The Best Robot Vacuum


Last updated: June 27, 2019




We've rounded up the best robot vacuums available on the market and tested them.

Jump down to our robot vacuum buying guide if you want to know more about what to look out for when choosing.We've also added some frequently asked questions (and answers!).





Robot vacuum buying guide 2019

Not so long ago, robots were something confined to science fiction. Nowadays, these little helpers are a reality, and come in a variety of different shapes and sizes to fulfil different roles around the home. A robot vacuum might not look like the robots from those movies, but they're just as helpful.

Being small in size and capable of navigating around your house on their own, robot vacuums redefine the vacuuming process. Instead of using a loud and large vacuum that requires manual effort, robot vacuums get the job done better, quieter and most importantly, on their own.

Having been in the market for some time now, there's a wide range of different robot vacuum models available - hat's why we've created this guide to help you choose the model that's right for you.

Before we get into the details of what makes a specific robot vacuum model right for you, we'll explain what makes them such a great investment.


What makes a robot vacuum an essential purchase?

Well, plenty of things. First of all, robot vacuums are completely autonomous, which means that cleaning your house requires almost no effort from your side. All you have to do is set the robot vacuum and it'll start cleaning the way you like, whenever you like. You don't even have to be in your house when it cleans it.

Eliminating manual labor from a tedious task such as vacuuming is definitely worth it. Instead of hiring an expensive cleaning service (or, shock horror, doing it yourself!), you get a robot vacuum to do your cleaning for you. And you just pay for it once you buy it. After that, it's free work. It might not replace the need for a deep clean every now and then, but it's definitely an effective and cost-efficient way to keep your house clean.

Now that you know what makes robot vacuums such a great investment, it's time to have a look at the most important considerations that you should keep in mind when buying one.

Budget

The first thing that you'll notice when you look at the available robot vacuum models is the wide price range. We're talking devices that cost anything between $90 to $800, and even more, which is almost a 10x difference between the cheap and the high-end models.

There are plenty of reasons for this price difference. When comparing cheaper to more expensive models, you'll notice a large variation in things like build quality and features. Another thing you'll notice is the difference in suction power, which is what separates a robot vacuum for light cleaning from another one that can deep-clean your carpets.

Not everybody can afford an $800 robot vacuum, but not everybody wants the cheapest model either. Before you start comparing robot vacuum models, you should have a clear budget and expectations in mind.

If you want something that'll last for years and can give you a more serious level of cleaning, you should be willing to invest in a more expensive model. Whatever your requirements are, knowing how much exactly you're willing to pay for your new robot vacuum will make the selection process easier.

Cleaning Modes

Eufy RoboVac remote controlThe Eufy RoboVac remote control, showing automatic, edge, spot and timed cleaning modes.

Different robot vacuums support different cleaning modes. All bots have an automatic mode, that will wander around your home and hoover as it's computer brain sees fit. But extra modes can be useful for different specialised functions. Popular modes include:

  • Spot
    Is there a particularly dirty area on your floor that needs cleaning? Select the spot mode when the robot is nearby to tell it to intensively clean that area. Most robots will clean in a spiral pattern when in spot mode, but not all do.

  • Edge
    In this mode the robot will attempt to follow the walls. Good for edge cleaning.

  • Single room
    By using the single room mode you are instructing the robot vacuum to restrict it's cleaning to just one room. In practice, this means the robot will clean for a shorter amount of time before returning to it's charging base. There's no guarantee the robot will stick to one room (it doesn't really understand the concept of a 'room'), so this mode is often of limited use.

  • Scheduled
    The scheduled mode allows you to define when and on what days the robot vacuum should automatically start cleaning. Usually you can set a weekly schedule - for example every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 7:00 AM.

Cleaning Time

The cleaning time is the duration for which a robot vacuum can run on a single charge. Most models are programmed to automatically head to their charging station whenever the battery is low. What you need to check is that the model you're buying has enough cleaning time per charge to be able to clean your house. If your house is too big for the model that you're buying, it'll have to recharge before it can clean the entire house. Charging time is often around four times that of cleaning time - if your robot can vacuum for one hour, it will take around four hours to charge.

Dust Bin Size

Just like traditional vacuums, robot vacuums store the dust in the dust bin. This is something that all robot vacuums models have in common. There is a difference though, which is the size of that bin. A larger dust bin can make using your robot vacuum much more convenient.

The best thing about robot vacuum is that you can buy them, set them, and forget about them. In the case of models with small dust bins, this will never happen. You'll find out that the vacuum will stop working frequently as the bin is full and needs to be emptied.

The larger the bin, the less frequently you'll have to empty it. So, when it comes to dust bin sizes, the bigger the better.

Carry Handle

This is another small detail - which is often overlooked - that makes a huge difference. As you've probably guessed, robot vacuums can't climb stairs. So, if you have a multiple-level house, you'll have to carry the robot vacuum from one level to the other. And that's where the handle becomes really useful.

By providing you with an easy way to carry your robot vacuum, handles make moving it from one level to the other a much easier task. If you live in a house with multiple levels and plan on using your robot vacuum in all of them, this is something that you should be looking out for.

Control Method

There are different ways through which you can control your robot vacuum. This ranges between physical buttons on the vacuum to remote controls, voice commands, and apps.

Generally speaking, more sophisticated models require a more sophisticated control method, which is usually a mobile app. By connecting the robot vacuum to the app, you can control all types of functions and even get useful information from the vacuum. This includes battery life, cleaning schedule, and more.

If you want something that's future-proof and more enjoyable to use, we recommend models that can be paired with an app. This is much better than having a separate remote that you'll keep losing, plus doesn't offer the same level of control as an app.

Another control method that's worth having is the voice control. Models that are compatible with voice assistants like Alexa can be controlled via voice commands. Being able to tell you robot vacuum to go clean is something that you don't really want to miss.

Anti-Drop Sensors

These sensors make robot vacuums aware of different levels. If you live in a multi-level home, this feature is simply a must-have. By being able to detect where a floor ends, you won't have your robot vacuum falling to its end anytime soon.

Models that don't have this feature can't differentiate between different levels and will just fall off the stairs if you're not careful. Since you want to be automating the entire cleaning process, this feature is definitely worth it.

Battery Type and Capacity

Battery type is another thing that you should consider when choosing your new robot vacuum. When you look at the available models, you'll find two common battery types to choose from, which are Lithium-ion batteries and Nickel Metal Hybrid Batteries, which are also known as NiMH batteries.

To spare you the unnecessary technical details, you just need to know that Li-ion batteries are the newer and more expensive technology. Benefits over NiMH batteries include being smaller, lighter and being able to charge faster. On the other hand, NiMH batteries are often larger, meaning your robot vacuum can run for longer without having to recharge.

When it comes to battery capacity, the bigger the better. Bigger batteries mean more cleaning per charge, which is always a good thing.

The way your robot vacuum makes it's way around your house is known as it's navigation method.

High-end models usually scan the room first before they start cleaning to build a map of your house. This lets them know where they have cleaned already and where they still need to go. Having an advanced navigation system will make the vacuum clean more efficiently and requires no help from your side when it's moving around the house.

On the other hand, lower and mid-range models usually employ a random navigation method. These robots will move around in a seemingly random pattern, and rely on eventually covering every part of your floor. This might sound strange, but in practice the results are good, the only requirement being that you frequently run the bot.


Frequently Asked Questions

Can robot vacuums be used on hard wood floors?

Yes, most robot vacuum cleaners can be safely used on hard wood floors. In fact, this is usually the type of surface they do best on.

Can robot vacuums be used on carpets?

Yes. All robot vacuums will work on short pile carpet, most will work on medium pile, but almost all wont work on long pile carpet.

Do robot vacuums fall down the stairs?

Most robot vacuums include anti-drop sensors (also known as cliff sensors or cliff detectors) that prevent them from falling down the stairs or other drop. The robot detects the edge, stops itself, turns and goes off in another direction.


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Scott Robbins's profile picture
This article was written and researched by Scott Robbins.
Hi, I'm Scott, the founder of Expertly Tested. I started this site to help people find the best products as quickly as possible, and without any outside influence. I've spent many years reviewing and tested products of all shapes and sizes, and am now putting my knowledge to work for you on this site.