It’s been nearly two years since Narwal unveiled the T10 – its first robot vacuum/mop hybrid, which was good, but had deal-breaking flaws.
Now, we’ll look at their latest product, the Narwal Freo, with a ground-up redesign, addressing the issues in the T10, making it better and more efficient in vacuuming and mopping tasks.
How much better is the Freo compared to the T10? How does it compare to other brands? I’ve spent many hours testing this robot in various facets to see if its real-world performance matches the advertorials.
Ground-Up Redesign, Better Performance
Navigation - 95%
Surface Cleaning - 97.96%
Deep Cleaning - 63.75%
Quality - 94%
Design - 95%
Value - 96%
The Narwal Freo is a better-rounded self-washing robot mop, improving upon the limitations of the T10 and making it a more versatile option. Several new technologies were introduced with this model. Most notable is the DirtSense feature, where a sensor inside the base station checks water cleanliness to determine if it will deploy the robot for another mopping run. Another is the redesigned robot body, adding a combo brush and relocating the two pads from the front to the rear. All these upgrades improve vacuuming and mopping performance.
- Improved cleaning performance thanks to the combo brush
- The twin-disc system is efficient at mopping even hard-to-clean juice stains.
- Better pad washing plate with more surface area
- Low noise output
- Decent-sized 480-ml dustbin capacity
- The improved algorithm avoids carpets automatically during the mopping-only cycle
- The new Freo mode has the EdgeSwing feature, where the robot makes a twisting motion during the edge-cleaning cycle
- Automatic cleaning fluid disbursement
- No self-emptying feature
- Cannot pick up liquid
- Subpar deep cleaning performance
After nearly two years, Narwal unveils its latest self-washing robot vacuum, the Freo, with several potentially ground-breaking features to improve its vacuuming and mopping performance.
I’ll enumerate these features and how it (potentially) improves performance.
At the forefront of these features is the DirtSense technology, where a sensor inside the robot checks (or analyzes) water quality – specifically, how dirty it is to determine if it’ll deploy additional runs.
It’s an industry-first feature and is available through the Freo mode.
Please note that it doesn’t have a fixed number of passes. It may be one or more, depending on the DirtSense findings.
During my experiments, I scattered grape juice and coffee grounds to mimic Narwal’s demonstrations and see how many times it’ll redeploy the robot.
And it had a total of two runs. On the first pass, the robot made a twisting motion during the edge cleaning cycle.
It came out for a second run, but only with a straight-edge cleaning cycle.
Also, the vacuum motor was shut off during the second pass, and after docking a second time, it didn’t come out for a third pass.
The Narwal Freo has a similar base station design as the older T10 variant but with a few upgrades.
Aside from the DirtSense feature, it has an interactive touch-screen monitor. Consumers can use it to select from the different cleaning modes.
It’s an added wrinkle, allowing consumers not to use the app and control the robot using the screen.
Another benefit is it shows explains the error code visually.
Folks can also view different menu options, which are only accessible through the app in other brands.
So even without downloading the app, consumers could (still) use this robot.
Other upgrades include a detachable tray, giving better access if it needs a thorough cleaning.
The Freo’s ribbed component (where the pads spin during the pad-washing cycle) has more surface area than the T10.
When I say “surface area,” I refer to the ribbed elements for dislodging debris and gunk from the pads.
Twin Water Tanks
The Narwal Freo (like the T10) has two water tanks for storing clean and dirty water.
It’s a similar design to the T10, but Narwal offers an optional “automatic water exchange module,” to further automate water refilling and disposal.
Narwal also includes a cleaning solution to attach to a dedicated slot behind the clean water tank.
Here’s a close-up photo of the cleaning solution.
This feature automates the cleaning solution disbursement, unlike in the T10, where you must add detergent sheets to enhance the mop’s potency.
Unfortunately, this robot doesn’t have a self-emptying feature, so it’s still a manual chore for potential owners.
Unlike the T10, which utilizes a squarish frame, the Freo has a round frame with the LIDAR sensor in the middle.
According to Narwal, it has an obstacle avoidance sensor up front, but I didn’t do extensive tests – only on a doll mimicking the advertorial of it avoiding a dog.
It wasn’t at the level of other brands that used lasers or IR sensors, but it was decent, at least not pushing the doll forward.
It wasn’t a clean avoidance, but the robot turned and avoided my son’s stuffed bear.
The Narwal Freo’s dustbin is at the top of the robot, with an above-average capacity of 480 milliliters.
One feature I like is the trap door design.
It’s narrow enough to fit a small diameter trashbin, plus the sides extend enough to tap on the lip to dislodge debris.
Next, we’ll look at the brush layout, and you’ll notice a stark difference between the Freo and T10.
There are several significant changes. First is the pad placement, which was upfront in. the T10, but relocated towards the rear, behind the brush roll (Freo).
Next is the combo brush – something absent in the T10, hampering its vacuuming performance.
This combo brush design is highly efficient at debris pick-up, and brands using a similar design were above average with cleaning experiments.
Like the T10, the Narwal Freo utilizes two side brushes, but Freo’s version only has a two-pronged design.
It has a clip-on design, so there’s no need for a Philips screwdriver to remove it from the base.
The bristled tips are a concern (for me, at least) because of potential durability issues.
Another similarity with the T10 is the pad design – two triangular-shaped pads.
It’s a different design from other brands that use round discs.
Narwal says that the triangular-shaped discs ensure no gap in between for maximum coverage during the mopping cycle.
During the vacuuming cycle, the pads are lifted and don’t touch the surface.
Another instance where the pad is raised is when it detects carpet.
Narwal’s algorithm is intelligent enough to avoid carpets during its mopping-only run once these areas are drawn on the map.
Another improvement area for this product is the app.
While consumers can use the LCD screen on the base station to control the robot, the app offers features not available on the monitor, namely map saving, plus the other benefits of it.
It’s called the Narwal Freo app and is completely different from the old Narwal app.
And I’ll enumerate the most helpful features, starting with the live map.
1. Live Map
One of its most useful features is the live map, which shows the robot’s location in real-time.
The Freo version has a 3D map option where folks can see the robot’s movement.
Unlike other laser-equipped robots, the Narwal Freo doesn’t use grid lines to mark vacuumed (or mopped) areas but shades these areas.
The more passes it does, the darker these areas are.
2. Map Saving
One feature not available in the first Narwal app is map saving, and the Freo version can save up to four levels.
3. Mapping Run
Creating maps will be short work for the Narwal app, thanks to the mapping run, activated by default when you create a new map.
This feature takes advantage of LIDAR’s 360-scanning ability to create maps in a fraction of the time it takes compared to a full run.
The Freo app has containment available through the no-zo zones feature.
It enables consumers to draw boxes or rectangles, blocking the robot from entering these zones.
Also, the app offers further customization options: vacuuming and mopping, vacuuming only, or mopping only.
Nonetheless, the robot’s algorithm is smart enough to avoid carpets (or rugs) during the mopping-only cycle.
4. Floor Type
Another customization option is the floor type tab, where folks can set the floor type between hardwood, tile, and cobblestone.
Each option has a specific mop pressure and suction level preset to maximize cleaning efficiency.
5. Carpet Settings
The Freo robot has an ultrasonic sensor underneath to detect carpets.
This component is situated in front to prevent the robot from going further once it detects a surface variance.
During a vacuum or vacuum/mopping run, it marks portions of the map as carpeted.
And there are several options. One is to set no-go zones – which applies to high-pile or plush carpets (or rugs) since most vacuums cannot climb or vacuum these appropriately.
However, other options exist if the carpets or rugs aren’t plush.
Consumers can opt to boost power when it goes over it (or power up), avoid it, crossover, or ignore it.
6. Selective Room Cleaning
Once maps are saved and partitions set, folks can clean specific rooms (or areas) through the room tab.
Tap on the room and select desired modes, whether you want to vacuum and mop, vacuum then mop, vacuum only, or mop only.
7. Area Cleaning
The area cleaning tab enables folks to select rectangular or square zones for the robot to clean.
It helps clean a sub-area within a room, like kitchen floors or living room.
Narwal says that the Freo robot vacuum has 3000 Pascals of suction, but not all brands use this metric, so I opted to utilize another metric – airflow.
I used an anemometer to measure air turbulence at the brush roll multiplied by 0.026099 to get the final numbers, and here are the results for the Narwal Freo.
- Quiet: 4.78 CFM
- Normal: 6.49 CFM
- Strong: 7.91 CFM
- Super Powerful Suction: 12.75 CFM
Unfortunately, this robot doesn’t have much airflow in the lower settings, not even breaching 10 CFM, but much better at the highest setting at close to 13 CFM.
Despite the subpar figures, the Narwal Freo was decent in the cleaning experiments (more below), getting above-average results in nearly all the tests.
Since it uses LIDAR, this robot will navigate efficiently and start its run, cleaning the edges before the middle areas in a back-and-forth pattern.
It was proficient even in tight quarters and didn’t get lost or wedge between chair legs.
The app provides an option to consumers for a three-pass run (mopping or vacuuming), which adds thoroughness.
It also excelled in the coverage test, where it completed a two-pass around in around 19 minutes – one of the better scores among robot vacuums I’ve reviewed.
And it got most of the debris out after the first pass, which is impressive for a low airflow robot vacuum.
- Overall: 89.41%
- Hard floor: 97.85%
- Sand on hard floor: 99.5%
- Carpet: 96.55%
- Deep cleaning: 63.75%
Despite the low airflow, the Narwal Freo was above-average in most cleaning tests, except for deep cleaning carpets.
It picked up in the high 90s, even on low and mid-pile carpets – an improvement over the T10 that didn’t have a brush roll.
The combo brush addition is a influential factor why the Freo got high scores.
Hard Floor Results
- Quaker Oats: 100%
- Coffee Grounds: 99.4%
- Quinoa: 96.6%
- Pet Litter: 95.4%
This robot did its best on hard floors picking up an average of 97.85% on this surface.
It picked up various debris types well, leaving minimal remnants, and made clean passes.
Also, the brush roll provides a wider cleaning area, making vacuuming dirt per pass more efficient.
The twin side brushes also help with funneling dirt toward the brush roll.
Sand on Hard Floor
Another aspect the Narwal Freo excelled at was vacuuming sand on this surface.
It picked up a surprisingly excellent score of 99.5% on two tests and got nearly everything after the first pass.
Cleaning sand is something most low airflow robot vacuums struggle with unless it has a good brush roll design, which the Freo possesses.
Thanks to the two side brushes, the Narwal Freo was excellent at vacuuming this area, picking up almost everything.
It left a few trace remnants of coffee grounds, but it was minimal since I scattered a lot.
I tested the Narwal Freo on five and seven-inch hair, and here are the results.
- 5-inch strands: 100%
- 7-inch strands: 43%
It was excellent at cleaning short five-inch hair, picking up a perfect 100%. Here’s how much it picked up.
However, it was subpar in the seven-inch experiment, only picking up 43% – not a high score but (somewhat) decent for a low airflow robot vacuum.
One downside with a combo brush is hair wrapping tightly on the roller.
Next, we’ll examine the results on carpets, where I tested it on low and mid-pile. Again, the results were above-average, and much better than the T10
- Quaker Oats: 94.4%
- Coffee Grounds: 94%
- Quinoa: 100%
- Pet Litter: 99.2%
The Narwal Freo struggled most at cleaning powdery coffee grounds and quaker oats, picking up 94%, but was excellent at vacuuming quinoa and pet litter.
These scores are impressive given the Freo’s low airflow output, and (again) one significant factor is the combo brush, providing high-end agitation.
- Quaker Oats: 96%
- Coffee Grounds: 91.4%
- Quinoa: 100%
- Pet Litter: 97.4%
The results on mid-pile are also above average (for a low airflow robot).
Again, it struggles most with satisfactory coffee grounds, only picking up 91%, a symptom of the low airflow output.
Consumers must turn on the carpet boost on this surface to get the best results.
One downside to the low airflow is the subpar deep cleaning performance.
The Narwal Freo only picked up an average of 63.75% in two tests – not great, but still decent for a low-powered robot vacuum.
Like what I do with all robot mops, I tested the Narwal Freo on red wine and juice stains, and here are the before and after photos.
It efficiently removed even tough-to-mop juice stains, getting most of it out after the first pass.
Another experiment I did was on liquid spills and sprinkled coffee grounds to mimic the experiments shown in Narwal advertorials.
The results were impressive – it got (nearly) everything out.
Unfortunately, that’s only half the story. After flipping the robot, it was messy underneath.
First, juice and coffee grounds fragments were on the robot’s underbelly.
This much gunk accumulated on the brush roll guard.
And vacuum inlet.
The good news is that the pad washing feature is superb compared to the older T10. Here’s a close look at the two pads after several mopping cycles.
Yes, that’s with the messy coffee grounds and grape juice.
It’s whiter than the T10, proving the new agitating element and pad-washing in-between passes are effective.
One plus of having low airflow is the low noise output, which was the case for the Narwal Freo.
- Quiet: 57.6 dB
- Normal: 58.7 dB
- Strong: 59.1 dB
- Super Powerful Suction: 66 dB
It was (really) quiet in the three lower settings, not even breaching 60 decibels, and much louder in the max setting at 66 decibels.
These results align with the airflow results since the Freo was below 8 CFM in the lower settings and over 12 at the max.
Despite Narwal’s claim, maintenance for this robot vacuum isn’t hands-free. Consumers will need to periodically check different components and clean them. I’ll enumerate these below.
- Primary brush roll: Clean this part weekly to remove any grime, hair, or dust accumulation on the roller or axles.
- Side brush: Pop off the two side brushes to clean any hair on the base or gunk buildup on the bristled tips.
- Dustbin: Since this robot doesn’t have a self-emptying feature, empty it after every run to prevent dust mites from breeding.
- Pads: Check the pads monthly to see their grime level. Wash if there’s too much accumulation.
- Water tanks: Empty the dirt water tank once it reaches full capacity. The app will notify you when it happens.
- Tray inside the base station: Slide out the primary white tray monthly and rinse off excess debris residue and grime build-up to prevent odor.
- Brush guard: Check and clean if needed monthly. Do it weekly if you actively mop spills or stains.
- Vacuum inlet: Similar to the brush guard, check monthly for any buildup and weekly if there’s frequent mopping.
One tip I’d give potential owners is to avoid using the vacuum/mop hybrid to minimize gunk buildup on the brush guard or vacuum inlet.
Cleaning these components take time and can be messy.
|5200 mAh Li-ion
|Up to 180 mins.
|Dirt Capacity (dry)
|Auto empty capacity
|Clean water tank
|Dirty water tank
|Recharge and Resume
Consumers can purchase this self-washing robot mop in online stores like Amazon. Check the link below for the latest pricing information.
- Narwal Freo on Amazon
Disclaimer: I will earn a commission if you purchase from the link above, but at no extra cost, so it’s a win-win for us!
One potential roadblock for consumers in purchasing this self-washing robot vacuum/mop hybrid is the high cost since it doesn’t have a self-emptying feature.
So is it worth the high price?
It depends on your preferences. If mopping is a high priority and you’re considering getting the automated water refilling add-on, then you’ll have to consider this option.
This is the first robot with this technology that I’ve reviewed.
And while it doesn’t have an auto-empty feature, I like the dustbin design because it’s light and narrow enough to fit in a small-diameter trash bin, so emptying it will be quick.
However, some folks may not want to spend time doing this chore, so it’s a preference thing.
Reasons to Purchase the Narwal Freo
- Efficient mopping: The two triangular discs are excellent at removing stains, even hard-to-clean ones like juice.
- Improved vacuuming: Narwal added a combo brush, improving its performance immensely over the T10.
- Better pad-washing: The ribbed tray component has more surface area and cleans the pads better than the T10.
- Proficient navigation: It uses LIDAR (plus other sensors) and completes a two-pass run in around 19 minutes (coverage test).
- Large water tanks: The bigger containers require less refilling or disposal than other brands since it nearly doubles the capacity.
After spending the past week testing the Narwal Freo, it exceeded my expectations.
Yes, it still doesn’t have a self-emptying feature, but Narwal’s upgrades in the robot, software, and algorithm paid dividends, as the Freo is a much better product than the T10.
Its vacuuming performance is the most significant improvement, making this model a viable alternative to other, more expensive self-washing robot vacuum/mop hybrids without an auto-empty feature.