Best Robotic Vacuums

Updated May 2019
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
Bottom Line
Pros
Cons
How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

32 Models Considered
33 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
194 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.

Shopping guide for best robotic vacuums

Last Updated May 2019

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.

The first robotic vacuum was inspired by Star Wars and was invented by Helen Greiner. “I saw Star Wars when I was 11 – in the theater – and I was enthralled by R2D2 because he was more than a machine.” - Helen Greiner

Why buy a robotic vacuum cleaner?

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.

Performance

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.

Questions to ask when shopping for a robotic vacuum cleaner

Is the robotic vacuum cleaner able to navigate the rooms of my home?

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.

Can the robotic vacuum cleaner self-correct if i’m not home?

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.

What is the robotic vacuum cleaners level of hazard avoidance?

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.

What type of battery life does the robotic vacuum cleaner have?

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.

What type of flooring and debris are you dealing with?

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.

Do you want a robotic vacuum cleaner with wireless capabilities?

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.

EXPERT TIP

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.


Staff  | BestReviews

Robotic vacuum cleaner prices

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.

Functionality

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.

Potential cons of robotic vacuum cleaners

Though very convenient and useful, there are some potential downsides to robotic vacuums that you should be aware of before you buy one.

Price

Robotic vacuum cleaners are generally much more expensive than most upright vacuum cleaners.

Jams

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.

Less power

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.

Maintenance

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.

Testing Results
Robotic Vacuum Testing
  • IROBOT Testing
    Roomba's size and features make it a good choice for normal home-use: its dustbin of 8"x3.5"x2.5" is enough for normal cleanups, and it could effortlessly clean up normal dirt and hair on multiple surfaces. It can even clean up mud on hardwood floor, despite requiring repeated pass overse. Like all other vacuums, it can make noise of 70-90 db, so you may not want to have a conversation with your roommate when it is working. We like that we can easily set it up on a phone, what we don't like is its Wi-Fi function that limits the range in which we can control it. Note: the Roomba need to "see" with its camera, so it would not work in total darkness.
  • ROLLIBOT Testing
    Rollibot has a slightly smaller dustbin of 3.7"x 6.0” X 2.5”. The display screen is large and easy to see. It's a strong and helpful cleaner, can clean up hair easily, but takes a lot of effort to clean up mud on hardwood floor. It can get as loud as 70 to 80 db.Its remote control feature is handy – you can direct it to go forward, backward, clockwise and counterclockwise. It also struggled to move between carpet and hardwood floor.

Technology

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.

Tips

  • 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.

Check your expectations. Most robotic vacuums won’t fully replace upright vacuums with large canisters. However, they’re great for providing a quick sweep between larger cleaning jobs.

FAQ

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.

The team that worked on this review
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    Alvina
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    Videographer
  • Ciera
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    Web Producer
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    Production Manager
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    Katie
    Editorial Director
  • Melissa
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    Senior Editor
  • Steph
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    Writer
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    Vukan
    Post Production Editor

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