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Updated August 2022
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. Read more  
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.Read more 
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We recommend these products based on an intensive research process that's designed to cut through the noise and find the top products in this space. Guided by experts, we spend hours looking into the factors that matter, to bring you these selections.

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Buying guide for best robot vacuums

Robot vacuums, also known as robotic vacuums, have automated a common household chore and can clean your home whether you’re there or not. Models vary in their efficiency and hazard detection, and some may be better suited to certain environments than others.

If you’ve decided a robot is right for you, how do you find the best vacuum make and model for your home?

First, consider the floor plan and layout of your home. Do you want a robot vacuum capable of navigating multiple rooms? Do you want one that can be programmed to clean specific rooms?

Battery life is another important concern, as it can limit—or expand—how much a vacuum can clean. Some models 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. If you have hardwood flooring, for example, you’ll want to make sure it can handle that. The same goes for high-pile carpet and even medium-pile carpet.

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

Why buy a robot vacuum?

You may be wondering if robotic vacuum cleaners are a fad or a permanent new fixture in technology. We tend to think the latter. As the “smart home” grows and expands, some aspects of our lives become simpler.

Consider investing in 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.

Key considerations

Here are a few questions to answer before deciding whether to purchase a vacuum.

Is it able to navigate the rooms of my home?

Some robotic vacuum cleaners use mapping technology to navigate specific rooms. Not all robotic vacuums can do this, though. If you have a house with a complex floor plan, consider a device with more advanced artificial intelligence.

Can the robot vacuum cleaner self-correct if I’m not home?

If you want a cleaner that works while you're away, make sure you choose one with good navigation and object-sensing capabilities.

What is the vacuum cleaner's level of hazard avoidance?

Hazard avoidance is an important consideration. Some vacuums have features that stop them from plunging down a stairwell. Many robotic vacuums also come with “virtual walls” so you can block off certain areas of your home (“no-go zones”).

robot vacuum
Testing robotic vacuums
We spent 33 hours researching 32 robotic vacuums, including testing 2 in our lab. This testing helped us confirm our top picks.
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What about battery life?

Robotic vacuums have rechargeable batteries, but the runtime varies from one product to another. This, in turn, affects the length of your cleaning sessions.

Your machine will need to spend time on the charging dock in between cleaning sessions. But you probably don’t want to pause your cleaning just to put it on the charging dock.

Since larger homes require longer battery life, take stock of the square footage recommendation and the battery runtime of the vacuum you’re interested in.

What type of flooring and debris are you dealing with?

Some robotic vacuums are better able to handle different types of dirt and debris. A thick-pile carpet requires a more powerful motor than a hard floor or a low-pile carpet. Homes with large amounts of pet hair also need that power.

If you’re a pet owner, pick a model that can handle the fur your pets shed. Choosing a device with a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter helps keep allergens at a minimum in your home. Also, if you have lots of hardwood flooring, verify that the vacuum you’re considering is suitable for it.

Do you want a robot vacuum with wireless capabilities?

Smart homes are the way of the future. Even if you don’t live in a completely “smart home,” though, the ability to connect wirelessly to your robotic vacuum cleaner is helpful. Some of these vacuums even allow for the automatic creation of a cleaning schedule. This helps you plan out cleaning in advance, even when you’re away.

robot vacuum
Expert tip
Pre-sweeping and picking big things up off of your floors will help your Robotic vacuum run faster and not get stuck on large debris, like food.
BestReviews Cleaning Expert 

Robot vacuum cleaner prices

You will pay a premium for a robotic vacuum cleaner compared to a standard upright vacuum. That said, prices of vacuums can vary. Generally, the higher the price, the more cleaning power you’ll get.

Under $200

The most affordable robots cost under $200.

Granted, the low price may be due to a sale, such as Amazon’s Prime Day or Black Friday. You will not find many iRobot Roombas in this price range, but you are likely to find some quality eufy robovacs, Shark robots, and iLife robots in this mix.

Less-expensive robotic vacuum cleaners feature more basic cleaning options (think low-pile carpet, minimal messes, and smaller living rooms) and may lack some of the scheduling features seen in costlier models.

Over $200

The “over $200” price bucket is a broad one. Here, you can find good eufy robovacs for a little over $200 and high-end iRobot Roombas for over $500.

Pricier robotic vacuum cleaners tend to have better smart mapping abilities. If you want something that responds to voice commands, that offers powerful suction, and that stands out for its navigation system and battery life, look in this higher price range.

Some high-end robot vacs are also “robot mops,” providing more than one service for your investment.

robot vacuum
Expert tip
Knowing the size of your home will help you pick a robotic vacuum with a long-enough battery life.
BestReviews Cleaning Expert

Potential cons of robot vacuum cleaners

Though highly 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 upright vacuum cleaners. Even a budget robot vacuum will cost as much as a high-end upright vacuum cleaner.

The price difference is due, in large part, to convenience: You don’t have to run the vacuum yourself.

It also has to do with the advanced features offered, such as WiFi connectivity, smart mapping, and compatibility with a voice assistant.

Jams

Robotic vacuum cleaners can get stuck. Even the smartest models aren’t as smart as you are, and they can jam under couches or get confused in a cluttered room, bringing a cleaning session to a halt.

In other words, you could come home to an unvacuumed living room and a jammed robot vac that needs a little “help” extricating itself from a tight situation.

robot vacuum
Expert tip
Allow your robotic vacuum to fully charge between uses so it will clean as long as possible. This is especially important if you want it to run while you're away from home.
BestReviews Cleaning Expert

Less power

Though more powerful than a cordless stick vacuum, robotic vacuum cleaners lack the powerful suction of a traditional upright. 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 high-pile carpet and even medium-pile carpet.

Maintenance

Robot dustbins require more frequent emptying than upright vacuum dustbins. This is because they simply aren’t very big. That said, emptying the dustbin of a robotic vacuum cleaner is fairly simple—you just need to do so regularly.

robot vacuum
Expert Tip
Pick up cords and make sure that none of your rugs have loose threads or strings hanging off of them since vacuums can cause destruction in both cases.
BestReviews Cleaning Expert

Tips

  • Declutter before you vacuum. Most robotic vacuums can get out of tight spots thanks to their intelligent sensors. To make sure yours does not get trapped under the living room couch or in another tight spot, clear obstacles as much as you can beforehand.
  • Place it on the charging dock first. It’s a good idea to fully charge your new robotic vacuum before you put it to work on your floors.
  • Read the manual carefully. Although it’s a lot to take at once, you will appreciate being able to put all the features of your robotic vacuum to use right away.
  • Change the filter often. This helps keep allergens to a minimum inside your home.
robot vacuum
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 robot vacuum cleaner over an upright vacuum?

A. The biggest advantage is that you can set it and forget it. These devices also tend to take up a lot less space, so they’re great for smaller homes.

Q. How does the machine find its way around a room?

A. Robotic vacuums use different variations of mapping technology to navigate. Common technologies include sensors, like the ones that alert your robot that it’s encountered an obstacle.

Some optical sensors allow the robotic vacuum to gauge its distance traveled. And many newer models use artificial intelligence to help them clean your space.

Q. Can a robot vacuum cleaner find its way under furniture to clean those spaces?

A. It 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 is a no-go zone?

A. This term may refer to the programming of a Roborock s6 or another robot vac from Roborock. Alternatively, it could be a term referring to the smart mapping offered by any robot vacuum.

Basically, a no-go zone is an area of the home where your robotic vacuum will not go because it has been programmed not to enter the zone.

Q. Can a robot vacuum do spot cleaning in smaller areas?

A. Some robovacs offer this feature, including the iRobot Roomba j7+, the Eufy RoboVac 11S, and the iRobot Braava Jet 240. Check the specs to be sure.

Q. What about corners? Can a robot vacuum clean those areas?

A. This depends on the shape of the unit you choose. Special D-shaped units are 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 so your vacuum continues to trap allergens.

 

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