The convenience that robotic vacuums offer is undeniable. With a remote control, smartphone or button, you can tell these smart vacuums where to go and when to clean. However, not all robot vacuums are the same in terms of features, functionality and reliability.
With the high number of robot vacuum brands available, sifting through countless models to find a quality robot vacuum is not easy. We’ve done the hard part for you and researched the latest models to find the best robot vacuum cleaners your money can buy.
Our Recommended Robot Vacuums in 2023
iRobot Roomba 675
The iRobot Roomba 675 may be an older model, but it’s one of the most well-known Roombas on the market. It doesn’t come with high-tech features as the newer models do, but it has app control, 3-stage cleaning, and a floating brush that automatically adjusts to changes in floor height.
The Roomba 675 also has a clean-around-your-life feature, which it uses to understand your cleaning habits and suggest changes based on the time of the year.
- CLEAN SMARTER - The 600 series is a great way to begin cleaning your home smarter. Just...
- LOOSENS, LIFTS, & SUCTIONS - The 3 Stage Cleaning system & Dual Multi-Surface brushes grab...
Affordable Robot Vacuum
iRobot Roomba 694
If you want to purchase a top-notch Roomba without breaking the bank, the Roomba 694 is for you. The Roomba 694 offers many of the same performance specs as other models in the 600 series, but this one features a slightly larger dustbin and better high-pile carpeting cleaning capabilities.
Thanks to Dirt Detect Technology, this Roomba can detect which parts of your home are high-foot traffic and prioritize those spots.
- MORE THOUGHTFUL THAN YOU THOUGHT - The Roomba 694 takes vacuuming off your mind with...
- 3-STAGE CLEANING POWER - The 3-Stage Cleaning system lifts dirt, dust and debris from...
Affordable Self-Empty Robot Vacuum
Shark AV911S EZ
Shark has gotten in the robot vacuum game and made a huge splash. The Shark AV911S EZ is easily one of the best affordably priced robots with a self-empty base. As a Shark production, the AV911S EZ can pick up hair, dander, and other microscopic particles in one or two quick passes.
It offers both app and voice support, allowing you to keep tabs on the robot, even when it’s not in sight. Shark offers self-empty bases that can store up to 30 or 45 days’ worth of debris at a time.
- FORGET ABOUT VACUUMING: The bagless, self-emptying base holds up to 30 days of dirt and...
- INCREDIBLE SUCTION: Deep-cleaning power to tackle large and small debris, and pet hair.
Best for Pet Owners
iRobot Roomba j7+
iRobot has come a long way with the Roomba j7+. It does what other robots fail to do—actively avoid pet droppings. Thanks to the front-facing sensors, the j7+ can identify solid pet waste, which triggers its sensors to avoid the spot at all costs.
This is the P.O.O.P. guarantee that only the j7+ provides. The Roomba j7+ also has excellent suction capabilities to remove the tiniest specks from carpets and bare floors. The self-empty base is large enough to collect up to 60 days’ worth of debris before reaching max capacity.
- THE WORLD'S SMARTEST CLEANING ROBOTS JUST GOT SMARTER - iRobot OS powers your Roomba j7+...
- AVOIDS PET ACCIDENTS ON PURPOSE – WE GUARANTEE IT - Only IRobot brings you P.O.O.P. (Pet...
Best Robot Mop Combo
If you want a multi-purpose robot that vacuums and cleans, look no further than the Roborock E5. This 2-in-1 hybrid will wipe your floors with a moistened microfiber cloth as it vacuums. It features the SnapMop system, which comes with a 180-ml tank that can mop over 2,000 square feet of bare floors per tank.
The motor on the Roborock E5 can produce suction levels of around 2,500 Pa, which loosens and draws in debris from carpet fibers and in between floorboards and tiles.
- 【Methodical Cleaning Perfection】Clean your floors more effectively and efficiently...
- 【Simultaneous Vacuuming and Mopping】Vacuum and mop simultaneously, mopping over 1600...
Roborock S4 Max
The Roborock S4 Max may not have the strongest suction of all modern robot vacuums, but it does offer the most consistency. At 2,000 Pa, the S4 Max is designed to suction debris from carpets and bare floors. Much of its advanced cleaning capabilities have to do with the corner brush, which extends far beyond the robot’s round case to extract dirt and dust hiding in corners.
Combined with top-notch mapping facilities, there’s very little the Roborock S4 Max will miss during each cleaning cycle.
- Precise every time, day or night: Precision Low Light Navigation-LiDAR navigation stays...
- Learns Your Home: Up to four levels of your home can be mapped and automatically...
Best of the Best
One of the latest and greatest robot vacuums to hit the market is the Roborock S7+. It doesn’t just vacuum floors with hard-to-match suction power (2,500 Pa), but it also comes with a Sonic Vibration mopping system that actively scrubs up to 3,000 times per minute to leave your bare floors spotless.
Whenever it detects carpeting, the mop pad will automatically lift, ensuring not a single droplet of water contaminates your carpets. The self-empty base is large enough to store up to 60 days of debris at a time.
- Self-Empty Dock Support: The Self-Empty Dock empties the robot automatically after...
- Sonic Vibration Technology: Sonic floor mopping technology scrubs up to 3,000 times per...
Robotic Vacuum Cleaner Buying Guide
Whether you’re going for a fully loaded robotic vacuum, a budget-friendly model or one that does double-duty as a robot mop, there are some features each one should have. For instance, a loaded robot vacuum should be equipped with the most advanced technology.
Although a budget-friendly robot won’t have all the bells and whistles, it still needs to be reliable. As far as a robot vacuum/mop goes, the efficiency of its mopping ability should match that of its vacuuming function.
High-End Robotic Vacuums
The latest robotic vacuum technology is geared toward enhancing efficiency and automation. HEPA filtration is found on all the best robotic vacuums, and auto-adjusting suction per flooring type is a fast-moving trend. Some manufacturers are also making the dirt bin accessible from the top of the robot, and a select few have an automatic dirt disposal feature.
While nearly all robotic vacuums are equipped with a brushroll and at least one side brush, you won’t find a run-of-the-mill brushroll system on a high-end model. Often, there are two brushrolls that roll toward each other, and they’re rubberized to cut down on tangles. There should also be a specialized brushroll that’s angled, rubberized and/or webbed.
As you would expect, navigation will consist of optical technology and algorithm software that moves the robot in a logical pattern. Lithium-ion is the battery of choice for manufacturers of premium robot vacs, and automatic resume cleaning after self-charging is a given. Some manufacturers have abandoned the traditional circle shape for the edge-cleaning prowess of the D-shape.
When you’re shelling out some serious cash, you’ll want robust Wi-Fi connectivity. The robot vacuum should display alterable maps on a smartphone app. Look for one that you can pair with an Amazon Alexa or a Google Assistant device to start and stop cleaning sessions as well as locate the robot and direct it to the room of your choice.
Budget-Friendly Robotic Vacuums
Low price does not need to equal low quality. There are budget-friendly robotic vacuums that produce strong suction of at least 1,000 pascals. Some even offer variable suction. Shoot for one with a brushroll that’s V-shaped or dual-bristled for added efficiency, and two side brushes are better than one.
At this price point, don’t expect a HEPA filter, but a pre-media/high-efficiency filter set is common. Protective features like anti-drop sensors, collision-detection sensors and a shock-absorbing bumper are must-haves. A 1 to 1.5-hour runtime is not unusual, and most robotic vacuums are programmed to self-dock to the charger.
Random-pattern movement is par for the course, but there should be a few cleaning modes like spot, schedule and edge. The robot should come with a fully functional remote and/or a smartphone app that acts as a remote. If you have your heart set on voice control, there are some that understand basic commands.
Mopping Robotic Vacuums
Balance is the key to finding a great robotic vacuum/mop. On the vacuuming end, suction should be just as powerful as a vacuum-only robot in the same price range. Variable suction that changes speed according to the floor type is a possibility. A self-adjusting brushroll and multi-speed side brush are also nice to have.
For the mopping feature, a leak-free water system is imperative. Drip-style water delivery and a gasket-sealed dispenser will prevent leaks. Make sure the robot has a carpet-detection feature that stops it from wetting the carpet when set to mop mode. The tank should be easy to insert, and the mop pad should be secured with elastic and/or Velcro.
Ideally, the combo robot vacuum will have a mega-capacity, so it has time to vacuum and mop on a single charge. Edge coverage and real-time mapping are also important to have in a robot vacuum that mops. If you want Wi-Fi controls, some of these robots offer voice commands and a smartphone app.
Robot Vacuum FAQs
What Kind of Battery Does a Robotic Vacuum Have?
Manufacturers rely on three types of rechargeable batteries. Nickel cadmium (NiCad) was the first rechargeable battery available that was appropriate for robotic vacuum applications. Nickel cadmium is the cheapest of all three batteries, and it lasts a long time.
Due to the toxicity of nickel cadmium, manufacturers jumped on nickel-metal hydride (NiMH) once this battery became available. Nickel-metal hydride offers benefits such as a longer charge hold. Plus, it doesn’t contain any unsafe metals. Nickel-metal hydride is now the battery of choice for manufacturers who want to keep the retail price of a robot vacuum low.
Lithium-ion (Li-ion) is the newest and most expensive kid on the block. It weighs less than its nickel-metal hydride and nickel-cadmium counterparts. This battery offers the robotic vacuum in which it’s used a long runtime, and it won’t cause the suction to weaken as the battery charge depletes. Therefore, lithium-ion is the gold standard.
What Stops Them From Falling Down the Stairs?
Infrared sensor technology is included in every robotic vacuum cleaner. The infrared sensors that prevent a robot vacuum from taking a tumble down the stairs are called anti-drop, anti-fall or cliff sensors. The most common setup involves two infrared sensors placed on the front underside of the robot.
As the robot drives around the house, the sensors’ infrared light bounces off the surface below it. When it takes too long for the beam to return, the robot knows it has come across a drop. Software programming tells the robot to turn around, and off it goes in the opposite direction.
Can I Use a Robotic Vacuum on Any Floor?
Generally, robotic vacuums are designed to clean tile, laminate, hardwoods and carpet. Any robotic vacuum can handle hard floors and leave them spotless. It’s not so cut-and-dry when it comes to carpets. Some robots can only vacuum low-pile carpet. However, those with strong suction and a hard-bristled brushroll are able to lift dirt from medium-pile carpet.
Will They Get Stuck on Thresholds?
Usually, robotic vacuums can climb over doorway strips with little to no trouble. Their climbing ability ranges from 0.5 to 1 inch. While the caster’s job is to rotate a robot vacuum on its axis, the wheels are tasked with directional driving and climbing. The ones that can climb the highest are equipped with springs.
The specific threshold height a robot vacuum can handle depends on the size of the wheels and the robustness of the tread. The bigger the wheels’ size, the higher the robot’s climbing ability. Wheels with deeper tread have an easier time traversing door thresholds than those that are smooth.
How Does the Robot Find Its Charging Dock?
Virtually every robotic vacuum drives and connects to its charging dock. High-end robo vacs also resume cleaning after they recharge. When a robotic vacuum’s battery charge depletes to a preset level, the robot is programmed to locate its dock.
Again, this is a time when infrared technology is used. An infrared sensor on the robot starts searching for the signal sent by the dock. Once the infrared sensor connects with that signal, the robot heads to the charger.
Is Infrared or Optical Navigation Better?
Between infrared and optical navigation, optical wins hands down. Robots that navigate in a random pattern are equipped with infrared technology. This type of navigation system consists of infrared sensors that detect drops and obstacles.
There may also be sensors in the wheels that direct the robot to slow its speed or move in another direction.
Optical navigation includes a visual sensor that can identify landmarks in the robot’s surroundings. This technology is often grouped with location and mapping algorithms as well as traditional infrared cliff sensors. Robots that have an optical navigation system move in a logical manner, making them more efficient cleaners.
Can Robotic Vacuums Handle Pet Hair?
Textured, man-made materials like carpeting attract pet hair. This means you need a robotic vacuum with a lot of lifting power. A brushroll with long, stiff bristles does the best job at loosening clingy pet hair, and strong suction of at least 1.5 kilopascals will send that hair to the dirt bin.
However, some of that hair will become wrapped around the brushroll. The more hair that accumulates, the less effective the brushroll. Since you’ll need to clean the brushroll regularly, you’ll want one that you can remove without a screwdriver. Even better, there are some robot vacuum cleaners with a self-cleaning roller brush.
How Do I Keep My Robot Vacuum Out of a Particular Room?
You don’t have to resort to makeshift barriers to keep a robotic vacuum from cleaning somewhere you don’t want it to be. Basic robot vacuums usually come or work with magnetic floor strips. When the robot’s sensor detects the strips, it will change course. Magnetic strips are easy to use and make for effective barriers.
Mid-to-high-end robotic vacuum cleaners are compatible with virtual boundary towers. Sometimes, the tower is included with the robot. These physical mini-towers are battery-operated. You can set them to make a straight-line boundary or a halo-type boundary.
For those who don’t want to see black strips on their floor or have small towers their pets can knock over, there is a third option. Remote virtual boundaries are offered on premium robotic vacuums that connect to the home’s Wi-Fi network. From a smartphone app map, you can draw and adjust no-go zones where you see fit.
Are Round or D-Shaped Robotic Vacuums Better?
One shape is not necessarily better than the other as both offer unique benefits. Round is the traditional shape. When a round robot gets stuck in an awkward spot or a corner, all the robot vacuum has to do is rotate until it finds an exit. A D-shaped robot must be cognizant of the surrounding space, requiring complex calculations.
Even though D-shaped robots have a more difficult time freeing themselves, they provide a benefit that round robot vacuums cannot offer. The straight edge of the D shape lends the robotic vacuum greater efficiency at edge cleaning. The curves of a round robot keep it from reaching as close to edges as a D-shaped model can.
What Does Spot, Edge, Auto and Small-Room Modes Mean?
Not all robotic vacuums offer every cleaning mode although some do. Spot mode moves the robot in a tight spiral pattern for a few minutes to clean small messes. Edge mode directs the robot around the perimeter of the room to clean along walls and in corners.
Auto mode is the robot’s default mode. When engaged, auto mode sends the robot vacuum on a full-house run. It will travel in a random or logical pattern depending on its technology and programming. Small-room mode starts a shortened version of auto mode when you only want the robot to vacuum one room.
Should I Buy a Robotic Vacuum With a Wi-Fi Connection?
Wi-Fi connectivity isn’t necessary, but this feature certainly makes it easier to set up and control a robot vacuum. If you want to include your robotic vacuum into your smart-home system, you’ll need a Wi-Fi-enabled model. You’ll also find the ability to control the robot through your smartphone convenient if you spend a lot of time away from home.
How Much Maintenance Does a Robot Vacuum Need?
Like all appliances, robotic vacuums do require maintenance, but the amount of work it takes to keep a robot vacuum in working order is not excessive. The filter should be replaced or cleaned according to the manufacturer’s schedule, and the bin must be dumped when it’s full.
You also need to wipe off the sensors occasionally, so dust won’t interfere with their signal. Over time, hair and carpet fibers become wound around wheels and the brushroll. Cut off the tangles when they accumulate.
Of course, the battery should be charged when it’s low, and the robot’s software and firmware need to be updated when a new version is available. Almost every robot vacuum self-docks to the charger and some perform automatic updates. Those that require manual update assistance must be plugged into a computer.
Robot Vacuum Recap
It’s the technology that separates a low-budget from a high-end robotic vacuum. While top-tier robot vacuum cleaners are packed full of automation and efficiency technology, a solid robot can still be had when you’re on a budget. You can even find robotic vacuums at any price range that will mop your floors.
Many move in a random pattern, but those with optical sensors and SLAM technology make the most out of each battery cycle. Auto-docking is a universal feature, but premium models also resume cleaning after they charge.
Bottom line – The variety of robotic vacuum cleaners is diverse. Whether you want a Wi-Fi-enabled robot vacuum to control via voice commands or a simplistic model with an infrared remote, there is a robotic vacuum out there that will meet all your requirements.
If you have any questions or comments, please add them below in the comment section. Similarly, please let us know if you spot any mistakes or omissions. Thanks!
Last Update: 2023-09-28 | Affiliate links/Images from Amazon Product Advertising API