The RCV5 boasts brilliant carpet and hard flooring detection, which is definitely an area in which it truly excels. Hopping on and off rugs, playmats and even across carpet bars to a tiled kitchen floor were a total doddle for this model. It even at one point, boldly tried to hop over the threshold of the back door into the garden, but thankfully couldn't quite clear the leap. With a clever dual laser and camera set-up, the vacuum can easily avoid obstacles such as furniture or toys, but even shoes and socks too.
Excellent cleaning ability
Hops on and off rugs and mats with ease
Brilliant mapping skills
Smart AI obstacle avoidance
Has a dual wet and dry cleaning function
Not the most intuitive usability
Not ideal for smaller, compact homes
Why you can trust Ideal Home
The RCV5 robot vacuum from Karcher is a super-smart piece of kit that not only looks good but performs brilliantly too. While the idea of the best robot vacuum to help with the housework is no longer that foreign an idea, it’s still pretty amazing that you can set this guy up fairly simply via the app on your phone, then kick back and watch it navigate and clean your floors with ease.
It’s certainly not the cheapest robot vacuum on the market, but nor is it the most expensive. At around about the £500 mark, it’s not something you’d buy on a whim but offers a lot of bang for its buck. It’s controlled via the app (available from both the App Store and Google Play) but does still have a simple on/off power button, as well as a Home button on the top of the machine too.
As well as sucking up dust and debris from your carpet it also has a moping function too. Simply fill the water reservoir with water, attach the wiping cloth to the bottom of the machine, change the setting via the app and off the robot goes. It won’t scrub dirty floors clean, it’s more of a gentle wipe down, but floors aren’t left sopping wet so can be walked on again fairly quickly after the robot has left the room. Here's how I got on when I tested the Karcher RCV5 at home.
- Model number: RCV5 by Karcher
- Battery run time: 120 minutes
- Charge time: 230 minutes
- Area capacity: 85 m2/h
- Bin capacity: 330ml
- Suction power: 5000pa
- Weight: 3.9kg
- Size: 350 dia x H97mm - Robot, 135 x 150 x 99 - Charging station
- Cleaning modes: Vacuum, vacuum and wet, wet
- Accessories: Charging dock, additional rotating brush, additional filter, 2 x wiping cloths, small cleaning tool
- Self emptying: No
Who wrote this review?
Holly is our Content & Features Editor at Ideal Home and has worked on the brand for over 8 years. Splitting her time between producing beautiful style, shopping and decorating features for the magazine, and compiling DIY and decor advice features for the website, she knows the perils of keeping a stylish and inspiring home looking its best. Juggling work with Mum life herself, any smart solutions to help her keep the house looking clean and tidy are well up her street, so testing cleaning appliances is her dream.
Holly tested the RCV5 herself, in her family home in Surrey, for a period of 4 weeks. Her own home features both carpeted and tiled flooring, with several rugs and playmats layered on top too. She was kindly gifted the model from Karcher to test and keep.
Unboxing the product and getting started
The RCV5 arrives in a neat but fairly sizable cardboard box, which isn’t really light enough to lug back from the office or a collection point, so definitely choose delivery direct to your home. The packaging is however all completely recyclable, down to the paper handle and sheets of paper to protect each component, with no plastic or wrapping in sight!
Along with the robot vacuum (which doesn’t need any sort of assembly), there is a sleek charging dock and power cable, an additional rotating brush, an additional filter, two wiping cloths and a small cleaning tool inside the box. There is also a simple quickstart guide and troubleshooting manual.
The model itself is sleek, smart and stylish, but it’s not small. With a diameter of 35cm it can’t claim to be mini, but with a height of just under 10cm, it does easily slide under most sofas and pieces of furniture.
To get started, the quickstart guide instructs you to plug in the charging dock to the mains and pop the RCV5 in place on top. While these instructions are of course super-simple, this is however, where I encountered my first struggle.
The charging dock needs to be set up with a clear space of 0.5m each side of it and 1.5 m in front. I live in a 2 bedroom Victorian semi-detached house, with our downstairs consisting of an adjoining hallway, living room, dining room and kitchen, but in none of these rooms, do I have that much clear space (next to a mains plug at least!). My only option was to set up the dock in the corner of our dining room, with more like 20cm of clear space either side. The room isn’t vast, but it’s not minute either. At 3.65 x 3.40m it is a comfortable size for a family home, but there was no way to place the robot vacuum anywhere discreetly, so it did somewhat become an unexpected ‘feature’ of the room.
In a larger home, perhaps with a more open-plan layout, this might not be a problem, but if you have a modest home with several adjoining rooms, it’s something to think about.
What is it like to use?
Once the robot vacuum has been installed in its new home, the next thing to do is download the app on your phone and connect it to the machine via the wifi. Follow the set-up instructions via the app, (which personally I didn’t find overly intuitive but it was fairly quick to do). If you’re a little less tech-savvy than most, you may need some help to get everything set up on the app, and perhaps it could provide a few more detailed instructions, but you’ll soon be ready to start.
The RCV5 is ready to begin its first clean as soon as the app is installed and set up, so it’s worth giving the areas you want cleaning a quick check that they are fairly clear of clutter. While the machine is smart enough to avoid obstacles, you want the most amount of floor cleaned as possible, so spend a couple of minutes putting away shoes and bags.
The 3D Sensor camera at the front of the machine helps the robot map out your room, which you can clearly see via the app. The mapping of each room gets better each time the robot cleans and this will be updated in the app too. There you can see where the robot has been, how long it took and any obstacles it found in its way. You can also customise your cleans, for example telling your robot not to clean a certain space, plus you can choose from four levels of suction power and whether you want a dry clean, combination clean or wet clean to take place.
My entire downstairs is all connected via a small hallway space, so from where the robot starts in the carpeted dining room, it travels into the kitchen (which has a tiled floor, with a rug layered on top) then back through to the hallway and living room, both of which are carpeted with rugs layered on top. Navigating the rugs and change of flooring were no trouble for the robot vacuum at all, and it never got stuck hopping on and off.
It takes about 40 minutes to do an entire vacuum of all 4 areas of my downstairs, before it heads back home to its charging station and my carpets all look pretty well cleaned. The dust container didn’t need emptying but I did it anyway, just so it was ready again for the next clean. It does leave a slight indent in the carpet at some points, but no more than a regular vacuum would do (I think this is the marks the wheels make).
When instructing the RCV5 to wet clean the kitchen floor, all I had to do was attach the wiping cloth to the bottom of the machine below the water reservoir, fill the reservoir with water and set the cleaning mode to wet. It didn’t provide the same clean that a good scrub on your hands and knees would do, more of a damp wipe of the floor, but it’s a handy function to have nonetheless.
All in all, the RCV5 is super easy to use, so much so that you can just set it to clean, then go about your day, whether at home, or out and about.
Who will it suit?
When it comes to suitability, the RCV5 will be a fantastic and helpful addition to most family homes, for its ease of use, brilliant cleaning results and dual function. The 2-in-1 design of being able to vacuum carpets and rugs, as well as mop hard flooring, makes it great value for money and while the dust bin isn’t huge, (although the nature of a robot vacuum means they rarely are in any model!) it does seem to hold a lot and is super easy to empty. Simply open the top cover of the machine, move the dust container and empty into the bin. The filter is also very easy to remove for cleaning when necessary, however even after using it for 4 weeks, it only needed a quick brush rather than a full clean.
It is a little noisy however which is another consideration if your home is more on the compact side. Even when I was upstairs in my son's room, the vacuum could still clearly be heard, but if your home is larger, I don’t think this would be such a problem.
Cleaning, storage and maintenance
To keep the exterior of the machine looking its best, it only needs an occasional wipe with a damp cloth to keep it clean. The mopping cloth easily detaches from the base and can be popped in the washing machine and the filter in the dust container can be washed or replaced with the spare. There is also a small cleaning tool provided that can help keep the dust container itself clean, and the sensors only need an occasional wipe with a dry cloth too. Overall, little time needs to be spent on cleaning your cleaning buddy!
As previously mentioned, the charging dock does require half a metre of clear space either side, and even when docked, the whole footprint isn’t small. If you have a larger, more open-plan home, I don’t think this would be such a problem, and there could even be the option of setting up the docking station under a piece of furniture such as a sideboard. But if your home is on the smaller side and you have lots of furniture that is low to the ground, you might struggle to find a suitable space to keep it, that is discreet.
How does it rate online?
There’s no denying the brilliance of its cleaning power, and its mapping capabilities too, both of which are gaining rave reviews online. The battery life is impressive which most other users can attest to and while it’s been mainly heralded as a game-changing cleaning companion, some users have mentioned that the wifi signal can occasionally drop out causing the machine to stop mid-clean. I haven't come across this myself as my house isn’t so big that the wifi connection doesn’t stretch, but a consideration to think about if your house is particularly large. Overall, users are impressed with this robot vacuum, as was I.
How does it compare to similar models and its predecessors?
While I haven’t personally tested a robot vacuum before, the wider Ideal Home team have tested several between them and it seems this model is very much holding its own in the mid to high-end price bracket of robot vacuums. Since they first appeared on the market, robot vacuums have become smarter and smarter and this one is certainly pushing the current boundaries of smart home technology. With voice assistance due to be available at a later date, the RCV5 is the most tech-savvy model that Karcher currently has on offer, which while the price isn’t modest, justifies the cost.
Should you buy the Karcher RCV5 Robot vacuum?
If you’re looking to invest in a smart robot vacuum that can take on multiple flooring types without fuss, and keep them clean to a pretty high standard, then this model is for you. Its sleek, modern design, and non-dominating white colour-way (most models we’ve tested are usually black) makes it a great buy for even the most house proud. While not cheap, the proof is in the pudding, with this robot certainly earning its keep and ensuring both carpeted and hard floors look their best, without you having to send it out on multiple trips. It is however best for homes of a more generous size, as the space it needs to dock and charge could cause a more compact home to look cluttered. For that reason, we give this model 4 out of 5 stars.
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Holly Walsh has been Content Editor at Ideal Home since 2021, but joined the brand back in 2015. With a background of studies in Interior Design, her career in interior journalism was a no-brainer and her passion for decorating homes is still as strong as it ever was. While Holly has written for most of the home titles at Future, including Livingetc, Country Homes & Interiors, Homes and Gardens and Style at Home, Ideal Home has always been her ideal home, and she can be found sharing her expertise and advice across both the printed magazine and the website too.
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