If you, like so many people these days, find yourself short on time and dreading household chores, a robot vacuum is an easy solution. These handy little robots ensure your home stays dust and dirt-free. Armed with several technologies (lasers, cameras, sophisticated algorithms) robot vacuums of today zip around furniture and efficiently clean the rooms they are assigned. Some do even more of the work for you and empty themselves when their dust bins become full!
In a head-to-head race, a traditional vacuum may do a higher quality job, though many robot vacuums are outfitted with smart-pathing capability that allow them to work much more efficiently. Robot vacuums also tend to come with companion apps that allow for more control, as well as remote and scheduled carpet-cleans.
Are Robot Vacuums worth it?
We think so. While these high-tech vacuums can be on the more spendy side than a traditional upright vacuum, they have several features that can reasonably justify the price. Convenience is one such feature, as these vacuums allow you to sit back while they do all the work. They provide flexibility when it comes to schedules, so even the busiest of people can keep a tidy floor. Additionally, they are super easy to use for those with mobility issues.
Switching from hardwood flooring to carpet should not be an issue with most robot vacuums. Expecting them to scale your staircase, however, is a fantasy for now. If your home has multiple staircases, it may be a good idea to add an additional robot vacuum to your arsenal just for the different floors of your home.
iRobot Roomba i7+
Expectations were certainly high for the Roomba i7+, as it followed the popular Roomba 980. Its predecessor came equipped with smart technology that allowed the little vacuum to map out its environment – and prevent it from bumping into obstacles.
This updated model features Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant integration in addition to the already impressive Roomba technology. Now, room maps can be stored once they are created by the vacuum, which can in turn speed up clean time during future cleans.
This is all well and good, but our favorite feature is the Roomba i7+’s self-emptying dust bin. Once the vacuum returns to its dock, all the collected debris is sucked up into a disposable bag stored within the dock itself.
These disposable bags can last quite a while, as they have the capacity to hold thirty days’ worth of dust and debris. You won’t need to keep track of the days though; an alert will be sent to the companion app when the bag is full. These bags run about $14.99 per 3-pack.
This new Roomba model maintains its signature circular body design, allowing it to continue to fit through both tight and low clearance areas. Thanks to its two rubber rollers, it is consistent in terms of cleaning across multiple floor types. Dust pick-up is just as good on carpet as it is on hardwood.
Roborock S4 Max
A favorite model at the moment is the Roborock S4 Max. Its prime features, great price and ultimately its top-tier cleaning performance make it a top contender in the world of robot vacuums. When tested, it could pick up 94% of dog hair placed on both hardwood flooring and carpet. When it came to cereal and kitty litter, the S4 Max was even more effective. Cleaning performance-wise the S4 Max is neck and neck with the Roomba S9+, but for half the price.
This model is also quick to get the lay of the land. It efficiently maps your home and each of its assigned rooms, with the added convenience of an associated app. Once all set up, you can easily set up the S4 Max’s cleaning schedule.
It is also worth noting that the S4 Max is an Amazon exclusive and can therefore be sold out more quickly.
Roborock S6 MaxV
For a vacuum on the less expensive side, the Roborock S6 MaxV can hold its own. This model is designed with pet owners in mind, as it comes with Reactive AI. This technology, along with two stereoscopic cameras, allows the vacuum to avoid obstacles – which can be common in pet owners’ homes.
In home tests, the S6 MaxV held to obstacle-avoiding promise. Despite several obstacles, the vacuum stayed right on task. And efficiently at that! This baby comes equipped with 2.5 kPa suction power, giving it twice the power of an ordinary vacuum of similar size. It tackles pet hair with ease as a result.
In testing other hybrid robot cleaners (those that act as mop and vacuum), many run in the middle of the pack in terms of cleaning power. Because they must perform both tasks, they tend to be average at both. The Roborock S7, however, shakes things up a bit, being both efficient and dependable.
This is a great vacuum for setting and forgetting as well, as this smart model knows when to lift its mopping pad to avoid soaking carpet, adheres to keep-out areas, and can be scheduled.
iRobot Roomba i3+
Of all of iRobot’s models, the Roomba i3+ is the least expensive self-cleaning vacuum. This is a super handy feature, as the vacuum uses its self-emptying base to remove debris. This allows the vacuum to clean longer without your intervention. Across tests, this model passed with flying colors, only really struggling with pet hair on carpet.
The i3+ pairs with an app, as well as Alexa and Google Assistant compatibility, which allow for easy remote control. The app allows for scheduling and connectivity. Unlike Roomba’s i7+ and s9+ models, this model cannot be assigned individual rooms via the app.
iRobot Roomba s9+
Of all the robot vacuums tested for this article, the Roomba s9+ has the smartest features, and achieved the most complete clean. This model also has sophisticated room-mapping technology and learns as it cleans.
Once the model has the lay of the land, you can assign it to clean specific rooms and provide it a schedule. All that said, this is also the most expensive vacuum tested.
The s9+ has a built-in dustbin in its charging base, which helps to decrease the number of times you need to empty the device. This adds the cost of debris bags but allows for the container to go 30 cleanings between empties.
Another bonus is the compatibility the device has with Roomba’s Braava Jet m6 robot mop. With both, you can schedule the devices one after the other for a maximum clean.
Ecovacs Deebot T8 AIVI
To sum up the Ecovacs Deebot T8 AIVI in two words: package deal. This device packs many features into a small device. This cleaner is both a vacuum and mop, is equipped with a microphone and Wi-Fi-enabled camera, as well as obstacle-avoiding technology.
All these features, and there are still more. With this vacuum, you can customize room maps by setting up boundaries, assigning specific areas, and identifying different floors.
In addition to its cleaning power and myriad sophisticated technological features, this vacuum has an extensive battery run time. To give an idea of just how long this device can run, it can mop and vacuum a room all in one go.
This is not to say this device is without flaws. The camera can become a target for hackers, as it is Wi-Fi enabled, and the sensors on the vacuum can occasionally get stuck. The app also has a few bugs: maps can get deleted by accident, particularly after software updates.
Yeedi K650 Robot Vacuum
If you are on a tight budget and have an appreciation for bounce navigation in a vacuum, the Yeedi K650 may be just right. This is a very effective and affordable little device. For a budget vacuum, it has an incredible battery life.
For up to 100 minutes this little vacuum speeds around and expertly avoids obstacles. While it is a budget vacuum, it is Wi-Fi-enabled and does come with Alexa-compatibility. It also connects to the Yeedi app.
Eufy RoboVac G30
The Eufy RoboVac G30 has been subject to nothing but rave reviews. As part of the company’s new line of vacuums using laser navigation, this model provides a more affordable option. As such, it comes with fewer sophisticated features, and is not as efficient as other models.
When testing, it took over an hour to clean a small home, while more expensive models take between 30 and 45 minutes.
While a little slower in terms of cleaning, this model is small and slim, allowing it to clean tight, hard-to-reach areas. The RoboVac G30 is also very quiet, and has an easy-to-use app.
How to Choose the Right Robot Vacuum
Before making a purchase, determine your needs and the price you are willing to pay.
- How much are you willing to spend on a vacuum?
- How big is the space you want cleaned regularly?
- Is pet hair a factor?
- Do you want remote control of the device?
Robot vacuums can be placed into categories. There are the budget-priced (less than $200) models that utilize less advanced technology, and then there are the smart models that can run more than $400.
The budget models are a little more accessible but are more primitive and can fall victim to walls and other obstacles. They can also take a little longer to clean, as they are unable to map rooms or determine cleaning patterns.
The more advanced models have sensors that help them to map rooms and avoid objects and other obstacles. These models often also come with associated smartphone apps that allow for even more control and extra convenience.
How do robot vacuums pick up dust and debris?
Most robot vacuum models are equipped with bristles on the bottom of the machine that collect dirt and debris from your floor. The debris is then sent into a collection chamber in the main section of the device. For hard-to-reach areas, most models have even finer brushes on the outside of the cleaner.
More technologically advanced models have lasers that aid in detection of obstacles, such as furniture, walls, and other small objects. These lasers also help the device to avoid stairs and other ledges.
Can a robotic vacuum take the place of a traditional vacuum?
These days, robot vacuums provide a competitive cleaning experience. Even thick carpets can be tackled by these little devices, making them a decent alternative to traditional vacuum cleaners. They also come with the added convenience of working independently. The main trade-off is that the robot vacuum cleaners have much smaller collection bins and need to be emptied more often.
These small devices also often come with extra fine brushes that can clean hard-to-reach areas. They can often achieve a deeper clean to corners and baseboards than traditional vacuum cleaners.