- Compatible with Google and Alexa.
- Smart Navigation and sensors.
- Floor Mapping.
- New D-Shape design for corner cleaning.
- Link technology with Braava m6.
- Automated scheduling.
A lot has changed in the past year with robot vacuums. They are becoming more popular, moving beyond the “early adopter” phase and into the mainstream.
Across the board, performance levels have increased along with overall customer satisfaction. Having been here in the early days of robots (I started this blog in 2011), it’s AMAZING how quickly things have changed.
Why Should you Listen to Me?
- First and foremost, I’m a geek. I’m passionate about robots. I’ve been testing robots and writing reviews for over 4 years.
- Second, I now have a team who help me test robots out. Between all of us, we can cover all the angles.
- Finally, I rely on readers to comment and email me directly about their experiences. When I hear of a problem, I personally try and replicate the conditions to see the problem myself.
I frequently get asked the question:
“Patrick, so what is the best robot vacuum RIGHT NOW?”
Because the market changes quickly, my answer has varied over time. There are certainly some models that are better than others. BUT, the best robot vacuum for YOU, might be different than for ME. In this guide, I break out the various use cases and criteria to evaluate.
This page is updated frequently as we update reviews and new products are released. This is not a page we put up once and then forgot about. If you want to know when the last update was, just check the top of the page to see.
Contents (Jump to)
- 1 Bottom Line up Front – Our Favorite Robots for 2019!
- 2 Factors to Consider When Buying a Robot Vacuum
- 3 How to Evaluate a Good Robot Vacuum
- 4 Roomba i7+ – 2019 Pick for Best Robot Vacuum
- 5 Eufy RoboVac 11S – Best Mid-Level Robot Vacuum
- 6 Roomba s9+ – Best Robot Vacuum That Talks to a Mop
- 7 What is the Best Robot Vacuum for Large Homes? – Roomba 980
- 8 What is the Best Robot Vacuum for Apartments? – Roomba 890
- 9 Best Inexpensive Robot Vacuums – Budget Robots
- 10 What is the Best Robot Vacuum for Pet Hair & Dander? – Dyson 360 Eye
- 11 What is the Best Robot Vacuum for Hardwood Floors? – Botvac D3
- 12 What is the Best Robot Mop for Hardwood Floors? –Braava 380t
- 13 What is the Best Robot Vacuum for Thick Carpets? – Roomba 980
- 14 What is the Best Robot Cleaner for Tiles? – Braava Jet 240
- 15 Top Robot Brand Comparisons
- 15.1 Roomba vs Shark Ion
- 15.2 Roomba vs Ecovacs Deebot
- 15.3 Bissell SmartClean vs Roomba
- 15.4 Neato vs Shark Ion
- 15.5 Roomba vs Eufy Robovac
- 15.6 iLife vs Eufy Robovac
- 15.7 Roomba vs iLife
- 15.8 Roomba vs Hoover Quest
- 15.9 Older Robot Vacuum Models
- 15.10 Neato Botvac vs iLife
- 15.11 Neato Botvac vs Shark Ion
- 15.12 Roomba vs Neato Botvac
- 15.13 Older Models
- 15.14 Ecovacs Deebot vs iLife
- 15.15 Neato Botvac vs Ecovacs Deebot
- 15.16 Neato Botvac vs Eufy Robovac
- 16 Best Robot Vacuum Guides
- 17 Best Robot Vacuum Deals
- 18 Roomba Accessories
- 19 Roomba Model Reviews
- 20 Roomba Model Comparisons
- 21 Best iLife Models
- 22 iLife Model Reviews
- 23 iLife Model Comparisons
- 24 Best Neato Botvac Models
- 25 Neato Botvac Model Reviews
- 26 Neato Botvac Model Comparisons
- 27 Best Shark Ion Models
- 28 Shark ION Model Reviews
- 29 Shark ION Model Comparisons
- 30 Other Brand Vacuum Reviews
- 31 Best Ecovacs Deebot Models
- 32 Ecovacs Deebot Models Reviews
- 33 Ecovacs Deebot Model Comparisons
- 34 Best eufy Robovac Models
- 35 eufy Robovac Models Reviews
- 36 eufy Robovac Model Comparisons
- 37 Improvements That AHR Wants for Robovacs (as a whole)
- 38 FAQ
- 38.1 What are some advanced features included in robot vacuums?
- 38.2 What is the battery life like on robot vacuums?
- 38.3 What modes are available on robot vacuums?
- 38.4 Are robot vacuums as effective as upright vacuums?
- 38.5 What are the benefits of having a robot vacuum?
- 38.6 What accessories do robot vacuums come with?
- 39 Final Thoughts on the Best Robot Vacuum
Bottom Line up Front – Our Favorite Robots for 2019!
The following table summarizes the top options (in general), without eliminating for specific unique factors. This is based ONLY on performance, price notwithstanding. Be sure to check the price link for live data below:
|Model||Price||Overall Rating (1-10)||How Smart and Automated?||Clean Rating (1-10)|
|Roomba i7+||Check here||9.5||Very Highly||9.5|
|Roomba 980||Check here||9.5||Very Highly||9|
|Botvac D7 Connected||Check here (typically lower)||9.5||Very Highly||9|
|Roomba s9+||Check here||9||Very Highly||9.5|
|Eufy RoboVac 11S||Check here||8.5||Highly||8.5|
|Botvac D5||Check here||8.5||Highly||8.5|
|Roomba 960||Check here||8.5||Highly||8|
|Samsung POWERbot Wifi||Check here||8||Moderately||8|
|Dyson 360 Eye||Check here||8||Moderately||9.5|
|Botvac D3||Check here||8||Highly||8|
|Roomba 890||Check here||7.5||Moderately||7|
|Roomba 690||Check here||7.5||Moderately||7.5|
|Roomba 770||Check here||6.5||Below Average||6.5|
Factors to Consider When Buying a Robot Vacuum
The following are some of the key factors I’ve identified over the years. I’ve purchased dozens of robots over the years and – in hindsight – these are the important factors I look for:
1) Maintenance Requirements
Part of the reason we buy robot vacuums is to save time. Right?
The thing is, robot vacuums still require some regular maintenance. The newer the robot, the less maintenance is generally requirement. Certain improvements in technology (filtration, extractors, etc…) lessen the load as well as improvements like automatic re-charging (return to base) have greatly reduced the amount of physical human contact required.
However, even the latest robots do need some attention now and again. They still need to be emptied when the bin is full and filters, batter packs (and other small parts) do need to be replaced over time The point I’m trying to make is that you need to be reasonable with your expectations.
Keep in mind the market for replacement parts. Established brands like iRobot and Neato have a strong secondary market (more so for iRobot). You don’t need to send your robot back to the manufacturer. It’s usually as simple as purchasing the part online and watching a video/following written instructions on how to replace.
2) Auto-Scheduling Features
For some robot vacuums it’s as easy as pushing “start” and letting it work it’s magic. However, for more advanced users, many of the more robust robots offer auto-scheduling features.
Once you set your robot’s schedule (daily, weekly, ever other day, etc…) and input the specific time to start, it will automatically run. This is ideal if you don’t have the time and/or are out of the house during the day.
3) Battery Charge and Power Requirements
Robots run on batteries. Batteries need to be re-charged. Because of this, it’s an important place to look to judge the quality of a robot vacuum.
Any decent robot will have a minimum run-time of about 60 minutes, after which it will need to return to base (or be manually returned to base by the owner). Here’s how I categorize it:
- <60 minutes = generally unacceptable
- 60 minutes = lower end, budget models
- 60-80 minutes = average cycle, mid-range
- 80-90+ minutes = high end, top of the line
More recent robots ALSO have the ability to automatically “return to the charging base” when the battery is low. The latest robots can even return to base, recharge, and resume right where they left off. So, this is generally the hierarchy:
- Robots that run until they die and need to be manually placed on their charging base
- Robots that can detect a low battery and will return to to base automatically, but will have to start over cleaning
- Robots that can detect a low battery, return to base, AND auto-resume where they left off.
As with everything, the higher-end (generally newer) robots will have BOTH longer battery life and return to base functionality. As you move down the value chain, things start to change.
4) Cleaning Performance
This is an obvious one and perhaps the most important feature. In short, how well does the robot actually clean?
At the high end, you have robots that come very close (if not matching) the cleaning power of a traditional vacuum operated by a human. At the higher end, you are looking at the Roomba 980, Botvac Connected, Botvac D80, Roomba 880, and Samsung PowerBot.
At the low end, you have robots that are meant for light maintenance cleaning. You will probably still have to do a traditional vacuuming run once in a while, so don’t throw out your old vacuum just yet. The Bissell SmartClean or the Neato XV-21 is a good example of this.
At the mid range, you have robots that are capable of offering a great clean, but sometimes struggle with particular surfaces or corners, when compared to upright vacuums. A good example, the Roomba 770 (full review).
The most important thing is to be clear about your own objectives. Don’t just think about the sticker price, think about your time “saved” not vacuuming.
Sometimes it makes sense to squeeze the budget a bit further in this context.
5) Dust Bin Size
Unfortunately, dust bins still need to be emptied by humans. They haven’t yet figured out a way to cost-effectively build a self-emptying robot vacuum. It’s definitely a pipe dream of mine…
As such, you’ll want to look at how larger a particular robot’s bin is before you buy. For smaller houses and apartments, or houses with minimal dirt/dander, you may not need to empty after every cycle. I personally find that it takes about 3-4 full cycles of my 1900 square foot house before I need to empty my Roomba 980, for example.
Don’t be discouraged necessarily by robots whose bins fill up quickly (but are still comparable to others). This is a sign that the little robot is probably more efficient at collecting dirt that it’s peers.
6) Size of House/Apartment
This brings us to size. Size matters!
The newer robots are generally better suited to larger homes due to longer battery life, automatic recharging, larger dust bins, and better navigation. For example, a Roomba 620 (full review) might be just fine for a 3 bedroom apartment, even if it’s cleaning pattern is less efficient. Whereas, that same robot might be found “dead” in between the guest bedroom and 3rd playroom of a McMansion.
Both the Neato (Botvac) and Roomba have a variety of boundary marking accessories that can also help a robot navigate larger areas. For the Roomba it’s “virtual wall lighthouses” and the Botvac has special boundary marking tape. In some cases you can leverage a mid-range robot (say a Roomba 770) by purchasing a few extra lighthouses to enable a more efficient cleaning pattern.
7) Wifi App Control
WiFi control is all the rage these days. The ability to control your robot from your smartphone app is a dream that has finally come true. As of now, the only two robots that offer app control are the Roomba 980 (see my review) and the Botvac Connected (full review).
The ability to control your robot from a different WiFi network means you have live updates, system monitoring and control at your fingertips.
Another workaround for older Roomba devices (500 and 600 series) is the Thinking Cleaner Faceplate (check it out). This is a simple attachable “plate” that makes your older robot into a “smart” robot with WiFi connectivity. Keep in mind, this is an after-market solution, not necessarily endorsed by iRobot. As of yet, there is nothing similar for older Neato’s.
8) Pricing Considerations
You CAN find robots for less price, but they are generally cheaper knock-offs of the real thing or designed for light cleaning maintenance (not deep cleans). The Bissell SmartClean is a good example of fitting in the latter category.
There’s always a trade-off in terms of value. The best deals are often for last year’s models. They are still modern enough to have many of the best (and latest) features, but are missing just a few of the cutting edge ones. Still, you can save a significant amount. The Roomba 870 is a good example of this kind of value.
How to Evaluate a Good Robot Vacuum
So how do we generally evaluate our robots? For me, it comes down to 5 simple factors.
- Suction Power: Robovacs run the gambit from glorified dusters to hardcore cleaners. In the past, you could only rely on these robots for light maintenance cleaning. Today, the leading and latest models are coming VERY close to replicating traditional vacuums in terms of performance.
- Navigation Capability: A robot might be GREAT at cleaning, but without the right navigation technology, it might be as useful as your old upright. That’s an exaggeration, no doubt, but an important point! In terms of industry leading, iRobot and their Roomba series takes the cake. Their on-board technology is similar to Neato’s Botvac, BUT they are masters of geo-fencing. Using invisible (to us) lasers, iRobot’s “virtual walls” and “lighthouses” define the boundaries of where to clean. Neato relies on boundary marking tape which 1) takes time to set up properly and 2) marks up your floors. Most other brands just rely on the on-board navigation system which – when used in isolation – leads to some issues (getting stuck, lost, etc…).
- Level of Automation: Put simply, how “hands-off” is the robot? Not all robots are the same in this area. In fact, it can vary WILDLY. For example, the Roomba 980 rarely needs attention and can be monitored remotely. Most mid-priced robots have some form of auto-scheduling, but the devil is in the details! Be sure to check before you buy. For example, the Roomba 650 HAS auto-scheduling, but Roomba 630 and below does NOT. Similarly, older models tent to require more “hands on” ownership (changing filters more frequently, can’t “return to base”). The latest models generally require less.
- Price: For many, the ultimate criteria. Know your budget and stick to it. A low budget means you may have to go without a few conveniences and performance enhancements, but even the low end of this range can lead to significant time savings for the home owner.
In general, the combination of suction power + navigation ability = overall cleaning effectiveness.
Pro Tip: Also consider the “cost of ownership”. The market for quality replacement parts for a Roomba is far more extensive and diverse than – say – a new Dyson 360 Eye. In every case, calculate what the cost of filters, batteries, brushes, etc.. are AHEAD of time.
Roomba i7+ – 2019 Pick for Best Robot Vacuum
The Roomba iRobot i7+ has taken robot vacuum expectation so a whole other level. This powerful robot vacuum sets itself apart from the competition by emptying its own dustbin. When the robot vacuum completes its cleaning cycle, it heads back to its dock where the debris is sucked out of the device and into a filter bag. Although you eventually have to change out the bag, it will hold 30 dustbins worth of dirt before you do.
In addition to having one of the most advanced and unique features available in the robot vacuum market, the i7+ also offers the following:
- Compatible with Google and Alexa
- Smart Navigation
- Smart Sensors
- Scheduling Capabilities
- Floor Mapping
- Mobile App Support
Drawbacks? The biggest drawback to the i7+ is that it is expensive. Purchasing the i7+ will set you back quite a bit, but it’s hard to argue that this robot vacuum isn’t worth the price. Additionally, since the dock stores 30 bins worth of debris, it takes up more floor space. So, you’ll have to find an unobtrusive spot on your floor to keep your Roomba i7+.
Eufy RoboVac 11S – Best Mid-Level Robot Vacuum
Even though this robot doesn’t boast a lot of the features that many other smart vacuums offer, it’s an excellent option if you’re in the market for a mid-tier robot vacuum that won’t put a huge dent in your wallet. While it’s not as sophisticated as other robot vacuums on the market, the Eufy RoboVac 11S is slim, which means it will easily fit under nearly all your furniture.
The Eufy RoboVac 11S is a simple device, but it’s still one worth considering. It offers excellent runtime and can clean almost as well as most of the high-end models on the market.
Its list of features isn’t long, but here’s what you’ll get with the Eufy RoboVac 11S
- BoostIQ Technology automatically enhances suction power
- Automatic Recharge
- Obstacle avoidance infrared sensors
- Avoids edges with drop-sending technology
Drawbacks? This cost-effective robot vacuum does not offer all the bells and whistles other devices include. That means, while the RoboVac 11S is cleaning your home, you might have to manually adjust it every once in a while. Additionally, this smart vacuum takes longer to charge than other options in the same price range.
Roomba s9+ – Best Robot Vacuum That Talks to a Mop
The newest flagship robot vacuum from iRobot has a few new tricks up its sleeve. For starters, the body design and shape does not look like the Roomba we’re used to. With a D-shape design, the s9+ can get into corners and edges better than other Roombas. Like the i7+, the s9+ empties its own dustbin. That means you don’t have to mess with a disposal bag for about a month.
This fancy robot vacuum also offers Imprint Linking technology. With this technology, you can connect the s9+ to the Braava m6 robot mop so that the two work together. When the s9+ is done vacuuming, it’ll let the m6 know so it can start mopping.
You’ll get plenty of features with the Roomba s9+. Here’s a rundown of what you can expect:
- Voice and smartphone control
- Imprint Link technology with Braava m6
- Smart navigation and mapping
- Automated scheduling
- Self-emptying dustbin
- Tell which room you want cleaned with the iRobot mobile app
Drawbacks? The biggest drawback of the s9+ is its price tag. As of right now, this robot vacuum comes in considerably higher than others on the market and is more expensive than the i7+, which offers many of the same features.
What is the Best Robot Vacuum for Large Homes? – Roomba 980
Also: Even if you have a tiny house or apartment and just want “THE BEST” robot on the market…
If you have a larger home, there are definitely a few robots that are better suited to your needs. By “large” I generally am referring to 5+ rooms per level. Larger homes generally require superior navigation systems (look for “multi-room” navigation) and smart boundary systems.
It’s no surprise that my favorite multi-room cleaner is the Roomba 980 right now. While you can debate the merits of Neato vs Dyson vs Smasung vs iRobot when it comes to cleaning technology (suction, etc…), iRobot is the definitive leader when it comes to boundary control. Here’s why I like the Roomba 980:
- Smart boundary mapping using Virtual Lighthouse technology (invisible beam)
- Expertly navigates multiple rooms
- Smart app control via WiFi
- Carpet boost mode (great for houses with some carpeting)
- Industry leading cleaning technology (iRobot IS the industry leader right now, with decades of robotics experience)
- Strong secondary market for replacement parts
- NEW organized cleaning pattern
- Full Review: you can check out my comprehensive review here.
Drawbacks? The main drawback is that the 980 is very expensive. In fact, it is among the most expensive robots right now. However, be sure to check this listing for the latest deals.
Overall, if money is not the primary concern and you want one of the best home robot experiences, you really can’t go wrong with the 980. It’s built for larger homes and is really the only fully capable robot on the market for this.
[UPDATED FOR 2018] Runner-Up? The Botvac D7 Connected is the next best option for multi-room cleaning. Really, this choice is interchangeable with the 980.
NEW for 2018 is the D7’s ability to EITHER use the magnetic boundary tape OR allow you to map the boundary with your finger on the mobile app! This – for me – is a GAME CHANGER and puts Neato right back up there with iRobot.
While not always the case, the D7 is frequently available for LESS than the 980 here.
What is the Best Robot Vacuum for Apartments? – Roomba 890
For apartments, you can generally get away with significantly lower prices. Boundary marking systems are less important, leaving smart navigation (getting around tighter floor plans) and cleaning performance as the top criteria.
For this category, you can go with many different options. However, my top pick is the Roomba 860. Here’s why:
- It has recent technology (not the latest, but also not the oldest)
- No frills, but you can always add accessories later (think virtual walls if you need them later)
- NEW, now comes with WiFi app control (only in the 800 series)
- Reliable, iRobot is the market leader when it comes to performance over time (they have the largest budget for R&D)
- Strong secondary market for replacement parts
- Full Review: Check it out here (if needed).
Drawbacks? The 890 doesn’t come with all the extras like multiple virtual walls, but this is why it’s a good option. Apartment owners might not need this to start and can always buy them later. The 800 series technology isn’t the latest, but is still pretty new (relatively speaking). Some people don’t like the zig-zag cleaning patterns.
Runner-Up? I like the Botvac D3 (full Botvac D3 review) as an alternative here. If you prefer an organized cleaning pattern (as opposed to the Roomba’s random pattern), you’ll want this option. Sometimes for smaller quarters it also makes more sense to use the boundary marking. It’s certainly more feasible for smaller living spaces. Prices are very comparable to the 890 (if not less), but check this listing for the latest price.
Best Inexpensive Robot Vacuums – Budget Robots
If you are like many people, the above robots might be priced out of your budget. Not to worry, if you sacrifice some performance for VALUE, you can still find a good option. In the sub-sections below, I’ve broken out my favorites by budget range:
Mid-priced – Botvac D3
While this still might seem like a lot, for robots this price seems to be the differentiating line between the devices competing on value and the rest.
My top recommendation right now is definitely the Botvac D3. Here’s why:
- Currently the cheapest robot w/Wifi App control (that actually works well)
- Very recent cleaning technology, without the premium price.
- Self-charging and can resume where it left off
- Multi-room navigation (ideal for up to 1800 square feet)
- Full Review: read my full take here.
Drawbacks? It doesn’t have the “extras” that more expensive Botvac’s offer. Namely, it doesn’t have a side brush, HEPA filter (just regular), and a standard lithium-ion battery. Other Botvac’s also are rated for at least 2x the square footage.
Overall, this is a GREAT entry-level mid-priced robot (check the latest prices here) with the latest technology.
Runner-Up? For my runner up, I like the Roomba 690. It DOES have WiFi control, but it’s also generally cheaper (see this listing). In fact, it’s the cheapest offering from iRobot that still is app compatible.
Less expensive – Roomba 650
Once you get into the “budget” range, the cheaper robots tend to be very much “hit or miss”. Don’t necessarily be swayed by cheap prices.
This is why I prefer to go with a tried and true option at this price point, namely the Roomba 650. It’s kind of like buying a “pre-owned” high end car. Lots of cost savings, if you don’t mind that it isn’t brand new. Here’s why I like the 650:
- Automatic scheduling (cheapest Roomba with this option)
- Reliable brand name (iRobot is THE industry leader)
- Excellent market for replacement secondary parts (better than any of the competition)
- Smart boundary control (virtual walls, extendable if you need more)
- Full Review: You can read my review of the 650 here.
Drawbacks? Not the latest cleaning technology (best for maintenance cleans), not ideal for larger homes, can’t recharge and resume automatically, no app feature, no extras/frills (tangle free extractors, etc…). Many people also dislike the random (bouncing around) pattern. While it gets the job done, it’s a bit disconcerting and doesn’t leave that clean “manicured lawn” tracks on your carpeting.
Overall, this is literally the best priced Roomba you can find today (check this listing for details). If you are turned off by some of the high priced Roomba’s, this might be a great option to get started.
Runner-Up? For a runner up, I like the Bobi Classic. It features the added benefit of having a built in MOP functionality in addition to vacuuming, which is nice. It’s not really a true mop replacement (think more of a wet swiffer), but it IS a good value for the price (see this listing for live pricing). They also have really good customer service, should you need to return/replace.
Least expensive – iLIFE A4s
The big surprise contenders in the budget market over the past year is by FAR the iLIFE series. For years, the best we could expect from Chinese imports was cheap knock-offs of Roomba. While the iLIFE series certainly leverages things that work, they are one of the few attractively priced robots that I have tested that actually perform to an acceptable standard.
The iLIFE A4s is a very solid offering, albeit without the high end features.
- Surprisingly decent navigation (for not having any boundary control)
- Programmable schedule (just like higher tier offerings)
- Really good run time (about 150 minutes of battery capacity)
- Low profile, good for getting under furniture
- Full Review: Read the full review here.
Drawbacks? Not ideal for larger homes and complex floor plans, due to lack of boundary markers. It requires some regular maintenance that is more involved than some robots (cleaning bristles is the most frequent duty, but also the wheel housing, etc…). No WiFi app control. Relatively new to the market, no established secondary market for parts. Less brand recognition and permanence than iRobot, Neato, Dyson.
Overall, this is a solid option if you are on a tight budget and/or are looking for a lower cost “first robot” experience. Be sure to check this listing, as there are sometimes active discounts.
Runner-Up? The iLIFE V5s is almost identical to the A4s, BUT comes with a standard mopping feature (with water tank reservoir – so not just a cloth that you have to manually wet). Again, I’m not a huge fan of mop/vacuum combos (because the “mops” tend to be worse than stand-alone robot mops), BUT at this price it’s a good value (check here for the live pricing).
UPDATE: Runner-Up #2? I’d call it an even “tie” with the V5s, but I recently tested the Ecovacs Deebot N79 and found it to be quite comparable at this price range. You can find it for a very attractive price here.
NOTE: The number of devices in this category is growing rapidly, but – buyer beware – lots of cheap knock-offs.
What is the Best Robot Vacuum for Pet Hair & Dander? – Dyson 360 Eye
Almost all the robot cleaners brag that they are “pet-friendly”. The truth is, the best robots for pet hair have the best suction power. This is true not just for collecting hair, but also getting those smaller particles of dander that become lodged in carpets and floorboard crevices.
With this in mind, my top pick is the new Dyson 360 Eye. It has the BEST suction power on the market. Here’s why I like it:
- Hands down, the most powerful robot vacuum on the market
- From Dyson, an industry leading vacuum company
- Intelligent mapping sysem
- iOS and Android App control (including a cool “analyze clean” feature for historical cleaning data)
- The ultimate pet dander collector
- Full Review: Read my full review here.
Drawbacks? It’s bulky, almost 3X taller than competitors (meaning it will be harder to get under furniture). It has a great mapping system, but doesn’t have any boundary control. The more rooms you have to clean, the more likely it is for the Dyson to get lost. And – of course – it is THE most expensive robot on the market right now.
Runner-Up? A less expensive – but also very impressive – alternative is the new Botvac D5. It features ultra HEPA filtration and the latest cleaning technology. It’s also almost half the price of the Dyson (check here for pricing data).
What is the Best Robot Vacuum for Hardwood Floors? – Botvac D3
If you remove carpets from the equation, a robots job becomes a lot easier. You can get away with less expensive options. It’s usually the carpets which give robots trouble (“shag” carpets being the worst offender). So what’s the best robot for just hardwoods?
I like the new Botvac D3 for this category. Here’s why:
- The least expensive robot WITH WiFi app control
- Unique D-Shape design (better for corner cleaning)
- Versatile across all hardwoods
- Self-charging / auto resume feature
- Good battery life (lithium-ion battery)
- Full Review: Check it out here.
Drawbacks? No side brush included, still need to put down boundary tape, only 1800 square feet cleaning capacity (for one cycle). The “cons” aren’t bad, unless you have a very large floor-plan with hardwoods. The D3 also can carpets (it’s not “bad” on carpets, just a better value for hardwoods).
Runner Up? The Roomba 890 is also a great option here. The 890 essentially is an 800 series Roomba WITH WiFi app control technology. The only 800 series that has it. You can check out the pricing options here.
Alternatively, you may want to opt for a damp mop option (see below).
What is the Best Robot Mop for Hardwood Floors? –Braava 380t
Sometimes you just need a good robot mop. Hardwood floors need a delicate balance of something not TOO aggressive that harms the wood, but something competent enough to get a good clean.
For this purpose, I really like the Braava 380t. Here’s why:
- Dry + “Damp” mop mode (which isn’t overly aggressive, but is perfect for hardwoods)
- Can cover a larger area (up to about 350-400 square feet for mopping)
- Can cover up to 1,000 square feet in dry mop mode
- Full Review: Read it here.
Drawbacks? No full on “wet” mop (but you likely don’t want this too frequently on hardwoods). There is also no app control available. Generally more expensive than the Braava Jet 240.
Runner-Up? The Braava Jet 240 is the main alternative here (see below). It can do the same as the Braava 380t + wet mop mode (should you need it).
What is the Best Robot Vacuum for Thick Carpets? – Roomba 980
If most of your floors are carpeted and/or you have some longer haired carpets that need extra TLC, some vacuums are better than others.
The top of line option that I’ve found is definitely the Roomba 980. Here’s why:
- Only robot to specifically offer a “carpet boost” cleaning mode (more powerful suction – actually works in my experience)
- Covers the entire floor plan with smart navigation and multiple virtual walls
- Ideal for homes with over 50% carpeting
- Excellent at picking up pet dander and other allergens
- Industry leading navigation and suction technology (literally the market leader)
- Excellent service and support (iRobot is a trusted robot brand)
- Good market for secondary parts (lower “cost of ownership”)
- Minimal maintenance required (automatically returns to base)
Drawbacks? The only real complaints are 1) Price: the Roomba 980 is a high end robot and 2) Noise: when in carpet boost mode, the 980 is considerably more noisy. That said, it’s probably less noisy than most traditional vacuums most folks are accustomed to.
Runner-Up: While it doesn’t specifically have a “carpet boost” mode, the comparable Neato Botvac Connected available here does a good job on carpets as well. It’s considered the equivalent “Botvac” to the Roomba 980, but is generally a lot cheaper (depending on the retailer). I bought mine here for at affordable price.
What is the Best Robot Cleaner for Tiles? – Braava Jet 240
Some people make the mistake of thinking that all hard surfaces are fine for just any old robot mop. While a good robomop for tiles will also be more than capable for hardwood floors, the opposite is NOT true. This is because tiles have grooves (or grout lines) that might get missed with a cursory damp mop (that may be sufficient for hardwood flooring).
- 3 different clean mops (dry, damp, and wet)
- Compatible with Swiffer brand disposable cleaning cloths
- Really good price
- Can automatically avoid rugs
- New precision “jet spray” technology with vibrating cleaning head (better cleaning results than previous generations)
- Full Review: See it here.
NOTE: The Jet 240 will ALSO work well on hardwoods, in “damp” mop or dry mop modes.
Drawbacks? Limited cleaning area (about 150 square feet vs 350 for the 380t), can only cover up to 200 square feet in dry mop mode. In short, the Jet 240 is perfect for kitchens and bathrooms. These also happen to be the most commonly “tiled” surfaces. Unless you have an abnormally large tiled area, the Jet 240 should be sufficient.
Runner-Up? There really are no other “good” alternatives for tiles. The Braava 380t will do a decent job, but can’t do the deep “wet” mop that the Jet can do.
Top Robot Brand Comparisons
Older Robot Vacuum Models
- Botvac D4 Connected vs Roomba 690
- Botvac D6 vs. Roomba 960
- Roomba e5 vs. Botvac D5
- Roomba i7+ vs Botvac D7
- Botvac D3 Connected vs. Roomba 890
- Roomba i7+ vs Botvac D5
- Botvac D6 vs Roomba 690
- Botvac D7 Connected vs. Roomba 690
- Roomba 675 vs Botvac D7
- Roomba s9 vs Botvac D7
- Roomba e5 vs Botvac D7
- Roomba 980 vs Botvac Connected
- Botvac D7 Connected vs Roomba 980
- Botvac D5 vs Roomba 960
- Botvac D4 Connected vs. Roomba 960
- Roomba 650 vs Neato Signature
- Roomba 880 vs Neato Botvac 80
- Botvac 85 vs Roomba 880
- The Neato Signature Pro vs Roomba 880
Best Robot Vacuum Guides
- Best Roomba Alternatives
- Best Robot Vacuums for Dust
- Best Robot Vacuums for Pets
- Best Robot Vacuums for Carpet
- Best Robot Vacuums for Tiles and Tiled Flooring
- Best Robot Vacuums for Hardwood Floors
Best Robot Vacuum Deals
Roomba Model Reviews
- Roomba i7+ Review
- Roomba i7 Review
- Roomba 980 Review
- Roomba s9 Review
- Roomba 960 Review
- Roomba 890 Review
- Roomba 690 Review
- Roomba e5 Review
- Roomba 675 Review
- Roomba 614 Review
Older Roomba Models
- Roomba 770 Review
- Roomba 650 Review
- Roomba 870 Review
- Roomba 630 Review
- Roomba 860 Review
- Roomba 620 Review
- Roomba 780 Review
- Roomba 595 Review
- Roomba 880 Review
- Roomba 790 Review
- Roomba 760 Review
Roomba Model Comparisons
- Roomba i7 vs Roomba 960
- Roomba i7 vs. Roomba s9
- Roomba e5 vs e6
- Roomba e5 vs 960
- Roomba e5 vs 980
- Roomba e5 vs i7 vs i7+
- Roomba i7+ vs s9+
- Roomba s9 vs Roomba 960
- Roomba s9 vs e5
- Roomba i7+ vs 690
- Roomba 960 vs 980
- Roomba 960 vs 890
- Roomba 960 vs 675
- Roomba e5 vs 890
- Roomba i7+ vs 980
- Roomba e5 vs 675
- Roomba e5 vs 690
- Roomba 675 vs 690
- Roomba 890 vs 980
- Roomba 980 vs 690
- Roomba 980 vs Xiaomi Mi
- Roomba 690 vs 890
- Roomba 690 vs 960
- Roomba i7+ vs 675
- Dyson 360 Eye vs Roomba 980
Older Roomba Models
- Roomba 690 vs 650
- Roomba 630 vs 650
- Roomba 595 vs 770
- Roomba 650 vs 760
- Roomba 650 vs 860
- Roomba 890 vs 880
- Roomba 980 vs 650
- Roomba 880 vs 980
- Roomba 960 vs 880
- Roomba 960 vs 860
- Roomba 860 vs 690
- Roomba 770 vs 980
- Roomba 880 vs 650
- Roomba 980 vs 870
- Roomba 650 vs 770
- Roomba 860 vs 880
- Roomba 860 vs 770
- Roomba 630 vs 790
- Roomba 880 vs 770
- Roomba 870 vs 770
- iClebo Arte vs Roomba 880
- Roomba 790 vs 880
- Roomba 805 vs 890
- Roomba 770 vs Moneual Rydis H68
- Bobsweep vs Roomba 780
- Samsung Powerbot vs Roomba 880
- Roomba i7+ vs Shark IQ
iLife Model Reviews
iLife Model Comparisons
Neato Replacement Batteries
Neato Botvac Model Reviews
- Neato Botvac D6 Connected Review
- Neato Botvac D7 Connected Review
- Neato Botvac D4 Review
- Neato Botvac D3 Review
Older Botvac Models
- Neato XV-21 Review
- Neato XV-14 Review
- Neato Botvac 75 Review
- Neato Signature Pro Review
- Neato Botvac 70e Review
- Botvac D80 Review
- Botvac D75 Review
- Botvac 85 Review
- Neato XV-11 Review
- Neato Botvac D79 Review
- Neato Botvac D5 Review
- Neato Botvac Connected Review
Neato Botvac Model Comparisons
- Botvac D7 Connected vs Neato Botvac D4
- Botvac D4 Connected vs. Neato Botvac D6
- Botvac D4 vs. D3
- Botvac D7 vs D5
- Botvac D6 vs D7
- Botvac D7 vs. D3
- Neato Botvac D7 Connected vs. Neato Botvac D5 Connected
- Neato Botvac D3 vs. D6
Older Neato Botvac Models
- Botvac Connected vs Botvac D80
- Botvac 70 vs 75 vs 80 vs 85
- Botvac 80 vs Botvac D80
- Botvac D80 vs D75
- Neato Signature Pro vs Botvac 80
- Bobsweep BObi vs Neato Signature Pro
Shark ION Model Reviews
Shark ION Model Comparisons
Other Brand Vacuum Reviews
- Pure Clean Robot Vacuum Review
- Dyson Eye 360 Review
- Rollibot Robot Vacuum Cleaner Review
- Bissell SmartClean Robot Review
- Hoover Rogue 970 Review
- Proscenic 790T Robot Vacuum
- Roborock S5 Robot Vacuum
- iClebo YCR-M05-10 Arte
- Hoover Quest 800 Review
- Dibea D900 Review
- Miele RX1 Review
- Samsung Robot Vacuum Review
- Samsung VR9000 Review
- Samsung Powerbot Essential Review
- LG HomBot 3.0 Review
- Hoover Quest 1000 Review
- Moneual H67 Pro Review
- Moneual MR6550 Review
- Infinuvo Hovo 510 Review
- Bobsweep Junior Review
- BObi by Bobsweep Review
- Deik Robot Vacuum Cleaner Review
- Housmile Robotic Vacuum Cleaner Review
- Rotech Pro Review
Ecovacs Deebot Models Reviews
- Ecovacs Deebot M80 Pro
- Deebot N78 Robot Vacuum Review
- Deebot M80 Review
- Deebot Slim Neo Review
- Deebot D77 Review
Ecovacs Deebot Model Comparisons
Older Ecovacs Deebot Models
eufy Robovac Models Reviews
eufy Robovac Model Comparisons
Reviews of Out of Date eufy Robovac Models
Comparisons of Out of Date eufy Robovac Models
Improvements That AHR Wants for Robovacs (as a whole)
A boy can dream. Here are the things that I think could move the industry forward in 2017 and beyond!
- Automated Dust Bin: It wouldn’t be too hard to figure out, but the ability for a robot vacuum to automatically dump debris in a designated location or receptacle would be a game changer! Currently, this is the main area where ALL robots still require human interaction.
- Better Smart Home Integrations: This is a HUGE pet peeve of mine. The proliferation of “smart” devices is great, but getting them all to TALK TO EACH OTHER is the hard part. Robot vacuums have been particularly slow to release apps (finally doing so in the last year). And even still, it would be nice to be able to control all smart home devices from ONE central hub and app interface. Also, I can envision scenarios where you “smart” security system gets triggered by your “smart” robot, leading to many complicated scenarios.
- Better Suction: This is clearly improving and likely will continue to improve. This year, the long awaited release of the Dyson 360 Eye massively increased the standard for suction. Similarly, strong entries from Samsung (PowerBot series) also upped the ante. While both Roomba and Botvac made minor improvements, clearly the new competition has raised the bar. Keep raising it! In the end, I fully expect robots to be as powerful as their upright manual counterparts.
- A Good Vacuum + Mop Combo: Many lesser brands have tried, but all of the current options leave a lot to be desired. The best robot mop/vacuum combo is the Bobsweep line, but it generally does just an “okay” job at both. As it stands now, the best results are still from having a robot mop and vacuum separately. For example, combining the Braava with a Roomba collectively leads to a better end result than any combo currently on the market. Maybe this is the way it SHOULD be. The new 3-stage wet, dry, damp mopping feature on the Braava Jet means that you can probably get away with just a Braava in the kitchen (no need to vacuum in most cases). NOTE: If you are looking for a good round-up of the top robot mops, check out my companion article here on the top options for 2017.
- Affordability: While robots have gradually been becoming more accessible to the masses, they are still a “Middle Class” and up type solution. ILIFE has been the most aggressive in terms of balancing performance with attractive pricing. They have arguably undercut Botvac and Roomba’s lowest offerings, while not necessarily sacrificing very much in terms of performance (although they still have a ways to go).
What are some advanced features included in robot vacuums?
There are a lot of advanced features that you’ll find in robot vacuums. Of course, there are always robot vacuums that have no frills for simple operation without messing with confusing technology, but if you want some more options, there’s plenty out there.
Wi-Fi is one of the most common advanced features on robot vacuums. The beauty of Wi-Fi is that it enables a lot of different functionality. If your robot vacuum has Wi-Fi, it will connect to a smartphone app so that you can control it from wherever you are.
You can set schedules, and in some cases, view cleaning stats, customize boundaries, and select specific cleaning areas to target. It can also enable voice commands through smart home assistants like Google Home and Amazon Alexa.
Navigation is another advanced feature. It’s less common than Wi-Fi, but still uses Wi-Fi to perform some of its functions. Navigation can detect things in the room and avoid them before bumping into them. In some cases, navigation goes hand in hand with mapping, which is where things really get interesting.
With navigation and mapping, your robot vacuum can build maps and floor plans, enabling you to access these maps in the mobile application. With access to these maps, you can label rooms, designate boundaries, customize cleaning routes and schedules, prioritize cleaning areas, and much more.
In a select few cases, robot vacuums also come with mopping abilities. That means you get a two-in-one machine that can do everything. You have unlocked powerful cleaning performance that gives you even more flexibility and functionality.
All of these advanced features give you what you need to keep your home clean on a busy schedule, but they often come at a price, so be aware of what you’re getting into when you decide what features are a must have rather than a nice to have.
What is the battery life like on robot vacuums?
Battery life varies greatly among robot vacuums. Some only have one hour of battery life or less while others have three hours of battery life. Battery life varies so much because there are different sizes of robot vacuums with many different functionalities that drain the battery at various speeds.
Robot vacuums with eco modes will last much longer, but won’t have as powerful performance. They’re best used for routine cleanings rather than big messes. If a robot vacuum has the ability to increase suction, the increased power will drain the battery faster.
In most cases, unless you specify otherwise, your robot vacuum will work in auto mode, cleaning at a moderate level and adjusting it’s speed or suction accordingly. This will give the battery enough life to get through most cleaning cycles, unless you have a large home.
Battery life is sometimes dependent not only on the mode, but the surface it’s cleaning. It will work harder on carpet than it will on bare floors. It will also work harder on high pile carpet than low pile, needing more powerful suction to get it clean.
What modes are available on robot vacuums?
Some robot vacuums only have one mode: clean. They roam around the house sucking up things in their path and then returning to the dock when they’re done or they run out of battery. However, there are robot vacuums on the market that come with more than one cleaning cycle.
Every robot vacuum manufacturer is different, so there are a variety of options, and if one looks appealing to you, you’ll have to find a manufacturer who offers it. Robot vacuums that have more than one cleaning cycle will often have three or four included in the same unit.
Spot cleaning mode is a common cleaning mode that will focus high powered suction on a small spot for a period of time. It moves in a small circle to target small, messy areas. Spot cleaning mode doesn’t impact battery life too significantly because it only cleans at high power for a short time.
Max cleaning mode is another mode that is used in a lot of robot vacuums. It cleans at max power all over the house until it runs out of battery. This can significantly impact your battery life because it needs a lot of power to perform.
Edge cleaning mode bumps up against edges and follows them around the room to get a better clean in corners and other areas that accumulate more dirt and debris. This mode will clean around the edges for a set amount of time and then return to the dock.
Eco mode cleans at low power all over the house until it runs low on battery or it completes the cleaning cycle. It saves your robot vacuum’s battery and is a great mode to use for routine cleanings every day.
Single-room cleaning isn’t as common, but it is picking up speed in the robot vacuum world. This cleaning mode will clean at high power in a designated room, typically for thirty minutes, before returning to the dock. This is perfect for the kitchen or other high traffic spaces that need some extra attention.
Are robot vacuums as effective as upright vacuums?
Sadly, the answer to this question is probably no. Robot vacuums are small devices, and while they’re convenient, they don’t have the capacity for high-powered motors, large filters, and everything that makes an upright vacuum as powerful as it is.
However, the features they do have are excellent for how compact the units are. There are always exceptions to the rule, but for the most part, your robot vacuum will give you great suction and performance, especially if you use it regularly.
Many have triple-layer filtration systems or HEPA certified filters than can trap particles as small one one micron in size. These are excellent for people with allergies or pets who shed. Some models even have proprietary suction technology that goes above and beyond a bottom of the line robot vacuum.
You do have to make sure you empty out the dustbin on a fairly regular basis because the onboard capacity for storing dirt isn’t nearly as much as an upright. However, you can get self-emptying dustbins that enable you to go longer between this type of maintenance and attention.
What are the benefits of having a robot vacuum?
The answer to this question is truly endless. Robot vacuums are easy to set up and use. They’re also efficient. Even the least efficient model saves you the time of vacuuming yourself.
On that note, they save you time. You can count on a robot vacuum to clean the floor for you so you can relax or go about your busy day without worrying about cleaning later. You can schedule your cleans so you don’t have to remember to set it in motion manually.
They come with plenty of technology that enables you to control your robot vacuum in a variety of ways, even if you’re not home. You can use the smartphone app, voice controls, remote controls, and the buttons on the unit.
In many cases, you can even program your robot vacuum to respond to other events in the home using a connected network of smart devices and the IFTTT app. For instance, you can use the GPS location services on your phone to notify the robot vacuum of when you’ve left for work so it can get to work, too, while you’re not in the way.
With navigation and mapping, you can set up boundaries so your robot vacuum won’t go where you don’t want it to go. You can also save multiple floor plans on some devices so it will work on your main level and on the second floor.
Use maps to customize priority cleaning zones so when your vacuum starts a cleaning cycle, it will always start with the messiest room first. Not only do you get a powerful clean with plenty of cleaning modes when you use a robot vacuum, but you get the technology you need to go with it.
Some robot vacuums also have mopping capabilities, which means you can tell it to mop when it’s done vacuuming. This just takes another important chore off of your plate, making it that much more convenient.
And if you decide you don’t want the fancy technology, you can get no frills versions that have the same power without having to mess with all of the extra stuff. To some, this is the greatest benefit of all because they can tell it to clean whenever they want and don’t have to connect it to anything else.
What accessories do robot vacuums come with?
The answer to this question, as you can probably imagine, depends on the manufacturer. Every robot vacuum comes with the unit itself, a charging dock, a battery, and all of the components it needs to operate.
The most common accessories are extra parts like brushes and filters. Some models come with remote controls, virtual walls, or boundary strips, depending on functionality and compatibility.
In some cases, if there are interchangeable brushes for switching from a brush roll to a direct suction method, it will come with those extra parts, too. You can always order extra parts and accessories online if you need them.
Final Thoughts on the Best Robot Vacuum
Years ago, robots were a thing to be dreamed of. Today they are a reality. They are quickly becoming mainstays in homes around the world. Yet, they are still pricey acquisitions. Decisions should not be taken lightly. Hopefully you found this guide helpful. I DO update it frequently and would LOVE to hear your comments and personal experiences below.
Patrick Sinclair is a geek; make no mistake about that. He runs All Home Robotics in his spare time so he doesn’t have to think about his depressing cubicle and it gives him an excuse to buy expensive gadgets to review!