Best Robot Vacuum Cleaner for Small and Large Homes: 2020 Buyer’s Guide

automated vacuum

Vacuums have made a big leap into the future, with the best robot vacuum cleaner featuring smart technology that allows it to automatically clean up hardwood, tile, and carpeted floors based on the settings you choose. These vacuums are essentially hands-off, although some do still require some human intervention to get the job done right. Top models are loaded with the latest in tech, offering a variety of cleaning options, functions and features.

If you’re looking for an easier way to keep your home looking good and free from pet hair, dirt, debris, and allergens, then shopping for a smart vacuum is a great first step to a cleaner home, using an appliance that does most of the heavy lifting for you.

Over the past few years, the market has become flooded with a variety of robot vacuums, each offering different levels of functionality, new features, and top of the line cleaning power. I’ve tested out several of the best-selling models, narrowing down my best of the best list to just seven must-have vacuums that have a reputation for power and efficiency. I’ve also put together this buyer’s guide, which includes all of the information you need to help you choose a vacuum that will work perfectly for your home, cleaning needs, and floor type. Below, you’ll find a comparison chart, which includes each of the models that landed on my list, their top features, and how they rated.

Robot Vacuum Cleaner Comparison Chart

ProductSelf-EmptyingRuntimeApp/RemoteRating
iRobot Roomba i7+
Robot Vacuum

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Yes75 MinutesApp
Roborock S6 MaxV Robot
Vacuum Cleaner

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Yes180 MinutesApp
Shark IQ Robot Self-Empty XL
RV1001AE, Robotic Vacuum

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Yes60 MinutesApp
Neabot Robot Vacuum

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Yes60 MinutesApp
eufy by Anker BoostIQ
RoboVac

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No120 MinutesApp & Remote
GOOVI by ONSON
Robot Vacuum

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No120 MinutesRemote
APOSEN Robot Vacuum

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No100 MinutesRemote

iRobot Roomba i7+ Robot Vacuum


Our Rating: (5/5)

This robot vacuum earned the top sport on my list for a variety of reasons. First, it not only cleans up after you and your family, but it will also clean up after itself. This model comes with the patented Clean Base automatic dirt disposal feature that will allow this appliance to empty its own dustbin for two months. Pretty impressive, right? Additionally, the vacuum comes with Allergen Lock bags that are designed to capture up to 99% of mold and pollen. The vacuum offers an impressive and powerful performance, with its ability to suction up stubborn dirt and debris. It comes with a three-stage cleaning process and ten times the lifting and suction power, compared to competing models. The vacuum is guided by mapping technology, creating a map of your home that will allow it to expertly navigate and clean your home using efficient rows and patterns that will ensure it uses its time and battery power, wisely. Using voice commands, you can direct it to where you want to clean. As an example, if you spill food under the couch, simply say “Roomba clean under the couch” and the vacuum will move into action. You can also set zones in the home that are off limit to the vacuum, so it knows to avoid sensitive places and areas.

Pros

  • Smart mapping technology
  • Empties out its bin for two months
  • Voice controls
  • Powerful suction

Cons

  • Steep price

Conclusion

This model is perfect for homes with pets, thanks to its dual multi-surface rubber brushes that will not get clogged with pet hair. The brush system is able to flex and adjust in order to remain in constant contact with a floor’s surface, whether you have carpet, tile, vinyl, or hardwood floors. While the price may be steep, considering how powerful, smart, and efficient this vacuum is, most buyers will find that it’s worth every penny.

Roborock S6 MaxV Robot Vacuum Cleaner


Our Rating: (4.5/5)

This model by Roborock comes equipped with a dual camera design, which will map out the layout of your home in order to avoid unknown obstacles and everyday objects in the home. This model not only vacuums, it also mops. It offers twenty-five percent more suction power, with a rating of 2500 PA. The Snap Mop system comes with advanced mopping features that are designed to handle the toughest stains. The vacuum operates using precision navigation, with advanced algorithms that provide better and more accurate room navigation. This model also comes with voice control and a dedicated app, so you can adjust the cleaning setting and schedule, even when you’re not at home, starting or stopping a cleaning session, whether it’s vacuuming or mopping, and even direct the vacuum regarding which rooms you want it to clean. The vacuum’s advanced route management system allows for multi-level mapping that supports up to four floors with up to ten off-limit zones for vacuuming and ten off-limit zones for mopping. You can also set up to ten invisible barriers for each level.

Pros

  • Vacuums and mops
  • Dedicated app
  • Can be used for up to four different levels in a home
  • Voice controls

Cons

  • Struggles with thick carpet

Conclusion

This model is equipped with high precision LIDAR navigation, which allows you to easily and efficiently plan the vacuum’s route, if you want it to clean certain floors or rooms in the home. This model can be used for up to four levels in a multi-level home, comes with a dedicated app that you can use to start or stop a vacuuming or mopping session, and it comes with plenty of other bells and whistles that every homeowner will love. This is the robot vacuum of the future and one that offers a wide range of cleaning options and modes, so you can ensure your house looks great around the clock.

Shark IQ Robot RV1001AE Robotic Vacuum


Our Rating: (4.5/5)

This model by Shark will allow you to totally forget about vacuuming for up to one month. This model doesn’t use bags and features a self-emptying base that can hold up a month’s worth of dirt and debris. The motor provides impressive deep cleaning power, allowing this model to easily handle fine and large debris on hardwood floors and thick carpets. The brushroll is also self-cleaning and can remove long hair and pet hair as it cleans. The vacuum uses voice command controls or you can control the cleaning modes using the dedicated app. You can hop on your phone to change cleaning modes and schedule a cleaning time. You can also tell the vacuum to target specific rooms and areas in the home, thanks to the vacuum’s innovative mapping technology. This model will make use of its battery power, methodically cleaning in straight lines, then navigating to different rooms, carefully, to ensure it gets the most out of its battery life.

Pros

  • Mapping technology
  • Self-emptying
  • Self-cleaning brushroll
  • Voice controls

Cons

  • Very loud

Conclusion

This model is perfect for dog and cat homes and is able to pick up the finest pet hair. The multi-stage filtration system is also designed to trap up to 99% of pet dander, hair, dust, pollen, and other types of allergens. Thanks to the IQ navigation feature and extra-large dustbin, you can set it and forget it, allowing the vacuum to take over for one month before it will require you to empty out its dustbin. This model comes with highly customizable cleaning modes and schedules, a low-maintenance design, powerful suction and a tough brush system that’s self-cleaning. You won’t find a better model on the market for pet hair.

Neabot Robot Vacuum


Our Rating: (4.5/5)

This is another popular self-emptying model that earned top marks for its ability to transfer dirt collected into a bag-lined dustbin, all without human intervention. The sensors on the dustbin will send an alert to your smartphone once the dustbin is full. This model features  three levels of suction power and can easily handle fine and large debris. The LIDAR navigation and mapping technology allows the vacuum to use a Z-shaped pattern to ensure that it reaches every nook and cranny in the home. You can use the dedicated app to set the cleaning mode or create a cleaning schedule. This model also works with voice commands and is compatible with Alexa and Google Assistant. With a PA rating of 2700, this model can easily handle heavy-duty cleaning tasks. It comes equipped with a roller brush and two side brushes designed to easily loosen and extract dirt. Users can also set zones in the home. You can use a map of the room to tell the vacuum where to clean and what areas to avoid, such as the spot where you have your phones charging or the dog’s water dish, or you can set certain rooms as off-limits.

Pros

  • Dedicated app
  • Three levels of power to choose from
  • Self-emptying
  • Voice commands

Cons

  • App loses maps of room, causing user to recreate off-limit areas and zones

Conclusion

This is one smart vacuum. It can learn the environment, mapping it out to create an efficient cleaning pattern. The dedicated app will allow you to customize the cleaning strategy and adjust the cleaning settings. You can also use the app to monitor the vacuum’s cleaning progress when you’re not at home. Keeping your home clean and vacuumed doesn’t get any easier than this.

eufy by Anker BoostIQ RoboVac


Our Rating: (4.5/5)

This model by eufy is budget friendly and comes loaded with some great features and plenty of suction power, with a rating of 2000 PA. Despite its powerful motor, it still offers quiet operation, so you can run it, any time of the day or night. This model also features wireless connectivity, voice control services, and Boost IQ technology. The Boost IQ feature will increase the suction power within 1.5 seconds, automatically, when extra suction power is needed. This model also comes with sensory boundary strops, so you can prevent the vacuum from going into any area or room that’s off limits.

The vacuum comes equipped with a total of ten built-in sensors, in addition to drop-sensing technology. You can use the dedicated app to create a cleaning schedule, using your phone to set the time and areas. So now, you can switch on the vacuum, even when you’re at the office.

If for some reason, your vacuum doesn’t make it back to its charging dock, you can use the find my robot button on the app to locate your vacuum in the home, wherever it is.

Pros

  • Includes app and remote
  • Find my robot feature allows you to easily locate the vacuum
  • Boost IQ cleaning technology
  • Budget friendly

Cons

  • Long charging time

Conclusion

This model is a great buy for the homeowner or apartment dweller on a budget and it comes equipped with a three-point cleaning system, complete with three tough brushes and powerful suction that’s designed to extract and loosen tough dirt, for a superior clean. Built tough, equipped with a dedicated app and a remote, so you can easily switch the appliance on and off, this powerful vacuum will allow you to totally control how, where, and when it cleans.

GOOVI by ONSON Robot Vacuum


Our Rating: (4.5/5)

This model comes equipped with a handy remote that allows you to switch the appliance on and off with the press of a button. This vacuum features an intelligent cleaning system that allows it to easily identify obstacles, ledges, and furniture. The smart cleaning mode will allow you to set zones around the home that are off-limits to the vacuum. This can be achieved via magnetic tape. The vacuum comes with a series of infrared sensors that will help it to identify obstacles and steer clear of hazards, preventing it from colliding with furniture, walls, and falling off ledges. While this model doesn’t come with as many fancy bells and whistles as some higher priced robot vacuums, it does offer a solid performance and comes loaded with some nice extras such as the included remote, large dustbin, and one-year warranty.

Pros

  • Easy to use
  • Low price
  • Powerful suction
  • Includes a remote

Cons

  • Doesn’t work well on thicker carpet
  • Has trouble picking up fine debris
  • Does not include an app

Conclusion

This model features a bumper sensor setup, which means it will bump off the surface of walls and obstacles, turning in the opposite direction, once the sensors detect obstacles. Because of this, the vacuum will use a random sort of cleaning pattern and will not be as efficient as models that are equipped with mapping technology. However, despite the lack of mapping technology, for the price, this model still offers an impressive performance, excellent suction power, and a durable design.

APOSEN Robot Vacuum


Our Rating: (4/5)

This model is quiet-running, budget friendly, and comes with three cleaning modes to choose from. You can choose the cleaning mode depending on floor type and suction power needs. This model has a runtime of one hundred minutes, which is pretty impressive for a model in this price range.

If you have pets, then this vacuum is a great buy, thanks to the redesigned double-sided brush system that’s specifically designed to pick up fine debris, such as pet dander, pet hair, dust, and more. While the vacuum doesn’t come with any fancy features, such as a dedicated app, or mapping technology, it still does a great job of cleaning up around the home.

Pros

  • Low maintenance
  • Quiet-running
  • Includes remote
  • Double-sided brush system
  • Powerful

Cons

  • Does not include mapping technology
  • Does not allow you to set cleaning schedules
  • No app
  • Struggles with thicker carpet

Conclusion

This compact, sleek vacuum can easily fit under furniture, can access tight corners, and does a great job of removing dirt and debris along walls. This model is perfect for pet owners who have dogs or cats that shed excessively, thanks to the double-sided brush system that does a great job of picking up even the finest debris. Efficient, offering a longer than average runtime, and packing serious power, this vacuum is a great choice for pet owners on a tight budget.

Robot Vacuum Cleaner Buyer’s Guide

Robot vacuums are still relatively new to the market and come loaded with some innovative features that will allow you to keep your house free from pet dander, pet hair, dirt, debris, and much more, using a variety of cleaning programs and features. But how do these vacuums measure up to traditional and canister vacuums?

Robot Vacuums Versus Upright and Canister Vacuums

  • Unlike most models of canister or upright vacuums, a robot is intelligent and autonomous. These vacuums come equipped with Wi-Fi, sensors, motherboards, and lasers that are designed to help them efficiently navigate around the home, without any human intervention. In most cases, homeowners will barely have to interact with a robot vacuum at all, with the exception of emptying out their dustbin or searching for them if they’ve run out of juice during use and were unable to make it back to their charging dock. Most models will come with a charging dock and will return on their own before they die, however, some will get stuck in a tight corner and may be unable to make it back before their battery dies.
  • When a robot vac is able to make it back to their dock, they’ll remain charging until they have enough energy stored to go out for another round of cleaning.
  • Obviously, with a canister or upright model, you’ll have to plug them in and manually move them around the house to clean. You won’t have to worry about your floors being left unfinished, since these vacuums run on electricity and you’re in control of the cleaning process. However, if you don’t have time to clean, then vacuuming the home yourself can be a hassle.
  • Robot vacuums are not able to clean stairs. The robot vacuum can’t climb very well, and has an awkward design that would cause it to tip over if it attempted to navigate stairs. With traditional and canister vacuums, you won’t have that problem.
  • Most robot vacuums come with very small dustbins, at least compared to the dirt storage capacity of upright and canister vacuums. Like other types of vacuums, the robot vac’s dustbin must be emptied often, otherwise it can have a negative impact on its cleaning performance.

As you can see, these robot vacs are not without their limitations, but they do an excellent job of cleaning most spaces in the home, with the exception of stairs. They can also save you plenty of time and energy, taking over a chore most people despise and taking care of it within a fraction of the time.

Is a Robot Vacuum Worth it?

These robot vacuums cost significantly more than a traditional vacuum and have a price that ranges from $150 up to $1000. This is a considerable investment, even if you opt for a lowered priced model.

Unless you’re someone who really enjoys vacuuming, the chore itself is very time-consuming and mundane. Depending on how large your home is and how often you vacuum, this type of vacuum can save you anywhere from twenty minutes to several hours each week, by taking care of this tedious chore. For some people, that alone is reason enough to buy one.

Many models have also reached the point where they’re just as effective and equally as powerful as a traditional vacuum. These robots use spinning and side brushes, filters, and can do an excellent job of cleaning your home, just like a canister or upright vacuum. Most models also have a sleek, compact design, so they’re able to easily slide under couches, tables, chairs, and other types of furniture. These vacuums are also more affordable than they were just a few years ago, so even homeowners on a tight budget can afford a great model.

What You Need to Know About Robot Vacuums Before You Buy

girl in living room

As robot vacuum technology continues to advance, we now have an easy, hands-off way to keep our floors clean. These vacuums are designed to make our lives much easier, and while they aren’t perfect, if used correctly, they can ease your workload and can help to keep your home cleaner. However, there are some things you need to know about these vacuums before you buy. Of course, like with any investment, it’s important that you do your own research, in order to find a model that will work for you, your budget, and your home.

To start, before you purchase a new little robot friend, walk around your home. Take a look at all the nooks and crannies. Try to view your home from the vacuum’s point of view. If you have a couch with a low clearance, do you need a robot that features a very sleek design? Do you have a pet that sheds a lot and find that their hair tends to make its way in every corner of the room? If so, then you may need a model that’s designed to get into corners, easily and efficiently. These models will come with a single right-angled edge.

Is your home very large? Then you’ll need a model that comes with a higher battery capacity, so it won’t run out of juice in the middle of a job. If you have a smaller home, then a model with a smaller capacity will be a good fit.

Are your floors mostly carpeted or hardwood? You’ll need a vacuum that specializes in your floor type. Some will work well for both types, while others will only work well for one type or the other.

While many of the latest models are significantly more powerful than models that were produced just a few years ago, they still need our help. It’s important that you realize that using one of these vacuums doesn’t mean that they can do it all on their own. You’ll still need to do your part and clean up around the house before you set your vacuum loose. They will work at their best if the floor that they’re cleaning is free of obstacles that some families tend to leave out, such as clothes, shoes, and bags. These obstacles need to be removed from the floor before your new robot can handle business.

A robot vac must be kept in excellent working order. This will require a thorough cleaning from you every so often to ensure that the vacuum’s sensors and other electronics are clean and working properly. This ensures that it will do its absolute best when making its rounds.

Make sure you empty out the dustbin after every few cleaning sessions to ensure there’s no dip in performance. These containers are often small and can fill up with dirt and debris surprisingly quickly.

While these appliances will not be able to take care of all the cleaning in your home, the latest models are more powerful than ever before and come loaded with some great features that are designed to make your job much easier. Now, let’s take a look at how these robot vacuums work.

How Navigation Works

So, how do these computerized cleaners know where they have and haven’t been around the home? How do one of these vacuums know when they’re done cleaning?

There are a couple of ways these vacuums can move around a home. To clean a room effectively, the vacuum needs to be able to move around freely through the space, while staying out of trouble. However, they don’t see the world the way that a person can, even when it’s equipped with an onboard camera. Instead, they must rely on a series of sensors to detect hazards and obstacles and measure how far they have traveled. These sensors are what trigger programmed behaviors that will determine how the vacuum responds. The type of sensors the vacuum uses and how they work tends to vary by model and manufacturer. Most models will come with the same types of sensors, including:

Obstacle Sensors

These are the types of sensors you’ll find on lower priced bumper robot vacuums. From the appliance’s point of view, the home is an obstacle course of toys, furniture, and debris. The sensors found near the vacuum’s shock-absorbing bumper will allow it to maneuver around these objects without slowing down. When the bumper does collide with an object, a sensor is triggered, and the vacuum knows to move and turn away until it has found a clear path. The direction it takes will be determined by where the bumper makes contact, if it hits an object to the left it will turn right because it’s detected objects on the left-hand side. Many models will navigate via sensory input response. However, moving around these objects can leave big patches of floors uncleaned. Manufacturers have taken different approaches to remedy this problem. Some will slow down as they approach an obstacle other models will try to push through softer obstacles, such as bed skirts.

The placement and number of a robot vac’s bump sensors are what can help them handle obstacles around the home. Additionally, models with camera-based or infrared obstacle detection can also have an impact on how often your vacuum gets stuck, clogged, or jammed. Other features that help these vacs navigate include the pivot placement and spring tension, the size of the wheels, and how the robot senses jams or tangles.

Cliff Sensors

The biggest peril for these vacuums is stairs. A fall down a flight of stairs can damage the vacuum severely. Because of this, cliff sensors are commonly found in most models. These sensors will measure the distance to the floor by sending infrared signals to the surface constantly. If the signal doesn’t bounce back immediately, the robot will determine that it’s reached a cliff or stair and will change its direction.

Wall Sensors

You may think that a wall sensor will help a vacuum avoid a collision, but they actually help them to detect walls using infrared light, which will allow the vacuum to follow along the wall. This ensures they’re able to clean along the edges where the floor meets the walls. It will also allow them to clean without scuffing and bumping the wall. Models that have mapping capabilities will make cleaning along the edges of walls faster and more efficient.

Wheel Sensors

These vacuums will use light sensors in order to measure wheel rotation. With wheel circumference and this sensor, a vacuum can determine how far it has traveled. Sensor navigation was the standard way a robot vacuum worked in the past. These days, it’s usually limited to low-end models. While it’s effective, these vacuums tend to just grope their way from room to room, vacuuming in random patterns. In order to get total coverage and clean every inch once, they must take multiple passes over an area using whatever time their battery life will allow. This usually means longer vacuuming times and uneven cleaning.

Best Robot Vacuums for Smaller Homes

girl and her vacuum cleaner

Bump systems, basically, lower priced models that basically just bump into an obstacle and spin in place, can cover as much or more ground than fancier models that are loaded with technology that’s designed to help them avoid obstacles and hazards.

These bots that use bump technology are more consistent in small spaces and most have a limit of about one thousand feet. However, they can miss patches of ground or even an entire room, in some cases. But if you run the vacuum a few times a week, these low-priced bots should still be able to handle keeping your home looking tidy. If you have long hallways and narrow doorways, then models that use bump sensor technology won’t be very efficient. Instead, they tend to waste too much time blindly fumbling around and wandering aimlessly. You can set up barrier systems that come with the bot or try and keep some doors closed to make their time cleaning more efficient, but you’ll be better off investing in a higher priced model that comes loaded with advanced features.

Most lower-priced models seem to navigate semi-randomly and will move around the home until their batteries die.

Best Robot Vacs for Bigger Homes-High-Tech Navigation Systems

Higher-priced models will use navigation systems that will follow a predictable route around the home. They’re smart enough to create a map of the home as they move from room to room, which is what helps them to avoid obstacles and clean the same areas over and over. These vacs will rarely miss patches and won’t waste their time re-cleaning. If their battery starts to run low before they’re able to finish a job, they’ll stop what they’re doing and head back to their home base to recharge for two to three hours. Once they’ve stored up enough juice then they’ll head back to the same spot they were in when their battery started to die.

Some of these models will allow users to draw an invisible line, which will prevent the vacuums from entering certain spaces in the home, such as the kid’s room, the bathroom, or the laundry room. These off-limits spaces can be created using a dedicated app on your smartphone.

It’s debatable which type of mapping technology works the most efficiently, but it ultimately depends on how the technology is implemented. There are pros and cons that come with each technology and can depend on the layout of a home and how the vacuum is used.

Mapping robots don’t always work better than the lower priced bump sensor bots. They can still get stuck in the same spots. Even higher tech models that come with a complex navigation system can still get glitchy and confused when they find themselves in a cluttered area, however, they’re the best option for big homes and will make the most out of their battery life.

Onboard Cameras or Lasers

As I touched on earlier, higher-end vacuums will come with self-navigation systems that rely on mapping technology. This is accomplished by using laser rangefinders or onboard cameras. For both types of technology, the data is collected in combination with the information that’s been provided with the other sensors located all over the vacuum’s body. This helps the vacuum to draw a complete picture of each room and all the objects and hazards it may contain.

With an onboard camera, the vacuum will take pictures of furniture, doorways, ceilings, and walls. This type of mapping is used in many of the most popular models on the market.

Also referred to as LIDAR, this method of mapping technology uses lasers to measure the distance to any object that’s in the vacuum’s path.

Mapping technology offers many significant advantages. Equipped with a floor plan map, the vacuum is able to plot routes that are more efficient, so it doesn’t waste battery life. This is why most models with mapping tech seem to move in a straight path, unlike their non-mapping counterparts that weave and endlessly wander around a room.

Unfortunately, no robot vacuum can navigate flawlessly every time. You’ll have to come to their rescue at times and detangle them from cables and phone chargers or remove them from a tight corner of the room or a low piece of furniture that they shouldn’t have attempted to clean under.

Must-Have Features

Now that you know a little more about these vacuums, how they stand up to canister and upright vacuums, and some of their benefits, let’s learn more about their cleaning capabilities, the type of technology they use, and the impressive features they have to offer.

Battery Life

Since these vacuums are battery-powered, battery life is another important factor to consider and should depend on the size of your home. Most models have a runtime of sixty minutes, although higher priced models can last as long as ninety minutes. Sixty minutes is more than enough time for smaller homes. For larger homes, you’ll need a model with a battery life of ninety minutes, which will give the appliance plenty of time to clean every room, before it has to head back to its charging dock.

Cleaning Efficiency

Models that have a side brush and a brushroll can pick up pet hair, crumbs, and fine debris from low-pile rugs and bare floors. This is usually enough to keep most homes nice and tidy. If you have thick rugs, then you’ll need a stronger bot, one that comes with stronger suction and better brushes. Keep in mind, models that come with more aggressive brushes and stronger suction can cost hundreds extra and may only be marginally better compared to a more affordable vacuum.

Wi-Fi Capability and Apps

Models that come with Wi-Fi and a dedicated app will give you fast and easy control over the settings, even when you’re away from home. These controls can come in handy if you want to start or stop the bot when you’re out of the house. An app will also allow you to create a cleaning schedule and keep an eye on what parts need to be replaced, or you can use the app to adjust certain types of cleaning settings. Vacuums without Wi-Fi will usually come with a remote control, which can be just as handy.

Noise

A quiet vacuum is obviously ideal. Some models are as quiet as 54 decibels, so you won’t have to crank up the volume on the TV as it works. Other models can be as loud as 70 decibels, which is loud enough that it can be difficult to hear a conversation or the TV.

Design

Models that are D shaped are often better at handling corners, compared to models that are round. However, the round bots come with side brushes that are able to get the job done. Round vacuums are by far the most common and are available in either ultra-thin or thicker designs.

Cleaning Tools

What type of cleaning tools does the vacuum you’re interested in have? Most robot vacuum cleaners can do more than what a basic vacuum can. While an upright vacuum may simply provide suction, these vacuums can help clean the floors and remove stuck on debris that most traditional vacuums would miss.

They accomplish this with a set of brushes. Some models will come with an impressively powerful brush system that will dislodge dirt that’s hard to see, while other models will have brush systems that barely brush the surface of hardwood floors, leaving behind pet hair and finer debris. Each model will come with a set of side brushes, which will work to pick up the dirt and debris along the edges of walls and around furniture, and a large front brush roll, that’s very similar to what you’ll find on a traditional upright vacuum. These brush system designs tend to vary slightly from manufacturer to manufacturer. A vacuum that does a good job of picking up large and fine debris will need to have both powerful suction and a solid brush system that’s designed to handle debris of different sizes.

Filters

The type of filter the vacuum uses will also be important since fine debris, including allergens, can get caught in a filter. The better the vacuum’s filter, the less dirt, hair, and dust that will be released back into the air.

HEPA filters are the top choice for many allergy sufferers. While non-HEPA style filters can still do a good job, many will not be able to remove one hundred percent of pet hair and dust. So, if you have pets or allergies, then you need to go with a model that’s equipped with a HEPA filter.

Dustbin Capacity

Take a look at each particular model’s dustbin capacity. Some models will come with a dustbin that’s incredibly small, while others will have a dustbin that’s large enough to handle several cleaning sessions before it needs to be cleaned out. Obviously, the larger the dustbin capacity is, the less often you’ll have to worry about emptying it out. A decent sized dustbin comes in at 0.6 liters, while the largest is around 1 liter. Anything smaller than 0.6 liters and you’ll find yourself emptying out the dustbin after each use.

Power

robot vacuum in action

Vacuums with a high suction power rating are more effective in getting rid of dirt, debris, and pet hair in corners, thick carpets, and on hardwood floors. Models that are lower powered tend to handle dust easily. But in the end, the higher the suction power, the better the chances of removing impurities from a variety of surfaces. Higher suction doesn’t necessarily require a tougher motor.

In order to understand what suction power means, you need to know how it’s measured. This information is provided by manufacturers in a variety of ways, such as AW, CFM, amps, and watts.

CFM

CFM, or airflow is the most important type of measurement and it represents the power of the airflow from the surface to the bin. It’s essentially in the volume of air that’s sucked by the unit in sixty seconds, measured in cubic feet. While it’s important information, some manufacturers don’t provide it. In the end, the higher the CFM value, the better the suction. Look for a model that has a range of fifty up to one hundred CFM.

AW

AW is another type of measurement used for suction power and it refers to the number of watts used by the vacuum to carry a unit of air through an opening. Models can offer an AW rating that ranges from sixty AW up to 220 AW.

Watts

Watts is the most common value that’s provided by a manufacturer. It refers solely to motor power consumption. Models with a higher wattage will come with a more powerful motor.

Amps also refer to power consumption. However, some manufacturers will provide an amp value for the entire unit, which includes all the systems such as the brush roll and lights, not just suction, so paying attention exclusively to the amp rating is not a direct indicator of how much suction power a model has to offer.

PA

PA is a unit of measurement and it measures atmospheric pressure. This is a unit of measurement that most manufacturers will include in their spec sheet. For a robot vacuum, you’ll want to look for a model that features four hundred to five hundred PA.

Price

How well one of these vacuums will work for your home may not solely have to do with its price. While it’s true in most cases that you get what you pay for, when it comes to robot vacuums, you’ll find low-priced models that can outperform higher priced tech loaded models. These days, robot vacuums are more affordable than ever before, with a price that starts at around $150 to $200, topping out over $1000. How much you’re willing to spend should depend on your budget and your cleaning needs. By reading robot vacuum reviews, you can find unbiased opinions regarding performance, durability and quality, which will help you to determine whether or not a model is worth the higher price tag.

Maintenance

  • Before you switch on the vacuum, make sure you walk around the home and pick up anything the vacuum can become tangled in, including cords, laundry, toys, food wrappers, blankets, and shoes.
  • A vacuum not re-docking from time to time is totally normal. If it happens often, try moving the dock to a new place. For a bumper bot, keeping the dock near the middle of the home is a great strategy and one that will cause the bot to cross its path more often, which will increase its chances of finding the dock successfully before the battery dies.
  • For every model, you will need to leave three feet open above and around the dock. If the dock is placed under a piece of furniture or in a cluttered area, then there’s a good chance that the vacuum will be unable to dock properly.
  • To keep your vacuum in good running order, make sure you clean out the filter every few cleaning sessions.
  • Take a look at the brushes and ensure they’re not encumbered with hair or string. If so, you’ll need to use a pair of scissors to cut away any debris that’s wrapped around the brushroll. Most models will also come with a tool that can cut through debris and brush away any fuzz, lint, or hair.
  • On the brushroll, side brushes, and caster, clean the bearings at least once a month. For this job, you may need to use a screwdriver. However, some models will allow you to pop out parts without the use of tools.
  • The vacuum’s sensors may also need to be wiped off from time to time, using a microfiber cloth.
  • To clean out the gears, use compressed air. This will keep the vacuum running more efficiently.
  • The side brushes and filters may need to be replaced two to three times a year. The brushroll should be replaced once a year.

Getting the Most Out of a Robot Vacuum

These vacuums can be the perfect solution for maintaining your home, without you having to lift a finger. Many of the newer models come equipped with everything from laser navigation to mapping technology and voice controls.

These vacuums don’t require too much human intervention, but as I mentioned earlier, they can get tripped up on everyday clutter, rugs, and wires. Some may also lose their way on their journey back to their charging dock. Fortunately, there are many ways around these issues. Below, I’ve included some tips that will help you get the most out of your new robot vacuum.

  • The layout of every home is different. Because of this, I recommend setting aside some time to observe your robot vacuum during its first few cleaning sessions. This will allow you to see how well it can steer around obstacles in the home and learn the spots where it has trouble navigating. You can then configure the space so it can operate easily in the future.
  • It’s pretty common for these vacuums to get stuck on long curtains and on cords, which can stop them dead in their tracks. In some cases, the vacuum may pull free and end up dragging cords. To avoid this from happening, be sure that the floors are free from cords, phone chargers, and make sure you tie up any long curtains before you send the vacuum off for a cleaning session.
  • This also applies to any small objects that the vacuum can easily suck up. If you have pets or children, then make sure you put away their accessories and toys. If you have office supplies in the home such as rubber bands, paper clips, pen caps, and other types of small items, make sure you do a visual sweep of the home and pick up any large debris as needed.
  • Rug fringe can also be a challenge for many of these vacuums. While many models will be able to wiggle their way free, the main brushroll can cause the fringe to look mangled and bunched up. To prevent your vacuum from getting tangled in rug fringe and ruining your rug, tuck the fringe under the rug before the vacuum is let loose.
  • When it comes to thicker shag area rugs, you may need to remove the rug altogether. Some models have a very difficult time making it over this type of rug. If they are able to, the main brush roll can end up pulling out carpet fibers instead of sucking up any debris.
  • You may not want your vacuum to go into certain rooms or spaces in the home. Depending on the type of model you have and the technology it uses, there are a variety of ways you can prevent one of these vacuums from going into certain parts or rooms in the home. Some models will come with laser navigation sensors that will create a map of the home while they clean. With the help of a companion app, you can outline areas in the home where you want to create barriers. Other models may come with boundary strips that you will need to physically place in areas of the home that you don’t want the vacuum to clean.
  • To make it much easier for the vacuum to collect debris under a table, consider flipping the chairs upside down, or pulling the chairs away from the table to give the vacuum more space to maneuver.
  • Most new models of robot vacs will have cleaning schedule capabilities, allowing you to choose what time and days of the week you want the vacuum to clean. This way, you can schedule the cleaning to a time that you know you won’t be at home, so the floors will always be clean once you get home and the vacuum will not get in your way.

Frequently Asked Questions

guy and his vacuum

What Should I Look for When Buying a Robot Vacuum?

Consider the type of flooring you have and choose a model based on whether it has a reputation for working more efficiently on hardwood or carpeted floors. Determine how much you can afford to invest in a new vacuum. There are many great models available in a variety of price brackets. Do you need a model that works with its own app? Do you want a vacuum with mapping technology? How large is your home? The answers to these questions can help you choose a model that will work for your home and your budget.

How Long Do Robot Vacuums Last?

This will depend on the make and model. Some high-end vacuums can last up to eight years, while lower quality models may only last three to five years.

Do Robot Vacuums Learn Your House?

This will depend on the type of technology the vacuum relies on. If it has mapping technology, then yes, it will create a map of your home and will refer to the map each time it cleans. If it’s a very basic model, one that uses bump sensors, then no, it will not be able to learn the layout of your home.

Are Robot Vacuums Loud?

Most models are very quiet-running and significantly quieter than a traditional vacuum. However, the level of noise they emit can vary from model to model.

Can You Move a Robot Vacuum to Different Floors?

Yes. Regardless of the type of technology your new vacuum uses, you can move it to new rooms and floors. However, you’ll want to move the docking station along with the vacuum, so the vacuum can return to the docking station once it detects that its battery has run low.

Do You Need WIFI for a Robot Vacuum?

Some vacuums need Wi-Fi, while others do not. Models that use Wi-Fi can be controlled by an app, so the user can turn on or shut off the vacuum when they’re not home. Other models will not require wireless use, simply press the clean button on the unit or remote and the vacuum will go into action.

Can a Robot Vac Replace a Normal Vacuum?

Robot vacuums aren’t perfect. They are not able to clean certain areas of the home, such as narrow areas or stairs. Because of this, you’ll still need to use your traditional vacuum from time to time.

Do Robot Vacuums Use a Lot of Electricity?

No, especially when compared to traditional vacuums. Robot vacuums use less power per unit of time, which is why many of these robots are categorized as energy saving appliances.

Can Robot Vacuums Clean Multiple Rooms?

Yes. These vacuums can go from room to room as long as you leave a door open. However, if you have stairs, the vacuum must be physically picked up and carried up the stairs.

Do Robot Vacuums Work on Carpet?

Yes. Some will work better than others. However, it’s important to keep in mind that shag carpet can be very difficult for even the toughest models to travel over.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, there are several different models available on the market these days, which can make it hard to choose a model that comes with the type of cleaning power and features your home needs.

Each year, manufacturers continue to update robot vacuum technology and include features that make these vacuums, smarter, more efficient, and easier to use.

The best robot vacuum cleaner will come loaded with the type of power and features you need to keep your floors clean, around the clock. The model you choose will depend on your budget, cleaning needs, and the size of your home. The models I’ve included here are each loaded with the latest in robot vacuum technology and can work with most budgets. Additionally, this buyer’s guide will help you determine which features are the most important, what type of vacuum will work the best for your home based on size and floor type, and how you can get the most out of your new vacuum and help boost its performance.