Whether we’re in full-throttle holiday mode or not, household chores are things that very few of us get thrilled about making time for. Still, those chores have to be done, so we find time…somehow. The good news is that, with ever-smartening technologies, our household chores list can be, if not eliminated (yet), modified to save us precious time. The robot vacuum cleaner is one such technology that has given back hours of freedom to the everyday homeowner while still taking care of the dust and dirt on the floor.
While you probably can’t trust the robot vacuum to take care of every cleaning component that’s floor-related (you’ll still find yourself doing a hands-and-knees scrubbing of dried hot chocolate spills on occasion), you can certainly rely on a robotic vacuum to cut down on how much time you have to spend in the war against dust bunnies and their elusive battlegrounds headquarters.
What Makes A Robot Vacuum Cleaner Effective ?
Similar to traditional vacuums, not all robot vacuums are designed – or created – equal. The following components are things you should look for, or at very least consider, when researching which is the best robotic vacuum for your home:
- Robot vacuums need a good motor. This probably seems obvious; hopefully it is. But to get adequately powerful suction to do their job well, robot vacuums need to have an adequately powerful motor from which to draw suction strength.
- Robot vacuum cleaners need to have an adequate battery life span. With your traditional plug-in vacuum cleaner, you probably haven’t needed to think about batteries in association with cleaning your floors, but those days are gone. The best robot vacuums will have a decent battery life, so they don’t peter out of power a third of or halfway through the floor’s cleaning regimen.
- Robot vacuums require a brush roll. Even all the suction power a good motor and excellent battery provide won’t come close to the vacuum cleaning effectiveness of a brush roll. This apparatus simply makes any vacuum’s job easier and more effective, rolling the dirt and debris up into the trash area easily and quickly.
- Robot vacuums need to be able to clean up pet hair (optional). This is a definite must for pet owners, and a nice, reassuring thought for non-pet owners. Typically, the best robotic vacuums that excel at pet hair cleanup are more expensive, but it’s not money wasted if pet hair is a daily struggle in your home.
- Robot vacuum cleaners need to be smart. How smart? That’s where your research comes in, but at the very least, your robotic vacuum needs to be smart enough to take care of large expanses of your floor with minimal preparation or babysitting on your part. Some robotic vacuums will work with an app on your phone, and some will operate based simply upon voice commands through Amazon Alexa. That seems pretty smart.
Where Do Robot Vacuum Cleaners Work Best ?
You can pay a lot of money for a high-end robot vacuum, and that robotic vacuum will likely provide you with greater usage options. But, at this writing, the bulk of robot vacuums aren’t for every floor type in every home. Here are some places where the majority of today’s robot vacuums will work best:
- Smaller Spaces. Most mid-range robot vacuum cleaners are designed to maximize cleaning efficiency in smaller homes that are about 800-1,200 square feet for cleaning. Of course, this isn’t true across the board, and robot vacuum battery life and motor efficiency are technologies that are constantly being improved. Even now, some robot vacuums are able to go longer than an hour; these models tend to be on the much higher end of the cost spectrum.
- Smoother Floors. Mid-range robot vacuums are best at cleaning shorter carpets and hard floors, such as hardwood, laminate, linoleum, and smooth tile. Robot vacuums can still get stuck, even on these floors, but with much less frequency than deep-grooved tile floors and shaggier or multi-level carpets. Again, technology is constantly improving, and some higher end robotic vacuums tout their ability to automatically adjust to and then clean any type of floor, be it hardwood or shag carpet.
- Sufficient Space Between Furniture Legs. If your dining room, for example, contains numerous chairs that are tightly squeezed together, a robot vacuum is going to be a disappointment because it simply can’t physically fit between so many legs.
- Non-cluttered Floors. A growing number of robot vacuums are designed with clutter recognition technology, allowing them to avoid bumping into the clutter. But if your floor is in a constant state of clutter (e.g., a small child’s bedroom…or even a teenager’s, for that matter), a robot vacuum is an expensive smart device that won’t be able to do its job well, if at all.
What Do Robot Vacuums Cost ?
It shouldn’t surprise you that this question is somewhat challenging to answer. As with any technology, the range of cost on a robot vacuum cleaner is substantial. Some robotic vacuums cost a little over $200. Higher end models tip their hats at nearly $1,000…and keep on going. So, really, what you’re going to spend on getting the best robot vacuum for you comes down to determining your needs, doing your research, and identifying the best value for your situation.
Our 9 Best Robot Vacuum Cleaners
The iRobot Roomba 980 robot vacuum is probably at the top of every homeowners’ Dream List. The top of the popular Roomba line (others of which we’ll detail later in this article), the Roomba 980 is in a league almost of its own.
What makes the Roomba 980 so effective is its smart automatic versatility in cleaning control. It uses a patented AeroForce 3-Stage Cleaning System, which includes the use of tangle-free multi-surface brushes and power-lifting suction. Essentially, these components work together to pull in embedded dirt, debris, and pet hair from off the surface of your floor into the Roomba’s storage container. Using Power Boost mode, the robot vacuum is capable of automatically increasing its air power up to ten times normal on carpets, which is precisely where that heavy-duty suction power is needed.
Speaking of Roomba 980’s ability to provide cleaning power where it’s needed, the carpet isn’t the only place that Roomba targets. Dirt Detect technology (also patented) uses sensors to identify concentrated areas of dirt or debris, such as what you might expect to be found in high-traffic areas, and then provide extra cleaning time in those spots.
That being said, Roomba 980 is fully capable of cleaning all floor types. There is an auto-adjust cleaning head, which automatically adjusts its height based upon the floor type. This keeps the multi-surface brushes in close contact with the floor, regardless of its surface type. What’s more, Roomba 980 itself is, importantly, low-profile itself: at just 3.6” high, and with smart sensors aiding its cleaning exploration, Roomba can vacuum virtually anywhere that dust and dirt might be hiding, such as under large furniture, beds, and armoires.
The Roomba 980 is smart enough to navigate from one room to another throughout the entire floor of your home; if for some reason its 120-minute battery life doesn’t allow it to finish the job in one sweep (pun intended), it will recharge on its own then return to finish the task at hand until your floors are dirt-free. The technology that allows Roomba 980 to do this is iAdapt 2.0 Navigation with Visual Localization; using this technology, Roomba can efficiently navigate an entire level of the home and keep track of its location, including where it has been and where it hasn’t.
Roomba 980 functions easily with the manual push of its button, through voice activation (as with all wi-fi connected Roomba vacuuming robots), or it can also be easily programmed with the iRobot HOME app. You can clean and schedule Roomba 980 anytime, whether you’re home or not, through the app, and you can check later on to see the areas that have been cleaned through Clean Map. Not only that, but you can also program the level of cleaning ability. These options include:
- The number of cleaning passes Roomba 980 should make, one or two.
- Whether or not you need Roomba 980 to do a final edge clean.
- Whether or not Roomba 980 should use its Power Boost capacity.
The iRobot Roomba 960 is a powerful robot vacuum, well known for its powerful suction, smart features, and smooth performance. It is on the higher end of the spectrum of best robotic vacuums, and with the price tag comes smart technology and impressive suction capability. With a low 3.6” profile, it still houses a full suite of smart sensors to maximize cleaning capacity. Roomba 960 can run for up to 75 minutes of smart cleaning before automatically returning to recharge; it will clean an entire level of your home, returning out to dust bunny battle after each recharge as needed.
Roomba 960’s AeroForce 3-Stage Cleaning System is specially designed not just to suck up loose debris, but rather to loosen, lift, and then suction up dirt with five times more powerful air force in its Power-Lifting Suction. (Note: This comparison is made with the Roomba 600 and 700 series robot vacuums.) Perhaps even more impressive, Roomba 960 uses patented Dirt Detect sensors, which allow it to identify high-traffic areas in the home and provide the extra cleaning that those spaces tend to need. What is more, Roomba 960 learns your floorplan over time, allowing it to clean more efficiently and effectively each time.
Roomba 960 is able to clean all floor types, carpet to hardwood, due to its automatically adjustable cleaning head, which modifies its height based on the floor type. This ultimately results in a cleaner floor, as the multi-surface brushes are kept in close contact with whatever floor surface Roomba 960 happens to be on. Roomba 960 also has the feature that is in high demand in a robot vacuum, which is its patented tangle-free dual multi-surface brushes so that you can easily take care of pet hair and associated allergens with its high-efficiency filter.
Roomba 960 is easy to operate. You can simply press the “clean” button on the robot vacuum itself, or you can use the iRobot HOME app or your voice (via Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant) to control Roomba 960. Through the app on your smart phone, you can clean, schedule, and customize cleaning preferences, such as opting for one or two cleaning passes or doing a final edge clean. iAdapt 2.0 Navigation with Visual Localization allows Roomba 960 to be efficient in its operation and navigation, keeping track of where it has already cleaned and where it still needs to go.
This robot vacuum was chosen by Business Insider to be The Insider Pick. Of all the vacuums their testers tried, the iRobot Roomba 690 was found to be the best option for the most number of people due to the following factors:
- The Roomba’s features are smart, including responsiveness to voice commands.
- The Roomba has great suction for picking up debris and dirt.
- The Roomba app is easy to use, including introductory videos and tips to help you get started.
- The Roomba is affordable, costing less than higher-end robot vacuums.
Roomba 690 has smart features and great suction. iRobot uses a three-stage cleaning system to loosen dirt and debris so that it’s easy for a robotic vacuum to suck up. The Roomba 690’s spinning side brush is also an effective feature, particularly close to walls, furniture legs, and other floor-touching objects. The vacuum can effectively clean carpet, rugs, tile, hardwood, and laminate floors seamlessly, including stuff like dirt, dust, hair (animal and human), kitty litter, crumbs, and whatever miscellaneous odds and ends that end up on our floors.
Roomba 690’s smart functionality allows it to easily navigate around furniture, clutter (hello, kids’ socks and stack of magazines), and other objects. But, even more than this, you can customize vacuum “barriers,” which keep the Roomba 690 away from areas you don’t want it (e.g., a room with thick shag carpet). The battery lasts about 60 minutes; it is smart enough to return to its base for charging before it runs out of power completely.
Roomba 690 is affordable. While robot vacuums can be expensive, you don’t have to choose one that will break the bank in order for it to be an effective cleaning tool in your house. The Roomba 690 is right in the middle of the pack, as far as cost is concerned, but its features and abilities make the top of the list (for the average person). It is a smart vacuum that’s wi-fi-enabled, so you can program its cleaning schedule, for example during times you’re at work and kids are at school. It is also responsive to voice control through Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant.
Boasting twice the suction power of any robot vacuum, the Dyson 360 Eye Robot Vacuum’s digital motor V2 is small and light while still able to generate powerful suction. A 360-degree eye vision system is designed to “see” all around the room simultaneously and constantly decipher the robot vacuum’s position within the room. From this internal mapping, this Dyson robot vacuum is able to intelligently map out, and then navigate, the level of your home using a calculated, systematic cleaning pattern and path.
Once its path is established, the Eye Robot will proceed to clean the floor using Radial Root cyclone technology (patented). This system separates dirt and dust so that whatever is sucked up is kept in the storage bin. Additionally, a brush bar with nylon and carbon fiber bristles runs the length of the Eye Robot to provide maximum floor coverage, as well as edge-to-edge cleaning across the floor. There are also tank tracks (touted as the only robot vacuum to have them) on this vacuum, which serve to maintain speed and course direction, even as floor types change and small obstacles arise. The Eye Robot is designed to effectively clean both hard floors and carpets.
The Dyson link app is available both on iOS and android smart devices, and it gives you the power to control, schedule, and/or analyze the robot vacuum’s data. You can also use Amazon Echo to control the Eye Robot with simple voice instructions.
The eufy RoboVac 11 allows you to clean your house’s floors by simply pressing a button, which is precisely what a robot vacuum is designed to do. This robot vacuum is considered one of the best (if not the best) no-frills robot vacuum for the price. There is no wi-fi connectivity, and the charging time might be longer than other models, but RoboVac has been found to do its job – clean the floors – quite well, especially considering its affordability.
RoboVac includes various cleaning modes and is designed to be a low-profile vacuum itself, which helps it clean those hard-to-reach areas, such as under sofas, tables, furniture, beds, etc. RoboVac 11 uses two filters and one high-performance filter for a combined triple-filter system and, thus, optimum cleaning. The high-capacity lithium ion battery boasts a 1.5-hour cleaning life with strong suction throughout that duration. After the battery is spent, RoboVac will recharge automatically on its own in its charging base (included), allowing you worry-free cleaning capacity on your low-profile carpet or light-colored floors.
Features of the RoboVac 11 include a three-point cleaning system. This means that (1) two side brushes, (2) a rolling brush, and (3) powerful suction all work in three-part harmony to deliver the cleaning power you want and need. With this system, dirt is loosened and then vacuumed into the dust collector. Other premium features include things like an anti-scratch tempered glass cover for the robot vacuum’s protection (this is particularly helpful with children and pets around), an infrared sensor for avoiding obstacles, and drop-sensing technology to evade falls (such as down stairs).
The Neato Botvac robot vacuum uses wi-fi connectivity to provide ultimate ease of cleaning – wherever you are, you can use the Neato app on your smart device to clean your floors. You can choose between two cleaning modes: (1) Eco mode, which uses quiet, energy-saving cleaning over a longer period of time up to 360 minutes, or (2) Turbo mode, which provides a powerful, hair-picking-up clean in a shorter duration up to 120 minutes. In addition to cleaning up hair, Botvac utilizes a combination of strong suction and precision brushes, including a spiral blade brush, combo brush, and side brush, to puck up dirt, crumbs, and dust bunnies.
Botvac’s D-Shape design (with a wide main brush that spans the entire front) combines with CornerClever technology to reach into corners and clean close to the walls. Through its smart navigation system (LaserSmart), Botvac is able to scan, map, plan, and then methodically clean the area, using real-time object detection scans as it goes to avoid bumping into stuff. This method is touted to be up to four times faster than other robot vacuums. It will self-recharge when the battery begins to run low, then return to cleaning until the job is done. Botvac can be voice controlled through Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, and Facebook Chatbot.
Taking robot floor cleaning to a different, albeit similar, level, the iRobot Braava jet robot mop is designed to mop and sweep hard floors. These include anything from hardwood, tile, and stone, particularly in small areas such as kitchens, bathrooms, and the like, with its efficient, systematic cleaning pattern. This is a great option for those who have no carpet and more hard floor surface than anything else – those who use a Swiffer mop more than a vacuum will probably find a friend in Braava jet. So, just to be clear: this is a robot mop, not a robot vacuum; it can’t be used on carpet. But it’s an excellent choice for those harder floor surfaces.
Braava jet uses precision jet spray and a vibrating cleaning head to gently scrub dirt and stains in those hard-to-reach areas, such as around toilets, in corners, and underneath vanities and cabinets. You can also use the integrated Virtual Wall mode to create invisible boundaries and keep Braava jet in rooms without a door. You will need to purchase disposable cleaning pads to keep your Braava jet in operation.
What makes Braava jet a smart robot mop is its ability to automatically choose the best cleaning mode from wet mopping, damp sweeping, and dry sweeping, based on the Braava jet pad type. After cleaning is complete, you can simply press a button to eject the Braava jet cleaning pad into the trash can without having to touch the dirt yourself. You don’t need to worry about water damage to your walls, baseboards, or furniture legs, as Braava jet avoids harming or spraying those. It is also able to use smart technology to avoid falling down stairs and riding up on rugs. Braava jet is designed to operate for 20-minute segments with its 25-gallon capacity, and its square shape and compact size still allows for a generous 7” cleaning path.
Not a mere robot vacuum, the ECOVACS Deebot M80 Pro is a professional-grade robot vacuum cleaner with a mop and water tank attachment and a brush roll attachment. The M80 Pro’s five-tier cleaning system includes a detachable deep-clean brush-roll, mop, and a max power suction option that increases suction power by 36%. Smart motion cleaning and comprehensive anti-collision and anti-fall sensors complete the M80 Pro cleaning package for efficiency, effectiveness, and protection.
The mop and water tank attachment are a unique feature that few robot vacuums have. A 500mL capacity anti-spill dustbin also supports the ability for M80 Pro to clean for longer sessions. In addition, the air filtration system is designed with high efficiency in mind to prevent the spilling of debris when you’re cleaning the dustbin.
The M80 Pro is controllable with Amazon Alexa voice activation (stop and start the vacuum) and both iOS and android smart phone app controls through wi-fi. With the app, you are able to choose from three specialized cleaning modes in addition to auto-clean (1: Intense Mode to increase speed and suction power, 2: Spot Mode to focus on small areas of high concentration dust or dirt, and 3: Edge Mode to tackle hard-to-clean corners and edges), schedule cleaning sessions, monitor accessory status, and also receive alerts. The battery claims a 110-minute working life, complete with automatic charging when battery power runs low.
The ILIFe A4s robot vacuum cleaner, as is similar to many other robot vacuums uses a three-step cleaning system to maximize effectiveness and efficiency in cleaning floors. A strong suction is part of that three-step process for particularly thorough and concentrated cleaning. A roller brush with an innovative tangle-free design, along with two side brushes, complete the three-step cleaning system pie for deeper and more thorough cleaning.
The A4s offers the option to activate Mix mode via remote controller, which puts the robot vacuum into super-power cleaning mode with maximum pickup. Additionally, multiple smart sensors help the A4s to stay on-track and avoid falling off stairs and bumping into objects all over the place. Cleaning areas include under low furniture such as beds, along the walls, and around whatever clutter happens to be hanging out on your floor.
You can program the A4s robot vacuum to start cleaning on a schedule, which it will do automatically. It will also return to its docking station to recharge when the long-lasting lithium ion battery gets low, but this is after a touted 140 minutes of cleaning time, in addition to a prolonged life span altogether. It should be noted that the A4s is not designed to be suitable for high-pile carpet or dark-colored floors.
With an ever-growing pool of quality candidates, the robotic vacuum cleaner industry is becoming increasingly prevalent in today’s homes. Due to the robot vacuum’s ability to clean the floor on its own (with little to no help from you after setup), homeowners are gifted those minutes and hours back into their lives. It’s reassuring and luxurious to know that your home is being taken care of without your needing to constantly be at the wheel, but that you can still easily check in at your leisure and make sure all is well. A careful assessment of your physical space, your actual needs, and your budget will lead you in the right direction as you research which is the best robot vacuum for you.