Unfortunately, the Roborock Auto-Empty Dock is incompatible with any robot vacuum but the high-end Roborock S7. One would hope that future models make use of the same system, but Roborock is not making any promises at this moment. The dock is not what I would consider cheap (US$299.99 MSRP) and the robot vacuum itself costs a pretty penny, so make sure you are aware of what you are getting yourself in to when considering this purchase.
Different regions, different Roborock Auto-Empty Dock models
One oddity I discovered while researching the Roborock Auto-Empty Dock, was that there appear to be two versions with varying technologies. The model sold in the USA and possibly all of North America, uses a proprietary bag system, which will hold “up to 8 weeks of dust”. With this model, an owner will have running costs, besides electricity of course, because a new bag will need to be inserted every couple of months. I'm assuming the quoted eight weeks are a best-case scenario, and wouldn't be surprised if the ownership of pets reduces that number significantly.
The second and, in my opinion, better version, uses a bagless cyclone design. This is the same technology used in the vacuums invented by he, whose name we do not speak. This model appears to be reserved for the European and, according to a comment I found on YouTube (so take it with a grain of salt), Asian markets. The Korean Roborock website does display the cyclone model. As can be seen in this French review, they clearly have the cyclone model. The bottom part of the cyclone is coloured red and the acrylic glass surrounding it is clear, making it possible to see how full it is.
While Roborock obviously intends it to be used without a bag, you do still have to option of using one, giving you the best of both worlds. The cyclone container does only provide ¾ the capacity, presumably due to the cyclone taking up more space than a bag, you will however still get a reported six weeks of use out of it. Again, as the manufacturer provided this duration, I would expect it to be lower in real-world usage.
I can't say if this decision is due to regulations or if it is based on market researched performed by Roborock. What can be said is that non-US buyers are getting more for their money. The cyclone has the added benefit of being able to continue to work, even if Roborock were to stop producing the bags.
How the Roborock Auto-Empty Dock works
The Roborock Auto-Empty Dock works by sucking dust and debris in the Roborock S7's dustbin through an opening that houses the rotating brush. This partially explains their decision to give the brush more movement when compared to previous models. A new dustbin, which is included with the Auto-Empty Dock, is required and a small latch needs to opened on the inside of the robot vacuum, to allow air to pass through.
According to the YouTube channel Vacuum Wars, the Roborock Auto-Empty Dock does a stellar job. The only issue presented itself after giving the Roborock S7 an artificial and extreme situation to deal with. They didn't do any vacuuming for two weeks as their shedding cats roamed about their home. Following that, a lump of cat hair did get caught in the brush as the Auto-Empty Dock attempted to suck it out. But it has to be noted that this was an extreme test and under normal circumstances you wouldn't leave your Roborock S7 dormant for two weeks. They also noted that compared to other docks, the Roborock Auto-Empty Dock leaves the dustbin impeccably clean.
Other niceties about the Roborock Auto-Empty Dock
The Roborock app allows you to configure how long the Roborock Auto-Empty Dock's suction lasts. You do also have the option of having the dock decide on the duration itself, based on how long the Roborock S7 was in use. As the emptying process lasts a maximum of 30 seconds, I don't know why you would go for anything shorter. If you were to forget to replace the dock's dustbin after emptying it, a sensor will prevent it from spewing dust back in to the air.
All parts of the Roborock Auto-Empty Dock that need to be cleaned, can be cleaned, without needing any replacements. Both the front and rear filters are removable and reusable. If neatness is a concern of yours, you're in luck because the dock also has built-in cable management hooks.
Finally, the dock doesn't just empty the Roborock S7's dustbin, but also cleans its electrodes. This can get mucky in time, which will prevent it from being charged. This again removes maintenance you would otherwise have to perform every now and again.
About Liam Alexander Colman
Liam Alexander Colman is an experienced Home Assistant user who has been utilizing the platform for a variety of projects over an extended period. His journey began with a Raspberry Pi, which quickly grew to three Raspberry Pis and eventually a full-fledged server. Liam's current operating system of choice is Unraid, with Home Assistant comfortably running in a Docker container.With a deep understanding of the intricacies of Home Assistant, Liam has an impressive setup, consisting of various Zigbee devices, and seamless integrations with existing products such as his Android TV box. For those interested in learning more about Liam's experience with Home Assistant, he shares his insights on how he first started using the platform and his subsequent journey.