Robotic Vacuum Icon Find the Best Robotic Vacuum Cleaners for your floor with our 2019 reviews

updated: December 20, 2019
Robotic Vacuum

Browse our reviews to find the best robot vacuum that matches your flooring and lifestyle. The best models are quiet and go about their business with hardly any help needed from you. They’re designed to fit your budget, with as many or as few automatic features as you want. They’ll thoroughly clean your specific floor type, whether you have hardwood floors or carpet.

Are robot vacuums worth buying?

Roomba i7+

It really depends on how much you love manual vacuuming. When they first came on the market, robot vacuums were very costly and a little primitive when compared to the smart tech features you can find on today’s models. While they’re still more expensive on average than regular vacuums, these little guys can clean just as well as your upright or canister vacuum. Plus, they’re compact, with low profiles that can easily glide under furniture. And they have tons of automated features that make floor cleaning nearly hands-free.

Which robotic vacuum cleaners are best for pet hair?

Hairy Dog & Top-rated Robotic Vacuum Cleaner
Most of the robot vacuums we’ve reviewed do a fair job of cleaning up long pet hair
However, if you want a high performer with good suction, opt for models such as the iRobot Roomba s9+ or Neato Robotics D7, which can handle this task much better than cheaper models.

For hands-free cleaning, nothing beats an automatic vacuum

Depending on the model, robot vacuums come with sensors that allow room mapping for more efficient cleaning. They can return automatically to their charging docks when their batteries are low. Most have sensors that keep them from falling down stairs and can be programmed to stay out of certain areas.

Stephen A. Hancock - Cleaning Expert
If you want to save money, keep in mind there are robot mops that don’t have any suction. As a dry mop, they do a decent job of picking up pet hair, while their wet modes can clean up pet stains and pawprints.
Stephen A. Hancock
Robotics Expert

They can be scheduled to run while you’re asleep or at work. Many are also equipped with Wi-Fi so you can control and monitor them with a mobile app. The only hands-on work you have to do is emptying the dustbin. Just pop it out and empty into the garbage can. Replace, and it’s ready to roll out again at your command.


Best Robotic Vacuums – 2019 Reviews & Comparison

Most Advanced Technology
iRobot Roomba s9+
Best All-Around Performance
iRobot - Roomba 960
Our rating: 9.9
Price: High
Best Quiet Robot Vacuum
eufy - BoostIQ RoboVac 11S
Best Smart Tech for the Money
Best for Small Homes
Our rating: 9
Price: Average
Roborock - S5
Our rating: 8.8
Price: High
Best for Pet Hair
Neato - Robotics D7
Our rating: 8.7
Price: High
Our rating: 8.4
Price: Low
Best for Corner Cleaning
Samsung - POWERbot R7040
Our rating: 8.1
Price: Average
– Powerful suction;
– Long battery life;
– Self-emptying;
– Links to Braava Jet m6 mop;
– Great corner and carpet cleaning;
An average-priced Roomba with plenty of smart features. Works well on a variety of floors. Camera-based room navigation for an efficient clean.
Best for hard floors and low-pile carpet, this quiet, no-frills machine is a good maintenance cleaner.
This model has many of the same smart tech features as the higher-end models, but at a more affordable price.
Simple operation in an affordable package. Great for small homes and apartments with hard floors and low pile carpet.
This vacuum / mop hybrid is a better vacuum than mop. Excellent navigation and mapping make it good for rooms with lots of furniture.
This is one of the best robot vacuums for pet hair. It gets into corners and integrates with 3 smart home systems.
This simple, low-profile, compact robot vacuum has limited tech, but its performance is impressive. Good for maintenance between regular vacuuming.
An affordable straight-edge vacuum that’s smart home friendly with good mapping and auto-adjust suction. Good for corner and edge cleaning.

iRobot Roomba s9+
Top of the line technology for hands-off, thorough performance
iRobot Roomba s9+
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Our rating: 10
Price: High
Our Choice

iRobot’s newest Roomba is quickly becoming a fan favorite. With several design upgrades, self-emptying bin, and its ability to pair up with a robot mop, floor cleaning has never been this automated. Unfortunately, it comes with a big price tag.

The s9 is 3.5 inches high, 12.5 inches wide, has a run time of up to 120 minutes, and produces 65 – 68 dB of noise. It has a 1-year limited warranty.

ProsThe Good

The unique D-shape and corner brushes allow the s9 to clean corners better than any Roomba has before. A HEPA-style filter and fully sealed dustbin keep allergens contained. Unlike previous models, the s9 doesn’t avoid dark flooring or rugs. More suction power and better brush rollers help it deep clean even thick carpets.

The s9 also pairs up with the Braava Jet m6 robot mop. Control via iHOME app, or with voice commands through Alexa or Google Assistant.

ConsThe Not-So-Good

It’s expensive, so it won’t fit the average homeowner’s budget. There’s no carry handle for easy transport to other rooms or floor levels. It won’t work well for those who aren’t tech-savvy or who don’t have good WiFi.

The corner brushes wear out quickly, especially on thicker carpet. It’s also loud, especially when at the Clean Base while emptying. Maps cannot be shared between older versions or with the Braava Jet m6 mop.

Customer OpinionWhat Customers Say

Customers love the self-emptying feature. They also love the improved suction and better carpet cleaning. Pet owners were impressed with this machine for how much hair it picked up without getting clogged and without them having to empty the bin themselves.

Those who bought the first round of s9 robots had more issues with software bugs. Several complained the corner brushes wore out quickly. Many felt it took too long for the s9 to learn floor plans.

Take a Look At These Alternative Models:
  • iRobot Roomba s9+ and Braava m6 combo
    Price: High

    Via the iRobot app and a new feature called Imprint Link Technology, the Roomba s9 and Braava Jet m6 work in sequence. Once the vacuum is done and back on the dock, it sends a signal to the mop, which then sets out and cleans the freshly swept hard floors.

    The s9 is self-emptying and nearly hands-free, while the m6 is the most advanced robot mop on the market. Both robots save you time with top notch navigation that lets them cover a lot of ground on one charge. Read more

  • iRobot Roomba i7+
    Price: High

    The Roomba i7+ is the first robot vacuum that can empty its own dustbin. With a battery run time of up to 90 minutes, the i7 covers a lot of ground while picking up a ton of hair and other debris that can clog up other vacuums.

    With Imprint Smart Mapping, the i7 learns your floor plan with just 2-3 cycles, seamlessly avoiding furniture and other obstacles. The iHOME app gives you an infinite array of control possibilities from scheduling times, choosing rooms, and more.

    Find out more with our detailed review of the iRobot Roomba i7+.

iRobot Roomba 960
An average-priced Roomba with good performance on a variety of floors

A more budget-friendly alternative to the higher-priced Roombas, the 960 tops our list as an all-around good robot vacuum. It’s average in price for the Roomba brand and is 3.6 inches high with a battery runtime of 70-75 minutes.

This model has a smartphone app (iRobot HOME) as well as Google and Alexa voice controls. It delivers 5X the suction power compared to earlier Roomba models.

ProsThe Good

This model has a camera for navigation that keeps it from banging into furniture and other obstacles. It doesn’t get confused when moving onto area rugs or from one type of floor to another. Dual multi-surface rubber brushes flex easily to stay in contact with all flooring types.

A HEPA-style filter captures 99% of allergens up to 10 microns in diameter. It can be set to make two passes to catch any dirt it missed the first time, plus it alerts you when the dustbin is full.

ConsThe Not-So-Good

The battery has a run-time of 70 – 75 minutes, which isn’t as long as some models. It can get stuck under low furniture. You can’t steer it with the mobile app, either. There’s no carpet boost mode for increased suction on carpet and rugs.

It may not be able to find its charging station. If a room or a floor is too dark, it may not be able to navigate well, which makes it a challenge to operate overnight.

Customer OpinionWhat Customers Say

Many customers were happy with how quiet this model is. They’re amazed with how much dirt and debris it can pick up in a cycle. Reviews were mixed with how well it picked up pet hair – it did much better on hard floors.

Customers didn’t like that it wouldn’t run well on dark or black carpet since the color messes with the cliff sensors. Several customers didn’t like having to empty the dustbin so often. Customer service is hit or miss.

Take a Look At These Alternative Models:
  • iRobot Roomba 980
    Price: High

    This model is a step above the 960. However, it’s cleaning settings are more customizable, and it has a longer battery life of up to 120 minutes (compared to 75 minutes on the 960). Like the 960, it has Google & Alexa voice control and will automatically go back to the charging dock and then resume cleaning until the job is complete.

    The 3-stage cleaning system has carpet boost for up to 10x the suction power on carpets and rugs (compared to 5x on the 960). Dirt detect sensors help it concentrate on high-traffic areas to ensure they get extra cleaning.

  • iRobot Roomba 630
    Price: Average

    This is a budget-friendly Roomba at around half the price of the 960 with more basic features than the upscale models. It has on-board scheduling rather than remote scheduling like the 960 or 980. Navigation isn’t as advanced with iAdapt rather than iAdapt 2.0 like the others.

    It has the same dirt detect sensors and 3-stage cleaning with counter-rotating brushes that do a good job on most floor types. It makes multiple passes and is operated by simply pressing the “clean” button. It doesn’t have a HEPA filter, nor does it operate with voice commands. Battery run time is relatively short, at about 60 minutes.

  • iRobot Roomba 690
    Price: Average

    Another budget-friendly model, the 690 has very similar features to the 630, except that it can be controlled remotely via the iHome app and with Google and Alexa voice commands. It has the same dirt detect sensors, which will send it back over extra messy areas when needed. It doesn’t have a HEPA filter, but it is quieter than the 960 and 980.

    Navigation is basic, with sensors but no mapping, so cleaning patterns are random. It shares some of the same challenges as the 960 with dark flooring triggering the cliff sensors and not being able to find its docking station.

eufy BoostIQ RoboVac 11S
A sleek, no-frills vacuum that’s great for maintenance cleaning

This is a very budget-friendly robot vacuum, one of the cheapest offered by Eufy and is a slimmed-down version of the original RoboVac 11. This super quiet machine (55dB) is great for your general maintenance cleaning and is best on hard floors to low-pile carpet.

It’s 2.85 inches high, with a battery run time of 100 minutes, a 0.6L dustbin, and 1300Pa of suction power. It lacks smart features, but it’s a great basic machine.

ProsThe Good

The S in the 11S stands for "slim". It has a very low profile compared to others. The black, tempered-glass top gives it a sleek look. Setup time is quick, with no sensors and mapping time needed. Just set up the charging station and press the start button. You can set it to clean on a schedule.

It has extra modes like heavy duty spot cleaning and edge cleaning. BoostIQ automatically increases suction on areas when needed.

ConsThe Not-So-Good

For tech lovers, you’ll probably be disappointed in the controls. For one, there are no app or voice controls. There IS a remote control, which might appeal to the technophobes. The random cleaning pattern can cause an inefficient performance if it has to dodge a lot of obstacles.

It’s not great with pet hair, which often gets caught in the brushes and has to be cleaned out. You also need a lot of free space for the charging dock.

Customer OpinionWhat Customers Say

Customers love the low profile that easily allows the 11S to clean under beds, furniture, and other areas that uprights can’t reach easily. Those who like the no-frills controls are happy with the simple operation.

However, several didn’t like having to rely on the remote control for scheduling nor did they like that it didn’t pick up pet hair very well. The vacuum getting stuck in random spots was another common complaint.

Take a Look At These Alternative Models:
  • eufy BoostIQ RoboVac 30
    Price: Low

    This version has the same size dustbin (0.6L), same height (2.85 inches), and is just as quiet as the 11S. It has the same battery run time of 100 minutes, but it has more suction power at 1500Pa. It uses BoostIQ like the 11S to increase suction when needed.

    This model recognizes boundary strips, which you can lay across certain areas to keep the vacuum away. The boundary strips are reusable and don’t leave sticky residue behind. It’s also slightly cheaper than the 11S and is good for hard floors to medium-pile carpet.

Impressive smart tech features for a fraction of the cost

This affordable robot vacuum has a lot of great features for the price. It includes some advanced smart tech that is usually seen in higher-priced models, such as app and voice control. It performs well, with cleaning power from 500 – 1000 Pa, depending on which mode you use.

Battery runtime is up to 120 minutes. It’s 3.3 inches tall, 13.9 inches wide, has a 300 ML (0.3L) dustbin, and is fairly quiet at 67-70 dB.

ProsThe Good

The nice thing about this one is that it’ll be a hit with both technophiles and technophobes. You can control it with a manual remote control, with a mobile app, or Alexa voice commands. There are multiple cleaning modes such as spot cleaning, edge cleaning, and single room.

Anti-collision and drop sensors keep it from damaging furniture or falling down the stairs. It’s also quiet enough to run overnight.

ConsThe Not-So-Good

With a rather basic plastic cover, it’s not an eye-catcher, so if you’re looking for style, you won’t find that here. It can get stuck in cluttered areas, and connectivity with your mobile device can be buggy.

With all the cleaning modes, it may take a while to find which ones work best for your needs. It could also get stuck under low clearance furniture at times. Finally, the only smart home system it works with is Alexa.

Customer OpinionWhat Customers Say

This is a great maintenance cleaner and won’t totally replace a good upright vacuuming, but some customers say they only use the upright once a month now. Several people run it overnight since it is not too loud.

One common complaint was the small dustbin and having to empty it so often, along with cleaning out the brush roller. A few customers said it tripped the cliff sensors on dark floors and rugs.

Take a Look At These Alternative Models:
    Price: High

    This model would make a good upgrade to the N79S. It looks a little sleeker than the N79S. Its battery life is shorter at only 110 minutes run time per cycle, but it has better room mapping features to keep it from going over the same area twice (unless you tell it otherwise). This ensures a quicker, more efficient cleaning.

    This model works with a mobile app, as well as both Alexa and Google Assistant voice commands. It’s the same size as the N79S. Noise level is also the same at about 64 dB. It uses 4 cleaning modes: edge, spot, auto and max (1000 Pa).

Simple operation for those who don’t need extra features
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Our rating: 9
Price: Average

Bissell is synonymous with floor cleaning, so it’s no surprise they have some robotic vacuums on the market. This model works well on hard floors, area rugs, and low pile carpet. It’s not overly blessed with smart features, however. It can be operated with a manual remote control which you can use to schedule cleanings too. The battery run time is 100 minutes, it’s 3.5 inches tall, and has a 0.4 L dustbin.

ProsThe Good

This model has a simple and somewhat futuristic look about it. Technophobes will appreciate the simplicity of operation. The manual remote control allows you to create custom schedules and activate various cleaning modes. It automatically adjusts suction when moving to a different type of floor.

It’s good for small homes and apartments with mostly bare floors or low pile carpet. It cleans well in corners and against walls with the side sweeper brushes.

ConsThe Not-So-Good

It has no mobile app or smart home voice control. It’s not great with anything thicker than an area rug. The 100-minute runtime means it’ll need a lot of recharging for a larger home. It doesn’t store mapping data, so it has to start the cycle over each time it leaves the dock instead of remembering where its been.

It has no obstacle detection and bumps into things often. Since cleaning patterns are random, it may not finish a room before recharging.

Customer OpinionWhat Customers Say

Customers with small homes such as studio apartments are happy with this vacuum. They feel it’s a good value for their money to clean a small space. Many pet owners said it did a good job with pet hair. They like that you can direct the vacuum with the remote and schedule cleaning times. Some customers weren’t happy about the lack of mobile app or voice controls. Several weren’t happy with the relatively short battery life.

Roborock S5
A vacuum & mop hybrid with excellent navigation and mapping
Roborock S5
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Our rating: 8.8
Price: High

For those looking for a hybrid vacuum with mopping ability, here’s an option to consider. It’s white color and utilitarian style aren’t glamorous, but it’ll fit in with other such appliances in your home. At 3.8 inches tall, it’s better as an open floor cleaner.

The raised laser cover in its center prevents really low clearance cleaning. It cleans with 2000 Pa suction at 63.8 dB and has up to 150 minutes of battery run time.

ProsThe Good

There’s an onboard area to store the brush cleaning tool, which is very handy. It has several smart tech features, including the Mi Home app, to schedule and monitor operation. It has virtual “barrier tape” on the app to establish no-go zones. You can also set areas on the virtual map for targeted zone cleaning.

Object detection keeps it from bumping into furniture and walls. Cliff detection works well.

ConsThe Not-So-Good

The app layout isn’t intuitive. For example, “Go” doesn’t start a cleaning cycle, but points the robot to a specific area on the map for spot cleaning. The cleaning modes are buried in the settings menu. The app and vacuum default to the last mode used.

Connecting to WiFi can be a challenge. The user manual isn’t clear. The mopping ability is only so-so.

Customer OpinionWhat Customers Say

Customers thought this performed better as a vacuum than a mop. They liked the smart features, especially the mapping, and the ability to save chosen zones. Many praised the navigation system, which kept it moving seamlessly around obstacles. Connectivity issues were the most common complaint.

The mop mode can cross over onto carpet, however, so some were not happy about that. Customer service isn’t all that useful when there’s a problem, either.

Take a Look At These Alternative Models:
  • Roborock E20
    Price: Average

    The E20 is a more budget-friendly version of the hybrid vacuum/mop. It has a little less suction power at 1800 Pa and is slightly smaller at 3.6 inches tall. The battery runs up to 90 minutes, which is quite a bit less time than the S5. The 640 mL (0.64L) dustbin is generous.

    It has basic Alexa integration to start and stop the machine. The rest of the programming can be done via the Mi Home app. Automatic floor detection adjusts suction power like the S5. The mopping performance is just so-so as well.

Neato Robotics D7
Smart home integration and intelligent mapping eliminates pet hair
Neato Robotics D7
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Our rating: 8.7
Price: High

This little bot eschews the usual circular shape for a D shape with one straight side. This innovation allows it to work into corners better than other models. It’s 3.9 inches high, including the height of the turret where the sensors are housed and has a 0.7L dustbin. Technophiles will love the smart home integration and advanced mapping/navigation features. Battery life is up to 120 minutes. It’s great for pet hair on hard floors and low pile.

ProsThe Good

Includes magnetic divider strips that you can cut up to establish no-go zones. But you can also set up no-go zones on the virtual map in the app. With this feature, you can basically create a map for the bot that’s much more versatile than the strips.

Not only does this vacuum work with Alexa and Google Home, but also IFTTT, which other vacuums haven’t implemented yet. Plus, the roller brush is large, and the vacuum works fast.

ConsThe Not-So-Good

This thing isn’t cheap. It’s similar to the Roomba 900 series in price. It may take a few times to accurately map cleaning areas. If the sensors get dirty, obstacle avoidance could malfunction, letting it run into walls and furniture. It’s also rather loud at up to 67 dB.

Connectivity can be a challenge, with the bot often losing floor plans, requiring remapping of the space. The bin is pretty small if you have a lot of pet hair, often requiring emptying during cycles.

Customer OpinionWhat Customers Say

Customers really loved the versatility of setting no-go zones to keep the bot out of certain rooms or areas that housed power and charging cords. Many pet owners were happy with its performance for hair. Some suggested using the “gentle navigation” mode to prevent damage to walls and other items should the sensors fail. A few noted a design flaw that required repairs – fur can get sucked into a gap between the brush and housing.

Simple, compact, low profile vacuum that’s great for tight budgets
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Our rating: 8.4
Price: Low

For those who want to try out a robot vac without shelling out the big bucks, this is a good one to start with. The A4s is a simple, compact vacuum with not too many bells and whistles, so it’s good for the technically challenged. At 3 inches tall, it can fit under a lot of low-profile items. It’s a good maintenance cleaner, with a 0.4L dustbin, 140-minute battery life, and can run up to 1000 Pa in max mode.

ProsThe Good

To schedule, steer, and switch cleaning modes, you have to use the manual remote control, which is pretty intuitive. It’s not too rough on furniture or walls, even with the random cleaning pattern. Two spinning side brushes sweep dirt under the machine where the brush roller picks it up easily.

It’ll does well on hard floors, area rugs, and low pile carpet. It’s quiet too at only 54 dB and easily gets under beds and other furniture.

ConsThe Not-So-Good

There’s no Wifi or smart home integration. The cleaning path is random, except for specific cleaning modes such as spot clean and edge clean. With no mapping skills, the battery may die before it gets the whole room done. Since its navigation system is rather primitive, it can get lost trying to find the charging dock.

Dark flooring may trigger the cliff sensors. There’s also no way to set up virtual walls apart from physical barricades.

Customer OpinionWhat Customers Say

Customers love that it can get under beds and other low clearance furniture. They love how easy it is to operate and maintain. Those who took more care in cleaning the dustbin, filter, brushes, etc. reported better performance. Also, they noted how if it ever seems to stop working, check the on/off switch on the side of the vacuum, which can get bumped easily. Some complained about the badly written manual.

Take a Look At These Alternative Models:
  • ILIFE A7
    Price: Low

    If you’re looking for a step up from the simple A4s, the A7 will only cost you more. With that, you get extra control from a mobile app and an extra cleaning mode called “Path” which provides a more thorough and methodical clean. The scheduling system is more advanced, allowing you to plan different cleaning times for different days.

    There’s still an easy-to-use remote control if you don’t want the mobile features. It’s still very quiet, even in max mode. Mapping is just as non-existent, and connecting with the app can be challenging. The A7 is the same size as the A4s with up to 150 minutes of runtime on one charge.

Samsung POWERbot R7040
Smart home integration with good edge and corner cleaning
Samsung POWERbot R7040
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Our rating: 8.1
Price: Average

This is an affordable version of the PowerBots from Samsung. But it still has lots of really smart features. It has a straight edge on one side like the Neato model we listed above. This makes it good at cleaning corners and edges. The wide front brush roller helps in this regard. It’s 3.8 inches tall. Battery run time is 30 – 60 minutes, depending on mode. It claims to have 20X more suction power than earlier circular designs.

ProsThe Good

There’s an edge clean rubber “blade” that extends to clean edges. It returns to the dock when it’s low, recharges, then heads back out to finish a cycle instead of starting over. You can operate it with the remote control or a mobile app.

It also integrates with Alexa, Google Home and Bixby. It automatically detects different flooring types and adjusts suction when needed. Its mapping tech plans an efficient cleaning path while avoiding obstacles.

ConsThe Not-So-Good

The dustbin is really small at only 0.3L, meaning it’ll need frequent changing. There are no barrier features on the app or barrier strips included. The battery life is really short at a max of 1 hour. Weekly maintenance to clean brushes, filter, etc can be time consuming.

The scheduling could be better with allowing specific days and times to clean. Camera-based navigation means it might not move well in dark rooms.

Customer OpinionWhat Customers Say

Customers were happy with how well it avoided objects and cleaned corners. It did a good job with most common household dirt and pet hair. They love how quiet it is and often run it overnight. The biggest complaint was the short battery life. Some reported that the manual states there are magnetic barrier strips included, when in fact, they’re a separate purchase. Others had issues with the vacuum getting clogged with pet hair.

Take a Look At These Alternative Models:
  • Samsung POWERbot R7065
    Price: High

    This vacuum has the same innovative shape with a rubber blade for cleaning corners and edges. It’s more powerful at 40X the suction of traditional circular vacs. Like the 7040, you can control this vacuum via a manual remote, mobile app, or with voice commands through smart home integration with Alexa, Google, and Bixby.

    It has 4 cleaning modes: automatic, manual, repeat and spot clean. There are also 3 suction levels: quiet, normal, and turbo. Setup can be a challenge, however, with getting it to charge and setting up the app. It’s the same size as the 7040 with a battery life of up to an hour.

  • Samsung POWERbot R7070
    Price: High

    A little more expensive than the 7065, the 7070 is geared specifically to pet owners. It has a unique self-cleaning brush which detangles & removes hair from around the roller. It offers 40X more suction power than traditional circular robot vacs. It has the same rubber blade as the others, which helps clean edges and corners.

    It can also be controlled via manual remote, mobile app, or smart home voice commands through Alexa, Google, and Bixby. It comes with magnetic barrier strips rather than having virtual wall technology. The app can be buggy, as well as the Alexa integration. Battery life is similar to the others, averaging 30 – 60 minutes.

What makes a good robot vacuum?

When shopping for your ideal robot vacuum, there are several things to look for. First of all, what’s your budget? Typically, robot vacuums cost less than $200 to over $1,000.

That’s a big range, and within those prices, features can differ drastically. Sometimes, you may be paying more for a brand name than actual beneficial features. So don’t rule out lesser known brands that might have all the features you want for less cost.

Automatic vacuum phone remote control
Beyond price, there are other things to consider

The best robot vacs have advanced navigation

The most basic robot vacs will move in random patterns. They’ll simply move until they hit an object or wall, turn, and go again until they hit the next object.

If you run the vac long enough, it’s more likely to do a thorough job, but this means it can take a lot longer to clean a big or cluttered room than a vacuum that can make a virtual map and plan an efficient cleaning path. This means more time and energy spent on recharging the battery.

If you have a large home with a lot of furniture and other obstacles, you’ll want more advanced navigation. Look for features such as room mapping, virtual barriers, auto-adjust suction, and obstacle avoidance.

Smart Navigation

But, keep in mind that efficient, high-tech mapping features may restrict the vacuum to a single pass over each area. Therefore, it may not have the suction power to provide a thorough clean.

So don’t write off the random pattern bots that will traverse over the same area multiple times. Or look for vacuums that come with a manual remote control or a spot cleaning mode so you can direct it to concentrate on certain areas that need extra TLC.

They don’t get stuck

Robot get stuck

One of the most common complaints with robot vacs is that they get stuck somewhere along their cycle. They can get stuck from getting tangled in wires, socks, rug fringes, and other objects. They sometimes can’t navigate out of tight corners when they’re surrounded by a lot of furniture legs.

Dark flooring and rugs can trip the drop sensors on some vacs, making them think your black rug is a cliff, so they won’t go over it. Taller thresholds can also be a problem if the bot can’t climb over them. Some have trouble finding their charging dock, so the battery may die, leaving them in the middle of the room.

Many things affect how well a bot can deal with these obstacles, such as the type of sensors and brushes. Any robot vac can have a tendency to get stuck, even the more expensive ones.

It all depends on the environment its working in vs. the design of the vacuum. A small, uncluttered room with solid wood flooring, for instance, won’t pose much of a navigation challenge for any vac.

They pick up obvious debris

Robot vacs (right now, at least) don’t match uprights in their ability to suck up fine particles. This is why they work best on hardwood floors, vinyl, laminate, and low-pile carpeting and not so much on shag. It’s also why they should be thought of more as a maintenance floor cleaner to be used between vacuuming sessions with an upright.

Roomba 960 Bottom
iRobot Roomba 960

But, a robot vacuum should have the power to suck up most visible debris, while leaving your floor feeling clean when you walk on it. They should have a good brush roller with at least one side brush for effective cleaning.

If you have a wide variety of flooring types you want your robot vac to clean, look for models that have auto-adjusting suction power or those that let you choose between several cleaning modes. This will give you a lot more control over debris removal.

Other things to consider

  • Noise level – The quieter a robot vac is, the more you’ll be able to tolerate it running while you’re watching TV or even while you sleep. Vacuums such as the Eufy 11S that run at around 55 dB (decibels) are considered very quiet. Those that run at 65 – 70+ dB, while still quieter than a normal vacuum, will be hard to sleep through.
  • Height – The shorter a robot vac is, the more it can get under low profile furniture and under cabinets. Bots such as the iLife A4S that are 3 inches tall or less are considered low profile. Keep this in mind if you need more under-furniture cleaning.
  • Barriers – Some robot vacs offer either virtual or physical barrier markers. Some offer both. Physical barriers come in the form of magnetic streps that you lay across areas you want the vac to avoid. Virtual barriers can be set within the vac’s mobile app. If you have a lot of no-go zones where you can’t just shut a door, this feature will come in handy. For example: pet food/water dishes, media hubs with several charging & power cables, play areas littered with several small toys.
  • Wifi connectivity – Adding your bot to your home wifi network lets you control it via mobile app or through voice commands via smart home integration with Alexa, Google, etc. This allows you to operate the machine when you’re away from home.

    From most apps, you can set cleaning schedules, change cleaning modes, set boundaries, and monitor where the vacuum has been, among other features. Techies will appreciate this feature more than those who just want a simple vacuum.

  • Battery life – This is more important in random path robots, because you want them to cover as much ground as possible during a cycle. More advanced robots will return to their charging docks mid-cycle if the battery is low, where they’ll recharge, then set out again.

    If you have larger rooms or need multiple rooms cleaned, you’ll want a robot with a long battery life. Vacs with 90 or more minutes runtime per cycle such as the Roborock S5 (150 minutes) are considered long-running enough to cover a lot of ground in one go.

  • Size of the dustbin – If you have a lot of pet hair or high traffic areas that accumulate dirt quickly, a bigger dustbin will be your friend. Otherwise, you may find yourself having to clean out the dustbin at least once per cycle.

    If you really hate that task, you could opt to splurge for the newest Roomba i7+ that automatically empties its dustbin at the charging dock, which holds up to 30 cycles worth of dirt.

Frequently asked questions

Here are a few questions that homeowners often ask regarding robot vacuums

  1. Are they safe for wood floors?

    Yes! The earliest models could scratch now and then, but today’s robot vacs are designed specifically for hardwood and other hard flooring, plus low pile carpeting. Their brushes aren’t super stiff, nor the bristles very long. Plus many of them have suction power and brushes that either self-adjust or can be adjusted for different flooring types.

  2. Do robot vacuum apps have security measures in place to keep my private information safe?

    Mostly. Keep in mind, however, that security protocols aren’t uniform across all manufacturer platforms. Any app that stores your name, email, phone, address, and maps of your home’s interior could be sharing it with third parties. Or your data could be the target of hackers. Obviously, vacuums with zero mobile tech or smart home integration have no risk of sharing any data. Your bigger brands such as iRobot have invested a lot in data security and transparency in how they use your data. Just be sure to read all that fine print first so you know what you’re agreeing to.

  3. How do you keep a robot vac maintained?
    • Be sure to register your robot vac on the manufacturer’s website as soon as you get it so your warranty will be activated. This will make returns and repairs much easier
    • Shake off or wash filters every few cycles
    • Remove hair caught in brush roller as needed
    • Clean brush roll bearings, caster wheels, and side brushes every few weeks (some vacuums come with a special tool for this)
    • Wipe sensors clean as the manufacturer recommends
    • Use compressed air to remove dust from gears or other hard to reach cracks
    • Replace filters & side brushes a few times a year, the brush roll once yearly, and the battery as necessary (every other year or so, depending on frequency of use)

Cleaning Tips & Tricks

Every technology has nuances and we try to help you to choose the good robotic vacuum.
How Does a Robotic Vacuum Work to Clean Your Floors?
Have you ever wondered how a vacuum robot really works? Before rushing out to buy one, it’s good to know about the features robotic vacuums use to clean hard floors and carpet. Read our guide to find out.
Household robots make our lives much easier.
Automate Your Cleaning With 4 Types of Smart Home Robots
Wish you had a live-in cleaning assistant that didn’t cost a fortune? Now you can! With home robots, cleaning has become more hands-off than ever before. Here are 4 types you could have right now.
New Mopping Robot
Know before you buy – the ins and outs of mopping robots
Homeowners are turning to automation more than ever to keep their floors clean. But should you jump on the technology bandwagon and buy a robotic mop? Discover the pros and cons of these smart cleaning devices.
Hardwood floor and Spin mop
Do you really know how to mop hard wood floors? Take our quiz to find out.
Wood floors need a bit more TLC than other hard floors. The wrong cleaners can dull them, hard shoes can scratch them, and water can warp them. Here are our tips to clean, mop, and maintain any wood flooring.
image description Comments
B Robertson
December 3, 2019 at 6:33 pm

I’m looking for a small robot vacuum that will sweep up my wood floors in my kitchen… Requirements:

– Small so it can get around baby high chair.
– Good at crevices under cabinets.
– Doesn’t try and go into my other rooms (where it will certiaintly get stuck on all the baby toys laying around in the family room)
– Capable of getting to a dock that would be under the table with obstacles nearby -OR- a vacuum smart enough to leave my dining room travel into the kitchen and clean only the kitchen and then return.

I’m highly skeptical in a vacuum properly performing this task without getting stuck so i’d like a lower cost to entry to try it…

Any recommendations?

Kevin (Cleanup.Expert Team)
December 7, 2019 at 8:32 am

Hi and thanks for your question. It’s hard to find any one robot vac that meets all of your criteria at a low price. The closest one we’d recommend would be the eufy RoboVac 30. It’s very affordable and a step up from the 11S, which we did a full review on here:

It’s only 2.85” high so it will fit under toe kicks and furniture that other vacs can’t reach. It also has a redocking feature so it will return to the dock when the battery is low. For all robot vacs, it’s best to place the charging dock in an uncluttered area, so under a table with chairs wouldn’t be ideal. If you can find a spot against the wall with good clearance, that would be best.

While navigation isn’t as advanced as the Roombas, it does come with boundary strips that you can lay in front of power cords or doorways to keep it out of unwanted areas.

It’s not perfect, but it might be a good one for you to start with.

November 24, 2019 at 6:13 am

I can’t believe the Shark robot vac didn’t make the list! I love mine. It did come with a strip. Virtual avoidable areas would be nice and a automatic bin emptier , But other than that I have no complaints! It picks up cat hair, dust, dirt easiely goes from my linoleum to thick carpet. It has a app I can control it from or set automatic cleanings weekly,daily ect. .It rarely gets stuck. I do vacuum every once in awhile with my large vacuum but honestly the floors are clean so i dont worry about it much!! I do however keep the cords,socks, toys up so they don’t get run over. It goes under my beds, maneuvers around dining room chair legs an always gets the whole house clean before it makes its own way back to charge! I have never owned a roomba but I think Im going to stick with works for my family of 6!! (plus 2 indoor cats!!)

Wilma Shaver (NY)
September 29, 2019 at 1:22 am

We have various types of carpet from low pile to thick plush. Will a robot vacuum really work on all carpets?

Kevin (Cleanup.Expert Team)
September 29, 2019 at 8:04 am

Many robot vacuums will struggle with anything beyond a low pile. That is, unless they have added features that increase the suction power needed to clean thicker fibers. Your best bet is to go with a robot vacuum that has something like Carpet Boost such as the iRobot Roomba 980. It will automatically adjust the suction power when transitioning between flooring types so it cleans much more thoroughly than those that don’t have this ability.

September 24, 2019 at 12:41 pm

Will a robot vacuum last as long as an upright, and is it worth the expense? How long do they usually last?

James (Cleanup.Expert Team)
September 24, 2019 at 6:11 pm

Like most everything, that depends. For one, with robot vacuums, you usually get what you pay for, meaning that a premium priced brand will likely outlast a bargain priced one. With good maintenance, many robot vacuums can last at least 4 – 6 years, longer for a high quality one. To keep it running well, you will need to replace various parts on it at different times.

Here’s a very general idea of replacement schedules:

  • Battery – every 2 years
  • Brushes – every 6 months
  • Filters – every 3 – 6 months
  • Sensors – every 2 years
  • Dirt bin – as needed

It’s important to follow all the maintenance steps in the owner’s manual for keeping the dirt bin and brush rollers clean, etc. You can pre-purchase replacement filters and brush rollers ahead of time so they’ll be ready when it’s time to change.

Nancy Wesley
September 23, 2019 at 4:49 am

I know a lot of these robot vacuums have schedule functions. With pets (2 dogs in particular) I’m wondering how often should I run the vacuum?

James (Cleanup.Expert Team)
September 23, 2019 at 8:41 pm

There is no set time to run your robot vacuum. It will depend on how dirty your floors tend to get and what type of robot vacuum you have. If your dogs shed a lot, many pet owners set their vacuums to run daily, like while they’re at work or overnight. Some pet owners find they only need to run theirs 3 – 4 times per week.

Try running it a few times per week and observe the results. If you find you need more hair pickup, then run it every day or every other day. Some brands will be more efficient on some types of floors and dirt types than others. The Neato Robotics D7, for instance, was rated best for pet hair in our reviews. So it may not require as many cycles to do the job well.

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