Robot vacuums used to be a novelty. Not anymore. It seems like every tech manufacturer is making their own version of a robot vacuum cleaner, and the devices themselves range from simple vacuum-only options to multi-purpose self-emptying robot vacuums. The latest robot vacuum to cross my floor is the Shark AI Self-Empty XL robot Vacuum.
In this review, I’ll take a look at how well this vacuum cleans, and what you do and don’t get with this device. Likewise, in my Shark AI Self-Empty XL Robot Vacuum review, I’ll dig into the technology and special features, and tell you if I can recommend it for you and your smart home.
Setup and Features of the Shark AI Self-Empty XL Robot Vacuum
To get your robot set up, plug in the base station and get your robot charging. While that’s happening, download or log into the Shark Clean app. The app will be your central control panel for everything you want to do with your robot. Once you have your account established and the robot is thoroughly charged, you can send the Shark out on an exploratory mapping run of your home.
AI and Mapping
The Shark AI Self-Empty XL robot vacuum will use its technology to draw a detailed map of your home’s floor plan. This bot can only handle one-floor plan, or one story, at a time.
With a floor plan drawn, your next step will be to label the rooms and/or set up some cleaning zones; you can designate high traffic areas by the as areas that might need additional attention.
Creating and labeling the map was easy and just took a few minutes, and after just one mapping pass in my home, it had a map that was complete and extremely accurate. I was very impressed.
Shark is a pretty well-known vacuum and home gadget brand. Their newest model is the Shark AI Self-Empty XL robot Vacuum. This is a vacuum-only robot with a self-emptying base and charging station. The key differentiator of this base station seems to be that it’s bagless. Where nearly every other robot vacuum with a base station that I have reviewed in the last few years uses a sealed vacuum bag to trap dirt and dust, making disposal clean and easy, Shark has chosen to go bagless.
While some may feel this is unsanitary, going bagless has a couple of advantages, according to Shark: You don’t need to shell out extra cash for brand-specific bags, and you don’t have to worry about running out of bags.
Room-by-Room Cleaning, Voice Control
The other advantage to having the home mapping is that you can schedule individual rooms to be cleaned at specific times, and you can enable voice control for hands-free use of your robot vacuum.
Setting a schedule is quite easy. The app makes it simple to choose a time you’d like your home cleaned and which days you want it to do so.
If you’re just looking inside the app, it’s not immediately obvious that you have voice control at all. Nor does the Shark website spell it out very well. The way I discovered I had voice control is when I opened the Google Home app and saw a prompt to connect shark clean to google home. With a couple of taps, and logging in to my account to link it, I was able to ask Google to send my Shark out to clean.
If for some reason you don’t get this prompt, you can go into the Google Home app, and then choose to add a device. You’ll want to search for Shark, and follow the instructions.
How Well Does the Shark AI Self-Empty XL Robot Vacuum Clean?
I put all my vacuums through the same tests; I get them to sweep up finer things like flour or sugar, middle-sized bits like rice or oatmeal and bigger cracker pieces, on both carpet and hard floors. I was actually impressed at how well the Shark picked up all my debris challenges. And what it might miss on one pass, it usually got on the next. This vacuum also resists the urge of some robot vacuums to swat debris out of the way with the corner brushes, and picked up perhaps 95% of debris in my testing. I did notice however, that after a cleaning pass where it picked up the obvious mess, it didn’t seem to do as well with residual dirt, like pet hair stuck to a rug, for example.
If you want to do spot cleaning, you can use the app to zero in on an area, then the bot will go right there when you hit Clean. If anything, this seems a bit imprecise, and I found it more effective to create zones where I typically want a bit more than a regular sweep.
Cleaning Time Estimates in the App
The SharkClean app will estimate the time it will take for it to clean your spaces. As one example, I asked it to clean my hallway and primary bath, and it gave me an estimation of about 35 minutes. But it did it in 20. Ditto for another clean I tried; it estimated 30 minutes and did it in just over 20.
Dustbin Size & Maintenance
The bin seems fairly large and Shark says it will hold up to 60 days worth of dirt. My testing was over just two weeks, and I can say the bin wasn’t full, and I think it could handle lots more cleanings before it would need to be emptied.
Shark tells me the base station filters and dustbin can be cleaned with cold water only. The filter in the robot is not washable.
Battery Life & Charging
Because this machine has adjustable levels of suction, the exact battery life may vary. If you use it in its lowest suction mode (Eco), Shark says you can get up to 200 minutes of use from a single charge. On full power (Max), that use drops to more like 90 minutes.
The bot takes about four hours to recharge fully, which is a lot, but you can enable the Clean and Resume feature, where the bot will clean until it needs more juice, return to recharge, then go back out and complete the job when ready.
Is Shark AI Self-Empty XL Robot Vacuum Noisy?
Let’s get this out of the way: For the most part robot vacuums make noise, so I can say the Shark AI is average when it comes to noise level. This bot does have three levels of suction, so it is possible to dial in a quieter clean if you need to.
Overall this is a pretty capable, if simple, bot. It’s an uncomplicated vacuum, yet it has mapping and AI smarts which creates a virtual floorplan map of your home nearly instantly. It cleans surprisingly well on both carpets, rugs and hard floors. It’s also easy to schedule, and organize cleanings for specific rooms, or high traffic areas, thanks to the AI mapping.
I don’t mind the bagless dustbin, since it means no shelling out extra dollars for bags, and it holds quite a bit of dirt and dust.
Downsides? Well, some folks might want that sealed bag for dirt. This bot does only handle one floorplan for mapping. Overall, though, I can definitely recommend the Shark AI Self-Empty XL robot vacuum for your home.
So Should You Buy It?
I was actually quite impressed with this robot vacuum. This is my first review of a Shark product and I was impressed that it cleaned well, mapped accurately and had adjustable features that allowed me to adapt the experience to my home. I think you should definitely buy this robot vcauum.
- Cleans well
- Adjustable suction for more power or quieter clean
- No need to buy bags
- Dustbin holds a lot
- Accurate mapping
- Room-specific cleaning
- Might want bags for sanitary reasons
- Only one floorplan/story possible
How Long Will It Last?
I’m not as familiar with Shark products as I am with other brands. This robot vacuum seems reasonably durable and well made.
What Are Some of the Alternatives?
Not quite sold on Shark’s self-emptying robot vacuum? Here are a few worthy alternatives to consider.
iRobot Roomba j7+
The granddaddy of the robot vacuum world, this is another vacuum-only bot that has a great reputation — and advanced object and hazard recognition. With a sealed dustbag inside its more aesthetically pleasing base station, it’s a more designer alternative that’s also effective.
ECOVACS DEEBOT X1 OMNI
If you want to upgrade to a vacuum and mop unit that also has its own self cleaning system, this is a great pick. With adjustable suction, plus the ability to wash floors, this is a versatile floor system — with a high price tag that matches its many abilities.
iRobot i3 EVO
Now with smart mapping, this Roomba robot vacuum is at the lower end of the price scale, but has almost as many features as the high-end bots. This version uses a dustbin with sealed vacuum bag for sanitary disposal.
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