We love Eufy’s robotic vacuums. They’re affordable, effective, and easy to use. And Eufy’s new robotic vacuum, the RoboVac 11S Max ($270 retail, $199 promotional), is no exception. After putting it to work, it’s clear that the 11S Max sucks—in a good way.
Eufy (an extension of Anker, the portable battery company), has been in the robotic vacuum game for a while. Its aim is to sell no-nonsense, reliable robotic vacuums that can start cleaning right out of the box. The RoboVac 11S Max is, as the name suggests, an updated version of the standard RoboVac 11S.
But the differences between the 11S and the 11S Max are few and far between. While the standard 11S has 1,300 Pa of suction power, the 11S Max has 2,000 Pa of suction power (pascals are a measurement of force or pressure). And while the 11S uses 3-stage dust filters, the 11S Max uses high-performance dust filters, which should last longer and require less cleaning. Aside from a $40 retail price increase and a slightly larger dustbin, those are the only noticeable upgrades.
Do these upgrades make the 11S Max a worthwhile mid-range robotic vacuum? And is it really worth $40 more than the standard 11S? Here’s our experience.
Easy Setup and a Straightforward Remote
Setting up the RoboVac 11S Max is a breeze. Its modest packaging is easy to get through, and everything is clearly laid out. It comes with a remote control, a charging station, two pairs of corner brushes (the bug-like arms on the vacuum), a detangling brush, and a pack of zip ties to keep any loose TV or USB cables off the floor (the vacuum can get stuck on cables).
If you read the RoboVac’s quick start guide, you’ll find that it’s easy to set up. So easy that I skipped the instructions and still had the RoboVac in action after about two minutes. I didn’t even put the batteries in the remote or plug in the charging station, although Eufy recommends that you charge the vacuum before its first cycle. I guess I got a little excited.
My initial reaction to the remote was one of hesitation. Remotes tend to be clunky and unintuitive, and I couldn’t help but think of all the robotic vacuums (including Eufy’s “C” vacuums) that can be controlled with a phone. But, as it turns out, the remote is great. It’s easy to use, it has a handy key on the back, and the buttons are laid out intuitively.
Technically, you don’t even need to use the remote. When the RoboVac is removed from its charging stand and set on the carpet, you can simply tap its power button to begin auto cleaning mode. But you should use the remote, as it gives you access to a slew of other cleaning modes. You can tell the RoboVac to focus on the room’s edges, to spot clean an area, or to go back to its charging dock. You can even set the vacuum on a daily cleaning schedule, or control its direction manually with a few buttons.
A Small Vacuum with Big Suction Power
The RoboVac 11S Max is pretty good at sucking. It offers 2,000 Pa (pascals) of suction power, which is almost double the power of the standard 11S. But that’s still a lot less suction power than a traditional vacuum, which usually operates around 20,000 Pa, so how effective is the 11S?
The 11S Max has three different suction modes. A “Standard” mode, a high-powered “Max” mode, and a “BoostIQ” mode that automatically adjusts sucking power depending on the floor’s cleanliness and texture.
I’ve rarely seen the RoboVac 11S Max enter its maximum power mode, which is fine by me. Even in its standard mode, the 11S Max looks like it has the suction power of a full sized vacuum. It picks up crumbs, cat hair, dirt, dead leaves, and it leaves pleasant “vacuum trails” across the carpet. In my house, it always accumulates a disgusting amount of cat hair (enough to build a new cat), which is much appreciated.
Somehow, it does all this without making a racket. Even with the 11S Max’s upgraded suction power, it only puts out about 60db of noise (some of which is probably absorbed by the carpet). I’ve tried running it while watching TV, and it’s hardly a disturbance. That being said, its “Max” suction mode is a bit loud, but it rarely enters the “Max” mode.
But the thing that I appreciate from the RoboVac is its insect-like brushes. These brushes are meant to knock dirt and dust out from the edges of walls and furniture, and they do a great job. I didn’t realize how much nasty crap I was missing with my full-sized vacuum. If anything, I’d suggest the RoboVac just for its ability to clean corners—it’s a luxury.
All of this said you should watch how the RoboVac works when you first use it. It takes away some of the magic, but you need to make sure that there aren’t any weird obstacles lying around. If the RoboVac runs into a loose USB cable, a funky rug, or a pile of yarn, then it’s going to have a hard time dealing with the situation. And while the RoboVac automatically turns off if it gets stuck on something, its better to avoid that problem in the first place.
It Cleans the Floor by Bumping Into Everything
Some robotic vacuums have built-in “mapping” technology. They use radio or lidar to learn how a room is shaped, and then use that information to make cleaning as efficient as possible.
The RoboVac 11S Max isn’t that high tech. Instead, it blindly runs around, bumping into everything until its 100-minute battery is drained. In a way, it’s a bit frustrating to watch. When my RoboVac happens to miss a spot, I just have to remind myself that it’ll get there eventually. I also have to remind myself that room mapping technology is expensive and that a more efficient cleaning style probably isn’t worth an extra $100 to $200.
Now, to be fair, it’s clear that the RoboVac takes full advantage of its clunky cleaning method. When it bumps into a wall, it tries to run along the wall and clean its corners. When it bumps into a table leg, it skirts around to try and find some hidden dirt and debris. It also knows how to avoid danger, and that’s something we need to talk about.
I Tried to Push My RoboVac Down the Stairs
I live in a two-story home, and upon taking the RoboVac upstairs, I stumbled on an interesting idea. The RoboVac doesn’t come with any boundary strips, so what’s to stop it from falling down the stairs? It bumps into walls and furniture like a clumsy idiot—will it treat a ledge with the same foolhardiness?
So, like any good citizen, I tried to trick my RoboVac into falling down the stairs. I’m not ashamed to admit this, as all of humanity’s great achievements come at the expensive of life itself. In the words of Voltaire: “When his highness sends a ship to Egypt, does he trouble his head whether the mice on board are at their ease or not?”
I’m still amazed by the results of my experiment. When the RoboVac runs into a ledge in auto mode, it merely stops, turns around, and continues cleaning as nothing happened. Even in manual mode, the RoboVac refuses to fall down the stairs, no matter how hard you press the forward button on its remote control.
Upon close inspection, it’s clear that the RoboVac has a downward facing IR sensor that must be a ledge detector. I really appreciate this design choice. I can run my robotic vacuum upstairs without worrying about the consequences. But, at the same time, I’m not sure that this makes up for the lack of boundary strip compatibility. Specific rooms or areas of the house (the kitchen, a room full of yarn and fabrics, etc.) can be unsafe for the RoboVac. Since it has a built-in scheduler for unsupervised use, it only makes sense to include boundary strips to aid this unsupervised use.
Maintenance Is a Breeze
Like any vacuum, the RoboVac needs to be cleaned regularly. Eufy suggests that you dump out its contents and rip any pet hair from its brushes after every use. But don’t worry, the RoboVac is a lot easier to clean than a full-sized vacuum.
The dust bin is easy to remove from the RoboVac 11S Max, and it contains a small high-performance dust filter. While these components don’t need to be cleaned with every use, I regularly brush the dust filter and rinse the dust bin. Vacuums can break down fast if they aren’t taken care of, and I don’t want to take a chance with the RoboVac.
The RoboVac’s brushes also need occasional cleaning, especially if you have pets. Thankfully, these brushes are easy to remove, and the RoboVac comes with a handy cleaning tool that makes pet hair removal a breeze. This tool can also be used to clean the vacuum’s wheels, but in my experience, pet hair doesn’t get caught in the wheels too often.
As for the RoboVac’s corner brushes, they don’t need a whole lot of attention. They simply wear out with use. Eufy throws in an extra pair of these corner brushes with the RoboVac, and they’re super cheap on Amazon, so they’re really not worth worrying about.
A Few Complaints
It’s hard to complain about the RoboVac 11S Max. It works well, it’s easy to use, it’s easy to clean, and it doesn’t fall down the stairs. I only have three complaints, and to be honest, I feel a bit silly for finding anything to complain about.
At $270, this is a great vacuum. I think it’s reasonably priced. But shouldn’t all robotic vacuums (especially $270 robotic vacuums) come with an app and smarthome integration? The remote control works well, don’t get me wrong, but everything would be quicker and easier with my phone. Plus, with smarthome integration, I could control the RoboVac with voice commands or custom routines. It just seems like a mysteriously absent feature, and while it isn’t a deal-breaker for me, it could be a deal breaker for others. It’s also worth noting that Eufy’s “C” line of vacuums come with smarthome integration at basically the same price, but they don’t have nearly the same suction power (1,300 Pa) as the RoboVac 11S Max (2,000 Pa).
There’s also the issue of room mapping. Some robotic vacuums use radar or lidar to map your room in 3D, which makes cleaning more efficient. And while I don’t mind the RoboVac 11S Max’s blind cleaning method, I feel like it wastes its energy by slamming into walls instead of looking around a room. It’s a minor complaint (especially because room mapping technology would probably double the RoboVac’s price), but with its 100-minute battery life, the RoboVac would benefit from a more efficient cleaning method.
And as you already know, I’m hung up on the lack of boundary strips. They aren’t necessary—the RoboVac 11S Max knows not to fall down the stairs, but I’d still like to keep it out of certain rooms without having to close the door. And it’s not like I can just buy some boundary strips, as the 11S Max doesn’t support them at all.
The RoboVac 11S Max is a great little vacuum. I’d happily suggest it to anybody, mostly for its ease of use and ability to clean corners. For its price, it’s one of the best robotic vacuums that money can buy, even if it doesn’t come with a handy app.
Still, the 11S Max isn’t very different from the standard 11S. The extra suction power and washable filters are worth an additional $40, and the $199 promotional price for the 11S Max makes it a no-brainer between the two. Once the promotional pricing period ends on June 24th, however, it may be worth keeping an eye on any deals for the 11S—it may be worth checking out.
Here’s What We Like
- Great Suction Power
- Good at Cleaning Corners
- Easy to Program a Schedule
- Intuitive Remote Control
- Great for Pet Owners
- Ledge-Detection for Upstairs Cleaning
And What We Don't
- At $270, It Should Have Smarthome Integration
- Isn't Compatible With Boundary Strips
- Doesn't Map the Room