Ecovacs, the China-based company known for its higher-end robot vacuums, has a new accessory that really puts your vacuuming needs on full automatic. The new Auto-Empty Station acts as a pseudo trashcan for your Deebot T8 or Deebot T8 AIVI vacuum — emptying the dust bins on the robots automatically every time they go back for a charge. What does this mean for you? The robot can run on its own, with less attention, for much longer.
We spent some time testing the new station, using a T8 as well, and here's our thoughts if the device is worth its $250 price tag, and potentially right for your space at home.
The Ecovacs Auto-Empty Station doubles as a charger as wellGearBrain
Ecovacs Auto-Empty Station — Design
The Auto-Empty Station is not a small product. Standing 16.6-inches tall, and about one-foot deep, you're going to need some space set aside to place this device correctly. That's also because the station needs some space around it as well to work, figure at least one-foot clearance around all the sides. (More on that ahead.)
The bin is made of plastic, and consists of a ramp that slopes down to help the T8 or T8 AIVI get up to the top, and a tall bin where you'll install a vacuum bag, similar to the one you use on any standard vacuum. You'll need to plug the station into an outlet as well, as it doubles as the charger station.
Setting this station up is pretty easy. There are two small outlet covers on the floor of the station — these have to be popped out using a key that comes in the kit. Those are the two spots where suction will pull the debris from the base of the robot vacuum and into the station. There's a simple one-sheet instruction page on how to do this in the box: use it.
You install a bag in the top, which pops up like most trash cans by pressing on the lid. The vacuum bag attached to the back, inside, and that's it. Because the vacuum bag placed this way, it's also sealed into the station — and that means when you go to empty it you're less likely to have bits of dust and debris fly out, as you sometimes do when you're emptying the bin on the robot itself. That's a nice add.
You need to pop out the two flaps at the base so the station can suction out the bins.GearBrain
Ecovacs Auto-Empty Station — Performance
We tried the station in three different spots throughout our tests. Two were in cramped locations, while the third was against a wall with substantial clearance on both sides. Why these different locations? We wanted to see how well the robot vacuum would perform in finding and seating itself properly on the station in spaces that people might actually have — like a small, New York City apartment without a lot of open wall space.
We found what we expected — without enough clearance, the robot had a nearly impossible time getting back to the station, seated correctly, so the station could work. We saw the T8 we used spend 10 minutes once, get on to the charger, come off, roll off the side and never sit itself correctly. The experience was excruciating.
Moving the Auto-Empty Station to a spot with about 16-inches clearance on all sides, and the robot sat itself and the station went into action in about 90 seconds. That wasn't ideal — but it worked, and that was key. That's often typical for robot vacuums and their chargers, the need for enough clearance for the robot to return in the right spot. But I did find that the Ecovacs Auto-Empty Station seemed to need a bit more space for the robot to return as usual, perhaps because of its size. That's crucial to note because with the station doubling as a charger, you really need to know the robot can get back to its base.
But, within seconds of properly seating itself, the Auto-Empty Station started to clear out the vacuum's bin. The noise is, as expected, a bit loud, reminding me of the iRobot Roomba i7+ robot and Clean Base we tested in 2018. But the experience is short, about 20 seconds, and isn't that disruptive. After that, the robot begins to charge on its own.
Vacuum bags are placed in the top, and sealed to keep dust and debris from flying out of the stationGearBrain
Why do people buy a robot vacuum? They want a device that takes care of a cleaning need for them. The problem with robot vacuums is you often need to clean out a bin every two to three cleaning jaunts around a space — at most. That's fine, but it's something you need to remember to do. Without clearing a bin, a robot vacuum is bound to start dropping hair and debris behind it as it moves about your home.
The Auto-Empty Station extends the time you need to deal with that task, with a 2.5 liter capacity. Ecovacs says that will last you 30 days. And better? The station will actually alert you, aloud, when it's time to replace the bag, plus push out a notification through the Ecovacs app. That's a score. As we've noted in previous robot vacuum reviews, we have a large black Labrador in our space. And typically we find the amount of hair that's collected is substantial.
After more than a week, we checked the bag, and it was far from full, which was pretty great. We do have a small space, but I could see how I would easily get 30 days of the T8 cleaning our floors — even with a big shedding dog — without having to change the vacuum bag.
The Station itself, though, also seemed to collect quite a bit of dirt and debris on its own, likely from the T8 constantly coming up and down the ramp, and the vacuum feature turned off as it approached the station. The dust level wasn't terrible. But it's something to note, and if you're already buying a robot vacuum to clean your home, you're likely someone who is going to want to wipe that surface down once in awhile.
Ecovacs Auto-Empty Station — Price
You're going to pay $249.99 for the Ecovacs Auto-Empty Station, and the device only works with two of the brands robot vacuums, the T8 AIVI, which GearBrain has reviewed, and the T8, which we're currently still testing.
The Ecovacs Auto-Empty Station needs space on either side for the robot vacuum to return correctlyGearBrain
Ecovacs Auto-Empty Station — Worth buying?
I found after spending some time with the T8 and the Auto-Empty Station, that the latter was sometimes a nice to have device, but not a necessity. I think crucial to anyone choosing to buy this is taking a realistic assessment of their living area and seeing if they have the space to place something of this size correctly. Without enough clearance, the Auto-Empty Station may not work well, making it hard for the T8 or T8 AIVI to even charge on its own.
Still, if you have the space, and you have purchased a T8 or T8 AIVI, it's nice to have a station that works not only as a charger, but also as a way to empty the debris your robot collects as it vacuums about your home. That feature, with the right space and the right vacuum, is likely worth the $250 for the cost of new Ecovacs Auto-Empty Station, an extra feature that really extends the smarts of what a robot vacuum can bring to a home.
- Automatically empties the T8 or T8 AIVI robot vacuums bin
- Doubles as a charger
- Station is simple and fast to install
- Station needs a large amount of clearance on both sides to work properly
- Can be loud as it empties
- Only works with T8 and T8 AIVI robot vacuums