Karcher RCV 5 review: a robot vacuum for when you're home

It's high spec'd for the end result

karcher rcv 5 on hard floor
(Image: © Future / Jennifer Oksien)

TechRadar Verdict

On paper, the Karcher RCV 5 appears to be the perfect appliance for cleaning your floors; it can vacuum and mop, it comes with AI obstacle avoidance, and the robot vac can be controlled via an app. However, while the RCV 5 is super quick to set up and it maps effectively on its maiden voyage, there are some issues. It regularly became stuck when mounting carpets, and it appeared to chase its tail when out on a clean, like it was somewhat confused. Still, it got the job done eventually, with a helping hand now and then.

Pros

  • +

    Easy to set up

  • +

    Equally easy to maintain

  • +

    Can be controlled via an app or buttons on the robot vac

Cons

  • -

    Struggles to mount thick rugs with water tank and mopping pad attached

  • -

    Takes a bit of time to familiarise itself before starting a clean

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The Karcher RCV 5 was launched earlier this year and is one of two robot vacuum cleaners by the brand. 

A global brand specialising in pressure washers, garden tools and wet and dry vacuum cleaners, Karcher is even renowned for having some of the best vacuum cleaners in the world. With the launch of the RCV 5, the brand is now dabbling in the market of the best robot vacuums, too. 

Currently only available in the UK, on paper the Karcher RCV 5's looks pretty impressive. Via the app, the RCV 5 will automatically create a map of the rooms in your home using LiDAR. You can set individual cleaning parameters for every room; simply select which rooms should be vacuumed and/or mopped, plus any that should be avoided altogether. The robot vac also comes with an ultrasonic sensor that detects carpets that would be better cleaned using the Auto Boost function, while the on-board dual-laser system with camera will detect and avoid flat obstacles such as cables, socks or shoes, for example.

In my experience, the RCV 5's performance was mixed. Dirt and debris pick-up was fantastic, with the vacuum even removing stubborn stains off the floor. It did have a tendency to become stuck when mounting rugs, though, and it took some time to adjust to its surroundings when it first started a clean; it went round-and-round in circles until it had familiarised itself.

Nevertheless, I have confidence in the RCV 5's ability to clean floors, but I probably wouldn't leave it unattended while I'm out the house because you'll need to lift it over the edge of rugs and (literally) point it in the right direction for cleaning.

For me, the app was a highlight. Proving easy to navigate, you can set cleaning zones and cleaning modes (for instance, vacuum and / or mop, increase / decrease suction), and check in on the lifespan of accessories such as the main brush and side brush. However, there isn't an on-board camera, which would be useful – especially if you decide to activate the vac while you're out.

It's competitively priced at £549.99, but I'd look out for deals around big sale events such as Prime Day and Black Friday on Amazon. Do note that the Karcher RCV 5 neither self-cleans nor self-empties; you'll need to be prepared to empty the dust box after every other sweep around the home.

Karcher RCV 5 review: price and availability

  • List price: £549.99
  • Available only in the UK

The Karcher RCV 5 has a list price of £549.99. We found it available for this price on both the Karcher website and Amazon.

Launched in the UK in February 2023, the Karcher RCV 5 is one of two robot vacuum cleaners from the brand. The RCV 3 comes in at £349.99 and offers a smaller battery capacity (3.2Ah), half the suction performance (2500Pa) and a smaller base station (8 x 15 x 10.2cm) than the RCV 5.

The RCV 5 isn't available in the United States or Australia, although considering Karcher is a global brand, I'd expect there to be plans to launch it in these regions sometime in the future.

Value: 4/5

Karcher RCV 5 review: specifications

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The specs of our Karcher RCV 5 review unit
Header Cell - Column 0 Robot vacuumBase station
Dimensions9.7 x 35cm (h x d)9.9 x 13.5cm (h x l)
Weight6.5kg0.4kg
Charging time230 minutes-
Run time120 minutes-
Area performance (m²/h)85-
Dirt container (ml)330-
Fresh water tank (ml)240-
Suction performance (Pa)5000-
Noise level66dB-

Karcher RCV 5 review: design

  • Can vacuum and mop hard floors and low-pile carpets
  • Built-in waste container
  • Doesn't self-empty or self-clean

The Karcher RCV 5 looks like any other robot vacuum; it's circular in shape, has a low profile, and comes with a separate charging base. The robot vac measures 9.7 x 35cm (h x d), with the base station coming in at 9.9 x 13.5cm (h x l) – it takes up far less space than some of the best cordless vacuum cleaner, for example.

The robot vacuum has two buttons on the top: one to start/stop the cleaner, and the other to return it to base. The 330ml built-in waste container can be accessed by lifting up the flap below these two buttons and releasing the two clips that hold the container in place. 

looking at dust container on karcher rcv 5

The waste container can be accessed underneath the flap on the top of the robot vac (Image credit: Future / Jennifer Oksien)

To the rear is a removable 240ml water tank, and to the front is a dual-laser camera system.

Flip over the robot vac and you'll find the side brush, main vacuum cleaning brush, wiper cloth (attached to the removable water tank) and a set of wheels to transport it across the floors. Both the side brush, main vacuum cleaning brush and wiper cloth can be removed for cleaning or replacing.

Note that the RCV 5 doesn't have a dirty water container; clean water is dispensed onto the floor and the wiper cloth will remove any residue. Neither does it come with self-cleaning or self-emptying functionality; but it is for this reason the base station is more conveniently sized – and the list price more within reach for many users.

The RCV 5 is designed with the same iconic Karcher colours of white and yellow. Also included in the box are two side brushes, two wiping cloths, two filters and an instruction manual. Should you need more accessories or replacement accessories then the Karcher 2.269-641.0 Accessory Set RCV 5 can be bought for £22.51 from Amazon.

Design: 5 / 5

Karcher RCV 5 review: Performance

  • Excellent dirt and debris pick-up
  • Returns to base to charge
  • Gets stuck on rugs

The Karcher RCV 5 arrived fully assembled. I just clipped the base plate on to the underside of the robot vac, and secured the wiping cover to said base plate to ensure the hardware was ready to go.

I used the RCV 5 to vacuum and mop the ground floor of my home, which comprises wood flooring, tiles and various rugs.

On its maiden voyage, the RCV 5 produced a map of the ground floor. It took just 5 minutes to run around the 375 sq ft space by detecting the surroundings using LiDAR tech. It then returned to base to generate a map – which, after a few minutes, appeared in the app; and pretty accurately, too.

In the app I was then able to set out the cleaning modes for each room. I opted to vacuum and mop room one (living room), room two (kitchen) and room 3 (second reception room), which have a combination of hard floors and rugs. Room 4 (hallway) was set to mop-only because it has just hard flooring, but with a higher water level, while in room two (kitchen) I opted for a double cleaning cycle on the tiled flooring, which is susceptible to spills and crumbs. 

using the karcher robot app

The app was really easy to use; you can check on accessory maintenance, set cleaning zones and cleaning modes (Image credit: Future / Jennifer Oksien)

With the cleaning modes set, I sent the Karcher robot vacuum on it way, activating the clean in the app. Unfortunately, the RCV 5 didn't travel far from the charging base before reaching its first hurdle – the rug, which it struggled to mount. It appears that the base plate and wiping cloth had become caught on the edge of the rug, because with these removed, the RCV 5 conquered the climb.

karcher rcv 5 stuck on rug

The Karcher RCV 5 regularly got stuck when mounting the rug (Image credit: Future / Jennifer Oksien)

Giving the robot vacuum a helping hand onto the rug, it continued the clean. It was on a mission to get to the front living room, since this is the routine I had set in the app. You can set routines at any time that the RCV 5 isn't cleaning.

It mopped the wooden floor first before tackling the rug. The robovac has a dual-laser system with camera to help it detect and avoid flat obstacles such as cables, socks or shoes, while additional sensors prevent the device from falling. However, what it can't detect is kids' toys and the edges of rugs. Again, the RCV 5 became stuck and required input from me to be free.

karcher rcv 5 stuck on rug and toys

It also easily become stuck behind children's toys (Image credit: Future / Jennifer Oksien)

On the rug, I heard a gear change. This was the ultrasonic sensor detecting the carpet, and so accordingly it deployed the Auto Boost function to automatically increase the suction.

Once the living room had been vacuumed and mopped, the RCV 5 headed down the hallway (room 4), into the second reception room (room 3), and then into the kitchen (room 2).

Dirt and dust pick-up was fantastic, and the cleaner was equally good at mopping. And, like many robot vacuums, it could reach all the way under the furniture.

karcher rcv 5 under furniture

It was useful for cleaning under furniture  (Image credit: Future / Jennifer Oksien)

For a more visual test, I scattered some oats onto the tiled kitchen floor.

While the cleaning pattern didn't make any sense (it spun around in circles before ploughing into the oats), the RCV 5 made a clear pathway through the middle of the scattered cereal.

karcher robot vacuum on tiled floor vacuuming oats

The Karcher RCV 5 made an impressive effort at picking up oats from a tiled flooring (Image credit: Future / Jennifer Oksien)

In terms of the cleaning pattern, then, here it appears that lifting it into the kitchen had interrupted the cleaning "flow". However, having observed it for many minutes, I had seen that the RCV 5 covers the cleaning area in consecutive lanes, much in the same way as a lawnmower. When the cleaner was doing a "deep" clean, it would concentrate on a particular area of the floor, working backwards and forwards across it before moving off.

With the cleaning complete, the Karcher RCV 5 automatically returns to base to charge. If at any point it requires more power to complete a cleaning task, it will return to base to recharge, then head back out again to where it left off to finish the job.

All the dirt and debris picked up collects in the dirt container, which is easily accessed by lifting the flap on the top of the robot vacuum. The filter can also be removed from the dirt container for cleaning. There's no dirty water tank to empty here after a clean, but you may want to remove the wiping pad to clean it and / or dry it and unravel any hair that may have become wrapped around the brushes.

maintaining the karcher rcv 5

You may want to remove the wiping pad and brushes for cleaning after each vacuum / mop around the home (Image credit: Future / Jennifer Oksien)

For noise, the RCV 5 registered 66dB – the equivalent to a normal conversation – while cleaning. This is on-par with the specs shared on the Karcher website.

Performance score: 2.5/5

Karcher RCV 5 review: App

  • Scan the QR code on leaflet provided
  • Set cleaning zones and cleaning modes
  • Can keep an eye on maintenance needs

The app unlocked many other benefits to using the Karcher RCV 5. However, I found connecting to the Wi-Fi and app confusing, since the App Store isn't up-to-date with the latest version of the app. 

Inside the box of the Karcher RCV 5 is a leaflet with a QR code. It's best to scan this code to bring up a link to the app; for reference it's called the Karcher Home Robots app. 

This way proved more successful, making set up of the robot vacuum cleaner easy. I just followed the on-screen instructions, which saw me send out the RCV 5 for the first time to map out the ground floor of my home. Job done in 5 minutes, it returned to base to generate a map.

setting up the karcher rcv 5 in the app

Follow the on-screen instructions to set up the Karcher RCV 5 in the app (Image credit: Future / Jennifer Oksien)

In the app you can set cleaning zones and cleaning modes, and also view the lifespan of the accessories, such as the main brush and side brush, in the Maintenance section.

You can also remotely control the Karcher RCV 5 from where ever you are in the home., or if you're out; although this isn't something I'd advise considering it often became stuck. With no on-board camera, it's difficult to check where it is.

App score: 5/5

Karcher RCV 5 review: Battery life

  • Run-time of 120 minutes / 2 hours
  • Charge time of 230 minutes

The Karcher RCV 5 has an impressive run-time of 120 minutes, which is plenty enough to cover an area of 914 sq ft. Should it run out of battery life while out on a cleaning job, the robot vac will automatically return to base to charge. Once it's fully charged, it will return to where it was last cleaning to follow the cleaning route set out in the app.

The RCV 5 took a couple of hours to fully recharge. The two buttons on the top will flash green until it is back to full power.

Battery life: 5/5

charging the karcher rcv 5

The Karcher RCV 5 will automatically return to base to recharge (Image credit: Future / Jennifer Oksien)

Should I buy the Karcher RCV 5?

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Karcher RCV 5 score card
AttributeNotesScore
ValueOnly available in the UK, but is competively prices and available direct from Karcher or Amazon4/5
DesignGreat low-profile design which has everything you need from a robot vacuum cleaner5/5
PerformanceDirt and debris pick-up is good but the robovac reguarly got stuck transitioning from hard floor to carpets and it had a tendency to repeatedly go round in circles2.5/5
AppEasy to navigate and really responsive. Could also set cleaning zones and cleaning preference5/5
Battery lifeHas a decent runtime and is quick to charge. It also returns to base to re-charge and returns to an unfinished job.5/5

Buy it if...

You want a fairly basic robot vacuum

There aren't too many bells and whistles with the Karcher RCV 5, which makes it super easy to set up and use.

You have just hard floors or just carpets

The Karcher RCV 5 is a fantastic robot vac that will get on with the job unaided if you have either hard floors or carpets – just not both.

Don't buy it if...

You don't want to get involved

The Karcher RCV 5 will require help to release it from being stuck, and to empty the dust container and fill up the water tank.

You have thick-pile rugs

Expect the Karcher RCV 5 to become stuck when mounting the edges of thick-pile rugs.

You have a lot of furniture

While the Karcher RCV 5 does have AI to avoid obstacles, it doesn't quite have the navigation to smoothly go around furniture, instead becoming stuck and a little confused as to where it should go next.

Karcher RCV 5 review: Also consider

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iRobot Roomba Combo J7 PlusYeedi Mop Station ProEufy RoboVac G30 Hybrid
Price$1,099.99 / £999 / AU$2,199 $799.99$298.80 / £349.99
Run timeUp to 120 minutesUp to 108 minutesUp to 110 minutes
Bin size14oz / 0.4-liter750ml15.2 oz / 0.45 liter
Self emptying (Y/N)YNN
Self cleaning (Y/N)NNN
Control methodsApp, Amazon Alexa, Siri & Google Assistant AppApp, Amazon Alexa & Google Assistant
Dimensions13.3 x 13.3 x 3.4 inches / 33.8 x 33.8 x 8.6cm (h x w x d)17 x 15 x 16 inches / 43 x 38 x 40.5cm (h x w x d)12.8 x 12.8 x 2.85 inches / 32.5 x 32.5 x 7. 2cm ( h x w x d)

If a robot vacuum isn't for you, why not consider a cordless vacuum? There's no automation, but you retain freedom from cables.

Image

Shark Stratos Cordless with Clean Sense IQ IZ862H
Part of the Stratos range, this cordless stick has a flexible head and wand that allows you to vacuum at 90-degree angles and beneath furniture without bending down. Clean Sense IQ tech senses how much dirt is on a floor and adjusts the suction power accordingly.

Read our full Shark Stratos Cordless with Clean Sense IQ IZ862H review

Image

Bissell CleanView Pet Slim Cordless Stick Vacuum
If you’re in the market for a stick vacuum that can suck up all that pet dander, then consider the Bissell CleanView Pet Slim Cordless Stick Vacuum. It offers great suction, is affordable, and can transform into a handheld cleaner – it's on the bulky side, however.

Read our full Bissell CleanView Pet Slim Cordless Stick Vacuum review

How I tested the Karcher RCV 5

  • I've been using it in my home for a couple of weeks
  • It's been tested on low-pile and deep-pile rugs, and hard flooring
  • I controlled it using the app and the buttons on the top of the robot vac

I've had the Karcher RCV 5 set up in my home for a couple of weeks. Positioned in my second reception room, I tucked it tightly against a side storage unit. My second reception room is on the ground floor, with easy access to the kitchen and main reception room.

The ground floor of my home is covered in a combination of surfaces including tiles, hard flooring and rugs. Testing revealed that the Karcher RCV 5 performed best on hard floors – especially tiles – where there were no rugs to mount. I controlled it using the app and the buttons on the top panel of the vacuum; the app offers greater flexibility for setting cleaning zones and cleaning modes.

I've reviewed a number of robot vacuum cleaners, and this model was one of the easiest I've found to set up and use. 

Read more about how we test

First reviewed June 2023

Jennifer Oksien
Editor, Top Ten Reviews

Jennifer (Jenny) is currently the editor of Top Ten Reviews, but prior to that, she was TechRadar's Homes Editor. She has over a decade of experience as a digital product writer specialising in appliances, smart tech and mattresses for some of the UK's leading retailers and magazine titles such as Real Homes, Ideal Home and Livingetc. Generally, you’ll find her watching the latest Netflix series, digging around in the garden or attempting to make a cake that is edible.