Before the flood of auto-empty robot vacuums, purchasing a self-emptying option will entail spending over $800.
Shark changed this when they introduced the IQ IR101, one of the early sub-$600 “budget” options.
When it was launched in 2019, it was the least expensive auto-empty option and still is one of the cheaper alternatives.
Unlike most bagged system options, the Shark IQ is bagless and does away with the bag.
Pioneer of the Budget Auto-Empty Robot Vacuums
Shark IQ Auto Empty Robot Review
Shark is an innovator in the vacuum industry, and the IQ is no exception. It’s the first budget auto-empty robot vacuum option, offering consumers a cheaper alternative that empties itself. Another innovation is the single-armed side brush that rotates at a slow pace. Shark’s combo brush utilizes its patented self-cleaning brush roll, the same one found in the Vertex series. Lastly, it has a bagged system, the only option with such that I’ve tested so far.
- Excellent surface debris pick up
- Slow spinning side brush doesn’t scatter as much
- Resists tangles well from shorter hair strands
- Smaller auto empty dock footprint
- Efficient navigation
- Self-cleaning brush roll won’t do well with long hair strands
- It only has a single pass run, so it lacks thoroughness
- Lacks an invisible wall feature or containment zones
Introduction to the Shark IQ RV101AE Auto Empty
Search for an auto-empty robot vacuum in Amazon right now; you’ll see a glut of options priced between $400 and $700.
But before those options came out, Shark IQ was the first brand to challenge Roomba in this category.
It’s the first option priced below $600, one of its primary selling points.
Nonetheless, this variant has more than that. It’s got some innovative features not seen in other brands, which we’ll look at below.
Related: Learn how the Shark IQ is similar and different from another similarly priced self-emptying robot vacuum, the Roomba I3+ in this comparison.
Dual, Single-Prong Side Brush
Unlike other brands that use multi-pronged side brushes, Shark’s version only has one.
Another is the slower than usual rotation, which reduces its tendency to scatter debris to a larger radius – an issue with most other options utilizing a fast-spinning side brush.
But the slower rotation does have its drawbacks, one of which is the edge cleaning, where the Shark IQ did poorly.
Tangle-Free Combo Brush
Another innovation by Shark is the tangle-free combo brush, or so it was coined.
It’s a similar design to other Shark products like the Vertex Cordless with the fins and bristle combo all around the brush.
On top of it are combs (connected to the dustbin) for untangling hair strands.
Shark says its design is tangle-free, and to some extent, it did what it’s supposed to do.
Next, we’ll look at Shark’s self-empty base. It’s unique because it’s the only one I’ve tested with a bagless system, which has its pros and cons.
One positive is that you don’t need to purchase bags, so it’s a money saver.
But the lack of it means you’re exposed to dust and allergens when emptying it. There’s also that risk of making a mess while disposing of dirt.
Shark says it can hold up to 30 days worth of debris (1.85-liter capacity to be exact), but care must be taken when emptying it since some dirt might leak on this area.
It has a vertical port that connects behind the robot’s dustbin that empties it after every run.
The self-empty base does an excellent job emptying debris, getting most of it, but it misses this spot on the filter area that connects to the anti-tangle comb.
Since it utilizes a bagless system, it needs a filter, and there are two on the opposite side of the dustbin. A transparent strip in front lets consumers know if it’s full.
One is a washable foam filter and a HEPA that you’ll need to replace once a year.
Having a vertical port means it’s usable on hard floors as is, but Shark recommends using the SharkMat accessory for carpet use to minimize alignment issues with the connecting ports.
Dustbin design and capacity
With the auto-empty dock, dustbin capacity isn’t as important. But for your information, it can hold up to 0.17 quarts of dirt.
It’s rear mountable but facing towards the self-empty dock, so you’ll have to move the robot away from the base station to detach it.
I like the wide opening, making it easy to empty. There are combs in front that help untangle hair from the brush.
Behind it is the port, connecting to the dock where debris flows when the self-empty station engages.
A high-efficiency filter sits on top, and there’s a thin mesh filter, protecting the primary filter from direct exposure to allergens.
Another barrier that holds the combs block partially protects the high-efficiency filter from fine dust.
Unfortunately, there is an area where debris accumulates, and the auto-empty dock won’t suck out. You’ll need to clean this area at least once a month.
This robot doesn’t have a full bin sensor. However, there’s a feature within the app called evacuate and resume, where the robot will return to the dustbin after thirty minutes to empty the dustbin and continue afterward.
The Shark IQ comes with a magnetic tape strip for blocking off-limit areas. With the advent of invisible wall available in apps, this method of blocking has become archaic.
Fortunately, the SharkClean app has the no-go zones feature for blocking square or rectangular zones.
But it still lacks the invisible wall feature, so you can’t block diagonal zones in the map.
Different Shark IQ variants
There are two main variants in the IQ series – the RV101 (what I’m testing here) and RV100.
Both variants use the same robot unit, but the RV101 has a larger auto-empty capacity of 30 days versus the RV100’s volume of 15 days.
This robot is compatible with the SharkClean app that you can download from your favorite app store.
Realize that it’s only compatible with 2.4G networks and not 5G, and a WIFI connection is needed to connect.
I’ll quickly go through the app’s features in this section, at least the most useful ones.
1. Map saving
With SLAM, camera sensor, and optical sensor, consumers will be able to save up to one map level.
The lack of provision for multiple maps is a disappointment, but hopefully, Shark will improve upon this in future updates.
Since this robot uses a camera sensor, it’s imperative to keep the area well-lit, remove all obstacles, and keep doors open to draw the map in as few runs as possible.
Depending on your home’s layout, it may take more than a run. It took only a run to complete the map creation in my small home.
It may take more than one for those who have larger homes, contingent on the size and layout complexity.
Since it relies on a floor sensor to determine the walls, the map you’ll see may not be the exact representation of your home’s actual layout.
Any obstacle (chairs, bags, etc.) will hinder the robot from going to the edges, thus altering the boundaries on the map.
It’s not as precise as a LIDAR-based robot, so keep expectations in check.
2. Edit Map
You can customize the map by adding rooms and no-go zones. Unlike the iRobot app that only allows for partitions, the Shark Clean app lets you draw boxes to specify areas.
Once you release, the app automatically wraps the box around the area. You can then name the area, but custom names aren’t available, but only a list.
Another icon on the bottom right is “zones.” It enables users to add containment boxes, blocking the robot from entering these areas, eliminating the need to use a physical obstacle.
These are containment boxes that prevent the robot from entering it. This feature is similar to Roborock’s no-go zones or no-entry zones.
4. No live map
5. Evacuate and Resume
One unique feature of the Shark Clean app is this one – the evacuate and resume. It’s different from “recharge and resume” in that it docks after a fixed timeframe (30 minutes), empties the robot’s dustbin, and continues cleaning where it left off.
This feature is helpful if you need to clean a sizeable, filthy area without risking dustbin overfills.
6. Recharge and Resume
It’s a standard feature in all smart robot vacuums. Recharge and resume tell the robot to resume cleaning afterward after recharging if it didn’t finish the task previously.
Shark provides users the option to turn this feature on or off. They recommend turning it on for homes larger than 1800 square feet.
7. Extended Clean
By default, the Shark IQ will go around the area once. Extended cleaning adds some thoroughness by using the remaining run time to clean targeted areas continuously.
I’m not sure what targeted areas mean, but there wasn’t much difference between the extended run and the default cycle when I tried it.
The SharkClean app also has a scheduling feature for automating runs.
And with the IQ’s auto empty dock makes it even more practical since you’ll don’t have to empty the robot’s dustbin manually.
Shark’s version adds a wrinkle, letting users choose scheduled runs in the morning, afternoon, OR evening.
Unfortunately, it’s not possible to schedule multiple runs per day.
I hope Shark updates this limitation and allows for multiple runs to take full advantage of the self-emptying feature.
Some notifications pop out at the app’s bottom part to remind users to empty the dustbin, create no-go zones, or add scheduled cleaning.
Shows users a history of previous cleaning cycles with the corresponding time and area size. It’s simply a log like a car odometer that shows how much mileage you’ve put in it.
How does the Shark IQ navigate?
The Shark IQ’s navigation is similar to the Roomba (I and Series) and Yeedi Vac Station.
It utilizes a top-mounted camera, bumper sensors gyroscopes, and floor sensors tracking location and obstacle avoidance.
Since it relies primarily on a camera, illumination is essential, especially for the mapping stage where the robot draws the map.
Don’t expect it to draw the layout successfully on a poorly lit area.
It moves in straight lines, but it lacks the dynamic movement found in other brands as it moves in the direction of the base station.
However, it has smart navigation, meaning it remembers its location and has recharge and resume.
I scatter debris in a small room to test how much the robot picks up to check the robot’s efficiency.
The Shark IQ is fairly efficient, taking around 18 minutes to complete the run in a 31 square meter area.
But it didn’t pick up all the quaker oats scattered and left remnants. It wasn’t as bad as a Roomba I6 or I3 with the slower rotating side brushes.
However, the downside to it is it didn’t pick up well along the edges. You could see debris in these areas, so you’ll need to vacuum these areas manually.
How much power does the Shark IQ have?
Shark doesn’t specify suction figures with their products, so I use an anemometer that tests airflow.
- Eco: 14.87 CFM
- Normal: 14.87 CFM
- Max: 18.87 CFM
The IQ ranges between 14.87 and 18.87 CFM in its three power settings. Strangely, the Eco and Normal setting airflow are similar, so it basically has two modes.
- Overall: 91.84%
- Hard floor: 98.25%
- Sand on hard floor: 97.3%
- Carpet: 96.82%
- Deep cleaning: 75%
Hard floor results
- Quaker oats: 98%
- Coffee grounds: 97.2%
- Quinoa: 98.2%
- Pet litter: 99.6%
Sand on hard floor
Pick up on sand is decent on hard floors. It wasn’t in
I liked that it picked up most of it after the first forward pass. The slow rotating side brush didn’t scatter much, unlike entry-level Roomba options like the E5 and 675.
One downside with the slow rotating side brush is its below-average results at cleaning edges.
It left a good chunk and was not optimal for cleaning this area. You’ll still need to use a stick vacuum for tidying up these zones.
Shark utilizes a similar designed, zero tangle brush roll as its Vertex cordless, but one difference is the IQ uses softer bristles.
It has these combs underneath that helps untangle hair wraps. Unfortunately, the results don’t mirror the Vertex.
This much hair \on the brush after the five-inch test.
Most of it went inside the dustbin.
It didn’t do as well with longer seven-inch hair.
While it did well resisting tangles from five-inch strands, it did poorly with seven-inch hair.
- 5-inch: 99% inside dustbin; 1% on the brush
- 7-inch: 36% inside dustbin; 64% on the brush
I did the seven-inch experiment twice, and on both occasions, it fired an obstruction error code, which means something’s blocking the brush roll – that is, hair.
Yes, the tangle-free brushes.
But a notch below airflow monsters like the Roborock S4 Max,
I put it through tests on several debris types like quaker oats, coffee grounds, quinoa, pet litter, and sand on both low and mid pile carpet.
- Quaker oats: 95.8%
- Coffee grounds: 92.4%
- Quinoa: 98.8%
- Pet litter: 98.2%
The Shark IQ’s lack of stiff bristles somewhat hampers agitation on carpet, and it shows in the low pile results, where it did worst at cleaning coffee grounds.
Otherwise, it was decent with other debris types, doing the best at cleaning quinoa and pet litter. The high score on pet litter is surprising since it’s one of the tougher debris to clean.
- Quaker oats: 96.6%
- Coffee grounds: 96.2%
- Quinoa: 99.2%
- Pet litter: 97.4%
Surprisingly, the Shark IQ had higher averages after the mid-pile test at 97.35%. It was better across the board with all debris.
This highlights this robot’s lack of thoroughness as it only goes around once by default. I had to run it twice, which is my standard test for all robot vacuums in the cleaning test.
Deep cleaning test
The lack of a stiff bristle hampers the Shark IQ deep cleaning performance. I did two tests on 100 grams of sand on mid-pile carpet, and it picked up an average of 75%.
Not bad, but it’s about the same average as other robot vacuums in its price range.
How noisy is the Shark IQ?
Despite the above-average airflow, Shark was able to keep noise levels down.
- Eco: 62.3 dB
- Normal: 62.4 dB
- Max: 64.8 dB
Not breaching 65 decibels is impressive since I’ve tested other brands with less airflow that produce more noise.
How long will the Shark IQ run?
This robot will run for up to 60 minutes with a recharge time of up to 6 hours.
But with recharge and resume, run time shouldn’t be deciding factor unless you live inside a huge mansion since it will continue cleaning after recharging.
Add the smart navigation, and this robot will cover a lot of ground without getting lost.
What comes in the box?
- Shark IQ robot
- Two side brushes (no extra)
- Self-emptying dock (plug is built-in)
- Magnet tape
- Manual and quick start guide
Shark is one of the more popular robot vacuum options outside Roomba, meaning parts supply will be abundant.
You can purchase these components, not just from Shark but also from third-party brands.
Long-term ownership shouldn’t be an issue with Shark’s modular design.
Robot vacuums need a certain level of TLC to keep them functioning at their peak. I’ll show you in this section components that need cleaning or replacing. Keeping these components clean will reduce friction, thus minimizing wear and tear, so your robot will last longer.
- Main brush roll: The primary brush is the most abused component in a robot vacuum. Its function is to pick up debris, so dust and hair will accumulate. Check it once a week and remove any hair wrapping on the roller or axles.
- Side brush: Its single-pronged design and slower rotation reduce hair tangles on it significantly, but it still tangles up on the base. Pop it off the base (once a week) to remove any hair wrap.
- Dustbin and filter: Despite having the self-empty dock, you’ll need to clean the robot’s dustbin because dirt will accumulate on a crevice behind the anti-hair tangle comb. You can use a flat brush to dislodge dirt. Don’t forget to check the filter that slides out. Tap it on a solid surface to dislodge debris. It’s a little trick I do to extend its service life.
- Self-Empty Dock: Make sure to keep the vertical port in front free from any obstructions. Empty the dustbin after 45 days or if it’s full. Clean the foam filter once a month or if it’s dirty, and replace the HEPA filter underneath once a year.
- Sensors: The Shark IQ robot has many sensors around it and underneath. Use a dry microfiber towel to wipe the exterior and drop sensors underneath. Do the latter at least once a month to prevent error codes from firing.
|Model||Shark IQ RV101|
|Run time||Up to 60 mins.|
|Auto empty capacity||1.8 liters|
|Dirt Capacity (dry)||0.15 quarts|
|Recharge and Resume||Yes|
Where can I buy the Shark IQ?
You can buy this robot from online stores like Amazon. Check the links below for more information.
Disclaimer: I will earn a commission if you purchase through any of the links above, but at no extra cost to you, so it’s a win-win for us!
Is the Shark IQ worth it?
There’s a lot to like about the Shark IQ – smart navigation, decent surface debris cleaning, and the self-emptying feature.
Deep cleaning performance is also slightly below-average for a mid-priced smart robot vacuum.
The bagless self-empty base won’t be as sanitary for dirt disposal as a bagged system, but it saves money since there’s no need to purchase bags.
5 Reasons to buy the Shark IQ
- Efficient navigation: VSLAM (or visual SLAM) enables it to traverse even around tight areas efficiently. It won’t be as precise as LIDAR, but it’s a part with other brands that utilize a top-mounted camera.
- Self-emptying: The auto-empty dock empties the dustbin for you automatically after every run. So it’s one less task to worry about, plus it’s a time saver.
- Decent cleaning performance: The high airflow and combo brush provide decent cleaning performance even on mid-pile carpet.
- Small dock footprint: The Shark IQ self-emptying dock is the smallest and lightest I’ve tested so far. It’s got a handle, making it easy to move on different floor levels. Unfortunately, it only saves one map level.
- Not expensive: This variant is one of the least costly auto-empty alternatives available.
The Verdict: A Decent Budget Auto Empty Robot Vacuum Option
The Shark IQ is a decent budget option for homes with a mix of hard floor and low pile carpets.
I’m not a fan of the bagless self-empty dock since it’s prone to spills if you’re not careful. But not having a bag will entail savings since there’s no bag to replace.
It’s a compromise you’ll have to consider if you want to benefit from the cost savings.
Cleaning performance is decent, slightly a notch below the Roomba and Yeedi options I’ve tested previously, but decent for daily cleaning tasks.
Pioneer of the Budget Auto Empty Robot Vacuum
Navigation - 94%
Surface Cleaning - 97.46%
Deep Cleaning - 75%
Quality - 95%
Design - 96%
Value - 96%
Folks looking for a budget self-emptying robot vacuum should consider the Shark IQ RV101. It’s not the best performing, but it’s still decent for surface debris and cleaning embedded dirt on mid pile carpet. Navigation will be efficient with VSLAM, but it won’t be as efficient or as thorough as a Roborock, but it’s much cheaper than the Roborock S7. The SharkClean app could use some tweaks to improve, like additional maps and the option to control the number of passes.