or get stuck on something, and you have to rescue it.

But once the map is complete, it cleans smoothly and efficiently without any problem.

You can select which rooms you want the robot to clean.

You can also draw virtual boundaries on the app. No clunky virtual barrier walls or ugly magnetic tape to place on the floor. Those are so 2017.

With the Ecovacs Deebot 900/901, you simply indicate on the app where you don’t want the robot to venture.

Unfortunately, the Deebot can only store one map. If you take it to an unfamiliar place like another floor, the original map is lost, and it has to re-map the floor again.

It is governed by “localization,” and once it realizes it’s somewhere unfamiliar, it begins creating a new map again.

The same goes with its home base or charging station. You need to pick a good spot from the get-go because the Deebot will have to create a new map if you move the station.

Also, make sure you clear the floor when the robot is mapping. It may have trouble going over toys and cables may plot them as no-go zones, meaning it will not go near those areas when cleaning.

The laser can also pick up pets, so keep them out of the way to avoid confusing the laser scanner.

It is also a good idea to wait until the Deebot has full power (which you can check in the app) before mapping.

This ensures it doesn’t cut off midway through its mapping. You’ll have to start over again.

If it fails to complete the map, you won’t be able to access a lot of the features that make the Deebot worth it.

Once it has fully explored your home, the Deebot utilizes the map and creates an efficient, optimized and systematic cleaning path.

However, the robot might miss out on one or two spots that are not in its cleaning path.

If you notice that it is missing a lot of spots, you may have to start over to get it to go over those areas.

In addition to smart mapping, the Deebot 900/901 has the usual suite of sensors to detect obstacles and drop-offs.


Automation and Scheduling

ECOVACS DEEBOT 900/901

Most of the robot’s functions are in the companion app. These include scheduling, cleaning modes and various settings such as disabling voice prompts.

The app also shows you errors, how much battery the Deebot has left and whether the bin is full.

You can also set whether the robot cleans continuously. That is, it cleans then automatically recharges then goes back to cleaning and so on.

You can disable this setting such that the robot only auto-recharges.

Scheduling on the app is super easy. You can set a daily schedule or set it to clean only on some days.

I’m disappointed that you cannot schedule it to clean certain rooms on different days

The robot comes with support for Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant for voice controls using your phone or smart speaker.

Check the manual for instructions on how to link the robot to your favorite smart assistant.


What it misses

I – and many customers – have two main complaints about the Deebot 900/901.

One, there’s no spot cleaning or edge cleaning mode. The first one is especially important for quickly cleaning up messes. Even the cheapest robots have it.

Two, update the robot to provide the multi-level mapping. This is a big issue for homes with multiple levels.

You either have to create a new map every time you want to clean upstairs or buy a second Deebot.

It would also be nice to have a more flexible scheduling function where users can specify which rooms are to be cleaned on different days.


Maintenance

ECOVACS DEEBOT 900/901

The Deebot is fairly easy to maintain and take care of.

The bin is kind a small, so you’ll need to empty it after every cleaning.

The HEPA filter needs a once-a-week cleaning. Just remove it and tap it gently a few times over a bin.

Occasionally wash the sponge filter as well as the bin but don’t let the HEPA filter ever touch the water.

The other part that needs to be cleaned at least once a week is the main brush and its compartment.

You simply wipe the compartment and the brush to get rid of any hair and debris that didn’t make it into the bin. The process is basically the same for the direct suction intake.

Finally, keep the anti-collision and anti-drop sensors clear of dust. Also occasionally wipe the charging contacts on the charging station and the robot.


Pros

  • Very quiet
  • Easy scheduling and control through the app
  • Smart mapping and navigation
  • Great for pet hair
  • Surprisingly affordable
  • Straightforward maintenance

Cons

  • Not ideal for multi-level homes.
  • Can’t handle shaggy carpets
  • Small bin that fills up fast

Specifications

Dimensions: 13.9 * 13. 9 * 3.3in

Weight: 9.7lbs

Running time: 120min

Remote control: no

Self-charging: Yes

Auto-resume: Yes

Scheduling: Yes

Multi-room navigation: Yes

Entire level cleaning: Yes

WiFi: Yes

Smart home integration: Yes

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