The terrible truth is cleaning your house after working hard all week is dreadful. No one enjoys doing it, but it must be done. But if you want to clean effectively, leaving little to no doubt that you’ve completed the mission, Shark’s UpLight & the Shark IQ Robot vacuums are the way to go.
Robot vacuums changed my life. Being able to walk around my house barefoot knowing that the bottoms of my feet wouldn’t pick up debris because the robot vac had already picked things up earlier in the day has been fantastic. Setting an alarm to clean for me is just another highlight. But one thing I absolutely dread about them is maintenance. With many of the robot vacs I’ve tried, hair can get trapped in the sweepers, or the vac will require some fixing after constant use that makes me wish I just vacuumed in the first place. That hasn’t been the case with the Shark IQ Robot.
A self-cleaning smart home robot vac, the Shark IQ Robot Vac (R101AE) that I received does one thing that I appreciate the most: It empties itself. Coming complete with a chamber that sits above the charging base, the Shark IQ Robot not only cleans your home but essentially cleans itself. The premise is once you turn the vacuum on, and it navigates throughout your home, if it needs to charge, or if it’s finished its job, it heads over to the dock to empty itself or charge — whichever comes first. Now before I get too ahead of myself, I will say my only worry is that it takes four complete hours to charge. I’m totally not a fan of this, and I feel as though this is the one caveat to having just a robot vacuum and not a hand vac because once it’s died, that’s the end. Secondly, with the Shark IQ when it docks, it does this really weird maneuver where it heads into the chamber, turns around, and then finally docks to empty.
This may be because the emptying chamber is on the opposite end of the SHARK IQ, so it’s attempting to figure out if it needs to empty itself or just charge, but if you’re sitting on your couch on a Sunday watching it do this, you’ll be a bit confused the first few times you see it happen.
My apartment has two bedrooms, two bathrooms, obviously closets (that stay closed for the sake of vacuum mapping), and an open area living room with an island/kitchen. I’ve run the Shark IQ a total of five times; to my dismay, the Shark IQ has only made it through our master bedroom, living room, and part of the kitchen (sans hallway) before needing to charge.
In the companion app, I’ve found that the Shark will continue to clean up until it’s at 2% before searching for the dock. The issue I see though is if it’s not in the living room (where the dock sits), it circles the master bedroom attempting to find the dock until it eventually dies. This may be something that Shark has to fix in a small firmware update, which they tend to do occasionally.
Shark states that it takes roughly ten full cycles to get proper mapping done of your home, and I’m still a few away from this, so I’ll follow back up with an update on how that goes and if the run goes smoother after that. Aside from that though, when it does clean, it does a damn good job. Alternating back and forth in a “U-line” pattern, the Shark IQ only goes in slanted when it senses a corner or an obstacle like the leg of a chair, a coffee table, or in the worse case scenario a raised ledge like the entryway from my bedrooms carpet to the connected bathroom floor which is separated by a raised slate of marble.
In terms of the dust bin, it’s not really the largest that I’ve seen, but it gets the job done, considering the fact that it’s a self-cleaning machine. Complete with the brush rolls self-cleaning as well, this makes the Shark IQ a breeze to clean especially for hair. In my testing, I haven’t received a single issue with tangling or snag. The side brushes generally will capture hair in them with heavy use, and they are separate from the self-cleaning mechanism, but they can easily be hand-cleaned. Prior to this, my favorite vacuum was the D7, but I had more trouble than not getting my wife’s hair out of the thing. This isn’t the case at all with the Shark IQ.
If there was any room for improvement though, it would have to be the battery life for the Shark IQ. The good outweighs the bad for me, and you can’t replace a self-cleaning function, but the four-hour turnaround to continue cleaning is dreadful. I’m hoping the next iteration of the Shark IQ fixes this. Luckily though, I also have the Shark Uplift to clean with, as well.
A completely bagless vacuum, the Shark Apex UpLight ($199.80 at time of writing, normally $515.79) is the big brother to the Shark IQ.
A corded vac, the UpLight is actually our go-to vacuum every Saturday to clean our carpet, couches (and pillows), and the hard floors in our house before turning on the Shark IQ. I’m a firm believer in robot vacuums only being a companion to proper cleaning, as the robot will last longer when you don’t overwork it. Here are some other specs worth mentioning:
- Type: stick, bagless
- Weight: 10.7 lbs.
- 30-foot power cord
- Hose length: 4.2 feet
- DuoClean technology
- Self-cleaning brushroll
- Lift-Away technology
- LED lights on the floor nozzle
- 2-in-1 vacuum
- HEPA filter
- Dirt capacity: 0.68 dry quarts
- Anti-Allergen Complete Seal technology
- Cleaning path: 9 inches
- 120 Volts, 5.8 Amps, 700 Watts
- Measures 10.44 L X 11.38 W X 46.19 H (inches)
There are various attachments including one that allows the stick vacuum to convert into a hand vacuum with just a swift flip of the chamber. My wife loves this function when she uses it to clean pet hair off the couch and from the baseboards of our apartment. There’s a companion duster crevice tool as well as a pet multi-tool.
Featuring what they call “HyperVelocity Suction” the Apex UpLight has a super-powered motor that allows a more accelerated suction power. The DuoClean rollers that are housed in the Apex UpLight allow you to clean not just carpet but hard surfaces as well. The fabric brush roller is great for pulling those smaller debris items on that get stuck into crevices of hardwood and carpet, all the while the secondary bristled end pulls everything into the chamber allowing for pet or human hair to not be missed. There are many vacuums out there that say they work for hardwood or carpet, but I’ve found none that properly execute like the Apex Uplight in terms of picking things up. As you can see in the photo, it picks up more than the naked eye can see. Now just imagine if I just used the Shark IQ to clean all of this on its own.
The UpLight is a HEPA-standard product, complete with a filter system that captures up to 99.97% of allergens. As someone who’s allergic to everything but air (and even then, pollen is a huge no-no for me), the anti-allergen complete seal allows you to easily dump all of the items it picks up into a trash bag or container without all of the contents getting back into the air when emptying.
Overall, though I love my UpLight, my wife and I have had issues with properly aligning the container back into place when opening. When Shark said that the container would be securely fastened they certainly were not joking as it takes a bit of pressure for it to go back into place. Also, the chamber where all of your debris goes isn’t large by any means. If you intend on cleaning with this, be prepared to empty at least once during a full clean. The photo I posted below was simply cleaning one bedroom, a living room and a hallway (with floorboards). If you have a larger home, expect around 2-3 changes, possibly more. The LED lights on the UpLight are nice if you vacuum in the dark, however, I’m a good neighbor and tend to vacuum in the afternoon, when it’s less disturbing to others in our building.
Source: Manufacturer supplied review unit
What I Like: Suction for both is fantastic; The Shark IQ is a great companion vacuum, or solo if you properly clean the chamber
What Needs Improvement: Battery life on the Shark IQ isn’t great, and the 4-hour recharge isn’t ideal; The UpLight’s debris bin is smaller than average