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How to Choose the Right Robot Vacuum

What’s the Best Automatic Vacuum?

Vacuums
have come a long way. You no longer have to suffer the indignity of
dragging around an unwieldy plastic hose connected to a clumsy, wheeled
canister the size of a Galapagos tortoise. In fact, you don’t even need
to get off of the couch. Though it still feels like a relatively new
product category, there are several good robot vacuums available to help
you dispose of dust, pet hair, and other debris in your home—without
needing to lift a finger. Which is the right one for you? We’ve rounded
up our highest-rated robot vacuums, and provided a few pointers to help
you find just the bot you’re looking for.

Robot Vacuums vs. Canister and Upright Vacuums

Unlike
more traditional canister or stick models, robot vacuums are autonomous
and (for the most part) intelligent. The vacuums we’ve tested are
equipped with lasers, motherboards, sensors, and even Wi-Fi to navigate
around your home without the need for assistance. With a few exceptions,
you barely have to interact with them at all.

Most robot vacuums
come with charging docks and can even charge themselves. Just pick a
robot-accessible spot for the dock, and the bot will return on its own
before it runs out of juice. When it does, it will sit there until it
has enough energy to go back out and continue to bust dust from where it
left off. You can also set schedules for most bots to wake up and start
a cleaning job, so it can take place while you’re out of the house.
That means you can potentially avoid all physical interaction until the
vacuum needs to be emptied.

Also
unlike many traditional vacuums, all of the robots included here don’t
use bags to hold the dust, hair, and other debris they suck up. Instead,
they use an easy-to-remove dustbin you can simply eject and empty into
the nearest garbage can. And many come equipped with HEPA filters that
prevent allergens from spreading through the air.

Are Robot Vacuums Worth It?

A robot vacuum is usually higher in price than a traditional vacuum (though not always). The models listed here range from less than $200 to more than $1,000.
That’s a pretty sizable investment, even on the lower end. Let’s
consider just what you get for the price.

The Best Robot Vacuum Deals This Week*

*Deals are selected by our partner, TechBargains

Unless you really love to vacuum, the task itself is pretty mundane.
Depending on the size of your house, a robot vacuum can save you
anywhere from minutes to hours of your time every week by taking care of
a pretty thankless chore. That alone is reason enough for some people
to consider one.

In addition, robot vacuums have reached the
point where they’re basically just as effective and powerful as regular
vacuums. The robots rounded up here use filters, side brushes, and
spinning brushes that will do an equally good job of cleaning your home
as their upright equivalents. They’re also fairly compact, so they won’t
take up much space. And they’re able to travel
underneath most couches and tables, so you don’t have to rearrange
furniture. Even if you do, the more advanced robots on this list use
memory banks to note where furniture is placed, so as not to bump into
anything on a future pass.

Also
worth mentioning: Smart robot vacuums are much more affordable now.
What are the benefits of connectivity? Most Wi-Fi vacuums can be
programmed and controlled remotely using your smartphone. Some can even
be activated with Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant voice commands.

Premium connected bots can generate statistics and maps of the areas they’ve cleaned. Some of even create personalized
floor plans that eliminate the need for you to use physical “virtual
walls” to cordon off sections of your home.

Which Vacuum Is Best for Pet Hair? Hardwood?

Generally
speaking, all the vacuums we’ve tested can handle hardwood floors and
pet hair without issue. Floor-cleaning robots like the iRobot Braava Jet
specialize in mopping and sweeping. They aren’t eligible for this list
because they don’t suck up dirt and debris, but they will get your
hardwood floors nice and shiny. Some vacuums, like the Bobsweep PetHair Plus, come with mop attachments, but they’re not as effective overall.

For more, see our list of The Best Robot Mops.

How We Test Robot Vacuums

We
test robot vacuums in PC Labs and in our actual homes, with the
following categories in mind: battery life, navigation, setup, suction,
and if it supports Bluetooth or Wi-Fi, the app experience.

Chances
are you don’t want to babysit your vacuum. That means you’re looking
for a robot that can traverse different floor types or maneuver around
furniture without needing help. This is especially true if you have dark
flooring, as infrared sensors might confuse a black carpet with a
ledge, and refuse to pass over it. We test vacuums on hardwood, tile,
and dark rugs to see how well they manage the transitions
across various surfaces.

Battery
life is also an important factor to consider based on the size of your
home. In general, most robot vacuums can run for at least 60 to 70
minutes, which should be enough to tackle smaller homes and apartments. If you have a bigger living area, you’ll want to
look for a robot vacuum that can get at least 90 minutes of battery life so it can hit every room before requiring a recharge. To test this, we charge the
battery to full, start a cleaning cycle, and time how long the robot
runs before it needs to be docked. And if a robot says it can
automatically dock, we check to see if it can easily find its way home.

Another
note on battery life: The number you see listed in the chart below is
our tested result in normal mode. High-power or other modes often bring
that number down a bit.

Most robot vacuums are reliable when it
comes to getting rid of standard household detritus, so you don’t really
have to worry about whether or not they’ll be able to suck up lint,
dirt, or hair. Since we test all the robot vacuums in the same home
environment, we check how full dustbins get and whether obvious debris
like food particles and visible dust bunnies are picked up. We also note
whether the robot uses a random or methodical cleaning pattern. Random
cleaners often run across the same space multiple times but take a
longer time to get everything. Methodical cleaners don’t take as long,
but may only pass through a room once unless programmed otherwise.

Finally,
we test how easy it is to set up, program, and control the robot. Some
only require an initial battery charge, while others ask you to install
side brushes and batteries. For connected bots, app design and reliable
Bluetooth or Wi-Fi are major factors that impact your experience.

We provide a detailed analysis of each of these vacuums in our reviews, and you can see our Vacuum Product Guide for the latest models. When you find the right one for you, be sure to read up on our 7 essential robot vacuum tips.

  • Ecovacs Deebot N79S

    Ecovacs Deebot N79S

    Pros: Affordable.
    Powerful suction.
    App control.
    Amazon Alexa compatibility.

    Cons: Finicky Wi-Fi setup.
    Minor navigation issues.

    Bottom Line: The Ecovacs Deebot N79S robot vacuum offers powerful cleaning, app control, and Alexa voice command support for an unbeatable price.

  • Ecovacs Deebot Ozmo T8 AIVI

    Ecovacs Deebot Ozmo T8 AIVI

    Pros: Automatically recognizes and avoids obstacles
    Exceptional battery life
    Allows for remote home monitoring with built-in camera
    Supports virtual boundaries
    Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant voice support

    Cons: Expensive

    Mops with water, not cleaning solution

    Moderate learning curve

    Bottom Line: The Ecovacs Deebot Ozmo T8 AIVI is a pricey 2-in-1 robot vacuum and mop with excellent battery life, the ability to identify and avoid obstacles, and a unique home monitoring feature.

    Read Review

  • Eufy Robovac 11s

    Eufy Robovac 11s

    Pros: Affordable.
    Compact.
    Quiet.
    Strong cleaning performance.
    Good battery life.

    Cons: No virtual barriers or app control.
    Limited scheduling options.

    Bottom Line: The Eufy RoboVac 11s is an affordable, frills-free robot vacuum that’s small enough to clean under even the lowest furniture.

  • Eufy RoboVac 30C

    Eufy RoboVac 30C

    Pros: Good for low-clearance furniture. Strong suction. Support for Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant voice commands. Comes with boundary strips. Very quiet.

    Cons: Finicky app notifications.

    Bottom Line: Eufy’s RoboVac 30C robot vacuum is a nice improvement on the original, offering app and voice control for just $30 more.

    Read Review

  • iLife A4s Robot Vacuum Cleaner

    iLife A4s Robot Vacuum Cleaner

    Pros: Compact size.
    Long battery life.
    Supports scheduling and multiple cleaning modes.

    Cons: Occasionally became lost returning to charging dock in testing.

    Bottom Line: The iLife A4s is a compact, no-frills robot vacuum cleaner that sucks up dirt and debris without emptying your wallet.

  • iRobot Roomba 675

    iRobot Roomba 675

    Pros: Rarely gets stuck
    Supports app and voice control
    Allows for scheduled cleanings
    Automatically adjusts to different floor surfaces
    Detects and focuses on heavily-soiled areas

    Cons: Loud
    Doesn’t always automatically return to its base station when finished
    Missed some debris on carpeting in testing

    Bottom Line: The Roomba 675 is Robot’s least expensive robot vacuum with Wi-Fi connectivity, giving you app control, scheduling, and voice support in addition to excellent cleaning capabilities.

    Read Review

  • iRobot Roomba i7+

    iRobot Roomba i7+

    Pros: Self-emptying dustbin.
    Multistory mapping.
    Excellent camera-based navigation.
    Automatic room recognition.
    Alexa and Google Assistant compatibility.

    Cons: Expensive.
    Noisy.
    Clean Base is bulky.

    Bottom Line: With the ability to empty its own dustbin, iRobot’s Roomba i7+ is the first robot vacuum we’ve tested that truly does all of the work for you.

  • Neato Botvac D4 Connected

    Neato Botvac D4 Connected

    Pros: Excellent laser navigation.
    Supports cleaning maps.
    Virtual No-Go boundary lines.
    Smart charging.
    Alexa and Google Assistant compatible.
    Integrates with IFTTT and the Apple Watch.

    Cons: Battery life could be longer.
    Loud.

    Bottom Line: The Neato Botvac D4 Connected isn’t cheap, but it offers virtual boundaries and customized cleaning maps for less than any other robot vacuum.

    Read Review

  • Neato Botvac D7 Connected

    Neato Botvac D7 Connected

    Pros: Updated mapping feature eliminates need for virtual walls.
    Expanded third-party integration including Facebook Messenger and IFTTT.

    Cons: Expensive.

    Bottom Line: Neato’s Botvac D7 Connected robot vacuum doesn’t change much in terms of design, but adds interactive cleaning maps and greater third-party integration.

    Read Review

  • Roomba S9+

    Roomba S9+

    Pros: Self-emptying dustbin.
    Ultra-powerful suction.
    Smart navigation.
    Compatible with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant.

    Cons: Expensive.
    Loud.
    Mediocre battery life.

    Bottom Line: iRobot’s Roomba s9+ is expensive, but its intelligent navigation, super-powerful suction, and ability to empty itself out make it the best robot vacuum we’ve tested.

    Read Review


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