Robot vacuum cleaners are looking to transform the way we look after our homes and with continually improving features, they signal the start of an automated home cleaning revolution that many have been waiting years for.
As the intelligent cleaning devices in our homes get smarter and prices get lower, the ability to automate those time-consuming housekeeping tasks is now easier than ever.
The days of carrying out mundane household chores are rapidly becoming a thing of the past and our robot vacuum cleaner guide is here to show you why.
We’re probably all pretty much in agreement that cleaning the home is a chore and that one of the most tedious on the list is vacuuming. Robot vacuum cleaners offer the ability to take care of this job for you, happily patrolling your home and taking care of any dust and debris in their path.
While all robot vacuums effectively do the same job at the foundational level, the range of functionality and additional features between different models varies widely.
With price tags ranging from around 100 bucks to $1000 dollars, it’s important to decide up front, what features you’re specifically looking for in your new automated floor cleaning assistant.
Covering everything from pet hair and allergy functionality, to app-based and voice control, there are a lot of choices out there when it comes to finding the best robot vacuum cleaner for the job and we’re here to help you sort the best from the rest.
- 1 Robot Vacuum Cleaners – The Basics
- 2 The Best Robot Vacuum Cleaners – Our Top Picks
- 3 The Top Robot Vacuum Cleaner by Category
- 4 The Best Specialist Robot Vacuum Cleaners
- 5 How do Robot Vacuum Cleaners Work?
Robot Vacuum Cleaners – The Basics
When it comes to finding the best robot vacuum cleaner for your needs, it’s important to gain a basic understanding of what exactly robot vacuums are, what they can do, and equally importantly, what they can’t do.
One of the most important considerations if you’re thinking of buying a robot vacuum cleaner is to evaluate what exactly it is that you’re looking to bring to your home cleaning routine with the addition of an automated cleaning assistant.
Robot vacuum cleaners are still somewhat behind their traditional human-powered counterparts when it comes to serious suction power, so if you’re looking for a heavy-duty carpet cleaner that doesn’t leave a single strand of hair behind, you’re probably still going to be better off with a traditional machine – for now.
If however, you’re looking for a device that removes you from the cleaning equation entirely and that’s both capable and competent in carrying out low-level floor cleaning and ‘maintenance cleans’ without you needing to get involved, then the best robot vacuum cleaners are the answer you’ve been waiting for.
Convenience is the undeniable benefit of the best robot vacuum cleaners on the market today and the ability to let your automatic cleaner take care of the vacuuming will ultimately free you up to do other things.
If like us though, you sit somewhere in the middle of these requirements, a good bet is to invest in a robot vacuum cleaner to take care of the daily or weekly cleaning tasks automatically while holding onto a manually-driven machine for carrying out those less frequent deep-cleaning jobs.
As it currently stands, there are still a couple of things that even the best robot vacuum cleaners can’t do, such as and emptying the dust canister when full and navigating and cleaning stairs (although many can operate safely on upper floors with edge detection sensors). On top of this, if you’re looking to clean those other, harder to reach areas such as curtains and other furnishings or the interior of your car, then a robot vacuum isn’t the tool for the job.
On top of this, if you’re looking to clean those other, harder to reach areas such as curtains and other furnishings or the interior of your car, then a robot vacuum isn’t the tool for the job.
The best robot vacuum cleaners excel in a number of areas though and shine if you’re looking for a solution to maintain the cleanliness of a single floor or a one-floor apartment.
If you want to move your interior towards a fully realized home automation experience, then having a device that looks after the cleaning of the floors is an essential component of an integrated smart home ecosystem.
The Best Robot Vacuum Cleaners – Our Top Picks
We’ve compiled a definitive list of the ultimate in automated home cleaning assistants to take the work out of housework. If you’re looking for the very best robot vacuum cleaner that can tackle even the toughest of challenges, read on.
iRobot and their ‘Roomba’ range of robot vacuum cleaners are one of the market leaders in the automated home cleaning space and it’s therefore unsurprising that their products continually receive excellent reviews from those who own and use them.
One of the very best is the Roomba 880 which combines both high-performance cleaning capabilities with cutting edge home navigation tech.
Featuring an impressive list of specs, the Roomba 880 features a HEPA-filter, capable of collecting and filtering particles finer than the width of a human hair.
As with all of the best robot vacuum cleaners, cleaning with the 880 can be fully automated via a set of pre-programmed cleaning routines. The Roomba also allows you to take control of the device remotely if you want to focus on a particular area.
If there are areas of the house that are off limits to your automated cleaner, the 880 ships with a couple of devices known as ‘Virtual Wall Lighthouses’ which act a bit like, well, lighthouses – steering the robot away from pre-designated areas or danger zones while the robot does the rounds.Learn More About the Roomba 880 Robot Vacuum Cleaner Here
If you’re looking for a robot vacuum cleaner that’s both intelligent and highly capable at getting the job done, then the Botvac Connected from industry giant Botvac is an excellent choice.
Featuring what Neato refers to as ‘LaserSmart’ mapping, the Botvac Connected utilizes a laser guidance system to navigate every inch of your home environment ensuring every spot of the floor is covered and, according to the brand, allowing the cleaner to finish the job up to 4x faster than others. What this basically means in practice, is the device carries out the first sweep of the rooms to be covered before getting started cleaning all of the areas mapped out.
When the work’s done (or when the device is out of power), the Botvac Connected returns to base automatically to recharge and if needed, then resumes cleaning until the job is finished.
One of the first things you notice with all of the machines by Neato is their distinctive D-Shape, which unlike many of the standard round robots out there, allows them to reach those tougher corners usually beyond the reach of other bots, a feature referred to as ‘CornerClever’ by the brand.Learn More About the Botvac Connected Robot Vacuum Here
Balancing value with performance, the 650 features a 3-stage cleaning system is able to tackle most everyday vacuuming jobs from dust to pet hair with ease.
The ability to schedule a cleaning rotor for up to seven sessions a week also means that the Roomba 650 will keep your pad tidy, even when you’re at work (or playing on the Xbox).
The low profile of the device at around 3.6 inches means it’s able to get under most chairs and furniture in your home with ease and when it’s done the rounds, the device will automatically return to its charging dock to juice up for another day of cleaning.
One shortfall of the 650 mentioned by users over higher-end models is reduced navigation accuracy so this should be a consideration if your living space contains any particularly tricky corners or easily breakable objects.Learn More About the Roomba 650 Robot Vacuum Cleaner Here
One of the very best features of iLife’s A4 robot vacuum cleaner is that its slim form design (3 inches) allows it to effortlessly clean under those low-profile areas such as chairs and couches that are kept out of reach by larger devices.
The A4 also features a side brush which makes it perfectly suited to catching those areas which otherwise get missed such as skirting boards.
Multiple levels of automation come as standard with the A4 from full autonomous cleaning which can be scheduled when you’re not around, to remote cleaning which you can directly control to get at those particular trouble spots.
As with the other best robot vacuum cleaners in our shortlist, the iLife A4 is fully equipped with a suite of stair and object-avoiding sensors.
The A4 robot vacuum cleaner contains a 2600-mAh battery which provides around 145 minutes of charge and is able to make its way back to base when it needs to recharge or once the work is completed.Learn More About the iLife A4 Robot Vacuum Cleaner Here
The R7070 contains many of the features you would expect from one of the best robot vacuum cleaners on the market, but what makes it particularly awesome is that it works alongside Amazon’s Alexa meaning you can have your automated assistant make a start on the cleaning simply by speaking a command.
WiFi connectivity also means that if you want to control the device from your phone, the R7070 has that covered as well, simply download the accompanying app and you’ll have full control over where and what gets cleaned next.
WiFi connectivity also means that if you want to control the device from your phone, the R7070 has that covered as well, simply download the accompanying app and you’ll have full control over where and what gets cleaned next.
Utilizing what Samsung calls Visionary Mapping Plus and FullView 2.0 Sensors, the R7070 is smart enough to find the optimal cleaning path throughout your home and can spot obstacles for avoidance.
A self-cleaning brush is included to reduce hair tangles, allowing the vacuum to maintain optimal performance meaning one more task that you know longer need to worry about.Learn More About the Samsung R7070 Robot Vacuum Cleaner Here
If you’re looking for an affordable yet smart robot vacuum cleaner, then the Deebot N79 by EcoVacs is an excellent solution and is great for keeping floors tidy in most homes.
A particularly long battery life (thanks to a large lithium battery) is top of the list of useful features with the N79 meaning that this robot vacuum cleaner can keep going when others would be out of juice and headed for home.
The Deebot includes multiple sensors that help it safely and effectively navigate multiple floor obstacles including slight inclines.
With WiFi and a companion smartphone app for operation, the Deebot N79 is a great entry-level option if you’re in the market for an affordable robot vacuum that gets straight down to work with minimal fuss.Learn More About the EcoVacs Deebot N79 Robot Vacuum Cleaner Here
While the Eufy RoboVac doesn’t feature WiFi, it does represent another good mix of value and performance making it an affordable option if you’re after a robot vacuum cleaner that will take care of the tidying without breaking the bank.
A low-profile design complements a 3-point cleaning system (side brushes, rolling main brush, and suction) to deliver cleaning to those hard to access areas and along sides and crevices.
Automatically returning to base to recharge when the work is done or power is low, the Eufy utilizes infrared sensors to avoid obstacles and what the brand calls ‘drop-sensing’ tech to ensure safe operation when the device operates around ledges, stairs or other similar potential robo-cleaning hazards.
On top of the device itself, the Eufy Robovac 11 ships with a remote control, charging base, HEPA-style filter, 4 side brushes and a 12-month warranty.Learn More About the Eufy Robovac 11 Robot Vacuum Cleaner Here
The Top Robot Vacuum Cleaner by Category
The Best Robot Vacuum Cleaners for Small Spaces
If the space in your home is limited, the primary consideration is always going to be one of dealing with confined spaces and the size of the device when it comes to picking the best robot vacuum for keeping the place in top shape.
Similarly, with potentially less area to cover during each cleaning run, a robot vacuum cleaner for use in a smaller space such as an apartment isn’t constrained by the same kinds of battery-life requirements between charges as one that needs to traverse a number of larger rooms.
One of the best-selling robovacs in its category on Amazon, the Roomba 650 from iRobot is an excellent automated cleaning companion when it comes to maintaining your apartment or smaller living spaces.
As it’s designed to adjust automatically when moving from carpet to hardwood or laminated floors, the Roomba 650 is perfectly suited for single level homes that don’t entail too many steps, but do throw the occasional area rug into the mix.
With users continually stating the dependability of the 650 to navigate highly cluttered spaces without getting stuck, this robot vacuum is a natural choice if space is a premium in your home.
A scheduled cleaning mode means you can set the Roomba 650 off to work at a dedicated time every day of the week should you want, at which point it will get to work with the task of keeping your pad spotless so you don’t have to.Learn More About the iRobot Roomba 650 Robot Vacuum Cleaner Here
The Best Robot Vacuum Cleaners for Large Areas
When it comes to finding the best robot vacuum for tackling large areas, the chances are you’re going to be looking for a device which is able to cover the largest space possible with maximum range while minimizing the ‘down-time’ required for charging or emptying in between completing the full job.
This effectively highlights the two most important considerations for a device in this category: onboard space (for the collection and storage of dust and debris) and overall battery life.
There are some excellent choices that do a solid job on both of these fronts and while prices will tend to be higher than a cleaner with lower stats in these areas, if your home is large enough to benefit from these advantages, then the upgrade is absolutely worth the money.
One of the standout features of the Botvac Connected is the ability of the device to run for a staggering 120 minutes before needing to recharge, allowing it to cover 5000 square feet in a single cleaning cycle. What’s more when run on ‘eco-mode’, the Connected can operate for an unbelievable 360 minutes before stopping for juice!
All of this is to say that if your home warrants a robot vacuum with enough stamina to cover a lot of ground before running out of energy, then you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better candidate than this workhorse from Neato.
Utilizing LaserSmart technology, the Botvac Connected plots the most efficient route around your home to ensure that every inch of ground is covered and cleaned, all the while using onboard intelligence to avoid obstacles such as furniture to get the job done as quickly and effectively as possible.
The combination of smart navigation technology and a marathon level battery life mean that the Connected is an excellent choice if you’re looking for the best robot vacuum for covering multiple rooms in one session and maintaining a regular level of cleaning in even the largest of homes.Learn More About the Neato Botvac Connected Here
The Best Specialist Robot Vacuum Cleaners
Whether we’re talking about specific functionality such as the ability to tackle pet hair or particular rooms of the house, some of the best robot vacuum cleaners on the market today are designed to tackle a particular task as part of their daily cleaning remit.
We’ve taken a look at the top automated cleaning specialists and the following devices represent the best in class for their particular category.
The Best Robot Vacuum Cleaners for Pets
If you own a dog or a cat, you’ll be all too familiar with the kinds of challenges stray pet hair can bring to the regular cleaning routine.
The best robot vacuum cleaners for pets are specifically with designed with these challenges in mind and often feature more powerful suction alongside multiple brushes to lift hair and dust from carpets.
For the dog owners out there, you may also be interested in our pick of the best robot mops further below in this guide, perfect for wiping up muddy paw prints after a long (potentially puddle-laden) winter walk.
The pet owners among you will appreciate the special kind of annoyance that pet hair causes when you’re trying to clean the house.
Due to this, there are a particular set of skills that are required from a robot vacuum cleaner to tackle this task and get the job done just right and it’s here that the Neato Botvac D80 is looking to answer your prayers.
Using the brand’s CornerClever technology allows the D80 to get even closer to walls and corners for maximum pickup potential, while powerful suction and precision brushes (including side brushes), ensure that no stray hair is left behind.
Learn More About the Neato Botvac D80 Robot Vacuum for Pets and Allergies Here
The Best Robot Vacuum Cleaners for Hard Floors
Whether you’re looking to find the best robot vacuum for laminate floors or ceramic based tiles, the requirements for an automated cleaner are significantly different when you’re looking for a device to tackle hard surfaces.
While there are some excellent robot cleaning devices out there dedicated to vacuuming both hard floors and carpeted areas, the chances are that if you’re after something specifically designed for hard flooring as opposed to carpeted areas, you’ll likely be looking for a wet or dry robot mop to get the job done.
Some people opt for a combined approach that utilizes both a traditional robot vacuum cleaner (for handling carpeted areas of the house as well as ‘regular’ vacuum jobs on hard floors) alongside a dedicated robot mop for picking up dust and removing marks from tiles or laminated surfaces.
It may or may not surprise you to know that the best robot vacuum cleaner for tackling non-carpeted areas such as wood or vinyl floors isn’t a vacuum at all, but a robot mop.
The iRobot Braava Jet 240 utilizes a combination of wet and dry mop pads to clean your floor.
Perfect for picking up dust as well as spills, the Braava Jet 240 combines a wet mop setting which uses a jet spray in tandem with a vibrating mop head to clean stains and spills from your floor.
If the issue is dust and hair, simply switch the device over to dry mode and it will make short work of the debris on your floor.
While not the tool of choice for any carpeted areas, the Braava Jet 240 is ideally suited to rooms with tile, ceramic or wooden floors.
In terms of in-built intelligence, the Braava is able to detect and avoid carpeted areas and won’t spray on walls, meaning you can set and forget while it gets to work on your kitchen, bathroom or other hard floor areas in your home.
Similar to a traditional mop, the Braava utilizes changeable dry sweeping pads and wet mopping pads which can be switched out when required. Once you attach the new pad, the device will automatically detect the type attached and switch itself into that mode, ready for action.Learn More About the iRobot Braava Jet 240 Here
Similar in operation to its sibling the Braava Jet 240 (see above), the Braava 380t from iRobot is designed to automatically tackle any hard floor cleaning task you throw its way using a combination of dry sweeping and damp mopping modes.
The 380t is just 3.1″ tall making it perfectly suited for getting to those hard to reach areas such as under furniture.
Utilizing technology iRobot calls ‘NorthStar Navigation’ means that the Braava 380t is able to build up a memory map of where it’s already been (and cleaned), to help ensure it knows where still needs cleaning and making sure it doesn’t cover old ground. This ‘internal GPS system’ is accomplished with the inclusion of a box (called the NorthStar Navigation Cube) which sends out a signal to the robot mop, allowing it to keep its bearings as it makes its way around your home.
When switching between the two cleaning modes – damp and dry – the 380t employs specific movement patterns in each instance to ensure that it cleans as efficiently and effectively as possible, moving in a straight line for ‘dry sweeping’ and in a back and forth motion when mopping to remove stubborn grime from the floor.
The Braava 380t uses specialized removable and magnetic multi-purpose cleaning pads for attaching cleaning cloths to the device. In mopping mode, the cleaning pad is kept damp through a dedicated reservoir that dispenses liquid throughout the cleaning cycle.Learn More About the iRobot Braava 380t Floor Mopping Robot Here
The Best Hybrid Robot Vacuum Cleaners
While you’re probably still best going for an individual specialist when it comes to the automated cleaning of your home, the appeal of a hybrid robot vacuum cleaner (combining the role of robot vacuum and mop) definitely makes them worthy of consideration if you’re looking to maximize efficiency.
It’s still worth remembering though that although hybrid cleaners represent excellent value for money and reduce the spatial footprint of two separate devices, they won’t necessarily deliver the same cleaning clout that you’d get from a dedicated specialist.
Ironically, the V5S Pro from ILIFE offers somewhat of a combination of both the mopping and pet-household management characteristics of the two previous specialists and it’s this ability to tackle three functions (vacuuming, sweeping, and damp mopping) that make it our top hybrid robot cleaner of choice.
If you’re looking for a good all-rounder device that can pick up hair and dust, while also usable as an entry-level robot mop, the V5S Pro is an excellent place to start.
With automatic docking and an estimated 140 minutes of run time per charge, the V5S Pro is also able to adjust to different floor types for easy switching between hardwood floors, ceramics or carpet for traditional vacuuming.
Learn More About the ILIFE V5S Pro Here
How do Robot Vacuum Cleaners Work?
At the most basic level, the best robot vacuum cleaners work in the same way as their larger, non-automated counterparts in that they combine both suction with some form of spinning brush to lift dust, dirt, hair, and other household detritus off of your floor and into an internal storage chamber for disposal later.
Of course, we all know that the biggest difference between robot vacuums and the kind you spend hours battling cables with is the ability for the former to get on with the job of cleaning your floors without you having to lift a finger.
In the early days of robot vacuum cleaning, one of the main methods for these initial robo-pioneers when navigating around your living room was the random ‘try it and see’ approach, effectively moving around a floor area, bumping into walls, objects, and soundly sleeping pets, before turning and heading the other way to continue the job.
The upshot of this early method of room navigation was that these robot vacuum cleaners took a long time to get the job done. Contrary to popular belief these earlier devices didn’t have an in-built memory which remembered the route covered so there was a lot of trial and error before a room was properly covered.
This approach is still utilized to an extent by some of the absolute budget devices, but by and large, most of the top robot vacuum cleaners now incorporate some form of sensors or detection equipment to both avoid objects entirely and map out the layout of a room while taking care of the business of cleaning.
Generally speaking, one of the biggest differences between entry level, budget vacuum cleaners and models with a higher price tag is the capability and the number of onboard sensors the device uses to ‘intelligently’ navigate a space.
The cleaning process of individual machines varies by model and as you’d probably expect, the higher the price tag, the more cleaning features you’re going to get.
All robot vacuum cleaners work in the same way at a fundamental level – they automatically collect dust and debris from your floors and deposit it into a container within the device itself.
Where different devices vary, is how they get this job done, with some favoring a vacuum-only approach to cleaning, while others combine this with one or multiple brushes to achieve a deeper clean.
All robot vacuum cleaners ultimately incorporate some form of suction element that lifts dust and dirt up from the ground, storing it in an on-board cannister for removal and emptying into the trash when full.
If you’re looking to invest in a robot vacuum cleaner that can handle tougher cleaning jobs such as picking up pet hair, you’ll want to go for a device that combines vacuum suction with at least one (but ideally multiple) brushes.
Most of the best robot vacuums will include at least one main brush underneath the device which grabs dirt, dust, hair and missing earrings, depositing them directly into the dirt bin.
Also known as an agitator, this component of the robot vacuum cleaner may comprise of a couple of counter-rotating brushes for a deeper clean.
You’ll probably notice that some of the top robot vacuum cleaner models also incorporate brushes which protrude from the sides of the devices.
The role of these side brushes is to catch dirt and dust along the base of walls and similar areas, brushing it directly into the onboard container for collection and emptying when full.
Dirt Container and Filters
As your robot vacuum cleaner progresses on its way around the room, everything it picks up en-route is collected in an internal and removable container which needs to be emptied when full.
Similarly, most robot vacuums will also require a filter be changed at varying frequencies to ensure continual cleaning performance.
Robot vacuums are able to traverse the landscape of your home thanks to motor driven wheels on the underside of the device.
In order to change direction, the power to each wheel motor is alternated, simply increasing or decreasing accordingly.
In order for a robot vacuum cleaner to interpret its environment, it depends on input from the outside world from sensors built into the device.
Ranging from simple impact detectors on the body to infrared sensors which are able to detect objects, vertical ‘cliff-edges’ (such as stairs), and detailed dirt sensors to increase cleaning capabilities, the sensors on a robot vacuum cleaner are how it sees the world around it.
The best robot vacuum cleaners are powered by an onboard battery which is recharged automatically by a charging station when your cleaning assistant knows it’s running low on juice.
Running time varies between individual models, types of battery, and capacity and this may influence the device you eventually settle on.
If you live in a small apartment for example, battery life may be less of an issue as your robot cleaner has less ground to cover.
However if you live in a larger home, when your automated vacuum sets out for its daily rounds of the house, greater distances to traverse and clean will almost certainly require a longer lasting power source between charges.
The obvious advantage of robot vacuums is the ability to let them get to work on the floor cleaning chores without you having to think about it.
Many of the top robot vacuum cleaners can be programmed to run at a specific time or on a scheduled routine meaning you can be sure that your home will continually receive that top-up clean every day, every week or at a frequency that works best with your schedule.
With that being said, many of the top of the range devices also include remote control capability through an accompanying app on a smartphone or tablet, as well as the ability to get your vacuum cleaning using the power of your voice using a voice controller such as the Amazon Echo or Google Home.