Should I Get the Roomba or Braava?

Getting help with keeping your floors looking clean is appealing. There are several different devices out there you can consider. Two of them that are good options are the Roomba and the Braava.

While they are quite similar in many ways, they do have their differences.

The biggest one is the type of cleaning they provide. The Roomba is a vacuum like device which works well on carpets and hard flooring. The Braava is a mop type of product that works well on hardwood floors, tile, and ceramic flooring.

Bottom Line Up Front: Here are the main reasons to choose one over the other…

What does the Roomba Offer?

The Roomba offers assistance with the chore of keeping carpets cleaned. This device can remove dirt and debris. It can also remove dust which can allow various allergens to accumulate in the carpets. This is a robotic device so you can have clean floors without the hard work. You can set the device to clean your rooms and it will remember what is in the path.

The product isn’t going to damage your furniture or other items that it comes into contact with. It also has a memory so that it is able to remember where items are located in a given room. If you stop the cleaning midway through, it will be able to remember where to start up again.

This isn’t your typical robotic vacuum cleaning option either. The Roomba offers an in depth, three step process for cleaning. In addition to being used on carpets, it works well on linoleum and hardwood flooring. It is able to adjust automatically for different flooring types. There is a large collection bin and two HEPA filters. For a full overview of the top Roomba models, check out this comparison page.

Pros of the Roomba – What to Like

  • Great for Pet Hair/Dander: Roomba is one of the better made robotic vacuums on the market. It is one of the few that can successfully pick up and remove pet hair from your carpets.
  • Relatively Quiet: These products get rave reviews for being very quiet.
  • Fits Under Most Furniture: Since the design of the models is also very compact, the device is able to clean under tables and other furniture without you moving them.
  • Easy Controls: The control deck for the Roomba is easy to use. There aren’t complex steps involved to getting this robotic vacuum to do exactly what you want. More advanced models can even be programmed to return to the home base when cleaning is done.
  • Money Back Guarantee: All Roomba models have a 30 day money back guarantee and a one year warranty.

Roomba Cons – Things Not to Like

  • Price: Even though a Roomba is a great working device, they can be very expensive. Depending on the model you purchase they range from $350 to $700. The latest and greatest Roomba 880 is available here for a steeper price. Yet if you have a large home and you use the device often to clean your carpets it can be considered a worthwhile investment.
  • Older Models aren’t Perfect: The Roomba devices are round so that can result in some areas of your floors not being as clean as you would like. This includes in the corners and along the baseboards. You may have to clean those areas of your carpets on your own to get them clean to the standards of the rest of the room when you rely on the Roomba to do the work.

What does the Braava Offer?

The Braava is a floor moping robot that will help you to have clean floors without the legwork.

It can be successfully used on all types of flooring except carpets. It offers both dry and wet moping features so you can select what you would like it to perform in order to keep your home looking amazing. It uses microfiber cloths that are reusable and no harmful chemicals are used to clean the floors. There is also the option to use disposable cloths if you prefer.

The price is very reasonable for a Braava, the prices are much more affordable. Such a device seems to clean about 95% of what a traditional broom and mop would clean up. The amount of time it saves you to rely on such a device for your high traffic areas or for all of your sweeping and moping needs can add up very quickly.

Braava Pros – Why You’d Go With the Braava

The Braava is self adjusting for the different types of flooring you may have in your home. It is able to successfully sweep and mop your floors for you without scratching them or damaging any furniture in the way. It is able to detect patterns so that it will clean in paths and identify where furniture and other obstacles are when you use it in the future.

This robotic cleaning device is square shaped. That allows it to do an excellent job of cleaning along the edges and baseboards. Those are common areas where other brands of similar products can fall short due to their round design. It is quiet and when it is done cleaning the floors as you programmed, it will return to the dock location to recharge.

Braava Cons – Shortcomings 

If you have large flooring areas, you may have difficulty getting them completely clean before the battery life dies out in the Braava. It will return to the dock when the battery is low to recharge on its own. This just means it can take longer to clean your floors than you may have originally anticipated.

Some consumers have reported that their Braava can get stuck from time to time in one place. To fix this problem, the robot will have to be turned off and the programmed again. For large floors, the pads for moping can dry out before the work has been completed. Another problem is that the pad may need to be changed before the job is completed. If not, then the end result of the cleaning efforts will be less than satisfactory.

Braava 380 vs 320 – What’s the Difference?

There are currently two different Braava models available. The 380t has a few more features, see here and can cover a bit more territory, while the Braava 320 is less expensive (full analysis here).

UPDATE 5/1/16: Introducing the New Braava Jet 240

iRobot has released a new floor mopping robot targeted at a much lower price point (see pricing here). You can read my full review of the Jet right here, but I’ve included a high level summary below:

  1. New Precision “Jet” Spray Head: This is a more efficient and effective way for the Braava to clean floors (instead of dropping cleaning liquid underneath the unit).
  2. 3 Distinct Cleaning Modes: One of the considerations when deciding on whether to go with a Braava or Scooba is the different cleaning modes. Not anymore. The Jet offers 1) dry “sweep” mode, 2) “damp” mop mode (ideal for hardwoods and light cleanup), and 3) wet mop, similar to the Scooba.
  3. Egonomic Design: The new design of the Jet makes it easier to pick up and move.

Conclusion: Which Is Better?

Short answer: It depends! Do you need a robot mop or a vacuum?

Now that you have more details about what the Roomba and the Braava offer, you can decide which floor cleaning device is right for your own needs.

If you want help with vacuuming the Roomba can be ideal. If you want help with mopping though then the Braava is a better choice to consider. UPDATE: To get an overview of the best robot vacuums for 2017, check out this guide that I just published.

In particular, if you need a relatively small area fully wet mopped and disinfected (like bathrooms and kitchens), the Braava Jet 240 is ideal.

If you have both carpets and other types of flooring, you may find that both of these devices in your home is the ultimate solution!