Keeping your house spic and span even with a vacuum cleaner is time consuming, and some people may even develop back pain while bending over to reach under furniture and tight corners and while lifting heavy objects. This is where a robot version comes in handy- it does all the tidying by itself while you tend to other work! Skip intro? See Top 10 Rated Robot Vacuums ⬇
Yes, the automatic vacuum is a tiny, powerful, hands-free, battery-charged machine which is usually disc-shaped. All you have to do is program it to sweep your floors and rugs while you do something else. It’s engineered to collect all the dust, sand, dirt and lint on your floor and carpets.
As it’s very low-profile, it easily slides under sofas and chairs. So you no longer need to lift furniture up or aside to dust under them. You can even program these automated machines to automatically do their work at fixed times and days as needed. This serves as a boon for busy people, the aged and those with mobility problems.
Robot vacuum don’t need any special care and maintenance. All you have to do is replace its filter and brush as required, empty its dust bin with each use and make sure there is no trapped debris in the unit as it will only obstruct its overall performance.
Some models come with great features, and if they do not, you just have to buy them separately. Examples are a scheduler for it to sweep while you are out, a remote control so that you needn’t bend to program the robovac, a wall-mount or hanger for the floor cleaner’s convenient storage, a self-charging base for its power, and virtual walls which restricts its movements so that it’s confined to a limited area.
Not only are automatic vacs convenient for tidying your home, it’s also a financially sound investment. You have to pay about $25-$35 per hour to hire professionals to sweep and mop your home while a machine costs $100 or less on an average. All it takes are a few hours of its usage to recover the money you would have otherwise spent hiring professionals!
These robotic vacuum cleaners even remember your house layout much better than you do! They won’t miss corners nor get stuck in corners or against walls as they follow the path you program into its memory.
These tools are best for people suffering from severe allergies or asthma as the robotic vacuum for allergies can reach into tight corners to pick up the allergens regular units leave behind.
Some even remember where their charging station is and return to it once they are done with their chores. There are some models which even throw away the accumulated debris into a receptacle.
So all you have to do is send these robotic vacuums to do their sweeping once a day, which proves a boon to you as they help reduce your housework considerably.
||Battery Life||Our Rating|
|IRobot Roomba 650||Carpet, tile, hardwood, laminate & more||~2 hours||4.9|
Eufy RoboVac 11
|All rugs, carpets & uneven flooring||~1.5 hours||4.8|
|All carpets & hard wood floor||~2 hours||4.8|
iRobot Braava 380t
|Vacuuming and mopping all floor types||~4 hours||4.6|
Ecovacs Deebot N78
|Best for hard floors and pet hair||~2 hours||4.5|
Neato Botvac D80
|Picks up stuff like dirt, crumbs, dust bunnies, and pet hair||~2 hours||4.5|
BObsweep PetHair Cleaner and Mop
|Cleaning and sterilizes with UV all types of floors||~1.5 hours||4.4|
iRobot Roomba 980
|Specifically designed to fit under most furniture, beds and kickboards||~2 hours||4.4|
Samsung VR9000 POWERbot
|Advanced assistant for cleaning hardwood and carpets||~1.5 hours||4.3|
ILIFE A6 Robotic Vacuum Cleaner
|All floor types – carpet, tile, hardwood||~2.5 hours||4.2|
1. Robot Vacuum Buyer’s Guide
There are so many brands like Dyson and Samsung offering so many features that you may find it difficult choosing the best robot vacuum cleaner. You can make your best choice if you know what the features to look out for are.
While some features are standard features which exist in most machines, there are some additional features available as add-ons. You have to make your choice based on what you are looking for and of course, your budget.
However do remember that an expensive unit with all the latest features may not always be an effective choice! Most of the time a competitively low-priced unit with basic features is more than enough for your cleaning needs. Here are some features to look out in robovacs so that you buy the best robot vacuum befitting your budget:
Power is of course important as different models and brands have different power. Find out how long the unit can work on a single charge as you’d prefer to buy a unit which can work longer on a single charge.
While most units come with a home base, there are a few models which come with an optional self-charging base. This is a convenient option to have as the automatic sweeper’s working efficiency increases if it can charge itself on its self-charging base whenever required.
- Detection and transition
Most automatic sweepers work best on hardwood flooring but there are some which are programmed to easily transition from hardwood flooring to carpeting. This is an important feature to have in your robot especially if you have lots of carpets on your flooring.
Though the models designed for use on hardwood flooring are usually cheap robot vacuums, they won’t be of much use if your house is full of carpet. Moreover, if you don’t have a low level carpet, the unit may not be of any use in your house at all too!
Besides its transitioning capabilities, check the unit’s detection programming as many high end models have infrared detection feature. This lets them identify all the off-limit areas and nearby stairs or doorways. This feature is rather handy as it prevents your carpet sweeper from banging its way through your home while doing it’s doing its rounds!
- Thorough cleaning
It’s essential that you chose a machine that knows how much to clean. Some affordable units are programmed to assume they are done but they have actually missed some areas. There are also some units that are programmed with the artificial intelligence to know if they have missed any spots or if some areas need more concentration.
So it’s essential you know what you want before you start shopping for your automatic carpet sweeper. If you want a fool-proof unit which gets the job right at the first attempt, its better paying more for a high-end unit.
1.1 Different types of Robot Vacuums
Robotic sweepers may not have that strong suction or dust capacity than a standard household unit but they are indeed a convenient means of keeping your home spic and span when you don’t have time to attend to your chores. Some units also have apps which you can use to control them when away.
Different models perform differently. Some follow a methodical approach, some look like they are randomly moving around your house but are actually mapping the room using built-in cameras and smart sensor technology.
There are also some robovacs which have remote controls for you to direct to the exact spots from the comfort of your sofa. If you have pets at home, it’s better to specifically look for the best robot vacuum for pet hair like bObsweep as they have brushes which the pet hair doesn’t get entangled in. Consequently, a robot vacuum for allergies is better for those with allergies.
Generally the more expensive units have a maximum of 6 modes for you to choose from, including auto mode, which you can program the robovac to sweep till its battery runs out. Turbo is usually the most powerful mode which picks up most dirt and dust while spot mode focuses and brushes a particular area.
Automatic vacs usually come with accessories like a virtual wall to block off unnecessary areas, and different brushes. The sweeper brushes stick from its sides to sweep and suck up dirt and dust while the brush bars are underneath and suck up dirt from floor surfaces.
So you have to decide what type of machine you want based on your priorities and it will dust your home while you tend to other work.
1.2 Price and Warranty
It’s better to buy a vacuum robot which has a warranty that covers defective parts, just in case if something goes wrong with the unit. Most of them have at least a one-year guarantee for the unit and 6-month warranty for the battery. There are also high-end units which offer 2 or 5 years protection.
The warranty covers defects caused by problems related to the product manufacture or material free of charge, but does not cover normal maintenance issues like replacement of brushes, filters and batteries. Different brands may also have different terms about shipping in its manufacturer warranty.
The prices of these machines vary based on it’s size, brand and features. They are generally divided as:
- Small countertop vacs are relatively cheap robot vacuums that cost under $20 but have minimal dusting and sweeping features.
- The small devices weigh less than 5 pounds but cost about $100. They however hold charge for a shorter time than their larger counterparts, and have to be frequently emptied.
- Standard-size units like iRobot’s Roomba series and iTouchless Automatic Intelligent Robotic Vacuum cost between $200 and $500 where the larger models can sweep carpets and tiled and hardwood floors.
There are various accessories and replacement parts which add to the cost of the devices. Some additional accessories you will need for periodic maintenance and use of your carpet sweeper are replacement batteries, power supplies and charging stations.
Replacement filters come in multi-packs are also a needed accessory. Some models use the slightly more expensive HEPA filter. Some models need strategically placed bumpers and protective strips around the room to help recognize obstacles and prevent scuffing.
There are additional accessories which provide other features like hacking tools for tech-savvy users and Bluetooth interface module which lets the Roomba communicate with Bluetooth enabled devices like cell phone and laptop. While it’s possible to hack the Roomba to play music, work as a mouse or add a camera, remember that doing this voids its warranty.
1.3 Technologies and Features
Vacuum robot cleaners come with standard and additional features and technology. Here is a rundown of the different types of technology and features you can expect in a robotic vac.
- Avoidance technology
This is one of the standard features in robot floor cleaners which are a system of sensors on it’s body which helps it avoid barriers. They typically include these two avoidance technologies:
They are usually padded on the front side of the device and recognizes when it hits an object to let it know it has to move in another direction. It has mechanical sensors which get activated only when it physically hits something. Though these sensors are cheap, there are effective versions which come with mapping technology.
- Cliff sensors
Practically all automatic vacs have cliff sensors on its underbelly near the front and sometimes near the back end too. They are usually optical sensors which determine height and how far it’s from the nearest surface.
If the robovac senses it’s going to go over a ‘cliff’ like stairs, a switch makes it immediately go into reverse. Most automatic vacs have cliff sensors tuned to a few inches so that it traverses over small bumps but avoids falls down stairs.
There are some additional sensors you may find like infrared sensors which determine which objects should be avoided in a room and digital and infrared cameras which take photos of the room with the same objective. There are high-end units with ultrasonic frequency technology used for mapping rooms to avoid objects.
Mapping technology is used with avoidance technology in robotic floor cleaners but it does not exist in all models, especially the cheap robot cleaners. There is however some benefits to buying a robovac with mapping technology like more efficient and advanced cleaning routines and better avoidance of objects.
Mapping technology is a combination of hardware and software where hardware used for mapping the room is similar as those used in object avoidance. It’s the software which creates digital maps of the room so that it creates patterns and remembers its layout. The maps are updated or renewed if any changes are made to the room’s layout. Of course, these units with mapping technology are more expensive.
Vacuum robots use two methods for mapping technology with their individual differences and overall effect:
- Laser mapping
While this is relatively effective, shadows hamper its functioning and it may not clearly indicate obstacles. They are also not very accurate about the size and distance from other objects in the room.
- Digital camera or visual mapping
Digital cameras using digital visual mapping are more expensive but they do provide the robot with real-life positioning using VSLAM or Visual Simultaneous Localization and Mapping technology.
This technology lets the robovac use real, digital images to keep track of its whereabouts and map new terrain. They thus avoid obstacles better, remember where it has traversed and cleans quickly and efficiently.
Effective and thorough cleaning abilities are the next most important feature of robot vacuums and where most robot vacuum cleaner companies put all their features and money in.
It’s obviously the feature that generates most attention in marketing campaigns as it’s what consumers are most concerned about. Here are the common cleaning features you can find in robot vacs:
- Bristle brushes
Most robot vacs have brushes similar to the brushes you find in traditional vacuums. They have a central dowel with plastic or nylon hairs which sweep dust, dirt and loose material into its basin.
- Bladed brush
These blades are meant for cleaning up pet hair as pet hair tends to get stuck in bristles but do not get stuck in rubber blade brushes. So naturally a robot vacuum for pet hair like ilife is one that has bladed brushes.
- Combination brush
This brush has the best of rubber bladed and traditional bristle designs and is much better at sweeping in small dust and dirt particles.
Brushless robotic vacs are rare but follow an interesting principal. These robots don’t have a main brush but a suction area with a small hole which usually has side whiskers. The side whiskers serve at helping move material towards the hole. The problem with this design is that it doesn’t work well on rugs and carpets as it doesn’t have a main brush’s agitation.
While this is an often overlooked aspect of robot floor cleaners, a brush’s location can make a lot of difference to the unit’s overall performance. While the brush may be located in the front, middle or back of the robovac, it’s most commonly found in the front. There are some robots with brush and suction area in the center while a few models have the brush on the back.
The main disadvantage of placing the brush in the center or back is that it sucks debris in only after rolling over a significant amount of debris. There is thus a chance of dust and other material accumulating on the underside which has to be frequently removed. This accumulated dust and debris may also block the sensors located on the bottom and lead to an operation malfunction.
Strength of suction
The automatic carpet sweeper’s motor strength and air chamber and fan design determines its suction strength. The cheap robot vacuums usually have smaller, cheaper and low-powered motors which may pass on hard surfaces but don’t sweep carpets and rugs well as they require stronger suction. They may also need to make multiple passes to collect dirt and debris.
The stronger devices are rather loud and disruptive in action but usually have various strength settings for you to choose from so that you can decide how much air the motor pulls in.
Dry and wet functions
Most units have a ‘dry mop’ which usually is a microfiber cloth attached on its back, but is also attached in front or center of machines with a back suction area. The function of the dry mop is to collect all the loose dirt and dust the suction misses. Some also have a ‘wet mop’ which is a moistened dry mop which gives a more thorough mopping.
There are now many robovacs which offer maximum performance which not only sweeps floors, but also pre-soaks, scrubs and squeegees floors. There are also iRobots which can be used to sweep dirt and spills from kitchens, bathrooms and hardwood floors.
Robot floor cleaners are bagless and store all the sucked debris in its detachable storage bin. These bins usually have a HEPA filter which catches fine dirt particles in its exhaust section. Some robot vacuums have reusable filters while others don’t. If you don’t want to keep on buying new filters, its better buying a robot vac with a reusable filter.
While whiskers or side brushes of robot vacuums are relatively new inventions, they are so effective that they are now a standard feature on most robot vacuums. It’s located on the machine’s front side and spins towards the machine center while extending outwards to the side and front to push dirt and debris into the machine’s brush region.
Side whiskers also help robot vacs effectively overcome a major issue with regular vacuums; getting close to baseboards and walls.
Wireless connectivity is an interesting new feature that exists in many high-end models like the Neato Botvac. These models have their own phone or tablet applications connecting mobile devices to the unit through an internet connection.
This provides various mobile connectivity solutions like scheduling, monitoring, remote control and push notifications. There are some unique models which even give live video feed from the machines which have digital cameras.
Some robot vacuum cleaners have basic radio frequency connection and come with a simple remote control with a few buttons for stopping, starting and scheduling it. Many people opt for this model to avoid having to constantly get up and down to move it around.
Robots with limited remote control add some fun as it lets users take control when it’s program can’t overcome some obstacles. The remote control feature also helps when the machine’s instructions are not so effective at cleaning up an area.
Not many people know that the cleaning robot’s size and shape effects the robot’s cleaning abilities. Read on to learn how:
- Round robots
This is the most common design made popular by the industry-leading iRobot. While its Roomba vacuum may not have been the first to enter the market, it’s the most commercially viable robot vacuum which is why other companies entering the market copied its design scheme.
Round robots easily get around areas and with bumper sensors can avoid hard impacts to furniture. They are however limited in their ability to traverse corners and walls and without side whiskers, it may have been impossible for these round shape robots to get into walls and corners.
- Squared robots
While squared robots are not common, they are very effective cleaners. An example is the Neato Botvac Robotics where the robot can easily get into corners and close to walls. Its side whiskers ensure the robot gets within millimeters of baseboards, and reach into corners like no other robot can. The only drawback with this design is that there’s a high possibility of the robot getting stuck in between chair legs.
Charging and auto-return
The ability of a cleaning robot returning to its base on its own is now a standard feature for all models. The machine locates its base using a radio frequency signal and then guides itself to the base once its battery starts to lose power.
The percentage of battery power that triggers this function varies between devices but is usually between 5-15%. Its better if the base is located in some unobstructed place and should not be influenced by other radio signals which may interfere with its locating the base.
Even the range of it locating its base varies with models some have only a 5-foot radius outside the base while others can locate their base at much wider areas. The higher-end models have features which help them locate the base from wherever they are.
The bots typically slow down to the base and onto the charger. Most robotic vacuums are programmed to complete their assigned task once they get charged and will continue with the charge-clean-charge process till they complete the task.
The cleaning robot’s battery power is very important as it defines how much power your robotic vacuum consumes. They are generally power-hungry and average between 1 hour to 1 ½ hour per charge.
This may seem a long time for a traditional carpet sweeper but that’s how long an automated sweeper works on a charge as it’s much slower than traditional devices. Moreover many robot vacs have limited suction power and thus does not use its battery too quickly.
The best robot vacuums have 2 hours of battery life and models which offer longer battery life usually sacrifice its cleaning power to achieve this. However many buyers are not willing to sacrifice here as stronger suction is needed to remove dust from carpets, floors and rugs.
Different robot vacs have different types and amount of accessories but most of them are mainly replacement parts like spare batteries, side whiskers and filters. Some also have barriers which prevent the machine from entering some places.
These barriers exist as barrier strips and light barriers where the barrier strips are placed on the ground. The cliff sensor is triggered when it hits the strips, which forces it to reverse direction and not go over the strip.
Light barriers are not so common but are effective. They are placed in doorways and send light signals across. The robot vacuum’s navigational sensors detect these barriers and do not enter rooms or areas the barrier guards.
If you notice the Roomba cleaning, it tends to follow a random pattern. iRobot’s patent for cleaning makes the robot use a combination of two main patterns- ‘wall following’ where it moves around the room walls where it’s side mounted, flailing brush cleans corners and ‘random bounce’ where the robot keeps cleaning and moves off to a random direction when it hits an obstacle.
This is a useful feature in cleaning robots as it lets you program specific days and times of the week for your robot to clean your home. It thus lets you program the machine to clean your home when you are away at work.
Automatic vacuums are generally quieter than their traditional counterparts. They however do emit an annoying high-pitched whistle, and some may also make a mechanical, grinding noise. You should not be bothered about the sounds if you have them clean your home when you are not at home, but the two sounds can get pretty annoying for neighbors and pets.
1.4 Advantages of Owning a Robot Vacuum
Most people are not that ready to buy a robotic vacuum as they are skeptical about its cleaning prowess. However it’s only if you buy and start using a robotic vac will you realize its benefits and potential? In fact, it not only does a much better cleaning job than you would expect, it also offers the following benefits:
Time is precious, and with families of working parents and small children, there’s not much time left for housecleaning especially larger houses. This is when robotic vacuum cleaners help as they do all the cleaning for you without any supervision. You just have to program it and it does the cleaning while you do your other work to thus save you time and effort.
- Helpful for those with mobility problems
Disabled people or those with mobility issues consider automatic vacuums a blessing in disguise for them as the vacuums can not only clean their house, but also reach nooks and corners they cannot reach. They just have to set their required cleaning schedule and the machine does its work.
- New features
The high-end models have additional features which give you a much better clean. Examples of features are large dust bags that provide for multiple cleaning sessions and sensors which detect surface changes and can make transitions from the floor to carpets.
- Detects surface changes
Robotic vacuums can make the necessary adjustments upon detecting surface changes and also detects and automatically turns around when it meets walls and stairs.
- Auto recharge
Automatic vacuum cleaners generally return to its docking station on completing its cleaning task and can even automatically recharge it when it runs low on battery.
- Set boundaries
You can set boundaries for your robot cleaner using virtual walls which the machine doesn’t cross. This prevents the unit from entering doorways and openings.
- Detects amount of cleaning
Most robot vacs have sensors which can realize the amount of cleaning certain spots need and will linger on longer to repeatedly clean dirty surfaces till clean.
- Keeps home clean when you come home
You can set the robotic vacuum to clean your home when you are working or away. All you need to do is program it accordingly and remove all obtrusive items and ensure drapes don’t touch the floor.
- Not much maintenance
Robot vacs don’t need much maintenance, and can last for years with the right treatment. The only maintenance it requires is keeping sharp and damaged particles out of its way, periodically replacing it’s dust bag and cleaning filters and brushes as needed.
- Cleans under furniture and around corners
Robotic vacuum cleaners are small and flat enough to reach under most furniture and corners that your normal vacuum cleaner cannot reach. Its disc shape offers it exceptional movement and adaptability while cleaning.
- No cords
As these vacuums have their own recharging stations, you don’t have to worry about tangled cords getting in the way while it cleans your home.
So you see, there are many benefits and reasons to buy an automatic carpet sweeper. If you have always been skeptical about them, all your apprehension should be cleared by now. If you still need help making your choice, it proves worthy going through a few robot vacuum reviews of the top rated robot vacuums. If you want to buy one of iRobot’s Roomba series floor sweepers, then it’s better to go through a few roomba vacuum reviews too.
Your choice has to be made based on your needs and budget where the more you are ready to spend, the more features the model has. However no matter which unit you eventually buy, they all offer optimal convenience and flexibility at helping you with your housecleaning chores. With a robot vacuum at home, you no longer need to worry about, or spend time and effort cleaning your home as you have your little toy taking care of it for you!