From C-P3O to Siri, androids like Data to androids like, well, Androids, Rosie the Robot to R2-D2 Roombas and beyond, robot helpers and smart devices have been the dream of homeowners and app users everywhere for decades.
Well, we may not have British-accented protocol droids or androids ready to serve aboard starships, but the age of the robot vacuum cleaner has arrived – and has it ever with these great robo cleaning options!
Top 10 Robot Vacuums
So, what is the best robot vacuum for you? Chances are if you’re the type to read this far you want some actual examples to help you turn all those abstract musings into concrete comparisons.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the best robo cleaners on the market today and what makes them such wonderful robo cleaning whizzes.
Ranked as the best robot vacuum by Business Insider, this model boasts a top suction power of 2000Pa and enough power to run for three hours on Quiet Mode, all of which is indicative of how it won such a high ranking.
You also get a ton of goodies, from a storage mat and extra filters to an adjustable water tank, reusable mop cloths, a Carpet Boost mode to make sure it doesn’t get stuck, and much more.
The unit has a diameter of eight inches and measures 3.8 inches tall, which is right in the sweet spot for a model of its kind.
Add that to the ability to recharge it with ease, easy access to its dustbin, and the ability to program non-zones so as to keep it far away from sensitive areas, and it shouldn’t come as a surprise why we have the Roborock S6 leading off our list as well.
2. Neato D4
This is another option that offers programmable no-go boundaries and cleaning maps, helped along by its fantastic laser navigation system.
It’s also an excellent choice for a smart robot cleaner as it is compatible with Alexa and Google Assistant and can even be controlled with an Apple Watch, which is pretty “Neato” if I don’t say so myself.
That said, unlike the Roborock with its Quiet Mode, the Neato D4 is less Silent Running and more Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, so don’t use it when silence is needed.
It’s also a mixed bag when it comes to the battery, as it’s on the weaker side but it also comes with smart charging options, allowing you to charge it faster and easier.
Size-wise, this model measures 3.9 x 13.2 x 12.6 in. and weighs in at 7.4 lbs, making it heavier than some models and too big to slip under sofas, though all that size also means more dustbin capacity to compensate.
CNET’s choice for the best budget robot vacuum cleaner, this model’s one of the least expensive at just around $330.
On the one hand, you get what you pay for to an extent, and this model does way better on hardwood flooring than carpeting, which isn’t surprising given how, as mentioned above, high-end carpet agitators are typically necessary for quality carpet cleaning. It is also a slower navigator than other models.
That said, this offering from Eufy excels in other areas, one being thoroughness.
It does a great job of sucking up most dust and dirt in the areas it covers.
It’s also self-charging, which is a huge time saver.
4. Eufy BoostIQ RoboVac 15C MAX – Most Affordable Smart cleaner
Countering CNET’s choice, Business Insider’s selection for most affordable robot vacuum cleaner is even less expensive, costing just around $175.
As with the 11S Max, it doesn’t do the best on carpeting but does much better on hardwood flooring, though it can struggle sometimes with corners.
It can still pick up pet fur, kitty litter, and coffee grounds on carpeting as well as hardwood flooring.
It is reasonably small as well, measuring just 2.75 in. tall, making it a good pick if you want a model that can zoom under couches while cleaning.
In addition, it’s reasonably quiet at just 60 db.
Bets of all, this is by far one of the most affordable smart cleaners, being compatible with both Alexa and Google Assistant (though it doesn’t offer programmable no-go zones).
Another in the same line as the 15C, this model is similarly priced while offering a few slight tweaks.
It is slightly larger at 12.8 in. in diameter and 2.9 in. tall, but is still small enough to get under most furnishings.
This model also boasts support for Alexa and Google Assistant via voice command, and while you still can’t set no-go zones, it does come with boundary strips you can put down.
That said, the app is a bit more finicky for this model. Still, it has strong suction at around 1500 Pa and is reasonably quiet.
The RoboVac line continues with this model, which continues the tradition of slimmer models at 2.85 in. tall, meaning once again we have a model that’s furniture-friendly.
It has great suction power for its size as well at around 2000 Pa. As with the other models, it features an app, smart navigation, and is compatible with Alexa and Google Assistant.
However, it does not have support strips or allow for no-go zones, and the battery life is a bit shorter than the other models.
It’s a bit more expensive than its predecessors as well, though at just around $320, it’s still definitely on the inexpensive side compared to most of the market.
Its biggest feature is its BoostIQ, which allows it to automatically adjust how much suction power it uses as needed. It’s enough for PC Mag to compare its furniture performance favorably versus the Roomba 675, the de facto favorite on Amazon.
If you are looking for a robot cleaner that can mop, this one is at the top of the list of the options you should be considering.
It features a fantastic deep-cleaning mop attachment and a 240 L water tank, which is good for more than 2000 sq ft of cleaning space.
The mop itself can vibrate as fast as 480 times per minute, and with the ability to get rid of pet debris as well as dried stains, it provides a more thorough cleaning experience than you’re bound to get with most other robot vacuums with mop functions.
Just as importantly, it has a carpet detection feature that mitigates how much water it uses, which in turn can help avoid that aforementioned issue of accidentally soaking your carpeting.
This model performs well on both carpeting as well as hardwood, is reasonably quiet, and even comes with an HD surveillance system in its app that allows you to track its progress.
The model doesn’t do very well in corners, and it’s pricier than other models at around $900 but that’s the only big blemish on what’s otherwise a clean sweep of the mop robo cleaner category.
It has an excellent app and offers voice control, and does a fantastic job of detecting and cleaning up dirty areas.
What’s more, this is one of the models that lets you pre-program cleaning times, allowing it to operate like the kind of robot helper Asimov imagined sans the complex philosophical quandaries (and really, who needs that with their vacuum cleaner?).
It is somewhat on the loud side, and doesn’t always return to its base after it has completed its cleaning mission, but with all of those features and at just around $220, this is indeed one of the great premium picks on this list.
Here we come to the grand poobah of the Roomba line, and by far the most expensive option on this list, topping $1,000.
However, given that it’s PC Mag’s choice for high-end models, it’s safe to say that reviewers have typically seen that extra expenditure as money well spent for those who are serious about getting the deepest clean and best smart robot cleaner experience for their dollar.
It has an innovative three-stage cleaning system that ensures it delivers a comprehensive cleaning job every time, helped in no small part by its powerful 40X suction system.
This is also another model that boasts smart navigation, is compatible with Alexa and Google Assistant, and also offers a self-emptying dustbin, sparing you the most unsavory part of the whole vacuuming process.
It is a bit loud, but other than that, this is practically the platonic (albeit pricey) ideal of a robot vacuum cleaner.
Another inexpensive option, this sub-$200 model can be programmed to clean at various times, though you do it via the machine itself as it does not feature app connectivity.
It can sometimes get lost on the way back to its charging dock, but other than that, it tends to run smoothly, starting when you tell it to and returning home (or at least trying to) afterward.
The battery is one of the best elements, as it boasts more than two hours on a single charge and is highly efficient, offering good long-term value.
We’ve come a long way with imagining robot helpers since Rosie the Robot swept up the Jetsons’ messes and C-3PO fretted whatever mess his friends would get him into next.
No matter what your needs, any one of these robot vacuum cleaner options can allow you to clean up with a futuristic twist, because we may still not have warp speed or jet packs, but hey, when it comes to automatic house cleaners, the future is now!
1. Consider the Color
One of the biggest mistakes people make when shopping for a robot vacuum is to overlook the importance of color. It’s safe to say that’s a big obsession among smart device shoppers already and while rose gold Roombas probably aren’t gonna be a thing anytime soon (and I’d say that’s probably a good thing), if you’re going to spend hundreds of dollars on a robo cleaner, you may as well get a good looking one. Most robo cleaners come in simple white or black. Dust shows up way more on black casing, while hair and mud can show up more on white casing.
2. Hardwood Versus Carpeting
While we’d like to choose flooring based on cost and aesthetics alone, let’s be honest – the choice also comes down to how much of a hassle they are to clean, which sucks.
Thankfully, a good vacuum’s sucking power can make cleaning floors suck a lot less. Robot vacuum cleaner options tend to do better with hardwood floors, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be used with carpeting as well. That’s why you’ll want to look for robot vacuum cleaner options that have a carpet agitator.
3. About Your Budget
Flash back to Flash Gordon and the gleaming wall to wall whiteness of 40s/50s Raygun Gothic, and you’ll find worlds where most everyone’s rich with robot helpers. It’s safe to say we’re nowhere near that utopian ideal today, and yet smartphones and robot cleaner options are everywhere and more affordable than ever.
That being said, just because you don’t need a galactically-huge bank account to afford a robot vacuum cleaner doesn’t mean you want it to be a black hole sucking up your hard-earned cash, either.
Robot cleaners around $200 and below should give you solid cleaning times and decent capacities. The more you pay, the more features, such as better Wi-Fi connectivity, navigation, brush rollers, the ability to serve you drinks while you wait (okay, maybe not that – yet).
Decide on a budget ahead of time and shop accordingly.
4. Is There an App for That?
Money can’t buy intelligence (or at least it shouldn’t), but it might buy a smarter robo cleaner. One of those things that comes with a bigger budget is app connectivity.
An app can make it easier to control your cleaner, with some apps even letting you create your own preprogrammed map of your home before letting it do its thing. Many robot cleaners that are app-connected are also Alexa or Google Assistant-connected.
Assuming Alexa doesn’t snap and go full-Terminator on us (we all knew the robot uprising would start with raging Roombas), this means all it would take is a simple “Alexa, start cleaning the floor!” or something similar to get your robot cleaner going.
5. About Mop Options
One thing even the best robot vacuum cleaner options still struggle with sometimes is mopping. On paper, it sounds like a good idea, getting rid of one more tedious task and leaving your floors extra clean.
In practice, robot mopping done wrong can lead to everything from dirty water being spurted out and dragged along everywhere to leaks spoiling your flooring.
In searching for the best robot vacuum and mop, you definitely don’t want to skimp on the price. Robo mopping technology is still pretty new, and the high-end models are really the only ones so far that are even close to dependable.
6. How Much Dust Can They Take?
Just as you don’t want to spend a fortune for a banquet only for your guests to get full on appetizers, you don’t want to spend hundreds of dollars on a robot cleaner that gets full after half a room’s worth of dust and dirt. Your starting point for a robo cleaner’s capacity should be at least 0.6 liters, with anything over one liter being fantastic.
To move on to the next course in our vacuum/eating metaphor, you don’t want to eat more than you can handle, and the same goes for vacuums – in either case, overeating and, um, “overflow” can be messy. To prevent a “mess,” you ideally want to make sure to get a vacuum that beeps or flashes when it gets full as well.
7. Your Robot’s Battery Life
Like a puppet with its strings cut, a robot with no power is a sad sight to see. The same goes for robot vacuums, which is why I’d recommend this being an area you really focus on. Not only do you not want to have to deal with robot cleaners dying on you mid-clean, you don’t want to pay for new batteries all the time. For example, on average Roomba batteries last two hours and 400 charges, both of which are good baseline expectations.
A few tips to help you get the most out of your robo cleaner and extend its battery life:
- The more your robo cleaner has to struggle to pick up the dirt and dust, the faster it will burn through its batteries, and the less efficient it’ll be. Ideally, you should clean the brushes at least once a week.
- Rosie the Robot was always ready to spring into action at a moment’s notice (sass aside) as the robo-maid on The Jetsons. Your robot vacuum won’t be wearing a rob-au pair outfit (though wouldn’t that be a sight!), but that doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t be ready to go at a moment’s notice. I definitely recommend keeping your unit fully charged at all times. That being said, you don’t want to overdo it by keeping your robo cleaner on its charger constantly, lest you accidentally burn it out. For as important as it is to keep your robot vacuum ready to go, it’s actually a good idea to let the unit drain down every once in a while. Rosie the Robot almost never got time to wind down and relax, but it’s actually better for the long-term health of your battery for it to go down to 0% and back up to 100%.
- Does warm weather make you sleepy? Yeah, me too – and the same goes for your robo cleaner. Keeping your robo cleaner in cooler conditions will keep the battery in good shape. A cool, dark closet or cupboard can also help make sure that your robo cleaner is not constantly exposed to direct sunlight, as that can cause the battery to overheat and degrade over time. You’ll also want to make sure that it has plenty of breathing room. As much as you might be tempted to just throw it back into the closet when it’s done, that’s not such a good idea, especially if there’s anything in there that generates heat.
- We all need a vacation, even robots! Roombas come with a “Vacation Mode,” as do some of the other models in contention for the title of Best Robot Vacuum. This can help ensure that the battery remains fresh and ready to go. If you time things right, you might even be able to program your unit so it vacuums when you’re away, so all you’ll have to do when you come home is pop it back on its charger or set it back on Vacation Mode.
- Bigger homes mean bigger battery needs. Your little robo only has a finite amount of power before it’s pooped out and powers down. If you used to have a Roomba zoom-ba around your apartment, don’t be surprised to see the little guy struggling if you move to a two-story apartment. There’s probably nothing wrong with the model itself, it’s just that it can only handle so much square footage on a single charge. You’ll thus want to consider either teaming it with a second small robot cleaner to be its “partner” or, hey, cue the Sir Mixalot because I like big batteries and I cannot lie!
8. Convenience Counts
Every little feature that makes cleaning easier is helpful. If you can’t or don’t want to shell out for a robot vacuum, you might want to consider looking into one with a remote control.
The better the sensors, the more accurate the cleaning – and the less chance the robot will accidentally ram into your wall or go flying off the stairs, both of which might kinda-sorta put a damper on the whole “automated robot cleaning will make your life easier” idea.
Any little your robo cleaner offers can make a big difference, and it’s a competitive marketplace out there, so be picky and don’t settle for second best.
You might be able to program it so it will clean your home while you’re away or sleeping so it doesn’t start cleaning at inopportune times.
It can be a little mesmerizing to watch your little robot helper roll around cleaning on its own, but unless it’s doubling as a bartender a la R2-D2 in Return of the Jedi, you probably don’t want it zipping around underfoot when friends come over.
9. Size (and Shape) Matters
Robots come in all shapes and sizes, from Robby the Robot big to BB-8 small. Which size and shape is right for you when it comes to your robo cleaner will have a lot to do with the actual layout of your home and furniture, to say nothing of your expectations.
Do you want a cleaner that can zoom beneath your sofa? Maybe you’d rather have one that has a huge container? Those two things are typically mutually exclusive.
Shorter, slimmer units tend to be the ones that can zip along under furniture, while larger ones tend to have a greater capacity.
There’s no need to fat-shame robo cleaners, but if one gets wedged under your couch, it’ll be embarrassing as they sit there, whirring away, burning out their battery (and, if they stay stuck vacuuming the same spot while slowly overheating).
Meanwhile, big things come in small packages, but they also tend to lead to a big mess if they overflow as alluded to above.
10. Pet Considerations
We all love our pets, but we don’t always love cleaning up after them, which is where your robot vacuum comes in, right? Well, maybe. To return to that color debate above, dark-furred pet hair tends to show up on light colored machines, while light-furred pet hair shows up on dark colored ones.
Even more important is making sure you have a robot cleaner that is capable of actually sucking up all that fur, not to mention any messes your little furball might leave behind. Even better, if you are allergic to pet fur, some robot cleaners have HEPA filters, cleaning your carpets and even potentially helping to cut down on allergens hanging in midair.
That being said, pets take a lot of maintenance and robot cleaning devices are no exception to that rule. If you thought you had to clean the brushes before, well, you were right – but you ain’t seen nothing until you’ve had to clean out bits of pet fur or messes out of the brushes or wash out the HEPA filters.
What’s more, you need to make sure your cat or dog doesn’t totally freak out and start attacking your robot vacuum.
For all that talk of “set it and forget it”-style convenience in terms of letting your robot cleaner clean away while you’re away, you’ll definitely want to stay home the first couple of times and make sure your cat or dog knows it’s okay (and that it isn’t a toy!) before leaving them alone with it.
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