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REVIEW – Today, there are many Chinese companies that sell robot vacuum cleaners to compete with iRobot. The market is similar to the plethora of Chinese action camera manufacturers that compete with GoPro. There are compromises in quality, price, functionality and performance. The lefant M500 is a robotic vacuum cleaner with low to medium price and performance. Read on to see what I think!
The robot vacuum cleaner and mop Lefant M500 is a self-propelled and self-propelled vacuum cleaner and mop. It has several infrared sensors that it uses to detect the environment. It also has WI-FI connectivity so that the vacuum cleaner can be programmed and started and shut down remotely from anywhere in the world. The vacuum is rated for 1200pa, enough suction to be able to lift water in a straw of about 5 inches. The engine is always very quiet at full power. When the vacuum detects that the internal battery is low charged, it will automatically return to the powered station to charge.
What’s in the box ?
The Lefant M500 comes with the following elements:
Robot Vacuum Cleaner
powered station and power supply US-prong
Remote control and alkaline batteries
Replacement Sponge Filter
Replacement End Filter
Replacement Mop Pad
Operating instructions and warranty card
Main and replacement set of sweeping brushes
The Lefant M500 has the following specifications:
Electric Power: 20W
Battery Capacity: 2600mAh
Technology of Free movement
Adjustable suction power
Design and features
The Lefant M500 comes in an unpretentious cardboard box. The lid of the box has a representation of the vacuum inside. In the box, the components are carefully and safely packed in molded cardboard.
The design of the Lefant M500 follows the standard set by iRobot. It is a chunky cylinder designed to light a penny and fit under furniture. On Amazon, the manufacturer emphasizes that the device is equipped with a monocoque construction. I do not know if the designs of other manufacturers are significantly different. The plastic has a matte texture that is more scratch resistant than a glossy surface. The IR tape on the front is glossy and already has scratches on the tracks I made.
The IR window hides 12 IR transceivers in an overlap pattern. To see how it looks, I used a camera that has an active IR focus and can see IR illumination. The purple lights in the image below are invisible to the naked eye. The robot can detect this light and seeks the reflection of this light against the objects in its path to assess the distance.
The robot also has 3 sensors on the bottom – one in front of the front wheel and one on each side of the drive wheel. These protect the vacuum from falling. The floor also has a sweeping brush on the left and right sides. The bristles are tilted downwards according to the direction of rotation of the brushes, so make sure that the correct face brush gets on the correct power rod on both sides of the device. The floor also has a door for access to the battery. The best brush is located in an easily accessible door at the bottom. The powered station comes with a tool to clean this and cut hair or fibers stuck around the rotating shaft. The drive wheels at the base are deep treads and can expand about an inch if the vacuum cleaner hangs from a table base or runs over wires or other objects.
The container has three filter stages between the dust container and the vacuum motor: a pre-filter made of fine plastic sieve, a secondary filter made of sponge material and a final filter made of pleated filter material. Here the container with the pre-filter is removed and shows the dirty side of the sponge.
The filters can be reused several times before washing, but each may need to be washed to maintain vacuum performance. The screen and sponge can be washed with water to restore permeability, but the final filter should only be tamped. The water tank can be switched for cleaning with the dust container. A small magnet in the water and dust pan lets the robot know in which mode to work. The water tank has a capacity of 250 mL. The mop material is attached to the base of the tank with Velcro. Here the base with the mop material is removed. You can see the five holes that make the mop wet from above.
The robot is started in one of three ways: the large power switch on the top of the robot, the remote control and the app. The on / off switch starts the robot in automatic mode with normal power supply. The robot moves through space programmed. In open spaces, he approaches a wall, moves a short distance to take into account the width of the brush and returns to the place where he came. When he is in tight spaces, he circles the nearest objects until he can move in a straight line. The sweeper slows down before reaching obstacles to avoid hitting and scratching furniture or delicate items. When adjacent to a wall, it performs a series of small semicircular arches to approach the wall as close as possible. If the vacuum does not work in a completely rectangular room without something on the walls, it will not be able to cover all areas. Pressing the robot button will stop the robot where it is – it will not return to the charger on its own.
The manual recommends a distance of three feet to the left and right of the charger and a distance of six feet in front of the charger. I have found that the robot can come back in tighter clearances, but there may be problems. The rooms where the vacuum cleaner works should also have all the electrical wires lined up. The tassels or fringe on the carpet must be hidden under I caught my vacuum cleaner just before it fell down the front stairs of my house, so the anti-fall IR may not be as functional as stated.
Tying the robot to my phone was easy. An SMS mailinator phone number works well if you don’t want to provide your actual phone number. You need to provide the WIFI password so that it can connect to your WiFi network. I used an Android pie and an iOS 12.4 phone and had no problems either. OPddly, the program changes the Bluetooth name of your phone to “wifi”. The system can only connect to a single WiFi, but there is a sharing option in the scan menu that allows the robot to be configured on another phone.
Since it is a 20 W unit and the vacuum suction is 1200 Pa = 4.82 inH2O, the maximum theoretical throughput of the exhaust gas is 35 CFM. The power of this unit is closer to a handheld vacuum cleaner and accounts for about half of the suction power and a fifth of the throughput of most vertical vacuum cleaners. In comparison, this unit has a brush and a cleaning width of about half that of most bolts, so lower throughput is acceptable, but a higher final vacuum would result in better cleaning. The more expensive competitors have higher suction values.
I found that there was always something in a corner or piece of furniture that was perhaps not perpendicular to the wall, that the robot often created a cross pattern and did not always cover every area of the carpet, even after some time. This robot does not have a laser distance scan or uses advanced placement algorithms, so it cannot know if it has missed a bottom section. I cleaned it under the dining table and although the chairs were still in place, the vacuum cleaner did a good job of maneuvering around and between them.
All in all, I noticed that the robot vacuum cleaner sucked up a lot of fluff and dirt, but sometimes it lacked a piece of paper or a dead sheet that came from the outside. I suppose its killer feature is to be able to walk under beds and furniture to clean those areas that a normal vacuum cleaner simply cannot reach.
The cleaning function is also very useful. I have found that the fact that it has a controlled wetting of the mop fibers and a very conscious speed makes cleaning more efficient than when it is done by a human.
If you’re looking for a quiet, plugged-in robotic vacuum cleaner that might not absorb the last dirt, but keep your floors and carpets clean, the Lefant M500 could be for you. However, with a large number of robotic vacuum cleaners, there is probably a model with the exact functions, performance and price you are looking for. Better values may also be available for the same cost. For example, the Roborock S25 on Amazon and has many of the same features as the Lefant, but also includes route planning, voice control and higher suction power.