I have wanted a Kärcher Robot Vacuum Cleaner for quite some time. Back in 2009 I discovered that a 120v version of the Kärcher could be shipped to the United States, and that was the moment that I decided to start saving money to buy one. My Fiance agreed. After 3 years, we finally have one sitting in our home, assisting us with vacuuming the floors.
Kärcher Robocleaner 3000 is not a new product. In fact, it was launched all the way back in 2003!! Some claim that this ‘outdated’ robot can’t compete with today’s modern robotic vacuums that utilize the latest technology to navigate the home(SLAM, cameras, etc). I fell in that same trap also thinking that the latest technology must be 'the best’. Unfortunately, I was let down due to the extra time I had to spend cleaning the robotic vacuum after every single time it ran! I understand that no robotic vacuum on the market is 100% autonomous, but I wanted to own the one that comes the closest to complete autonomy. In my eyes the Kärcher Robocleaner is a great match for how I want my robotic vacuum to perform. I have owned several robotic vacuums with the latest technology. They worked well in navigating my home, but I had to clean the robot after each use (Clean the brush, empty the dust bin, worry about hair entering places one can’t easily get to, etc), or they broke down due to various issues that cropped up. Some components had to be modified in order for it to stay running over a year (In certain ‘harsh’ environments, like homes with pets). Some people don’t have a problem with all of those issues, but on top of the inconvenience that comes with the day to day maintenance, all of the modifications that need to be done to your robot in order to keep it running properly also adds a significant amount to the total cost of ownership.
History of Kärcher (Opens up in new tab)
** NOTE **
I have to share something right away that had me baffled for a bit the first day. I was so focused on the fact that all robotic vacuums must stay on their home base / charger all of the time in order to keep their batteries topped off. Once the Kärcher finishes the cleaning cycle, and it’s completely charged, the Kärcher will back off the charger, power off and stay off until called upon. At first, I thought that there was something wrong with it and I couldn't understand why it wouldn't stay docked to it's base station. As it turns out, this actually by design.
When the LED’s on the robot are off, it's off! There is nothing draining the batteries, such as the IR's/schedules/clock on some other robotic vacuums. A quick read of the manual (Shown below) and a reply from customer service confirms that this is in fact the normal behavior of the robocleaner:
If you want the robot to interrupt the cleaning after the next charging cycle, then...Press the "Parking the robot" button (B). The "Parking" indicator lamp (A) is activated. After its next return to the station, the robot is emptied and charged. Then, the robot is turned off and comes to a standstill in front of the station.”
Also, you will want to be careful as to how you clean the dirt detect sensors. I accidentally used a kitchen 'Wet Wipe' to wipe them off and after it finished charging, the robot would stop and slowly blink the red LED. I kept wondering what was happening, then saw that both IR’s were covered in fine dust. Once I cleaned them off with an anti-static cleaning cloth (used for computer monitors/etc), the issue went away. It would be good to use those cloths on the cliff sensors also. Nothing really dramatic, but just a tip that I wanted to share with the new Kärcher owners. ;)
Unboxing the Kärcher:
The Kärcher was packaged in an outer box with their logo on the sides only.
I opened it up and was greeted with the main box with colorful graphics and specifications of the robot. If one saw this on a shelf in a local store, it surely pleases the eye and caught my attention to read the highlights of the robot.
It was packaged very well to protect everything from any shipping mishaps that might happen. Both the robot and base were wrapped in plastic.
Once you open up the box you see part of the base. You lift the cardboard flap, and you are greeted with the base. On the other side, you have some filler and a box that contains the robot itself, and below that is the ramp that easily snaps onto the base.
There is also an owner’s guide that covers a lot of languages (Pretty thick), reply card, and a sticker with shop and service information.
Owner’s Manual/Quick Reference:
The Owner’s Manual covers everything, from how to set it up initially, positioning the base, parking the robot, and an overview of the robot with various parts. It also has an extensive troubleshooting guide if you encounter your robot flashing the red LED, or if your base has all LED’s on. The beginning of the manual has a quick reference, with pictures that is very easy to follow.
The base is very lightweight and easy to move with the handle.
The bottom has space to where one can wrap the extra cord to take up the slack. You have to attach the ramp, which is a very easy task in which the instructions are illustrated quite nicely.
The Kärcher itself is a lightweight robot that is round. It has a rubber bumper all around the robot to protect furniture/etc, as well as a couple of rubber bumpers protruding on top to help it not get stuck underneath furniture.
It simply has an on/off button, and 2 LED’s (Red/Green). It has 4 cliff sensors to protect from falling down stairs. There is an IR window to aid in finding the base, as well as IR sensor in the dust bin to alert of a full dust bin and it supplies information so the robot will use the correct program.
Noise from the robot/base:
The robot is very quiet when it’s cleaning the home. It’s much quieter than the other robotic vacuums on the market. The base is loud as a typical upright vacuum. It only lasts for about 30 seconds when the robot returns to the base to empty and/or charge. One can force the base to be quieter by using less vacuum to clean the robot. It performs quieter, with reduced performance. After the 8 hour timer is up, it reverts back to normal operation.
Videos of the Kärcher:
Programming the cleaning run time:
Programming the cleaning run time takes place on the base. The robot itself is programmed with 4 different cleaning modes (Which it automatically selects by using data it receives from the dust bin sensor):
Robot runs according to the random method at normal speed.
Robot slowly moves across the dirty area.
Robot slowly runs forwards / backwards across the dirty area.
Robot runs slowly and radially across the dirty area describing a star.
The base keeps track of how long the robot has cleaned, and will communicate to the robot that it either needs to return cleaning (After emptying/charging), or it’s finished and will park.
Navigating the home:
The Kärcher would be considered to be a ‘dumb’ robotic vacuum cleaner due to the simple random method it uses. If it encounters an obstacle, it will simply change direction at a random angle. Some have claimed that this type of navigation is not effective in cleaning the home.
With that said, the Kärcher cleans my home very well. I can see where it has vacuumed, and it does a very good job. It doesn’t clean corners well due to the fact it doesn’t have a side-spinning brush.
The dust bin is pretty small (0,2 l) compared to other robotic vacuums. This doesn’t pose an issue due to the sheer fact that once it’s full, it drives back to the base to empty autonomously.
Prepping the house before a run:
This task is important like any other robotic vacuum cleaners, as well as regular upright vacuums. You will want to pull up loose items (Pet toys, multiple cables, rugs with long tassels, clothing, etc). I had 2 small rugs with 2” length fringes that it got stuck on. I just pull them up before I leave for work.
Charging the battery can take up to 60 minutes (Generally seen on the first charge). If the battery reaches a certain level during cleaning, it will seek out the base. Once it docks, the dock will clean the dust bin for about 30 seconds, and then it will charge (Blinking green LED on robot).
The Kärcher can’t be scheduled in advance, which turns some people away. I personally don’t have an issue with this. I have my Fiance simply press the on button on the robot right before she leaves. We decided to set the Kärcher to run for 6 hours, which is adequate for our home.
Finding the home base:
Positioning the home base in your home is crucial so the robot can find its way back to the base. I have my base positioned pointing towards the hallway to the other rooms. It can easily cross the base beams while cleaning the living room, dining room, bathroom, kitchen, as well as going between the rooms. So far, the robot has successfully docked 100% of the time. If the Kärcher doesn’t find the base after a while, it will turn off the vacuum/brush and focus on finding the base.
If you plan to store the Kärcher for an extended time, it states to store it with fully charged batteries. If you try to start the Kärcher after an extended time and it fails (Batteries are dead), there is instructions you need to follow in order to charge the batteries back up.
Maintaining the robot is fairly simple.The manual covers how to open up the dust bin cover, remove/clean the flat filter, as well as removing/cleaning the brush.
It also says you should clean the cliff sensors as well (General wipe-down). It doesn’t state as to how often one should maintain the robot. I know this varies from home to home, so I decided to pick up the robot and get pictures of the brush after a 2 week run. During the first two weeks, I have only had to free it from a couple of places in the beginning, in which I picked it up off of the choke point (1 was a rug with tassels, and the other time was underneath the desk with a mess of wires.)
Maintaining the base is simple as well. There is an LED that lights up that lets you know it’s time to replace the bag. You simply pull up on the bag, and put a new bag in its place. After you have gone through 5 bags, it’s stated to replace the motor filter on top (Which is included in the 5-pack of bags). I haven’t had to replace the bag yet. I can’t tell how ‘full’ the bag is.
|Cleaning performance (m²/h)||15|
|Running time per change (min)||20 - 60|
|Motor rating (W)||max. 600|
|Voltage (V)||220 - 240|
|Charging time rechargeable battery (min)||10 - 20|
|On-board dust container (l)||0,2|
|Base station dust container (l)||2|
|Noise level in quiet mode (db(A))||54|
|Weight Robocleaner (kg)||2|
|Weight base station (kg)||5,8|
|Dimensions RoboCleaner (D X H) (mm)||285 x 105|
|Dimensions base station (L x B x H) (mm)||500 x 250 x 230|
The Kärcher Robocleaner RC3000 is a rock solid robotic vacuum cleaner. Kärcher has lived up to what I have been looking for in a robotic vacuum. There is less intervention, it cleans my floor well (Picks up pet hair/debris great), and it doesn’t get stuck (After the initial Kärcher-proofing of the home). We simply have to press 1 button to start the robot for the day I want the house cleaned and I don’t have to worry about cleaning the brush for at least 2 weeks! It navigates my home very well (2 bedroom/2 bath), and always finds the base (Location, location, location). I haven’t had to change the base bag. I think it might last about a month in my home.
Kärcher service has been extremely helpful with the questions I have asked them, and I know I won’t have any issues if I need any warranty work down the road.
The ‘wearable items’ in a Kärcher are the base bags, batteries, and possibly be the brush (No reports on the forums of needing it replaced).
If you figure in how much items cost over a 5 year span to keep the other robotic vacuums running vs. the Kärcher, one might be shocked as to how much they have spent! The Kärcher might be more expensive in the beginning, but it costs less if you factor in other modifications/parts purchased one needs to replace to keep the robot running. As of now, I give the Kärcher 4.5 out of 5 stars (This could change in the future)! And, with my current thoughts/views, I can highly recommend the Kärcher Robocleaner RC3000.