Recommendation for robots that run multiple times a day and/or longer hours?

at2000

Member
Jul 26, 2017
8
California
My neighbor has a leafy tree above my fairly-large pool, and it becomes a nightmare in the fall. Therefore I'd like to acquire a pool robot that has a large capacity and can run multiple times a day.

I feel fine with setting up my own smart timer (it's not hard nowadays to find an outdoor one configurable by smartphones), but seemingly the robot power supplies are nowadays too "smart" that they don't allow for the simplest mode of operation: robot runs if the external timer turns it on (and stops when turned off). Even those that claim to support "external timer" seems (as described by the manuals) to only support the latter part, and still requires manually turning the robot on _after_ the external timer turned power on, which makes the external timer feature essentially pointless.

Of course, I also prefer the robot cleaner to be atheistic, easy to clean, power efficient, etc., but I know I am asking too much.

Have I misunderstood anything? Is there really no market for a robot that runs more frequently than usual or completely obey an external timer schedule?
 

Brett S

Well-known member
Mar 15, 2019
706
Orlando
The maytronics robots definitely support this. I just got a Pentair Warrior SE from Marina Pool Spa and Patio and I was able to put it into “automation mode” and I run it with a smart plug connected to my smart home system. It starts when the plug receives power and will run for it’s 2 hour cycle. I have the smart plug configured to turn off 2.5 hours after it goes on just to make sure that the robot has time to finish it’s cycle.
 

Brett S

Well-known member
Mar 15, 2019
706
Orlando
So I was going back and forth a little on whether automating my robot was worth it or not. I had just scheduled it to run once a day, which I could have easily done with the built in controls of the robot. (Although with the built in controls you need to manually restart it every week and with my automation it will run once a day indefinitely).

However, I had a storm last night and wound up with a lot of leaves in the pool. The cleaner did it’s normal run this morning, but I looked out the window and noticed there were still some leaves left in the pool. I figured it could do another run to try to get them all, so I was able to just say “Alexa, start the pool cleaner” and watch it start moving again.

Is this necessary? No, of course not. But it’s definitely nice.
 

Brett S

Well-known member
Mar 15, 2019
706
Orlando
The problem is that it will fill with leaves and you have to take it out to clean it anyway.
That’s true, but I think there are still some advantages. I know that my cleaner will run at the same time every day. If it’s been stormy and there are a lot of leaves in the pool I can empty the cleaner every two or three days. Or if it hasn’t been stormy and I get busy it might even go more than a week before I empty it. But either way I don’t have to remember to reset the controller every week. Additionally I can do an ad hoc run like I did this afternoon without worrying about messing up the timer

It’s certainly not some amazing miracle that I think everyone needs to rush out and do, but it’s worthwhile for me and adds some additional convenience.
 
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at2000

Member
Jul 26, 2017
8
California
I exactly had a Maytronics Dolphin which doesn't. When the smart plug turns on, I still have to manually start the robot, which makes no sense to have a smart plug at all. Good to know that at least some Pentair supports that. I'll do some research first.

Yes, I do need to takes the leaves out, but perhaps that's also because I have a 40000-galloon pool. One 2.5-hour cycle a day it still cannot collect one full basket of leaves in a week. That's why I hope to schedule it to run more frequently. Currently I have to go out there to manually restart the robot a couple times a day so I can collect leaves at the same speed as they fall. That makes me hate the built-in scheduler because it is worse than not having one.
 

Brett S

Well-known member
Mar 15, 2019
706
Orlando
If it’s one of the newer dolphins it certainly should support automation mode, but you need to put it in automation mode for it to work. It’s not really well documented, but to do so you need to make sure that power is applied to the outlet and the controller is off (all lights are off) then you press and hold the button labeled ‘Weekly timer’ for about 10 seconds. The lights will come on for a short time and then it will be in automation mode. At that point if you unplug it (or turn off a smart outlet), then reapply power it will immediately start a cycle as soon as it gets power with no button press necessary. I did discover in my testing that if you turn the smart outlet off and then immediately turn it back on it won’t start. It needs to be off for at least a couple of seconds before the power is reapplied.

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Last edited:

markayash

Gold Supporter
Mar 21, 2016
2,438
Marietta Ga
So I was going back and forth a little on whether automating my robot was worth it or not. I had just scheduled it to run once a day, which I could have easily done with the built in controls of the robot. (Although with the built in controls you need to manually restart it every week and with my automation it will run once a day indefinitely).

However, I had a storm last night and wound up with a lot of leaves in the pool. The cleaner did it’s normal run this morning, but I looked out the window and noticed there were still some leaves left in the pool. I figured it could do another run to try to get them all, so I was able to just say “Alexa, start the pool cleaner” and watch it start moving again.

Is this necessary? No, of course not. But it’s definitely nice.
I have mine set so I can say "run the squirrel" since my 6 pd dog chases squirrels and attacked the Dolphin when it cleans the tile..He has tried to bit the wheels
 

at2000

Member
Jul 26, 2017
8
California
Regarding automation I'm sure we all have our unique preferences. I will definitely stick to a HomeKit-based system, because I won't trust my smart devices listening to Google or Amazon for commands. Siri is less powerful than Alexa and Nest, but I treasure the peace of mind more
 

markayash

Gold Supporter
Mar 21, 2016
2,438
Marietta Ga
Regarding automation I'm sure we all have our unique preferences. I will definitely stick to a HomeKit-based system, because I won't trust my smart devices listening to Google or Amazon for commands. Siri is less powerful than Alexa and Nest, but I treasure the peace of mind more
I have my vesync app controlling the timers, it doesn't need amazon..Mine runs 90 minutes at midnight and 2 hours at 5am so it's clean when I get up..Run the squirrel is just if I want to do a 20 minute run during the day
 

at2000

Member
Jul 26, 2017
8
California
I know this is off topic, but in terms of smart devices, I would do some research on what exactly the risk exposure is.

A lot of smart plugs just connect to wifi, talk to a remote server, and your smartphone app connects to the same server to control it. Any security flaw on the device, the server or the app will expose that device to a hacker. This has happened to countless IoT cameras before, but arguably a plug has a smaller risk. If you pair it with Alexa for voice control, the connection between their server and Alexa exposes another attack surface. Also all of these parties now have a log of everything you've done with the devices.

In contrast, a HomeKit-based smart plug is usually controlled by bluetooth, i.e. it works locally and without internet. Only when you connect to it from the internet you would route the request through iCloud to your home hub -- Apple TV, HomePod or an (usually old) iPad that's always charged -- where the request is end-to-end encrypted. If you speak to Siri to control it, the request is first resolved by your phone to Siri into an action and then your phone performs the action. Apple has no credentials to control your device whatsoever and they do not know about anything except the Siri request.

IMHO the latter is much superior and I would happily pay double the price for it instead of the former one.
 

Brett S

Well-known member
Mar 15, 2019
706
Orlando
Yeah, I agree that Apple definitely has a better and more secure model. It also has the advantage of continuing to work locally even when the internet is down because all the traffic is local. I don’t know a lot about google home, but certainly with amazon everything has to go out through the cloud.

However, my system is kind of a hybrid of the two. I’ve been doing home automation for a long time now (like 25 years... long before HomeKit and Alexa and google home existed) and the product I had settled on for my home automation hub is HomeSeer. This is a great product that also works locally and doesn’t have any subscription fees or anything like that, so to that extent it is more like Apple’s model.

Unfortunately as integration with amazon and google home and HomeKit was developing HomeSeer never chose to get MFI certification for their product, so even though I would have liked to go with HomeKit I was too far entrenched with HomeSeer and didn’t want to spend thousands of dollars replacing what I had with other products that, frankly, probably wouldn’t even work as well as what I was using. So I somewhat reluctantly went the Amazon Echo route. HomeSeer does directly interface with Amazon and even though that connection does go through the cloud I am satisfied with the security behind it. I also connect all of my automation devices locally to HomeSeer and then go through HomeSeer to Amazon, so I don’t have a lot of questionably secure stuff connected to the internet.

Since then I’ve actually been able to use homebridge to connect HomeSeer to HomeKit so I can get access to my devices through Siri on my phone, however, at this point I am also pretty entrenched in Amazon’s ecosystem for distributed voice control, so I’m kind of using a mix right now with HomeKit on my phone and Echo devices around the house for voice control. It’s kind of an unusual configuration but it’s been working well for me.
 

markayash

Gold Supporter
Mar 21, 2016
2,438
Marietta Ga
Speaking of security they can hack into your phone and listen and probably watch anytime..Ever wonder why your talking to your friend about dog food and your phone is on the table and 10 minutes later you get dogfood ad's on facebook :)
If you want hack in and turn on my robot you can :) Its worth the risk to me to have control from anywhere.
 

at2000

Member
Jul 26, 2017
8
California
Homeseer (z-wave, zigbee) + homebridge is a good way to get everything local and HomeKit integration too.

Of course all the above discussion hinges on the fact that you can protect your phone. If you can't, you lose all your contacts, photos, calendar, location data, etc. to hackers. A good start is to get a phone with a secure enclave, keep it up-to-date and only install software you trust. No software is 100% safe, but it's usually not too hard to keep it free of remote attacks. In contrast all those wifi-based IoT devices are much worse in this aspect.

Ad platforms do collect a huge profile from you in more ways than you can imagine. They probably know you want dogfood ads even if they can't listen to you 🤣 you need good browsers with containers, tracker blockers, and a lot more to counter that. So far what Mark said never happened to me.
 

markayash

Gold Supporter
Mar 21, 2016
2,438
Marietta Ga
Homeseer (z-wave, zigbee) + homebridge is a good way to get everything local and HomeKit integration too.

Of course all the above discussion hinges on the fact that you can protect your phone. If you can't, you lose all your contacts, photos, calendar, location data, etc. to hackers. A good start is to get a phone with a secure enclave, keep it up-to-date and only install software you trust. No software is 100% safe, but it's usually not too hard to keep it free of remote attacks. In contrast all those wifi-based IoT devices are much worse in this aspect.

Ad platforms do collect a huge profile from you in more ways than you can imagine. They probably know you want dogfood ads even if they can't listen to you 🤣 you need good browsers with containers, tracker blockers, and a lot more to counter that. So far what Mark said never happened to me.
The weirdest one was I was talking to a guy at work about paint shop pro..Phone was on my desk..Walked back to my desktop and opened facebook..HUGE paintshop pro ad..My wife had noticed it several time and its not common stuff, its stuff there is no way it can be random.
Should add I didn't have the facebook app on my phone and then I had an android so Google had to get it and sell it to FB
One reason I deleted my Face(spy)book account.
 

at2000

Member
Jul 26, 2017
8
California
If you two are using the same internet connection, what likely have happened is the guy (or anyone who overheard your conversation) googled it and it got associated to the IP address that all of you share. But of course, no one can rule out a spyware had been installed on your phone by Google (unlikely), by its manufacturer (quite likely for Chinese ones) or by a hacker.
 

at2000

Member
Jul 26, 2017
8
California
You could trim the branches above your property. That may reduce the number of leaves.
True, but that costs money, so it's a trade-off between multiple choices. If I can spend $1000 on a robot cleaner (+ a bit of electricity and manual work draining the leaves) that might well be the best choice.