While you might have been limited to just a few brands years ago, choosing the best robot vacuum for your home means comparing dozens of brands and types. Today, robot vacuums handle vacuuming, mopping, and even empty themselves. You can also pick a vacuum based on your needs, such as just hardwood floors or pets. Whatever your needs, this guide will help you narrow your search.
Types of Robot Vacuums
Despite the name, these cleaning assistants often do more than just vacuum. Before you start your search, think about the type of robot vacuum you need.
- Vacuum only – if you’re looking for just a basic machine to get up dirt and debris, this is perfect. These are the cheapest options available to only vacuum. Some models may only work on hardwood floors, but most vacuum-only robots handle both carpets and hardwood floors.
- Mop only – if vacuuming isn’t really a big deal for you, you may prefer a robot vacuum that just mops. These are usually reserved for more heavy-duty mopping and feature larger water tanks than dual vacuum + mop models.
- Vacuum + mop – as the name implies, it does both. The only downside is that you’ll need to switch between modes and set zones to prevent these vacuums from trying to mop your carpets and rugs.
- Self-emptying. – if you want a set-it-and-forget-it type of robot vacuum, you may want to splurge on a self-emptying model. These can clean your home multiple times before you have to empty the bin that’s connected to the charging base.
- Hands-free – with standard vacuum + mop models, you have to connect the mop pad, manually switch modes when you just want to vacuum, and set up zones to ensure your carpets don’t get wet. A hands-free model like the iRobot Roomba Combo j7+ can do all that without any intervention from you. It can detect carpets, automatically lifts the mop pad out of the way, and only mops on hard floors. Plus, it empties itself.
While those are the main options, you’ll also need to think about all the other features you might need to have onboard.
Common Robot Vacuum Features
Once you have the type picked out, it’s time to start looking at the various features. While some models are barebones and offer basic suction at a low price, others offer features you didn’t even know you might need.
The best robot vacuum includes all the features you could want and maybe a few extras:
- A self-emptying bin – while not a necessity, if you have a larger home or pets, you may want a self-emptying model. The number of times the vacuum empties depends on the size of the dust bin. You could go from having to empty your vacuum daily to just weekly.
- Intelligent mapping – if you want the most efficient vacuuming possible, opt for intelligent mapping. This feature scans your room to create the best map for your room. After an initial mapping period, the vacuum follows its chosen map. This can enlarge the size of an area that is cleaned before the battery gets low.
- Object collision avoidance – for most homeowners, this is kind of a must. The last thing you want is scuff marks and scratches all over your furniture because the vacuum bangs into it. With this feature, the vacuum identifies an object in the way and moves around it. On pet-friendly models, this can also include pet accidents so that you’re not trying to scrub excrement out of the brush roll.
- Navigates different floors with ease – this feature lets your robot vacuum go from carpets to hard floors, to rugs, and back again with ease. Some of the top models don’t even roll up rug edges. This is ideal for higher pile carpets and homes where there’s a slight dip or step up to move to the next room.
- In-app options – the vacuum companion app is incredibly important. It should allow you to set zones and/or rooms, set schedules, manually navigate, switch between modes, adjust suction and water levels, and see the latest cleaning times. Most robot vacuums are compatible with both iOS and Android, so that’s not really a concern anymore.
- Voice control – another handy feature to have is voice assistant control. While you can always use the app, being able to tell your voice assistant you want to clean up a mess is even easier. Most robot vacuums that support voice control support both Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa. However, some models, such as the Roborock S7 and Roborock S4, offer Siri support.
- Camera – this is most often found on robot vacuums designed for pet homes. Think of it as a roving security camera. Easily check in on your home while the vacuum is docked or cleaning.
- Tangle-free brushes – some robot vacuums come with multiple rollers: one with a brush and one without, also known as a tangle-free brush. These are popular in pet homes so that you don’t have to pick tangled pet hair out of the brush.
Tip: did you know that you can use Google Assistant even with your phone locked? We show you how.
Other Things to Keep in Mind
Before we start recommending the best robot vacuum for different situations, there are a few more things to consider. First, you should think about battery life. Overall, this isn’t much of a concern for smaller homes, as the average robot vacuum can easily handle several rooms before needing to return to charge.
If you have a larger home, you’ll want to look for vacuums that can handle a larger square footage per charge. Otherwise, your vacuum might spend a lot of time going back and forth to the charger each time it cleans.
The second thing you’ll want to keep in mind is suction power. A general average is 2,000Pa to 4,000Pa, though some are slightly more powerful. For instance, the Ecovacs Deebot X1 Omni offers 5,000Pa. But the higher the suction power, the less it can clean between charges. Usually, robot vacuums let you choose between different suction levels based on your needs.
A final consideration is integration with your smart home. While many robot vacuums do connect via Wi-Fi, some cheaper models and even a few higher-priced models don’t. If you want the vacuum to work with your smart home, ensure you get a Wi-Fi capable vacuum that also works with your chosen platform, such as Amazon, Google, or Apple.
Robot Vacuum for Different Needs
While the top brands include Roomba, Roborock, Ecovacs, and Xiaomi, they’re not the only options. However, they do tend to break out the most innovative features first. In what follows, we take a look at some of the best options available on the market, based on specific needs.
Best Robot Vacuums for Carpets
If you’re mainly interested in cleaning carpets and rugs, you might want to consider the following models:
iRobot Roomba s9+
With two brushes, including one that’s tangle-free and powerful suction, the iRobot Roomba S9+ is perfect for carpets and pet homes. Featuring multi-stage cleaning and fast floor detection, it can easily change the suction power based on carpet or hardwood floors. It can also empty itself into the main bin for up to 60 days.
Ecovacs Deebot N8 Pro+
Powerful suction and the ability to detect carpets to avoid mopping them make the Ecovacs Deebot N8 Pro+ a great choice. It doubles the suction when carpets are detected and empties itself. If you want a great two-in-one, this is a great mid- to high-range model.
Shark RV1001AE IQ Robot Self-Empty XL
If you have longer hair or pets and hate constantly cleaning the brushroll, the Shark RV1001AE IQ Self-Empty XL could be your best choice. It empties itself for up to 45 days and has a self-cleaning brushroll. Of course, it also has powerful suction, capable of handling both small and large debris.
If you’re looking to get a security camera instead, check out our recommendations that will complement your smart home.
Best Robot Vacuums for Mopping
If you mainly have hardwood or need more powerful mopping, you may want to consider:
iRobot Braava Jet M6
The iRobt Braava Jet M6 is strictly for mopping. It can handle ultra-sticky messes, grease, and spills with ease. Its thin size lets it go under furniture to take care of spills that leak to your chairs, tables, and couches.
While the Roborock S7 handles both vacuuming and mopping, its sonic mopping technology uses the power of sound to better clean your floors. By scrubbing your floor up to 3,000 times per minute, even the toughest spills and dirt are mopped up.
Bissell SpinWave Hard Floor Expert Robot
While it’s not the best for carpets, the Bissell name is well-known when it comes to mopping. The SpinWave Hard Floor Expert Robot excels at mopping, thanks to two spinning mop pads. This allows the device to clean better than many other robot mops and two-in-one models that only have a single pad that doesn’t move around.
Best Robot Vacuums for Pets
Most robot vacuums will pick up pet hair, but some do it better than others, such as:
iRobot Roomba j7+
This is the vacuum-only model of the j7+ mentioned earlier. However, incredible suction and the ability to identify pet accidents make the iRobot Roomba j7+ ideal for pet homes. A three-stage clean offers up to 10 times the dirt-lifting power.
Ecovacs Deebot X1 Omni
While it’s one of the more expensive models, the Evovacs Deebot X1 Omni has some of the most powerful suction around. It not only removes pet hair easily but also identifies obstacles and mops up muddy footprints.
Eufy RobotVac G30
If you need a quieter robot vacuum, Eufy has you covered with the RobotVac G30. Not only does it provide a quiet clean, but it automatically adjusts the suction based on the surface. Plus, it’s a great budget-friendly model.
Obviously, budget may be a major consideration when finding the best robot vacuum. The good news is that you can get a great vacuum starting at less than $200 if you look for deals, such as Black Friday or Prime Days.
Usually, lower-priced models don’t have quite as many features, but often they clean just as well as their higher-priced counterparts. You might have to forgo Wi-Fi connectivity and smart home integration, self-emptying bins, and less sophisticated navigation.
A few great budget-friendly robot vacuums include the Eufy RoboVac 11S for $230 and the Roborock E4 for $188. The Eufy doesn’t have Wi-Fi or an app. It’s remote control only. However, the cheaper Roborock E4 features an app and Wi-Fi connectivity. Both clean well, but the Roborock vacuums and mops.
If you’re okay spending a little more, most of the options previously mentioned retail for over $500. One of the most expensive ones we’ve listed is the Ecovacs Deebot X1 Omni for $1,550. The iRobot Roomba j7+ (vacuum-only model) comes in at $800.
Just remember, paying a little less doesn’t mean you’re getting a lower-quality robot vacuum. In conclusion, look for great deals and you can often score high-price robot vacuums for significantly less. Or, opt for a lower-priced model that offers most of the features you want.
Good to know: have a Google or Amazon display at home? Learn how to easily turn it into a digital photo frame.
At Make Tech Easier, we’ve put a variety of robot vacuums to the test so that you don’t have to. Check out some of our recent reviews to see if any of these great options are right for you:
Frequently Asked Questions
Can any robot vacuums handle stairs?
Not yet. However, most do have fall avoidance technology to prevent them from falling down stairs.
How long will my robot vacuum last?
Typically, you can expect your vacuum to last at least a few years or more if you take care of it. However, you’ll likely need to replace the brushes, filters, and mopping pads to keep it cleaning well.
How well do robot vacuums handle corners and edges?
Some robot vacuums handle edges and corners better than others. Look for models that specifically state “edge cleaning” for the best results.
Image credit: Unsplash
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