Dreame L20 Ultra robot vacuum review

Dreame L20 Ultra review: king of the robot vac pack

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Robot vacuums have come a long way since the first commercially successful models appeared around 2005. In just about every way, they’re better at cleaning and mopping, and there are now quite a few models in Australia to choose from. And with Dreame, another brand officially appearing on our shores, it’s fair to wonder if its L20 Ultra robot vac brings anything different to the table than what’s already available.

Dreame L20 Ultra review

Dreame is a Chinese company founded in 2017. It designs and manufactures a range of smart home appliances including cordless vacuums, wet and dry vacs, hair dryers and straighteners, although only its robot vacs are available in Australia. Dreame’s founder and CEO, Yu Hao, has a background in aerospace and believes that technology is key to creating high-quality products. The company invests heavily in R&D, with 4,090 patents held, and sells in 120 countries and regions, with five million users worldwide.

Part of the Dreamebot range, the Dreame L20 Ultra is the brand’s flagship robot vacuum. Like Ecovacs’s range-topping X2 Omni ($2,499) and Roborock’s S8 Pro Ultra ($2,699), the L20 Ultra features both vacuuming and mopping, along with an automatic, self-cleaning dock. It’s priced similarly at $2,799, however, bear in mind that you should be able to buy these models for less during the sales. At this price point, and like the others, the L20 Ultra is intended to help you “forget” about vacuuming and mopping, by taking care of everything. I have been using the L20 Ultra around the house for the past few weeks to see if it can do just that.

Dreame L20 Ultra specifications

Dreame L20 Ultra robot vacuumDetail
Price$2,799
Official websiteDreame Australia
WarrantyThree years
Product Dimensions350 x 350 x 103.8mm
Weight4.3kg
Battery Capacity6,400mAh
Dust Box Volume350mL
Water Tank Volume80mL
Maximum Suction7,000Pa
Threshold Crossing2cm
Lowest Noise63dB(A)
Smart home assistantsAlexa, Siri, and Google Assistant
L20 Ultra auto-cleaning base stationDetail
Product Dimensions606.5 x 426 x 499mm
Weight13.3kg
Dust Bag Volume3.2L
Clean Water Tank4.5L
Maximum Runtime – Vac or Mopping260 mins (Vacuuming or Mopping in Quiet Mode)
Maximum Runtime – Vac and Mopping180 mins (Vacuuming and Mopping in Quiet Mode)

The L20 Ultra can both mop and clean, and its auto-emptying, auto-cleaning dock takes care of the rest. This holds 4.5-litre clean and dirty water tanks, and a 3.2-litre dust bag. It’s also capable of cleaning, drying and even removing the mop heads. There’s also a “Water Hookup” kit for plumbing water to and from the dock, but this isn’t available in Australia yet.

Robot vacuum dock for DreameBot L20 Ultra
The dock is quite high but I managed to fit it beneath my desk. You can also see the detachable mop brushes left behind while the robot is out vacuuming.

While you could buy a robot vac with just a simple charging dock for a lot less money, according to Dreame, the dock will give you around 75 days of blissful hands-off use before you need to tend to the tanks and dust bag. Without a dock, you’ll probably need to empty your robot vac’s onboard dust and water reservoirs every two or three uses.

Key features

And when it comes to cleaning, the L20 Ultra has some standout technology. First, it uses a high-speed motor to create 7000Pa of suction. This is quite high, only topped by the Ecovacs X2 Omni, which has 8000Pa. Meanwhile, the Roborock’s S8 Pro Ultra, the oldest of the trio, has 6000Pa of suction. There’s a spinning rubber brush to tackle most of the dirt, dust, fur and hair, and this can raise and lower for different carpet piles. There’s also an adjacent spinning sweeper attachment with bristles that extend outwards to reach edges and corners.

The L20 Ultra is a more serious mopper than many robot vacs. This is thanks to a pair of rotating mop heads rather than the conventional ‘vibrating mop pad’ found on many other models. Called “DuoScrub”, the brushes rotate quickly and silently, applying pressure on the floor to actually ‘scrub’ it rather than just wipe it down. The auto-dispensing floor detergent adds confidence that the floor is actually clean, and this gets topped up from a reservoir in the dock. 

Another clever feature is that the brushes will retract by 10.5mm to prevent dampening low pile carpets as the vac travels over it. However, even smarter, is the ability to automatically detach the mop brushes, leaving them behind in the dock. This enables the L20 Ultra to traverse or vacuum medium and high pile carpets, which otherwise would get caught up by the mop brushes.

And thankfully, you don’t need to worry about cleaning or even drying the mop brushes. This is completely taken care of by the dock, with a self-cleaning, hot-air drying mechanism. Otherwise, the mops would get mouldy and start to smell. There’s even a feature to automatically flush out and drain the mop cleaning area when it gets dirty, reducing your maintenance.

Floor cleaning smarts

When it comes to mopping, my favourite innovation is the L20 Ultra’s edge cleaning ability. Called “MopExtend”, one of the rotating mop heads is fixed on a little robotic arm that can extend outwards up to 4cm to run along the edge of a wall. When not needed, it retracts, and this helps keep the vac’s footprint small too. This is pretty unique and the only other vac that has an extendible edge brush is the Dyson 360 Vis Nav but this isn’t for mopping.

In terms of navigating around your home and avoiding obstacles, the L20 Ultra has a load of sensors: there’s LiDAR – called the Laser Distance Sensor – an AI visual sensor, a laser sensor, cliff sensors, and a camera. Then there are a pair of LED fill lights that turn on to illuminate darker areas.

The sensor data gathers information to support a variety of functions. There’s an AI-based obstacle avoidance system that can recognise up to 52 objects and plot them on your map. Speaking of which, there’s automatic 3D mapping of your home, which you can edit via the Dreame app to place virtual boundaries, no-go areas, and label different rooms, etc.

The sensors also help with the L20 Ultra’s “Intelligent Dirt Detection”, which essentially regulates how hard the vac works, and how much cleaning gets applied to areas of your home depending on how dirty they tend to be. This means that the vac will learn what areas are most dirty and clean them more often. It will, for example, mop an area twice if it needs it, or reduce suction on surfaces that are cleaner. This means less battery drain, less water used and a faster cleaning process overall.

Setting up

The L20 Ultra is similar to most robot vacs that I’ve set up. You attach the sweeper brush and rotating mop brushes to the vac, download the app, and then follow the instructions to connect it to your home’s Wi-Fi. The dock is relatively high at about 61cm compared to about half that for the Roborock S8 Pro Ultra’s dock, so if you plan to put it under a desk like I did, this is worth considering. However, the advantage of a higher dock is more space for larger water and dust containers, meaning less frequent emptying and refilling. There’s also a spot where you can add cleaning fluid. Otherwise, all you need to do is fill up the clean water tank, empty the dirty water tank, insert the cleaning fluid bottle and attach the dust bag to get started.

On its first run, the L20 Ultra will map your house and create a virtual map that you can view and edit. You can add virtual barriers, and add, merge and rename rooms that it identifies. It did a reasonably good job of mapping my apartment, however, the LiDAR system sees through windows so my balcony and shower areas were included as spaces to clean. Adding a simple virtual barrier set things straight. I also needed to define the boundaries between my wood-floored kitchen and carpeted dining room, which the system thought was all the same space.

In general, the Dreamehome app is quite easy to use. Apart from the map, you can choose and configure your cleaning routine, choose rooms to clean and schedule cleaning intervals. There are a plethora of other settings, or if you don’t want to use the app, there are direct buttons on the L20 Ultra’s top for starting a clean, returning to home and spot cleaning. There are also buttons on the top of the dock to send the robot in or out of the dock, starting the cleaning routine or drying the mop brushes.

Operating and cleaning

When it comes to cleaning, there are different modes including the ‘CleanGenius’ which is an automatic mode that vacuums and mops at the same time and generally figures everything out for you to maximise performance and cleaning. There’s a setting for an automatic ‘Deep Cleaning’ too. Then there’s a Custom mode where you can select suction strength, cleaning cycles, mop water flow, choose by room, or perform a spot cleaning. There are home screen presets too so you can set the vac to clean just the kitchen and eating areas, for example, at the touch of a button.

For my very first use, I chose the Custom mode and set it to “Mop after Vac” for a thorough cleaning. This means one pass strictly for vacuuming, and another for mopping the hard surface areas like my wood-floored kitchen and tiled bathroom. The rest of my apartment has low-pile carpet and there’s a medium pile rug.

The Dreame L20 Ultra can also do vacuuming and mopping in a single pass, which is more efficient, but I wanted to see what it would do when separating the two. As such, the L20 Ultra started by leaving its mop brushes in the dock for the vacuuming phase, and then returned to the home base to collect the brushes after the vacuuming was completed.

While it accomplished its tasks, some of the paths it decided to take after the vacuuming mode were a little curious. For example, it seemed to want to explore some of the carpeted areas with the mop brushes attached. It travelled beneath the dining room table and behind my exercise bike, took a look around, thought better of it and moved to the kitchen and started mopping. Perhaps the AI hadn’t thoroughly figured out which surfaces were which during its initial mopping phase. Not a huge problem, as the L20 still mopped my kitchen floor and the two tiled bathrooms, but it did quite a bit of exploring first. It’s good to see that the problem didn’t persist in the CleanGenius cleaning mode.

In terms of how well it cleaned, the L20 Ultra, like any robot vacuum is more of a maintenance cleaner, in my opinion, than a heavy-duty cleaner. So, for example, you might need to get out your regular vac for a large ‘bag of oats’ type spill, or down on your hands and knees to scrub a really stubborn dried-on stain. But once done, the L20 Ultra will keep your floors tidy and mopped without any fuss. I was happy to see that it picked up hairs and fur, dust and crumbs and other small-diameter items dropped on the carpet and hard floors. The mop was probably the most impressive and you could really see that it was working on even dried-up splotches in the kitchen.

I tried out the obstacle avoidance by dropping things like shoes and tissue boxes in front of the L20 Ultra’s path. As it had traversed the area before with no objects, these were new items that it needed to dynamically avoid, which it did without making contact. Occasionally it would still rely on its physical bumpers, such as on very thin chair legs, after which it would just plot a course around it. There’s also a pair of LEDs to illuminate darker areas, so it can use light-dependent sensors such as its cameras at night.

It’s also worth pointing out that the mop heads can raise 10.5mm to get over low-pile carpets and rugs. Anything higher and it will go and detach the mop heads in the dock. The vac can manage floor divisions up to 2cm in height, so it can get over most borders between, say, a carpeted area and a tiled bathroom.

The intelligent dirt detection feature is interesting too. It shows on the map where dirty areas are, so it can then plan a cleaning route where it spends extra time (and energy) on these places. There’s even a feature to increase suction for large particles, such as cereal. Neat.

The L20 Ultra is rated to clean homes up to 300 square meters. This means it will clean, return to the dock to charge, and go out and clean again if it can’t do it all on one charge. There’s a 6400mAh battery, which is quite large and seems to get the job done in my two-bedroom apartment. For larger homes, it may need to top-up part way through.

Security patrol

For added security, you can use the Dreame app and the onboard camera to see what the L20 Ultra sees, so you can keep an eye on pets, and even engage in two-way communication via a built-in speaker and microphone.

View from robot vac onboard camera
A view from the L20 Ultra’s onboard camera.

There’s a Cruise mode that sends the vac to a spot you pick on the map and it will take pics of its surroundings and report back. You can also mark a point on the map and send the robot there, then look around via its camera. For the privacy minded, while in operation a voice prompt will say that the camera is active every 3 minutes, and there’s a PIN code to access the camera view.

Who is the Dreame L20 Ultra for?

It’s fair to say that the Dreame L20 Ultra is one of the most advanced robot vacuum cleaners available. It has all the technology you’d expect, a dock that takes nearly all the maintenance out of using a robot vac, and some clever features like the removable rotating mop heads and extending robot arm for cleaning edges. It’s versatile too, with the ability to drop off its mop heads giving it clearance for mid and high-pile carpets, and the rotating brush and mop heads can raise 10.5mm.

Dreame L20 Ultra Robot Vacuum and Mop Cleaner with Auto Mop Cleaning and Drying, Self-Refilling and Self-Emptying Base Station
  • Our most advanced and powerful suction system yet: the powerful Vormax suction system provides a suction power of 7000 Pa* for excellent cleaning results, and the liftable rubber brush ensures that hair is detangled and therefore easier to remove.
  • Thorough cleaning of edge areas: The innovative MopExtend unit automatically increases the range of the mops, so that even areas that Dreame L20 Ultra robot vacuum cleaner with wiping function suction station can usually be difficult to clean.
  • Fully automatic base station: Automate your daily cleaning and find freshly cleaned floors at home. Thanks to the automatic emptying, mop cleaning and drying, filling the water tank, adding cleaning solutions and much more, your L20 Ultra vacuum and mop robot always stays in top shape.

Yes, there’s some excellent competition out there, with the likes of Roborock, Ecovacs and Dyson, however, the Dyson doesn’t mop, but otherwise, each has their advantages. The Roborock has a more compact base station, the Dyson has the most powerful suction and an extendable edge cleaner, and the Ecovacs is a great all-around package. I really liked the DreameBot L20 Ultra, however, and it does a very decent job keeping my floors vacuumed and its mopping system is the best I’ve used. It’s easy to operate and the large dock means that I can forget about vacuuming and mopping it for a very, very long time, which is exactly what I want.

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Dreame L20 Ultra
This is probably the most feature rich and advanced robot vacuum currently available in Australia that tackles both mopping and vacuuming, along with an auto-cleaning dock.
Performance
9.5
Features
9.5
Ease of use
9
Design
8.5
Value for money
8
Positives
Great mopping right to the edges thanks to the rotating brushes, clever robotic arm that extends the mop head and auto-dispensing cleaning fluid.
Detachable mop head means it can navigate many floor types including mid and high-pile carpet.
Automatic dust and water emptying dock with auto-cleaning and mop drying functions.
Up to 75 days before needing to empty out the dirty water and dust reservoirs.
Advanced tech and obstacle avoidance, plus the ability to detect how dirty an area is.
Negatives
Priced at the top end of the range, to coincide with its many features but may be too expensive for some.
Some confusion with path-planning around the house that resulted in less direct routes to mopping areas.
The auto-emptying dock is quite high, and even higher with the lid open, so may not fit beneath some objects such as desks.
8.9