- Self-cleaning and drying
- You’ll still need a second vacuum
- Unhelpful instruction manual
- Cleaning solution hard to buy
The Ultenic AC1 is a brilliant combined vacuum and mop that’s jam-packed with useful features and great value. If you have lots of hard flooring at home, it’s well worth the investment.
Ultenic’s AC1 is a self-driven, cordless wet and dry vacuum with a long battery life, large separate clean and dirty water tanks, powerful suction and edge-to-edge cleaning.
It also has some impressive tech features: an LCD display, app compatibility and a voice assistant. In addition, when you dock it to charge, it’ll automatically clean and dry its roller brush.
But what is it like to use? Read on to find out.
Design and appearance
- Swappable battery
- 45 minute running time
- Large clean and dirty water tanks
The AC1 is shaped like an upright vacuum, but with a compact, modern look. It has a shiny white plastic body with orange accents and smoked transparent water tanks, a grey cleaning head and grey charging base. It feels sturdily built.
In the box, you’ll get the vacuum itself, the charging base which has an inbuilt UV light to clean the roller, a separate battery charging slot, the removable battery, a spare roller and washable HEPA filter, plus a cleaning brush (to clean inside the dirty water tank) and a bottle of cleaning fluid.
If you think you’ll use it for more that 45 minutes at a time, you could consider investing in a second battery. It’s much more reasonably priced than a spare battery for a cordless vacuum, and will set you back $59.99/£39.99 (Ultenic in the US; Amazon UK).
Ultenic says you should only use the cleaning solution provided, but once you’ve used up the 500ml bottle provided, adding a capful per full tank of water, I’m not sure what your options are as I couldn’t find it for sale anywhere.
In any case, as I have a mix of tile, vinyl and wood flooring and I’m careful about what products I use on the wood, I’ve been testing the AC1 using only water. The results have been impressive.
Once of the best things about the AC1 is that it’s an absolute doddle to use. If you tend to avoid high-tech labour-saving devices because learning how to use them seems like too much hard work, this is the product for you. There is absolutely nothing to learn – except the difference between the four cleaning modes, which is something we’ll return to.
Its ease of use starts as soon as you take it out of the box. To set it up, all you’ll need to do is attach the handle, roller and tanks and let it charge.
When it’s not in use, it needs to stand in the compact charging base, so you’ll need a dedicated 30cm x 33cm spot to store it next to a plug socket. It charges fully in under 4 hours, so it won’t need to be plugged in all the time – but you will need to plug in for its self-cleaning and drying programme to run after use.
Emma Rowley / Foundry
Once it’s charged, it’s ready for use. Fill its clean water tank and you’re away. The water tanks unclip and reattach easily, and with a satisfying click. The tanks are surprisingly large as well, with a 1 litre capacity each.
The dirty water tank also has a filter to separate debris and hair from dirty water, making emptying it a little less grim.
Emma Rowley / Foundry
- 4 cleaning modes
- Voice assistant
- Self-propelling drive
Once the vacuum is charged, it’s ready to use. The controls are straightforward. There’s a power switch by your thumb and behind that a second button that allows you to cycle between the four cleaning modes. There’s also a switch to turn on the self-cleaning cycle when it’s docked.
Smart mode uses a sensor to detect dirt and then chooses the appropriate suction and water level. Max mode will (as the name suggests) use the maximum volume of water and the most suction to handle tough spots and stubborn dirt. Then there’s the suction or water absorption mode, in which the appliance sucks up excess water.
There’s also a ‘disinfection mode’, where the AC1 asks you to wait a moment for the disinfectant to be made. But as no disinfectant is ever added to the machine, that can’t literally be the case. Elsewhere, however, it’s translated as ‘deep clean mode’, and I think this is a better description. From what I can work out, this mode adds air bubbles into the tank to make the detergent more effective.
The instruction manual is basic and not very well translated, so it’s no help on this point.
As soon as you lift the vacuum from the dock and switch it on, you’ll notice something else: the voice assistant. “Power on”, it says and from then on, it’ll give you a handy voice prompt at every turn. This is most useful when you’re toggling between cleaning modes, as it’s not always apparent from the symbol on the screen which mode you’re in.
Again, when you re-dock, you’ll be prompted to start the self-cleaning and drying mode. The cleaning part of this is noisy, but it only goes on for a minute.
Incidentally, if you don’t like the voice assistant, you can mute it.
The other thing you’ll notice as soon as you switch it on is that the AC1 is self-driven. That means that it propels itself forward. In the main, this makes it much easier to use as at 5kg/11lbs, it is pretty heavy. However, if you want to use it like a traditional vacuum, where you vacuum back and forth, you’ll need to pull against its forward momentum half the time.
It won’t be a problem for most people, but I wouldn’t recommend buying it for an elderly or infirm person in the hopes that it’ll make cleaning easier for them.
The LCD screen displays the remaining battery life percentage, cleaning mode, various other indicators and error messages. The battery life indicator is handy but to interpret some of the rest of the symbols, you’ll probably need to return to the manual.
Emma Rowley / Foundry
According to Ultenic, the AC1 runs for a maximum of 45 minutes in smart mode and 25 minutes in maximum mode. My apartment just isn’t large enough to test that, but those numbers are in line with the battery life needed to clean my bijou pad.
Its running time compares favourably to top-of-the-line cordless vacuums from the likes of Dyson. While it doesn’t quite live up to the Dyson V15’s 60 minutes of run time on Eco mode, it thrashes its 10 minutes on Max.
I cleaned wood, vinyl and tile flooring with the AC1 and it’s not only effective but fast. It gets through day-to-day cleaning in a flash and it’s great for spills. Still, I have to say that when I’ve spilled food or something similarly messy, I still pick up most of it before getting out the vacuum.
Ultenic’s own product photography shows it hoovering up a large, messy serving of spaghetti and while, yes, you could do that, you’ll still need to empty the dirty water tank and clean the vacuum afterwards. I don’t think it’s worth it and I wouldn’t recommend it.
The other thing to be aware of is that the AC1 won’t replace your ordinary vacuum. For a start, it can’t be used on carpet, and it’ll be heavy to carry up the stairs.
Nor can you use it on upholstery. And while it does give a great clean on hard flooring, you can’t lie it completely flat in use, which means you’ll be able to clean under a coffee table with it – but not under the sofa, unless you’re prepared to shift it every time.
During the testing period, I found the Ultenic easy to keep clean and maintain. Still, I did empty its dirty water tank after each use and regularly removed the roller (which is easy to do – it just takes a couple of clicks) to rinse it and let it dry out properly. The self-cleaning and drying feature works well but doesn’t get the roller perfectly dry.
And, if you’re using it to vacuum up mounds of spaghetti, I’d guess that you’ll need to put much more work into maintenance.
The AC1’s connected features are limited but easy to use. Download the free to use Ultenic app for Apple or Android and connect via Wi-Fi. In my case, it connected quickly and easily but there was very little point to it.
Dominik Tomaszewski / Foundry
In the app, you can see the status of the clean and dirty water tanks, the roller brush and the battery level – all information you can find on screen. You’ll also be able to access your weekly cleaning report, which shows you how many minutes of your life you’ve spent cleaning your floor.
Price and availability
Considering its feature set, this is a very well-priced wet and dry cleaner. It’s available from Amazon for $379 (US)/ £329 (UK).
We think it’s better value than the also excellent and similarly featured Tineco Floor One S3, which is slightly pricier but has a shorter battery life, smaller water tanks and no debris filter in the dirty water tank.
Meanwhile, Dyson’s flagship V15 Detect is close to twice the price at $749.99/£629.99 and the Shark Stratos is $465/£349. Although they’re not directly comparable, it does illustrate the fact that you get a lot for your money with the AC1.
If you have a lot of hard flooring, whether it’s wood, tile, vinyl, laminate or lino, the AC1 is well worth the investment. It’s effective and easy to use. Still, you need to bear its limitations in mind. As it’s heavy and filled with water, you won’t want to carry it up the stairs to use in a master bathroom, and you should keep it far from carpets.
For other wet and dry vacuum cleaner buying options, have a look at our review of the budget-friendly Wessex wet and dry vacuum cleaner and the Tineco Floor One S3.