Are robots good for cleaning windows?

Window cleaning robots should make our housework easier. The FAS has tested what they can.

A window cleaning robot from the Sichler brand in action.

FCleaning windows is a tiresome affair: How good that there are now window cleaning robots. Once placed on the glass, they should run their own way and ensure a streak-free shine within minutes. At least that is what their owners expect. We do the test: Do the robots live up to this claim? Joachim Hasler, who has been an independent window cleaner in Cologne for more than 25 years, is there as an expert.

While tens of companies vying for customer favor with autonomous vacuum cleaners, the German market for window cleaning robots is occupied by the robotics manufacturer Ecovacs and the mail order company Pearl. The test is: the Winbot W850 from Ecovacs for 280 euros and the 300 euros PR-041 V3 from Pearl, which is sold under the Sichler brand.

Like a cheap toy from the Far East

Both devices are square. Shiny plastic and a handle in stainless steel look make the Winbot look more chic. On the other hand, it is significantly heavier at 1.8 kilograms. The slightly smaller Sichler weighs only 1.2 kilograms, but its design is reminiscent of cheap toys from the Far East. The cleaning principle is the same for both: a microfiber cloth on the underside is moved over the panes by the robot. A few more sprays of cleaning agent by hand – and you’re good to go.

First, the light ibex and the beautiful Winbot have to prove that they are easy to handle. So that the electric window cleaners do not fall to the floor, they attach themselves to the window with the help of a fan. Unfortunately, it is not only uncomfortably loud, but also requires a permanent power supply via cable. “Impractical,” says Joachim Hasler, a window cleaner. The devices have an internal battery, but only for short-term backup in the event of a power failure.

A lot of preparation for “autonomous” devices

Before every trip, the owner should take the initiative. According to the manufacturer’s instructions, a safety rope should be attached in such a way that the robot does not hit furniture or people in the event of a fall. In the case of the light Sichler, the rope should be attached with a snap hook – but where? You first have to find a suitable place, especially with exterior windows. The Winbot comes with a suction cup that can be attached to the corner of the window. Disadvantage: you have to clean it by hand later. Laying the power cable, installing the safety line, charging the battery, attaching a microfiber cloth: This is a lot of preparation for devices that should actually do everything themselves.

A single push of a button on the Winbot sends him on a cleaning trip. Very convenient. With the Sichler you absolutely need a remote control – and at least at the beginning also a study of the instructions: Six different operating modes are available to the user. Too much for a rectangular base. When it comes to handling, the Winbot just wins, but with a bland aftertaste: The dirty microfiber rags can only be washed out by hand, a tedious affair.