Can handle multiple types of flooring material, seamlessly navigating from one type to another. Extremely easy to use and maintain due to tangle-free extractors. Has the most smart features out of any in its class. Incredibly thorough.
Needs a clear line of sight to locate home base/charger. Some problems navigating shag, deep pile, and clutter.
Differs from others on our list for being a vacuum and a mop. Earns praise for delivering excellent suction, and transitioning from carpet to hard flooring with ease. Has smart capabilities and is compatible with a user-friendly app. Gets as much as 150 minutes per charge.
Error codes that indicate brush clogs often occur, even when no blockages are present. Occasionally gets stuck. Some mapping issues noted.
From a trusted brand known for having first-rate customer service. Easy to set up and sync with your phone or Alexa device. Has no problem cleaning up behind pets. Sends a message when it's about to run out of battery.
Does not map out rooms or remember obstacles. Gets stuck often.
Keeps homes with low-pile rugs/carpets clean. Runs quietly — quieter than some of the more expensive models — while maintaining solid suction. Effective at picking up after pets. Can sense where stairs are and navigates accordingly.
Needs to be emptied more than once during jobs if you have pets — but that's an issue with most robotic vacuums.
Surprisingly quiet operation and powerful suction for an affordable price. User-friendly features include a slim design and spacious dust bin. Can run up to 100 minutes before needing to be recharged. Effective for pet hair.
Not good at avoiding obstacles. Tends to get stuck frequently. Not ideal for thick or deep pile carpet.
We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.
We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.
Robotic vacuums have automated a common household chore and can clean your home whether you’re present or not. Models vary in their efficiency and hazard detection and may be better suited to different environments.
You should consider the layout of your home and whether a robotic vacuum is capable of navigating multiple rooms or can be programmed to clean specific areas. The battery life can limit how much a vacuum can clean, and some models may have wireless capabilities to respond to commands from a smartphone app. And of course, you should consider the type of debris and flooring your vacuum will need to clean.
More expensive robotic vacuum cleaners tend to have more programmable functions and better hazard detection. You should take a look at our top recommendations if you are ready to pick out a vacuum or continue reading to learn more about key considerations and features.
Steph Coelho is well-versed in the many purchases that come along with homeowership. By relaying her expertise and years of trying different products, she wants to help you outfit your home from the fluffiest pillows to the most useful cleaning tool.
You may be wondering if robotic vacuum cleaners are just a fad, or if they’re a permanent new fixture in cleaning technology. We tend to think the latter. As AI technology grows and expands, some aspects of our lives become simpler.
Consider buying a robotic vacuum cleaner if any of the following apply.
You’re a busy person who would like to delegate the task of cleaning your floors to someone (or something) else.
You enjoy living in an environment with spotless floors.
You find you can’t keep up with the ever-accumulating pet hair or other debris in your home.
You want to minimize the amount of time you spend cleaning your home.
You’re interested in high-tech gadgets and would get great enjoyment from a robotic vacuum cleaner.
You’re looking for ways to simplify your life.
The iRobot Roomba 980 is one of the priciest models, but it’s also feature-heavy, has advanced technology, and is able to handle a tough workload. It’s an excellent navigator thanks to its Visual Localization feature. When it senses its battery power is fading, it automatically returns to its dock to recharge before completing its cleaning task. Furthermore, it can work for up to two hours. The iRobot Roomba 980 works in conjunction with the iRobot Home Smartphone application, allowing you to orchestrate the cleaning process without ever laying your finger on the actual vacuum. The device can gently clean your hardwood floors but is equally capable of tackling carpeted areas, making it an extremely versatile unit.
We spent 33 hours researching 32 robotic vacuums, including testing 2 in our lab. This testing helped us confirm our top picks,
Some robotic vacuum cleaners use mapping technology to navigate the various rooms in your home. Not all robotic vacuums can intelligently do this, however. If you have a house with multiple complicated room layouts, you may want to consider a device with more advanced artificial intelligence.
Decide whether you want to run your robotic vacuum cleaner when you’re not home. If so, what would happen if the vacuum got stuck? Consumers who want their robotic vacuum cleaner to work while they’re away must take care to buy one that can work independently throughout the vacuuming process.
A robotic vacuum cleaner’s level of hazard avoidance is an important consideration. Some vacuums are equipped with features that prevent them from plunging down a stairwell. Many robotic vacuums also come with “virtual walls” which allow you to block off certain areas of your home.
Robotic vacuums are equipped with rechargeable batteries, but the lifespan of said batteries varies from one product to another. A longer battery life is required for larger homes, so it’s important to take stock of the square footage you want cleaned.
Some robotic vacuums are better able to handle different types of dirt and debris. Thick carpets require a more powerful motor, as do large amounts of pet hair. If you’re a pet owner, you’ll want to ensure you choose a model that can handle the fur they shed. Choosing a device with a high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter will ensure that allergens are kept to a minimum in your home.
Being able to connect wirelessly to your robotic vacuum cleaner is a godsend when you’re away from home and need to check in on the cleaning process. Some of these vacuums even allow for automatic scheduling which helps you to plan out cleaning in advance, even during the times you’re away.
When it comes to safety, you should treat a robotic vacuum just like you would a regular upright vacuum. If you get down to floor level to help the vacuum move along on its cleaning route, make sure your hair is pulled back and unable to get caught in the vacuum.
You will pay a premium for a robotic vacuum cleaner compared to a standard upright vacuum. However, the top choices featured on this page do vary in price.
Generally, the higher the price, the more cleaning power you’ll get out of your chosen device.
Pricier robotic vacuum cleaners tend to have better AI and excellent room-mapping abilities. Less-expensive robotic vacuum cleaners feature more basic cleaning options and may lack some of the scheduling features seen in top-shelf models.
The Neato Robotics Botvac D80 vacuum cleaner is an excellent option for those with pets or severe allergies. The vacuum uses a combination of suction power and brushing movement to clean up dust, dander, and dirt. It’s also well-equipped to tackle pet hair. A special edge-cleaning brush ensures that every corner of your home is dealt with. The vacuum can easily map out your home using LaserSmart Mapping technology. It also won’t bang into objects in the room like other lower priced models. Plus, its special D-shape allows it to get at tricky areas where dust and dirt are likely to hide.
Though very convenient and useful, there are some potential downsides to robotic vacuums that you should be aware of before you buy one.
Robotic vacuum cleaners are generally much more expensive than most upright vacuum cleaners.
Robotic vacuum cleaners can get stuck. Even the smartest models aren’t as smart as you are and can get stuck under sofas or get confused in a cluttered room.
Robotic vacuum cleaners lack the power of traditional vacuums. You simply can’t get a super deep clean with a robotic vacuum. We recommend using it often in combination with a traditional vacuum for heavily soiled areas or on dense surfaces like shag carpeting.
They require more frequent emptying than do upright vacuums because they simply are not large in size. However, emptying the bin of a robotic vacuum cleaner is fairly simple – you just need to do so regularly.
The Rollibot Quiet robotic vacuum cleaner is a jack of all trades. Not only can it efficiently vacuum your home, it can also sweep, mop, and sterilize the areas it cleans. It also does so very quietly, so you can even run the little vacuum at night. It’s equipped with a HEPA filter to ensure allergens are trapped and not released back into the air. Various sensors allow the Rollibot to clean effectively and avoid collisions. The included remote control allows for scheduling and easy navigation of cleaning modes. At its price, it’s one of the best value robotic vacuum cleaners available.
Most robotic vacuums can get out of tight spots thanks to their intelligent sensors, but to make sure yours does not get trapped clear obstacles before you set it out to clean.
It’s a good idea to fully charge your new robotic vacuum before putting it to work on your floors.
Read the included device manual carefully so you can put all of the neat features of your robotic vacuum to use.
Remember to empty the bin of your robotic vacuum cleaner regularly.
You’ll also want to change the device’s filter often to ensure allergens are kept to a minimum inside your home.
Q. What’s the advantage of a robotic vacuum cleaner over an upright vacuum?
A. The biggest advantage to having a robotic vacuum cleaner is that you can literally set it and forget it. These devices also tend to take up a lot less space, so they’re great for smaller homes or apartments.
Q. How does a robotic vacuum cleaner find its way around a room?
A. Robotic vacuums use different variations of mapping technology to navigate the inside of your home. Some common technologies include sensors, like the ones that alert your vacuuming robot that it’s encountered an obstacle. Some optical sensors allow the robotic vacuum to gauge its distance traveled. Many newer models actually use artificial intelligence to help them clean your space.
Q. Can a robotic vacuum cleaner find its way under furniture to clean those spaces?
A. That depends on whether the vacuum you choose can clear said furniture. If your couch is high enough off the ground, a robotic vacuum should have no problem getting beneath it to clean.
Q. What about corners? Can a robotic vacuum clean those areas?
A. This will depend heavily on the shape of the unit you choose. Special D-shaped units are specially designed to clean corners.
Q. What kind of maintenance should I expect with this kind of device?
A. You’ll need to remember to empty the dustbin each time you use your robotic vacuum. Sometimes, the sensors on the vacuum will need to be cleaned off to ensure the robotic vacuum can continue to find its way around. Some vacuums will require you to clean out hair and debris that has become stuck or trapped inside. Filters will also need to be changed to ensure your vacuum continues to trap allergens.
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